The Water Carrier’s Bravery
Once the Emperor Humayun was fighting a terrible battle against his enemy, the cunning Afghan chieftain Sher Shah. The battle took place at Chausa, near Benares. Sher Shah’s army was extremely powerful and it outnumbered Humayun’s army. What was worse, Humayun’s treacherous brothers, Kamran and Hindal, had joined forces with the enemy in their greed to dethrone Humayun and capture the kingdom.
As Humayun’s shattered army was falling back, the Emperor’s horse slipped and fell into the river. The horse drowned and Humayun was badly hurt. He was being tossed around helplessly in the surging waters.
A bhisti or water carrier named Nizam, who was a humble man of low caste, saw the Emperor’s dire plight and cried out, “I fear for the Emperor’s life! His subjects admire and adore him as a just and great Emperor. If he drowns, we will lose our only hope for a better and more illumining life. I can see that he is wounded and will not be able to save himself. It is up to me to save him.”
The water carrier inflated his buffalo-skin water bag and plunged bravely into the river. He swam to the Emperor, holding out the water bag, and begged the Emperor to cling to it so that he could float across the river to safety. Both men held the bag and the water carrier protected the wounded Emperor until they reached the other shore.
The Emperor was so moved by the water carrier’s devotion and courage. He said, “You came and saved my life. Now I am helpless, but I promise you that when I go back to Agra and am once more seated on my throne, I shall give you my throne for one day. Believe me, this is my solemn promise. You are not a mere water carrier. You are the saviour of the Moghul Emperor Humayun.”
The water carrier Nizam was overwhelmed. He fell at the Emperor’s feet and cried, “Please, I did not expect any reward. Your safety is my only reward.”
But Humayun insisted, “You, a water carrier of low caste, have shown such loyalty and love for your Emperor, whereas my own brothers have become traitors. I will always be kind to them and forgive them, for this is the promise that I made to my father when he was on his deathbed. But of all my subjects, you are the one who deserves my throne for one day. You deserve not only my throne, but my eternal gratitude. All my subjects should show you admiration and adoration for your heroic bravery.”
The Emperor kept his promise and Nizam did sit on the throne
of the Emperor of India for one day and give orders and make appointments for a short time.
from The Moghul Emperors
by Sri Chinmoy