Once upon a time, there was a great king, who had his reign from Persia to Arabia. The king had two sons named Shahryar and Shah Zaman. After the death of the king, Shahryar the elder son ascended on the throne of Baghdad. Whereas the younger son, Shah Zaman ruled over Samarkand.
Both the brothers ruled their respective kingdoms with wisdom and justice. They were loved and respected by their subjects.Thoroughly busy with their administrative responsibilities, the two brothers could not meet each other for twenty long years. Shahryar had a long crave to see his beloved brother. So one day, he sent his Wazir with a letter and numerous splendid gifts to his younger brother Shah Zaman. In his letter to his brother, Shahryar expressed his earnest desire to see him.
After days of long journey through the deserts, the Wazir reached the court of Samarkand. He presented the letter and gifts to the king. The warmth of the letter sent by his beloved brother Shahryar, made him jubilant. He became nostalgic remembering his elder brother. Shah Zaman at once accepted the invitation. He decided to go to Baghdad to see his brother. Shah Zaman requested the Wazir to stay in Samarkand as a royal guest for three days. Meanwhile, Shah Zaman collected a good number of rich gifts for his brother and asked his officers to make the necessary preparation for the long journey.
Shah Zaman was ecstatic at thethought of meeting his brother. On the fourth day, he had to leave for Baghdad. However just before leaving for Baghdad, Shah Zaman chanced to witness the unfaithfulness of his wife. Shah Zaman saw his wife expressing her love to one of her slaves. Raged and shocked by the unimaginable sight, Shah Zaman took out his sword and chopped off his wife’s head at once.
Shah Zaman loved his wife very much. The incident had shattered him. Immediately after the incident, he set out for Baghdad. But all his happiness had vanished. He was thoroughly grief stricken. The sorrow and bitterness turned Shah Zaman pale and weak.
When Shah Zaman reached Baghdad, Shahryar gave him a warm and splendid welcome. The brothers hugged each other passionately. However, the grief stricken pale look of Shah Zaman worried the elder brother Shahryar. When the two brothers sat all alone, Shahryar asked, “Dear brother! Your pale and grieved look is worrying me. What’s ailing you?”
Shah Zaman hid his distress and made an excuse. He said, “Dear brother, I’m not at all worried. The long and tiring journey is the culprit. I’m quite hale and hearty.”
However, Shahryar was not convinced with the reply. So he called the royal physician and asked him to treat his brother. The physician tried various medicines one after another. However, all the medicines and other treatments went in vain. Shah Zaman’s condition did not improve. Most of the time, he would live quietly in the palace and refuse to enjoy different flavours of the life.
One day, Shahryar chalked out a plan for hunting and invited his brother to accompany him. But Shah Zaman showed his unwillingness and chose to stay home.
In the absence of his brother, Shah Zaman witnessed the similar sight. which had shattered him. His brother’s wife was also unfaithful and wicked. She too was involved with one of her slaves and desired to marry him.
This shocking incident proved wonder remedy for Shah Zaman. He overcame from his sorrow. He thought, “I’m not the only one who has unfaithful wife. There are many others like me.” The incident strengthened his belief that women are evil, wicked and unfaithful.
The fact that he was not the only unlucky man who was cheated by his wife, but was one among many unfortunates, helped him in recovering fast.
When Shahryar returned from his hunting trip, he found his brother hale and hearty. Shahryar was very happy to see his brother cheerful.
Later on, Shah Zaman disclosed to Shahryar what he had witnessed in his absence. Shah Zaman also unearthed the ugly secret behind his pale and shattered condition.
Mad out of anger, Shahryar at once rushed to his wife and chopped off her head. The angry Shahryar then took a wild oath, “Everyday I’ll marry a maiden for a night. Next day, early in the morning, she will be killed. This way, I will never provide any opportunity to my wife to betray me.” After few days, Shah Zaman returned to his kingdom.
Shahryar remained adamant on his insane oath. He called his Wazir and apprised him about his oath. Shahryar said, “You have to bring one young maiden everyday and make her my bride for the evening. Make sure that she will be killed in the morning.”
The king’s cruel and crazy oath astonished everyone. People were frightened but what they could do. The cruel practice started. Each morning a young beautiful maiden was hacked to death. It went like this for years. Parents of the young girls started fleeing from the kingdom. Soon the kingdom was totally bereft of young girls.
One day, the Wazir returned home anxious. The Wazir had two beautiful daughters named Shahrazad and Dinarazad. Shahrazad, the elder daughter was exceptionally wise, humble and soft spoken. Besides this, she was a voracious reader and a learned person. When Shahrazad noticed her father’s tensed and perturbed face, she asked, “Father, you are looking unusually disturbed. What’s the reason for your worry?”
The Wazir said, “Dear daughter, the king has ordered me to bring a bride for tonight. However, not a single young girl is left there in our kingdom now. Shaken by the possible death, all the parents of the young girls had left the kingdom with their daughters. Now if I go to the king without any bride, he will chop off my head for not obeying his order.”
Shahrazad said, “Father, please don’t worry! Take me to the king as his bride.”
Astonished to hear this, the Wazir exclaimed, “How can I do this? Don’t you know what end do the king’s brides meet?”
Shahrazad said calmly, “I’m fully aware of what fate the brides meet, my dear father! Even then, I emphasize you to produce me as the king’s bride. I am confident that my wisdom, will force the king to change his thought regarding women. In case I fail to do so, I’ll have a satisfaction of dying for a good cause.”
However, the argument laid by Shahrazad was not at all acceptable to the Wazir. He was not ready to send his daughter to meet such a cruel fate. He said angrily, “If you will not obey me, you will have to face the same misfortune, which was faced by the farm owner, the master of the bull and the donkey.” Shahrazad asked, “O father, what’s the tale of the farm owner?” The Wazir began the tale.