Two rich merchants
Rajgriha and Janapad were two flourishing cities in ancient India . Both of these cities were under the reign of King of Magadha . Ramesh and Deepak were two rich merchants. Ramesh lived at Rajgriha and Deepak at Janapad . They were good friends . Ramesh had a son named Suresh and Deepak had a daughter named Roopwati .
The two merchants decided to fix the marriage of Suresh and Roopwati . An auspicious day was fixed for the marriage . A grand marriage ceremony took place at Janapad, the bride’s city .
After the marriage, Roopwati came to her in-law’s house . She was given a warm reception . She was treated very kindly by her husband’s family members . She was not allowed to do any household work, lest her hands would become rough . Everybody treated her with love and affection .
However, things changed after some months . Her mother-in-law’s attitude towards her changed . She made her do all the household work . She started complaining that roopwati had not been able to give an heir to the family . Roopwati grew sad .
One day, she sat weeping in her room . She had a kind maid who had come with her from her father’s house . She saw him weeping and asked her what the matter was . Roopwati could not control her feelings and told her everything . The maid advised her to pretend to be carrying a baby . “ Your mother-in-law will start loving you as before if you tell her that you are carrying a baby ”.
Roopwati followed her advice and told a lie to her mother-in-law . The mother-in-law grew happy and started taking care of her . As time went by, the maid advised Roopwati to go to her father’s house . “ Tell your mother-in-law that you wish to deliver your baby at your father’s house ”. The maid told her . As it was a custom to deliver a baby one’s parental house, the mother-in-law permitted her to go .
She was accompanied by her maid . In the evening, they camped in a garden . Some gypsies were also camping in the same garden . In the morning, when Roopwati woke up, she found a newborn baby boy under a banyan tree . Nobody was there with the baby . She picked up the baby . The maid told her to accept the baby as god’s gift to her . Roopwati agreed with her maid and accepted the baby .
The maid sent a messenger to Rajgriha saying that Roopwati had given birth to a son on way to her parent’s house .
Roopwati’s mother-in-law called back . There was great rejoicing at her husband’s house . Roopwati and the baby were given warm welcome . As Roopwati had found the baby under a banyan tree, she named him Nigrodha Kumar . ( Banyan is also called Nigrodha ) . This secret was known only to Roopwati and her maid .
As Nigrodha Kumar grew up, he made two friends-Ritesh and Ajay . Ritesh was son of a wealthy merchant and Ajay was son of a poor weaver . Both these boys were also born on the same day as Nigrodha Kumar . The three became great friends . They went to the same gurukul to study . They were quite intelligent and completed their education in a very short span of time . They had now grown into young handsome lads .
After completing their studies, they decided to go on a countrywide tour . While travelling, they reached a village near Varanasi . They were very tired . They lay down to sleep in a garden .
Next morning, Ajay woke up early . He heard a bird speaking in human voice . She was saying, “ I have laid three eggs today . One is pure white in color, the other is pale yellow and the third is cream in color . These eggs are magic eggs . If anybody eats the white eggs, he will become a king . The one, who eats the pale yellow eggs, will become the prime minister and if anybody eats the off-white egg, he will become a treasurer ”. Ajay thought of picking the eggs and eating them along with his friends . He gave the white egg to Nigrodha Kumar, the yellow one to Ritesh and ate the cream one himself . Then, he told his friends what he had heard and done . Ritesh grew angry, as Ajay had not given him the white egg. But, he controlled his anger for the moment and did not say anything to him .
The three friends then entered the city of Varanasi . There, they came to know that the king of Varanasi had died childless . As there was no heir to the throne, the people were planning to choose a new king .
An elephant with a garland was to be set free in the kingdom . The person, whom the elephant would garland, will become the king . The three friends stood on the street to watch the proceedings . A fully decorated elephant was walking slowly on the street . It had a flower garland in his trunk . Suddenly, the elephant came and stood near Nigrodha Kumar and garland him . People cheered him and accepted him their king . The words of the bird had come true . As the post of the prime minister also lay vacant, Ritesh became the prime minister of the kingdom .
However, he was still angry with Ajay for not giving him the white egg . He waited for an opportunity to take revenge upon him .
After attaining the throne of Varanasi, Nigrodha Kumar wanted to call his parents to Varanasi . He asked Ajay to go and bring them to Varanasi . However, Nigrodh’s parents did not want to leave their hometown . Ritesh’s and Ajay’s parents also refused to come . This made Ajay very unhappy . He returned to Varanasi, but did not want to straight to Nigrodha Kumar .
Therefore, he decided to go to Ritesh’s house first . When he reached Ritesh’s house, the guards refused to let him enter the house . He told the guards that he was Ritesh’s friend Ajay . The guards went inside to ask Ritesh’s permission to let Ajay enter the house . When Ritesh heard that Ajay had come to see him, his anger came back . He was still burning with a desire to punish Ajay for not giving him the white egg . So he told the guards, “ I do not have any friend named Ajay. Beat him up and throw him out of my gates ”. The guards did as they were told .
Ajay went to Nigrodh’s house . Nigrodha welcomed him and personally came out to receive him . He took him to his private room and made him as comfortable as possible . Ajay then told him that their parents had refused to come to Varanasi, as they did not want to leave their hometown . He also told him how Ritesh had treated him .
Nigrodha grew very angry when he heard about Ritesh’s treatment towards Ajay . He immediately called him to the palace and said, “ Ritesh, how could you forget our childhood friend Ajay ? It was due to Ajay that I have become a king and you have become a prime minister . He could have eaten the white egg to become a king himself . But he did not because he is not selfish and ungrateful like you . One should never behave in a selfish and ungrateful manner . It pays to be a selfless and grateful person . You have been a very selfish and ungrateful person . You shall have to pay it with your life ”. He then ordered his guards to kill him .
Ajay, however, requested Nigrodha Kumar to spare his life. “ He is our friend. He should not be killed, please pardon him,” Ajay pleaded with Nigrodha .
Nigrodha agreed and said, “ If you wish so, Ajay, I will not kill him . But I do not want a selfish and ungrateful man to be the prime minister . He cannot live in my kingdom . Therefore, I banish him from my kingdom . And I appoint you to the prime minister’s Post ”.
However, Ajay said that he was not fit to be a prime minister, as he did not have qualities to become a prime minister . “ A prime minister should have great qualities of head and heart ”. He said . Nigrodha then offered him the post of treasurer and he accepted the offer and lived happily at Varanasi .