LONG long ago there lived a king. His name was Veeradhaval. True to his name the king was brave. He was a devotee of truth and justice.
Once, at night, Veeradhaval saw a strange dream. The king saw in a dream a fox sitting on his lap. When driven away, the fox moved to the other lap of the king. The fox jumped over the shoulder of the king. All attempts to get rid of the nasty fox were of no avail. The dream repeated for over three nights.
The king was puzzled over the appearance of the dream. He consulted his minister and as advised by the minister the king made an announcement over a drumbeat at various places as follows – “The king has been seeing a fox sitting here and there over his body, in a dream. Anybody who will correctly interpret the dream will be offered prize in the form of 100 gold coins.” The announcement was cast from corner to corner.
In that kingdom, there lived a poor farmer called Shreeranga who wanted to try his luck. But since he was illiterate he was getting irritated.
All of a sudden he heard a sparrow chirping on the branch of the bunyan tree. The sparrow started talking in sweet notes just like a human being.
The sparrow said “My dear friend, I know the thought that is pestering your mind!”
Shreeranga was taken aback on hearing the sparrow’s words. He asked the sparrow, “If so tell me which thought is disturbing my mind.”
The sparrow said, “we birds know the mind of the man full well. But men are incapable to read the mind of the birds. You have just heard the announcement. You are attracted by the prize in the form of the gold coins. But since you are illiterate you are blaming your fate.”
“Surprising!” said Shreeranga.
“Let me tell you”, twittered the sparrow.
“I have heard the announcement. I know the meaning of the dream seen by the king”, said the sparrow.
With great eagerness Shreeranga said to the sparrow, “If so, please tell me the meaning of the dream seen by the king.”
“Alright, I well narrate you the exact meaning of the dream, provided you offer me half the prize-amount namely 50 gold coins,” said the sparrow.
“Agreed. As soon as I get the prize I will give you half, ” said Shreeranga.
The sparrow then cleared its throat and said, “Here is the interpretation of the dream – Fox is a symbol of chicanery. The repeated appearance of the fox in a dream of the king signifies that cheat and deceit have been rampant in the kingdom. Timely attempts have to be made to bring them down.”
Shreeranga thanked the sparrow. He went to the king. He submitted before the king his interpretation of the dream. The king counterchecked the interpretation through his spies. The king was shocked to notice that at every level of the society, cheating has been the order of the day. So the king instituted swift and stringent measures to wipe out the trait. The king was pleased with Shreeranga over the correct interpretation of the dream. He offered 100 gold coins to Shreeranga by way of prize as announced already.
Shreeranga was overjoyed on receiving the glittering golden coins. He thought to himself, why should I share this amount with little sparrow. The little bird can do no wrong to me if I don’t pay him his share. So Shreeranga utilised the whole amount to improve his lot. Shreeranga forgot the sparrow altogether.
Days went on. The king started having a different dream now. The dream was horrible. The King saw in a dream a sharp dangling dagger with drops of blood trickling from the sharp blade of the dagger. The terrible dream went on repeating.
(To be concluded)