Deccan Nursery Tales eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 94 pages of information about Deccan Nursery Tales.

One day the rishi, or sage, Vasishta [15] paid the king a visit.  The king prostrated himself before the great sage and gave him a throne to sit upon.  Vasishta looked at the king’s face and saw how sad and careworn it was.  He asked the cause, and the king told him.  Then the rishi rose, and the king went with him to the palace of the four queens.  When they reached it, they called to the queens to come out.  The rishi then asked them why they quarrelled.  The first queen cried out, “Why should I have to do the dairy work?” And the second queen cried out, “Why should I be only a cook-woman?” And the third cried out, “Why should I have all the children to look after?” And the fourth cried out, “Why should I have all the bother of sorting out all the king’s clothes?” The king said, “You must do these things because I ordered you to.”  But the queens did not mind a word that he said, and they all screamed together so loud that the king and the rishi had to put their fingers in their ears to save themselves from being deafened.  For a while the rishi became absorbed in thought, and then he turned to the first queen and said, “You have been placed in charge of the dairy, have you not?” The first queen assented.  “Then listen to me,” said Vasishta.  “In a former life you were a cow, and near the spot in the jungle where you used to graze was an altar to Shiva.  And every day at noon you used to come and stand near it and let milk drop upon it.  And, because in this way you honoured the god Shiva, you have in this life become one of the queens of the king of Atpat.  But you did not in your former life attain to full merit.  So the god Shiva directed the king to place you in charge of his dairy, and the king conveyed the god’s directions to you.  You should therefore obey them, and you should honour the king as if he were Shiva himself.  In this way you will attain to full merit and ascend to Shiva’s heaven, Kailas.”  Vasishta then blessed the first queen.  She prostrated herself before him, and, giving up all thought of quarrelling, went away and busied herself with her dairy work.

Then Vasishta turned to the second queen and asked, “What are you quarrelling about?” She replied, “Why should I be just a cook-woman?” The rishi thought for a while and said, “Lady, in a former life you were the wife of a poor Brahman, and you used to beg your food from door to door.  But every Monday you used to fast, and whatever grain you begged that day you used to cook and offer to the god Shiva.  And he was pleased with your devotion.  Therefore in this life he made you one of the queens of Atpat.  And because you cooked for the god Shiva, he directed the king to put you in charge of his kitchen.  Therefore, obey the god’s directions and give a great feast to all in Atpat.  In this way you will gain the favour of Shiva, and he will take you with him to Kailas.”  Then he blessed the second queen, and she prostrated herself and went off quite cheerfully to cook the king’s dinner.

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Deccan Nursery Tales from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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