Moral Story for Kids - The Scholar

 The Scholar

Once there was an educated youth in ancient times, Kuchumara by name. He was a great scholar, a master of all sixty-four sciences. Those were the days when the King of the land was patronizing poets and scholars and giving them fabulous gifts. Thinking of obtaining favors from the great king, Kuchumara started for the city of Gold. On his way, he stopped at a village. One of the householders of the village gave him hospitality. When they sat for their meal the host politely asked the guest, "Sir, may I know where you hail from, whither you are bound, and on what errand?" "The Village of scholars is my native place," Kuchumara replied. "I am on my way to the city of old, seeking the patronage of King." "If you are a scholar," the host said, "you need not go all the way to the palace. Our King has a daughter named Sara. She insists on marrying a man of learning equal to her own. The man who can meet her tests will not only marry her but he will also become the future King of our country." Kuchumara said that he was ready to meet the tests devised by Princess Sara. The host sent his own son Shamba as Kuchumara's guide. Kuchumara went to the court of the King, announced himself as having come to submit himself to the test of the Princess.

The officials allotted quarters for him and passed on the details concerning him to the Princess. On receiving information concerning Kuchumara, the Princess wrote him the following letter, "Sir, since you are a scholar I do not like to see you defeated. But you need not go away disappointed. I am sending you some gifts, which I want you to accept and give me your blessings." The servant who took this letter to Kuchumara brought the gifts from the Princess, too. Kuchumara declined the gifts and asked Shamba to draft the following reply to the Princess. "Madam, if you had any objections to marrying me you could have said so frankly. But it was very unfair of you to try to send me off like this. The gifts are uncalled for since I would depart without them once you had defeated me."  The Princess read this reply and felt irritated. She sent some flowers to Kuchumara through her servants. Kuchumara understood that his knowledge of making garlands was being put to test, so he arranged the flowers in a very clever design in which his own name also figured. Next, the Princess sent him a heap of precious stones some of which were real and other just fakes. Kuchumara was requested to estimate the value of the entire lot. 

He separated the real gems from the fakes, estimated the value of the real gems, powdered the fakes, made the powder into a packet, and sent it back to the Princess along with real gems and his estimation of their value. Then some maids of the Princess brought a parrot which could not speak, and said to Kuchumara, "The Princess requests you to teach the parrot to speak." Making the parrots speak was one of the sciences and Kuchumara knew it. Within the space of twenty-four hours, he taught the parrot speech and sent it back to the Princess. Up till now, the Princess had not seen Kuchumara. But now she desired to know how he looked. So she asked the parrot to describe the person who taught him speech. To her surprise, the parrot told her that Kuchumara was a young and handsome man. Soon it was known all over the royal precincts that the Princess was going to marry one Kuchumara who had stood her tests. But Shamba, Kuchumara's guide, already guessed it when the parrot brought a diamond necklace as a gift from the Princess for Kuchumara. 

Now Shamba was seized with a wicked idea. No one knew precisely who Kuchumara was. The only letter she had from Kuchumara was written by Shamba. There was no likelihood of the Princess putting Kuchumara to further tests. What could prevent Shamba from announcing himself to be Kuchumara, marrying the princess, and getting the throne? So, that night, Shamba took a large stone and bashed Kuchumara's head while he was asleep, tied the same stone around his neck, and dropped him into the moat outside the fort walls. But, early next morning, trouble came to him in the shape of the parrot which brought a message from the Princess to Kuchumara. The parrot flew all over the lodge. Not finding him it approached Shamba and asked him, "Where is Kuchumara?" "I am Kuchumara," he replied. "What do you want?" "Don't be funny," said the parrot. "Tell me where he is. I bring a message to him from the Princess."

"Come near and I'll tell you where Kuchumara is," Shamba said, and when the parrot approached him trustingly he caught it by the throat and threatened it saying, "I shall kill you if you don't deliver to me the message from the princess." The parrot refused to speak and Shamba strangled it to death. Sara became uneasy that her parrot did not return. She was also anxious for Kuchumara's reply. Finally, she sent her maids to find out what had happened. They came and told Shamba that they wanted to speak to Kuchumara. "I am Kuchumara," Shamba said to them boldly. "What happened to the parrot which our Princess sent you?" they asked. "It was very unfortunate," Shamba replied, "that the poor bird was caught by a big, bad cat!" The shrewd maids returned to the Princess and said to her, "Madam, we saw a crude fellow in the lodge who said that he was Kuchumara. He also said that your parrot was accidentally killed by a cat." Since the Princess had heard from her parrot that Kuchumara was handsome she too became suspicious. She wrote a verse in a rare script, gave it to her maids, and asked them to bring back a reply from the one who was calling him Kuchumara.

Shamba could not read the verse and got very angry. "I won't give my reply to this," he shouted at the maids. "It is not fair that your mistress should trouble me eternally with her tests." "There is no question of a test," the maids replied. "Our mistress does not want that others should know what she wrote to you. You can use a rare script for your reply if you so desire." "I will not!" Shamba said. "I know it is a test. In case your mistress suspects that I am not Kuchumara but someone else, here is the necklace which she sent me." This proved to the maids conclusively that the fellow was an impostor since nobody had accused him of not being Kuchumara. The maids returned back to the Princess and reported. The Princess agreed with her maids, but she devised yet another test. She gave her maids another wild parrot and sent it to Shamba. The maids said to him, "You refuse to reply to messages written in a secret script. Will you kindly teach this parrot how to speak, so that it will serve as a messenger between you?" "Do you think I have nothing to do but to teach dumb parrots?" Shamba fumed. "Evidently your mistress has no intention of marrying me, and that is why she is trying to engage me in such tasks." This reply of Shamba confirmed the worst suspicions of Princess Sara. In the meantime, a strange thing happened.  

Very near the capital, there was a fishermen's village The fishermen of this village had made a new net and asked their priest to fix an auspicious time for using it. "Throw the net exactly at midnight tonight. It is the best time," the priest said. The river was too far away. So the fishermen chose the moat. Also, the fishermen had heard that freshwater had been let into the moat recently. So, to the moat came the fishermen exactly at midnight and threw the new net It was very heavy when they pulled it out. They were sure of a huge haul. But to their disappointment, it was a human body that was hauled up in the net. The man was not dead. The body was still warm and the heart was still beating. In short, it was Kuchumara. The fishermen had come to the moat only a few minutes after the wily Shamba had thrown him into it, and Kuchumara was thus saved from death. Kuchumara was hastily conveyed to the village where his head was dressed.

His entire body was massaged and made warm. In a couple of days, Kuchumara was fit enough to move about. But he was ashamed to tell his rescuers who he was. He remained with the fishermen, followed them to the river every day, and helped them by plying the ferry across the river. In the capital, Shamba persisted in calling himself Kuchumara. He went to the extent of pressing the King to perform his marriage with the Princess. The Princess agreed to the marriage but she told the King that he should see that great scholars from various countries were invited to attend the marriage. She hoped that Kuchumara would not fail to attend if he came to know of her marriage, wherever he might be. She also hoped that the impostor would be unmasked by the visiting scholars. Kuchumara was not aware of all these developments. One morning he was plying the ferry when he saw a group of scholars arrive at the other bank. From their talk, he learned that Princess Sara was to be married that very day and the bridegroom was himself!

He was at first surprised at the news. Then he was tickled to see how the Princess would marry him in his absence. So, tying up the ferry, he followed the scholars to the capital. Many a great king, poet, and scholar came to attend the wedding of Princess Sara. Shamba was dressed like a bridegroom and seated amidst the guests. Some of the guests, who had known Kuchumara at their hometown, detected the fraud. They surrounded Shamba and began to test his scholarship. Shamba had not foreseen that there would be so much trouble in impersonating Kuchumara. Presently the fraud was exposed. The King rushed to Shamba and demanded, "Who are you, fellow? What is your real name?" Shaking with terror, Shamba confessed all. The King was very indignant. "Take this fellow and behead him!" he shouted to his men. All the time Kuchumara was enjoying the fun seated in a corner. Now he came forward and pleaded with the King to spare Shamba. "O King," he said, "don't punish this fool. I know his parents, they are really nice people. I am the real Kuchumara. Since I excuse him there is no reason why you should punish him." Shamba was let off. Sara became Kuchumara's wife that very day amidst great pomp and splendor.     

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