Of broken noses…

Read the previous part here…

The weaver’s wife gladly agreed, and her friend untied her. After tying the barber’s wife in her place, the weaver’s wife went to meet Devadutta.

Everything went as planned…but suddenly, after a few minutes, the weaver woke up…

He was a bit sober now, and his anger had also cooled down. He looked towards his ‘wife’ and said “Woman! I will untie you if you promise me not to leave this house again without my permission, and to never speak rudely to me.”

The barber’s wife knew that he could not see her clearly in the darkness. But she also knew that he would recognise the difference in voices, if she spoke. And so, she remained silent.

The weaver repeated himself a few times. On not getting any response, he got angry once again. Grabbing a sharp knife, he cut and broke her nose and shouted “You wretched woman! Stay here this way now…I am done trying to please you!” , and as he spoke, he dropped to the floor and went back to sleep again.

Devaśharman, who was unable to sleep due to hunger, and tension about losing his money, witnessed this whole episode.

In a couple of hours, the weaver’s wife returned, having had her fill of Devadatta. She asked the barber’s wife “Friend! Are you ok? Did this wretched man wake up when I was gone?”

“I am fine, except for my nose, that this man cut in anger. Release me – let me rush home before this man wakes up again.”

And so they exchanged places – the barber’s wife tied the weaver’s wife to the post, and fled the scene.

In about an hour, the weaver woke up again, and in a drunken voice, shouted at his wife “You damn woman! Will you remain silent even now? Should I now cut your ear and punish you even more?”

His wife retorted angrily “You idiot! Who can harm a Sati, a pious and devout wife like me? Let everyone on earth and in the heavens hear me, because…

आदित्य-चन्द्र-हरि-शंकर-वासवाद्याः शक्ता न जेतुम् अतिदुःख-कराणि यानि ।
तानीन्द्रियाणि बलवन्ति सुदुर्जयानि ये निर्जयन्ति भुवने बलिनस् त एके ॥ १९३ ॥

āditya-candra-hari-śaṃkara-vāsavādyāḥ śaktā na jetum atiduḥkha-karāṇi yāni |
tānīndriyāṇi balavanti sudurjayāni ye nirjayanti bhuvane balinas ta eke || 193 ||

The sun, the moon, the winds, the fire, the earth, the sky, the waters, the heart, the lord of death, the day, the night, the two twilights and Dharma – They all know and are witness to the actions of man, and his character.

“If I am truly devoted to my husband, and have never even thought of another man, then let the divine powers restore my nose to as it was before. And if, even if a shadow of another man exists on my mind, let me turn to ashes immediately!”

And after speaking this way, she turned to her husband, and shouted back at him “You wretched man! Come, and look at my face. My piousness has restored my nose to as it was before…look!”

The weaver, surprised at this turn of events, brought a burning torch and looked at his wife’s face. It was true! Forget being broken, her nose was not even scratched, but there was a lot of blood on the floor. He recoiled back in surprise, then quickly collected his wits, untied his wife, sat her on the bed and started to calm her down by speaking to her affectionately.

As before, I would like to briefly interrupt the story here. What follows are the thoughts of on Devaśharman on women, and reflect his views on the subject. The Panchatantra is not a moral science lesson, it is more of a treatise on human thought, and is presented as is, to serve as a reflection of the various ways of thinking that we encounter, both good and bad. Knowing this is essential, and deliberating on what you actually think and how you act is the outcome. That is the beauty of the Panchatantra – there are no lessons served on a plate – these learnings are arrived at by your own thought processes. 

Let’s continue…

Devaśharman, who had witnessed this entire scene in front of his eyes, thought to himself…

शम्बरस्य च या माया या माया नमुचेर् अपि ।
बलेः कुम्भीनसश् चैव सर्वास् ता योषितो विदुः ॥ १९४ ॥

śambarasya ca yā māyā yā māyā namucer api |
baleḥ kumbhīnasaś caiva sarvās tā yoṣito viduḥ || 194 ||

These women know all the magical feats of demons like Shambara, Namuchi, Bali and Kumbhinasa!

हसन्तं प्रहसन्त्य् एता रुदन्तं प्ररुदन्त्य् अपि ।
अप्रियं प्रिय-वाक्यैश् च गृह्णन्ति काल-योगतः ॥ १९५ ॥

hasantaṃ prahasanty etā rudantaṃ prarudanty api |
apriyaṃ priya-vākyaiś ca gṛhṇanti kāla-yogataḥ || 195 ||

They laugh along with men who laugh; they cry along with men who cry; they calm down a man who is angry, with their pleasing words, and this is how they trap unsuspecting men.

उशना वेद यच् छास्त्रं यच् च वेद बृहस्पतिः ।
स्त्री-बुद्ध्या न विशिष्येते ताः स्म रक्ष्याः कथं नरैः ॥ १९६ ॥

uśanā veda yac chāstraṃ yac ca veda bṛhaspatiḥ |
strī-buddhyā na viśiṣyete tāḥ sma rakṣyāḥ kathaṃ naraiḥ || 196 ||

The tactics known to the Gurus of the Gods, are also known to women. In such a situation, how can men be protected?

It is also said…

नातिप्रसङ्गः प्रमदासु कार्यो नेच्छेद् बलं स्त्रीषु विवर्धमानम् ।
अतिप्रसक्तैः पुरुषैर् यतस् ताः क्रीडन्ति काकैर् इव लून-पक्षैः ॥ १९८ ॥

nātiprasaṅgaḥ pramadāsu kāryo necched balaṃ strīṣu vivardhamānam |
atiprasaktaiḥ puruṣair yatas tāḥ krīḍanti kākair iva lūna-pakṣaiḥ || 198 ||

One should not show extreme interest in women. One should also not disregard the increasing dominance of women. Because, women play with the men who show too much interest in them, much like children play with birds whose wings are cut off. 

And so, lost in his thoughts, Devaśharman passed a very tough night…

On the other hand, the messenger girl (the barber’s wife), reached home and started thinking about how she would explain her broken and bleeding nose. As she was thinking this, her husband appeared at the doorstep. He had spent the night at the palace, attending to important work, and now was in a rush to go back to the city, to attend to his morning customers. As he rushed in quickly, without looking directly at her, he said – ” My dear! I am in a hurry. Please bring my razor case – I have to leave immediately.”

His wife had already thought of a solution. She took out a sharp razor from the case, and threw it towards her husband. Caught by surprise, the barber grabbed the razor and threw it back at her. Suddenly, his wife ran out of the house creaming – “Help me! Somone please help me! This wicked man has cut and broken my nose!”

Some soldiers, who were close by, saw this, and rushed to her side. They beat the barber and tied him up, and then dragged him to court, with the barber’s wife closely following them. In the presence of the judge, the soldiers said ” Lord! This barber has disfigured this innocent lady, for no fault of hers. Please help me and punish this man.”

The judge looked at the barber, and said…

to be continued

2 thoughts on “Of broken noses…”

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