Ancient Sanskrit tale of Vedic sages translated, retold and illustrated by U. Mahesh Prabhu
A little over a thousand years ago, the land of Kashmir was ruled by a queen named Didda. She ascended the throne after her husband – Kshemagupta – died at a very young age. Didda was a ruthless, powerful yet absolutely effective ruler, who also defended the land from foreign invaders. She seldom hesitated to imprison, torture or even slay anyone who dared to question her authority.
When Didda became old to rule, she desired to choose a worthy successor. She had no sons of her own but had a number of nephews. She decided to choose one of those young prices to succeed her.
The princes were asked to be present in a meadow. A hundred apples were scattered on the ground. “One who can collect the maximum number of apples with minimum injury to himself wins the contest!” Didda declared. But it was not disclosed as to what was the true goal of the contest.
As soon as minister conducting the contest whistled, the princes began fighting among themselves. Each one was trying to snatch the apples the others had gathered, some had got their limbs twisted and some were even bleeding. After five minutes one of them reached the queen with three apples. A little later another came with four.
This went on. But all the princes who reported with apples had been mauled by others.
At last, came a boy named Sangram. He had collected the maximum number of fruit, but there was not a single scratch on his body.
“How did you do this?” Didda asked.
“I stood aloof when they fought. I did not go to snatch anyone’s apple. But when they were absorbed in fighting, I collected the apples quietly,” he explained.
He was chosen the heir to the queen. He became one of the most popular kings to have ruled Kashmir – his name was Raja Sangram or Sangram Raja.