Thursday, 20 September 2012

21. The legend of Ahalya.

     On seeing Rama and Lakshmana, the King Sumati looked   incredulously  at Viswamitra and said "These two youngsters, striding like audacious elephants and arrogant lions, bearing a similitude to adventurous tigers and adamantine bulls, and wielding quivers, swords, and bows, are valorous with their valour matching that of Vishnu, and with their eyes broad like lotus-petals and with youthfulness in the offing they look like the exceptionally beautiful twin-gods, Ashwin-brothers, by their physique.  How these two have footslogged and chanced here as though immortals have chanced on earth from the abode of gods at their pleasure?  What for they have come here, and whose scions are they?
      Comment: After writing the above, I could not resist telling you (I mean writing) what the great Tamil poet Kamban wrote about the reaction of the people of Mithila when they saw Rama walking along with his brother Lakshmana   and Viswamitra.  Here it is:
தோள் கண்டார், தோளே கண்டார்; தொடு கழல் கமலம் அன்ன
தாள் கண்டார், தாளே கண்டார்; தடக் கை கண்டாரும், அஃதே;
வாள் கொண்ட கண்ணார் யாரே, வடிவினை முடியக் கண்டார்? -
ஊழ் கொண்ட சமயத்து அன்னான் உருவு கண்டாரை ஒத்தார். 
       Sorry! I am unable to translate correctly to English.  The rough translation is  - Those who first happened to see his (Rama's) shoulders, they were seeing the shoulders only as they could not take off their eyes from that perfect shoulders; likewise those happened to see the eyes first they were seeing the eyes only; etc.
End Comment.
      "These two  are identical to one another by their bodily proportion, facial-language, and by bodily gestures, and with their presence they refurbish this province like the Moon and Sun brightening the firmament. I would like to know for what reason these valiant ones, who are wielding such mighty weapons, have arrived here travelling on an arduous path."
      Vishwamitra informed him about the visit of Rama and Lakshmana to the Hermitage of Accomplishment, about the elimination of the demons, as it had happened.  King Sumati was immensely astonished and very much impressed to hear the adventures of Rama and Lakshmana.  He could not help treating the princes as the most prominent and honourable guests.  The king started to honour those two great mighty sons of Dasharatha as his equals.
      On getting high honours from King Sumati, both the princes stayed there along with Vishwamitra and with the community of sages for a night, and then they all moved on to Mithila.  All the saints who were accompanying Vishwamitra, Rama, and Lakshmana, were simply spellbound on seeing Janaka's auspicious city Mithila.  Ayodhya was not fortunate enough to receive any worship from the onlookers, but it was admired for its fortification.  On the other hand, Mithila was a venerable city, because by itself it was a temple town and the Vedic-rituals etc., were going on forever.  It was a blessed place as it had Shiva's Bow, for which bow ritual worship was ongoing from time immemorial.
      On seeing a hermitage in the fringes of Mithila, that appeared to be age-old, but now uninhabited, yet pleasing, Rama asked the sage Vishwamitra to tell him about it.
       The expert in sententiousness, a great resplendent sage and eminent-saint Vishwamitra looked at Rama with a pleasure in his eyes and said with a smile "My pleasure!
     The pleasure expressed by Vishwamitra was for the arrival of time, for the event of Rama's grace, in releasing Ahalya from her cursed state.
      "Rama, this hermitage with a heavenly glisten, and highly hallowed even by gods, once belonged to the great sage Gautama.  In this hermitage  once that highly renowned Sage Gautama sat tight in asceticism for numerous cycle of years along with his wife Ahalya.  On knowing the time and the period of  his absence from the hermitage,  Indra, wearing the guise of sage Gautama  approached Ahalya and said  'My dear, indulgers do not watch out for the time to conceive, as such my love, I desire copulation with you.'
Vividly: 'Oh, Ahalya, Brahma crafted you so well that all your limbs are symmetrically conjoined, so who in the universe will not yearn to have intercourse with you... and on seeing your slender waist and thickset hips I wish to copulate with you now itself... and let there be no fear of safe period or unsafe period for I do not wish to have any progeny of mine from you...
     "Oh, Rama, though knowing him as Indra in the guise of her husband Gautama, she was inclined to have intercourse ill-advisedly, only to satisfy the impassion of the King of Gods.
     Her thinking was: 'This is none but Indra in the guise of my husband, for my husband never asks me like this nor he violates times... I heard that Indra is seeking me for a long time... and when King of Gods expresses such a desire, it cannot be refused... let him have it…
     "After the event she felt fulfilled in her heart of hearts and then she said  'I am gratified in complying with your wish, lord.  Please get away from here quickly, and always safeguard yourself and me from Sage Gautama.'   Indra on his part said smilingly to Ahalya, 'oh, well-hipped lady, I am quite delighted, here I go as I came.'
     "Oh, Rama, Indra then came out of the cottage flustering hurriedly after copulating with her, with an uncertainty about the arrival of Sage Gautama.  Indra had then seen the great saint Gautama, an unassailable sage either for gods or for demons owing to his ascetic prowess, though thoroughly wet with the water of pious river, he was luminous like ritual fire and a foremost saint among all saints who just entered the hermitage carrying ritual firewood and sacred grass.
     "On seeing the sage, the lord of gods Indra was scared and became dreary faced.  Sage Gautama, due to his ascetic power, came to know what happened.  He said furiously to Indra 'Oh, dirty-minded Indra, taking hold of my form you have effectuated this unacceptable deed, whereby you shall become infecund.'
     "When that great sage Gautama spoke that way with rancour, the testicles of the cursed Indra fell down on the ground at that very moment.  After cursing Indra, the sage cursed his wife, too saying, 'you shall tarry here for many thousands of years to come without food and consuming air alone, and unseen by all beings you shall live on in this hermitage while contritely recumbent in dust.
     " 'When that unassailable son of Dasharatha, namely Rama, arrives at this squalid forest, for it will be henceforth rendered so along with you, then you will be purified.  On your welcoming Rama, oh, ill-behaved woman, you will be divested of your greed and craze in which you lingered so far, and then you will assume your own body and then you can be in my proximity, rejoicingly.'
     "On cursing the immodest Ahalya thus, that great-resplendent Sage Gautama shed this hermitage which was once adored by celestials like siddha-s and caarana-s, and he resumed practice of his asceticism on the pleasant peaks of Himalayas."

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