Holy Lake of the Acts of Lord Rama, Part 12
BY: SUN STAFF
Sita, Rama, Laksman and Hanuman
Traditional Mysore, early 20th c.
Feb 04, 2012 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of Tulasi das's 'Ramacaritamanasa'.
When Narada heard all these tidings, he betook himself to the home of the Mountain King to see the festive scene. The king received him with great respect, bathed his feet and set him on an honourable seat. He and his wife bowed their heads before the sage's feet and sprinkled the whole palace with the water in which his feet had been washed. The king spoke much of his good fortune, and sending for his daughter, set her down before the sage's feet.
[Doha 66] 'O noble sage,' he said, 'you know all times and all there is to know; there is no quarter of the universe you have not visited; reflect and tell me my daughter's faults and virtues.'
[Caupai 67] Smiling, the sage replied in gentle and mysterious tones, 'Your daughter is a mine of all the virtues; she is beautiful, good-natured and clever, and her names are Uma, Ambika and Bhavani. The maiden is rich in all the marks of character and fortune; she will ever be dear to her husband. Her wedded happiness will always be secure, and she will bring renown to her father and mother. She shall be held worthy of worship in all the world, and men by serving her shall gain all they desire; and dwelling on her name, the women of this world shall tread the path of wifely faithfulness, narrow as the edge of a sword. These, O king, are your daughter's fair fortunes, but hear now two or three defects. One without merit or dignity, without father or mother, an ascetic, indifferent to all, an anchorite with matter hair, [Doha 67] who has abandoned all desire, naked, in inauspicious guise – such a one will be her husband; thus is it written on her hand.'
[Caupai 68] When they heard the sage's words and knew well they must be true, her parents were sad, but Uma rejoiced. Not even Narada could guess the secret, for all showed the same emotion, though their feelings were so different. Girija and all her maidens, Himalaya and Maina, were trembling and their eyes were filled with tears. Uma laid up Narada's words in her heart, for she knew that what the divine seer said could not be untrue. Her love for Siva's lotus feet revived, but she feared it would be difficult to find him. Thinking the time was not fitting to speak of it, she concealed her love and went back to her seat close by her hand-maiden. Her parents and the wise damsels were sad, for they knew the divine seer's prophecy must be fulfilled. Then the Mountain King composed himself and said, 'Tell me, my lord, what can be done to avert it?'
Laksman, Rama and Sita
Mysore, 20th c.
[Doha 68] The great sage said, 'Hearken, O Himavan! What fate has written on the forehead no god or demon, man, serpent or sage is able to delete. [Caupai 69] Yet I declare one means of avoidance which, if heaven help, may avail. Uma will surely wed just such a husband as I described to you; but all the demerits I mentioned in the bridegroom are, so I hold, to be found in Siva. If she be married to Samkara, everyone will regard even those faults as virtues. Though Hari sleeps upon a serpent as his couch, the wise account it no fault in him; the sun and fire devour all sorts of food, but no one blames them for it. Though both pure and impure water flow in the Ganga, no one calls the river foul. The powerful, sire, can do no wrong, like the sun and the fire and the Ganga. But if any stupid man, wise in his own conceits, would do as they do, [Doha 69] he falls into hell and stays there for an aeon. Can the creature be compared to God?
[Caupai 670] 'Saints never taste wine, even though they know it is made with Ganga's water; but the wine, if mixed with the Ganga, becomes pure; and such is the distinction between God and the soul. Sambhu is omnipotent, the Blessed Lord, and nought but blessing can come of this union. Mahesa is not easily propitiated; yet the practice of austerity will quickly appease him. If your daughter practice penance, Tripurari is able to annul her destiny; of all the bridegrooms in the world Siva alone, none other, is fit mate for her. It is he who grants boons and relieves the distress of the suppliant; he is an ocean of grace, delighting the souls of his servants. The desired reward cannot be won by a myriad austerities and prayers unless one propitiates Siva.'
[Doha 70] So spoke Narada and, fixing his thoughts on Hari, gave Girija his blessing. 'O Mountain King', he said, 'doubt no more; all will be well.'
[Caupai 71] With these words the sage departed to Brahma's realm. Now hear what happened after that. When Maina was alone with her husband, she said, 'My lord, I did not understand what the sage meant. If the bridegroom and his house and family be noble and a match for our daughter, than arrange the marriage; but if not, even should the girl remain unwed – husband, Uma is as dear to me as life itself! If Girija finds not a worthy spouse, then everyone will call the king an utter fool! Bear this in mind, my husband, and so arrange a marriage that later there may be nothing to regret.' So saying, she fell down with her head at his feet. The Mountain King affectionately replied, 'As soon shall fire break out in the moon as Narada's word prove false! [Doha 71] Lay aside all care, beloved, and think on the Lord God. He who created Parvati will bring all to good effect. [Caupai 72] Now if you love your daughter, go and advise her to do such penance as will win her Mahesa; in no other way will sorrow be eased. Narada's words are pregnant and of deep meaning; he on whose banner is blazoned the bull is a treasure-house of all fair virtues. Realize this and lay aside all doubt; Samkara is altogether blameless.'
When she heard her husband's words, she cheerfully arose and went at once to Girija. When she saw Uma, her eyes filled with tears and she lovingly took her in her lap and clasped her to her bosom again and again; emotion checked her utterance. Then the omniscient Mother of the world, Bhavani, spoke gentle words that comforted her mother:
[Doha 72] 'Hearken, mother, while I tell you of a dream I dreamed. A handsome and noble Brahman, fair of hue, thus instructed me: 'Go, daughter of the Mountain King, and practice penance. [Caupai 73] Be assured that what Narada said is true; moreover, it is your parents' pleasure; penance brings joy and puts an end to pain and sin. By the power of penance God create the world; by the power of penance Visnu preserves it; by the power of penance Sambhu destroys it; by the power of penance Sesa supports the burden of the earth. The whole creation, Bhavani, has penance for its stay; understand this fully, and go and do penance.'
When she heard this dream, her mother was astonished. She called the king and told him of it. Uma said all she could to comfort her father and mother and then gladly went away to practice penance. Her beloved parents and their household were all distraught and could say no word.
Sita, Rama, Laksman and Hanuman
Traditional Mysore, late 20th c.
[Doha 73] Then Vedasira the sage came and explained the matter to them all, and when they heard of Parvati's greatness, they were comforted.
[Caupai 74] Uma laid on her heart the feet of the lord of her life, and went to the forest and began to practice penance. Her delicate frame was not made for penance, yet she thought on the feet of her lord and abandoned all delights. Day by day her devotion to his feet was renewed; absorbed in penance, she took no heed of her body. For a thousand years she ate roots and fruit, and then she spent a hundred years living on vegetables. For some days she fed on water and air and for some days she kept strict fast. Then for three thousand years she ate dry leaves that fell to the ground from the bela [bela, or wood-apple]. Then she gave up eating even the dry leaves, and so Uma was called the 'leafless'. When Brahma saw that Uma's body was emaciated by penance, his solemn tones were heard in heaven: [Doha 74] 'Hearken, daughter of the king of the mountains! Your desire has borne fair fruit. Abandon altogether this severe penance; Tripurari will now be yours!
[Caupai 75] Many anchorites have there been, constant and wise, but not one, Bhavani, has practiced such austerities as these. Now lay up in your heart and this sure word of Brahma, knowing it to be ever true and eternally holy. As soon as your father comes to summon you, be not stubborn but go home; and when the Seven Seers meet you, then know that this word from heaven is to be proved true.' When she heard Brahma's voice sounding from heaven, Girija felt a thrill of joy.
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