Home Vikram aur Vetal (Translated from an original Hindi article by Satish Agnihotri which appeared in the 1980 Issue of Pragati)

Vikram aur Vetal (Translated from an original Hindi article by Satish Agnihotri which appeared in the 1980 Issue of Pragati)

by Satish Agnihotri

Background for those who don’t know Vetaal stories:

Raja (king) Vikram would climb up a tree to get the corpse of some person down, and carry it on his shoulder to some place. During his walk, the vetaal (spirit) in the body would tell him a story, and then ask a question about the story.

The conditions for Vikram are:

  1. if he speaks (breaks his silence), then the corpse returns to the top of the tree, and Vikram has to restart
  2. if he knows the answer to Vetaal’s question, he must answer otherwise his body will fall into pieces

High-Funda was determined. Patiently he got the dead body onto his shoulders from the roof of the main building (MB in IIT-B) and began climbing down the stairs. Vetaal said, “Hey High-Funda! I admire your perseverance, but sometimes I doubt your intentions. I wonder if, after capturing me, you would utilize me for the benefit of others or yourself. But I want to warn you up front. Do not use me for cogging (IIT slang for cheating in tests) in tests and quizzes. God will punish you if you do that.”

High-Funda listened quietly, just as he would listen to a professor preaching in the class about things not to do. Within his mind, however, he was thinking, “Let me first capture you buddy! Then I will make you write not only my home assignments, but also the home paper (thesis). For small small things such as cogging I am expert myself.”

Vetaal continued, “You IITians are used to listening with a plain face. This reminds me of a story. I am telling it to you so that you don’t get bored of walking. Listen carefully.”

Raja (king) Bhoj was in his darbar as usual. As soon as the daily routine began, the minister notified that a representative of the Director of Bhartiya Takaniki Sansthan (IIT) wanted to speak to him. Raja granted the permission. The representative came in the darbar and bowed to raja Bhoj. Everybody in the darbar was surprised to see the four identical persons that followed him.

The representative said, “Rajan, I am here with a huge problem. The four samples standing in front of you are four distinct individuals, and not four xerox copies of the same person. Out of these, one is a UG meaning a B.Tech. student, one is a Research Scholar, one is an M.Tech student who has done his B.Tech. in IIT, and one is an M.Tech student who has done his B.E. outside somewhere. Their identical looks has caused tremendous confusion. Once the UG stole a name plate from the security department, and the poor freshie M.Tech. got punished. At another time, the Research Scholar collected the schol for all four of them. Hence our Director feels that this would be a nice problem for the intelligent people in your darbar. Using non-destructive tests, you need to determine who is who. For your convenience we have marked their T-shirts with the letters A, B, C and D. If you cannot decide who is who, then you will have to concede defeat, and pay 100 million Rupees to IIT in foreign currency.

Bhoj looked at his darbar. Everybody kept quiet. Bhoj said angrily, “What is this? Out of all these pandits, isn’t there anyone who can take this challenge? Is Dhara nagari full of fools except for Kalidas?” All darbaris still kept quiet.

Bhoj: “Mantri! Where is Kalidas?”

“Maharaj! He must be on his way,” the answer came.

Bhoj: “This Kalidas is getting late everyday lately.”

(Within his mind Bhoj thought Kalidas had become a head of the department.)

One of the pandits, Varahamihira, gathered his courage. He had done a short course of three weeks in IIT.

Varahamihira: “May I try, your Majesty?”

Bhoj: “Surely! Surely!”

Varahamihira invited the Gaali-Pandits to the darbar, and whispered some instructions in their ears. A, B, C and D stood in a row, and Varahamihira ordered, “Get set! Go!” Immediately, Gaali-Pandits began saying obnoxious gaalis (foul words). All the darbaris were stunned. One after one, they began stuffing their ears with their fingers. Bhoj himself stuffed his ears, because he could not stand the disgusting language.

Varahamihira was watching the four carefully. He thought, at least the freshie M.Tech. will express resentment. But the IITians showed no expressions. These routine gaalis were all too familiar to them in the hostels. After the Gaali-Pandits were done, Varahamihira was looking down with shame. He tried saying something to Bhoj. But Bhoj looked at his hung face, and said, “Pandit! This is a matter for Kalidas only. So don’t worry about it.”

Varahamihira did not lose heart altogether. He said,”Maharaj! Let me try only one more time. I am confident that I will identify at least one of them.”

Bhoj: “OK! But this is the last chance.”

Varahamihira sent a man with some instructions. The darbaris waited curiously for what was to follow. In the meanwhile Kalidas entered. Just like an IITian’s face blooms when he gets an intro with a non-IITian girl, Bhoj’s face bloomed with delight when he saw Kalidas coming. Kalidas also understood the matter as soon as he saw the IIT representative with the four identical students with their Mood-Indigo T-shirts. Kalidas went and sat right next to Bhoj and began discussing the

At least the freshie M.Tech. will express resentment. But the IITians showed no expressions. These routine gaalis were all too familiar to them in the hostels.

Varahamihira’s man came back with four staff members from the jail. They had four dishes of food from jail. Varahamihira ordered the four students to eat that food. The darbaris and Bhoj himself felt bad to see the guests eating the food meant for prisoners. Some soft hearted ladies had tears in their eyes. But Varahamihira was quiet. He was certain that he will see different reactions for the food. The freshie M.Tech. adjusted himself for the gaalis, but he would surely complain about the food. And the one who eats without cribbing (complaining) must be the UG. Then I can think of distinguishing between the other two. He began dreaming about defeating Kalidas.

Alas! The four IITians ate the food without any complaints and regrets.

Varahamihira was puzzled. He asked them in a stuttering voice, “How was the food?” And a unanimous answer came, “Just like the food in our mess!”

The darbar was filled with a huge laughter. The insulted Varahamihira walked out of the darbar, and never showed his face again in Dharanagari.Some people say that he joined IIT. Some say he joined some psychiatric ward. Although, those who know, know that these are equivalent things. Now Kalidas had the responsibility to save Bhoj’s face. Kalidas was calm and composed. He said in a confident tone, “Maharaj! I believe that I will be able to take this challenge. But I will need some ten days to do this.” Bhoj gladly agreed.

“A is the freshie M.Tech. who did his B.E. outside of IIT. B is the Research Scholar. C is the UG B.Tech. student and D is the M.Tech. student who did his B.Tech.in IIT.”

Kalidas arranged for the four students to stay in the splendid guest house. He had his spies ready to watch the four. He said to the students, “See, today is Monday. Next Monday I will give you all a test at 9:30 AM. Good bye until then.”

On Sunday night Kalidas got the report from his spies.

  1.  A began mugging (studying) right on Monday night. B, C and D relaxed.
  2.  B, C and D went to see a movie on Friday night. It seemed that without the movie, they were feeling pretty restless. In the cinema hall they kept making a lot of noise during the film. After the show they ran to the guest house and jumped to the food. They were excited to see dry dinner (sandwiches and milk shake). A continued with his mugging.
  3. On Saturday B began browsing through his notes. After dinner, however, he played bridge. He looks like an expert bridge player. A kept on mugging. C and D were enjoying themselves.
  4. B, C and D were watching TV or playing carom for most of the day on Sunday. B studied for one hour in the afternoon. After news at 10:10PM they returned to their rooms. B went to bed. C and D began studying for the first time. A continued mugging.

Kalidas ordered to watch C and D more carefully. On Monday evening, he received another report and the results of the test.

  1. A was reading during his breakfast.
  2. B had stopped his studies on Sunday night, and seemed without any tension.
  3. C and D were reading throughout the night. They came late to the breakfast table. They hurried through the breakfast and rushed to the examination hall. They had cog-sheets in their pockets.

Test results were: A and B got a ‘C’ grade, and C and D got a ‘B’ grade.

Kalidas had mixed expressions of relief and puzzlement. He had recognized A and B, but could not yet distinguish between C and D. He had to solve the problem by Wednesday. He went back to his room, and thought for about three to four hours. When he came out of the room, he was happy. He gave a few more instructions to his spies.

illustration vikram aur vetaal

The next day yet another report was waiting on his desk. The report was, “This morning C and D were strolling through the lawn. I went to C and said what you wanted me to say into his ear. He just smiled. When I said the same thing to D, he got angry and hit me.”

Kalidas had got his answer. The darbar was full the next day. Everybody was wondering if Kalidas would succeed this time. Bhoj was also concerned. Kalidas came with the IITians at the right time. After seeking Bhoj’s permission, he announced, “A is the freshie M.Tech. who did his B.E. outside of IIT. B is the Research Scholar. C is the UG B.Tech. student and D is the M.Tech. student who did his B.Tech.in IIT.”

Bhoj looked at the representative of IIT. He was looking down with a quiet face. Bhoj: “Does your silence mean that Kalidas is right?”

Rep: “Yes!”

The darbaris applauded. Bhoj hugged Kalidas.

After narrating the story, Vetaal asked, “Hey High-Funda! What logic did Kalidas use to reach the right answers? You probably know the answer, and if you try to avoid answering intentionally, then your body will fall into thousands of pieces and they will fall into the ditch dug under the name of the swimming pool.”

High-Funda took a deep breath and said, “Vetaal! I knew that you will ask me such a sidey question. So listen. Although A adjusted himself for gaalis and food, he could not escape the tension of a test. That is why, after all his mugging, he got only a ‘C’ grade.

B’s limited mugging was natural, because to keep his school, all he needs is a 6.0 CPI (GPA of 6 out of 10), and needs no more. So he utilized his time effectively in playing bridge, and got a comfortable ‘C’ grade.

Despite all the activities of C and D, they got a ‘B’ grade. Thus it is clear that they are good old sinners of IIT, and are expert in cogging and techniques of taking tests. The only problem was to distinguish between the two. So Kalidas applied Varahamihira’s technique in a different form. When his spy said a certain thing to C he smiled, but D could not stand it, and hit the spy. Clearly, there is only one such gaali, and that was “PG m***d.” Therefore, C was the UG.”

“Very good!” Vetaal said. But High-Funda’s silence was broken. So Vetaal escaped and flew back to the roof of the main building. High-Funda cursed, and returned to his hostel. He had to prepare cog sheets for the test the next day.

And people say IITians are modest.


Prashant Kumar May 8, 2015 - 11:14 am

Apparently, a vetaal can read your thoughts. Talk about ghosts of the past…..

SmartPhones November 30, 2018 - 9:30 am

i like this story i am big fan of vikram and vetal

Ashwani November 30, 2018 - 9:31 am

nic good article like this one….

चर्जन पीयूष October 1, 2020 - 12:35 pm

मूल हिंदी कथा कही मिल सकती है क्या? कृपया ढूंढ के प्रस्तुत किजीये


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