Once upon a time there was a very good king ruling our country, which was then called as Bharath. He and his queen were married for a long time but didn’t have any children. Thanks to the blessings of a learned sage, the queen gave birth to a girl child. They named her Devi and showered her with love. As Devi grew up, the queen and the dasis (maids) in the palace used to feed Devi with ghee rice, savories and lot of sweets every day. Since Devi was their only daughter, the king and the queen took care of her like the apple of their eye and she was very well protected. They ensured she got whatever she wanted and she hardly left the palace for anything.
As Devi grew up, she lost her playfulness a little, and slowly stopped going outside into the palace gardens. But, out of habit, she ate the same amount of food she used to eat earlier. Soon she became so fat, she couldn’t move inside the palace also. She fell ill and didn’t recover for days together. The king tried to cure her through the palace doctor. But no medicine could make her feel better. So one day, out of desperation, the king announced 1000 gold coins for the person who could cure her. Hearing this many more doctors came to see her but they couldn’t help her much.
One day the same sage who had blessed the king to beget Devi, passed the city. He came to know about the illness of the princess and the king’s announcement. He felt sorry for the king and the princess and went to see them. One look at the princess, he knew what was her problem. He turned to the king.
“I can cure your daughter, oh King! Do not worry. But she will have to come live with me in my hut for three months for the treatment to be effective”.
The king and queen just wanted their daughter to become alright, they agreed to the sage’s proposal.
“I will send her tomorrow, Swamiji”, said the king.
“No, your highness. Let her come with me right now. Why delay the good things that should happen?” so saying, the sage called out to Devi.
“Gaurds”, the king shouted, “get the palanquin”.
“No Rajan. We will go to my house walking”, said the sage and took Devi’s hand.
Devi couldn’t walk after they crossed the palace gates. So they rested for a few minutes there. The sage’s hut was outside the city 10 kilometers away. Every fifteen minutes Devi needed to rest. The sage, even at his ripe age of 80, did not seem tired at all. Finally they reached his hut after 3 hours. As soon as they reached the hut, Devi collapsed and closed her eyes. She wanted to sleep all day …she was so tired.
Soon it was time for their noon food and Devi’s stomach started growling. She went to the kitchen area of the hut looking for food. All the vessels were empty.
“Since I came to the palace, I didn’t get time to cook, child. Come let’s pluck some fruits from the trees”.
So Devi had to contend herself with just a couple of bananas for lunch.
The sage allowed her to rest after lunch. By four o’clock in the evening, he called out to her.
“Devi, come my child, let’s go to the river and get some water for the evening pooja”.
So they both went and came back with two pots of water. The sage carried one pot and asked Devi to carry the other. Devi huffed and puffed but somehow managed to reach the pot of water on her head back to the hut. She waited hungrily for him to finish his evening worship.
Their night meal was a simple kichchadi. At least it was hot and Devi felt thankful when she finished her bowl. She wanted to eat some more and peeped inside the pot. But it was already empty. The sage patted her head and asked her to rest for the night.
Soon it was morning. The old ascetic took her to the river for their morning rituals. They again walked back to his hut with water for the pooja and cooking. This time he taught Devi how to cook a meager lunch of rice, dal, and sabji. Post lunch, he made her sit near him and started teaching her the ancient scriptures that he knew. Evening, it was the same routine again. They went to the river, fetched water for pooja and cooking and came back, plucked few fruits from the garden trees, ate them and went to bed. This routine continued for month after month for three months.
The king came to take his daughter back. “How is my daughter guruji?”
“See for yourself Rajan. Devi, come here dear. See who has come”, the sage called out.
The king couldn’t at first recognize the girl who came running to him. She was so slim, her face was radiant and she was beautiful. She glowed with health.
Without a word, the king fell at the sage’s feet. While they were about to leave, the sage turned to Devi.
“Dear child, you should come here to study the scriptures every four days in a week. Come early in the morning and you can go home in the evening. You can even bring your father and mother, but the road to my hut is so narrow, you can come only by walking”, said the sage with a twinkle in his eyes. He continued. “Here, take this deer to play with you Devi. Take care of this baby deer yourself.” The king understood that the sage was trying to keep his daughter healthy by making her walk to his cottage and by gifting a prancing deer to play with and keep her active. The king also knew by the sage’s invitation to visit him by foot that he wanted himself and the queen to be healthy to take care of the country. So the king and his family visited the sage regularly by walking, which took care of their physical health and all the good things the sage taught helped them calm their minds from the complications of ruling a country.