No one heeded to his words. The owls all lifted Sthirajeevin on their shoulders and started to carry him towards their fort. As they started to walk ahead, Sthirajeevin looked up meekly and said…
“My lord! I am worthless, and I am not capable of working in any capacity. Then why do you want to take me with you? There is no use of me living anymore. I want to enter the holy fire. If it isn’t too much trouble, can you please arrange to start a fire for me?”
“And why do you want to enter a fire and give up your life?” asked Raktāksha sarcastically.
“I have been brought to this state by MeghaVarna, all because I supported you. I want to take revenge, and so I want to be reborn as an owl”, replied Sthirajeevin.
Raktāksha laughed aloud. “You are crafty, and an expert in pretentiousness. Even if you are reborn as an owl, your tendency will still be that of a crow.” He paused to sit down. “I am reminded of a story. It is said…
सूर्यं भर्तारम् उत्सृज्य पर्जन्यं मारुतं गिरिम् ।
स्व-जातिं मूषिका प्राप्ता स्वजातिर् दुरतिक्रमा ॥ १९९ ॥
sūryaṃ bhartāram utsṛjya parjanyaṃ mārutaṃ girim |
sva-jātiṃ mūṣikā prāptā svajātir duratikramā || 199 ||
I have not translated the above – if you know Sanskrit, then you will know the end of the story below. If not, then you just have to wait:)
The owls asked him “How did that happen?
The story of the marriage of the rat
अस्ति विषम-शिलातल-स्खलिताम्बु-निर्घोष-श्रवण-संत्रस्त-मत्स्य-परिवर्तन-संजनित-शेवेत-फेन-शबल-तरगङ्गायास्तटे जप-नियम-तपः-स्वाध्यायोपवास-योग-क्रियानुष्टान-परायणैः परिपूत-परिमित-जल-जिघृक्षुभिः कन्द-मूल-फल-शैवालाभ्यवहार-कदर्थित-शरीरैर्वल्कल-कृत-कौपीनमात्राच्छादनैस्तपस्विभिराकीर्णमाश्रमपदं |
यत्र याज्ञवल्क्यो नाम कुलपतिरासीत् |
Oh the river Ganga! Where the water flows over huge rocks, crashing against them and making such a roar that fish get frightened and swim helter-skelter, causing beautiful lines over the white frothy waves…on the banks of this river Ganga lived many swamis and yogis, in hermitages and ashrams…they performed tapasya and lived a disciplined life, eating very little and wearing just a loin cloth…the sages immersed themselves in mantra-japa, study of the Vedas, fasting and yog. One such sage. who lived on the banks of the Ganga, was Kulapati Yājnavalkya. (Kulapati – one who teaches and feeds 10,000 students).
One day, while he was bathing in the river at dawn, a hawk flew over with a rat in its claws. Suddenly, the rat fell from the hawk’s grip right into the hands of Yājnavalkya.
When the Guru noticed that the hawk was flying above, he knew he could not leave the rat alone, lest the rat be caught again. He put the rat on a leaf of a nearby banyan tree, and took a second bath to purify himself.
He then used his powers to transform the female rat into a little girl, and took her to the ashram. As he entered his hut, he placed the child on a mat, and called out to his wife, “My dear, please accept her as our blessing, as we do not have a child of our own.”
His wife happily accepted and so the child was brought up in the ashram, under the care and supervision of the Guru himself. She learnt many sciences, and ways of life.
One day, Yājnavalkya’s wife brought into his notice that their girl had reached marriageable age. They decided to give it a serious thought, as she was a special child and deserved a special husband. It is said…
ययोर् एव समं वित्तं ययोर् एव समं कुलम् ।
तयोर् मैत्री विवाहश् च न तु पुष्ट-विपुष्टयोः ॥ २९ ॥
yayor eva samaṃ vittaṃ yayor eva samaṃ kulam |
tayor maitrī vivāhaś ca na tu puṣṭa-vipuṣṭayoḥ ||
Friendship or marriage can take place only between those equal in wealth and status, not between the strong and the weak.
कुलञ्च शीलञ्च सनाथता च विद्या च वित्तञ्च वपुर्वयश्च ।
एतान् गुणान् सप्त विचिन्त्य देया कन्या बुधैः शेषमचिन्तनीयं ॥
kulascha sheelanca sanathata ca vidya ca vitanca vapurvayasca |
etaan gunān sapta vichintya daya kanya buddhaihi shoshamachintaneeyam ||
The wise should only consider seven factors when offering the girl in marriage – family status, character, family support, education, wealth, physical looks and age.
So who will get to marry the child of Yājnavalkya? Will it be someone special? Or…well let’s find out tomorrow!
to be continued…