The Upside-Down King Summary (Added 3 Stories) – Sudha Murty

The Upside-Down King by Sudha Murty Paperback book

Sudha Murty is a fabulous storyteller, the same she did with The Upside-Down King, the book is filled with tales of GOD which is Unusual but when you start reading the book, you won’t keep the book aside, the stories are that good.

Today, I won’t be able to give lessons from the book because this book has 26 tales of Rama and Krishna, so instant of lessons, I will give a few stories from the book.

Hope you enjoy this and I hope it encourages you to read the book.

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Tales from The Upside-Down King by Sudha Murty

A Measurement of Time

Once upon a time, there was a king named Nimi, who ruled the Kingdom of Videha. 

He wanted to perform Yagna and requested Saga Vasishtha. 

However, Vasishtha declined because he had already committed to Lord Indra on the same day but he said, please go ahead and I will join the Yagna a little later.

So for the time being, Nimi requested Saga Gautama to start the yagna, so that when Vasishtha arrives, he can take over.

Now for some reason, Nimi forgets to inform Vasishtha about the time of the Yagna. So when Vasishtha arrived at Yagna, all the preparations were almost at an end.

After seeing this Saga Vasishtha got angry and said “You are an irresponsible King”

Nimi replied “O Saga, your anger is justified. Your Clan has been the guru of my clan for a generation. This offense is so great that I do not wish to live anymore”

Nimi Contunited “O Sage, I have just one request: help me so that I may see the world through the eyes of my subjects and be with them every day even after I leave this perishable body.”

King Nimi transformed into eyelashes
King Nimi transformed into eyelashes

With a nod, Vasishtha transformed the king into eyelashes. Eyelashes are called nimi in Sanskrit and since it only takes a second to blink, this unit of time came to be known as Misha (a second)

The story is not that big in the book but it’s not too short either, what I have done is, I have kept the essence and told you the story in a compact way.

The Upside-Down King

This is the story of Satyavrata who was the popular Suryavamshi King of Ayodhya.

One of his wishes was to retain his mortal body when ascending to the heavens. For this, he went to his teacher, Saga Vasishtha.

His teacher told him, this is not natural at all and he shouldn’t go after this but Satyavrata didn’t listen to his teacher and he instant went to meet Shakti, the elder son of Saga Vasishtha.

The king offered wealth in exchange for the mortal body but he was the son of Vasishtha, so he declined and went to his father and told him about the bribe.

When Saga Vasishtha come to know about this, he got angry and told him “You have committed three grave sins”

From this day on, you will be known as Trishanku, and may you wander this world without peace of mind or any aim.

After this, Trishanku traveled across the world and came across the famed Saga Vishvamitra. Here is the cache, Vishvamitra didn’t like the Vasisihtha.

So when Trishanku told him about the Vasishtha, he was ready to help him to retain his mortal body.

Vishvamitra used all of his power to retain the mortal body of Trishanku but all the gods weren’t happy at all because this would have affected nature and no one wanted this to happen. 

Trishanku Stuck between Heaven and Earth
Trishanku Stuck between Heaven and Earth

So what happen is, when Vishvamitra was trying to retain the mortal body of Trishanku, all the god was also trying to force the body onto the earth.

After some time, Indra said, “Dear Saga, What you are doing will set a precedent for all mortals and result in conflict between the rules of heavens and the earth, we want peace, not war, in the future”

After this Indra managed to placate the Vishvamitra.

But the problem was, he promised the Trishanku, and he can’t break the promise.

So to keep the promise, Vishvamitra created the new heavens for Trishanku that stood between the two realms of the heavens and the earth.

That was the story of The Upside-Down King, and this is another reason. Why is this book called The Upside-Down King?

Now the story is big when you read this book, so I have tried my best to keep the essence of the story and told you the same in a compact way.

The Ball of Sand and the Five Witnesses 

Rama and Lakshmana went to perform the last sacred rites (Shraadha) for their dead father. As the brothers bathed in the river, Sita sat alone on the side, playing with the sand.

After a few minutes, the spirit of Dasharatha appeared in front of her and said “I Am Very Hungry”

Sita replied “Will you be kind enough to wait until your sons finish the rituals and give the traditional Pinda (Ball made of rise and sesame seeds)”

Spirit of Dasharatha in front of Sita
Spirit of Dasharatha in front of Sita

Spirit of Dasharatha said “Oh, rise or sand does not matter, just give me something I Am very hungry”

Sita could not refuse her father-in-law and gave him the Pinda made of sand.

When Rama began performing the shraddha, his father didn’t appear, so after some time, they both came back home.

 When Rama came home, Sita told the story of how the Spirit of Dasharatha came and ate the Pinda ball made from sand.

Rama said “How can I believe this, my father eats a ball of sand and not a ball of rise, I need witnesses”

Sita recalled that there were, in fact, five witnesses: Old Man, Cow, Tulsi Plant, River Phalgu, and Pipal tree.

Since most of the witnesses were afraid of disappointing Rama, they all lied. ‘We don’t know the sequence of events, they said.

The pipal tree, however, admitted the truth.

The lack of truthfulness from the other witnesses made Sita furious. She said, 

“I curse all of you who have lied today. Life will teach you lessons that will make you realize the error of your ways. Until you truly repent, you will never find happiness.”

This is the reason why lots of people in India believe that this is why old age is filled with a lot of difficulties, a cow is unable to fend off attacks on her own, a tulsi plant never grows into a tree and the Phalgu is perpetually short of water.

She turned and blessed the pipal tree. ‘O blessed one, whoever performs the prayers for their ancestors in front of you will ensure that their ancestors go to heaven.

This is why people perform shraadha near the pipal tree.

This was the last story, the book has 26 tales and I told you 3 and I hope this will encourage you to read this book.

The Upside-Down King Review

The book is written in such a way that you won’t find it difficult to read, you can read chapters every day and you will be amazed with the stories. Its 26 tales of Hindu Gods and after reading this, you will come to know why people in India believe in certain things that are beyond Science.

So explore stories.

Another thing, this is a perfect book, if you’re just starting to read, especially outside the study book as this is a very simple book and has small-small stories.

Also, if you’re starting to write, this will give you an idea of how to tell the story in a simple way.

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