Climbing The Wall and Kicking The Ladder
The resolute King Vikramaditya climbed the primeval tree and brought down the cadaver into which Bhethala invoked. No sooner, the King started his journey carrying the corpse on his shoulder the Bhethala in the dead body started speaking to him. Hey King of Kings! Vikramaditya! To ease your journey, I will narrate you a story.
The Bhethala started
Kumara Varma is a great sculptor residing in a small village Lalithapuri. He was such a great artisan that he used to carve out beautiful figures from hardest rocks with a great ease, as one would do it from a piece of wax. Every villager appreciated Varma for his expertise. One fine day, the village headman called upon Varma and initiated a small dialogue with him.
Varma! You kindly pay attention to my words. Any art and artisan can flourish only after a right patron extends cooperation. Here in this remote village, to what extent you can achieve. Hence, you take my words seriously and present your skills before the King of this kingdom. You might definitely be helped.
Varma was convinced with the headman's reasoning, You are right gentleman. I will do what you said. Right this day I will proceed to the capital and see the King. The headman wishing him good luck proceeded to his other works.
Packing all the necessary items, Varma took off to the capital the same day and reached there a few days later. For some days he intently tried to meet the King. When all his efforts went in vain, he returned to his village exhausted and all vexed up.
He was frustrated for his poor economic situation, in addition to this none of his expert carvings helped him to eke out livelihood. Starving in miserable conditions Varma started thinking it was better to die than to continue living in those dejected conditions as an artisan. And it happened just then.
Varma received a call from headman of a distant village to meet him immediately. Varma was on his feet and jumpstarted to reach the village. The village chief made the visitor seated comfortably. After Varma relaxed a little, he started Kumara Varma! I learnt that you are an expert sculptor. I decided to get your art exhibited to people. From now onwards I will pay you 100 Varahas per month as salary. Start the work immediately and make as many and beautiful statues you can. Is all that okay for you?
Kumara Varma threw a colourless smile and nodded his head in conformation. From then onwards Varma used to carve astonishing statues from dead rocks and enliven them with his expertise. The entire village, even neighbouring villages for that matter were biting ears for his excellence in doing so.
The village head was very happy about Varma and his exotic works. He carted Varma's sculptures to the nearby villages and towns and started making huge sums by selling them to rich land lords in the region. A commercial landlord purchased one such statuette. It struck him that it was possible to earn heavy amounts if Varma was lured to work on his behalf. Instantly he sent a message to Varma and the humble man presented himself before the landlord.
Hey You! Kumara Varma! I praise your perfection in your art of transforming the hardest rocks into delicate statues. I feel that your present master is insulting you by paying a meagre 100 Varahas. If you can stay and work for me I will pay you 500 Varahas per month in addition to food, shelter and clothing. Will that do for you? he enquired Varma. Varma had no change in expression or feeling, which he did with his first master and gave his nod.
The landlord was very happy for Varma's affirmative action to his wishes. Then, he provided all the necessary arrangements to Varma. Varma started reproducing all his beautiful thoughts into reality and moulding the tough stones again into lively figurines sizing from two feet to seven feet.
The landlord sent them to distant places in the region through his men and sold them to richest of the persons. The demand and attraction for Varma's creations was growing so huge that the effigies were sold at high rates that overflowed money into the pockets of the landlord. Something similar happened.
With the hear and say appreciations of Varma and his sculpture, the provincial ruler purchased some of the idols and was awe-struck for the lively and beautiful work. Immediately he ordered his courtiers to bring Varma to his court. By the spin of air, his court attendants rode to the place where Varma worked with the landlord and informed both of them about the provincial ruler's order. They took Varma along with them presented him before the provincial ruler.
The provincial ruler welcomed Varma with all humility. Enquiring him about Varma's well being the provincial ruler highly appreciated him for the distinction he had in sculpture. I am proud to have such a great sculptor in my province. From now onwards, you will head the sculpture wing of the province. You will be paid 1,000 Varahas per month besides other perks and amenities. I request you to make such figures, which I will send across to different kingdoms and see that your name remains in the history with golden tint. Surprisingly, Varma consented for that with no change in his expression or feeling at all. Varma told that he wished to do excellent effigies with fine quality of marble stone from then. He asked the provincial ruler to get him the required stone from Northern India. Readily the ruler accepted and handed over the job to some of his efficient men.
After a month or so ruler's men brought the required marble stones of various huge sizes. Meanwhile, Varma prepared special chisels to use on the marble. Right from day one, Varma put in all his efforts to shape each of the marble stone into a never before statuette. The ruler used these statues to gift the neighbouring provincial rulers and made many socio-political and economic pacts mutually signed by them. He picked up few best pieces from the stunning range and sent them across to the King, along with the yearly royalty.
The King, with whom Varma wished and tried to meet in the early stages and returned after getting disgusted for not getting an opportunity, immediately on the first look of the gifts sent by the provincial ruler could not stop himself openly appreciating the sculptor in the full court. He asked his important courtiers to take the royal chariot and welcome the sculptor to the capital with all respect.
A little while Varma was about to board the chariot, a poor young man named Virupaksha with all glitters in his eyes approached Kumara Varma. Respected great sculptor he addressed Varma, I have a little knowledge in the art of carving. With the inspiration I gathered from you works, I tried to carve some on the rocks, myself. I did realise that perfection in any discipline cannot be achieved until unless a revered teacher trains and guides a student. Please accept me as your disciple and train me the ins and outs of the art of sculpture. Varma silently heard all the requests of Virupaksha and boarded the chariot without giving reply either in yes or no to the requests.
The King almost immersed Varma in appreciations and applause, on his arrival into the royal court. Hey Great Kumara Varma! I never happened to see such a great artisan in my kingdom like you. It was my pleasure to have you in my kingdom. I wish to appoint you as the head of the kingdom's department of sculpture and at the same time as royal sculptor. For serving the kingdom in that position, you will be paid a sum of 10,000 Varahas per month.
It was then Kumara Varma started speaking for the first time, With all due respects to You oh King! I have decided to return to my village, from where I come from and settle there dedicating rest of my life to the art I lived for all through these years. Hence, please pardon me for stating so that I cannot accept your offer.
The total audience of the court went silent. Everyone feared that King would go wild on the negative answer from Varma and behead him immediately. Eventually, the King acted on the contrary to the expectations. He smiled at Varma, I am extremely happy over your humbleness. You are brought here from a very distance place. I cannot send you empty handed, please accept my small gesture for your skill. King rewarded Varma with one lakh Varahas and bestowed Lalithapuri upon him. Receiving all the rewards and gifts Varma returned to his village.
On returning to Lalithapuri, Varma set up an institution and started imparting training to enthusiasts. Virupaksha was his first disciple.
Bhethala stopped narrating the story there and questioned, Vikramaditya! Kumara Varma seems to be a person with crooked nature. Don't you think he is with the nature of kicking off the ladder after climbing the wall? Is he not greedy to change his masters whenever he had a hike in payments? He first tried to take the shelter in the royal court. Then, when the King himself offered a comfortable seat why did he reject to accept?
You tell me whether he was a strong-headed person who always carried the feeling that King was not available when he tried. On the other hand, is he ignorant of the value and esteem of the position offered by the King? What is the reason for Varma to return to the remote village and start a small institution? If you do not answer in spite of knowing your head would blow to a thousand pieces.
Vikramaditya, with all his royal smiles, Kumara Varma is not greedy, proud or ignorant. He changed his masters in search of a person who can give the right respect to the art. Everyone did establish commercial natured relation with Varma. Though the King was not commercial in his outlook, he recognised Varma only after he gathered reputation for his skill.
Now, any artisan can be graded as a master of art when someone tried to follow him or imitate his works. This is evident with Virupaksha's requests. Varma desired to train such young and enthusiastic persons and make them perfect to the extent possible. This is the only foundation behind his establishing training institution.
Bhethala convinced with Vikramaditya's reply and zoomed off with the corpse back to the treetop.