The Fruit Of Immortality
The Fruit Of Immortality
Long ago, there was a small kingdom in one of the valleys of the Himalaya Mountains surrounded by tall and snow-covered peaks from all sides. It was hidden from the outside world. No one knew anything about it. The people of this kingdom also did not know anything about the outside world and lived happily in their own world which was full of trees laden with sweet flowers and fruits. The rivers and streams were such that one sip of it had the power of curing the most fatal illness. In fact, this kingdom provided them with all their requirements and they did not need to go anywhere else. The king was well aware of the outside world and the kind of people who lived there. He knew that if ever any of the fruits or flowers anyhow reached there, then the people from the outside world would come in search of their place and once they knew of its location, they would invade and destroy it for sure, so he had warned his men to guard the boundaries of their kingdom carefully and not to let any flower or fruit fall on the rivers flowing out of their land through secret routes. To obey the order of their king, they would eat up all the flowers and fruits of the trees and so neither of them could ever reach the outside world and in this way, the Valley of Immortality remains away from the outside world. However, they could not stop the streams that flew out through secret routes and collected in a lake not far from it.
Far below, in the plains of northern India, there was a powerful kingdom, Pushpawati, spread over a larger area on the banks of the Ganga. It was ruled over by Samar Singh who was a very kind king and always remained ready to help his subjects and they also loved him like their father. Everything was going well there, but then suddenly one incident shook the entire kingdom. Samar Singh had only one daughter, Chandralekha. She was sixteen years old and was very loving to her father who loved more than anything in this world and was his life. In fact, he could not live without her. It was his daily custom to visit her chamber in the morning and begin the day by seeing her face. That day also he did the same. He went to her chamber, but as he opened his eyes to see his daughter’s face, he was shocked and could not say anything for some time but kept on staring at her face which had turned pale. Though she tried to get up and greet her father but could not. It seemed that her entire body had stuck to the bed, she was lying on and her tongue had lost the power of speech. He did not know what had happened to his dear daughter. Immediately, Viradh was sent for. He was the royal doctor of the kingdom. He came and examined the princess and assured the king that there was no need to worry as it was a common illness and that the princess would again be all right in two days’ time. He, in no time, prepared a solution by grinding some leaves, flowers, and roots and made her drink it. After every two hours, he himself visited her and gave her medicine which, according to him, was very effective and was soon going to cure Chitralekha. But against his words, the medicine failed to cure the princess. She was still lying senseless on her bed, and with each passing hour, her condition was deteriorating. It was now time to take the final decision, or the princess could not be saved, and with her death would sink the sun of their state as she was the life of her father the king, who would not be able to bear the shock of her death and would also die leaving the kingdom in the doldrums.
So, that very day a proclamation was made in the entire kingdom that whosoever could save the princess would be married to her and would also get half of the state as a reward. Hearing the proclamation, many doctors and experts of medicines came to the king’s palace but seeing the falling condition of the princess, no one dared to try their medicines on her. The king, the ministers, the royal doctor, and everyone was unable to understand what to do and what no so that the princess’s life could be saved. They all had lost their hope, just then the sound of a neighing horse reached their ear and they all raised their head in that direction.
It was Ajit Singh, the commander of the army and a close person to Samar Singh. He had come with an old man, but there was a strange shine on his forehead. After some formalities, he introduced himself to the king as Nimedh, the eldest brother of his Royal Doctor, Viradh, who himself had requested Ajit Singh to go to him with a request to come and see if he could do something. He further said that as Ajit Singh told him about the princess’s strange illness and Virad’s being unsuccessful in curing it, he at once understood that it was not any ordinary illness but one which requires something more than medicines. He then moved towards the princess’ bed on which she was lying unconscious. He looked at her pale and placid body. There was no movement and almost no sign of life except that her breath was slowly going on. He then examined her eyes and took her pulses before turning to the king. A deep mark of dismay was very clearly visible on his forehead.
“Only one night she has…only one night!”
“But what, O Strange Man…? But what…? Tell me if you can save my child…? Take my kingdom…take my life…take everything that’s mine, but save my daughter,” Samar Singh almost fell down at his feet.
“She’s only one night more,” said the strange old man.
“But… is there no way out? Can’t you do anything?” said Ajit Singh helplessly looking at him.
“Certainly, there is one…but it’s not easy.”
“What’s it, O wise man? Tell me, immediately.”
“She can survive if the Fruit of Immortality could be arranged and administered to her within twenty- four hours.”
“Within twenty-four hours…? But where can it be found?”
“The old man looked at them all and said, “My father’s father once told me when I was taking lessons of this profession from him that somewhere in the higher regions of the Himalaya Mountains there is a place full of all kinds of medicinal plants and trees. The Fruits of Immortality also grow there abundantly in one of the trees.”
He paused for a while to observe the positions of stars in the sky continued, “It’s said that this place is guarded by Gods and for an ordinary person it’s not at all easy to reach there.”
They all knew it very well that it was not at all feasible to go and fetch the required fruits and flowers only in twenty-four hours from such a remote place. It would definitely require more time than just twenty-four hours. Sumer Singh was losing his patience with every passing moment and again and again imploring the strange man to do something and save his daughter. The strange man suddenly got up and looking at the position of stars in the sky and said,
“There is surely one way which may be of great help here.” They all grew attentive to catch each of his words as soon as they were delivered and they did not have to wait for long. “At some heights of the Himalayas, only sixteen miles away from the origin of the river Ganga, there is a pool of lake of blue water. My Grandfather while teaching me the science of medicine had once told me that the water in this lake comes from the same unknown place situated among the mountains. He said further said that it always remains hidden under the leaves of Himalayan lotus and so it’s also known as the lotus lake.” Everyone was now looking at his old wrinkled face with heightened curiosity. “If some of this water could be fetched, it could slow down the deterioration of her health and we may get some time to get to the valley of the Fruits of Immortality."
All agreed to it and soon a decision was taken that Ajit Singh and Samar Singh both would immediately start their journey to the Lotus Lake on the fastest horses and would return to the kingdom in two days' time with a good quantity of the medicinal water. On the way, they faced a lot of difficulties but they bravely faced all of them and at last reached the lake and filling the bottles with the medicinal water started the journey back to their kingdom and just at the right time returned to Pushpawati. The king was very happy to see them back and embraced them with love.
No sooner were a few drops of the magical water put into the mouth of the princess than she showed some movement of her lips and eyelids and then soon her consciousness returned and she opened her eyes. Sumer Singh and Prabhavati both were very happy to see this. Previously they had some doubts over the strange man’s words but now after seeing the magical effect of the medicine, they were sure that the princess would soon be completely cured and again start singing and dancing like before, spreading the pearls of her crystalline laughter all around the palace.
Next morning, the king called all the ministers to his court and sought their suggestions regarding the Valley of Immortality. At this point, some of them refused to believe in such a valley and categorically gave their opinion that there was no such valley in this world and so attention should be paid in the proper treatment of the princess and they should not waste their time on such useless gossips.
But some forest officials were also present there who said that the Valley of Immortality is not a gossip but a reality. As they had heard some of the senior officials say the medicinal effect in the water of the Lotus Lake came from this very valley. According to them, there must be a water route to that valley somewhere near the lake. So, it was decided that first the water route to the Valley of Immortality should be searched for, and then the next course of action should be decided.
A larger number of experts were employed for finding out the said water route to the valley. At last, after a lot of hard work, they got the route. The King, Samar Singh, himself came to see the miracle. With his command, Ajit Singh dived into the lake and through the route discovered he went in and reached inside the valley. As he came out of the stream there, the men guarding the boundary surrounded him. Ajit Singh tried to oppose them but before their strength, he appeared just like a baby. Soon he was produced before the court where it was decided that since he had entered their country like a thief, so he should be converted into a dwarf and employed in cleaning duty of the king’s palace. But when he told them the real cause of his coming to their country was the incurable illness of their princess, and he only had come there to take a Fruit of Immortality for that purpose, their heart melted and the king himself plucked a fruit with his own hand and gave it to him. While giving the fruit to Ajit Singh he said: “Take this fruit to your land and treat your princess. Also, tell her that it is a gift to her from the people of this valley”. The king was very happy to get the life of his daughter in the form of this fruit.
Nimedh was already there waiting for the miraculous fruit. No sooner was the fruit put on his hand than he got busy in preparing the medicine and in the presence of the king and the queen both, the first dose of the medicine was given to the princess. In a few days, there were visible changes in her health. The king and the queen were very happy to see their daughter regain her health.