Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Raghu and Indra

After serving Nandini, the divine cow, King Dileepa and his Queen Sudhakshina had a son – Raghu. Raghu was handsome and inherited the qualities of both his parents. He learnt the art of warfare and diplomacy and was adept in the Vedas. His teachers were proud of him. Raghu was such a skilled warrior that his Guru specifically called Dileepa and praised Raghu's fighting prowess.

Dileepa and Sudhakshina were very happy and proud of their son. Immediately after Raghu completed his education, Dileepa made Raghu the crown prince. Raghu was given more responsibilities in the state administration. Dileepa and Sudhakshina was thrilled to find that Raghu showed the same flair for administrating the kingdom.

Before handing over the kingdom to his son, Dileepa had one more wish to fulfill. He talked to Sudhakshina that evening, 'Sudhakshina! I know it is time to make our son the king and retire to the forests...'

Sudhakshina however sensed that her husband had some other ideas, 'Dileepa! Before we go to the forests, I think it is best if we fulfill all our desires...After retiring we cannot come back...' Dileepa looked at Sudhakshina with understanding eyes and was glad that he had such a wonderful wife. He cleared his throat, 'I want do...a hundred Ashwamedha Yagnas...before...'

Sudhakshina smiled. She looked at Dileepa, 'I don't think there is anyone else in the whole world who has the right to do the Yagna more than you. You are a good king, a good man and people are very happy under your rule...Trust me,' Sudhakshina said looking at Dileepa with pride, 'You deserve to complete the 100 Ashwamedha Yagnas.'

Dileepa's eyes shone with pride. Indra was the only person who had completed a hundred Ashwamedha Yagnas till date....

And so it started. As part of the Ashwamedha Yagna, a horse was allowed to roam anywhere around out the world. If the horse went inside another kingdom, the king of the other kingdom either had to fight with the army of the king performing the yagna or accept the supremacy of the king.

Dileepa had a strong army. Now he exercised its full use during the Yagna. Most of the kings were willing to accept the supremacy of the great king. However there were some kings who wanted to fight. Dileepa's army fought with them and were victorious all the times. This way Dileepa completed 99 Ashwamedha Yagnas.

Before the hundredth Yagna was to start, Sudhakshina spoke to her husband, 'Dileepa! This is the hundredth Yagna...'

Dileepa frowned. He had completed 99 Yagnas because of the support of his wife. His army was doing a good job...Why then would his wife have any doubts especially at the dawn of the final Yagna...Dileepa however had no doubts that his wife had something very important to say...He looked at her questioningly as Sudhakshina continued, 'Dileepa! Its just that Indra is the only person who has completed a 100 yagnas...' Dileepa nodded as Sudhakshina continued, 'And Indra is a God...We are just humans....Do you really think Indra would like it if a mere human were able to complete a hundred yagnas....' Sudhakshina finished hesitatingly.

Dileepa looked at Sudhakshina for a long time, 'You think, Indra may create some hurdles so that I do not complete the yagnas?...'

Sudhakshina nodded as Dileepa looked outside the palace window at the morning sun. He could see the priests and the others were busily preparing for the yagna...

He slowly turned to his wife, 'Raghu!' He said as if it was the answer to all his prayers. 'Raghu!' He repeated as his looked at his wife, 'This time Raghu will lead the army...He is old enough and remember what his guru told us when he completed his education...'

Sudhakshina slowly nodded. But she was anxious also. She was after all a mother too...Beut she remembered how proud the Guru had been while explaining what a good warrior Raghu was...If anyone could match up to Indra's might it was Raghu...

Dileepa asked his guard to bring the crown prince there. Raghu was attending to work of the yagna, when the guard called him. Raghu immediately left and found his father and mother looking at him with peculiar expressions in their face. His father was looking at him as if he was the answer to all his prayers. His mother was looking at him with part worry and part pride. Raghu bowed to his parents and waited for his parents to talk.

His father spoke first, 'Son! The final yagna starts today...' Dileepa took a deep breath. 'Your mother and I feel that this yagna...could be very...' Raghu watched as his father fumbled for words. Raghu looked surprised and looked at his mother. Sudhakshina spoke, 'Son! I think Indra would not like it if your father completed this yagna...I think he would create a lot of problems...'

Raghu looked at his mother and slowly nodded his head. What she said was not only possible, it was probable...highly probable...He nodded his head again to himself, 'Father! Mother! Please give me the permission to lead the army...I think I...'

He saw his parents look at him with pride and realized that they had also wanted the same thing! He looked at them with a smile, as they blessed him.

After the ceremonies had started, much to the surprise of the army, their young crown prince lead them. All the soldiers had seen the young prince fight and felt it an honour that he was leading them...

Sudhakshina's fear were totally justified. Indra, the king of the Gods was indeed worried...He had tried creating small hurdles in Dileepa's yagna. However Dileepa had always managed to overcome them. Besides had gotten complacent. He did not think that a mere human would ever be able to complete one yagna, let alone a hundred! If Dileepa completed the last yagna, he would become as powerful as the king of Gods...that was something that Indra could not accept...A human as his equal...No! That could not be allowed to happen...

So Indra came to earth. He came to the place where the horse was roaming. He waited patiently as the army rested for the night. As the army was sleeping for the night, Indra turned invisible and stole the horse. He transported the horse with him to the heavens...

The next morning Raghu woke up with a feeling of dread. He could not shake out the feeling that he had missed something when he was asleep...He was about to get up and go out of his tent, when he saw a guard running towards his camp with fear in his face. Raghu knew something was wrong...horribly wrong. The guard came inside and hurriedly greeted the prince, 'Prince! The horse....!'

Raghu did not wait for the guard to complete his sentence. He pushed the guard aside and ran to end of the soldiers tent. The horse was gone....Raghu stared with disbelief. How on earth did anyone take the horse, crossing all of them.... Raghu bent down to study the tracks. He saw the tracks of the horse and ..nothing else...

Raghu looked desperately around...He was dejected when he heard a tinkling of bells...Raghu smiled though he was desperate. He could recognized that tinkle anywhere....Without turning his back he knew that Nandini was behind him. Nandini, the divine cow whom his father and mother had served. Nandini because of whom he was born! Nandini often came to visit Raghu. Raghu could not explain it, but he loved Nandini as much as he loved his mother...

He turned and bowed to Nandini. He realized Nandini's coming was not a coincidence. Nandini smiled at him. Raghu 'saw' in his mind's eye, what had happened to the horse...

Raghu pursed his lips angrily...His mother's suspicions were true...That coward Indra had taken the horse when they were asleep in the middle on the night! Raghu seethed with rage...He was going to teach Indra a lesson.

Raghu with the help of Nandini took his army to the heavens. Thanking Nandini Raghu took his army and challenged Indra to a fight

Indra was surprised by the daring of Raghu. Indra was however ready. A terrible battle ensued between them. Indra fought and to his surprise found the young prince pretty much his equal! Any move that Indra made, Raghu countered and fought back!

In the end, Indra yelled, 'I did not want to, but you leave me with no choice! I am going to use my Vajrayudha against you...'

Raghu's army shivered when they heard this....This was the great Vajrayudha which had brought down the Vritrasura. It was one of the most powerful weapon known to humans....

Raghu snorted, 'Indra! Just because you are the king of Gods, you think you can scare me! Do what you can, I am not retreating without the horse!'

Indra was surprised! Till date nobody had even dared to fight against him...Now this boy was willing to fight him inspite of his powerful Varayudha! Indra felt a grudging respect for the boy...He somehow felt that there would be no pride in winning over such a boy...He pulled up flag of truce and stopped fighting.

Raghu looked suspiciously. But is was custom to stop fighting when the other side put up a truce.

Indra wanted to meet him in person. Accompanied by his guard, Raghu met Indra. Indra looked at him with respect, 'Raghu!' Indra said without any preamble, 'You are the bravest person I have ever seen....I do not wish to fight you...'

Raghu looked surprised as Indra continued, 'You are fighting for the horse, ask for anything else and I will give you...Anything other than the horse...'

Raghu pondered over some time. Raghu did not mind fighting...But he realized that his men were afraid. They could not fight against the Vajrayudha...What could he ask...other than the horse....

Raghu looked at Indra and spoke, 'If you cannot give me horse, make sure my father gets the fruits of the completion of the Ashwamedha Yagna! Let it be known that Dileepa completed a 100 Ashwamedha yagnas...'

Indra looked at the determined boy and realized that nothing could change his mind...Indra nodded his head...Dileepa now got the fruits of completing a hundred yagnas.

Raghu had done the impossible! He had made sure his father had the results of the completion of the Ashwamedha yagna. He returned home a triumphant man!. His army joyously spread his stories all over the kingdom. Dileepa embraced his son. Sudhakshina blessed her son.

The whole kingdom was happy as Raghu was crowned as their king. After this Dileepa and Sudhakshina retired to the forests, a happy couple, completing all their wishes....

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Loss of Friends [Mitrabheda] - Stories of Panchatantra

The Lion and the Bull

Once upon a time there was a merchant named Vardhaman. As a businessman he travelled quiet a lot. In those days, the bullock cart , horseback and chariot were the most preferred way of travelling from one place to another.

As Vardhaman was traveling through a jungle on the banks of river Jamuna, one of his bullocks – Sanjeevaka collapsed. Vardhaman was a very busy man. He called some of his servants and asked them to take care of the bullock.

'Take care of bullock!' If he gets well, bring him along with you to the next village. Otherwise...' Vardhaman paused looking at the sick face of the bullock and did not complete his sentence. He somehow felt that the bullock would not live for long...

The servants nodded and stayed behind in the forest with the bullock. However as night came, the servants were scared and nervous. The jungle was a scary place and at night it seemed dangerous. The servants were scared stiff. They looked at the bullock angrily. The bullock was lying tired and ill. The servants did not want to spend another night in the jungle. So they left the bullock in the middle of the jungle and left for the next town.

They met Vardhaman in the next village. 'What happened...?' Vardhaman asked looking at his servants.

'Sir...' One of the servants said hesitatingly, '...Sir, the bullock....' He looked at the others. All the servants had decided to lie to Vardhaman. 'The bullock is dead sir...' The servant said as the other servants also nodded their heads.

Vardhaman nodded his head. He could not find out that his servants were lying to him. It was after all an old bullock. 'Ok...Take rest now...We have work to do in the morning....' The servants nodded and happily went to sleep in their quarters.

However the bullock Sanjeevaka was far from dead. The bullock was just tired from all the traveling. When Vardhaman's servants left behind Sanjeevaka, they had done something very good for the bullock. The bullock took sufficient rest and there was plenty of food in the forest. Taking rest and eating lots of food, Sanjeevaka got back his strength. Sanjeevaka was happy and soon became very strong.

The jungle was ruled by Pingalaka, a bold and strong lion. However the lion had not seen too many bullocks in his life. Once when he was drinking the waters of the river of Jamuna, Pingalaka heard the loud, happy snort of Sanjeevaka. Though Pingalaka was a brave lion, he was afraid when he heard this sound, as he had never heard it in his whole life. Pingalaka ran away from the river and went deep inside the forest away from the noise. Pingalaka knew that he was supposed to be the king of the forest and that he should not have been afraid. He was sitting embarrassed inside the den hoping that no one had seen him run away. However two jackals – Karataka and Damanaka had seen Pingalaka run away in fright.

Karataka and Damanaka were the sons of the ministers of Pingalaka. However Pingalaka had dismissed the fathers of Karataka and Damanaka because they were untrustworthy.

Looking at all this, Karataka wanted to just drop the whole thing and move on. He did not want to interfere in things which did not concern him. However Damanaka wanted to become the king's minster. He knew that if he became the minister, he would have lots of power. Damanaka also knew that if he was the king's minister, he would get lots of food.

Finally Karataka agreed and Damanaka went to the king.

'Sir!' Damanaka said bending low before the king, 'I know....I know that something is bothering you....If you tell me, what it is I will help you sir!'

Pingalaka wondered whether he should tell the jackal everything or not...Damanaka was after all the son of a dismissed minister. He need not like the king at all...However finally Pingalaka decided that he had nothing to lose. He would always be careful of Damanaka. And besides Damanaka may have a good idea...

So Pingalaka told the jackal about the snort he had heard. Damanaka nodded his head and spoke, 'Your majesty! I do not think you should be afraid of any noise, without knowing what it is. However...' Damanaka said looking at the king, 'If it is ok with you sir, I will go and investigate the noise...'

Pingalaka fell silent. He was now feeling distinctly uneasy for trusting the jackal. However he decided that if the noise was something dangerous, it would be better to send the jackal first.

'Ok, Damanaka,' The king said nodding to the jackal, 'Go and find out what the noise is...'

Damaka nodded and slowly approached the place where Sanjeevaka was happily dancing and snorting. When he saw the bull, Damanaka almost burst out laughing. Pingalaka the great king had been afraid of the bull. This is great news. Once I go and tell the king that it is only a bull, the king is going to make me into a minster....Damanaka smiled...Things were going beautifully...

Damanaka went to Pingalaka and respectfully bowed to him, 'Sir, that sound was made by a bull sir!'

Pingalaka looked at Damanaka very dis-trustingly and a little embarrassed also, 'A bull?' He asked Damanaka with disdain.

Damanaka bowed again, 'Yes sir! And sir, if it pleases you I will bring the bull to be your servant sir!

Pingalaka was thinking of everything Damanaka was saying. Damanaka knew that he was scared..of a bull..Pingalaka winced. A bull...which could make such a snorting would indeed be a very powerful creature...It would be great to have such a being as my friend....Damanaka would be able to serve me once more...

'Damanaka!' Pingalaka growled, 'If you indeed make this bull my servant, I will make you as my minister....'

Damanaka bowed and walked away not saying anything, feeling happy.

He went to Sanjeevaka. 'Bull, what are you doing here?' He pretended to be angry and asked the bull.

The bull looked at the jackal surprised and worried, 'I am just a poor bullock. I was abandoned by my master. I have regained my health now...'

Damanaka hid a smile and went on angrily, 'Do you know that you are in the kingdom of the great king – Pingalaka. This is his forest. You dare come here and take our grass and not even let us know about it...'

Sanjeevaka spoke in trembling tones, 'I am a city bullock. I do not know anything about the rules of the jungle...'

Damanaka cut him off, 'Ignorance is not an excuse!...The king is furious, he is going to eat you!'

Sanjeevaka shook his head and said trembling, 'Please wise jackal, Please tell the king about me...Tell him not to eat me...'

Damanaka looked at him coldly, 'I will talk to the king but I cannot promise you anything...' He said and turned away.

Damanaka then came to Pingalaka and spoke, 'Sir! You were right! He is no ordinary animal. He said he is the vehicle of Lord Shiva. But I also have told him that you are the vehicle of Goddess Parvati. I have told him that he has to speak to you for permission to graze in our lands...' Pingalaka looked admiringly at the intelligence of Damanaka. 'He has agreed, provided he has the assurance that you will not hurt him in any way sir...'

Pingalaka slowly nodded and agreed. His doubts about Damanaka vanishing. 'Go bring him here!'

Damanaka then went to Sanjeevaka. 'This king has promised to see you. But do not be very proud of being the king's new friend. If you do not respect me and work with me, I can make sure, you lose the favour of the king also....' Damanaka said with a silky threat.

Sanjeevaka nodded and finally agreed to see the king. Pingalaka met the healthy Sanjeevaka. They greeted each other and finally Sanjeevaka told him everything about himself. 'I was left behind. That is all your majesty. Now I am coming and asking for security from you.

Pingalaka smiled, 'You shall have it my friend! Even bigger animals feel insecure!

Pingalaka made Damanaka and Karataka his ministers.

The jackals felt that lion would spend most of the time with Sanjeevaka and let them manage the affairs of the state However this plan backfired. Pingalaka started relying on Sanjeevaka on the matters of the state. To add to this, Pingalaka was giving up hunting, following the teachings of Sanjeevaka.

This made Damanaka and Karataka very angry as they were eating the remains of what Pingalaka had killed. They often had to go hungry...The two jackals decided that they had create a fight between Pingalaka and Sanjeevaka.

Then Damanaka went to Pingalaka and talked to him, 'Sir! Your friendship with Sanjeevaka...'

Pingalaka looked at Damanaka angrily, 'What about it...' He said pushing his paws angrily.

'He is someone who eats grass and you are someone who eats other animals sir. He still continues to eat grass, but you sir have given up your food...for him...Can't you feel it sir?' Damanaka asked pretending to be angry. 'Can't you feel getting weak whereas Sanjeevaka stands there getting stronger and stronger...'

Listening to Damanaka's words made Pingalaka angry. 'He is a good friend and he has imparted a lot of knowledge to me...'

'Good friend...?' Damanaka said with a smirk, 'A good friend, who wants you weaker than him, so that he can kill you and manage the affairs of the state himself...' Damanaka said drily, 'As it is, he is the one who takes care of the affairs of the forest. He just wants to take over completely...'

'A LIE...!' Pingalaka roared and swung at Damanaka. Damanaka avoided the paw but looked at the king for some time. Smartly Damanaka did not say anything and just went away. He left the king to his own thoughts.

Damannaka then went to Sanjeevaka and sorrowfully nodded his head. 'Did I not tell you, to keep us also as your friends....'

Sanjeevaka looked at Damanaka in surprise. 'When did I stop being friends with you...You have always been....'

Damanaka laughed without any humour, 'You have taught the king about not killing other animals. It is not in his nature...He is a carnivore....He is hungry most of the time....' Damanaka looked at Sanjjevaka and whispered to him. 'He plans to kill you that he can get back his energy and become the powerful ruler again....'

Sanjeeka pushed Damanaka back, 'You lie!...Pingalaka is a good lion. He is intelligent...'

'...and he is a carnivore....' Damanaka said interrupting him. 'I don't want anything to happen to you, so please be ready when you meet Pingalaka the next time. I would advice you to run away. But I do not think you will listen, so please be careful...'

Sanjeevaka shook his head, but already a shadow of doubt was formed in his head.

Pingalaka also kept thinking about the jackal's words and decided to be careful around Sanjeevaka.

As Pingalaka went near Sanjeevaka, the next day, he saw that the bull was snorting and keeping his horns ready as if to attack him. Pingalaka was enraged. Why that backstabbing bullock...He is actually going to kill me....I made him my friend ...gave him the highest respect and listened to him and THIS is how he repays me...I will...'

Poor Sanjeevaka never even had a chance. The lion pounced on him and killed him even before he had a chance. Damanaka and Karataka saw this from the side happy that they had achieved what they had wanted by their cunning and made sure they were the minsters and got plenty of food.

Pingalaka unfortunately lost a good friend by rash acting...

This is the main story of the first part of the Panchatantra. The other stories are woven inside the main story as part of the dialogues between the main characters...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How Anjaneya came to be known as Hanuman

Anjaneya was born to Anjana and Kesari and was an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Anjana was actually a heavenly girl whose name was Punjikastala. She had come down to the earth because of a curse. Anjana was to be free from the curse if she gave birth to an incarnation of Lord Shiva. After the birth of Anjaneya, Anjana was free to return to the heavens.

Vayu, the Wind God loved Anjaneya like his own son and also came often to meet him.

Once Anjana wanted to visit the heavens. She called Anjaneya, 'Anjaneya! I am going to the heavens to my home, to see my sisters!'

Anjaneya pouted, 'I will get bored there...I do not want to come...'

Anjana frowned, 'Ok. You stay here and play with your friends...I will be back soon...'

'Mother...' Anjaneya asked his mother innocently, 'What will I do if I get hungry?'

Anjana laughed, 'You eat the fruits, Anjaneya...You will not be hungry...'

'What fruits should I eat?' Anjaneya asked.

'Any fruits, which look as bright as the rising sun...are yours to eat...' Anjana smiled, little realizing the effects of her words...

Anjaneya laughed, 'Ok Mother...You go home...I will stay here...'

Anjana left and Anjaneya played with his friends. After some time he got bored and felt hungry too...He looked at the rising sun and remembered his mother's words...Any fruits, which looks as bright as the rising sun...'

Anjaneya had a sudden thought...All the fruits here are so small...I will feel hungry again and again, if I eat them...I will eat the sun itself...It is so big..If I eat that I will never be hungry... Thinking thus, the child leapt and headed straight for the sun!

As Anjaneya was nearing the Sun, Anjaneya saw something which surprised him. A huge head of monster was trying to swallow the 'fruit' he was after!.... Anjaneya was furious. Someone else was after the fruit he wanted....That could not be allowed.

What Anjaneya did not know that it was the time of the solar eclipse. In Hindu Mythology it is believed that the head of Rahu, an Asura swallows the Sun during eclipses as punishment for ratting out on him during the churning of the ocean...

Anjaneya pushed the head of the Asura away before it could come near the 'fruit'. Rahu tried fighting with the child, but Anjaneya was phenomenally powerful...Rahu did not stand a chance. Anjaneya thrashed him. Rahu ran away and ran straight to Indra. Though Indra was his enemy, Rahu knew that he was the only one who was strong enough to stop such a strong child...

Hearing Rahu's story, Indra suddenly had worries of his own..A child was racing towards the sun! Why?...What would the child want...If the child actually ate the sun...his next target would be ME! Indra was foolishly thinking all this and clutching his Vajrayudha his weapon and headed towards the Sun.

Meanwhile as Anjaneya came closer and closer, Surya, the Sun God got worried! What was a child doing here so close to him...He shouted, 'Stop child! Do not come any closer....You may get hurt...'

Anjaneya snorted..It would be so odd to listen to a fruit asking him not to eat it..It was obviously a trick..He flew faster towards to Sun...He could feel the sun burning his face, but Anjaneya ignored it and continued towards the Sun.

Surya burnt even more fiercely but it had no effect on Anjaneya. Now Surya was worried...That was when Indra came there.

Indra saw that even the Sun's heat had not affected the child. Indra was now in a full scale panic mode and felt that if he did not stop the child now, he was going to pay for it...

Without thinking about the consequences of his action or about anything else, Indra took out his Vajra and shot it straight at the young child!

The young child was no match for the powerful weapon. The weapon hit the child straight in his jaw and hit him with such a force that the child swooned and fell down on the earth from the skies!

However Vayu, the Wind God flew everywhere. He saw everything and knew everything that happened on earth. He saw his beloved Anjaneya hit by the hasty Indra and saw the child tumble out of the skies. Vayu rushed towards Anjaneya and collected him in his arms. He pulled Anjaneya close to him and to his horror found that Anjaneya was not breathing!

Terrified and furious with the foolish act of Indra, Vayu picked up Anjaneya and hid in a cave in the Paatala [underground]. Vayu felt angry with Indra. He decided to punish the people of the earth for worshiping such a hasty God. He being the Lord of the wind, sucked in all the winds of the earth inside him...Soon there was no air on earth and people, animal and plants all were struggling as there was no air to breath....! But Vayu did not care...His precious Anjaneya was also dead...

The people of the earth, prayed to Lord Brahma to come to their rescue. Lord Brahma ran to the cave in the Paatala to find Vayu. Vayu was sitting beside the lifeless form of Anjaneya tears in his eyes. Lord Brahma spoke, 'Vayu! You have failed in your duty..Why...?

Vayu almost pounced on Lord Brahma, 'MY DUTY? INDRA IN HIS FOOLISHNESS HAS KILLED A DEFENCELESS INNOCENT CHILD AND YOU EXPECT ME TO DO MY DUTY....' Vayu shouted. Lord Brahma pacified Vayu with great difficulty. Slowly Vayu told him the whole story...Lord Brahma became more and more angry as he heard the story. Finally he summoned Indra to come there immediately.

Frightened Indra appeared there. Looking at him, Vayu became even more furious, 'You are a coward! You hit this child with your VAJRA! Seriously is that a weapon to use on a young child....Look my innocent child is lying...' Vayu choked unable to continue...

Indra said, 'He...He was going to swallow the sun..'

Both Lord Brahma and Vayu snorted, 'Really Indra?' Lord Brahma spoke first, 'Is this how you behave...You were supposed to explain to the child what he was doing...not hurl your weapons at people every time you get afraid...'

Indra hung his head in shame..If only he had acted a little prudently...

Lord Brahma said looking at Indra angrily, 'Apologise to Vayu now....'

Indra slowly came up to Vayu and muttered an apology. But Vayu was not listening. He turned his head and ignored Indra. He looked at Lord Brahma with desperation, 'My Lord! No 'sorry' can bring back my son! I just want my son back.. sir! Please!' He almost begged Lord Brahma.

Lord Brahma smiled and nodded. He took some water from his kamandalam [jug] and sprayed it on Anjaneya. Lord Brahma then muttered a prayer and touched the child on his chin.

To Vayu's surprise the child awoke as if from a deep sleep. He rubbed his eyes and looked at the three Gods before him in wonder!

Lord Brahma said, 'The place where the Vajrayudha hit will be always broken...that cannot be mended, Vayu!' But Vayu did not care! A child with a broken jaw was no big deal!

Lord Brahma looked at the child and smiled, 'Son! You will be called as Hanuman henceforth, which means the 'one with a broken chin'. The child rubbed his chin and found that it was broken and nodded his head at Lord Brahma!

Vayu happily allowed the air to once  again flow on the earth as everything went back to normal.

Indra came forward and looked at Hanuman and said, 'Son! I am sorry for hurting you! To pay for my mistakes, I will grant you a boon - you will die only when you want to die!'

Hanuman joined his hands and fell on Indra's feet. As Indra disappeared, Lord Brahma came forward and said to Hanuman, 'One of the most powerful weapons is the Brahmastra – I give you immunity from that son!' Hanuman again bowed to Lord Brahma as he disappeared.

Vayu also blessed his son. By the power of all these boons, Hanuman became immortal and super powerful. Thus the young innocent Anjaneya became Hanuman!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

King Dileepa and Nandini

There once lived a king whose name was Dileepa. Dileepa was taught by the great Sage Vasishta and he was quick learner. He mastered the art of warfare, diplomacy and state administration in no time. Dileepa then became the king of Ayodhya. He was a just king and was loved by all. There was peace and prosperity in his kingdom and the people loved him. Dileepa was also courageous and valiant.

King Dileepa looked after his subjects like they were his own children. However the King and his Queen Sudhakshina had one worry. The king was getting old and he had no children. The King was worried that no one would look after the kingdom after he was gone...

So he and his wife went to Sage Vasishta. Sage Vasishta was the royal sage-teacher of the Dileepa's kingdom. He was a Brahmarishi [the person who has attained the highest level of knowledge]. King Dileepa felt that if anyone could solve his problem, it was Sage Vasishta.

King Dileepa knew that he could not take his entire army to see the sage as it would disturb the peace of the ashram. So he and his wife alone went to the see the Sage.

The sage was very happy on seeing King Dileepa and his queen. He welcomed the royal couple and gave them fruits and milk. After the king and the queen had eaten, Sage Vasishta asked, 'Dileepa, what a pleasant surprise! You have come after such a long time and that too without your army or your personal guards. You look worried...Is everything all right in your kingdom....?'

Dileepa shook his head and said, 'Nothing is wrong with the kingdom, sir! With people like you to guide me, I seriously do not think anything can go wrong...'

Sage Vasishta smiled at the king for his flattery . 'Then...what is the reason Dileepa?' He asked gently. The king looked at Sudhakshina who nodded her head encouragingly. The king drew a deep breath and continued, 'Sir! It is just that...With my wife's help, I have done my best to take care of my people as a king...But...'

Sage Vasishata nodded his head as Sudhakshina took up and started speaking, 'Sir! What will happen to our kingdom after us sir...' She said with anguish, ' We do not have any children, who can become the ruler after us...'

King Dileepa looked at the sage and said, 'We cannot just leave our people without a ruler sir! We need to have a child and train the child to rule the kingdom well...'

Queen Sudhakshina looked at the King and then at the sage and said, 'We have not knowingly caused any harm to anyone, but then we are still childless. We want to know the reason for this sir...'

Sage Vasishta nodded his eyes and closed his eyes. In his mind's eye, he replayed everything he knew about the King. Then with the help of his Brahman Shakti [The Force around us] he came to know what was wrong...He opened his eyes as King Dileepa and Queen Sudhakshina looked eagerly at the Sage. The Sage smiled a little sadly, 'It is true King and Queen...You have lived an exemplary good life... But....'

The King and the Queen frowned and looked at each other and looked at the Sage. The Sage said, 'Dileepa, do you remember going to the heavens once to help Indra during a battle...'

The King frowned and nodded, 'Yes sir...'

The sage said, 'While you were there, the cow Kamadhenu was there near Indra's palace...'

The king spoke flabbergasted, 'I never knew that...'

The Sage nodded, 'Yes! That is the problem...You see Kamadhenu was there and you ignored her...She felt that you deliberately ignored her...'

The king shook his head anxiously, 'No....'

The sage nodded his head and held up his hands, 'Peace!' as the King immediately fell silent. 'It is because of Kamadhenu's curse, you are childless...'

Queen Sudhakshina gasped looking at the king in alarm. She then turned to the Sage, 'Sir! My husband would never do such a thing purposely...'

Sage Vasishta said patiently, 'I believe you, my Queen...But Kamadhenu was very angry...Hence the curse...'

Queen Sudhakshina looked at the sage, 'Is there any way the curse will be lifted?'

Sage Vasishta smiled as his eyes twinkled, 'As a matter of fact, yes!' Both the king and queen looked at the sage with surprise as the sage continued, 'Kamadhenu has a daughter – Nandini, she lives here in my ashram...' The king and the queen looked around and did not see any cow as the sage continued, 'She is right now gone to the Kingdom of Varuna....' The king and the queen looked unhappy as the Sage continued, 'She is expected any minute...In fact...' The Sage said with delight, 'Look there she is! Nandini is coming back...'

The king and the queen looked eagerly as they saw a majestic cow entering into the ashram. The Sage continued, 'King Dileepa and Queen Sudhakshina,' He said formally, 'Take care of Nandini, like you would look after your own child... I am sure that once you take care of Nandini, she would remove her mother's curse...

The King and the Queen both looked at the Sage and fell on his feet. The sage blessed them.

The royal couple then went to see Nandini, in her cow shed. They fell on the Nandini's feet and the king said looking at the cow with love, 'I will look after well as I have looked after my own subjects...'

'Me too...' said the Queen.

The king and the queen stayed behind in the ashram. They sent word to their ministers that they would be staying in the ashram and asked their minsters to look after the affairs of the kingdom.

In the morning, the king and the queen woke up early. The queen worshiped the cow. The king then set out with the cow as the queen cleaned the cow shed. The king then washed the cow and took her out to graze. Though he was king, Dileepa did not mind grazing a cow. In fact he enjoyed it. The King felt proud that his wife who was the princess of Magadha before she had married him, did not mind cleaning the cow shed.

King Dileepa then followed the cow everywhere. He made sure that Nandini was well fed. King Dileeppa slept where the cow slept, ate when the cow ate and took very good care of it.

When the king and Nandini returned to the ashram, the queen once again worshiped the cow and took good care of it till it slept for the night....

Twenty-one days passed like this...On the twenty-second day after Queen Sadhakshina finished her prayers, the king and Nandini set out. However this time, the cow did not go by the usual way. She went inside another forest and did not just stop there. She went deeper and deeper inside the forest. Dileepa was on alert, as he followed the cow.

There was a very beautiful tree, where Nandini stopped. She started grazing there. King Dileepa was just admiring the beauty of the forest, when he heard a loud roar. The king's eyes widened when he saw a ferocious lion aim for Nandini. The king tried reaching for his bows and arrows and surprises! - he could not even lift his arms. The king looked even more surprised, when the lion spoke to him, 'King! Go back! It is my duty to protect this tree! I will kill this cow, who is hurting this tree...'

The king was numb with astonishment and spoke slowly, 'Who are you? What is happening?'

The lion spoke again, 'This tree is Goddess Parvati's favourite tree...She gets very upset, if any one hurts this tree, so she sent me here to protect this tree...Now this cow has come here and I will kill it...'

The king was still unable to reach for his weapons, spoke slowly, 'Please do not do that....' The king said desperately, 'It is my job to protect this cow...Nothing should happen to it...Please forgive the cow, if she has caused any damage to the tree..please...'

The lion shook his head, 'No...King, you forget...I am a lion...It is my job to hunt other animals...If I just let every animal which comes to me, go away...How am I supposed to eat...'

The king thought fast and spoke, 'Listen lion, king of the jungle...listen to me...You want some food, I am here.. let the cow go..You can eat me instead...' The king said earnestly.

The lion almost laughed, 'You will sacrifice yourself for a cow?...'

The king nodded, 'I am a king...I protect...not just people, I protect everyone, who comes to me for protection...This cow is my responsibility...Please eat me instead, let the cow go...'

The lion looked puzzled at the king and spoke again, 'King Dileepa listen to me...Sage Vasishta would not be unhappy, if you told him that I had eaten the cow...You can still walk away from all this...'

The king firmly shook his head, 'Please take me and let the cow go...'

The lion looked at the firm king and finally nodded, 'OK...King..I will eat you and let the cow go...' The lion was about to pounce, when the king closed his eyes. He knew it was over...But he was not too worried...He had done the right thing..He knew Sudhakshina would understand...She would rule after him...The king's only regret was that their kingdom did not have an heir...But the there was nothing he could do about that now...

The king opened his eyes, when he felt a garland on his neck. Surprised he opened his eyes to find that the lion was gone...It had just disappeared. The king turned around alarmed looking for Nandini and saw her calmly looking at him with a smile on her face.

The king breathed normally and sighed...He had to get Nandini home fast.... The king found that he was also able to move. That was when Nandinii spoke...

'I am pleased with your devotion...king...Your sense of duty astounds me...You were willing to sacrifice yourself for anybody under your protection...I am pleased with that...'

The king looked baffled as Nandini continued, 'Everything that you saw here, was a maya – an illusion created by me to test you....I am pleased to say, you passed...'

The king looked eagerly at Nandini as she smiled, 'Yes! Go home with your queen, Dileepa. My mother's curse is gone...You will have a son, which the whole world will look up to...'

The king bowed to Nandini. They went to the ashram that evening, where the king told everything to the queen. They worshiped Nandini. The next day with the permission of Sage Vasishta, they left for their kingdom...

Sudhakshina gave birth to a fine son – Raghu. Raghu was also a fine ruler and great man, just like his father...Raghu had a son by name Aja, Aja's son was Dasaratha. Dasaratha had four sons – Ram, Lakshman, Bharat and Shatrughan – the heros of the Ramayana. Raghu, the son of Dileepa was such a great man, that the whole dynasty was named after him...Even now, Ram is sometimes called as Raghuvamshi which means from the ancestry of Raghu...