Vikram Betal Stories - The Saint's Double Standard

 The Saint's Double Standard

The vampire went on: On the verge of a forest on the river, Mahanadi lived a Yogi known as Shivacharya. People came from far and near to learn philosophy and yoga from him, but he did not accept all who came. He chose his disciples with care. At a time he had no more than a dozen students living with him. They had to observe many rules of discipline. Once he had in his Ashram a student named Prashant, son of a rich man. One day Prashant was returning to the Ashram from his home in the town. The rain came when he was crossing the forest. He lost his way and strayed into a far corner of the forest. He would have faced great difficulty had not a young man came to his rescue. The young man, whose name was Sundarsingh, lived in the forest with his kinsmen. His forefathers too were forest dwellers. Sundarsingh led Prashant to his hut. It rained heavily and Prashant had to pass the night in the hut. The two young men sat near a fire and Prashant heard from Sundarsingh how they hunted and how they lived. The two became friends. Prashant stayed on there for the next day and then returned to the Ashram. Shivacharya went to the locality once in a fortnight or so, to spend more time with his disciples who were living as householders. Whenever he was out, Prashant left the Ashram and went to live with his newfound friend. One day the guru returned to his Ashram a day earlier than he was expected to return. Prashant was not there. When the young man was back, the guru asked, "Where had you been?" "Master, on the river bank there is a deserted temple. I find the place very suitable for meditation. At times I spend a day or night meditating there under undisturbed," replied Prashant.

The guru did not say anything. A month passed. It appeared that the guru had no plan to go anywhere in the near future. Prashant felt impatient to meet his friend. One day he said to Shivacharya, "Master, can I go spend a day in that temple?" "You had not sought my permission beforehand when you went there. What is the necessity of seeking it now?" asked the guru. Prashant told his fellow students that the guru had no objection to his going to spend a day elsewhere. He went out. It was evening. Shivacharya followed Prashant quietly. Prashant walked very fast to reach his friend before it became late. He did not look back. The guru observed Prashant meeting his friend. From hiding, he saw Prashant taking such food with his friend which the students in his Ashram were not expected to take. Prashant drank wine too. What was worse, the guru understood from their conversation that Prashant had joined Sundarsingh in looting travellers. "Prashant!" The guru's voice surprised the young man. He stood up and bowed to Shivacharya. "I followed you personally because I did not wish anybody else to know what you were doing. You need not return to Ashram. Go back home. I will inform your father accordingly," said the guru. "Pardon me, Master. I am not a bad boy, though bad company caused some bad habits to develop in me," said Prashant. "I have told you about my decision." Shivacharya turned and headed for his Ashram. "What to do?" Prashant whispered to his friend. "This fellow will spoil my reputation!"

Sundarsingh picked up an axe and silently followed Shivacharya. Both had gone only a furlong when suddenly Sundarsingh sprang forward and swung his axe. A leopard that was stealthily coming towards Shivacharya along the branch of a big tree got killed. The Yogi stopped. Sundarsingh at once prostrated himself to him. The Yogi asked, "My boy! What can I do for you?" "Master, be kind to me and enrol me as your disciple," proposed Sundarsingh. The yogi stood with his eyes closed for a moment. Then he said, "All right. Follow me." Sundarsingh fell at the yogi's feet once again. Then both resumed their journey. The vampire paused for a moment and then demanded of King Vikram in a challenging tone: "O king, isn't the yogi's conduct questionable? It appeared that Sundarsingh followed the yogi to kill him at a hint from his friend. If he killed the leopard, it was because the leopard was a danger not only to the yogi but also to himself. Couldn't the yogi understand this? Prashant had been spoilt by Sundarsingh. How is it that while expelling Prashant from the Ashram the yogi accepted as his disciple the chap who had spoiled him?

Is it because Sundarsingh saved his life that he could not say no to him? Besides, should he not have given another chance to Prashant? Is he not guilty of a double standard? Answer me if you can, O King. If you keep mum despite your knowledge of the answer, your head would roll off your neck." Forthwith replied the king Vikram, "Sundarsingh did not follow the yogi to kill him. Had that been his motive, he could have killed him even after killing the leopard. Rather we should suppose that he followed him lest otherwise Prashant himself will follow and kill the yogi. To eat a certain kind of food, to drink and even to loot the travellers were a natural part of Sundarsingh's way of life. Prashant not only came from civilised society but also had been privileged to learn higher ideals from the yogi. For him, it was degradation and betrayal of the guru's faith. While Prashant had been spoilt under Sundarsingh's influence Sundarsingh had been inspired to learn and be a better man. So far as Prashant is concerned, the yogi had given him a chance to refrain from his habit when he indirectly disapproved of his going out of the Ashram. Prashant did not respect the guru's sentiment. With his insight, the guru understood that there was no need to waste his time on Prashant any longer." No sooner had the king concluded his reply than the vampire, along with the corpse, gave him the slip.