And then there were three…

Read the previous part here…

LaghuPatanaka set Hiranyaka down at the side of the lake, climbed onto a branch, and yelled out “Hey Mantharaka! Look, it’s your old friend LaghuPatanaka the crow! I have been longing to see you! Come, come fast and hug me!”

It is said that fragrant sandal paste, the coolness of snow flakes, nothing compares to the bliss that one feels when hugging a friend…किं चन्दनैः स-कर्पूरैस् तुहिनैः किं च शीतलैः सर्वे ते मित्र-गात्रस्य कलां नार्हन्ति षोडशीम् !

And also…

केनामृतम् इदं सृष्टं मित्रम् इत्य् अक्षर-द्वयम् ।
आपदां च परित्राणं शोक-सन्ताप-भेषजम् ॥ ६१ ॥

kenāmṛtam idaṃ sṛṣṭaṃ mitram ity akṣara-dvayam |
āpadāṃ ca paritrāṇaṃ śoka-santāpa-bheṣajam || 61 ||

Who created this beautiful word mitram (friend)…one that saves you at  times of danger and that acts as medicine when in distress!

When Mantharaka heard these words, he recognised his old friend. Shedding tears of joy, he said “Oh LaghuPatanaka, my friend, my companion! Come embrace me! I hadn’t seen you for such a long time, and I surely didn’t expect you to come visiting. That is why I had walked into the lake. It is said…

यस्य न ज्ञायते वीर्यं न कुलं न विचेष्टितम् ।
न तेन सङ्गतिं कुर्याद् इत्य् उवाच बृहस्पतिः ॥ ६२ ॥

yasya na jñāyate vīryaṃ na kulaṃ na viceṣṭitam |
na tena saṅgatiṃ kuryād ity uvāca bṛhaspatiḥ || 62 ||

Brhaspati has said -one should not seek the company of a person whose capabilities, background or state of mind are not known to him.

As he said this, LaghuPatanaka flew down from the branches and embraced him tightly.

अमृतस्य प्रवाहैः किं काय-क्षालन-सम्भवैः ।
चिरान् मित्र-परिष्वङ्गो यो ऽसौ मूल्य-विवर्जितः ॥ ६३ ॥

amṛtasya pravāhaiḥ kiṃ kāya-kṣālana-sambhavaiḥ |
cirān mitra-pariṣvaṅgo yo ‘sau mūlya-vivarjitaḥ || 63 ||

What is the greatness in the flood of nectar that bathes you? This just cleans your body. But an embrace of a friend who has not been seen for long is priceless, since it purifies your body and your mind.

And so they embraced for some time, and then settled under a tree spoke about how they had been going about their days. Hiranyaka also walked up to them, greeted Mantharaka and sat next to LaghuPatanaka.

Seeing him, Mantharaka asked LaghuPatanaka “Who is this mouse? He is food that you consume, yet you brought him here carrying him on your back! Surely there is more to this than meets the eye?”

“Oh Mantharaka, this is Hiranyaka, my friend”, replied the crow. “He is as dear to me as life itself. What can I say?

पर्जन्यस्य यथा धारा यथा च दिवि तारकाः ।
सिकता-रेणवो यद्वत् सङ्ख्यया परिवर्जिता ॥ ६४ ॥

parjanyasya yathā dhārā yathā ca divi tārakāḥ |
sikatā-reṇavo yadvat saṅkhyayā parivarjitā || 64 ||

Like the showers that fall from the clouds, like the stars that twinkle in the sky, like the particles of sand spread out on the beach – like these cannot be counted, so are his virtues. They are countless.

“He has so many virtues, and is so intelligent. He also had a very secure fortress back home, yet he has come with me to stay here. Something troubles him, and he has not told me about it as yet”, said LaghuPatanaka.

“But what caused it?”, questioned Mantharaka.

“I questioned him too, but he said that there was a lot to explain, and he would tell me the details when we reached here.” So my dear Hiranyaka”, said LaghuPatanaka as he turned to address his friend “please tell us both, what troubled you so much that you had to leave that secure fortress and come here?”

Hiranyaka took a deep breath, and said…


The story of Hiranyaka and Taamrachooda

Close to a city not very far away from here called Mahilaropya, there is a temple of Sri Mahadeva, and a ashram next to it. A sanyasi named TaamraChooda (the one with the reddish hair) lived in this ashram. He used to beg for alms in the city and survive on what he received. Every night, he used to hang the begging bowl on an elephant tusk stuck to his wall, and most days the bowl did contain the excess of what he had received during the day. He would then give the leftover food to the labourers nearby, and make them clean the ashram and maintain it.

One day a mouse from my tribe came to me and said ” Master! There is food in the ashram, but it is always hung high up on that elephant tusk. We have no way of reaching it. But you are all-powerful – there is no place that you cannot reach. And so, why do we have to wander all day for food? If you help us, we can all eat good food right here at the ashram!”

Hearing this, I immediately agreed, and we set out at night to TaamraChooda’s room. When I reached there, I saw the begging bowl hung up on the tusk. I jumped high, and managed to reach inside it. After giving my tribe the food they wanted, I ate the rest, and then jumped down and returned home. And so this continued for some days. TaamraChooda found out that the food was being stolen, and tried to be alert, but as soon as he slept, I would climb upto the bowl and do my trick.

One day TaamraChooda decided to catch me and beat me up. He bought an old bamboo stick, and kept hitting the bowl throughout the night, as he lay half-awake. I was frightened – I didn’t want the stick to hit me, and so stayed away from the bowl. He spent the whole night doing this, and so I didn’t attempt to eat his food.

The next day, a guest arrived at the ashram. He was a friend of TaamraChooda, and also a sanyasi. His name was Brihatsphinga (the one with the large buttocks)….

to be continued…

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