Of demons and horses…

Read the previous part here…

“That is why I say”, concluded TruptaKumar, यो लौल्यात् कुरुते नैवोदर्कम् अवेक्षते ।विडम्बनाम् अवाप्नोति स यथा चन्द्र-भूपतिः ॥ He who acts out of greed and without thinking of the consequences, gets cheated, much like ChandraBhoopati.

“Well, I will have to go now. Let me at least try to return to the village and start a new life. I wish you the best!”, said TruptaKumar, as he joined his palms in namaste, and started to leave.

“I have heard that in times of difficulty, it is only money and friends who are truly helpful”, said VairāgyaKumar. “Then how can you leave me in this condition? It is said…

यस् त्यक्त्वा सापदं मित्रं याति निष्ठुरतां वहन् ।
कृतघ्नस् तेन पापेन नरके यात्य् असंशयम् ॥ ८२ ॥

yas tyaktvā sāpadaṃ mitraṃ yāti niṣṭhuratāṃ vahan |
kṛtaghnas tena pāpena narake yāty asaṃśayam || 82 ||

He who ignores a friend in trouble, and does not show him any mercy, is called ungrateful and surely deserves a place in hell.

TruptaKumar replied “I am sorry. But I don’t have the strength to stay here – this place is harsh and unfit for humans. No one can free you now. Besides, I keep looking at you and get afraid that the same fate may befall me as well, and that prompts me to go from here. After all, it is said…”

यादृशी वदन-च्छाया दृश्यते तव वानर ।
विकालेन गृहीतो ऽसि यः परैति स जीवति ॥ ८३ ॥

yādṛśī vadana-cchāyā dṛśyate tava vānara |
vikālena gṛhīto ‘si yaḥ paraiti sa jīvati || 83 ||

Hey monkey! From that pale face of yours, it is evident that you have been possessed by Vikāla. Only the one who runs away can save his life!

VairāgyaKumar said “How did that happen?”

TruptaKumar replied…


The story of Vikāla and the monkey

In a city, not so far away from here, lived a king named BhadraSena. He had a beautiful daughter named Ratnāvati (the one who is as precious as a jewel). A rākshasa fell in love with her, and wanted to kidnap her. Through his magical powers, he used to visit the palace every night and abuse the princess, but he was not able to carry her away, since she was protected by seven mantras. The princess would feel his presence involuntarily, since her body used to shake and tremble, as if in high fever, when he was with her.

One night, he came to the chambers of the princess, but went and stood quietly in a corner. The princess was speaking with her maid…she said “I don’t know what to do! This vikāla (extremely ugly and loathful) comes to my room every night and abuses me. Is there no way to stop that rākshasa?”

The foolish rākshasa, who heard her say this, thought to himself “Oh, so there is someone else named Vikāla who visits this princess and has been trying to kidnap her. It seems that he too is unsuccessful. I have to find out more about him – how he looks, how powerful he is. I will turn myself into a horse and hide in the stables, and wait for him…”

And so the rākshasa turned himself into a horse, trotted into the royal stables, and waited.

At midnight, a thief sneaked into the palace. He specialised in horses, in fact, he had stolen horses from the stables of all the neighboring kings. Only this one remained. He quietly opened the stable doors, and walked slowly, carefully looking at the horses as he passed them by. He finally stopped…in front of the horse, that was actually the rākshasa.

“This must be Vikāla, the one who the princess was talking about”, thought the nervous rākshasa. “He must know that I am here, and trying to kidnap her as well, and so he must have come here to kill me. Oh, what do I do?”

He was just thinking this way, when the thief put the bit in his mouth, mounted him, and cracked the whip. The rākshasa didn’t know what else to do, and so he bolted, with the startled thief holding on to his reins.

After some distance, the thief tried to ‘rein-in’ the horse, to slow it down. The rākshasa thought this to be a cue to move faster, and so he increased his pace, galloping fast down the dark road. The thief got worried, and thought to himself “Normally, horses slow down, but this one seems to be galloping faster! This surely is a rākshasa in disguise. Let me look out for a spot to jump off quickly, else I will not survive this…”

The thief started praying to all the gods he knew, and also to those who he did not know. Luckily, he spotted an extended branch of a tree that they were about to pass under. He reached out, grabbed the branch and managed to hold on, as the ‘horse’ galloped away.

The thief breathed a sigh of relief…and so did the horse.

On the same tree sat a monkey, who was a friend of the rākshasa. He had seen the two racing towards the tree, and he called out to his friend as they passed under the branch. “Hey, why are you running away? Why are you looking so scared? That man who was riding you, is a mere mortal. Come back, and you can eat him!”

The ‘horse’ stopped dead in his tracks…and slowly morphed back into the frightful shape of the rākshasa. He turned around, apprehensive about what he had heard, but decided to carefully check for himself.

In the meanwhile, the thief, who had witnessed this scene, understood that it was the monkey that had called back the rākshasa. Angry, he grabbed the tail of the animal and bit down hard. The monkey felt a tinging pain, but thinking the thief to be much more stronger than the rākshasa, feared for his life and kept himself from screaming. He held it in, but his face became pale and he had a pained expression on his face.

The rākshasa saw his face – pale and in pain, and said…

यादृशी वदन-च्छाया दृश्यते तव वानर विकालेन गृहीतो ऽसि यः परैति स जीवति Hey monkey! From that pale face of yours, it is evident that you have been possessed by Vikāla. Only the one who runs away can save his life!

And saying this, the rākshasa ran away as fast as he could.

“And so, please let me go home”, concluded TruptaKumar. “You can stay here and enjoy the fruits of your deeds.”

VairāgyaKumar said “All good and bad happens to man because of destiny, and not by any other reason. It is said…”

दुर्गस् त्रिकूटः परिखा समुद्रो रक्षांसि योधा धनदाच् च वित्तम् ।
शास्त्रं च यस्योशनसा प्रणीतं स रावणो दैव-वशाद् विपन्नः ॥ ८५ ॥

durgas trikūṭaḥ parikhā samudro rakṣāṃsi yodhā dhanadāc ca vittam |
śāstraṃ ca yasyośanasā praṇītaṃ sa rāvaṇo daiva-vaśād vipannaḥ || 85 ||

An impregnable fort, the mighty ocean as it’s protector, mighty rākshasas as soldiers, all the wealth of Kubera, the best knowledge of the scriptures…he had all this, yet Rāvanā too died because of the adversity of fate.

And also…

अन्धकः कुब्जकश् चैव त्रिस्तनी राज-कन्यका ।
त्रयो ऽप्य् अन्यायतः सिद्धाः संमुखे कर्मणि स्थिते ॥ ८६ ॥

andhakaḥ kubjakaś caiva tristanī rāja-kanyakā |
trayo ‘py anyāyataḥ siddhāḥ saṃmukhe karmaṇi sthite || 86 ||

The blind man, the dwarf and the princess with three breasts, all did wrong things, Yet they all got their wishes fulfilled, just due to fate.

“How did that happen?”, said TruptaKumar.

VairāgyaKumar replied…

to be continued…