The Three Suitors - Vikram and Betal
Vikram climbed the ancient tree to bring the corpse down once again and soon he began crossing the desolate cremation ground, with the corpse lying on his shoulder. The Betaal that possessed the corpse spoke: “O King , I pity you as you are making untiring efforts without relaxing as if you wish to achieve something.Instead of enjoying a comfortable sleep on a cozy bed, you’re still coming after me. You seem to be quite adamant. Such arrogance may not help you keep your promise if you had given one to anybody. You’ll realize the futility of the whole thing if only you listen to my story.” And the Betal started narrating :
Once upon a time there was born a beautiful daughter, Mandaravati, to a very famous priest. When the daughter grew of age, the father was worried about her marriage. Once, three eIigible bachelors came to the father and each asked him for the hand of the daughter. Each of them threatened to kill himself lest the daughter be married off to any other of the three. The father decided not to marry her off to anyone.
One day, she caught a very high pitched fever and died suddenly. All three of them, grief-struck, cremated the body of Mandaravati. One of them decided to stay there and slept on the ashes of Mandaravati. The other took her bones and went to the Ganges. The third became an ascetic and wandered off. On one of his wanderings, the third one reached a brahmin’s house. The brahmin, by power of a spell, was able to bring the dead alive from the ashes.
This was in a book which the brahmin guarded safely. But the third suitor, in the stealth of night, stole this book and went back to the cremation ground of Mandaravati. The second one had returned from the Ganges with the holy water, and the first one was still there sleeping on the ashes.
Then he with the help of the other two, recited the spell from the book and lo Behold!! Mandaravati was reborn! Then the three of them started fighting about whose wife she should be. Each of them claiming the revival being due to his effort .
Betaal stops and asks King Vikram asks this question:
Who among the three suitors should be the husband of Mandaravati?
Vikram replies with a lot of thought, “The person who gave her the life by reciting the spell is her creator, it could be her father. The person who took her bones to Ganges shall be her son. But the person who committed himself to the ground and slept on her ashes out of love, can be her husband.”
As soon as Vikram had finished his answer, Betaal disappeared back to the tree.