Hari’s Luck

Once a great Pandit was blessed with a son in his late years. He named him Hari. Now, in Sanskrit, the word Hari means several things like the sun, the air, the moon, the lion, the horse, the snake, the parrot, the frog and so on. The Pandit sensed that his son was far from intelligent and kept calling him, “You dirty frog!” instead of “Hari.”

Hari grew up, got married and raised a considerable family. He was finding his native village too small for his family. Hari migrated to a big city. He found employment in a rich man’s house. While Hari did menial work, his wife cooked, and his children tended the cattle of the rich man.

After some time, the rich man’s daughter happened to be married. For this marriage, great preparations were set afoot, and guests arrived by the thousand. Poor Hari dreamed he would do justice to the feasts following the marriage ceremony. But to his great disappointment, Hari was not even invited.

Hari, crest-fallen, said to himself, “This rich man ignored me only because I am poor and stupid. It is not easy to pretend to be rich, but many people appear clever. Let me do the same.”

That night when everyone was sleeping soundly, Hari led the bridegroom’s horse to the city limits, tied it to a tree, came back and went to sleep.

When he woke up the following day, there was excellent communication. The bridegroom’s horse was not to be found. Instigated by Hari, his wife went to the rich man and said, “Master, they say that some horse is missing. Why not ask my husband? He is an expert diviner of lost properties.”

The rich man called Hari and asked him to find out where the stolen horse was. Hari drew some lines on the ground, counted upon his fingers, muttered some calculations and said. “The horse was stolen in the night. It is now tied to a tree near the southern city limit. If somebody is sent there at once, the horse is likely to be recovered.”

All this turned out to be true. Hari was praised all around for his extraordinary powers. The rich man showed as much regard to him as to his other honoured guests. Hari not only enjoyed the pleasures of the marriage feast but also got a promotion as an adviser to the rich man.

Shortly afterwards, a theft occurred in the king’s palace, and some costly ornaments were lost. Fame is, at times, a risky thing. The king sent for Hari, who became well-known for his divining powers. Hari asked the king to give him one day. He was shown a room in the palace where he could make his calculations unmolested. Hari felt that the king was imprisoning him.

Now, this theft in the palace was carried out by a palace maid popularly called “The Tongue” and her brother. The maid was afraid that Hari should find out about her theft. That night She tiptoed to her room Hari and listened at the door.

Meanwhile, Hari, too, was greatly agitated about what would happen. In the morning, the king would send for him and punish him. Him. All this was because of his Tongue, which craved the rich man’s feast. Hari cursed it heartily, “You. Accursed Tongue! What have you done? You will know better when you are torn to pieces by the king.”

The Tongue who was listening at the door went cold all over. Sweating with fear, she pushed the doors open, rushed in and fell at Hari’s feet.

“Good Sir, spare me this once. Do not let me be killed; I pray you,” she waited.

Hari knew that luck was now with him. “Don’t weep, woman. I gain nothing by punishing you. Tell me where you have hidden the stolen stuff.”

The Tongue thanked Hari profusely and said. “I’ve hidden them in the garden at the base of the pomegranate tree.”

Hari sent the maid away and waited till morning. Then he went to the minister and said, “Let us go and get the stolen ornaments.”

Of course, they were found buried at the base of the tree, as mentioned by the maid. The king was very much impressed and employed Hari in his court.

However, the minister was far from satisfied with Hari. For one thing, Hari appeared too illiterate and unpolished to have any powers at all. To prove to the king that Hari had no divining powers, the minister put a frog in a pot and sealed its mouth. He presented it to Hari when he was with the king and said. “Sir, with your extraordinary powers, you can certainly tell us what is in this pot?”

Hari was utterly taken by surprise. When Hari was a boy, his father used to test his studies by asking him questions. Hari used to feel the same unpleasant sensation as he now felt when he could not answer any question. And his father used to exclaim. “Ah, you dirty frog, I got you!”

The exact words now flew out of the mouth of the baffled Hari. He said, “Ah, you dirty frog. You are caught now!”

The minister was not prepared for such powers in Hari. He fell at his feet and said, “Sir, your powers are beyond the understanding of anyone. Pardon me for having suspected them.” Then he unsealed the pot and revealed the frog in it.

Hari was saved from a very nasty situation, never again put to the test, and lived happily and prosperously for a long time.

Chandamama August 1955 | N. R. Nigam

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