Once upon a time there lived a prosperous king who ruled from the Himalayas to Ceylon and from the Rann of Kutch to the Irrawaddy River. The king and his minsters were just and prosperity was visible in the kingdom and people’s lives. The King’s uncle Pratapsingh, was one of the ministers and since he wasn’t very old, he was also a kind of a friend to the King. However, there was one thing that irked the king about Pratapsingh was his oft-repeated statement, “everything is for the best”, to any situation.
Once the king went out for hunting and he hardly ventured far when a deer crossed the path of the hunting team. Pratapsingh advised the King to turn back to the palace as it was a bad omen. The king didn’t care much for the superstition and ignored his suggestion and went on. The team went deep into the forest and soon the King and Pratapsingh realised that they were separated from the others.
It was late and the king came across a wood-apple tree (Bael in Hindi). The king tried to slash the fruit into two, but unfortunately, he slashed off his own finger. The angry king looked at Pratapsingh and said, “I believe this must be for good!” When Pratapsingh replied that he did believe so, the King was angry and asked him to get out of sight. Pratapsingh hid himself in the bushes nearby, away from the King.
The king in the meanwhile dozed off and soon thereafter, was discovered by a group of forest dwellers who were on the lookout for a man to sacrifice their goddess. They were delighted to find a young and handsome person and took him away. When all preparations were made, they smeared turmeric and red powder on his forehead, feet and hands. Suddenly the head priest noticed the missing finger and yelled in horror as they were about to offer an imperfect sacrifice to the goddess.
The king realised that the missing finger saved his life and also the significance of Pratapsingh’s words. Was the hiding of Pratapsingh for best too? Well yes, if Pratapsingh had come to help the king then he would have been caught and become the substitute sacrificial victim, so his being out of sight and not being aware of the king’s predicament was also good for him!
Story collected by: Utkarsh Patel
Source: Myths and Legends of India, Veronica Ions
Image details: The Hindu goddess Kali, Wikimedia