THE SOOTHSAYER'S SON
 A SOOTHSAYER when on his deathbed wrote out the horoscope of his second son, whose name was
Gangazara, and bequeathed it to him as his only property, leaving the whole of his estate to his
eldest son. The second son thought over the horoscope, and said to himself:
"Alas! am I born to this only in the world? The sayings of my father never failed. I have seen them
prove true to the last word while he was living; and how has he fixed my horoscope! 'FROM MY BIRTH POVERTY!' Nor is that my only fate. 'FOR TEN YEARS,
IMPRISONMENT'—a fate harder than poverty; and what comes next? 'DEATH ON
THE SEA-SHORE;' which means that I must die away from home, far from friends and relatives on a
sea-coast. Now comes the most curious part of the horoscope, that I am to 'HAVE SOME
HAPPINESS AFTERWARDS!' What this happiness is, is an enigma to me."
Thus thought he, and after all the funeral obsequies of his father were over, took leave of his
elder brother, and started for Benares. He went by the middle of the Deccan, avoiding both the
 coasts, and went on journeying and journeying for weeks and months, till at last he reached the
Vindhya mountains. While passing that desert he had to journey for a couple of days through a sandy
plain, with no signs of life or vegetation. The little store of provision with which he was provided
for a couple of days, at last was exhausted. The chombu, which he carried always full, filling it
with the sweet water from the flowing rivulet or plenteous tank, he had exhausted in the heat of the
desert. There was not a morsel in his hand to eat; nor a drop of water to drink. Turn his eyes
wherever he might he found a vast desert, out of which he saw no means of escape. Still he thought
within himself, "Surely my father's prophecy never proved untrue. I must survive this calamity to
find my death on some sea-coast." So thought he, and this thought gave him strength of mind to walk
fast and try to find a drop of water somewhere to slake his dry throat.
At last he succeeded; heaven threw in his way a ruined well. He thought he could collect some water
if he let down his chombu with the string that he always carried noosed to the neck of it.
Accordingly he let it down; it went some way and stopped, and the following words came from the
well: "Oh, relieve me! I am the king of tigers, dying here of hunger. For the last three days I have
had nothing. Fortune has sent you here. If you assist me now you will find a sure help in
 me throughout your life. Do not think that I am a beast of prey. When you have become my deliverer I
will never touch you. Pray, kindly lift me up." Gangazara thought: "Shall I take him out or not? If
I take him out he may make me the first morsel of his hungry mouth. No; that he will not do. For my
father's prophecy never came untrue. I must die on a sea coast, and not by a tiger." Thus thinking,
he asked the tiger-king to hold tight to the vessel, which he accordingly did, and he lifted him up
slowly. The tiger reached the top of the well and felt himself on safe ground. True to his word, he
did no harm to Gangazara. On the other hand, he walked round his patron three times, and standing
before him, humbly spoke the following words: "My life-giver, my benefactor! I shall never forget
this day, when I regained my life
 through your kind hands. In return for this kind assistance I pledge my oath to stand by you in all
calamities. Whenever you are in any difficulty just think of me. I am there with you ready to oblige
you by all the means that I can. To tell you briefly how I came in here: Three days ago I was
roaming in yonder forest, when I saw a goldsmith passing through it. I chased him. He, finding it
impossible to escape my claws, jumped into this well, and is living to this moment in the very
bottom of it. I also jumped in, but found myself on the first ledge of the well; he is on the last
and fourth ledge. In the second lives a serpent half-famished with hunger. On the third lies a rat,
also half-famished, and when you again begin to draw water these may request you first to release
them. In the same way the goldsmith also may ask you. I beg you, as your bosom friend, never assist
that wretched man, though he is your relation as a human being. Goldsmiths are never to be trusted.
You can place more faith in me, a tiger, though I feast sometimes upon men, in a serpent, whose
sting makes your blood cold the very next moment, or in a rat, which does a thousand pieces of
mischief in your house. But never trust a goldsmith. Do not release him; and if you do, you shall
surely repent of it one day or other." Thus advising, the hungry tiger went away without waiting for
 Gangazara thought several times of the eloquent way in which the tiger spoke, and admired his
fluency of speech. But still his thirst was not quenched. So he let down his vessel again, which was
now caught hold of by the serpent, who addressed him thus: "Oh, my protector! Lift me up. I am the
king of serpents, and the son of Adisesha, who is now pining away in agony for my disappearance.
Release me now. I shall ever remain your servant, remember your assistance, and help you throughout
life in all possible ways. Oblige me: I am dying." Gangazara, calling again to mind the "DEATH ON THE SEA-SHORE" of the prophecy lifted him up. He, like the tiger-king, walked
round him thrice, and prostrating himself before him spoke thus: "Oh, my life-giver, my father, for
so I must call you, as you have given me another birth. I was three days ago basking myself in the
morning sun, when I saw a rat running before me. I chased him. He fell into this well. I followed
him, but instead of falling on the third storey where he is now lying, I fell into the second. I am
going away now to see my father. Whenever you are in any difficulty just think of me. I will be
there by your side to assist you by all possible means." So saying, the Nagaraja glided away in
zigzag movements, and was out of sight in a moment.
The poor son of the Soothsayer, who was now almost dying of thirst, let down his vessel for a
 third time. The rat caught hold of it, and without discussing he lifted up the poor animal at once.
But it would not go away without showing its gratitude: "Oh, life of my life! My benefactor! I am
the king of rats. Whenever you are in any calamity just think of me. I will come to you, and assist
you. My keen ears overheard all that the tiger-king told you about the goldsmith, who is in the
fourth storey. It is nothing but a sad truth that goldsmiths ought never to be trusted. Therefore,
never assist him as you have done to us all. And if you do, you will suffer for it. I am hungry; let
me go for the present." Thus taking leave of his benefactor, the rat, too, ran away.
Gangazara for a while thought upon the repeated advice given by the three animals about releasing
the goldsmith: "What wrong would there be in my assisting him? Why should I not release him also?"
So thinking to himself, Gangazara let down the vessel again. The goldsmith caught hold of it, and
demanded help. The Soothsayer's son had no time to lose; he was himself dying of thirst. Therefore
he lifted the goldsmith up, who now began his story. "Stop for a while," said Gangazara, and after
quenching his thirst by letting down his vessel for the fifth time, still fearing that some one
might remain in the well and demand his assistance, he listened to the goldsmith, who began as
follows: "My dear friend, my protector, what a deal of nonsense these brutes
 have been talking to you about me; I am glad you have not followed their advice. I am just now dying
of hunger. Permit me to go away. My name is Manikkasari. I live in the East main street of Ujjaini,
which is twenty kas to the south of this place, and so lies on your way when you return from
Benares. Do not forget to come to me and receive my kind remembrances of your assistance, on your
way back to your country." So saying, the goldsmith took his leave, and Gangazara also pursued his
way north after the above adventures.
He reached Benares, and lived there for more than ten years, and quite forgot the tiger, serpent,
rat, and goldsmith. After ten years of religious life, thoughts of home and of his brother rushed
into his mind. "I have secured enough merit now by my religious observances. Let me return home."
Thus thought Gangazara within himself, and very soon he was on his way back to his country.
Remembering the prophecy of his father he returned by the same way by which he went to Benares ten
years before. While thus retracing his steps he reached the ruined well where he had released the
three brute kings and the gold smith. At once the old recollections rushed into his mind, and he
thought of the tiger to test his fidelity. Only a moment passed, and the tiger-king came running
before him carrying a large crown in his mouth, the glitter of the diamonds of which for a
 time outshone even the bright rays of the sun. He dropped the crown at his life-giver's feet, and,
putting aside all his pride, humbled himself like a pet cat to the strokes of his protector, and
began in the following words: "My life-giver! How is it that you have forgotten me, your poor
servant, for such a long time? I am glad to find that I still occupy a corner in your mind. I can
never forget the day when I owed my life to your lotus hands. I have several jewels with me of
little value. This crown, being the best of all, I have brought here as a single ornament of great
value, which you can carry with you and dispose of in your own country." Gangazara looked at the
crown, examined it over and over, counted and recounted the gems, and thought within himself that he
would become the richest of men by separating the diamonds and gold, and selling them in his own
country. He took leave of the tiger-king, and after his disappearance thought of the kings of
serpents and rats, who came in their turn with their presents, and after the usual greetings and
exchange of words took their leave. Gangazara was extremely delighted at the faithfulness with which
the brute beasts behaved, and went on his way to the south. While going along he spoke to himself
thus: "These beasts have been very faithful in their assistance. Much more, therefore, must
Manikkasari be faithful. I do not want anything from him now. If I take this crown with
 me as it is, it occupies much space in my bundle. It may also excite the curiosity of some robbers
on the way. I will go now to Ujjaini on my way. Manikkasari requested me to see him without failure
on my return journey. I shall do so, and request him to have the crown melted, the diamonds and gold
separated. He must do that kindness at least for me. I shall then roll up these diamonds and gold
ball in my rags, and wend my way homewards." Thus thinking and thinking, he reached Ujjaini. At once
he inquired for the house of his goldsmith friend, and found him without difficulty. Manikkasari was
extremely delighted to find on his threshold him who ten years before, notwithstanding the advice
repeatedly given him by the sage-looking tiger, serpent, and rat, had relieved him from the pit of
death. Gangazara at once showed him the crown that he received from the tiger-king, told him how he
got it, and requested his kind assistance to separate the gold and diamonds. Manikkasari agreed to
do so, and meanwhile asked his friend to rest himself for a while to have his bath and meals; and
Gangazara, who was very observant of his religious ceremonies, went direct to the river to bathe.
How came the crown in the jaws of the tiger? The king of Ujjaini had a week before gone with all his
hunters on a hunting expedition. All of a sudden the tiger-king started from the wood, seized the
king, and vanished.
 When the king's attendants informed the prince about the death of his father he wept and wailed, and
gave notice that he would give half of his kingdom to any one who should bring him news about the
murderer of his father. The goldsmith knew full well that it was a tiger that killed the king, and
not any hunter's hands, since he had heard from Gangazara how he obtained the crown. Still, he
resolved to denounce Gangazara as the king's murderer, so, hiding the crown under his garments, he
flew to the palace. He went before the prince and informed him that the assassin was caught, and
placed the crown before him. The prince took it into his hands, examined it, and at once gave half
the kingdom to Manikkasari, and then inquired about the murderer. "He is bathing in the river, and
is of such and such appearance," was the reply. At once four armed soldiers flew to the river, and
bound the poor Brahman hand and foot, while he, sitting in meditation, was without any knowledge of
the fate that hung over him. They brought Gangazara to the presence of the prince, who turned his
face away from the supposed murderer, and asked his soldiers to throw him into a dungeon. In a
minute, without knowing the cause, the poor Brahman found himself in the dark dungeon.
It was a dark cellar underground, built with strong stone walls, into which any criminal guilty of a
capital offence was ushered to breathe his
 last there without food and drink. Such was the cellar into which Gangazara was thrust. What were
his thoughts when he reached that place? "It is of no use to accuse either the goldsmith or the
prince now. We are all the children of fate. We must obey her commands. This is but the first day of
my father's prophecy. So far his statement is true. But how am I going to pass ten years here?
Perhaps without anything to sustain life I may drag on my existence for a day or two. But how pass
ten years? That cannot be, and I must die. Before death comes let me think of my faithful brute
So pondered Gangazara in the dark cell underground, and at that moment thought of his three friends.
The tiger-king, serpent-king, and rat-king assembled at once with their armies at a garden near the
dungeon, and for a while did not know what to do. They held their council, and decided to make an
underground passage from the inside of a ruined well to the dungeon. The rat raja issued an order at
once to that effect to his army. They, with their teeth, bored the ground a long way to the walls of
the prison. After reaching it they found that their teeth could not work on the hard stones. The
bandicoots were then specially ordered for the business; they, with their hard teeth, made a small
slit in the wall for a rat to pass and re-pass without difficulty. Thus a passage was effected.
 The rat raja entered first to condole with his protector on his misfortune, and undertook to supply
his protector with provisions. "Whatever sweetmeats or bread are prepared in any house, one and all
of you must try to bring whatever you can to our benefactor. Whatever clothes you find hanging in a
house, cut down, dip the pieces in water, and bring the wet bits to our benefactor. He will squeeze
them and gather water for drink! and the bread and sweetmeats shall form his food." Having issued
these orders, the king of the rats took leave of Gangazara. They, in obedience to their king's
order, continued to supply him with provisions and water.
The snake-king said: "I sincerely condole with you in your calamity; the tiger-king also fully
sympathises with you, and wants me to tell you so, as he cannot drag his huge body here as we have
done with our small ones. The king of the rats has promised to do his best to provide you with food.
We would now do what we can for your release. From this day we shall issue orders to our armies to
oppress all the subjects of this kingdom. The deaths by snake-bite and tigers shall increase a
hundredfold from this day, and day by day it shall continue to increase till your release. Whenever
you hear people near you, you had better bawl out so as to be heard by them: 'The wretched prince
imprisoned me on the false charge of having killed his father, while it was a tiger that
 killed him. From that day these calamities have broken out in his dominions. If I were released I
would save all by my powers of healing poisonous wounds and by incantations.' Some one may report
this to the king, and if he knows it, you will obtain your liberty." Thus comforting his protector
in trouble, he advised him to pluck up courage, and took leave of him. From that day tigers and
serpents, acting under the orders of their kings, united in killing as many persons and cattle as
possible. Every day people were carried away by tigers or bitten by serpents. Thus passed months and
years. Gangazara sat in the dark cellar, without the sun's light falling upon him, and feasted upon
the breadcrumbs and sweetmeats that the rats so kindly supplied him with. These delicacies had
completely changed his body into a red, stout, huge, unwieldy mass of flesh. Thus passed full ten
years, as prophesied in the horoscope.
Ten complete years rolled away in close imprisonment. On the last evening of the tenth year one of
the serpents got into the bed-chamber of the princess and sucked her life. She breathed her last.
She was the only daughter of the king. The king at once sent for all the snake-bite curers. He
promised half his kingdom and his daughter's hand to him who would restore her to life. Now a
servant of the king who had several times overheard Gangazara's cries, reported the matter to him.
The king at once ordered the cell to be examined.
 There was the man sitting in it. How had he managed to live so long in the cell? Some whispered that
he must be a divine being. Thus they discussed, while they brought Gangazara to the king.
The king no sooner saw Gangazara than he fell on the ground. He was struck by the majesty and
grandeur of his person. His ten years' imprisonment in the deep cell underground had given a sort of
lustre to his body. His hair had first to be cut before his face could be seen. The king begged
forgiveness for his former fault, and requested him to revive his daughter.
"Bring me within an hour all the corpses of men and cattle, dying and dead, that remain unburnt or
unburied within the range of your dominions; I shall revive them all," were the only words that
Cartloads of corpses of men and cattle began to come in every minute. Even graves, it is said, were
broken open, and corpses buried a day or two before were taken out and sent for their revival. As
soon as all were ready, Gangazara took a vessel full of water and sprinkled it over them all,
thinking only of his snake-king and tiger-king. All rose up as if from deep slumber, and went to
their respective homes. The princess, too, was restored to life. The joy of the king knew no bounds.
He cursed the day on which he imprisoned him, blamed himself for having believed the word of a
 and offered him the hand of his daughter and the whole kingdom, instead of half, as he promised.
Gangazara would not accept anything, but asked the king to assemble all his subjects in a wood near
the town. "I shall there call in all the tigers and serpents, and give them a general order."
When the whole town was assembled, just at the dusk of evening, Gangazara sat dumb for a moment, and
thought upon the Tiger King and the Serpent King, who came with all their armies. People began to
take to their heels at the sight of tigers. Gangazara assured them of safety, and stopped them.
The grey light of the evening, the pumpkin colour of Gangazara, the holy ashes scattered lavishly
over his body, the tigers and snakes humbling themselves at his feet, gave him the true majesty of
the god Gangazara. For who else by a single word could thus command vast armies of tigers and
serpents, said some among the people. "Care not for it; it may be by magic. That is not a great
thing. That he revived cartloads of corpses shows him to be surely Gangazara," said others.
"Why should you, my children, thus trouble these poor subjects of Ujjaini? Reply to me, and
henceforth desist from your ravages." Thus said the Soothsayer's son, and the following reply came
from the king of the tigers: "Why should this base king imprison your honour, believing the mere
word of a goldsmith that your honour
 killed his father? All the hunters told him that his father was carried away by a tiger. I was the
messenger of death sent to deal the blow on his neck. I did it, and gave the crown to your honour.
The prince makes no inquiry, and at once imprisons your honour. How can we expect justice from such
a stupid king as that? Unless he adopt a better standard of justice we will go on with our
The king heard, cursed the day on which he believed in the word of a goldsmith, beat his head, tore
his hair, wept and wailed for his crime, asked a thousand pardons, and swore to rule in a just way
from that day. The serpent-king and tiger-king also promised to observe their oath as long as
justice prevailed, and took their leave. The gold-smith fled for his life. He was caught by the
soldiers of the king, and was pardoned by the generous Gangazara, whose voice now reigned supreme.
All returned to their homes. The king again pressed Gangazara to accept the hand of his daughter. He
agreed to do so, not then, but some time afterwards. He wished to go and see his elder brother
first, and then to return and marry the princess. The king agreed; and Gangazara left the city that
very day on his way home.
It so happened that unwittingly he took a wrong road, and had to pass near a sea-coast. His elder
brother was also on his way up to Benares
 by that very same route. They met and recognised each other, even at a distance. They flew into each
other's arms. Both remained still for a time almost unconscious with joy. The pleasure of Gangazara
was so great that he died of joy.
The elder brother was a devout worshipper of Ganesa. That was a Friday, a day very sacred to that
god. The elder brother took the corpse to the nearest Ganesa temple and called upon him. The god
came, and asked him what he wanted. "My poor brother is dead and gone; and this is his corpse.
Kindly keep it in your charge till I finish worshipping you. If I leave it anywhere else the devils
may snatch it away when I am absent worshipping you; after finishing the rites I shall burn him."
Thus said the elder brother, and, giving the corpse to the god Ganesa, he went to prepare himself
for that deity's ceremonials. Ganesa made over the corpse to his Ganas, asking them to watch over it
carefully. But instead of that they devoured it.
The elder brother, after finishing the puja, demanded his brother's corpse of the god. The god
called his Ganas, who came to the front blinking, and fearing the anger of their master. The god was
greatly enraged. The elder brother was very angry. When the corpse was not forthcoming he cuttingly
remarked, "Is this, after all, the return for my deep belief in you? You are unable even to return
my brother's corpse."
 Ganesa was much ashamed at the remark. So he, by his divine power, gave him a living Gangazara
instead of the dead corpse. Thus was the second son of the Soothsayer restored to life.
The brothers had a long talk about each other's adventures. They both went to Ujjaini, where
Gangazara married the princess, and succeeded to the throne of that kingdom. He reigned for a long
time, conferring several benefits upon his brother. And so the horoscope was fully fulfilled.