The Meeting of Vikram and Betaal

Vikram was the name of a king. He ruled over a city on the banks of Godavari River. He was very famous for his bravery and courage.

People loved him because he always rendered justice.

One day a sage came to the court of Vikram and gifted him a fruit.

The king handed it over to his treasurer. Thereafter, the sage kept coming to the court daily to gift a fruit to the king. The king could not understand the reason behind this behaviour. But still he did not try to find out the sage’s intentions.

However, one morning, Vikram noticed a monkey sitting on the palace wall and gave the fruit to it. The monkey had started eating the fruit when suddenly a dazzling gem fell out of it. The King was very surprised. He immediately ordered his treasurer to get him all the fruits kept in the storage. The fruits had gone bad but when the king had them crushed, each one of them yielded a precious gem. The generous King donated all these gems to the poor and waited for the sage’s visit to the court.

The next day, the sage visited the court of Vikram with yet another fruit.

Vikram welcomed the sage and asked him “Your Holiness! Can you please tell me why you have been giving me such precious gifts? Without good reason, I cannot accept any gifts from you.”

The sage replied, “I need the help of a brave man for a spiritual goal. Will you help me?” Vikram readily agreed to this. So the sage said, “O King, please come to the burial ground on the next moonless night. It is at a distance of 20 miles from here. I will wait for you under a banyan tree.” Vikram agreed to follow the instructions.

On the said night, Vikram covered his head and body with a black cloth and unnoticed, reached the appointed spot in the forest. The sage was waiting for him and told him, “King Vikram! To the south of this forest is an old tamarind tree on which hangs a corpse upside down. Please bring it to me.” The king immediately followed the sage’s orders and reached the tamarind tree. On finding a corpse there, he cut it loose. As soon as the corpse fell to the ground, it laughed loudly with a cackling sound. The king realized that it was a ghost. But the courageous king carried the body over his shoulders and started towards his capital. A short distance later, the ghost left Vikram’s shoulders and escaped to its original spot. The king climbed up the tree, brought down the ghost and placing it on his shoulders started walking again. “Who are you?” he asked the ghost.

“I am Betaal” replied the ghost and in turn asked Vikram, “Why and where are you taking me away?”

“A sage has requested me to bring you to him,” replied Vikram.
Betaal did not have any objection to going with Vikram but he laid
down a condition. “We have to cover a long distance and to relieve
the tedious walk, I will tell you a story. But you should not utter even
one word till we reach the destination. If by chance you utter
anything, I will fly back to the tamarind tree. Do you agree to this?”
asked Betaal. Vikram agreed to this and silently listened to Betaal’s
story.