Introduction

The plot is set in the kingdom of Andher Nagari and narrates a rather intriguing and at some point, comical court proceeding in King Chaupat’s court. The proceeding is capturing and keeps one on the edge of their seat, the plot twist in the climax is confounding.

Characters

  • First Guard
  • Second Guard
  • Disciple
  • King Chaupat
  • Fourth Guard Messenger
  • Thief
  • Merchant
  • Bricklayer
  • Mortar-maker
  •  Potter
  •  Money-lender
  •  Money-lender’s daughter
  •  Goldsmith
  •  Hangman
  •  Sage

Part I

Andher Nagari was a prosperous kingdom ruled by King Chaupat. One day there was a proceeding in the court, while everyone awaited the King’s arrival, a disciple had come to view the session. The markets in Andher Nagari sold all items at the same price. The disciple was a new visitor in the kingdom, impressed by this market policy, he came to settle there. As the King gracefully entered, the proceeding began. The first complainant was a thief, who demanded justice for his deceased friend and partner in crime. According to the thief, they were professionals and worked diligently in their line of profession until the fateful night.

That night, the thief and his friend had intended to rob a merchant’s house while he was out with his family. When they made a hole in the wall, the wall collapsed and took the friend’s life. The thief claimed that it was the merchant’s fault for living in a house with such weak walls and demanded for the merchant to be punished. The King ordered for the merchant to be executed. 

However, once the Merchant arrived, he pleaded for mercy and stated that it was, as a matter of fact, the bricklayer who carelessly built such a weak wall. The bricklayer was brought forth and he too pleaded not guilty. The bricklayer then revealed that the mortar which he used to lay the bricks was of very poor quality. There was too much water mixed in it and it was entirely the mortar-maker’s fault. 

Once again, the mortar-maker pleaded innocent and the blame game continued to unfold. According to the mortar-maker, the pot which he used to pour water into the mortar had an unusually large mouth, and excess water poured down into the mortar mixture. He was helpless. It was the potter’s fault for making such a useless pot. The porter blamed the moneylender’s daughter for distracting him with her tinkling anklets and the daughter blamed the goldsmith. 

Part II

Finally, the goldsmith revealed that he was merely following the King’s orders. The King had commanded him to set aside all his work and get the Queen’s ornaments ready before Her Highness’ birthday. Hence, there was a delay in delivering the moneylender’s daughter’s ornaments. However, now the King did not accept his excuse and commanded for his execution. The poor goldsmith was carried away by the guards towards his fate. Soon the guards returned with a very alive goldsmith. The King, angry that his orders were not fulfilled demanded to know the reason. The hangman then explained that the noose did not fit the goldsmith’s neck and was too loose.

The King came up with a very stupefying alternative and demanded that the hangman try the noose on all the subjects, and whoever it fits, shall be hanged. After having tried on various subjects, the noose fit the disciple’s neck. The helpless and innocent disciple was dragged away and the King was very content with his decision. The guards once again returned with the disciple and an old man.

The old man was a wise and learned sage and the young visitor had been his disciple. The old sage insisted on being hanged in place of his disciple. The guards and King found his appeal very queer and insane. The King demanded to know why the sage would make such a request. However, the sage hesitated to answer and on being persuaded finally revealed his reason. The sage revealed that the great prophets had foretold that the one who would be hanged on that day, in that kingdom, would become the next king and conquer many more nations. The sage desired to go down in history as a famous royal monarch. The King instantly turned greedy. Lured by this prophecy, the impulsive King decided to have himself hanged.

Conclusion

The story compelled one from the very beginning. All the characters very efficiently played the blame game and saved their souls. However, it was the King who failed to administer justice and ended up as a victim of his own foolishness. The sage lived up to his reputation of being wise and came up with an incredible solution to save his disciple. The sage acted selflessly and took a huge leap of faith when he requested to be hanged. The greed for more power and money clouded the King’s judgement. 

Themes

The story is a great lesson of honesty, altruism and gratification.

Honesty– If only the thief and his friend had taken a virtuous and honest profession, the friend would not have lost his life to an accident like that.

Altruism– The sage’s act of sacrificing himself, although only as a part of his plan was still very altruistic and selfless of him. He cared for his disciple and could not bear to see him get wrongfully executed.

Gratification– The hunger for power and superiority, cost the King his life. Had he been satisfied and grateful with his kingdom and role, he would have not made such an impulsive and terrible decision.