Vikram and Betaal Stories

vikram-or-betal
Betaal Pachisi written nearly 2,500 years ago by Mahakavi
Somdev Bhatt, are spellbinding stories told to the wise King
Vikramaditya by the wily ghost Betaal. The tales of Vikram
and Betaal possess a wealth of pageantry and splendor of long
ago.
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The Meeting of Vikram and Betaal
Vikram was the name of a king. He ruled over a city on the banks of
Godavari River. He was very famous for his bravery and courage.
People loved him because he always rendered justice.
One day a sage came to the court of Vikram and gifted him a fruit.
The king handed it over to his treasurer. Thereafter, the sage kept
coming to the court daily to gift a fruit to the king. The king could not
understand the reason behind this behaviour. But still he did not try to
find out the sage’s intentions.
However, one morning, Vikram noticed a monkey sitting on the
palace wall and gave the fruit to it. The monkey had started eating the
fruit when suddenly a dazzling gem fell out of it. The King was very
surprised. He immediately ordered his treasurer to get him all the
fruits kept in the storage. The fruits had gone bad but when the king
had them crushed, each one of them yielded a precious gem. The
generous King donated all these gems to the poor and waited for the
sage’s visit to the court.
The next day, the sage visited the court of Vikram with yet another
fruit.
Vikram welcomed the sage and asked him “Your Holiness! Can you
please tell me why you have been giving me such precious gifts?
Without good reason, I cannot accept any gifts from you.”
The sage replied, “I need the help of a brave man for a spiritual goal.
Will you help me?” Vikram readily agreed to this. So the sage said,
“O King, please come to the burial ground on the next moonless
night. It is at a distance of 20 miles from here. I will wait for you
under a banyan tree.” Vikram agreed to follow the instructions.
On the said night, Vikram covered his head and body with a black
cloth and unnoticed, reached the appointed spot in the forest. The
sage was waiting for him and told him, “King Vikram! To the south
of this forest is an old tamarind tree on which hangs a corpse upside
down. Please bring it to me.” The king immediately followed the
sage’s orders and reached the tamarind tree. On finding a corpse
there, he cut it loose. As soon as the corpse fell to the ground, it
laughed loudly with a cackling sound. The king realized that it was a
ghost. But the courageous king carried the body over his shoulders
and started towards his capital. A short distance later, the ghost left
Vikram’s shoulders and escaped to its original spot. The king
climbed up the tree, brought down the ghost and placing it on his
shoulders started walking again. “Who are you?” he asked the ghost.
“I am Betaal” replied the ghost and in turn asked Vikram, “Why and
where are you taking me away?”
“A sage has requested me to bring you to him,” replied Vikram.
Betaal did not have any objection to going with Vikram but he laid
down a condition. “We have to cover a long distance and to relieve
the tedious walk, I will tell you a story. But you should not utter even
one word till we reach the destination. If by chance you utter
anything, I will fly back to the tamarind tree. Do you agree to this?”
asked Betaal. Vikram agreed to this and silently listened to Betaal’s
story.

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