Who was Gopal Bhand, any way?
Gopal Bhand was not just another name for a person but was very much part of the everyday life of a by-gone era. Whenever, one looks at the history of Bengal with special reference to the rule of Maharaja Krishna Chandra, they will come across the character of Gopal Bhand, the jester at his majesty’s court.
Gopal was born in the village of Ghurni, north of Krishna Nagar. He lost his father at a very young age and because of economic reasons could not continue with his education. Still, whatever he had learnt in the early days along with his in-born intelligence, he became an intellectual.
Gopal belonged to the clan of barbers, famous for their quick wit. There is a saying that crows among the bird and barbers among the humans are the cleverest species in the whole world. Gopal lived up to this saying; from the very beginning he showed signs of cleverness and cunning. He grew up entertaining people all around him and soon people started calling him Gopal Bhand or Gopal the Jester.
His reputation slowly but steadily spread across the country and soon reached the Maharaja Krishna Chandra. The Maharaja called him and tested his talents with inquisitive and difficult questions, but Gopal was at ease with all kinds queries and answered fluently. At last, satisfied, Maharaja Krishna Chandra appointed him as Court Jester.
Soon, his reputation as court jester spread across the length and breadth of the country like wild fire and Gopal Bhand was being compared with the antics of Birbal, one of the jewels in the court of Emperor Akbar.
It has been over three centuries from the times of Gopal Bhand, but his stories and innocent jibes still tickle us and lighten our otherwise stressful life.
The stories of Gopal Bhand are quite similar to the ones of Birbal in the north and Tenali Rama in down south which makes one wonder if really these characters actually existed or the stories are just figment of imagination of some unknown author!!!
I have read these stories in the original language – Bengali and decided to translate them for my son when he was a kid. Now posting them here for all the kids and the ones who are young at heart, still, just like me…
ONE: CEREMONIAL BULL
Gopal, the Jester a.k.a. GOPAL BHAND, was a great entertainer at the courts of Maharaja Krishna Chandra, the ruler of Krishna Nagar in Bengal. His famous stories and escapades were not only discussed within the town of Krishna Nagar but reached across the length and breadth of the sub-continent of India.
Once long ago, Mirzaffar, the Nawab of Bengal on his way back home from a campaign stopped near the town of Krishna Nagar and camped on the outskirts of the town along with his sizable army.
Incidentally around this time, the Maharaja Krishna Chandra was performing the last rites of his father and offered a healthy bull to the God as appeasement so that his father can achieve eternal peace in heaven. After the ceremony, the bull was set free to roam around.
The bull roamed the streets of Krishna Nagar and passing by the camp of Nawab Mirzaffar when the Nawab caught the sight of the bull. The Nawab felt that the healthy bull will make a nice and elaborate meal for the whole group. He ordered his men to catch the bull immediately. He told his chef, ”This is a healthy bull, tomorrow make a curry and kebabs with its meat for all of us.”
Meanwhile the news of capture of the bull reached the Maharaja and he became worried for the fact that if the ceremonial bull is killed then his father will not enjoy the eternal bliss. He realized that he is no match to the mighty army of the Nawab. Also any request to set free the ceremonial bull will fall in deaf ears as the Nawab has already decided to kill the bull for sumptuous banquet. A pall of gloom set on the courts of the Maharaja. The ministers at the court were all at loss for any plausible advice. Everybody hoped for a miracle to happen that will set free the ceremonial bull.
Gopal the Jester, who was away on some work, reached the court to find everyone including the Maharaja very serious and worried. He asked “Oh Maharaja, what happened? You look so worried.”
The Maharaja narrated the whole incident to him and said in despair “Gopal, I really don’t know what to do. My father will now not go to the heaven if the bull is killed.”
“Oh Maharaja, this is not so serious a matter. Don’t you worry, I will go to the Nawab and get the bull for you just now.” Gopal said enthusiastically.
“It is not so simple Gopal” said the Prime Minister. “The Nawab has set his eyes on the bull and he is not going to let it go free so easily” said another courtier.
“If the Nawab is smart, then I am smarter than him” said Gopal and set off for the camp of Nawab Mirzaffar.
“If you bring back the bull, there will be a handsome award of gold coins for you” announced the Maharaja. “So be it Maharaja, keep it ready for me” replied Gopal.
Gopal reached the encampment of the Nawab and met the minister who took him to the Nawab and said “Jahanpanah, this is Gopal Bhand, the great entertainer at the courts of Maharaja Krishna Chandra.” Everybody present there including the Nawab was well aware of Gopal’s reputation, so he was warmly welcomed by the Nawab “What brings you here, noble man?” inquired the Nawab.
Gopal bowed before the Nawab and said ”Sir, I passing by and could not let go the chance of meeting you. You lordship has done wonderful things for his subjects and everyone is pleased with your firm but judicious governance.”
The Nawab felt very pleased with Gopal’s kind words as he liked to hear good things about himself. Gopal kept the flattery on to boost the ego of the Nawab. Suddenly looking out, he said, “What is this bull doing here?”
“Do you know this bull?” inquired the Nawab. “Oh yes, very much and that’s why I am little astonished” replied Gopal.
“Oh, this is a very healthy bull, tomorrow we are all going to feast on its meat. You too can join us” said the Nawab greedily.
“What, you will be eating this dirty bull? Sir, this is no ordinary bull, it does not eat grass or foliage like other normal bulls but scavenges through the dirt of the city” said Gopal disgustingly.
The Nawab, hearing this felt nauseating and immediately ordered his men to release the bull. “Gopal, you are great, you have saved me from eating meat of such a dirty bull” the Nawab thanked Gopal profusely and gave him three gold coins as reward.
Gopal bowed again and with a large grin on his face reached the courts of Maharaja. Meanwhile the Maharaja had heard about the release of the ceremonial bull and was very pleased with Gopal Bhand.
Gopal narrated his escapades with the Nawab and everybody at the court had a hearty laugh and cheered him. The Maharaja gave him the five gold coins as promised.
TWO: STRANGER AT THE COURT
Once a stranger came to the court of the Maharaja Krishna Chandra and announced that he is a leaned intellectual and knows various languages. The Maharaja had a soft place for intellectuals and immediately appointed him as a minister.
As the days went by, it was amply clear that the stranger actually is very intelligent and a linguist. He could fluently speak English, French, Spanish and German and it was difficult to judge his nationality by the way he dressed or spoke. In all his mannerism was quite cosmopolitan.
Everybody at the court was intrigued and tried their best to guess the region where the stranger belonged. One day while they were discussing this issue, the Maharaja said jokingly, “Gopal, if you could find out the whereabouts of the stranger, I will reward you with two gold coins.”
“As you say Maharaja” replied Gopal. “In two days I will tell you the native of the stranger” Gopal said confidently.
Gopal set out to find the whereabouts of the stranger. He got to know that the stranger was to make an appearance at the court next day. Gopal reached the gates of the kings palace and hid behind a pillar. Soon the stranger came to the gates and was about enter the palace when Gopal came out of his hiding rushed towards the stranger, colliding and fell him to the ground. The stranger badly hurt himself in the fall and abused Gopal, “Are you blind, can’t you see where you are going?”
Gopal smiled at the stranger and said, “I only wanted to know your native and do so now. You are Oriya. A person will definitely speak his mother tongue at trying time.” He went inside the palace and announced, “Maharaja, the stranger is from the kingdom of Orissa.” Then he narrated how he came to know about the truth.
The Maharaja was very proud of Gopal’s quick wit and rewarded him with the promised gold coins.
THREE: WHAT DO YOU EAT FIRST?
Gopal was the most favored courtier of Maharaja Krishna Chandra and he knew that Gopal liked good food. Therefore he would invite Gopal for a meal with him time and again without waiting for any occasion.
One day after the court was adjourned in the afternoon, the Maharaja asked Gopal to join him for the lunch. “I am at your command Maharaja. I can lay down my life for you any time. You are only asking me to join you for a meal and that I cannot refuse” said Gopal jovially.
There were variety of food at the lunch menu and they sat down to eat, the Maharaja jokingly asked, “So Gopal, what shall we eat first?”
“Maharaja, you should eat the fried eggplant first. After that everything will taste wonderful and tasty.” Gopal replied laughing at his own joke. The Maharaja also joined in the joke and they enjoyed the well cooked food.
FOUR: MAHARAJA’S AUNT
Maharaja Krishna Chandra had a aunt who was very rich and without encumbrances. She also happened to be the greatest miser in whole of Krishna Nagar. It was considered to be great achievement if one could even manage a nickel from her. She was against all kinds of wasteful expenses and shunned extravagance. She ate only vegetarian foods and wore simple cotton clothes. The only exception was the maid who looked after her. Even there she only offered her the two square meals in a day; Maharaja paid the salary without informing his aunt.
One day, Maharaja in a relaxed mood said, “Gopal with all your cleverness and quick wits you won’t be able to wriggle out a penny out my aunt.” Gopal not to be out done replied “I can, with your blessings Maharaja. You want to bet?”
Maharaja agreed to a bet of five gold coins if Gopal could even manage a meal out his aunt.
Gopal went home to think about a plan to win the bet. Next day he went to the aunt’s house visibly shaken and tears in his eyes. The aunt knew Gopal and was quite fond of him actually. Looking at the state of Gopal, she inquired “Gopal what happened? You look so disheveled.” Gopal with tears in his eyes replied, “You know Janak Pandit, the fortune teller?” “Oh yes very much. His predictions always come true” replied aunt.
“Well he had a look at my stars yesterday and predicted that I have only six months to live” Gopal cried aloud. He continued, “Now all I want is to have Prasad from you, before I die. I am sure that you will not refuse a dying man his last wishes.”
Aunt was visibly shaken but composed herself and said “That’s okay, but you know I only have very simple vegetarian food and you may not like that.” “Aunt, I just want the Prasad of yours whether it is simple vegetarian does not matter” replied Gopal. “Okay then you come back tomorrow afternoon the meal” aunt said little reluctantly.
Next day Gopal got ready to go to aunt’s house and hid a few shrimps in his pocket. He reached the house of aunt and announced himself. The aunt welcomed him and offered him food but Gopal refused and said “I want your Prasad aunt. You must eat first and leave a small portion of everything in the plate and I will have that only.” The aunt did not like the idea but agreed knowing that it was Gopal’s last wish. She started eating a little of everything and left the rest for Gopal to eat. Then she offered the food to Gopal. Meanwhile Gopal had taken out the shrimps from his pocket and when aunt was looking, mixed the shrimps in the yogurt. Then he started eating the food with great relish. After sometime, the aunt asked, “Gopal, how do you like the simple food? You are quite habitual to the rich food of the palace.”
“All the dishes are excellent, especially the yogurt with shrimps is wonderful” replied Gopal nonchalantly. Aunt was horrified. She said “What shrimp? I am a strict vegetarian and you know I don’t eat any fish, meat etc.”
“Yes I know and that’s why I was little surprised to find the shrimps in the yogurt. But it is really very tasty” replied Gopal.
The aunt was aghast now and scared that Gopal being a trumpeter will announce this to the whole world and bring shame to her. She stammered, “Go-go-Gopal, you are a nice person and I am sure you will not tell this to anyone and bring shame to this old aunt of yours!”
“In ordinary times I would not but now that I am going to die soon, I will not lie and be sinner. If the Maharaja asks me what I had for lunch, I will have to tell him about the shrimps in yogurt” Gopal said innocently. Then he added, “But of course, you can buy my words with money. If you pay me five gold coins, I will keep mum about this dish.”
Now the aunt was in a fix, five gold coins is a large amount but at the same time, if she did not pay and Gopal speaks out, it would be a big face loss. But all the same she bargained with Gopal, “Five gold coins is too much, I can give you three and you keep your mouth shut.”
Gopal realized that even three gold coins is a good value to extract from the miserly lady and agreed, albeit showing a little resistance “Oh aunt, you want me to sin for you in my last days and still bargaining for mere two gold coins. What will my family do after I am gone? I am sure you will take care of my family in my absence.”
Then he took the three gold coins left for the palace of Maharaja Krishna Chandra to show him the gold coins and tell the whole story.
Maharaja was aware of what transpired at his aunts’ house as he had kept a vigil there to know first hand how Gopal was faring in his mission. As soon as Gopal reached the court, Maharaja congratulated Gopal and offered him the five gold coins. Gopal was very happy as in a single day he had managed to earn eight gold coins and he decided to distribute a part of this to the poor of the town.
FIVE: THE UNLUCKY FACE
Once the Maharaja was celebrating the birth of his grandson and the party went well into the night. As a result, Gopal could not go back home and had to spent the night at the guest house of the palace.
In the morning, the Maharaja went for a walk through the garden and reached the guest house where most people were still sleeping after a late night. Gopal who was also there, got up first and saw the Maharaja. “Good Morning sir” he said. The Maharaja acknowledging the same asked him if he had a good sleep and thereafter went on his way.
A little later, the royal barber came to give Maharaja his daily shave. While shaving, the barber accidentally nicked the cheek of the Maharaja and the blood came out from the cut. The barber got scared that the Maharaja will now punish him severely. But generally the barbers are a clever clan and this one was no exception.
Composing himself the barber said “Maharaja, I have been shaving you for years and never before had caused any injury to your highness. I feel you must have seen some unlucky face this morning which is responsible for this mishap.”
The Maharaja felt what the barber said made sense and he thought whom he had seen early in the morning. He realized it was Gopal Bhand and he called him at once.
“Gopal, you are the unlucky one and I sentence you to death” announced the Maharaja. Gopal remained calm and answered “Your highness that is it. When you saw my face first in the morning you got a nick in your cheek but I also saw your face first thing this morning and I got the death sentence! Tell me whose face is more unlucky?”
The Maharaja realized his folly and immediately withdrew the order and rewarded Gopal for his wits.
SIX: THE FLEA
Once Gopal was going to a distant town and passing through a village when he felt hungry and thirsty. He thought of buying some food from the food stall and then realized that he was not carrying any money on him. He did not know anyone in the village so getting a loan from somebody was not possible. Dejected he kept walking. Then he came across a food stall where a kid was manning the stall and there was freshly made sweets on display. Looking at them, Gopal’s hunger increased many fold and he asked the kid “Where is your father?”
“He is inside having his food” replied the kid.
“My name is flea. Tell him that the flea had come and eating the sweets” said Gopal picking up the tray full of sweets. As he started to eat, the kid shouted “Father the flea has come and eating away the sweets.” The father without bother said from inside the house, “Let it be, he comes everyday.”
Gopal satisfied left the stall went on his way. After sometime, the father came out and was horrified to find the empty tray of sweets. He cried “Who has eaten away all my sweets?” The kid said “I told you the flea, really a man was eating the sweets and you said its okay as he is your regular customer.”
The father realized somebody has made a fool of him and thought who it could be.
The following day Gopal was again passing through the same area and stopped by the food. He told the kid “Tell your father that same flea that came yesterday had come again today.” The kid went inside to tell his father who this time rushed out to catch the thief.
“Who are you and why did you rob a poor man like me?” asked the father. “Well, my name is Gopal Bhand and yesterday when I was passing this way, I was very hungry and not carrying any money. So I had to use the ploy to fool you. I am sorry to have caused inconvenience to you. Here, please keep this money for the sweets.” Gopal offered him the money.
“Sir, I have heard so much about you and I am pleased that you have come to my stall. It is an honor to serve you. I cannot take the money from you” replied the shop owner.
Gopal with much persuasion made the shop owner accept the money as did not like to have free food at the expense of poor villagers.
SEVEN: THE OTHER JESTER
Maharaja Krishna Chandra liked to honor the talented people and many such persons were given a place of honor in his court. Once another Jester by the name Hasiram came to his court and displayed his talents. The Maharaja was pleased by his talent and immediately appointed him his court jester. Now there was another jester besides Gopal.
Hasiram, from the very beginning started entertaining the courtiers with his quick wit and soon became very popular with everybody around. It seemed that he was always one-upping on Gopal and people thought Gopal would be jealous of this new person. However, Gopal was nonchalant about the whole issue and often said “One will get what is due to him.”
One day Maharaja called Gopal aside and said “I find that your quick wits are fading. You seemed to have given up. Hasiram is always one-upping on you. I think you should pull-up your socks and show everybody that you are more talented in matter of wits.”
“I will definitely show you, who the boss is, Maharaja” replied Gopal. Then he thought of the means to achieve the task.
Now, Hasiram’s home was some ten miles away from Krishna Nagar where his old mother used to stay alone. Gopal found out that Hasiram was planning to visit his mother the next day. He had ordered sweets from the sweetmeat shop and two big fish from the fishmonger to take back home.
Next day before anyone could know, Gopal started off and reached the home of Hasiram. His mother knew Gopal and liked him as her son. She said “Oh Gopal, what brings you here, this early morning?”
“I was passing by and heard that you are not keeping well, therefore came to visit you” replied Gopal innocently.
“Its true, I was not well, but in old age such problems keep recurring. I know my time is getting over and soon I may die. But since you have come have lunch with me today” the old woman said.
“No mother, some other day perhaps. I have some urgent work and need to rush to Krishna Nagar and reach there before noon” replied Gopal with urgency in his voice.
The old woman would have none of it and forced Gopal to have some snacks before he left for Krishna Nagar.
Half way on the way back, he met Hasiram quite happy and contended carrying a big container full of sweets and two big fishes. Hasiram said “Brother, where have you been?”
Sounding sad, Gopal replied, “I’ve gone to meet a relation of mine but en route went to your home as well.” Then showing some urgency said “Brother I suggest you rush to your home immediately”
“Why, what happened at my home” asked Hasiram worriedly. “Nothing much, but still you should go fast” replied Gopal. “No-no, you must tell me what the matter is” Hasiram insisted.
Gopal, almost at the brink of crying said “One has to go at some point of time in life, but you know very well that mother is the biggest support to us all. Even if she is old, she still is our mother.”
“What, my mother is no more. She has left for the heaven!” Hasiram cried out loudly. Gopal said something as if to console him but Hasiram was inconsolable. He handed over the sweets and the two big fishes to Gopal and said “I have no use for these now, you take them home and enjoy with your family.” Then he rushed to his home, crying all the way.
On reaching home, he found his mother quite healthy and immediately realized that Gopal had made a fool of him. In fact, Gopal never said his mother passed away but he only imagined things in his anxiety and he saluted Gopal for his wits.
Meanwhile, Maharaja had a hearty laugh when he got to know what happened with Hasiram. He realized that Hasiram was no match to Gopal in matter of wits.
EIGHT: THE ROYAL DOCTOR
There was a vacancy for the position of Royal Doctor at the court of Maharaja Krishna Chandra. The announcement to this regard was made across the kingdom and also at the neighboring states.
Soon, large number of applicants reached the palace and spoke of their experience and expertise in the field of medicine. It became quite impossible to shortlist the candidates, let alone choose one among them. The Maharaja called Gopal and said “I think only you can choose the right person among all these candidates. I am entrusting you the task of choosing the Royal Doctor.”
“Its easy Maharaja, you will soon get your man” replied Gopal confidently.
Then he turned towards the candidates and said “You all have given the accounts of your achievements which all of us here at the court have heard and understood. But the position of Royal Doctor is quite different and important too. It can only go to the person who is responsible for the death of at least one thousand patients that he had attended to in his professional life so far.”
One of the candidate said “Out of ten thousand patients that I have treated, two thousand have died and I am responsible for that.”
The second candidate said “Of the thirty odd thousand patient that came to me for treatment, four thousand have lost their life.”
“Half of my two thousand patients are no longer in this world” said another candidate.
So, one after another, everyone started saying how many persons they have killed in their professional life.
There was, however, one exception. One candidate, who was sitting quietly all this while got up and started leave the court. Gopal caught the site and said “Doctor, you are leaving without telling us your achievements. Don’t you aspire to be the Royal Doctor?”
“I would very much like to be the Royal Doctor otherwise I would not have come this far from home, but the conditions are too steep. I have seen about forty thousand patients so far in my life but only five have died. I do not think I can achieve the figure of one thousand even if I tried the rest of my life. That is why I am leaving now” said the man dejectedly.
Gopal turned towards the Maharaja and said “Highness this man is fit to become the Royal Doctor.” Maharaja happily agreed to the suggestion and appointed him.
NINE: SWEET TOOTH
One day Gopal Bhand along with his uncle Nilesh was going to the town of Vishnupur on the opposite banks of Ganges. They were traveling in a typical boat of Bengal where in the middle of the boat is a canopy where the boatman used to keep their belongings. In the boat, besides Gopal his uncle and the boatman, there were two other persons traveling to another town further to Vishnupur.
One of the gentlemen was carrying a large container of sweets and told his companion “The prices of sweets at the market have sky-rocketed but I couldn’t resist the temptation of picking up these sweets from Felu the sweet maker. He is quite famous around here for the variety as well as the quality of his sweets.”
“True” said his companion and added “Our destination quite far, how long you will hold this container? Why don’t you keep it inside the canopy? We will take it when we disembark.”
The man liked the idea and kept the container safely inside the canopy. Gopal and his uncle had heard the gentlemen but did not say anything. They seemed to enjoy the cool breeze of the Ganges. After sometime, Gopal suddenly started shivering and told his uncle “I think I have fever and feeling cold.” Nilesh touching his forehead said “Oh yes you have quite high temperature. Don’t stay out. I suggest you go and rest inside the canopy. I will call you when we reach Vishnupur.”
The other two gentlemen on the boat too suggested that he go inside the canopy to rest and said “We have to go further than Vishnupur, we will let you know when the boat reaches there.”
Reluctantly, Gopal went inside the canopy to rest. After an hour or so the boat reached the shores of Vishnupur and uncle Nilesh called out Gopal. Together they disembarked and the boat went its way to the next destination.
Getting down, Gopal said “I am already feeling fine. The fever is gone and I no longer feel the shivering.”
“Why not, after all the sweets of Felu are supposed to do wonders!” replied Nilesh. “Yes uncle, I could not resist myself when I heard the gentleman” said Gopal sheepishly. “I hope you have saved some for me too” said Nilesh greedily.
Gopal took out some of the sweets from his pocket and offered them to his uncle. Together they enjoyed the sweets of Felu but felt sorry for the poor man on the boat who had paid for the sweets.
TEN: WHAT LIES BENEATH THE GROUND
Adjacent to Krishna Nagar was the town of Begampur which was under the rule of the Nawab Mirzaffar. The Nawab was eccentric and whimsical. One day, he called his courtiers and said “I wonder what is there under the ground. Is there another kingdom below the earth surface?” The courtiers had no ready answer for this query of the Nawab. After much deliberation they said “Jahanpanah, only experts in astrology can tell us what is there beneath the ground.”
The Nawab liked the idea and announced “If any one can tell me what is there beneath the ground, he will be awarded with hundred gold coins and if he fails then he will spend the rest of his life in the dungeons”
One hundred gold coins were very lucrative reward and many a Pundit went to Begampur to try their luck. Even Maharaja sent a group of royal pundits to try and win the reward. But none of them could satisfy the Nawab with an answer to his query and were thrown in the dungeons.
Maharaja, when he heard the fate of his court pundits and others felt sorry and thought of means and ways to free them. He could not think of any means to end their misery and became very depressed.
Gopal who was visiting his grandmother at Vishnupur returned to Krishna Nagar to find the whole town in a state of mourning. He reached the court and was even more surprised to see similar situation there too. He asked the Maharaja “What is wrong, your highness?” The Maharaja narrated the events that took place while he was away to Vishnupur. “Poor innocent pundits are rotting in the dungeons and unable to do anything for them” the Maharaja said in despair.
“Not to worry Maharaja, I will go to Begampur and not only satisfy the Nawab but will also ensure that all the pundits are set free” said Gopal cheering the Maharaja. “Do you know astrology? How you will be able to tell what is beneath the ground?” enquired Maharaja apprehensively. “Have trust in me, I will not let you down” said Gopal and left the palace to plan for coup.
Gopal went straight to his home and took a piece of wooden block and wrapped it in layer of silk cloth of different shades. Then he himself dressed up in a silk suit and a jazzy head gear with silk shawl to go with it. He now looked like a pundit and started off for Begampur. He also took with him thick books with red cloth covers.
He reached the courts of the Nawab and bowing to him said “Sir, I have heard your announcement and wish to satisfy your highness.”
The Nawab was impressed with Gopal’s attire and appearance and felt confident that this person can actually tell him what is there beneath the ground. He said “Your personality tells me that you are a learned pundit and can give us the right answers to our query. But since you have come from far and tired, please have some food and rest a while” said the Nawab sounding pleased.
When the court resumed after lunch, Gopal sat down at the appointed seat and took out his thick books and the silk wrapped wooden block. He made gestures as if he was calculating some very complicated mathematical problems. After some time he said something in Sanskrit which no body could make any meaning. The Nawab asked “Please explain what does this mean, Pundit Ji?”
Gopal smiled and said “Your highness, my calculations say that no Hindu pundit can tell you what is beneath the ground.”
“Then who can tell me?” asked the Nawab. “Your highness, my calculations do tell me who can satisfy your query” replied Gopal humbly. After some more calculations, Gopal said “Sir, only Muslims and Christians are buried whereas the Hindus are cremated, therefore only a Christian priest or a Muslim clergy can tell you what lies beneath the ground. So please call either of them to get your answer.”
Nawab was satisfied with Gopal’s argument and rewarded him with 50 gold coins, half the prize money and also released all the pundits that were sent to the dungeon. He also sent for the Muslim clergies to tell him what lies beneath the ground.
Upon reaching the Krishna Nagar, Gopal narrated the events that took place at the Nawab’s court to Maharaja amidst the cheering of the courtiers. The Maharaja gave fifty more gold coins to Gopal as a reward asked him “What are you hiding inside that colorful silk cloth?”
“Oh, this is what saved me and the pundits from the clutches of the Nawab” Gopal said laughingly and unwrapped the wooden block. Everybody laughed out and praised the wits of Gopal.
ELEVEN: EXILE FROM KRISHNA NAGAR
Gopal as a jester was at times little irritating as he would say whatever came to his mind without realizing or bothering about the surroundings and situations. This was the complaint of most of the courtiers but they could not say anything as Gopal was the most favored person of the Maharaja.
However, One day Maharaja himself got very annoyed with Gopal for his certain comments. He called his royal guards and said “This fellow has become very arrogant and disrespectful, throw him out of my palace and see to it that he is not allowed inside, ever again.”
“You don’t have to throw me out, I am going away on my own. I will also leave the country too within next three days” said Gopal indignantly.
Gopal left the palace and on his way back home told everyone that he is leaving the country for good. He reached home and told his wife “Pack-up everything; we will be leaving this country for ever.”
“Why on earth will we be leaving this nice and peaceful place?” pleaded his wife. “The world is a big place and surely we can find the patronage of some other kind king. The Maharaja does not seem to care about me anymore” said Gopal. His wife started crying and all the neighbors also gathered around and pleaded with Gopal to reconsider his decision. Gopal was determined and told everyone “Since I have lost the job at the palace, I have no other means to make a living. I have to go to another kingdom to search for job and living.” He urged his wife to start packing immediately.
The news of Gopal leaving the country reached the Maharaja and he felt sorry for him. Actually the Maharaja was very fond of Gopal and that day out irritation had exiled him from the palace. Now, he ordered his men to go and get Gopal immediately.
Upon getting the message of Maharaja, Gopal went to the palace and presented himself to the Maharaja. “Are you seriously leaving the country?” inquired the Maharaja. “Yes Sir” replied Gopal without looking up.
“But I had only exiled you from the palace and not from the country” said the Maharaja perplexed.
“That’s true Maharaja, you never exiled me from the country but only from the palace. However, I earn my living by entertaining you and others at this court and if I am not allowed here, how can I make my ends meet?” replied Gopal.
“Tell me Gopal, what do I do? I cannot let you go neither I can ignore my ministers who are angry with your behavior. Tell me Gopal how do I treat you” said the Maharaja with anguish.
“This is love, Maharaja. You are in love with me and that is the reason of your anguish” said Gopal with a smile.
This comment from Gopal broke the ice and all the courtiers clapped and cheered Gopal. They urged Maharaja to pardon Gopal and reappoint him as the Court Jester once again.
Maharaja said “There is no question of reappointment as he was never thrown out. He had merely left the palace as he does everyday to go home. Gopal is very much part of my court and shall remain so as long as he lives.”
Then Maharaja gave some money to Gopal and said “You are not to leave this country without my permission. Now go home, your wife must be getting worried.”
Gopal pocketed the money and left for home happy and at peace.
TWELVE: MAHARAJA’S DREAM
Once with the idea of embarrassing Gopal, the Maharaja announced in the court ‘Last night I had a very weird dream.”
“Tell us about your dream, Maharaja” Gopal asked eagerly. “Let it be. You may not appreciate, Gopal” replied Maharaja smiling at his own joke.
Gopal was now insistent and urged the Maharaja to narrate his dream. As if with great reluctance, the Maharaja said “Okay since you are insisting, but remember, it is just a dream.”
Maharaja continued “Last night I saw that you and I have reached a far away country. It was very dark there and very creepy; there were two ponds, one was filthy and the other was filled with milk. Then in the darkness, you slipped and fell into the filthy pond. You tried get out but more you tried, you got more entangled in the thick filthy mud. And then I also slipped but fell into the pond filled with milk. After some effort, I got out of the milk pond and was trying to help you out from the filthy pond, when I woke up.”
Everyone present at the court looked at Gopal and started teasing him “So Gopal you ate the filth!”
Gopal did not react to the teasing and kept quite. After sometime, he said “Maharaja, what a coincidence! I also happened to see something similar in my dream last night. But let it be, it’s not very welcoming for you.”
“So you also saw that you are swimming in a filthy pond” Maharaja asked jokingly. “Yes, your highness, there is no point denying the truth. You couldn’t see the end as you woke up but I saw till the end” replied Gopal.
“What did you see Gopal” asked the Maharaja. “It is better, if you don’t hear the end bit. It won’t do well to your reputation” Gopal said quietly.
Now the Maharaja was eager to know what happened at the end and insisted, “You must tell me what happened at the end. It doesn’t matter how I may feel.”
“Okay” Gopal said reluctantly and continued “After sometime, I also came out from the filthy pond. We were wet, I with filthy water and you with butter milk. We both wanted to wash ourselves clean before we reached Krishna Nagar, but there was no sign of any clean water around. We searched for sometime and then you suggested that we clean us by licking each other. Maharaja, it was at your suggestion that I started licking the butter milk from your body and you the filth from my body.”
The courtiers went wild with laughter as soon as Gopal had narrated his dream. But the Maharaja went pale and kept quite. He realized that Gopal had an upper hand using the joke that he had created to embarrass Gopal. He had started it and now he can’t say anything to Gopal. Maharaja vowed never again to embarrass Gopal publicly.