Somdev Bhatt 11th Century. Original in Sanskrit.
English Translation: C. A. KINCAID, c. v. o. Indian Civil Serice  1921
Background. "Vikram Aur Betaal" is a series of enchanting tales derived from the 11th-century work 'Betaal Pachisi' by Kashmiri poet Somdev Bhatt. The narrative follows the wise and adventurous King Vikramaditya of Ujjain. When a mendicant consistently gifts him fruits containing rubies, the king's curiosity is piqued. Meeting the mendicant under specific, eerie conditions, Vikramaditya learns of a task only he can perform: to retrieve a corpse, Betaal, from an ancient tree for the mendicant's mystical rituals.

As King Vikramaditya carries the corpse, Betaal's spirit tells him tales, concluding each with a riddle. If Vikramaditya knows the answer but stays silent, his head will shatter. But answering breaks his vow, and Betaal returns to the tree, making the king restart his mission. After 25 stories, Betaal reveals the mendicant's ulterior motive: to gain unparalleled powers by sacrificing the king. Forewarned by Betaal, Vikramaditya confronts the mendicant and, through his wit, triumphs over the deceitful ascetic.
Synopsis. This is a story of Virvar in the employ of the king Rupsen for a salary of one thousand rupees a day. He gave away half his salary to the Brahmins of the town. The other half, he divided into two parts. One quarter of his total salary went to the monks, the mendicants and the anchorites. With the other quarter, he bought food for the beggars. The family ate from the beggars' quarter. The king sent Virvar to the burning grounds to find who the wailing woman was. The woman said to Virvar that a palace conspiracy is afoot, that her elder sister, Evil Fortune would enter the palace, the king would lose his fortune and later his life.
Upon further enquiry, the woman said that the evil would pass, if he would offer the head of his son to Goddess Parvati. The king would live for a hundred years and prosper.
Virvar told his wife, took his son to the temple and beheaded the son. His wife died in front of Goddess Parvati. Virvar cut his own head to Parvati. Seeing all these decapitations, the king said to himself that he was the cause of all these tragedies, drew the sword to behead himself. Goddess Parvati stopped the king by holding his hands and resurrected the three dead.
00VikramBetaalIntroduction 01VajramukutAndPadmavati
02MadhumalotiAndHerSuitors 03KingRupsenAndVirvar
04The MainaAndTheParrot 05MahadeviAndTheGiant
06ParvatiAndTheWashermansBride 07PrincessTribhuvanasundari
08KingGunadipAndViramdeva 09SomadattaAndMadansena
10KingGunashekhar 11KingAndSeamaiden
12PrincessLavanyaAndThe Gandharva 13ShobhaniAndTheRobber
14PrincessChandraprabha 15KingJimutketuAndPrinceJimutvahan
16TheKingAndUnmadini 17GunakarAndTheAnchorite
ONCE upon a time there ruled in the town of Vardhaman a king named Rupsen. As he sat one day on the terrace over the porch, he heard a clamour in the courtyard below. He asked his servants the cause of it. The door-keeper said, "O king, a number of strangers have come attracted by the fame of your wealth and they are here talking together in the courtyard." The king was satisfied with his answer. But a few moments later, a Rajput from Northern India, named Virvar, who was seeking a post in the royal service, mounted the stair to the terrace. The door-keeper said, "O king, an armed man who desires to serve you has come and stands outside the. door. If your Majesty permits me, I shall lead him in." The king made a sign of consent. When the Rajput stood before him, the king said, "Well, Rajput, what pay are you asking'?" "The least that I can keep myself on, O king," replied the Rajput, "is a_thousand rupees a day;" "But how many men have you brought with you'?" asked the king. "0 king," answered the Rajput, "I have brought only myself, my son and my wife." At this the men round the king began to laugh. But the king thought that a man who demanded such pay must have extraordinary merit. . So after a short pause the king ordered his treasurer to pay the Rajput a thousand rupees every day.

30 Tales of King Vikrama
The Rajput took his thousand rupees and going back to his lodging, divided the money into two halves. One half he divided among the Brahmans of the town. The other half he again divided into two quarters. One quarter he distributed among the monks, the mendicants and the anchorites. With the remaining quarter he bought food for the beggars and with part of it he provided a meal for himself and his family. This Virvar did every day; but at night he would take his sword and shield and stand as sentry outside the king's private rooms. Whenever the king woke up, he would ask,'' Is Virvar there?" The answer always came, "Here, 0 King," and whatever work the king gave him, he did with the utmost care. ,Indeed whether he ate or drank, sat, rose up or walked, his only care throughout the twenty-four hours was to further his master's interests and be ready, no matter when and where he was needed. For it is said that he who sells himself to another must be the slave of the other; and if he is the slave of others, he cannot expect pleasure. No matter how wise a servant may be, he must remain dumb with fear in his master's presence. He can only know peace,wWhen he is far from his master. Thus it is that the life of the servant is even harder than the life of the anchorite.
One night about midnight the king heard the voice of a woman weeping in the burning ground. He called out, "Who is on duty?" Virvar replied that he was. "Go and see," said the king, "who is weeping in the burning ground." For it

King Rupsen and Virvar 31
has been said that to test the servant one should give him work in season and out of season. If he obeys each and every order, he is a good servant. If he begins to make objections then he is a bad one. For it is only in times of trouble that one can test the worth of a brother, a friend, a wife or a servant.
Virvar straightway went through the darkness in the direction of the sound. The king donned a black robe and followed him without his knowledge, so that he might test him. When Virvar reached the burning ground, he saw a beautiful woman covered from head to foot in costly raiment and laden with jewels. She was weeping loudly and beating her breast. Virvar asked her why she wept. She said, "I am the Good Fortune of the kingdom. The cause of my grief is that there is a conspiracy afoot in the king's palace. In a few days my elder sister, the Evil Fortune of the kingdom, will enter the palace. When she enters it, I must leave it. The king will first lose his wealth and a month later his life."
"ls there no way," asked Virvar, "to prevent this'?" "There is a temple to Parvati," replied the fair woman, "four miles from here. If you offer the head of your son, the danger will pass. The king will live a hundred years and no evil will ever befall him."
Virvar on hearing this went to his house, the king followed him. Virvar woke up his wife and told her everything. She roused her son and said, "My son, if your head is offered to Parvati, the

32 Tales of King Vikrama
king's life will be saved and the kingdom will endure forever. Now what do you say?" The boy replied, "I give my head gladly, for by doing so, I shall obey you, I shall be loyal to my king, and I shall please the goddess. What greater thing could I achieve than this? Waste, therefore, no time, but make the sacrifice at once." Now it has been said that there is no greater joy than an obedient son, a healthy body, fruitful learning, a ready friend and a chaste wife. And there is no greater evil than a miserly king, a cowardly servant, a faithless friend and a disobedient wife. So Virvar said to his wife, "If you of your own free will, give me our son, I shall take him with me and offer him to Parvati." The wife replied, "You my husband, have all my love. Compared with you, I care for neither my son, nor my mother, my father, nor my brother. For it is written in the sacred books that neither by charities nor by vows does a wife become holy, but only by the service of her husband. And him she must cherish, be he lame or crippled or hunchbacked or blind or deaf. No matter how many prayers she may utter or how many fasts she may keep, yet if she has not won her husband's favour, all. her piety is useless."
Virvar, his wife and his son went together to Parvati's temple. The king silently followed them. Virvar entered the temple and standing with folded arms before the image cried, "0 goddess, I am offering to you my son's head, that by my sacrifice the king may live a hundred years and that this kingdom may endure always. When he had

King Rupsen and Virvar 33
spoken, he struck his son a single blow with his sword, completely severing his head from his body. When the wife saw the act, she cried out, "0 goddess, of what use is life to one so wicked as to offer her son's head as a sacrifice?" As she spoke she fell and died in front of the image. When Virvar saw both his son and wife dead, he said, "Let my life also be a sacrifice to you, 0 Goddess." So saying he cut off his own head and offered it to Parvati.
When the king saw what had happened and that the whole family had perished, he grieved deeply, saying, "I am the cause of these three deaths. It is not fitting that I should enjoy good fortune obtained at such a price." He drew his sword and was about to kill himself, as Virvar had done, when the Goddess Parvati herself a peared before him. She seized both his hands and said, "0 king, your courage has won my favour. Ask of me any boon you will." "Mighty goddess," said the king, "the boon I ask is that you bring back to life Virvar, his wife and son." "So be it," said the goddess. As the words passed her lips, life returned to all three dead bodies. The king bestowed on Virvar half his kingdom and in his joy did all he could to make him and his wife and son happy.
At this point the oilman's son said, "King
Vikrama, who of all those persons was the most deserving'? Was it Virvar who for his master's sake sacrificed his only son, or was it, do you think, the king who for his serant's sake ceased to care

34 Tales of King Vikrama

either for his own life or kingdom?" King Vikrama­ jit said, "The king was the most deserving." ''Why?" asked the oilman's son. "To give one's life for one's master," said King Vikramajit, "is a servant's duty; to obey one's father is a son's duty; to act according to her lord's command is a wife's duty. But to act as nobly as the king acted towards Virvar is to do more than one's duty. Therefore, the king deserved the highest praise." When King Vikramajit had finished speaking, he saw that he was alone. Realising that he had again broken his promise, he made his way back to the burning ground. There he saw the dead body hanging as before from the branch. Flinging it over his shoulder, he began to retrace his steps. As he went, the oilman's son began his fourth tale.