Neglected Wife

While Brahma-Dutt ruled Banaras, Bodhisatva was born as a counsellor to the king. On a particular occasion, the king became angry with his son and banished him from his kingdom. The Prince left Banaras with his wife and suffered untold troubles in foreign lands for a long time. On several occasions, the Prince had no roof over his head. He had to go without food. His dutiful wife shared these hardships without complaining.

As time passed, King Brahma-Dutt died. The Prince was pleased to learn of his father’s death. He could now return to Banaras and sit on the throne.

So the Prince started for Banaras and travelled day and night. In his anxiety to get there as quickly as possible, he neglected to look after his wife’s comfort. He forced her to walk as fast as he did and to go without food and sleep as far as possible.

However anxious he was to reach Banaras, he could not avoid eating. One day the couple got a village in a state of great hunger. One of the villagers saw they had come a long way without food and told the Prince to come to his house and accept a food parcel.

The Prince asked his wife to rest under a tree and went with the villager. He was given a parcel of food which was enough for two. While returning to his wife, the Prince said to himself, “This food is just sufficient for the two of us. I don’t know when we shall be having our next meal. Banaras is still very far off. It is more important that I should reach Banaras. There is no hurry for her. As it is, she is a hindrance to me. But for her, I should have gone much further by now. I must manage to eat all this food myself.”

With his mind full of such mean thoughts, the Prince returned to his wife. “Here’s the food,” he told her. “You walk along. I shall catch up with you after my ablutions.”

Believing him, she wearily walked ahead, and the scoundrel ate all the food. Then he made a loose bundle of the cover leaves and caught up with his wife.

“Look at this mischief,” he told her, showing the empty package. “Those villagers are rogues. They fooled us with an empty parcel. There is no food inside it.”

His wife said nothing, but she understood everything. They travelled for some more days and finally arrived at Banaras. The Prince was duly crowned King of Banaras.

Now the king had no time at all to think of his wife. Though she had shared all his hardships, he did not feel it necessary to share his happiness with her. He never bothered to inquire whether she had good clothes, food and other luxuries. Thus the queen was entirely neglected by the king. She was stricken with sorrow.

Bodhisatva, the counsellor, noticed the queen’s condition, and one day, he went to see her. The queen received him appropriately.

“After entering into good times, the king made several distributions of gifts to all of us,” he said. “But I haven’t received anything yet from the hand of the queen.”

“Sir,” the queen replied sadly, “I’m queen only in name. There is very little difference between the palace maids and me. I had the duty to share the king’s misfortune but not the right to share his fortune.” She narrated to Bodhisatva how, on their way to Banaras, the king had robbed her of her share of food. “Even now,” she said, “the king does not care to inquire whether I have had my food, what clothes I am wearing and so on.”

“Do not worry, madam,” Bodhisatva said, seeing she was shedding tears. “I’ve suspected this much. I have come to you only to know the truth from you. Now, let me tell you something. Let us repeat our conversation tomorrow in court. I will see that the king stops neglecting you.”

The next day the queen was present at court. Bodhisatva accused her in full court that she had not thought of the poor since she ascended the throne.

Then the queen told the court everything she had told Bodhisatva the previous day. The king was put to shame when she revealed how he had robbed her of her share of food while they were returning to Banaras.

“If the king is neglectful of you,” Bodhisatva told her “, there is no reason you should stay with him. It is said:

” बजे चजन्तं वन्धं न कइरा अपेत चित्तेन न सम्भजेय्य, द्विजो दुमं स्त्रीन फलन्ति त्वा अढं समेक्लेय्य, महाहि लोके ।”

(Leave one who has left you. Do not make friends with him. Be not nice to one who frowns at you. Birds leave the fruitless tree and seek other trees. The world is wide.)

“So, you can go out into the world and seek those who have consideration for you.”

The king got up from the throne and fell at Bodhisatva’s feet. “O wise counsellor! Don’t put me to shame!” he begged. “I shall, subsequently, treat my wife with respect. I apologise for what I have done.”

From then onwards, the king treated her with the regard and consideration she deserved.

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