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PUNYASAR

Once in the city of Gopalak there lived a pious couple, Purandar and his wife Punyasri. They had no children, so Purandar worshipped their goddess to have a child. The goddess was pleased with his worship and blessed them, "You will have a son, but you will have to wait for a while."

A few years later, a son was born to them. They were very happy and celebrated this occasion. They named the child Punyasar. He was a very handsome boy. At his school, he met a beautiful girl named Ratnasundari, the daughter of a merchant named Ratnasar. Punyasar and Ratnayasundari used to have a lot of arguments between them. One day, the argument got very hot. Punyasar said, "You will be nothing but a slave to your husband." Ratnasundari was offended and replied by saying, "My husband will be a civilized man, I would not marry a worthless person like you." Punyasar could not tolerate this comment. He got agitated and said, "I will show you by marrying you." Ratnasundari said, "No way! No one can win someone else's heart by force." They both left still angry at each other.

When Punyasar got home he told his father that he would like to marry Ratnasundari. His father, not knowing what was going on, assured him that it should not be a problem. Punyasar was happy in his mind. Next day Punyasar's father went to Ratnasundari's house and suggested to her father for a marriage between Punyasar and Ratnasundari. Ratnasar, Ratnasundari's father, was very delighted with this offer because Punyasar's father was a well respected merchant in the town. He felt honored. Ratnasundari overheard this conversation and saw the expression on her father's face. Just as her father was about to accept the proposal, Ratnasundari opposed saying, "I will not marry Punyasar." and ran away. Both of them were shocked by this. Ratnasundari's father told Punyasar's father, "Please do not take her word seriously. I will talk to her and let you know." Punyasar's father left with disappointment.

When Punyasar's father came home, he asked Punyasar, "What is so great about marrying that girl? She has a loud mouth, I do not think she will be a suitable girl for our family. You should forget about her." Punyasar did not say anything, because he was confused about what to do next.

Punyasar was determined to marry Ratnasundari, so he worshipped the family goddess. Pleased by his worship, the goddess appeared and told him, "Do not worry, in due time your wish will be fulfilled." Punyasar felt happy.

Punyasar grew up to be a fine, accomplished young man, but despite his many fine qualities he developed the habit of gambling. His father did not like this and warned him, but Punyasar did not listen. His gambling came to the stage where Punyasar started stealing things from home, and soon he stole the king's ornaments which were kept in his father's custody. His father realized this when the king asked for the ornaments, and he could not find them. He was furious at his son, and told him, "Until you get those ornaments back, you shall not come into the house."

Punyasar was stunned by this command. He felt sorry and helpless for what he had done. He left the house in sadness. Night came and he did not have any place to go. He came to a banyan tree which had a hollow trunk so he sat in there to rest. A few minutes later, to his surprise, he saw two angels come towards the tree and sit on it. One of them said, "It is a pretty night, let's go somewhere." The other angel said, "There is no use of just wandering around unless there is something exciting to see." The first one said, "I have heard that in the city named Ballbhipur, a merchant named Dhana has seven daughters and they all will marry one man. It may be interesting to see whom they will marry?"

So they lifted the whole tree and flew over there. Punyasar was listening to this, and when the tree started flying he did not know what to do. So he decided that he might as well see who the lucky man would be to marry the seven beautiful girls. After sometime the angels placed the tree on the ground. They went to the place where the marriage ceremony was going to be. Punyasar also got down and followed them.

The angels approached the marriage hall and so did Punyasar. Some people at the hall saw Punyasar and they approached him saying, "We have been waiting for you to marry seven pretty girls." Punyasar was very puzzled. They said, "Yes, you are the one who will marry these seven girls." They explained to him, "Merchant Dhana has seven beautiful girls. Their names are Dharmasundari, Dhanasundari, Kamasundari, Muktisundari, Bhagyasundari, Saubhagyasundari, and Gunasundari. He was worried about their marriage. So he worshipped God Lambodar (Ganesh), the god of success. Seven days ago, God Lambodara appeared and told him, "Go ahead and make preparations for marriage. Seven days from today you will find a young man following two angels coming towards the marriage hall. He is the suitable person for your daughters. We saw you following two angels, so you are the person who will marry these seven sisters."

Punyasae was amazed to see how things were happening. He could not believe this. The people took him to the ceremonial stage, and when he saw the seven pretty girls he consented to marry them. Everybody was happy to see this handsome young man, too.

When the marriage ceremony was over, the whole family along with Punyasar went to their house.

The girls were also amazed as to what had happened. They did not know whom they would be marrying, and what he might be doing? So once they were home, one of them asked him, "My Lord, how much have you studied?" Punyasar was puzzled as to what to answer. So he said, "Happiness does not come whether you are a great scholar or not. So keeping that in mind I took the middle path." The girls could not understand his answer. Punyasar was getting restless as he wanted to escape and go back home. He said that he wanted to get fresh air, and went outside. Gunasundari escorted him to the door, and stood there watching him. While leaving the house, he scribbled something on the wall. She ignored it, and sat down with her sisters, waiting for him to return.

As soon as Punyasar got outside of the house he ran towards the tree, still wearing his wedding clothes and precious ornaments. He was relieved when he saw that the tree was still there, and once again he rested in the hollow trunk. A few minutes later, the angels came back and started flying back with the tree.

Meanwhile in Gopalak, when Punyasar's mother did not see her son, she asked her husband if he knew where Punyasar might be? His father who was still mad at him, told her that he told Punyasar to leave the house because his behavior was not good for family's reputation. She understood this, but after all she was mother, and could not take this. She began crying and requested her husband, "Please for my sake, go, find him, and bring him home. I am worried about what might happen to him at night." Punyasar's father could not bear to see her weeping. He went to look for Punyasar.

Punyasar's father looked all over the town, but could not find him anywhere. He decided to go outside the town to see if Punyasar was around. Just before he got there, the two angels landed the tree outside of the town. On his way back home, Punyasar realized how bad his habits were. He decided that he would not gamble any more.

He got down from the tree and started walking home. Soon he ran into his father. When his father saw the ornaments and rich clothes he thought Punyasar must have stolen them. He was about to say something, but Punyasar said, "Dad, please do not think badly of me this time." He explained about what had happened after he left the house. He also promised his father that he had decided to change and would not gamble anymore. He also promised he would take part in the family business. His father was very happy to hear this. Both of them hugged each another and went home. His mother was happy that her son was all right.

Now in Ballbhipur, the girls began to worry when their husband did not come back. They did not even get a chance to ask his name, or where he was from. Gunasundari went outside to check if he was there, but she saw no one. She told her sisters, he has left us. We should trust the words of the goddess. Let us have faith in Namokar Mantra and religion. Then, everything will be all right. Just then Gunasundari remembered seeing him scribble something on the wall. She told her sisters, "Wait, I will be right back." She went to the wall and saw the couplet:

"From Gopalak did I come by divine grace

and after marrying seven girls here do I return."

Gunasundari told her sisters what was written there. A few days went by and Punyasar still did not return. Gunasundari told her sisters and parents, "I will go to Gopalak to find and bring him back. I will be back in six months. If I fail, then I will burn myself." She dressed herself as a man, named Gunasundar, and left for Gopalak.

As a good gesture to the king of Gopalak, Gunasundar went to the court house and offered him precious gifts. The king was happy to receive them and welcomed Gunasundar with honor. Gunasundar started a business, and it prospered greatly. He was the talk of the town. He met Punyasar on many occasions, and they became good friends. Many a time Gunasunder felt as if he knew Punyasar but did not say anything.

Meanwhile, the people of the town began praising Gunasundar. They said he was handsome, educated, intelligent, and well-mannered. Ratnasundari saw him at one of the town's functions, became attracted to him, and decided to marry him. She asked her father if he would give her marriage proposal to Gunasundar. Next day, Ratnasundari's father went to Gunasundar's house. Gunasundar welcomed Ratnasundari's father, offered him a place to sit. Then he asked the reason for the visit. Ratnasar told Gunasundar the purpose of his visit, and proposed the marriage of his daughter, Ratnasundari. Gunasundar was in a dilemma. He did not want to accept the proposal, but he was afraid that the people may spread all kinds of rumor about him. Ratnasar was desperate because Ratnasundari was growing up and would not agree to marry any other man. Gunasundar could not say no to the persistence of Ratnasar, so he agreed to marry Ratnasundari.

Gunasundar and Ratnasundari were married in a small private ceremony. After the marriage, when Ratnasundari came to her new house, Gunasundar told her, "I have taken a vow that when I get married I would not sleep or stay in the same room with my wife for first six months." Ratnasundari did not think much about this vow because she was happy to be married to him, and she thought six months would fly by quickly. So they decided to stay in separate rooms.

When Punyasar learned that Ratnasundari, for whom he had left the seven girls he married, married Gunasundar, he was furious. He became angry with the goddess who promised him that everything would work out right. How can this be right when Ratnasundari was married to another man. He went to his room, and asked the goddess to explain this. The goddess appeared and said, "Calm down, have some patience and things will work out properly. Gunasundar is your wife." Then she left. Punyasar did not understand any of this, and was more confused. He could not figure out that Gunasundar was no one else but Gunasundari that he married in Ballbhipur.

Meanwhile, Gunasundari's six month promise to her sisters and parents passed by, and she could not resolve the mystery of her life. So, she decided to burn herself. She told Ratnasundari about her decision. Ratnasundari was stunned. Ratnasundari asked Gunasundar, "What happened? Have I done anything wrong? Is there something we can work at?" But Gunasundar did not reply at all. Ratnasundari went to the king for help. Even the king was not only unsuccessful to find out the reason but could not convince Gunasundar to stop. The day was announced and the whole town was sad to see what was going to happen.

When the day arrived, the whole town even the king was there, where Gunasundar was going to end his life by jumping into the fire. As Gunasundar walked towards the fire, the king screamed, "Can anyone stop this?" Punyasar, because he cared for Gunasundar's friendship, walked towards Gunasundar. Gunasundar stopped walking because he thought maybe Punyasar had recognized his real identity, and finally the mystery would be over. Punyasar asked Gunasundar, "Why are you doing this? Is there anything I can do to help?" Gunasundar was waiting for this opportunity. He said, "Yes. You can." He took out the paper he had with him, and asked Punyasar if he had written this. Punyasar was amazed to see those two lines which he had written at the girls' house whom he married and left. Punyasar said, "Yes, I wrote them."

Gunasundari immediately took off her bonnet. Her hairs went flying due to the wind. The people were puzzled to see this, and before they understood the situation, Gunasundar bowed to Punyasar and said, "I am Gunasundari." Now it clicked in Punyasar's mind what the goddess said, "Gunasundar is your wife." Tears started flowing from his eyes, and he hugged Gunasundari in front of everyone. The people, the king, and Ratnasundari did not know what was going on. Punyasar told the crowd in broken words, "Gunasundar is no one but my wife Gunasundari of Ballbhipur, whom I married with her six sisters about six months ago. It was cruel on my part that I left them without telling anything about me." Everybody was relieved. Ratnasundari was puzzled about what to do. The king explained that since she was married to Gunasundar, she would be Punyasar's wife. Ratnasundari was amazed at the fate. She bowed to Punyasar. Punyasar hugged her, and asked for her forgiveness for the things he had said while they were students. Everybody dispersed and went home.

Since there was not any message from Gunasundari for the six month period, Gunasundari's sisters came to Gopalak in search of their husband too. They came to know the whole story when they arrived in town. They met Punyasar, Gunasundari, and Ratnasundari. They all lived happily thereafter.