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     The Jeweled Serpent

Upset by the death of their parents, the two brothers decided to live the life of ascetics and resided on the river bank of Ganga in the leaf-huts. The elder brother had his hut built on the upper side of the Ganga river while the younger one on the lower side of the same.

One day, Nagaraj, who was the king of the serpents came out of the river and crawled around. He was not an ordinary snake as he had a wish-fulfilling gem which was kept in his throat for which he was called as Manikantha. Moreover, he also overcome the power to presume any form. That day, moving on the bank of the Ganga in the form of a human being he came by the recluse of the younger brother and exchanged greetings with him. When he was invited, he entered inside the hut for a conversation with him. There they exchanged pleasing dialogues and soon became very good friends. From then, Manikantha became a regular visitor to the recluse. As they were good friends they often hug each other before going.

After sometimes, the serpent king lean-to his human form and appeared before the hermit in his original form of a snake, which made the man frightened. And before leaving, he hug the hermit in the serpent form in a daily manner.

The fear caused by the hug of the serpent made the hermit so frightened that he lost his hunger and became sickly and pale. So, one day, when he visited his elder brother with his shrunken and pale look, the man enquired into the sudden break down in his health; and having learnt the whole story, he recommended that one could easily get relieve of anybody by demanding his dearest ownership. As the most precious ownership of the snake was his mani, so, if he be approached for the gem, he would himself break away.

Next day, when the serpent was saying good-bye to the ascetic, the man asked for his mani. The serpent, in turn, then bade goodbye without hugging or kissing him. On the second day, too, when the snake appeared before him to enter the hermitage, he again asked for his gem. The serpent then left from outside without entering the hut. On the third day, when the hermit saw Nagaraj coming out of the river he shouted at him, “Give me your gem, oh my friend!”

The serpent then said:
"Rich food and lots of drink in plenty I can have,
By means of the gem you desire.
You ask for too much;
Which I cannot give.
Nor shall I visit you again.
So long I shall live."

With these words the king of the serpents dived back to the water and never came back to the hermit again.

While scared, the hermit too loved the serpent king; and his absence made him suffer more than the fear and in a few days he looked sickly.

One day, the elder hermit paid a visit to his brother and found him upset and sickly. Having learnt the reason for his sadness he pleased him by saying that

"To long for one, whose love you prize
When by begging you become hateful in his eyes.
Begging the gem made the serpent uncomfortable
That he disappeared to come back not any more."

These words of the truth pacify the younger brother and he stopped upsetting himself for the snake friend and concentrated on the ascetic practices.




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