The story also refers to Rama and Ravana, who are characters from the great Indian epic known as the Ramayana. Rama is the hero of the epic, an avatar of the god Vishnu, and he does battle with Ravana, the ten-headed king of the demons called "rakshasas" in Sanskrit.
[Notes by LKG]
This story is part of the Twenty-Two Goblins unit. Story source: Twenty-Two Goblins, translated by Arthur W. Ryder, with illustrations by Perham W. Nahl (1917).
The Brave Man, the Wise Man, and the Clever Man.
To which should the girl be given?
To which should the girl be given?
Then King Triple-victory went back to the sissoo tree and saw the body with the goblin in it hanging there just as before. He took it down without being frightened by all its twistings and writhings, and quickly set out again. And as he walked along in silence as before, the goblin said: "O King, you are obstinate, and you are pleasing to look at. So to amuse you, I will tell another story. Listen."
~ ~ ~
There is a city called Ujjain, famous throughout the world. There lived a king named Merit who had as counsellor a Brahman named Hariswami, adorned with all noble virtues. The counsellor had a worthy wife, and a son named Devaswami was born to her and was as good as she. And they had one daughter named Moonlight, who was worthy of her name, for she was famous for her matchless beauty and charm.
When the girl had grown out of childhood, she was proud of her wonderful beauty, and she told her mother, her father, and her brother: "I will marry a brave man or a wise man or a clever man. I should die if I were married to anyone else."
Now while her father was busy looking for such a husband for her, he was sent by King Merit to another king in the southern country to make a treaty for war and peace. When he had finished his business, a Brahman youth, who had heard of his daughter's beauty, came and asked him for her.
And he said: "My daughter will not marry anyone unless he is a clever man or a wise man or a brave man. Which of these are you? Tell me."
And the Brahman said: "I am a clever man."
"Show me," said the father, and the clever man made a flying chariot by his skill. Then he took Hariswami in this magic chariot and carried him to the sky. And he took the delighted father to the camp of the king of the southern country where he had been on business. Then Hariswami appointed the marriage for the seventh day.
At this time, another Brahman youth in Ujjain came to the girl's brother and asked him for her. And when he was told that she would marry only a wise man or a clever man or a brave man, he said he was a brave man. Then when he had shown his skill with weapons, the brother promised his sister to the brave man. And without telling his mother, he consulted the star-gazers and appointed the marriage for the seventh day.
At the same time, a third Brahman youth came to the girl's mother and asked for the girl. And the mother said: "My son, a wise man or a clever man or a brave man shall marry my daughter but no one else. Which of these are you? Tell me."
And he said: "I am a wise man." So she asked him about the past and the future, and found that he was a wise man. Then she promised to give him her daughter on the seventh day.
The next day Hariswami came home and told his wife and his son all that he had done. And she and he each told him all that she or he had done. So Hariswami was greatly perplexed, because three bridegrooms had been invited. Then the seventh day came and the three bridegrooms came to Hariswami's house.
Strange to say, at that moment Moonlight disappeared. Then the wise man said: "A giant named Smoke-tail has carried her to his den in the Vindhya forest."
When Hariswami heard this from the wise man, he was frightened and asked the clever man to find a remedy for the trouble. And the clever man made a chariot as before, full of all kinds of weapons, and brought Hariswami with the wise man and the brave man in a moment to the Vindhya forest. And the wise man showed them the giant's den.
When the giant saw what had happened, he came out in anger, and the brave man fought with him. Then came a famous duel with strange weapons between a man and a giant for the sake of a woman, like the ancient fight between Rama and Ravana. Though the giant was a terrible fighter, the brave man presently cut off his head with an arrow shaped like a half-moon. When the giant was killed, they found Moonlight in the den and all went back to Ujjain in the clever man's chariot.
Then when the proper time for wedding came, there arose a great dispute among the three in Hariswami's house.
The wise man said: "If I had not discovered her by my wisdom, how could you have found her hiding-place? She should be given to me."
The clever man said: "If I had not made a flying chariot, how could you have gone there in a moment and come back like the gods, or how could you have had a chariot-fight with him? She should be given to me."
The brave man said: "If I had not killed the giant in the fight, who would have saved her in spite of all your pains? The girl should be given to me."
And as they quarrelled, Hariswami stood silent, confused, and perplexed.
~ ~ ~
When the goblin had told this story, he said to the king: "O King, do you say to which of them she should be given. If you know and will not tell, then your head will split into a hundred pieces."
Then the king broke silence and said: "She should be given to the brave man, who risked his life and killed the giant and saved the girl. The wise man and the clever man were only helpers whom Fate gave him. A star-gazer and a chariot-maker work for other people, do they not?"
When the goblin heard this answer, he suddenly escaped from the king's shoulder and went back. And the king determined to get him, and went again to the sissoo tree.