The Vamana Purana, Part 8
BY: SUN STAFF
Vamana Avatar, Patan, Nepal
Dec 20, CANADA (SUN) A serial exploration of the Vamana Purana by Srila Vedya-vyasa, excerpted and categorized into various subject areas.
KING DANDA AND ARAJA
Andhakasura the Demon
Narad asks sage Pulastya- "What did the demon Andhak do after entering Paatal loka and how was Lord Shiva's life at Mandaar Mountain?" Pulastya says-
"Andhak was infatuated by Girija's divine beauty and his lust only became stronger as the days passed by. Although Prahlad tried very hard to convince him and narrated the tale of his birth, which happened only because of Lord Shiva's blessing.
Once Lord Shiva was engrossed in meditation when Uma playfully shut all his three eyes and the whole atmosphere was covered in darkness. An entity manifested from that darkness who was presented to Hiranyaaksh and who later on became famous as Andhak. Prahlad also told him that his lust for his own mother (Parvati) was licentious and most immoral."
In order to dissuade Andhak from going ahead with his immoral intention, Prahlad narrated a story, which described the destruction of an immoral king named Danda. "Sage Shukracharya was the royal priest of King Danda, who performed all the religious rites. He had a daughter named Araja. Once Shukracharya had gone to meet the demon Vrishparva and stayed there for some days. King Danda went to Shukracharya's hermitage to find out the reasons for his absence. He saw Araja and became enchanted by her beauty. He expressed his desires to Araja that he wanted her at any cost. Araja tried to dissuade him by saying that his immoral action would amount to committing treachery towards his Guru- Shukracharya. She also tried to scare him by citing about her father's rage, which even the deities feared. King Danda then narrated this tale to force her to accept his proposal-
"Vishwakarma had a beautiful daughter- Chitrangada. Once, she had gone to take bath in the river with her companions. Suddenly, King Surath arrived there and being infatuated by her beauty became lovesick. Seeing his pitiable condition, Chitrangada offered herself to him despite her companions' objection."
After narrating this story, King Danda asked Araja to follow the example of Chitrangada. But she said- "You have narrated only half the story. I will tell you what happened after that." She then told this story- "The immoral act of Chitrangada had angered her father and he cursed her that her married life would be unsuccessful. One day, King Surath was drowned by the powerful current of the Saraswati. Chitrangada fainted as she could not bear the sorrow of her husband's separation. After regaining her consciousness, she looked all around but could not find her husband. Once again, she became unconscious and fell in the Saraswati river. The powerful currents of Saraswati drowned her and she was ultimately thrown in Gomti river. Gomti's current abandoned her near a forest inhabited by ferocious lions."
After narrating her story, Araja told King Danda that she would certainly not accept his proposal as she did not want to meet the same fate as that of Chitrangada. The king told her that the story was still incomplete and narrated the following tale-
"When Chitrangada regained her consciousness, she found herself in a dense forest. Seeing her in a sorrowful mood, Anjan- a Guhyak consoled her by saying that very soon, she would re-unite with her husband. He also advised her to go on a pilgrimage to Shrikanth. Chitrangada went to Shrikanth situated towards the south of river Kalindi. After taking a bath in Kalindi River, she visited the Shrikanth temple and worshipped Lord Maheshwar.
Meanwhile, a sage arrived there and seeing Chitrangada queried about her staying in a deserted place. Chitrangada narrated the whole story as to how she was cursed by her own father. The sage became extremely furious after hearing her woeful tale and cursed Vishwakarma to become a monkey. He also advised her to go to Saptagodaavar and engage in the worship of Lord Haatkeshwar where one day she would meet Devavati- the daughter of demon Kandarmaali. Chitrangada went to Saptagodaavar and engaged herself in the worship of Lord Haatkeshwar. The sage wrote the following lines on the walls of Shrikanth temple- "Is there anybody who could liberate this beautiful girl from her sorrow?"
After that, the sage proceeded on his pilgrimage to Pushkarnath.
Search for Chitrangada and Vedavati
"In the meantime, both daughters of Yaksha and the demon arrived at Shrikanth Mahadev temple and engaged themselves in the worship of lord Mahadev. One day, sage Gaalav arrived at the temple and was astonished to find two young ladies at such a deserted place. While taking bath, he heard the melodious songs of the two ladies. He became convinced of their divinity as it was impossible for mortals to sing with such expertise.
After the worship, sage Gaalav asked them their identity who then narrated the whole story. The next morning, as Gaalav was about to leave, both of them requested him to take them along. All three of them then left for Pushkar Tirtha. After reaching their destination, sage Gaalav decided to take a dip in the holy river. While taking bath, he saw many female fish trying to coax their male counterparts into making love by saying-"If sage Gaalav is not afraid of being in the company of young women then what makes you so scared in copulating with us?" The male fish replied that he was afraid of getting ridiculed by the public. Sage Gaalav was so ashamed of his conduct that he did not come out of the river.
Both ladies waited anxiously for sage Gaalav. Suddenly, Chitrangada arrived and was surprised to see strangers standing there. All three of them were looking at each other with surprised expressions on their face when Vedavati arrived there suddenly. She went near Chitrangada and enquired about her identity. Chitrangada narrated the whole story and revealed how circumstances had forced her to reach this place. In a very short time, all four of them became well acquainted with one another. They went to Haatkeshwar temple situated on the banks of Saptagodaavar River and worshipped Lord Haatkeshwar. They started living in the temple premises and spent their time in the daily worship of Lord Haatkeshwar.
On the other side, Shakuni, Jabaali and Ritdhwaj were anxiously searching them. During the search, Jabaali went to Shaakal Janpad accompanied by his father- Ritdhwaj. At that time, Shaakal Janpad was ruled by Indradyumna- the son of Manu. After meeting him, Ritdhwaj sought his help in finding his lost daughter- Nandayanti. Indradyumna told him- "O Brahmin! Even I have lost my daughter and don't know where she is at present. So, all three of us must go in search of our respective daughters." After saying this, all three of them decided to proceed ahead in search of their daughter.
When they reached Badrikashrama, they were amazed to find a young man engaged in austere penance. After formal introduction, it dawned on Indradyumna that the young sage was his own nephew- Surath. Indradyumna requested his nephew to join him in searching his daughter. Ritdhwaj told Surath- "The girl for whom you are doing such austere penance had been taken by me to Saptagodaavar. Come with me and I will help you to re-unite with her." All of them then left for Saptagodaavar.
In the meantime, as Ghritaachi- Devavati's mother arrived at Udaygiri Mountain to where she came across a monkey and enquired if he had seen her daughter. The monkey told the frail looking Ghritaachi that he had taken a young woman named Devavati to a hermitage near Shrikanth temple. Ghritaachi revealed to the monkey that the girl whom he was referring as Devavati was actually her daughter Vedavati. She requested the monkey to help her in locating her lost daughter. Ghritaachi proceeded towards river Kaushiki in search of Vedavati followed by the monkey. After reaching there, Ghritaachi took a holy dip in the waters of Kaushiki.
In the meantime, Jabaali and Ritdhwaj too had reached the banks of river Kaushiki. When Jabaali saw that monkey, he told his father Ritdhwaj by pointing his finger towards that monkey- "This is the same monkey who had enslaved me and tied me up with creepers." Shakuni, the master archer became furious and sought Ritdhwaj's permission to kill that monkey. Ritdhwaj pacified him by saying- "Bondage is because of your past Karmas, so it is useless to kill this poor monkey."
He then requested the monkey to free his son- Jabaali from the weight of the three branches, which were still tied to his body. The monkey opened the knots and Jabaali was now absolutely free. Ritdhwaj was pleased and wanting to bless the monkey, said- "You can demand anything from me. I am willing to fulfill any of your wishes." The monkey replied by saying- "O great sage! Didn't you recognise this unfortunate monkey? I am Chitranagada's father whom you had cursed to become a monkey. Bless me that I become liberated from all my sins." Ritdhwaj blessed the monkey and said- "You would be liberated from all your sins, the day you procreate a child from Ghritaachi. You would also regain your human body on that day." The monkey became pleased after receiving the blessings.
In course of time, Ghritaachi became aware of the monkey's real identity and developed physical intimacy with it. At first, both of them stayed at Kolaahal Mountain but later on, they shifted to Vindhya Mountain.
Meanwhile the group of five people- Ritdhwaj, Jabaali, Shakuni, Indradyumna and Surath reached Saptagodaavar Tirtha. All of them got down from the chariot and took bath in the holy river. The thirsty horses quenched their thirst and satisfied their hunger by grazing on the green grass. After satisfying their hunger, the horses galloped towards Haatkeshwar temple. When Chitrangada, and her companions heard the galloping sound, they climbed on top of the temple and looked all around. Chitrangada saw Ritdhwaj and his companions taking bath and immediately recognised him. Her companion- Nandayanti too recognised Jabaali. They were extremely pleased and climbed down from the rooftop of the temple. They worshipped and eulogised Lord Haatkeshwar to express their gratitude.
After sometime, Ritdhwaj and his friends arrived at the temple to worship Lord Haatkeshwar. He recognised Chitrangada and was pleased to meet her. In the meantime, Ghritaachi and the monkey also arrived there. Ghritaachi was pleased to meet her daughter- Vedavati and embraced her. Ritdhwaj instructed the monkey to summon Guhyak from the Anjan Mountain, Kandarmaali from the Paatal loka and the Gandharva King Parjanya from heaven respectively.
Guhyak, Kandarmaali and Parjanya arrived at the Haatkeshwar temple and all three of them were pleased to meet their respective daughters. Chitrangada accusing herself for her father's turning into a monkey, tried to give up her life. But Ritdhwaj consoled her by saying that her father would regain his human body very soon. Ghritaachi too approved his statement and said- "After ten months, I would give birth to a son and on that same day, your father would be liberated from sage Gaalav's curse and regain his human body."
After ten months, Ghritaachi gave birth to a son who later on became famous as Nala. Vishwakarma became liberated from the curse and regained his human body. Chitrangada was delighted to meet her father. A grand marriage ceremony was organised at Saptagodaavar, which was witnessed by the deities, the Gandharvas and the demons. In this marriage ceremony, sage Gaalav performed the rituals after which, Jabaali was married to Kandamaali's daughter, Indradyumna to Vedavati, Shakuni to the Yaksha's daughter and Surath was married to Chitrangada. After the marriage ceremony, everybody returned to their respective places.
After completing this story, King Danda once again requested Araja to accept his proposal. But she was not convinced and said- "Say whatever you like but I will never surrender to your evil intentions."