Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A story from Bhagavatham.

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

Calling Vyasa (DvaipAyana) to his side, Narada said - ' O Muni, listen attentively to the stories that you are about to hear. O great muni, this Maya and Her powers are incomprehensible to even those who are the best of the yogis and ascetics. This entire universe, moving and non-moving, from Brahma to the blade of grass, is enchanted by that Unborn and incomprehensible Maya. No one can escape from the hold of this Maya.

One day, wishing to see Hari, of wonderful deeds, I went to Shveta dvipa (where Vishnu resides) singing the beautiful Sama hymns in tune with the seven swaras. There I saw the deva of devas, Gadhadhara,the colour of newly formed rain clouds. With four arms and holding the chakra in one of his hands. He was dressed in yellow raiment, glowing with the lusture of the Kausthuba gem that he wore on His breast. Bhagavan Narayana was engaged in amorous sport with the daughter of the ocean, the devi Kamala (Lakshmi). The lovely Devi Kamala radiated youth and beauty,Her breasts were visible even through the cloth thrown over them. On seeing me, she hurried into the inner chambers of the palace. Surprised, I asked Hari, '' O Bhagavan, why has the devi, the mother of all worlds, gone away from your presence on seeing me arrive here? I have conquered my passions and have become an ascetic. Why, I have conquered even Maya. O Hari, why then has the Devi gone in, please explain this to me.''

On hearing my words expressive of pride, Hari smiled and said sweetly - '' O Narada,the wise say that the wife of any man ought not to stay before any other man other than her husband. O Narada, it is extremely difficult to conquer Maya, even those, who have by constant Pranayama, conquered their vayus,their indriyas (sense organs) and their food, even the Devas etc are not able to conquer Maya. Brahma, I, Siva and other great munis, none of us have been able to conquer that Maya. How then could it be said that you or any other man can conquer that Maya! Hear this O Narada, no embodied being, be he a Deva, human being or animal or bird, no one is able to conquer that Maya. Whoever is endowed with the three gunas,be he a yogi,or a conqueror of his passions or a knower of the Vedas, or all knowing, is not capable of conquering this Maya. Maha Kala (the great Time) though essentially formless is one of the forms of this great Maya and thus fashions this universe. All jivas are under this Kala, be he a good person, of a mediocre nature or one who is ignorant. This Kala can sometimes make even a religious man who knows Dharma to be confounded. The nature of Maya is incomprehensible and Her ways are exceedingly mysterious.''

Narada said - '' O DvaipAyana, hearing this I was astonished and asked Vasudeva, the deva of devas, '' O Lord, what is the form of Maya? How is She? Where does She reside and what is the measure of Her strength? Whose substratum is She? O preserver of this universe, be graciously pleased to describe to me in detail the glory of this Maya. I am very eager to know Her.''
Vishu said - '' Maya resides everywhere, throughout this whole universe; Her nature consists of the three gunas. She is the substratum of all, She is acknowledged by all, invisible and of innumerable and diverse forms. O son of Brahma, if you want to see Maya, come quickly and mount with me on Garuda. We will both go elsewhere and there I will show you Maya, who is invincible. But, O Narada, don't be depressed when you see this Maya.'' Vishnu then remembered Garuda and instantly Garuda came to Hari. The both of us mounted on Garuda's back and in an instant Garuda flew with the speed of wind to the forest where Vishnu desired to go. On the way we saw many beautiful forests,hills, nice lakes, towns, rivers and the beautiful hermitage of munis, till at last we came to a place close to Kanuj. There I saw a beautiful divine tank, glorious lotuses blossomed there and the bees were making an intense humming noise. Geese and other aquatic fowl were playing by the edge of the tank, the water was sweet, like milk. Seeing such a wonderful tank, Bhagavan Hari told me - '' O Narada, see, how beautiful this tank with its clear waters is. And look how it is adorned all over with lotuses. Let us bathe in this tank now and then proceed to the city of kanuj.''
So saying, He made me quickly descend from Garuda and also descended himself. Then with a smile, Bhagavan held on to my fore finger and took me to the bank of the tank. We rested for some time on the cool and beautiful bank, enjoying the fragrance of the lotuses in the water. Then Vishnu said -'' O muni, You bathe first in this tank, next I will bathe in this pool of holy water. Look, how clear the water is like the heart of a saint.'' On hearing the words of Hari, I put my lute and deer skin aside and went gladly to the water. Then after washing my hands and feet, I tied my hair lock and performed my achamana with the Kusa grass in hand. After that I began to bathe in the tank. Bhagavan Hari was looking at me bathing from the edge, and after taking a dip I realized that I had quit my male form and had instead got a beautiful female form. Hari then took away my lute and deer skin and then mounting on Garuda went in a moment to His own loka.

On getting the beautiful female form, my memory of my previous male form was lost at once. I forgot all about my lute and even forgot Hari the deva of devas. On seeing the enchanting female form reflected in the clear waters of the pool, I began to think and wonder about who I was. While I was lost in thought, a king named Taladhvaja came there all of a sudden. He came accompanied by elephants and horses, he was just entering into his youth and thus looked enchanting, like a second Cupid. The king noticed me standing by the tank and was greatly astonished by the beauty of my form and my moon like face. He then questioned me - '' O auspicious one, who are you?Your astonishing beauty makes me wonder if you are the daughter of a man or a Naga or of a Deva or Gandharva? Why are you alone here in the jungle?
Has any fortunate person married you? Or are you still unmarried? Speak all this to me truly. O enchanting one, what is your desire? Choose me as your husband and enjoy the various pleasures as you would like to.''
To be continued....
- From a 1921 translation (adapted at parts and verbatim at others) of the Bhagavatham.