Raja Bhoja of the Paramwara Dynasty was a proud man. He had ruled his kingdom well and the subjects of his kingdom were prosperous and happy.
However, recently the people of the kingdom had complained about a man-eater tiger who had started attacking the people at the outskirts of the kingdom. It seemed like the animals of the forests were slowly venturing into the kingdom and this had resulted in loss of life and property.
Immediately the king along with a small group entered into the forest and got about systematically decimating the wild animals in the place.
Once the king and his men were reasonably certain that the wild animals would not cause any more threat to the people, the king started his journey back to the capital.
However, just outside the outskirts of the forests, the royal group saw a beautifully furnished garden. Even looking at the garden made the tired men hungry.
The king ordered his men to ask the owner about buying some of the fruits when they heard a shout from above.
The king looked up and smiled as he saw a man standing on top of a tall platform. The man was evidently a farmer and he was standing on the platform and he was chasing away the birds which were trying to venture inside the garden.
Just looking at the man made the king smile. The man seemed happy - as if he had no worries in the world.
The king was about to open his mouth when the man shouted from the top. "I am Saravana. I am the owner of the garden. All of you seem to be tired. Help yourself with some fruits, sir."
The king's face broke into a surprised laugh as he nodded his head. He signaled his men to go inside the garden.
The group entered the garden when something changed.
The king and his men were unable to explain it, but they definitely felt it.
The world suddenly seemed like a serene place where absolutely nothing went wrong.
A heady feeling came to the king as they feasted on the lovely and juicy fruits in the garden.
They had demolished many fruits when suddenly they heard the footsteps of a man running towards them.
"You thieves! You selfish thieves! You look so rich and you steal from a farmer like me..." The man shouted as he came right in front of them. The man faltered for a second as he saw the man that he had been yelling at, was the king of the land.
But then the man again started yelling. "You claim to be the king and you steal from your own subjects?"
As far as Raja Bhoja was concerned, he was more than shocked.
Because the man yelling at him was Saravana, the same man who had asked them to take the fruits.
The king and his men looked bewildered at each other because Saravana was now almost yelling himself hoarse and calling the king everything from a liar to a thief.
"You asked me to take the fruits." The king said feeling extremely embarrassed as Saravana stopped shouting.
Saravana looked shocked and bewildered. "Me? You think I would ask you to take these fruits? Just like that? I am taking care of this garden with the intention of selling the fruits for money. You think I would just give them away for free? Do you think I am a fool?"
A part of the king was disgusted with the man, but still a lingering doubt remained in his mind.
He pulled out his gold ring and handed it over to the man. "These are for the fruits that me and my men took." He said dismissively as he looked around the garden and he was thinking.
Saravana's eyes literally bulged out from its sockets as he stared at the gold ring. He swallowed once or twice and then nodded his head slowly.
"How long have you had this garden?" The king asked after he was certain that he had Saravana’s undivided attention.
"It belonged to my father, sir. Now I am taking care of it." The man mumbled still looking at the ring.
Suddenly one of Raja Bhoja's ministers came forward. "How on earth, do you have so many varieties of fruits growing in this garden at the same time?"
Saravana shrugged. "I do not know, sir. This field has been a very lucky one for us. None of the crops planted in the field have ever gone bad and we have always had a bumper harvest. No matter what the weather."
Raja Bhoja looked around. He suddenly turned to Saravana. "Would you consider selling the garden to me?"
Saravana looked wary when Raja Bhoja continued hurriedly. "You will of course, be paid. I am willing to pay twice the amount that you want."
Saravana looked like he could not believe what he was hearing. Then he looked at the gold ring in his hand and the stern face of the king and realized that the king meant what he was saying and slowly nodded his head. "I am more than willing to sell my garden to you, your majesty."
Raja Bhoja smiled as he looked at the man. "I want to see that platform that you were standing on, to chase away the birds." The king said to Saravana.
Deciding that today was going to be one of the most inexplicable days of his life, Saravana mutely led the king to the platform.
Raja Bhoja came near the platform when it almost hit him. The feeling of bliss and righteousness. The feeling which was felt mildly all over the garden, was so powerful near the platform that Raja Bhoja felt nothing for a few seconds. He had images of his kingdom as one of the most powerful and prosperous kingdoms in the entire country and he saw himself sitting proudly in the royal court.
Raja Bhoja shook his head to clear the image.
Saravana's eyes also had the same happy look that he had had when he was standing on the top of the platform. "Sir, the price that you have paid me for the garden, is more than what I need. Just give me what is necessary and no more."
Raja Bhoja lifted his eyebrows and he was studying Saravana. "The price that I paid for it, is correct. Please approach my ministers. They will make sure you are paid appropriately."
Saravana nodded and he and the king went back to the ministers. The king studied Saravana as he walked away from the platform. The further away from the platform the man got, Saravana looked like a man who had just woken up to a strong dose of reality.
The king paid the man the promised sum and Saravana departed. The king then turned to his men.
"I want you to excavate this place. Not the entire place. Just the place under which the platform is constructed. " The king smiled to himself. "I think you would be very surprised at what you find there."
If the minister found the behaviour of the king odd, he made no mention of it. He just nodded his head and set about excavating the place with the few people he had.
The king went back to the capital with the other members from the group.
Afternoon passed and the king was impatiently waiting for any news from the minister.
Evening, the king was in for a shock.
The king saw the minister himself rush towards the capital on his chariot. The king saw the minister hurriedly stop the chariot outside the palace and come inside and the minister ignored all the royal guards.
The king went down to meet the minister when the minister started speaking without a preamble. "Sir, you would not believe what we have found."
The king led the breathless minister towards a throne and made him sit down as the man continued speaking.
"There was a throne, your majesty. There was a throne buried under that platform."
The man said gasping.
Raja Bhoja looked surprised. He had expected a lot of things under the platform. But a throne?
"It is not just any throne, your majesty. It is one of the largest thrones, I have ever seen. We have been digging from the morning, since you left and we were able to excavate only half of the throne, till the time I left." The minister said taking a deep breath. "It is made of pure gold. As far as I can see, there seem to be thirty two steps leading to the seat of the throne. The steps are made of pure gold too, your majesty. And the precious stones which are used to deck the throne...." The minister shook his head, his eyes wide. "....I have never even heard of precious stones being that big."
Raja Bhoja looked surprised as the minister continued. "We have not looked at all the steps, but all the steps that we have uncovered has a beautiful female statue at the side. I have never seen a statue so clear and with so much expression. It almost looks like it was a real woman who was affixed to the throne."
The minister’s hands were trembling with excitement.
However he was not yet done with his narration.
"The craftsmanship is what is making me nervous, your majesty. I have read in the Scriptures of thrones being made that way. But till date I have never seen anything like it. I do not think that throne was made on earth." The minister finished quietly.
Raja Bhoja was deep in thought as the minister fell silent.
He had read in the Scriptures about the people in the olden days where the people from the earth visited the Devas in the Skies. But all that was part of myth. Legends. What had he found? Was it really a throne made in the heavens? If so, for whom was it made? Who was the person who had been sitting on the throne?
Raja Bhoja looked at the minister. "Please make preparations for the throne to be brought to the capital as soon as possible. I think it is necessary to perform some rituals for the throne, as well. I think a throne this ancient and which is even capable of influencing the mind of the people around it cannot be an ordinary thing." The king nodded more to himself than to the minister. "Bring the throne to the capital. We may be able to find out more about it here."
Soon the day arrived.
The priests had performed the necessary rituals.
It is said that the throne could not even be moved before the rituals were performed. Only after performing the worship of the throne, were the people able to move it.
The throne then slowly made its way to the capital.
Raja Bhoja looked at the throne when a deep sense of fear filled him.
The throne was beautiful, but it still made the king uneasy. It was an emotion he was unable to explain.
He felt it every time he saw the statues – there were thirty two steps and thirty two statues – one on each step. And it seemed to the king, like all the statues had eyes, with which they actually saw him.
Ignoring his fear, Bhoja decided that the throne had to be installed in his capital in the main court hall. Not only was the throne breathtakingly beautiful, Raja Bhoja decided that if the throne was in the centre of the kingdom, probably all the places in the kingdom would become even more prosperous by the powers of the ancient throne.
Taking a deep breath and brushing aside his fear, Raja Bhoja set foot on the first step.
Everyone in the court was stunned when they heard clapping noises coming from the throne.
Bhoja was shocked as he saw that the noises were coming from the steps of the throne.
Even before he could explain the clapping noise, the palace was filled with melodious laughter.
Bhoja went towards the side of the throne and gasped as he saw the beautiful face of one of the statues glow.
It was the first statue on the first step. The face of the statue still looked golden, but the lips of the statue were moving with laughter.
"Who are you?" The words were out of the king's mouth before he could stop himself. "Why do you laugh?"
"Answer my question first, my king." The statue spoke. "What are you trying to do?"
"I am trying to sit on the throne." The king said feeling very silly because he was explaining himself to a statue.
"Do you know to whom this throne belongs to?" The statue asked with anger.
When the king did not reply the statue continued. "This throne belongs to King Vikramaditya. He is one of the greatest kings in the world. Nothing.." The statue smiled faintly. "...Nothing you have done, matches to even half the glory of that king. Why are you attempting to sit on a throne of which you are not worthy?" The statue asked in a sneering voice.
King Vikramaditya? Raja Bhoja's head almost reeled. Bhoja was supposed to be a descendant of king Vikramaditya. But then so much had been said about Vikramaditya that his stories had almost reached the realms of legend. There was a story of King Vikramaditya receiving a throne from Lord Indra of the Heavens. But these were legends. Stories. The king had dismissed the story as a legend, nothing more.
Today he was going to listen to the story of his ancestor from a statue installed on his ancestor's throne.
Bhoja looked at the statue and he was hesitant. "Who is King Vikramaditya? Tell me, please."
So the statue told the story. It is said that the thirty two statues narrated thirty two stories extolling the greatness of King Vikramaditya.
After the end of every story, King Bhoja acknowledged that King Vikramaditya was greater than him in that particular field.
Finally after hearing the thirty second story, it is said that Bhoja gave up all desire to even sit on the throne. The last statue had told Bhoja that king Vikramaditya had been asked to bury the throne after his death, because there was supposedly no one other than King Vikramaditya who was worthy to sit on the throne.
On hearing this, Bhoja wanted to renounce his kingdom and perform penance because he felt that he could never be that good a king as Vikramaditya had been.
It was at this time that thirty two shimmering lights emerged from the throne.
Raja Bhoja looked aghast as he saw the transparent faces of the thirty two women who had been telling him the stories.
"Who are you?" The king asked flabbergasted.
"We are heavenly nymphs – the apsaras and we are the friends of Goddess Parvathi." One of them said. "At one time, when we were in Kailash, we tried.... we tried...." The woman said looking shamefaced. "....we wanted Lord Shiva, the husband of the Goddess, to see how beautiful we were and we hoped that he would fall in love with us."
"Goddess Parvathi came to know of this and cursed us. She cursed us that because we wanted to be admired for our beauty, we would all become statues in the throne of King Vikramaditya, which would be presented to him by Lord Indra. So that people would see us there and admire our beauty."
The lady took a deep breath as she continued. "After cursing us, Goddess Parvathi took pity on us and relented and said that the curse would be lifted if a king from king Vikramaditya's dynasty heard all our stories patiently." The lady smiled as she looked happy beyond words. "And today my king, you have set us free. You have listened to all our stories. For that we would always be grateful. And know this well, you are as great a man as your ancestor. You have the same magnanimity and the humility that your ancestor had. And for that, you may ask any boon of your choice."
"My ancestor – King Vikramaditya was a great man. I wish that his stories always be immortal on earth." Bhoja said with a quiet smile.
The thirty two ladies smiled and nodded their heads as they vanished from there.
Raja Bhoja looked at the throne and then at his people. This time he felt no fear. He climbed the throne with confidence and nothing stopped him.