Durgesa Nandini/Book 1/Chapter 6

 

CHAPTER VI.

ABHIRAM SWAMI'S COUNSEL.


Tilottama and Bimala reached home in safety. Some three or four days after this, Virendra Singha was seated in his steward's Office on a masnad, when Abhiram Swami entered. Virendra Singha rose from his masnad, and Abhiram Swami sat down upon a seat of the kusa[1] grass handed by Virendra, who then resumed his seat with the Swami's permission.

"Virendra," said Abhiram Swami, "to-day I have some very important talk with you."

"I am at your service, Sir," replied Virendra Singha.

"A great war is about to break out between the Mogals and the Pathans."

"Yes, Sir; some serious event is likely to ensue."

Abhiram. "Likely. Now, what have you determined on for yourself?"

"This arm"—replied Virendra haughtily—"This arm will quell the enemy, should he come."

"Virendra" said the ascetic still more mildly, "this reply doubtless befits a warrior like you; but you must know that victory is not gained by feats of heroism only—it is gained by observing the principles regulating peace and war. You are yourself one of the first of heroes; but your force numbers not more than a thousand men. What warrior ever can with such a force beat an army a hundred times its number? Both the Mogals and the Pathans are vastly superior to you in point of number. How can you then hope to escape the hands of the one, unless you secure the assistance of the other? Pray, don't be angry at my words. Consider the matter calmly. Further, what's the use of being hostile to both. An enemy is an undoubted evil. Why then have two instead of one? In my opinion, therefore, you should choose between the parties."

"Which party," said Virendra after a long pause, "would you have me join, Sir?"

"'Victory aye attends the banner of Right,' says the adage. Side with that party which is in the right. Rebellion is no common sin; embrace the Sovereign's cause."

?"Who is the Sovereign, I pray?" asked Virendra after reflection. "Are not both the Mogals and the Pathans contesting for empire?"

"He who takes tribute is the Sovereign," said Abhiram Swami.

Virendra.   "Akbar Shah?"

Abhiram Swami.   "Of course."

At this, Virendra's countenance showed signs of displeasure; by and bye his eyes reddened. Seeing these signs, Abhiram Swami said,

"Virendra, suppress your anger. I tell you to follow the Emperor of Delhi—not Man Singha."

Virendra stretched out his right hand, and pointing to it with a finger of the left, said,

"By your blessings, Sire, this hand I will drown in Man Singha's gore."

"Be calm," said Abhiram Swami. "Don't mar your interest through passion. By all means punish Man Singha for the old wrong. But why should you be unfriendly with Akbar Shah?"

"If I were to side with the Emperor," said Virendra in a rage, "what general shall I have to fight under—whom shall I have to aid—whom shall I have to respect? Man Singha? No Sire,—Virendra Singha is incapable of so base an action so long as he lives."

Abhiram Swami was silent in dejection.

"Then," asked he after a while, "Then you think it preferable to join the Pathans?"

"Is it necessary for me to choose between the parties ?" enquired Virendra.

Abhiram.   "Yes, it is."

Virendra.   "Then I must join the Pathans."

Abhiram Swami heaved a sigh, and was again silent; a tear stood in his eyes.

"Forgive my transgression, Sire," said Virendra Singha, greatly surprised. "I beseech you, let me know what offence I have been unknowingly guilty of.

Abhiram Swami wiped his eyes with his sheet, and said, "Listen. For several days, I have been engaged in astrological calculations. You know your daughter is an object of greater affection to me than yourself. I naturally made various calculations concerning her." Here Virendra looked blank; eagerly he asked, "Pray, what have you found by your calculation, Sir?"

"Great harm to Tilottama from a Mogal officer."

A cloud overspread Virendra's face.

"It is only when the Mogals are your enemy," went on the Swami, "that any danger may proceed from that source—not if you be friendly to them. It is for this reason that I was persuading you to side the Mogals. It was not my intention to pain you by this disclosure; but human endeavours avail not—methinks, the decrees of fate must take effect—why else should you be so determined?"

Virendra Singha remained mute.

"Virendra," said Abhiram Swami, "the ambassador of Katlu Khan is at the gate. It is because I saw him that I have come to you. Owing to my prohibition, the guards have not so long allowed him to come before you. I have now said my say. You may now summon him and return fit answer."

Virendra Singha raised his head with a sigh.

"Sire! so long as I did not see Tilottama," said he, "I did not so much as think of her as my daughter. Now, I have none in this world save her. I bow to your command—I will forget the past—I will follow Man Singha. Let the porter usher in the ambassador."

In accordance with this order, the porter brought in the envoy. He handed a letter from Katlu Khan. Its purport was that Virendra Singha should send a force of a thousand horsemen and five thousand gold mohurs to Katlu Khan, otherwise he would send an army of twenty thousand men to Garmandaran.

Virendra read the note and said, "Envoy, let your master send his army."

The man bowed low and went away. Bimala had played the eaves-dropper all through the conversation.

 

 

  1. The sacred grass used at certain religious ceremonies.