Betaal Pachisi is a Hindi TV show based on the popular collection of twenty- five tales of Vetala. Being called Vetala Panchavimshati in Sanskrit, this book originated in India and was originally written in Sanskrit. The 12th book of the Kathasaritsagara contains one of the ancient recension of the book. Kathasaritsagara(Ocean of Streams of Stories)was compiled by Somadeva in the eleventh century. He used the old texts to create this revised version. The revised text consists of twenty-four stories and the narration of them, being the twenty-fifth story. Sivadasa and Jambhaladatta are also some of the famous recensions in Sanskrit.
The Vetala stories have earned a considerably good recognition in India, which is why people have translated theminto many Indian languages. They’ve been translated into Marathi, Hindi, and English from Sanskrit. A variation of the story exists, where a minor heavenly body replaces the character of Vetala. This celestial body reveals the plot in exchange for his life. He tells Vikrama of the two tradesmen who were ordered to kill Vikrama and also advises him to trick the tradesmen to save his life. Vikrama follows the advice and eventually kills the tradesmen. Impressed by this, the Goddess rewards him two of her loyal servants. The original story goes like this: The great king Vikramaditya has given a promise to a Vamachar(a tantric sorcerer).
The king has to acquire a Vetala(Baital), a heavenly spirit which is equivalent to a vampire in Western Literature. The king comes across many hurdles on his way to the tantric. Whenever he is about to get hold of Vetala and proceed towards their destination, it starts narrating him a story that ends with a riddle.Vikrama’s answers to the question determine whether the spirit stays or flies away. If he answers incorrectly, the vampire remains in control, obediently. If the king fails to reply even when he knows the answer, his head would burst into a thousand pieces.
The last condition was that if he answers the question correctly, Vetala would just escape and go back to his tree. Since the king is extremely knowledgeable and intelligent, he knows the correct answer to every riddle, which leads to a cycle of catching and escaping for twenty-four times. When Vetala narrates the twenty-fifth story, the king is unable to guess the correct answer. Being satisfied, Vetala finally allows Vikrama to take it to the Tantric. On the way to the Tantric, Vetala starts telling Vikrama, the story of his life. Vetala’s parents were unable to have children.
A tantric blessed them with a set of two sons under the condition that they must finish their education under his care. Vetala was taught about every skill in the world, but was not treated with respect at all. On the contrary, the Tantric taught his twin brother only the necessary, but the Tantric treated him well. Vetala eventually discovered Tantric’s plan. He planned on returning the twin brother to Vetala’s parents and sacrificing Vetala as he knew everything and would, therefore, be a competition. By sacrificing Vetala, the Tantric would become immortal and acquire greater powers.
Vetala also revealed that the Tantric was planning to sacrifice King Vikrama too. Vetala gave him an idea to trick the tantric and behead him. Vikrama followed his advice and successfully killed the evil tantric. Lord Indra and Devi Kali showered their blessings on him. On receiving a boon from the Tantric, Vikrama wishes purification of the Tantric’s mind and body and restoration of his life as a noble person. He also wishes for Vetala’s assistance whenever he is in trouble.