The fame of King Bhoja and the eminent poets of his court spread far and wide. But some people could not believe certain rumours that even the ordinary people of Dhara, Bhoja’s capital, were experts in clever verification. Poet Kanthi, a great scholar, started for Dhara with the sole aim of disproving these rumours.
The first thing Kanthi saw on entering the city of Dhara was the village well. He found several young women of the labouring classes taking water from the well and going away. Kanthi accosted the first woman and asked her, “Who are you, my child?” She promptly replied:
“हर हर स्मरते नित्यं, बहुजीव प्रपालक अरण्ये वसते नित्यं ‘तस्याहं कुल बालिका. ‘
(I am the daughter of those who lives in the woods, constantly take the name of Har and maintain life.)
She belonged to the community of peasants who cultivated the land from which the trees were cleared, drove the bulls crying “Harr! Harr!” and produced the food necessary for life.
Kanthi was pleased with her cleverness. He stopped the next girl and asked her, “Who are you, my child?” And she replied:
“‘चतुर्मुखो नव ब्रह्मा, षादो न शंकरः अकाले वर्षते मेघः तस्याहं कुल बालिका. “
(I am a child of those who lives by that which has four mouths, but is not Brahma, which rides a bull, but is not Shankar; and which gives water like a cloud in and out of season.)
This girl belonged to the water carriers, which ply their trade with skin with four mouths. The next woman replied to Kanthi’s question thus:
” निर्जीव जी वतो वा पे श्व सोच्छवास विशेषतः कुटुम्ब कलहो नास्ति तस्याहं कुल बालिका । “
(I belong to those who live by a lifeless thing and yet breathe the air in and out and never quarrel with the family.)
She belonged to the black smiths. Another girl told Kanthi:
“द्विराजा, नगरी एका नित्यं युद्धंच जयते तदुत्पत्ति करोयस्तु तस्य हं कुल बालिका.”
(A particular town has two kings who always fight each other. I belong to those who manufacture such cities.)
She was a carpenter’s daughter. The city was the spinning wheel. Yet another girl told Kanthi:
(I belong to those who manufacture the fathers of Agasthya the Rishi, with the help of a single wheel, the charioteer always standing on the ground.)
She belonged to the potters The great Rishi, Agasthya, was said to have been born in a pot.
Poet Kanthi concluded that the rumours did not do full justice to the actual state of things in Dhara.