True Friends Long ago, during the reign of King Magadha a wedding was being celebrated. The people attending the feast were delighted to see the arrangements made. The bride was the daughter of the richest man in the town. She was demure and beautiful. The day after the marriage the newly wed lady started doing household chores. But her mother-in-law insisted that she shouldn’t work. “No! There is no need to work. Your lovely hands will get spoiled,” she said. But a few months later when the lady was relaxing her mother-in-law went to her and said, “Don’t sit there dreaming. Can’t you lend a hand in the house-work?” The lady thought, “Why has her attitude towards me changed? What have I done?” One day some guests came to meet her mother-in-law. They asked, “Where is your lovely daughter-in-law?” The reply was, “Lovely! My foot! One whole year has passed since she has been married and still she hasn’t given birth to a child. We need someone to carry on the family name.” The young lady overheard her and confided in her maid. The maid advised, “Why don’t you pretend to be an expectant mother?” With the help of her maid she pretended to be pregnant and once again she was fussed over. In due course, the lady wanted to go to her parents and she was given permission. The lady along with her maid set out with a caravan. In the evening they camped near a mangrove and spent the night there. In the morning the lady got up find that the caravan had left. She felt helpless and decided to return home. On her way she found an infant under a tree. She had an idea. She took the baby home with her and told her family members that a bay was born to her. The family celebrated the event with great pomp and joy. They came to know that two other children were born on the same day. They were brought to the palace so that they could give company to the lady’s child. The lady’s child was named Nigrodha. The other two were the sons of a merchant and a weaver. They were named Shakha and Pottik. The children grew up together, finished their studies and decided to travel and broaden their minds. One day they reached a forest and decided to spend the night there. Early in the morning Pottik woke up and saw two hens crowing over an egg. One hen said, “The one who eats the yolk of the egg shall become a King. The one who eats the white shall be the Commander of the army and the one who eats the shell is destined to be a Treasurer.” Pottik took the egg and separated the three parts carefully. Then he mixed them in their porridges.
He gave the yolk to Nigrodha, the white to Shakha and the shell was devoured by him. When they had finished eating he told them what he had heard the hens say. Shakha was angry. He wanted to have the yolk. But he kept silent. He decided to teach Pottik a lesson some day. The travellers entered a village where they were warmly welcomed. The host said, “Our childless king is dead. Now the royal priest will select the king.” They thanked their host and went to a park where they slept peacefully. After sometime a chariot stopped in front of Nigrodha. A priest got down and surveyed his feet and declared, “This man is fit to be a king. Let’s wake him and give him the news.” Nigrodha was overjoyed to become a king. He selected Shakha as the Commander of the army and Pottik as a companion. They lived in the palace in luxury. One day, Nigrodha said, “I miss my parents. Will you fetch them here, Pottik?” Pottik readily agreed. He went each house and asked the parents to come with him. But they didn’t want to leave the home of their ancestors so Pottik departed with a heavy heart. On the way back he spent all his money and was very tired. He saw that Shakha’s house was nearby. He told the guard, “Tell your master that Pottik wants to stay and rest in his house.” The soldier went in and told it to his master. But Shakha’s mind was full of revenge. He aasked the soldier to beat him up and throw him out telling that he didn’t know Pottik. Pottik reached the palace after sometime. The king and Shakha were discussing something. When Nigrodha saw Pottik he exclaimed, “O, Shakha! Look Pottik is back!” On hearing this Pottik said, “O, King, Shakha doesn’t know me.” And he related the whole incident from the time of his departure. Nigrodha was furious. He ordered Shakha to be killed but Pottik stopped him. But he couldn’t stop Nigrodha from banishing Shakha from the kingdom. Then Nigrodha made him the Bhandagarik of his kingdom. His duty was to keep a watch on the treasure and taxes. Thus, the egg really was magical. Its prophecies came to be true!