This is the story of 2 brave kings and their respective kingdoms - King Virat and King Shaurya. King Virat was a virtuous ruler, just and fair, with a strong sense of responsibility towards his people. His kingdom was built on good governance. His country was spread across a fertile plateau land. It was a beautiful country whose citizens practiced agriculture for a living. Despite a relatively civilian population, King Virat managed to create a strong army with a handful of soldiers. These soldiers were taught the values of sportsmanship and fair combat. Within a short span of time, King Virat’s small army became a formidable one whose sole aim was to protect the country and its citizens.
King Shaurya was an ambitious ruler, with a strong desire to rule the world. His strength lay in his passion for power and his wealth. However, his weakness lay in the fact that he would often get swayed by shrewd counselors in his courtroom. His kingdom was built on hilly terrain and dense forests. His people were chiefly traders who traded in spices and wood, since both were abundantly available in the kingdom. Coming from a hilly region, King Shaurya’s army was adept at battling tough conditions. They were skilled in guerilla warfare and operated well even in extreme weather conditions. Over a period of time, King Shaurya had created one of the strongest armies that every neighbouring country was fearful of.
Now, between the two kingdoms, was a free flowing river, by the name of the Gayatri. The Gayatri River originated in the mountains of King Shaurya’s kingdom and flowed down south towards the kingdom of King Virat. The Gayatri provided ample supply of water to the flat plains ruled by King Virat. Consequently, the land was fertile and civilization flourished. For years together, King Shaurya had his eye on King Virat’s kingdom. He wanted to conquer his kingdom and rule two lands – his own mountainous region and the fertile plains. One fine day, King Shaurya made his decision – He sent a message to King Virat – “Surrender to me within 2 months or be prepared for battle”. King Virat’s army was miniscule in comparison to King Shaurya’s army. However, the people of King Virat’s kingdom were brave hearts. They would not surrender merely on the pretext of being unable to stand up to numbers. King Virat replied – “We are ready for battle. We will fight for our lives but will not relinquish our beautiful land unto you”.
Once war was announced, each army got ready with their preparations. King Shaurya’s army had an upper hand in terms of strength and experience, while King Virat’s army had a strong will to succeed. King Virat and his army general, along with some trusted advisors chalked out plans for the battle. Task one was to garner support from neighbouring kingdoms. This would add numbers to their existing army which was a must to face King Shaurya’s vast forces. Task two was to train the existing army to battle against expert warfare techniques practiced by King Shaurya’s soldiers. Task three was to get the best quality weapons.
King Virat decided to use his diplomatic ties with other kings to accomplish each of these tasks. He picked 3 kings who ruled lands beyond his fertile plains. He invited each one of them to a grand feast in his kingdom. After a sumptuous meal and the festivities, he spoke to each one in a calm manner – “Dear Kings, you must already be aware that King Shaurya has declared war on my kingdom. My kingdom and my people are most dear to me. I will do all it takes to protect my land and my people. However, in order to achieve that, I will need your help. Today, I seek your assistance so that I may be able to face the mighty army of King Shaurya”. The three kings were curious to know how they could help King Virat. First, King Virat spoke to King Soorya. “King Soorya, I am aware that you have a huge and able fleet of soldiers. Will you be willing to deploy one fourth of them to join my forces? I will need numbers to match those of King Shaurya”. Next, he turned to King Varun and said “King Varun, your army boasts of some of the finest generals and veterans of war. Coming from a mountainous land yourself, your forces are experienced in weathering hostile climates, battling in rocky mountains and dense forests. I invite some of your generals to my land for a few days. I would like my soldiers to learn battle strategies and train under the tutelage of your generals. The knowledge they imbibe will be useful for war against King Shaurya”. Lastly, he spoke to King Prithvi. “King Prithvi, I will need wood and iron ore from your forests. Our land being a fertile plateau is not very blessed with dense forests, where wood and iron ore can be found in abundance. I will put my men to work. They will collect the required material from your land and use that to make weapons that we can use in war”. While the three kings listened in rapt attention, King Virat continued, “In return for all of this, I promise that once I win the war, I will divide King Shaurya’s land into 3 equal parts which will be gifted to each one of you. My aim is to protect my country and live amicably with my neighbouring kings. But for this, you need to trust me and pledge your allegiance to me. Only then will I be able to return the favour to you”. With this, King Virat left the 3 kings to make a decision.
At first, King Soorya, King Varun and King Prithvi were stunned at the large heartedness of King Virat. King Prithvi also planted a seedling of doubt in the minds of the other two kings as to King Virat’s capability to defeat King Shaurya. However, King Soorya had heard stories of King Virat’s honesty and some brave tales of his soldiers. He said to them, “We have little to lose and may actually stand a good chance of winning a small portion of land which we can put to good use. If we agree to lend our assistance to King Virat, we will win his trust and use this to build strong ties with each other and King Virat. I think this will be a mutually beneficial relationship”. King Varun added, “I will send some of my most intelligent generals to train King Virat’s army. Together they will come up with some of strongest battle strategies. Mind may win over might. I am sure we will be able to defeat King Shaurya”. At the end of the day, their hearts ruled over their heads. After long closed door discussions, the decision was made. King Soorya, King Varun and King Prithvi readily agreed to partner with King Virat. They left with hope in their hearts and a promise that they would support King Virat to the best of their ability.
King Virat was thrilled and immediately kick-started preparations. He motioned his people to welcome King Soorya’s forces and King Varun’s army generals with great fan fare. He instructed his soldiers to treat them with utmost respect, keep minor differences aside and work together as a team. King Varun’s army generals were revered across far lands. The combined forces of King Virat and King Soorya were privileged to receive war training under them. They held onto each word uttered by the generals and practiced day in and day out as per the instructions given. Simultaneously, both the women folk and the men in King Virat’s country were toiling hard to produce weapons with the raw material that was obtained from King Prithvi’s lands. In the one month preceding war, the whole of King Virat’s country was working towards a common goal – Winning the war and protecting their beloved homeland.
So, what was King Shaurya doing during this time? His advisors were working on full steam too. But, the approach adopted was entirely different. King Shaurya was impatient and wanted results fast. One could often hear him say “Everything is fair in love and war”. While the brains behind King Shaurya’s war strategy were really sharp, alas, they were wasted in devising short cuts and unfair means to beat the enemy. Instead of focusing his energies on building an even stronger armed force, his cunning ministers advised him to get rid of King Virat’s army even before the war commenced. One month before the beginning of the battle, their plans and all the tools required to destroy King Virat’s army were ready.
The first target was King Virat’s cavalry. A small troupe of soldiers, disguised as villagers entered King Virat’s kingdom. They wore plain clothes and carried small pots of oil hidden under their woolen blankets. Due to their disguise, they were mistaken as common villagers of King Virat’s kingdom and were allowed an entry. In the dark of the night, they moved stealthily into the stables where all the army animals – horses and elephants were housed. They poured the oil around the stables and lit a fire. They ran to safety and mounted the nearest tree tops to watch the chaos that would emerge from the stables. They waited and waited, however, not a sound was heard. No neighing of horses, no cries of the elephants, only surprised cries of the soldiers who were witnessing flames emanate from within. Here’s what had happened, while King Shaurya’s spies were successful in conveying the exact location of the stables, they were unaware of recent developments within King Virat’s kingdom. For want of space, the royal stables were converted into a godown and all waste material that got generated from the carving of weapons was dumped into the stable. A make shift stable was built further inside the kingdom, where the animals were well fed and looked after. As a result, what was burnt caused no damage to King Virat’s war plans. His animals were safe and sound, ready to join battle. Disappointed by the failure of their first effort to weaken King Virat’s army and fearful of King Shaurya’s wrath, the small group of soldiers fled the kingdom to a far away land.
But the news of failure did not deter King Shaurya from executing another devious scheme. He now decided to target the weapons that were newly produced by King Virat’s hard working countrymen. According to the plan hatched by his advisors, a small group of soldiers would enter the country as traders. In line with the barter system, spice and condiments would be exchanged for food grains. Once the exchange was made, in the dark of the night, they would quietly slip into the army tents housing the weapons. They would steal the weapons and hide them at the bottom of the huge boxes filled with foodgrains. They were confident that they could pull this off; knowing fully well that the night watchmen stationed outside the storage tents would be fast asleep. They would then leave the kingdom before everyone awoke and since they were traders carrying food grains, no one would suspect them. Little did they know that nature had other plans for them. While the disguised traders succeeded in finding out where the weapons were stored, they were unaware that security had been beefed up all around the kingdom. While guards were posted outside the tents, the weapons within were further protected by encasing them in huge glass caskets securely fastened to the ground. The glass caskets were locked and any effort to break the glass would awaken the sentries outside (who were unsuccessfully trying to fight off sleep). The keys to the glass caskets were cleverly placed in the bedroom of the army commander, an area which was off limits for everyone. Breaking the glass caskets would mean awakening the sentries and risk being caught. King Shaurya’s men had no option but to return empty handed, rather with boxes of foodgrains. This second failure could not be tolerated and King Shaurya banished the soldiers from his kingdom.
King Shaurya was now left with a few days in hand. An honest ruler would have put this time to good use in training and preparing for battle. King Shaurya on the other hand, invested this time in plotting against King Virat. He decided to take advantage of man’s weakness – greed. He was aware that the weak hearted would fall prey to few riches and the false glitter of fame. He sent his Prime Minister, Videsh to meet the commander in chief of King Virat’s forces, Aryan. Aryan was, at first surprised and also a little wary of an enemy visit. However, brave as he was, he agreed for a meeting at the foothills of the mountains in the night. Both of them greeted each other cordially and sat down to discuss business. Videsh spoke first, “Chief Commander, I have heard of your bravery and your fame precedes you in our country too. I am indeed honored to meet you in person”. Aryan smiled and acknowledged the praise, but said nothing. Videsh continued “The reason I am here today, is to make you an offer you cannot deny. It will be a privilege for King Shaurya, if you come join our forces and lead our army. I am aware that your loyalties are now with King Virat. However, if you are willing to put forth a weak defense and allow us to capture your territory, I promise you that you will be rewarded immensely by King Shaurya. Aryan looked hard at Videsh, said nothing, turned and walked back. He walked a few steps, then turned around and said, “Dear Videsh, my loyalty is not for sale. Neither fame, nor money can entice me to betray my king and my country”. Videsh was left speechless. When he went back to King Shaurya to narrate his story, King Shaurya exclaimed that the Commander was indeed foolish to let go of such a lucrative offer. However, nothing could be changed now. With this defeat, King Shaurya had no more ideas to try. It was now time for war.
As the day dawned and the war conches were blown, both forces faced each other, aggression written all over their faces. King Virat’s forces were now almost matching King Shaurya’s numbers. The huge army standing in front of King Shaurya’s army took his commander-in-chief, Vidyut by surprise. They were indeed unprepared and were expecting a small army that could be easily overtaken. Vidyut made a false assumption, that King Virat’s civilian folks had joined the army and the innocent farmers knew nothing about battle tactics. As the war commenced, King Shaurya’s commander released a first set of soldiers, confident that the small troupe could indeed defeat the inexperienced soldiers. Little did they know that the soldiers in front of them were a combination of King Virat’s brave hearts and King Soorya’s experienced soldiers. As they would destroy a handful of soldiers, these would soon be replenished with another layer, full of zest and raring to go. Each batch of soldiers was actually skilled and displayed the expertise of trained warriors. Soon, King Shaurya’s troupe started to feel exhausted. By the time Vidyut thought of sending a fresh batch, his entire troupe was decimated and the sun had set. At the end of day one, King Shaurya’s forces were still trying to recover from the fact that they had to battle a strong force over the next few days.
King Shaurya decided to alter his strategy for day two. Instead of deploying small groups one after the other, he decided to send a large team in the beginning itself. This strong group would penetrate King Virat’s army formation. Vidyut was sure that King Virat was incapable of putting up a strong defense, considering that the relatively peace loving country has hardly fought any battles. Vidyut was taken in by surprise, when he saw that King Virat had put up one of the strongest defense formations known to man at that time – the tortoise formation. It was almost impossible to penetrate this formation. King Varun’s generals had a huge hand in planning this type of defense. With a healthy cavalry and no dearth of weapons (would some get exhausted in war), King Virat’s tortoise formation fought tooth and nail and did not permit entry of any of King Shaurya’s forces into their army ranks. Vidyut tried hard to look for small gaps and weak portions, but it was a tight formation and all his efforts were in vain. Soon, the attack turned out to be much weaker than the defense. At the end of day two, King Shaurya had lost many of his soldiers and nearly two thirds of their weapons were destroyed. That night King Shaurya had almost lost his morale and his will to succeed.
In the following three days, each of the forces battled it out with all their might and vigour. But once a battle is lost in the mind, it is seldom easy to win it on the field. If only, King Shaurya had spent his time wisely, his preparations would have taken him a long way. At the end of one week, King Virat was able to overpower King Shaurya’s army and defeat them.
King Shaurya was brought in as a prisoner of war to King Virat. He was locked in the dungeons of King Virat’s kingdom where he would need to spend the next 10 years of his life. Despite being challenged and being subjected to unfair practices, King Virat was a noble man indeed. He treated King Shaurya with the respect due to a brave warrior. King Shaurya was made to live a humble existence in the dungeons but was never tortured or deprived of food and clothing. As promised, King Virat equally divided the King Shaurya’s land into 3 portions and hosted a grand ceremony, where he gifted each portion to King Soorya, King Varun and King Prithvi. All the four neighbouring kings lived in harmony with each other in the years to come. During his stay, King Shaurya also realized his folly and learnt a valuable lesson for life – It is an honest man who wins the battle of life at the end of the day.
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