Friday, 28 September 2012

22. Redemption of Ahalya from her curse.

     "The emasculated Indra then panicked.   With alarm, anxiety  and trepidation, he spoke to the conglomeration of gods, siddha-s, gandharva-s, and carana-s, keeping Agni, the Fire-god as their helm god.  He claimed that what he did was not for his pleasure but a task of gods.  He accomplished hindrance to the Sage Gautama in his asceticism.
     Indra was in a position assigned to some high-souled beings on acquiring considerable merit.  He functions as a CEO of the universe, maintaining seasons, rains, thunders, thunderbolts, crops, earthquakes, and every aspect of nature, whether they are good or bad for us.  If any Vedic-ritual was performed, Indra would be too happy, as he and his deputies like Rain-god, Fire-god, Air-god, et al., would receive many oblations from that ritual.  But if it is tapas viz. 'the practice of asceticism, penance, or ascesis' by a single sage, Indra will be highly perturbed.  Usually sages will be practising this ascesis for attainment of higher abodes of Brahma, Vishnu, or Shiva.  Some practice this to overthrow the present Indra and occupy his position, or to attain immortality and thereby try to rout out Indra, as with the case of Ravana.  When that practice is about to materialise, Indra sends his agents, like voluptuous celestial beauties, namely the apsara-s, to distract those sages with their (i.e Apsara's) beauty.  Once the sage's concentration fails, his practice becomes futile.  Thus, Indra retains his position.  Here, though Sage Gautama did not practise his ascesis for Indra's post, Indra had to hinder it in his own apprehension, and when the fury of Gautama was incited, Gautama's practice also failed and he had to redo his ascesis until he overcomes his passions.  Thus, this 'causing hindrance' is a divine act as claimed by Indra to other gods.  In doing such 'divine acts' Indra will also be maligned, for which the higher gods like Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, or other higher beings will come to his rescue.
     "Indra further said 'By Gautama's anger I lost my testicles and his wife Ahalya is rejected by the sage, and thus by his releasing a couple of severe curses, his propriety for ascesis is dwindled, and therefore his ascesis is pre-empted by me.  Therefore, oh, all gods with the assemblages of sages and caarana-s, it will be very appropriate and befitting of you all to make me virile again, as I have acted for our benefit.'
     "On hearing the explanation of Indra, all the gods and other assemblages of celestials, together with the groups of Marut-gods went to the godly manes keeping the Fire-god, Agni in van, and appealed  " 'This ram has testicles.  The testicles of this ram may be removed and given to Indra quickly.  This ram that is being offered to you may now be gelded to give its testes to Indra, and though this ram is deprived of an organ, it will be complete and it endows complete satisfaction to you.  To those humans who hereafter offer  rams with removed testes in sacrifices for the purpose of your gratification, you shall truly offer them plentiful and unmitigated benefits.'
     The 'manes' are the deified souls of dead ancestors.  It is customary to offer un-castrated and unmutilated animals in sacrifices to please gods or departed souls.  Presently some humans  offered such an un-castrated ram to manes and the manes were about to enjoy it.  But the gods had come and Agni, the Fire-god, was asking them to part with such an offering, for the sake of Indra.  And when the manes were hesitating to go against the existing rules of ritual, then Agni, the Fire-god, was amending those rules and he was saying a boon-like proclamation 'From now on, the manes can enjoy even a castrated ram, if offered by humans on earth, and in turn the manes shall afford plentiful benefits of undiminished value to those offerers, namely humans...' 
     "On hearing the words of Agni, the Fire-god, the manes-gods who gathered to collect their share of offering had extricated the testes of the ram, which was not yet sacrificed but tethered to a sacrificial post, and offered them to Indra.  From then onward the manes-gods who came to collect their share were enjoying even  goats, even if they did not have testes, to endow benefits thereof to those that offer those goats, and to join the testes of goats to Indra.
     If rams with testes are offered, the manes discard the testes of those rams and enjoy the rest of it. Even if a goat is offered they enjoy it, considering it as homogenous to a ram. In either way, the offerer is blessed with benefits and Indra with testes.
       "From then onwards Indra has became one with the testes of a ram.. 
       "Rama, now enter the hermitage of Gautama and atone Ahalya who is highly fortunate and who is in the making of a divinity."
       Rama accordingly entered the hermitage along with Lakshmana, keeping Vishwamitra afore. 
      Ahalya's splendour was brightened by her ascesis.  Now it was impossible to raise an eye to stare at her by anyone, whether it be a god,  demon or any worldly being,  on coming close to her.  The Creator had contrived her with a careful contemplation as an angelic and a completely phantasmal entity.  She was like the befogged and beclouded moonshine of a full moon when she was hitherto enshrouded by the dried up leaves and dust.  She was like an unwatchable sunshine mirrored in and glowing from the midst of water, for she was hitherto in the midst of denounce, and whose limbs were like the tongues of a flaring fire around which fumes were cloaking, as she was hitherto practising an utmost ascesis subsisting on air alone, which made her like a flaring Ritual Fire.
     Ahalya was indeed indiscernible to all the three worlds by the very word of Gautama until the manifestation of Rama.  On reaching the end of the curse, she came into the view of Raghava-s, and they too gladly touched her feet in reverence.
     Reminiscing Gautama's words Ahalya received those two, and self-consciously offered water for feet and hand washing, and like that she also offered guestship customarily and dutifully, and Rama  on his part acquiesced her hospitality.  There was an abundant floral fall from firmament accompanied by the drumbeats of gods' drums, and the celestials like gandharva-s, apsara-s revelled in a splendid festivity that was superb.  Gods had collectively reverenced her, whose limbs were depurated by the asset of her ascesis which was performed as a devotee of Gautama. 
     Even that great resplendent Gautama was heartened when he reunited with Ahalya after a long, long a time, and that sage customarily reverenced Rama for actualising his solemn utterance, and that great-ascetic Gautama continued his ascesis together with Ahalya.  Rama along with Viswamitra, Lakshmana and others then moved on to Mithila.
     Indra is usually referred to/addressed as 'sahasra aksha' i.e. ‘thousand eyed one...’ and the reason for this is another legend, saying that Gautama’s curse to Indra was: ‘since you delighted with Divine Ahalya, who is crafted by Brahma, in carnal pleasures, let there be thousand carnally vaginal apertures on your body...’ Then that Indra was aghast for such an appearance, pleaded for mercy. Then, the curse was amended as ‘instead of vaginal apertures, the apertures on your body will look like eyes...’ thus Indra became sahasra aksha.

No comments:

Post a Comment