Jadu Babu’s four-year-old daughter, Mrinalini, or Mrinu as she was called in the family, came to her mother one evening to say that her kitten was lost. In vain was she taken on the maternal lap, her tears gently wiped away, and all manner of pretty toys promised. Her little frame was convulsed with sobs, and she refused to be comforted. So her mother sent a maidservant to search for the plaything. The girl returned shortly and said that the kitten was certainly not in the house. At this Mrinu howled more loudly than ever, bringing her father on the scene. He pacified the child by undertaking to produce her pet, and told the servants that the finder would be handsomely rewarded. Meanwhile his wife was trying to keep Mrinu’s attention engaged by telling her a long story, when she suddenly exclaimed, “What has become of your jasam (gold bracelet)?”
Mrinu replied, “I took it off to play with kitty and laid it down somewhere”.
This was all the information she could vouchsafe in answer to repeated questions. The mother set her down and proceeded to search every hole and corner for the jasam, but it was not to be found. Her husband was greatly alarmed on hearing of this untoward event. The loss of Rs. 100, at which the trinket was valued, might have been borne; but Hindus believe that misfortune invariably follows the loss of gold. He set all his servants and hangers-on to look for the jasam, but they were unsuccessful. In despair he hurried to Nalini for advice and was told to send for Gobardhan, which he promptly did.
The astrologer listened attentively to his story and then asked whether Jadu Babu would try Bati Chala (divination by the bata leaf), or some simpler method of discovering the lost jasam. On learning that the matter would be left entirely in his hands, he told Jadu Babu to collect all his servants in the parlour and let him have half a seer (1 lb.) of raw rice, with as many strips of banana leaf as there were servants. When all were assembled, Gobardhan thus addressed them, “Mrinu has lost her jasam, have any of you seen it?” The reply was a chorus of “Noes” with emphatic head-shakings. “Then none of you have stolen it?” Again a volume of protestations. “Very well, then,” said Gobardhan, “I must try the ordeal of chewed rice.” After uttering many mantras (incantations) and waving his hand over the pile of grain and banana leaves, he dealt out a quotum of each to the servants.