|When the young Prince walked into the durbar that morning, he knew well that in a few hours his life would undergo an irrevocable transformation. Enthusiastic ululations, blaring of trumpets and blowing of conch shells greeted his entry. The Prince’s heart thumped with nervous anticipation, and his mind tensed with the burden of expectations, but his steady gait and tranquil countenance reflected neither fear nor uncertainty. Indeed, it was for this very occasion that His father , King Rajshekhar and his preceptor, Guru Ramdev had trained him ever since he had placed his first wobbly steps upon the earth.
Just a month before, King Rajshekhar had passed away after a brief illness leaving the reins of the kingdom to his first born, Prince Chandrashekhar. A heartbroken Chandrashekhar found himself sucked into the world of intrigue and treachery. His succession was never in question, but suddenly the young Prince realized that he could not repose complete faith in anyone. A keen student of history, he was well aware of the fickleness of human minds in the face of ambition and greed.
The Prince took immediate control of the army, addressing his generals and exhorting them to discharge their responsibilities with the same diligence that they had demonstrated under his father’s stewardship. Next, he called an emergency session of the Council of Ministers, assuring them that he had full faith in their abilities, praised their undying support to his family and asked them to hold fort till he assumed charge after the mourning. The final meeting was with the satraps of the small provinces who had sworn their allegiance to his father. They formed an important backdrop of the administration and the decentralization facilitated effective governance. Chandrashekhar promised the continuance of their autonomy and pledged the wholehearted support of his army to protect their integrity.
The Prince had already played out his first learning. Keep all stakeholders gainfully engaged by communicating with them as much as possible. A sure way to prevent trouble from fomenting, it also assured that if some disgruntled elements dissented, their uprising could be easily crushed with the support of the other elements of the government.
Chandrashekhar also made a public declaration that he would start meeting his subjects after the mourning. A shrewd observer of human frailties, he exploited the late King’s fatherly image to win the sympathies of the populace. He won over the people by pleading their support for his cause in the name of the late King whose untimely demise had orphaned not only him, but the entire population of the kingdom. His Guru had impressed upon his mind that ministers or armies rarely revolted against a leader who had public support.
The next building block of his strategy was his family. He wanted no trouble from his numerous relatives. Fond of women, King Rajshekhar had spawned a large family through his many wives and concubines. Chandrasekhar lured the male descendents by promise of lucrative positions in the government in exchange for their loyalty. The women fell prey to his glib talks of handsome and wealthy spouses.
From his very infancy, the Prince had displayed a formidable skill for detailing. He thrived on information and knowledge. Supported by his father, he had set up a spy network with his confidants in whom he had absolute confidence. The tentacles of this esoteric organization had spread far and wide, and so omnipotent was their presence, that even a leaf would not move without the Prince’s knowledge. Upon the King’s death, this network became the most powerful tool in Chandrasekhar's hands. He used the information to silently eliminate his detractors with his mastery of toxins. By the time the mourning ended, almost all his secret enemies were wiped out in a series of freak accidents which looked like natural deaths to even the most well trained investigators.
Mourning ended, the Prince entered the durbar for the first time after his father’s death. The courtiers bowed their heads before the young ruler. The women in the audience cast shy gazes on his royal presence. In a clear break from the pompous traditions of his family, Chandrashekhar turned out in simple garbs and opted for a brief coronation ceremony.
Once the newly anointed King ascended the throne, a pregnant hush descended upon the courtroom. The courtiers were eager to listen to the incumbent’s first speech.
“Esteemed courtiers of Mahipur,” began the new King. “It is my great privilege to be given this opportunity to serve this great kingdom. We have a glorious history, and I take an oath that I will continue to uplift our great traditions throughout my life. May God give us the strength to pass through this difficult phase with our heads held high. I thank my well-wishers who had planned great festivities to celebrate my coronation. I have decided to not have any celebration, but to send the funds to the farmers living in the Northern part of our kingdom. As we all know, a terrible drought plagues them and we need to support our brothers with food and medicines.”
A loud applause greeted the King’s words. Calculated to garner public opinion, the young man, demonstrating a maturity far beyond his age had won over the affection of his people and silenced the criticism of his detractors.
The Home Minister stepped forward. “Your Highness, there are some cases which demand urgent attention. Can we start the proceedings?”
“By all means, Minister,” replied King Chandrashekhar. For some reason, he felt firmly in command.
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