The story dates back to the Mahabharata Era
Siddharthak was a poet, who lived in the ancient kingdom of Panchavati (modern day Nashik). He had no one but a majestic black eagle named Ajaat for company. The eagle often spoke to Siddharthak like a human. The subjects of Panchavati admired Siddharthak’s friendship with the black eagle very much.
One day Siddharthak was reciting poems to the people of Panchavati, who were sitting along the banks of river Godavari. The magnetic words of Siddharthak fell on the ears of Marutha, the ruler of Panchavati, who had come there to perform his daily puja. The king was mesmerized by the poems and he immediately demanded an audience with Siddharthak. The king asked,”O Great Kavi, who are you?” Siddharthak introduced himself. Marutha, then politely requested him,”Siddharthak, your poems are very nice; I want you to be the Royal Poet of my kingdom.” He added,”Henceforth, you shall stay with me in the Royal Palace.” Siddharthak, pointing a finger at his eagle friend – Ajaat said,”But my king, what about my little friend?” King Marutha laughed and said,”Your friend can accompany you.”
Since that day, Siddharthak became the Royal Poet and stayed in the Royal Palace and Ajaat, the eagle was housed in the bird sanctuary of the Royal Palace . Siddharthak, who used to live like a nomad, found the palatial lifestyle very comforting. Daily, he would visit the bird sanctuary and would converse with his old friend Ajaat for hours on end. Siddharthak and his eagle friend were having a time of their life till ‘that’ fateful moment arrived. One day, King Marutha called Siddharthak in his chambers. Marutha said, “Siddharthak, I want you to compose an epic poetry of my dynasty” A bewildered Siddharthak asked,”Maruthan dynasty?” The king replied,”Yes, the Maruthan Epic should be a cut above the recently composed epic poetry – Mahabharata!” Siddharthak had never composed an epic before. However, he accepted the challenge and started his work. Siddharthak was so engrossed in the king’s work that he stopped composing new poems. He also stopped visiting Ajaat in the bird sanctuary. The poet within him was lost in the wilderness of the history of a dynasty. The days became months and the months became years but Siddharthak could not complete the epic. This frustrated him to the core. One day, Siddharthak received a terrible news – Ajaat, his eagle friend was nearing his death! He, after receiving the news, immediately rushed to the Royal Bird Sanctuary to meet his old friend.
“O Ajaat! Please don’t leave me alone!”said Siddharthak with tears rolling down his cheeks.
“Siddharthak, my friend!” exclaimed Ajaat. The dying bird continued,”Has it been more than a year, since we last met?” Siddharthak nodded in affirmation. He then gathered courage and told Ajaat,”My friend, don’t worry I shall save you.” With tears of despair in his dying eyes the eagle said,”Siddharthak, it’s too late to save my life but go and save the poet within you” Siddharthak could not read between Ajaat’s words and so requested a clarification.
“Ever since the day both of us landed in the royal palace, I became a prisoner in the bird sanctuary and you became a prisoner of your own image!” said Ajaat. He continued,”When you started composing the epic tale of King Marutha’s dynasty your ingenuity became a prisoner of Marutha’s ancestors. Your poetic freedom was chained and you became just another prisoner of our kingdom; living on the mercy of King Marutha.” Siddharthak, realising his mistake told the bird,”I understand what you mean but I don’t know how to get out of this prison.” With a reassuring tone Ajaat told the poet,”Neither are you as great as Ved Vyasa (author of Mahabharata) nor is the Maruthan dynasty as celebrated as the Kuru dynasty (the main dynasty of Mahabharata). So, stop this childplay of writing of a so called epic ” With a hint of hesitancy in this tone, Siddharthak asked Ajaat,”Am I not worthy of composing an epic?” The bird replied,”No Siddharthak, I didn’t mean that. I only meant, you must allow yourself the freedom to choose your own epic.” Ajaat continued,”Don’t let Marutha or even yourself tutor your imagination. Instead, let your imagination guide yourself and everyone else.” Siddharthak’s eye were filled with gratitude for his little friend, who had by now, closed his eyes; as if he was almost ready for his final flight toward the heavenly abode.
“Stay strong Siddharthak!” were the last words of the majestic black eagle.
Siddharthak laid his friend’s mortals remain to rest on the banks of river Godavari and went back to the palace. He then handed over the incomplete epic poetry to King Marutha and resigned from the Royal Court of Panchawati and went back to his old nomadic ways of life. The poetic flair revisited Siddharthak, who then composed enrapturing poems that captured the beauty of the ancient land of Panchavati like none other. He, thus truly became the poet of the land of Panchavati. Siddharthak never composed an epic poetry but the epic tale of Panchavati remained incomplete without the mention of Siddharthak