Sunandha was the King of Kosilika, a small kingdom. It was attacked a couple of times by bigger neighboring states. Though King Sunandha displayed much courage and tenacity and won those battles, the wars cost him very dear. The kingdom became poorer and poorer. The king as well as the people were worried about this.
They were also worried because King Sunandha did not have any heir. Long back, during the reign of King Sunandha’s father, the King of Kaundinya, a neighboring kingdom, had looted their country. He did not take the booty with him but had buried it in a cave. An aged minister suggested a plan to the king. “Why don’t we send some-one to the cave to recover the loot? It will help our country in this difficult period of financial trouble,” said the minister.
“But many persons have lost their lives trying to enter the cave. Is it wise to try again now?” reminded the king. The minister suggested that this was perhaps the right time. “We can also announce that the person who brings the loot back will be made the crown prince of the kingdom. As you are childless, this kingdom does not have an heir. And that has also been ‘ l ‘ a worry for all of us here. This scheme-will solve both the problems. Our financial position will improve and we will also get an heir to the throne.”
The king announced this to his subjects. After a week, a youth named Sumithra volunteered to do the job. He asked for ten pregnant horses and a torch. He wanted the horses to be in their final stages of pregnancy. Sumitra went to the cave. On his way, the horses delivered their foals. He took the horses with him, leaving the young ones behind. He took the torch, lit and went into the cave.
On entering the cave, he found many dead bodies and skeletons there. He had to go deep into the cave. There be found the gold. He loaded the loot on each of the horse’s back. Suddenly the torch went out. He groped in the dark and climbed on to the back of one of the horses. Somehow, the horses found their way and came out of the cave in spite of the darkness.
Sumithra then went to meet the king and the minister. The minister asked him, “How were you able to come out of the cave alive when others could not?”
Sumithra replied, “Others had died because they did not have a torch with them and they got lost in the cave. But horses have a good sense of smell. They can find their way to their young ones by just smelling them.
“I left the young ones outside the cave and took the mothers inside. When the torch went out, we were able to come out of the cave because of this sense of the horses. This was why I had asked for pregnant horses,” explained Sumithra.
The minister was happy that Sumithra was not only brave but also intelligent. He was made the heir apparent.
Author: G. K. Prasad, Andhra Pradesh