Lord Saturn then said to King Vikrama, “0 Vikramadkya! I have not tormented you in the least. Torment is what I gave to my guru. Can you even compare your misery with his? I have also tortured the devas and the asuras and filled them with woe. If you will listen carefully to their stories, you may begin to comprehend my abilities.
“One morning I went to my guru with folded hands. Saluting him, I said, ‘Guru Maharaj! I bow to you.’
“Guruji said, ‘Yes, my child? Why have you come to me today? Tell me what I can do for you.’
“I said, ‘I am thinking of passing over your Moon.’
“My guru, naturally, got the shock of his lifetime, and said, ‘My son! Have pity on me, and don’t enter the constellation where my Moon sits at all.’
“‘But Maharaj,’ I explained to him patiently, ‘that is my duty. I cannot shirk my duty. I cannot spare anyone, not even you. If you are repulsed by the idea of giving me refuge, well then, 0 Compassionate Lord! How will anyone else allow me to affect them, or obey me? Everyone will insult me. No, I am going to turn my gaze on you within a very short time. That is the way things are ordained. I may be your pupil, but for now, please ask me for grace.’
“Hearing this my Guru Maharaj said with alarm, ‘How long will your gaze be on me?’
“I told him, ‘Seven and a half years.’
“‘Impossible!’ he sputtered.
“So I told him, At least agree to let me reside with you for five years, or at the very least for two and a half years!’ But he was not ready to agree to this either, nor would he agree to seven and a half months, or even seven and a half days.
“I then had the thought that it was inappropriate for me as a disciple to serve up exceptional misery for my guru. A guru is as compassionate as a mother, which is why the guru is always worthy of worship. Realizing that failure to comply with my guru’s request would make me fall into hell myself, I made obeisance to my guru’s feet, and in a humble voice I supplicated, ‘0 Lord Mentor! I, the planet Saturn, am pleased with you, so. Guru Maharaj! Ask! Ask for a boon!’
“My guru said to me, ‘0 Saturn! If you are pleased with me, then I ask this boon: Show me the compassion not to enter my body at all.’
“I responded: ‘If I spare you, then no one in the world will respect me. But I will give you this boon: I will stay in your Moon’s constellation only seven and a half praharas (22 1/2 hours).’
“He said, Tine, 0 Saturn! You may stay in my Moon sign for one and a quarter praharas (3 hours and 45 minutes).’ He commanded me in this way, thinking to himself, ‘How will my disciple be able to torment me if I pass these few hours bathing and meditating?’
“But I came to know what he was thinking, and his arrogance so hardened my heart that it steeled my resolve. ‘Very good, 0 Great Guru!’ I said to myself. ‘Because you have decided to try to cheat me you will now have to see what sort of prowess I possess and what wonders I can perform!’
“When the time arrived for me to bother my guru he thought to himself, ‘I believe that I shall go down to the Plane Where People Die (Earth), where the river Ganga flows, and take my bath there. By the time I finish bathing my period of punishment will be over.’ So he headed for Earth and the river Ganga.
“Taking the form of a melon merchant, I met him along his way, and when my shadow fell on him, changes began to occur in his body and his mind. I showed him two small watermelons, which I cut open slighdy to show how good they were. Seeing their sticky red juice run down, my guru became pleased with those melons. He gave me two small coins for them, put them into his bag, and continued onward to the Ganga. I disappeared. After bathing in the River Ganga my, guru filled his waterpot with Ganga water and, carrying those two watermelons in his bag, headed for the nearby town.
“Now, the sons of the king and the prime minister of that city were of the same age and were devoted to each other. The day before they had gone out hunting together, and I had caused them to lose their way. They became completely lost in the jungle, and when they did not return home by nightfall, the king began to worry and ordered his soldiers to search for them. One of the search parties came across my guru and noticed the bulging bag he was carrying under his arm.
“When the soldiers asked my guru, ‘Great sage! What is in your bag?’ he replied, Two watermelons for me to dine on later.’ But the soldiers remonstrated, ‘Then why is blood dripping from your bag, 0 butcher! Are you a Brahmana or a Brahmarakshasa (a type of evil spirit)? Show us what is in that bag forthwith!’
“When my guru heard this he asked himself, ‘What are they talking about?’ As he said to them, ‘Oh, it is just watermelon juice,’ he looked down to the bag – and saw that it was indeed bloody, and that blood was dripping from it, drop by drop, for I had meanwhile changed those melons into the severed heads of the sons of the king and his prime minister.
‘Then the soldiers snatched the bag from my gurus arm, and when they opened it they found the heads of the two young men they were searching for. Seeing them, the soldiers were instantly filled with disgust, and screamed at my guru, ‘You villain! Now we see that you are an executioner in the guise of a Brahmana, and that you have no trace of compassion within you.’
“Then those soldiers bound my guru and, flogging him at every step, marched him back to the palace, where they told the king, “This base, vile man has murdered your son and the prime minister’s son!’
“When the-troops displayed the severed heads to the king he swooned, and fell to the floor. When he came to, he said to himself, ‘0 my Lord God! You couldn’t even spare my only son. Ah! Ah! This is no Brahmana; he is poison incarnate, who has slain my sinless son. Go out, you men, from this city and impale this ghoul on a sharp stake; then bring me a report.’ The soldiers obediently dragged my guru out to the execution ground, hammering him all the way, and set a tall pointed iron stake firmly upright in that ground, preparing to impale him.
“Meanwhile, in another part of the palace the prince’s wife, on hearing of his death, decided to immolate herself on his funeral pyre. Sorrow spread through the town on the heels of the news, and outside of town a crowd gathered to see the prince’s murderer. They rained stones and clods of dirt on my guru, reviling him thus: “This is a fiend in Brahmana’s clothes; otherwise how could this rapscallion perform such a terrible deed?’
“My guru was of course extrememly depressed at this unexpected, overwhelming reversal of fortune and had not the least idea of what to do about it. So there he stood, eyes downcast, staring distractedly at the ground, when one of the kings executioners came up to him and said, ‘Great sage, prepare yourself to enjoy the fruits of your evil deeds, and mount this stake.’
“Hearing the word ‘stake’ my guru began to quake uncontrollably, and he said to the executioner, ‘Wait for just a few minutes before you impale me, and if I am saved I will give you ten thousand silver coins. What will happen if you wait a couple of minutes before you skewer me?’
“Dread of the stake had shaken my guru out of his trance of confusion, and he had realized that my agreed-upon time to torture him was almost up. It was because he knew that once my gaze left him completely he would automatically escape that he pleaded so persistently for a postponement. His entreaties eventually created a modicum of compassion within the king’s servants, and they agreed to delay the execution by a few minutes. Being a renunciate my guru had no money, but he promised it anyway, just to save himself.
“By this rime the three and three-quarters hours of my gaze had expired, and the sons of the king and the prime minister straggled into the palace, where they stood before the king to salute him. Tears of joy filled the king’s eyes, and he commanded a fleet messenger to hie to the execution ground, saying: ‘Tell my men not to impale that Brahmana; instead, bring him back to me.’
“The messenger flew to the execution ground to deliver the message, as a consequence of which my guru was marched back to the palace, still trussed up like a prisoner. Once there he blessed the king, and narrated to him the whole story. Thereupon the king in a voice choked with emotion, ‘0 Lord Guru! It was from ignorance that I laid on you the crime of my son’s murder and ordered you to be impaled. For this mistake I crave your forgiveness. My son has returned alive from his hunting trip, but not before the intoxication of my authority and wealth made me sentence you to death without thinking of what a great sin it is to slay a sage. Had you died, that evil karma would have destroyed both me and my kingdom and would have sent me to hell. Great sage! Forgive such an unthinking reprobate as I.’ So saying the king sat my guru on his throne and stood there before him, folding his own two hands respectfully in front of his chest.
“Then my guru said, ‘0 king! You have committed no fault whatsoever. All of this has been Lord Saturn’s illusion. It is he who caused both of us this great misery.’ When the king called for my guru’s bag and opened it again he found – two watermelons. After having my guru well bathed and his body anointed with fragrant unguents, and having his wounds attended to, the king sat him on a gilded stool and worshipped him, following which he was fed many and varied delicious morsels. My guru was then given new clothes and ornaments, and his bag, was filled with ten thousand silver coins. His body creaking from all the beatings he had received, my guru met the executioner as he left the palace gates, and handed over all his compensation to that butcher, in fulfillment of his promise. Further down the road I met him, and bowing down flat upon the ground in salute I said, ‘Lord Guru! Tell me your news!’
“Guru said, ‘0 Lord Saturn! That three and three-fourths hours of your gaze have shattered my bones; who knows what would have happened to me had you spent seven and a half years oppressing my Moon! You have obliged me immensely. You are the most terrible of all the planets, and those whom you seize you torment mercilessly. That which was to happen has happened; but never give anyone this sort of misery again. I have been able to withstand this torture, but no one else could have withstood it. I shall take an oath from you right now that you will not submit anyone else to this degree of anguish.’
“I replied, ‘0 Guru! Anyone who is free from arrogance has nothing to fear from me, but everyone who harbors arrogance within will have to suffer as you have suffered. Lord Guru! You tried to be too smart; I had to display my powers to you because of your arrogance. Now pardon this child of yours; I shall never offend you in this way again.’ Having spoken in this way, I took guru’s permission to return to my own world.”
Hearing this story of how Saturn had harried his own guru, King Vikramaditya was filled with wonder. Then Lord Saturn said to him, “0 King! I have not spared any of the gods from torment. Shiva, Ramachandra, Krishna, and Indra are some of the gods and Nala, YudKisthira and Harischandra a few of the kings whom I have tortured. They now know my prowess and my power.”