Aniket was timid, docile and sensitive by temperament since birth, unlike his elder sister princess Karnavali. She was outgoing, smart, brave, and a bit too strong willed. King Arhanya had various moments of desperation trying to make a man out of the boy. But any strictness on his part made the prince wither like a delicate flower. He constantly worried about prince Aniket ever making a strong successor for his throne. On the other hand, the princess loved horse riding, archery, and war training. She was skillful, brave and unafraid.
Every time the king experienced a failed attempt to make a strong ruler out of his delicate son ; the sheer candor of his daughter made him insanely mad, he would reprimand her, curb her freedom, and took away her privileges. Karnavali grew up resenting her father’s unjust behavior towards her owing to her brother’s timidity. As she grew up, such experiences of failing to teach prince Aniket archery, martial arts, or any other skill of a warrior made her more determined to master those traits. She grew up to resent her brother with unspeakable vehemence. She openly bullied him while he played with small birds and animals in the royal gardens. She would shoot the animals right before his eyes sending him running teary eyed to their mother for comfort. The prince eventually became her outlet for all her anger and frustration. Soon she started to mock him in front of servants and attendants. The royal servants liked the sweet tempered prince but they did not see an able ruler in him.
One day the king sent a proposal of his daughter to the neighboring kingdom but offer was duly rejected because of the rash temperament of the princess Karnavali. Her attitude had rubbed off many diplomats and messengers the wrong way. The king finally decided to organize a swaymvar (bride chooses the groom on her own accord). The grand day came. The royal palace was decorated; elaborate food preparations were made. The entire court waited all day but not one suitor turned up. Dressed in all the regalia, Karnavali could not take the humiliation any more and in front of the entire court, she started making jibes at her brother Aniket. The prince silently endured the humiliation because he understood her pain. The father watched helplessly partly because he himself was scared of her daughter’s sharp tongue. He was afraid that she would say something rash to him in front of the court and partly because he was ashamed of his timid son who was no better than a delicate woman in his eyes.
He silently watched his son being humiliated. The final blow came when Karnavali called him eunuch in disguise and that he should hide his face somewhere or kill him self. Deeply hurt, prince Aniket walked out of the court in defeated silence. Next day he left the palace without saying a word to anyone. Father did not even bother to stop him as if he secretly wished the cause of his embarrassment to disappear from his palace. Prince Aniket walked deep into the jungle. The night fell with its spooky eeriness all around him. But a broken heart knows no fear.
From a distant well, he heard muffled cries for help. He paced forward following the moonlight guiding him into the well. Peeping into the well, he asked,
“did anyone call for help?” Out came a reply, “Yes, please help me”. I fell down this well today while chasing a deer today. My ankle is broken. It’s a dry well, can you please come down and carry me out on your shoulders.” Aniket’s compassionate heart did not think twice as he climbed down the stairwell of the dark well. Not even slightly aware of what was awaiting him.
He made assuring sounds to the stranger as he descended into the well. When he reached the bottom, he found no one there. Instead, as he called out, a reply came from the top of the well asking him to come out. Puzzled he climbed out to find a radiant Sadhu standing by the well smiling at him benevolently. Silvery etheric light emanated from his face and body. He asked Aniket to follow him to his place. He found Sadhu’s calmness soothing his aching soul. The gentle kindness, which reflected in his own inner being. On their way, the Sadhu said, “you must know prince, it takes a very brave and fearless man to follow the voice of a stranger in the darkness of the night in a strange forest and descend down a well to save another human being. You are indeed a brave, fearless and a compassionate man.” These words struck Aniket like lightening. Till today, people had called him silly, coward and a timid man. Sadhu smiled again knowing his chain of thoughts.
The life at the ashram suited him perfectly and blended well with his calm temperament. His inner being blossomed with joy after finding his true home. He was taught how to gather wood, use a bow and arrow to hunt for food, protect himself against wild animals, and to take care of his inner self through meditative practices.In a few years, he grew into a strong, muscular, and a self-assured man. His arrows never missed the target.
One day the Sadhu asked him how he never misses a target. Prince replied, “I do everything while remembering the Divine even when I shoot an arrow and hence I never miss the target.” Sadhu understood that the time had come to send him back to his kingdom. Prince protested that he is happy here but the sage insisted that he must perform his royal duties too while remembering the Divine.
Upon reaching the palace and meeting his father again, the king could not believe his luck. He was so happy with the transformation of his son that he offered his throne to him right away. But Aniket refused and said that he would serve his father as long as he is the king. He also suggested that his sister Karnavali should be made the prime minister owing to her exceptional administrative abilities.
All these years, Karnavali thought she was the rightful heir to the throne. Karnavali saw her dream of taking over the kingdom demolishing before her eyes. She burned with anger. She tried every trick to humiliate him verbally but Aniket’s poise surprised her. He defeated her in every shooting dual, games, races and martial arts. It made her more furious when nothing worked. Desperate, one day she poisoned his food. Aniket like every other act ate that food while remembering the Divine. And that very moment the poison in the food turned into nectar. Watching this unbelievable event, Karnavali realized the propensity of her crimes against her innocent little brother. Filled with repentance, she asked for his forgiveness. Unperturbed, Prince Aniket told her, “I don’t need you to be sorry. I would rather see you happy. I know how unfairly you were treated as a child. But I am glad that today you understand that I was not the one to be blamed for that injustice. I suffered just the same and even more as a child.”
For the first time, the two embraced each other and shed tears. Karnavali’s heart opened as tears of pain flowed from her eyes. A noble suitor married her soon after and took her to his city. Thereafter the king died. Aniket became known as the brave, mighty and a compassionate ruler. He ruled successfully for 58 years creating a powerful and successful empire.