A story of Courage, Harvest and Wealth
The Shepherd and the Three Deities
In a small village there lived a shepherd who had hundreds of goats, but no land. Thinking that these goats would menace their fields, the villagers warned the shepherd that he should leave the village or buy some land of his own.
So, the shepherd raised a loan and bought a small strip of land. This plot was so barren that nothing, but maize could be sown in it. It turned out that even the maize crop, the shepherd raised was of very poor quality.
Time passed and the shepherd began to grow old and his sight began to fail. It was the time when his young son took the charge of his field.
One day, the three deities of Harvest, Wealth and Courage, came by the shepherd’s field, with an argument amongst them as to which one of them was the most powerful.
“Look at this field”, said the Goddess of Harvest, “If only it yields a good harvest, this shepherd boy would not have a single problem in his life. Let me enter the field and make it rich and fertile.” So, saying that she sat in the maize field.
“I am the real benefactor of mankind, See what I can do to this poor boy.” , said the Goddess of Wealth. She turned herself into a bag of money and waited by the path.
“All your efforts are useless without me. If I don’t follow his head, you both can do nothing good to him”, said the Goddess of Courage. She at once, left the boy and began to follow him and other two deities from a distance.
The Deities, the shepherd and the trader
When the Harvest sat in the field, the field was completely transformed. Maize stocks of enormous height stood thick in the field, their heads bent down with huge ears of corn.
But, the young shepherd, who was now devoid of courage, got frightened at the sight. He started running towards his home to tell his father that a strange disease has overtaken the maize crops.
The boy took the path, by which laid the bag of money. But, with so much fear in him, he said to himself, “Let me see, how far I can walk with my eyes shut.” He did not open his eyes, until he had reached home. Reaching home, the boy told his father that the crop was ruined by some pest and suggested that they should sell the strip of land at any price. His blind father agreed to sell it if only there was someone to buy it.
The boy returned to the field and saw a stranger gazing at the unique maize crop. He was a trader. He saw many countries but nowhere did he see maize of this fine quality. He approached the shepherd boy, learnt that the field belonged to him and offered to buy it at a good price. Prompted by the Goddess of Wealth, who was trying her best to do good to the boy, the trader offered to keep the boy in his service on a monthly pay.
The trader emptied all his carts, and filled them with the unique maize stocks. He took the boy with him and proceeded on his journey.
The Shepherd's Wedding
The Shepherd's Wedding
After sometime, their caravan reached a city. The trader took specimens of his maize to the king of the city and said,
“Perhaps Your Majesty would have never seen maize of this fine quality. I have plenty of it. I shall part with a cart-load in exchange for an elephant with a howdah. If this corn were to be planted in your kingdom, your people need never starve.”
The king took one cart-load of the corn and gave the trader an elephant in exchange. The trader sold another cart-load to some of the rich landlords of the city. With this money, he dressed the boy in royal brocade, so that the boy now looked like a prince. The trader put him on the elephant and proceeded on. He told every one, on the way that the young man riding the elephant was the king of the Land of Gold, and that he was the minister. Thus, they arrived at the next city.
The king of that place had already been aware of the arrival of the king and the minister from the Land of Gold, and hence he received them with great pomp and honor. He put them up in the Palace of mirrors and treated them grandly.
After a wonderful feast and rest, the trader took the boy to the king’s court.
He said to the king, “In our kingdom, even the poorest land yields such golden maize. That is why one can see nothing but gold everywhere in our land.”
The king and queen thought that it would be nice if they could marry their daughter to this King of Golden Land. When they made this suggestion to the trader, he said that he would find out his king’s mind and reply back soon.
Back at the lodge, the trader told the boy, “You are to marry the king’s daughter.”
The boy refused in horror, saying that the royal ladies were shrewd.
“Scoundrel! You forget that you are my servant. Obey me, or I shall break your bones,” said the trader. He went back to the king and reported his master’s positive consent to the marriage proposal.
“But”, he warned the king, “The marriage shall take place according to the customs prevailing in our land.”
On the day of wedding, a palanquin was sent to the Palace of mirrors, to fetch the groom. The boy was carried out of the house, tied hand and foot, and was dumped in the palanquin by four servants. This was taken to be one of the customs of the Land of Gold.
The wedding ceremony was carried on in the bridal’s bed-chamber. The trader told the king, “Two soldiers shall wait outside the chamber with drawn swords and threaten to kill the groom if he tries to escape before the bride arrives.” This too was taken as another of the queer customs of the Land of Gold.
Looking around at the gorgeously decorated and brilliantly lit bed-chamber, the shepherd boy began to get frightened again and thought that it must be the temple of the Goddess to whom he was going to be sacrificed. He tried to run away, but the soldiers at the gate showed him the sword and frightened him off. When the princess arrived in the chamber, he thought her to be some Goddess.
“Here she comes to gobble me up!” he said. In desperation, he gave the princess a mighty push and ran out of the room. When he reached the lodge, the trader gave him a sound thrashing and said, “You worthless wretch! I am planning to let you marry the princess and you are running away from her?”
Next day, the king sent for the trader and asked him, “What made your king so angry with my daughter, that he pushed her away and left her like that?”
“Don’t you know, that yesterday was not a good day for wedding, because it was a new moon night? Getting married on such night is a bad omen according to our customs.”, said the trader. “Naturally the king was indignant that such a time was chosen for him to meet the bride.”
The king ordered the priest to be whipped for this blunder and demanded that they fix a better timing for the confirmation of his daughter’s wedding with the King of the Golden Land. The priest apologized for the mistake and fixed timing, next night. But, once again the shepherd boy managed to run away and got thrashed by the trader, and the trader had to make some fake answer for the king.
“Your priest seems to be an ignorant fool. Last night, Mars and Jupiter were in same house and it was a bad omen too.” the trader told the king.
Now, the ceremony was fixed for the next night. “If you run away this night, I will certainly cut off your head and go my way”, the trader warned the shepherd boy.
“Either the Goddess would eat me, or the trader would kill me. One way or the other I am destined to die this night,” the shepherd thought melancholy, as he sat waiting for the princess and saying his last prayers before he was going to be doomed.
Now, was the turn of Goddess of Courage to finally show up and ask the other two Goddesses “Is there any more good you can do to this poor fool, without me?”
The Goddesses of Harvest and Wealth accepted their defeat and begged their companion to save the shepherd youth from any further damages. Courage entered the youth’s head, just when the princess entered into the chamber. The shepherd boy experienced a remarkable change in his attitude, all of a sudden. He got up on seeing the princess and approached her. He accosted her courteously and made formal inquiries about her health and so on. The princess was very glad to find a husband so decorous and cultured.
Thanks to the Goddess of Courage, the poor shepherd boy was now able to become the prince and the husband of a princess. He settled in the same place and became a worthy king after his father-in-law. The trader became his minister and served his master faithfully.
Ever since, the Goddesses of Harvest and Wealth walk only behind the Goddess of Courage. Those whom the Goddess of courage avoids, the Harvest and Wealth Goddesses avoid as well.
“Yesterday I dared to struggle. Today I dare to win.”
So, fight your struggles, keep the faith, be courageous, and victory will be yours, always!!