King Vikram and the Vampire & The Wedding of the Mouse
Posted on: November 16, 2018.

King Vikram and the Vampire

King Vikramaditya—often characterized as a virtuous king—was a legendary emperor who ruled ancient India, who was known for his generosity, courage, and patronage of scholars, and subsequently featured in hundreds of traditional Indian legends. Below is one such story—know in the vernacular language as “Baital Pachisi”—believed to be one of India’s oldest vampire stories.

A tantric sorcerer asked King Vikram to capture a baital—a spirit with vampire like qualities—and bring it to him. But every time Vikram caught the baital, the spirit would escape by posing a riddle. The deal between the two was that if Vikram was did not know the correct answer to the baital’s question at the end of a puzzle, only then would the spirit be willingly taken prisoner. However, if Vikram knew the answer but feigned not knowing it or remained silent, his head would explode into a thousand pieces. Also, if the king answered even one question correctly, he had to set the baital free.

Twenty-four times the baital posed a riddle, and Vikram being a wise man, solve the riddle every time. Most of the riddles mostly concerned philosophical questions about life. When the baital asked Vikram the twenty-fifth question to which Vikram genuinely did not know the correct answer, the baital kept his promise and accepted to be taken captive.

On the way to the tantric’s lair, the spirit revealed that he was actually a prince, and that it was the sorcerer’s plan all along to sacrifice the baital’s soul in order to attain immortality. The sprit also warned that Vikram too would be killed in the process but went on to advise the king on how to outwit the tantric and save both their lives. After King Vikram assassinated the evil sorcerer, the baital cleansed him of all his sins and also vowed to come to his aid whenever he needed it.

The Wedding of the Mouse

A sage was once bathing in a river when a hawk dropped a mouse it was holding in its claws right onto his hands. Afraid that the hawk would devour the poor mouse if he left it alone, the sage used his divine powers and transformed the small animal into a beautiful baby girl and took her home to his wife. The couple, thinking her to be a blessing from god, adopted the baby, since they did not have a child of their own.

When the girl reached a marriageable age, the sage and his wife decided to find the best husband for their daughter. Subsequently, the determined father took his daughter to the Sun God, but the girl refused to marry him. Next, the sage met with the Rain God, but this time too his daughter refused the alliance. A little worried now, the father took his daughter to the Lord of Winds and the Lord of Mountains. But his daughter dismissed all of them, despite their mighty powers.

Seeing how desperate the father was now, the Lord of Mountains suggested that the father take his daughter to the King of Mice who was far superior than the Sun God, Rain God, Wind God and Mountain God, as none of them could stop the mice from burrowing holes all over him. When the sage’s daughter met the King of Mice, she immediately agreed to the union. Supremely happy, the sage used his divine powers and transformed his daughter back to a female mouse, and the couple were happily married to each other.

The moral of this story that features in the Panchatantra—a collection of fables from ancient India written in Sanskrit—is that we can change our external appearances, but our innate nature can never change.

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