The Third Suitor

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When King Vikramaditya reached the peepal tree, he found the corpse hanging there, as usual. He pulled the corpse down and placing it on his shoulder proceeded towards his Kingdom.
On the way, Betal in the corpse said, “Vikram, I admire your abilities and intellect. So, here I tell you another story. Listen to it carefully and answer my questions judiciously. Otherwise, I will break your head into two pieces.” Betal began telling the story as follows:

“Chandralekha, the princess of Magadh kingdom was extremely beautiful. A number of princes from the neighbouring states aspired to marry this gorgeous lady, but Chandralekha found none of them suitable for her.

As the days went by, Chandralekha's parents became more worried about her marriage. One day, Chandralekha’s mother asked her, “Why have you rejected all the marriage proposals? What kind of a boy do you think will suit you as your husband?”

“He should be a real he-man and talented too,” said Chandralekha. “He should also be courageous and strong enough to defend his wife.”

“Then why don’t you yourself find out these qualities in those princes who approach you for your hand in marriage?” suggested her mother.

“I will do it now,” replied Chandralekha.

After a few weeks, there came a prince by the name of Virendra and expressed his wish to marry Chandralekha.

“What speciality do you have that you want to marry me?” asked Chandralekha straightaway.
“I am a fortune-teller. My prophecies have never proved wrong,” replied Virendra with great confidence.

“Stay with us as our guest, till we decide in the matter,” said Chandralekha and ordered her maid servants to make lodging arrangements for the prince in the palace.

The next day, another prince named Udaivir arrived at thepalace to meet Chandralekha with his marriage proposal. The princess asked him the same question that she had put to prince Virendra.

“I have a chariot which not only runs on land but can fly over the mountains and rivers, as well,’’ said Udaivir.

The princess then ordered his maid servants to take the prince to the royal guest house.
Then came the third prince. Princess Chandralekha put up the same question to him as she had put to the two princes earlier.

“My name is Dhananjay. I am a matchless warrior. When I wield my sword even the rocks are shattered,’’ said Dhananjay.

“Oh! no!” exclaimed Chandralekha in surprise. She beckoned her maid servants and instructed them to take the third prince also to the royal guest house for his stay.

However, a sudden calamity befell the kingdom. The next morning, Chandralekha was found missing from the palace. A thorough search was made in and around the palace, but there was no trace of her.

Then the queen sent for prince Virendra. She said to him, “You’re a sooth sayer; you know that Chandralekha is missing. Tell me where she is now?”

The prince went into a deep meditation. He made some calculations on a paper and then said, “A powerful giant has abducted the princess. He wants to marry her forcibly.”

Now the queen called all the three princes in her royal chamber and asked them to save Chandralekha.

Prince Virendra then drew a map to reach the giant’s palace. He offered to take the two princes in his magical chariot. Prince Dhananjay drew his sword out of its sheath and they all rode into the chariot to proceed on to attack the palace of the giant.

When the giant saw the three princes in his palace, he became red with rage and attacked them furiously. A fierce fighting ensued between the giant and Dhananjay and Dhananjay cut off the giant’s neck with a single powerful blow of his sword. As soon as the giant died, his magic palace also vanished.

Chandralekha, thus, escorted by the three princes returned to her parents. All the three princes now started making their individual claims to marry the princess.
Prince Virendra said, “It was I who told the whereabouts of the missing princess. So I’ve every right to marry her.”

Prince Udayvir said, “It was due to my chariot, that the other two princes could reach the demon’s palace.”

“That is nothing,” prince Dhananjay put forth his arguments: “It
was I, who killed the giant, otherwise the giant would have married Chandralekha after slaying the two princes.”

Finally, it was decided that princess Chandralekha should herself choose her future husband’’.
“Now, Vikram!” asked Betal, “Tell me who was the most deserving prince, whom Chandralekha married? You also know that all the three princes had made more or less equal contributions towards the safe release of Chandralekha from the clutches of the giant. If you don’t answer my question correctly, I will break your head into two pieces.”

King Vikramaditya remained silent for a few moments and then said, “There is an old saying, ‘Might is right’. It was prince Dhananjay who killed the giant, otherwise it could have been difficult to free the princess. So he was most suitable to marry Chandralekha.”

“You are absolutely right, Vikram,” said Betal. “But since you have broken the silence despite my warnings, I have no choice but to leave you and return to my abode in the peepal tree.” Having said so, Betal left the shoulder of King Vikramaditya and flew away to the peepal tree. Highly annoyed over the act of Betal, King Vikramaditya drew his lethal sword from its sheath and ran after the flying corpse to contain it once again.

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