Revenge Waived

VIKRAM stubbornly returned to the tree, took down the corpse, threw it across his shoulders, and began to walk back to the burial ground. “O King,” said the Bethal of the corpse, “Even Bhanu-Dutt waived his revenge, but you insist upon carrying out this task. You may change your mind if I tell you his story. Let me try.” And he began to narrate the following:

At the foot of the Himalayas, there was once a petty state called Mani-Manth. Nandi-Ketu as its Commander-in-Chief. He was such a mighty warrior that no one dared to think of waging war on this state.

Now, Nandi-Ketu had a daughter called Pushpa-vati. She was very handsome, and several princes were eager to marry her. But she was in love with Bhanu-Dutt, an accomplished young man of noble birth.

Nandi-Ketu, hoping to get a crowned head for a son-in-law, was greatly upset when he learned that his daughter loved the son of a mere vassal. He said to the King, “Sire, banish Bhanu-Dutt from our kingdom. I know he is a traitor.” To the King, his Commander-in-Chief’s word was law, and he issued the required order.

Bhanu-Dutt was both brave and proud. He decided to kill Nandi-Ketu, who was responsible for his banishment. In the dead of night, he cleverly made his way into the bed chamber of Nandi-Ketu. At that moment, the image of Pushpa-Vati rose before him, and he could not take his revenge and bring sorrow upon her. So Bhanu-Dutt retreated the way he had come and left the kingdom before daybreak for the neighbouring state of Pulinda.

The King of Pulinda was not mighty, but his lust for conquest was great. He not only gave asylum to such of those who were driven out of Mani-manth, but he also put them in high positions and maintained them in luxury. He hoped to make use of them one day. He heard that Bhanu-Dutt came into his state banished from Mani-Manth, gave him a lordly welcome and made excellent arrangements for his happy sojourn.

A couple of years passed. Bhanu-dutt’s pride still suffered from the insult of banishment. His love for Pushpa-Vati gradually faded away, but his thirst for revenge was as strong as ever.

The King of Pulinda was fully aware of the fire that burned steadily in the breast of young Bhanu-Dutt. One day he said, “My friend, your grief hurts me much. I shall give you all the help you need. Destroy that enemy of yours, Nandi-Ketu. Grab the very throne of Mani-Manth, if you want! You will not need a great army since you know the place.”

“It is not the throne I need,” Bhanu-Dutt replied, grinding his teeth. “I want just those two- Nandi-Ketu and his daughter!”

“So be it,” the King of Pulinda said. He sent Bhanu-Dutt away and sent for his Commander-in-Chief. When he came, the King told him a plan.

“Give fifty or sixty able-bodied fighters to Bhanu-Dutt. Including among them all the refugees from Mani-manth. With this contingent, Bhanu-Dutt will sneak into Mani-manth and kill Nandi-Ketu. His death will demoralise his soldiers, and Bhanu-dutt’s accomplices will seize the palace and the barracks. By that time, you take our armies into the city.”

The Commander-in-Chief promised to do as he was told.

The next day, about sixty men reported themselves to Bhanu-Dutt. “Sir, we were sent to aid you and obey you,” they told him. “You can command us!”

Bhanu-Dutt was very glad that he now had the chance to destroy Nandi-Ketu. He already planned how to make use of these men. Like him, several of them were exiles from Mani-manth, and they knew every corner of the city.

Taking adequate arms, they started on the secret mission. As they marched, someone said, “Thank God, we shall be again residents of Mani-manth!”

“How’s that?” Bhanu-Dutt enquired, turning to the man.

“Nandi-Ketu will join his father tonight,” the other replied. “And tomorrow morning, the armies of Pulinda will be occupying Mani-manth. Don’t you know the plan?”

Bhanu-Dutt was amazed. He had been under the impression that the King of Pulinda was aiding him in his revenge. He never suspected that the scoundrel was using him as an instrument of conquest.

It was midnight when Bhanu-Dutt and his followers arrived at the walls of Mani-manth. Bhanu-Dutt asked his men to stand in the shade of the walls and knocked on the door.

“Who is that?” a query came from the other side of the door.

“It is I, Bhanu-Dutt,” Bhanu-Dutt replied. “Please open the door.”

A small door opened. The watchman stepped out and said, “Is that you, master? Are you alone? Is it not risky for you to come like this?”

“I have a small affair to attend to,” Bhanu-Dutt replied. “I shall go away before dawn.”

The watchman led Bhanu-Dutt inside, and as he was about to close the door, Bhanu-Dutt fell upon him and overpowered him. Then he gagged his mouth, bound him hand and foot, dragged him to where some bushes stood and left him there. In the meantime, the men waiting outside entered through the gate.

Bhanu-Dutt led them into the yard of a temple. “Hide yourselves here until I finish my job and return,” he told them. “I shall be back in an hour.” Then he departed.

He went to Nandi-ketu’s residence and made his way into the bedchamber. Nahdi-Ketu was sleeping soundly. “Get up!” he said, prodding Nandi-Ketu. “The enemy is at hand!”

Nandi-Ketu woke up in confusion. When he saw Bhanu-Dutt standing before him, his heart raced in terror. He could not utter a sound.

“You are such a brave man, aren’t you?” Bhanu-Dutt said sarcastically. “Why do you keep staring like that when danger threatens?”

“Don’t kill an unarmed man!” Nandi-Ketu said, his voice trembling. “Let me take my sword.”

Bhanu-dutt laughed and said, “I am not a skunk like you. You have nothing to fear from me. Some sixty armed men are hiding in the temple. Send a hundred archers onto the temple walls. Let them train their arrows on the hiding men, call them out of the temple and make them surrender their arms. That is not all. By dawn, the armies of Pulinda will be around the fort walls. Let your armies be ready for them on the fort walls. I have come only to warn you.”

Nandi-Ketu was now all energy. He sent a hundred archers with Bhanu-Dutt. They went to the temple, got upon the walls surrounding the temple yard, and were ready with their arrows drawn when Bhanu-Dutt gave his followers the signal to emerge from the temple. The moment they came out, they saw that they were trapped. “Throw down your arms,” the men on the walls shouted.. and Bhanu-dutt’s followers hastily threw down their swords and sabres. Then the archers jumped down from the walls and bound the enemy hand and foot.

Then Bhanu-Dutt joined Nandi-Ketu and the armies which he had got ready. They proceeded to the gate through which Bhanu-Dutt and his men had come. The watchman was taken out of the bushes and freed. Then the armies went onto the top of the fort walls.

As already planned, the armies of Pulinda arrived about dawn. But no gates stood open for them. Instead, a rain of arrows welcomed them. Several soldiers fell victim to this volley of hands, and the rest fled. Nandi-Ketu chased the enemy very far and inflicted severe punishment.

As soon as this affair concluded, Nandi-Ketu took Bhanu-dutt to the King’s Court, where he reported to the King what had happened. “Sire,” he said in the decision, “we had punished this young man with banishment. I now pray that you rescind that order and engage him as the Deputy Commander of our armed forces.”

Bhanu-Dutt became not only the Deputy Commander-in-Chief but also the Commander-in-Chief’s son-in-law.

Having narrated this tale, Bethal said, “O King, tell me why Bhanu-Dutt, who had once sacrificed his revenge for his love, thought of revenge again? Why did he drop it altogether when he had the opportunity to take his revenge? Your head shall split if you know the answer and still do not speak.”

“Revenge is far more powerful than love,” Vikram replied. “Therefore, Bhanu-Dutt could soon get over his love, not his thirst for revenge. It is to wreak vengeance on Nandi-ketu that he took the help of the King of Pulinda and started for Mani-Manth. But when he learned that his revenge would lead to the fall of his land into enemy hands, Bhanu-Dutt dropped the idea of revenge altogether. For patriotism is stronger than personal pride.”

Thus the King’s silence was broken, and Bethal returned to the tree with the corpse.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *