Hari Sharma shot into fame as an astrologer when he helped locate a missing horse. He then caught a thief in the king’s palace, and became the Royal Astrologer. He was the only person who was aware that all his achievements were just plain luck.
Hari Sharma was appointed as the new Royal Astrologer. A few weeks later a renowned astrologer from South India came to the king’s court. He declared that there was no astrologer who could match him in his skills. The King smiled and said with confidence that he would soon find his match. Or, someone superior to him in astrology.
He sent for Hari Sharma.
Hari Sharma’s heart sank when he saw the astrologer. He had broad ash marks on his forehead, gold rings hanging from his ears, and the beads around his neck.
The astrologer announced a test. “I accept this man as superior to me if he can tell us what this jar contains. I have specially brought this from Rameswaram (a town in South India).”
Beads of sweats started appearing on Hari Sharma’s forehead. He was very scared, and felt he was about to be humiliated in open court. In a trembling voice, Hari Sharma started talking to himself, “Your time is up, Manduka. Where can you hide now, Manduka!”
Listening to Hari Sharma’s words, the renowned astrologer’s face fell. The king saw this and ordered the visitor to open the lid of the container. As soon as the astrologer opened the lid, a frog, or a manduka, jumped out of the jar!
As the whole court applauded, Hari Sharma regained his confidence. What saved him was the pet name given to him by his mother! With a broad smile, he accepted the gifts given to him by the court.
In the excitement that followed, no one noticed the astrologer from South India quietly leaving the court.
Thereafter, Hari Sharma became an undisputed astrologer, feared and respected by all.
Adapted from Katha Sarit Sagara