The Paradox of Good Intentions- Vikram and Betaal story 05

Vikram and Betaal story- Once upon a time, the kingdom of Varanasi was ruled by a king called Mahendra. He was a noble king. A man of principle, he had high regard for moral values. His subjects regarded him as an able ruler and loved him for his generosity.

In that same city, there lived a rich merchant called Dhanamalya. He was famous far and wide for his trading skills and enormous wealth.

Dhanamalya had a young daughter. People said she was so beautiful that even the maidens in heaven were jealous of her. Her long hair was as black as the dark night, and her skin was as smooth and white as milk. They also said that her nature was as gentle as a deer in the forest.

In no time, the king heard these rumours. He decided to marry this girl his people were talking about. But first, he had to be sure that the girl was indeed beautiful and worthy. He sent for two of his trusted maidservants and ordered them, “Find out if she is as beautiful as people say. Judge her character and let me know if she is fit to be a queen.”

The maidservants bowed to their king and left. Commanded by their king, the maidservants reached the merchant’s house in disguise. They made an excuse to see his daughter. When she appeared before them, they were amazed by her beauty and charm. The first maidservant exclaimed, “Oh! What a beauty! The king must marry her.” The second maidservant agreed, “You are right. I am sure the king will not be able to take his eyes off her.”

The second maidservant said, “Do you think if the king married her, he might get distracted from his duties?” The first-maid servant agreed. “Perhaps there are. This girl’s beauty may bewitch our king, and he might then neglect his people and his kingdom.”

So they decided never to tell the king how extraordinarily beautiful the girl was. The king trusted his maidservants. He was heartbroken. One day, Dhanamalya himself approached the king with the proposal of marrying his daughter to him.

But the king was so upset that he refused the proposal without a second thought. Dhanamalya was disappointed. He then arranged to get his daughter married to one of the king’s courtiers. Days passed. The marriage took place, and life moved on.

One day, the king was passing by this courtier’s house in his royal chariot. Suddenly, he spotted a woman standing at the window. The woman was so beautiful that the king liked her at once. He asked his charioteer, “Who is this lady standing at that window? I have never seen any woman more beautiful than her.”

“Your Majesty,” the charioteer replied, “is the only daughter of the rich merchant Dhanamalya. People say she is so beautiful that even the maidens of heaven are jealous of her. She is now married to one of the courtiers in your court.”

The king was angry. “If what you tell me is true, then it can only mean that the two maidservants lied to me.” When the two maidservants were brought to the king, they fell at his feet and begged for his mercy.

They revealed their intentions to him, but the king did not pay any attention to them. He ordered that both of them be put to death immediately.

Betaal said, “Tell me, do you believe King Mahendra’s decision to put those two women to death was justified?” Vikramaditya replied, “A servant has to obey his master. It was right that the maidservants be punished. It was their duty to report to the king what they had seen.

They had failed to do it. However, their intentions were for the well-being of the king and the kingdom. Their act was selfless. In light of this, it was not justified that the king had them put to death.” Betaal whispered, “Brave King, you are right again.” He glided with the wind towards the peepal tree.

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