The Judgement Seat of Vikramaditya by Sister Nivedita

We are all familiar with the name of Vikramaditya. His reign has been a landmark in the history of our country. The ‘Vikram Samvat’ owes its origin to him. Although his name is so famous, it is strange that we hardly know anything definite about his life. There in one thing certain about him, however, he loved justice and learning. He gave perfect justice to his people and gathered learned men about him in his court. It is said that he was the greatest judge in history.

Vikramaditya was never deceived. Nor did he ever punish the wrong man. The guilty trembled when they came before him for they knew that his eyes would look straight into their guilt. And those who came to him with difficult problems were always satisfied by the way he solved them. And so, in India after him whenever any judge pronounced his judgement whit great skill, it was said of him, “Ah! He must have sat on the judgment – seat of Vikramaditya.

Has any one ever seen the judgement – seat of Vikramaditya? Perhaps not; because the seat does not exist any more. I am going to tell you how it disappeared.

After the death of Vikramaditya, the people of Ujjain, in due course of time, forget him. His palace and his fortress were ruined. The heaped up ruins, having been covered with grass, dust and trees, were turned into a pasture for feeding the cattle. The village – people used to send their cows out to these pastures to graze. Early in the morning the cattle would go in the care of shepherd-boys and would not return till late in the evening. When it was time to return, a shepherd-boy would call out from the edge of the pasture and all the cattle along with their cow herds would gather round him and together they would turn homewards.

Such was the life of the shepherd – boys in the village about Ujjain. There were many of them ad in the long days on the pastures, they had plenty of time for fun. One day they found a playground. And, how delightful it was! The ground under the trees was rough and uneven. Here and there, the ends of a great stone peeped out, and in the middle, there was green mound, which looked very much like a judge’s seat.

At last one of the boys thought so and seated himself on it. “I say, boys,” he cried, “I’ll be the judge and you can bring all your cases before me, and we will have trails.” Then he straightened his face and became very grave to act the part of judge.

Other saw the fun at once and whispering among themselves, quickly picked up some quarrel and appeared before him. Each group stated their case, one saying that a certain field was theirs, another saying that it was not and so on. They all wanted him to settle the dispute.

But now, all of a sudden, a strange thing made itself felt. The boy who appeared so common before he sat down on the mound, looked so different now. He had become grave and serious and his tone and manner were so strange and impressive that the rest of the boys were a little frightened. Still they thought it was fun, and once again they put up a fresh case before him and once more he gave his judgment. And this went on for hours and hours together, he sitting on the judge’s seat, listening to complaints and pronouncing sentences with the same gravity till it was time to return. And then he jumped down from his place and was just like any other cowherd.

From then onwards, so famous did this cowherd become that all the complicated disputes were put before him. And always the same thing happened. The spirit of knowledge and justice would come to him and he would show them the truth. But when he came down from his seat, he would be no different form the other boys.

Gradually, this news spread through the countryside. Grown-up men and women from all the villages would bring their disputes in the court of the cowherd boy and always they received a judgement that both sides understood and so went away satisfied.

Now the king, who lived far away from Ujjain, heard this story, “Well” he said, “that boy must have definitely sat on the judgment-seat of Vikramaditya.” The king’s guess was correct, as the ruins about the meadows were once Vikramaditya place. “If just sitting on the mound brings wisdom and justice to the shepherd-boy,” he thought, “ let us dig deep and find the judgment-seat. I, too, shall sit on it and hear all the cases. Then the spirit of Vikramaditya will descend upon me as well and I shall always be j just king.”

So, with spades and shovels, the grassy knoll where the boys played was overturned. The boy who had been the self-made judge was sorrowful; he felt that something very dear to him was being taken away.

At last the labourers came on something. They uncovered it and found a slab of black marble, supported on the hands and wings of twenty five stone-angle. Surely it was judgement-seat of Vikramaditya.
With great rejoicing, it was brought to the city and placed in the hall of justice. The king ordered his people to observe three day’s prayer fasting and announced that on the fourth day he would ascend the throne publicly.

At last the great morning came and crowds assembled to see the king take his seat. Walking through the long hall, came the judges and priests of the kingdom, followed nu the king , then as they reached the seat of judgment, they parted into two rows, the king walked up in the middle, bowed his head in reverence and went straight to marble slab.

When the king was about to sit on the throne, one of the angles began to speak, “Stop”, it said, “Do you think that you are worthy to sit on the judgement-seat of Vikramaditya? Have you never desired to rule over kingdoms that were not your own?” For a while the kin could not think of an answer.

He knew his life as unjust. After a long silence, he spoke “No”, he said, “I am not worthy”. “Go then and fast and pray for three days.” Said the angle, “so that you may purify yourself and be worthy to sit on the throne.” With these words it spread its wings and flew away.

The king prepared himself – with prayer and with fasting to come again and sit on the judgment-seat of Vikramaditya. But this time again the same thing happened. Another stone-angle asked him if he had never desire to possess the riches of others. The king admitted that he had done so and, therefore, he was not worthy to sit on the judgment-seat.

In this way, whenever the king tried to occupy the throne, he was questioned by and angle and he had to withdraw. This went on last angel was left supporting the marble-slab. The king went near the throne with great confidence, for he felt sure of being allowed to take his place that day.

But as he came near the seat, the last angle spoke, “Are you, then, perfectly pure in heart, O king? Is your heart as pure as that of little child? If so, you are indeed worthy to site on his seat.”
“No” said the king very slowly, “No, I am not worthy.” And at these words the angel flew up into the sky, bearing the slab upon his head.

This was how the judgement-seat of Vikramaditya disappeared from the earth forever.

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