The Fall & Rise of Merchant Dantila

In the city of Vardhaman, there lived a wealthy merchant named Dantila. He directed the whole administration for the king and artfully handled everything to the satisfaction of royalty as well as common populace. He once organized a lavish reception for his daughter’s wedding ceremony which was attended by the king, the queen, their ministers and all the rich and influential people in the city.

Gorambha, a lowly sweeper in the royal household, was also present in the reception. When Dantila saw him occupying a seat reserved for the nobles of the king, he was angered. He ordered Gorambha’s hands to be cuffed and that he be thrown out.

Thus humiliated, Gorambha spent sleepless nights trying to think of a way to extract revenge from Dantila. He thought to himself, “I am a poor man and so cannot directly take on such a wealthy and influential person as Dantila. The biggest source of Dantila’s power is king’s faith in him. I must somehow see that the king stops his favours to him.”

Then he hit upon a plan to take revenge on Dantila.   One early morning when the king was half awake, Gorambha pretending to sweep the king’s bedroom began loudly murmuring, “Oh, Look at Dantila’s audacity! He has the nerve to cuddle the queen.” Hearing this, the king demanded to know whether what Gorambha was muttering is true. Did Dantila embrace the queen?
“Oh, your majesty, I don’t remember nor do I know what I was saying because I was drowsy having spent the entire night in gambling,” the sweeper told the king.

The jealous king thought that it was possible that the sweeper had seen Dantila, who had equal access to the royal household as Gorambha, hugging the queen. He remembered wise men saying that men were likely to talk in their sleep (or when they are drunk) about what they did, saw and desired in the day. Furthermore he did not completely trust his queen and considered it likely that this must have happened. Convinced that Dantila had indeed embraced the queen, the king stripped Dantila of his administrative position and barred him from entering either the court or the royal household.

The merchant began grieving his fate though he had not done any harm to the king or his relatives even in his dreams. One day as Dantila was trying to enter the king’s palace he was barred by the king’s men. Seeing this Gorambha laughed aloud and told them, “You fools, you are barring the great Dantila whose temper has been spoilt by the king’s favours and he dispenses arrests and releases. If you stop him, you will get your hands cuffed, just like me.”

Hearing this, Dantila realised that it was all Gorambha’s doing. Wise men have said that though foolish, cowardly and mean a royal servant be, he should be kept in good humour for he can unduly influence the monarch. The merchant thought that it would do him good to make Gorambha happy and win his confidence. One evening he invited the sweeper for tea and presented him with expensive gifts and told him, “My good fellow, I had never meant to insult you. You had occupied a seat I had set apart for the king’s priest. Kindly pardon me.”

Pleased with the gifts, the sweeper forgave Dantila and promised to win the king’s favour for him again. The next day, Gorambha repeated the same drama of pretending to talk irrelevantly while the king was half awake, raving that the king was eating cucumber in the loo. “What nonsense are you talking? Did you ever see me doing such things?” the king demanded to know. “No, your majesty. I do not know nor do I remember what I was saying because I was drowsy having spent the entire night in gambling,” the sweeper said.

The king then realized that if what the sweeper had said about him was nonsense then what he had said about Dantila also could not be true. A noble person like Dantila could not have done what Gorambha had said earlier. The king also found that without Dantila the affairs of the state had suffered and civic administration had come to a standstill. The king immediately summoned the merchant to his palace and restored to him all the authority he had enjoyed earlier.