The next story is set in 493 BC, and tells the tale of
Samudradatta, a Kashi merchant, who is influenced by Buddha’s
teachings. One of the most interesting stories is about Jimuta,
a young fifteen-year-old orphan, living with his uncle in a
village near Mangarh. The Raja of Mangarh defeats an invading
army, but one of his elephants runs away. The boy takes the
elephant back to the Raja who gives him the job of a mahaut.
He is then sent to Patliputra ostensibly to present the elephant
to Emperor Ashoka. However, the real reason is to spy in the
capital as the Raja of Mangarh and the Raja of Kalinga plot to
defeat and depose Ashoka. The journey from Mangarh is slow and
on the way Ashoka’s spy Shantanu, posing as a merchant,
befriends Jimuta and asks him to work as a spy for Ashoka.
Jimuta discovers the plot of Mangarh Raja to defeat Ashoka
during the war with Kalinga through sabotage. He informs Renuka,
who acts as a conduit. The Raja discovers Jimuta’s betrayal
and kidnaps Renuka. Jimuta rescues her and in the process the
Raja’s men are captured. Jimuta is in love with Renuka, a
low-born woman living with a courtesan. Jimuta saves Ashoka’s
life during the Kalinga war, earns a promotion for himself as a
writer and wins over his beloved.
There are no loose
ends in the story and the plot is well knit. Other stories
follow, such as those of Guhasena, a painter of Ajanta caves and
Ali Aruzi. Ali is a judicial officer under Sultan Qutbuddin
Mubarak in 1320 and faces the uncertainty of living under
different rulers who come to rule Delhi. He somehow manages to
retain his position. He is a follower of Sufi Saint Shaikh
Nizamuddin Auliya and dies in old age near Mangarh, while going
to Daultabad, the new capital. The last historical story is
about Akbar’s siege of Chittorgarh, where the Raja of Mangarh
supports the Raja of Chittorgarh.
The main story has
an ironical situation. Vijay Singh, a Dalit income tax officer,
comes raiding the properties of Raja of Mangarh. Vijay comes
from a village near Mangarh. His father, a freedom fighter, had
died in an agitation. He poses as a Rajput and during the raid
fears that he may be recognised and his cover exposed. He is
recognised and during the raid discovers that his education was
financed by the Raja of Mangarh. He feels bad about the raid,
and goes about his duty as a job that has to be done. Vijay is
the one who finds the treasure hidden underground in the fort.
Dev Batra, a Youth Congress leader, is the one who is eager to
see results. He is a womaniser and makes obscene passes at
several women. Vijay stands up to Dev Batra to save a fellow
Dalit woman officer from his attentions. Dev Batra interferes in
the search and gets stung by a swarm of bees.