Chandra Gupta and the lion6

There was once a king named Samudra Gupta who had two sons: Rama Gupta and Chandra Gupta. Everyone liked Chandra Gupta, the younger of the two, because of his bravery, sweetness, politeness and humility. Chandra Gupta had all the divine virtues, whereas Rama Gupta was very haughty and undivine in every possible way. Even their father couldn’t help liking his younger son better. All the members of the royal family and the court favoured Chandra Gupta, except for one very bad minister. This minister was a rogue of the first water, and he liked Rama Gupta for his own undivine reasons.

The two princes had many friends among the sons of ministers and high officials. One day, Chandra Gupta came to his father and asked “Father, can we go out to the river and play?”

The father said, “Why not, my son. Go and enjoy yourself.”

The two brothers and eight or nine of their friends went to play by the river. All of a sudden, a ferocious lion came and everybody became frightened and ran away. Only Chandra Gupta stayed. He started fighting the animal and finally killed him. Afterwards, all the other children started appreciating Chandra Gupta.

His brother became very jealous and said, “Oh, he just killed a lion. Anybody can do that.”

The friends said, “Anybody can do it? Then why did you run away, you coward?”

The brother said, “I ran away only because everybody else was running away. They would have pulled me with them, and would not have allowed me to stay.”

“You liar!” everybody shouted. “Your brother didn’t run away. He challenged the strength of the lion and killed it!”

Rama Gupta became furious. “I hate my brother! Everybody appreciates him and admires him. It isn’t fair. I am also the King’s son, the prince of this kingdom, but nobody appreciates me.”

Everyone said, “You are a coward, like us; that is why we can’t appreciate you. But your brother set his strength against that of the wild beast and came out victorious. Indeed, he is destined to be King one day.”

Rama Gupta said, “How? I am the older brother. It is my kingdom. It is I who will get the throne.” Everyone continued to argue with him.

By now it was getting late, and still the children had not returned to the palace. The King became worried, and he sent a messenger to see if they were all right. When the messenger reached the river, he told the princes, “Your father is very worried. You must come back to the palace now.” “We were enjoying the death of this lion,” the children said.

When the King came to hear of the story, he couldn’t believe his ears. He personally came to the river with his whole entourage of ministers and important people. “Chandra Gupta, you have done this?” he said. “This is beyond my imagination. I have had many dreams about how powerful and great you will be, and this only makes me more certain.”

Everybody was shouting with joy that Chandra Gupta had killed the lion, but the rogue minister was very sarcastic. “At last Chandra Gupta has done something great,” he said.

“Shut up, Minister,” everyone said. “Why are you mocking him? Chandra Gupta has performed such a great feat, almost a miracle. He is the great hero in the family.”

The minister became afraid he would be fired. He said, “I am sorry. I don’t know why I said that. I really meant to say that you should give him a reward.”

“What kind of reward should I give him?” asked the King. “Whatever I give him will be inadequate. On the one hand, I am so proud of him. On the other hand, I feel that he will get his reward for his virtuous life when the day comes for him to take care of the kingdom.”

“What?” Rama Gupta cried out. “How is that possible? I am the older brother. The throne belongs to me.”

The King answered, “No doubt, Rama Chandra, you will become King after my death. But I feel that somehow, someday, Chandra Gupta is destined to rule.”

“Father,” cried Rama Gupta, “you always speak well of Chandra Gupta. In your eyes I am nobody, just a speck of dust.”

The King said, “Don’t be a fool. You are also my son. Only be grateful that your brother has saved your life.”

“I hate him!” screamed Rama Gupta. “I can save myself.”

“Look, I am the King,” the father said firmly. “Come back home peacefully. Otherwise, I will throw you out of my kingdom.”

Rama Gupta became frightened and returned to the palace. Because his older brother felt so miserable, Chandra Gupta said to him, “O brother, I have killed a lion. But you and I are brothers, so easily you can feel that it is you who have killed it.”

“You fool!” said Rama Gupta. “You killed the beast, and I will say that I did it?” He became furious.

“But what is the difference?” asked Chandra Gupta. “We are members of one family. Our parents, our relatives, even our father’s subjects are all one. When you do something great and good, at that time I feel that it is I who have done it.”

“What have I ever done?” asked Rama Gupta.

“You will do very great things,” Chandra Gupta consoled him. “And I will claim them as my very own. Although I have killed this lion today, please feel that it is you who have done it. And one day when you do something significant, I will claim your achievement as my own.”

GIM 46. 14 January 1979