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Compare and contrast the village headman’s and the king’s reaction on the Mara’s Dream. Elucidate.

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In the story ‘Watchman of the Lake’, Mara meets the king on two occasions – once, to get a tank constructed for the river Veda and the second time to save the tank from being destroyed.

One night the Goddess of the river appeared in his dream and instructed him to tell his king that he should build a tank for the river Veda and give her a home in that village.

A few days later the Goddess appeared again in his dream to inform him that the king was passing through their village and Mara should tell him about the tank.

Mara went to the spot where workers were making a road fit enough for the king to pass through. Mara hid behind a rock and peeped at the workers, which made the workers laugh and make fun of him. When the village headman came to know that Mara had come there, he sent his workers and got him caught and locked up in a cellar under the watchful eyes of Bhima. Later, when Mara narrated his meeting with the Goddess, Bhima let him escape and hide in a tree.

When Mara saw the king passing that way, he jumped down the tree and was brought before the king. The king gave him a patient hearing and later asked him to accompany him to the palace. Later, the king got a tank constructed for the waters of the river Veda and made Mara the watchman of the lake.

Several years later, one afternoon, Mara looking at the clouds gathering in the sky, realized that it was going to rain very heavily that evening and called his son back into the hut and both of them stayed indoors. Soon after that, there was a torrential downpour and a shrieking storm.

Late in the night, when the winds rocked his hut, Mara came out of the hut and saw the river water flooding the tank and the water level was a hair’s breadth below the shore. He concluded that the river might heave and flow over the tank any moment. Immediately, Mara knelt on the ground and prayed to the Goddess. The Goddess stood before him, wielding a sword in her hand. She asked him to move out of the hut at once, as she intended to destroy the tank. Mara pleaded with her earnestly to save the people, but she refused to grant his wish. Then Mara requested her to give him an assurance that she would stay her hand until he returned from the king’s palace after informing him about it. She granted his wish and Mara hurried to the king’s palace.

When Mara gave the king the message of the Goddess, the king was shocked and got ready to warn his subjects. Then Mara told the king that he had a plan to save the tank and the kingdom. He requested the king to get him executed and make it impossible for him to return. If he did not return, the Goddess would stay her hand and the tank would not be destroyed. Though the king was reluctant to do so, Mara persuaded the king to get him executed for the sake of his people.

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