The King of Kanchi invaded Karnat. He won the war. His elephants
were laden with sandalwood, ivory, gold and gems.
On his way home, he offered his prayers at the temple of Baleshwari,
flooding it with the blood of sacrficial animals.
He was coming back from the temple after performing the rites,
wearing crimson clothes, garlands of red hibiscus, and red sandal
marks on his forehead. Only his minister and the court jester
At one place he saw some boys playing in a mango orchard.
The king said to his companions, "Let's see what game they are
• 2 •
The boys had arranged some dolls in two rows and were playing a war
The king asked, "Who is fighting whom?"
They said, "Karnat versus Kanchi."
The king asked, "Who wins and who loses?"
The boys said proudly, "Karnat wins, Kanchi loses."
The minister frowned, the king's eyes reddened, the jester burst
• 3 •
The boys were still playing when the king came back with his
The king ordered, "Tie each of these boys to a tree and whip them
Their parents came running from the village. They said, "They are
young and innocent, they were just playing. Please forgive them."
The king called his general and said, "Teach this village a lesson
so that they can never forget the King of Kanchi."
And then he retired to his tent.
• 4 •
The general came to meet the king in the evening. He bowed and
said, "Sire, the only sound that you will hear now in this village
would be the cries of the scavenger animals."
The minister said, "The king's prestige is restored."
The priest said, "Gods and Goddesses are with the king."
The jester said, "Sire, allow me to take my leave now."
The king asked, "Why?"
The jester said, "I can't stab, I can't kill. By the grace of the
God, I can only laugh. I will forget how to laugh if I stay in your
The translator thanks Shoili Pal and Chhanda Chattopadhyay Bewtra for careful reading of an earlier draft.