ANAMIKA

'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

'Tale-less' Tales - 2



Some more 'tale-less' stories from Mali's Malayalam classic 'Puranakathamalika'...

Boon

Dhruva was a noble and brave king and an ardent devotee of Vishnu. He had a half-brother named Uttama.

One day, prince Uttama, out hunting, had an encounter with a Yaksha and was killed. Suruchi, his mother (and Dhruva’s step-mother) died of grief.

Dhruva swore revenge and marched his troops into the realm of the Yakshas. A grim battle ensued. The Yakshas lost heavily, unable to match Dhruva’s valour.

And then Manu, the primordial father of Mankind, appeared before Dhruva and said: “Your brother was murdered. But why would you want to take revenge on the murderer's race? And Kubera, the king of Yakshas is a loyal devotee of Siva; Siva’s anger is impossible to face. So, stop the fighting and seek Kubera’s grace!”

Dhruva immediately ordered a cessation of hostilities. Kubera appeared before him and said: “O Dhruva, you are truly great. And your greatest quality is your devotion to Vishnu. I shall be honored to grant you any boon!”

Dhruva had no doubt as to what he wanted. “Grant me undying faith in Vishnu!” he said.

“So be it!” said Kubera.

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The Final Solution

In the beginning, Brahma, the creator, created all life forms.

They multiplied exponentially and the world soon was overloaded. Mother Earth began to sink. The problem was serious and no solution was in sight. Brahma thought and thought and frustration became anger and anger became a raging inferno that threatened to burn the universe to ashes. Siva intervened and asked Brahma to calm down. With great difficulty Brahma managed to control his fury and from his concentrated anger, there emerged a maiden. She was all red, yellow and black. Her name was Mrityu.

“Go forth, Mrityu and become the Death of each individual living being when its Time has run out. Let the burden on the earth ease!” said Brahma.

But Mrityu was having none of it. “No Father, I can’t be so cruel as to snatch from living beings what is most beloved to them, their life breath!” She declared and left in a huff.

She performed severe austerities until Brahma again appeared before her.

Mrityu said: “I seek only one boon. Please take away from me this horrible task of killing!”

It was Brahma’s turn to say No. And he added: “We gods shall arrange that no sin will attach to you for taking lives. But, you must obey us - indeed, without Death, there can be no Life!”

Mrityu knew she had no choice but to acquiesce. But her compassion for her would be victims flowed out as tears - a few drops fell on Brahma’s palm as he tried to console her.

“My child, your tears won't be in vain." said Brahma."They shall become diseases and aid you in your mission! Go ahead with my blessings!”

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'Saala'

Siva once got angry at one of Indra's transgressions (actually, Siva, in disguise, had tricked Indra into misbehaving). The anger burst forth as fire from his third eye. Indra, fear-struck, begged for mercy and Siva pardoned him. The lord also gathered his anger into a flaming ball and flung it into the ocean.

The ball of fire assumed the form of a little boy. The Ocean gathered him in his lap, named him Andhaka and brought him up with love and affection. Andhaka grew up to be an immensely powerful Asura and a sworn enemy of the Gods.

Unable to face his might, Indra turned to Vishnu for assistance. Andhaka fought Vishnu to a standstill and then said: "Vishnu, it was improper for you to have picked up this fight with me. Indeed, your consort Laxmi first emerged from the Ocean and the same Ocean has brought me up. I am thus, her younger brother and your 'saala'.

Vishnu stopped all fighting and he and Laxmi went to Andhaka's palace as honored guests. Brothers in law parted as brothers. And sure enough, Andhaka resumed his assault on the hapless Indra...

As to how it all ended,... through the machinations of Narada, Andhaka developed a fancy for Parvati and ordered Siva to hand over his wife... and in the ensuing battle, Siva managed to kill him and save the Indra's backside.

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Cannibal

Mitrasaha was a virtuous and just king. He was also very brave.

Once, he fought and killed an evil Rakshasa. The dead Rakshasa had an even nastier brother who wanted to get even with the king. He assumed a human form and approached Mitrasaha claiming to be a great cook. The king was impressed with his skills and made him the royal chef.

A few months later, Vasishtha, the king's guru came visiting. The king ordered a grand feast. The evil chef managed to smuggle in a curry made of human flesh and served it to the sage.

Super-smart Vasishtha figured out he had been served human flesh. His anger rose and came out as a curse: "May this evil king who had human flesh served to me become a man-eating Rakshasa!"

Mitrasaha was shocked beyond words. He invoked his own considerable spiritual virtues and was about to strike Vasishtha with a retaliatory curse when his noble queen intervened. "Please, my Lord! Don't curse our guru, whatever the provocation!" The king generously retracted his curse.

But Vasishtha, of course, didn't. And Mitrasaha became a demon who stalked a jungle highway and preyed upon defenceless wayfarers.

Once Mitrasaha caught a young and newly married Rishi. The victim's bride pleaded with him: "Lord, we know you to be none other than our noble king Mitrasaha. Do remember, protecting the weak is your dharma. Please spare my husband!" But the rakshasa would have none of that. He ate up the rishi. His distraught wife cremated her husband's remains and committed Sati.

The brutal murder of the rishi brought upon Mitrasaha's head the horrendous burden of the sin of 'Brahmahatya'.

....

Finally, Vasishtha's spiritual prowess released Mitrasaha from his sins and made him king all over again!

Note: What is recorded above of Mitrasaha's story follows what Mali retold. And compared to the full story, narrated in multiple versions in our epics, Mali's version is but kid-stuff! See the Wiki entry on 'Kalmashapada' (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalmashapada) and one sees that Vasishtha deployed rather more than merely spiritual prowess to save the king.

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