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Tag: Sage Narada

The Story Of Tilottama

This is the story of Tilottama, who was an Apsara or celestial maiden created by Lord Brahma for a special purpose. This story is told by Sage Narada in the Mahabharata to the Pandavas.

Long long ago in the Asura clan was an Asura by name Nikhumba. Nikhumba had two sons, Sundan and Upasundan. Both looked alike and were more like twins. They shared the same interests, were equally handsome, valiant and strong. They loved each other very much and jointly decided all their activities. The younger one looked upon his brother as God and listened to whatever he said and Sundan in turn took good care of his younger brother.  Their strength was known in all the three worlds. Though they were very strong and did not have any enemies, they both had the wish to be immortal.

They had a discussion amongst themselves as to how to get this boon and from whom. After a long discussion, they decided that Lord Brahma was the easiest to please amongst the Gods and therefore, it would benefit if they did penance to attain his grace. The brothers were equally determined and strong minded and were ready to do penance for many years at a stretch. So giving the charge of the kingdom to one of the ministers, they both went to a deep jungle and started doing penance. For years they meditated without food or drink and with single minded concentration.

Seeing this, the King of Gods, Indra was jittery. He knew that his position would weaken if the brothers succeeded. So, he sent his courtesans to go and distract the brothers from succeeding. The brothers, though wary of this, did not get a wee bit distracted and continued their meditation.

Lord Brahma was pleased after a few hundred years and appeared before the brothers.

“I am pleased by your devotion” said he. “What boon do you seek?”

The brothers were equally pleased at the Lord appearing before them and said in one voice, “Lord! We wish to be immortal!”

“Immortality cannot be granted to anyone” said Brahma.” Seek something else.”

“Then, in that case” said Sundan, “please grant the boon that we should not be killed by any god or human. Death can come to us only at the hands of one another” Upasundan also nodded in agreement. Both of them were very sure that there could not be any instance where one of them would kill the other. They could not even imagine that such a thing could happen.

“Granted!” said Lord Brahma. “You will not be killed by anyone else excepting by one another”.

The asura brothers were very happy and went back with the satisfaction that they were indeed immortal!  A fight amongst themselves was not even a remote possibility according to them. They went back to their kingdom and lived happily for some years. Then life was boring with no activity. They started harassing the neighbouring kingdoms and other countries. Of course, they won the wars, killed the other kings, amassed their wealth and carried away their women. After all, no one could kill them!

The harassment continued and became their favourite pastime. The next target was Indra who had tried to distract them from pursuing their penance. They were preparing for the mega battle, when the Devas got the news and rushed to Lord Brahma.

“Lord Brahma!” they cried, “Your boon has empowered the Asura brothers to create chaos in the world and now they are going to attack us and we will not be able to kill them even if we want, due to the boon. Please help, please….”

Lord Brahma thought for a while. Yes, he had also been hearing of the unprovoked attacks and unjustified killings going on for which Sundan and Upasundan were solely responsible. But they were protected by the boon given by him and he had to provide a solution.

“Please rest assured. I will see that something is done!” said Brahma.

The gods left.

Immediately, Lord Brahma created the most beautiful woman the worlds had ever seen. He had the most beautiful things from all the worlds collected by the divine architect Vishwakarma and he incorporated the beauty of everything in each cell of the woman created by him. He named her Tilottama. “Tila” in Sanskrit is sesame seed and “Uttama” in Sanskrit means the finest or of highest quality and therefore Tilottama meant each little part of the highest quality.

True to her name, Tilottama was enchanting and extremely beautiful. Brahma looked at his marvellous creation with pride and said, “Tilottama, I have created you for a special purpose. You are going to be the main reason for the destruction of Sundan and Upasundan”. He then went on to tell her the story of the boons and the arrogant behaviour of the brothers after the boons.

“Go to their kingdom” said he. “Go and do the job you have been created for. May you win!”

Tilottama bowed to Lord Brahma and descended in the kingdom of Sundan and Upasundan. The brothers were making merry in their beautiful garden throwing a party and there was lot of music and dancing going on.

Suddenly, Sundan noticed this beautiful woman behind a tree. “Who is she?” he asked. Upasundan also asked “Who is she? I have not seen her also before!”

Tilottama came near them and said in a very sweet voice “I am Tilottama. I am on a tour to see the cities of the world and I was fascinated by the beauty of your kingdom”

“You are most welcome … “ said Sundan. “ Please stay with us and we shall give you all the comforts you need. What can I get for you? Jewels, silks, servants? Command and I shall get them for you!” he offered.

“ Wait, do not be in a hurry” said Tilottama. “Give me some time to think. I am touring the world and cannot stay in one place.”

“ Why should you tour the world when you can be my wife, O’ beautiful damsel?” said Sundan. “Marry me and I shall take you around, not only this world, but all the three worlds. Come on”

Immediately Upasundan piped in “Why do you propose brother?” he said sounding cross. “Let Tilottama decide whom to marry. Is it not Tilottama?” he asked her.

“I am hungry. Let us think of marriage later. Can I have something to eat?” Tilottama asked.

Immediately the choicest food was ordered by the brothers and Tilottama had a good meal. “I also want to dance and sing and make merry with the other ladies” she said and without waiting for their approval, she joined the other ladies who were dancing.

For the first time in his life Upasundan was annoyed at his brother. “Who is this fellow to offer to marry this beautiful woman? I am equally handsome and more than a perfect match to her beauty” thought he.

While the party was going on, both the brothers vied with each other to catch her attention. When Tilottama got an opportunity, she came to Sundan who immediately offered to marry her.

“I like you very much but your brother told me that he loves me better!” said Tilottama shyly.

“Is that so? “ asked a visibly angered Sundan. “He is blabbering nonsense. I am the elder one and I have the first right.  Just a nod from you and I shall arrange for our wedding today itself”

“Well, give me some time to decide” said Tilottama with a confused look and thereafter went to meet Upasundan.

“Come Tilottama, I have been waiting for you. I want to make you my wife. When can we marry?”, he asked expectantly.

Tilottama continuing to feign a confused look said, “Well, I also like you, but… I do not know what to do. Your elder brother told me that loves me better. He also told me that he would eliminate any one who competes with him”

Upasundan was furious. How dare Sundan talk like that? “I shall talk to him Tilottama” he said. “He cannot talk in this manner.”

“Okay, we will see” said Tilottama and moved away from the scene.

After a while the party was over and they all walked back to the palace and as soon as they reached, Sundan declared to Upasundan, “Brother, I have decided to marry Tilottama as I am the elder one”

“Do not talk nonsense!” said Upasundan. “I have already asked her hand and she told me she loved me better and we are going to marry”

“What audacity!” thundered Sundan. “Have you become so great to disobey me ? Remember I am your elder brother  and you have to obey me.”

“Not in this matter” shouted Upasundan. “She will be mine and mine alone. I will not let anyone come in between”. Saying so he went to take the hand of Tilottama, when Sundan sprang in between his brother and Tilottama and landed a blow on his brother’s shoulder.

“How dare you?” shouted Upasundan and raised his arm when Tilottama spoke.

“Please do not fight for my sake dear princes. If you both are going to fight, I shall go to Indra who is very fond of me. I cannot marry two of you. Please decide and tell me who is going to marry me.”

“Me” said both the brothers and in a split second were engaged in raining blows on each other. They fought savagely with all the weapons they could lay their hands on the onlookers in the palace were shocked as they had never seen the brothers even having a simple argument in all these years.

Soon they were rolling on the ground, punching each other and when they got up, they simultaneously pulled out their swords and exactly at the same moment cut off the other’s head.

Both the heads rolled down in two directions and the world was rid of Sundan and Upasundan.

Tilottama smiled to herself for her success and went back to Lord Brahma who congratulated her on her success and assigned her a place in the court of lord Indra.

From The Bhagavatham – The Story Of Dhruva

Today is the second anniversary of my blog and I thank you all readers for encouraging me so much. Incidentally, this is my seventy fifth post in this blog. Please keep reading the stories and enjoy!!

This is yet another story from Srimad Bhagavatham from which earlier I have retold the stories of The Syamantaka Gem and The Rescue Of Gajendra.

This is the story of Dhruva, who, as a young boy exhibited tremendous determination in his goal and achieved what he wanted.

Long long ago, there lived King Uttanapada, with his two wives Suniti and Suruchi. Suruchi, being the younger wife was the favourite of the King. She was also very beautiful and arrogant. Suniti had a child Dhruva and Suruchi’s son who was slightly younger than Dhruva was named Uttama.

One day, when Uttanapada was seated on his throne, Uttama, the son of Suruchi climbed up his lap to play with his father. The King also fondled Uttama and was speaking loving words to him. Suruchi was standing nearby.

Dhruva, who was also playing nearby, also had a wish to climb on to his father’s lap. All of five years then, he rushed to his father and tried to get up on his lap. Suruchi who was nearby got furious and pushed Dhruva down saying “You are not fit to sit on your father’s lap and as king on this throne as you have not been born of me. Go, go to the jungle and pray to Sri Hari to make you my son in your next birth and then, you can sit on your father’s lap”

The King did not rebuke Suruchi or console Dhruva. He remained a mute spectator as his love for Suruchi prevented him from saying anything harsh to her. Dhruva was very much hurt more at the act of his father than his stepmother and with his eyes full of tears, ran to his mother’s room. Suniti was aghast at seeing the sobbing child and when she came to know what had happened, all she could do was to hug the child and shed tears.

Seeing his mother in tears, Dhruva stopped crying and asked his mother, “Mother, who is Sri Hari?”

Dhruva’s mother, little aware of the child’s thoughts said, “Dhruva, Sri Hari is Maha Vishnu and the ultimate Lord. He is one who can give you everything you ask! Why do you ask?”

Dhruva came out of her embrace with a decisive look on his little face and said in the most determined tone she had ever heard, “Mother, then I shall go to the jungle and meditate on Sri Hari. I shall pray to him for us to live happily with father!”

Saying thus, he did not look back and started walking out; Suniti was at a loss as to what to do. The child walked and walked and was nearing the jungle, when Sage Narada chanced to see him.

Curious as he was to see Dhruva, with swollen eyes, walking furiously towards the jungle. The sage knew Dhruva as he was a regular visitor in King Uttanapada’s court. He stopped Dhruva and asked what happened. Dhruva told him what happened and the purpose for which he was heading to the jungle.

Sage Narada was surprised at the grit of the child and tried to dissuade him from going to the jungle. “There are many wild animals, child!” said he. “They will eat you up fast. Please go back now and come back to do penance after you attain a certain age. Go back”.

Dhruva listened to the sage but his face showed that his mind was made up already. “Nothing will happen to me O Sage”, he said. “Please bless me so that I can go ahead with my tapas. I want to see Sri Hari.”

Narada was astonished at the determination of Dhruva and decided he would help Dhruva. “Child Dhruva!” he addressed him tenderly. “Come here and I shall teach you how to meditate on my beloved Lord Sri Hari!”  He described the beautiful form of Sri Hari and then taught the child the nuances of meditation and initiated him to chant the Lord’s name “Om Namo Bhagavathe Vasudevaya”.  Dhruva grasped the knowledge which was given to him and set out to meditate. Narada also told him to go to the place called Madhu Vana near the river Yamuna and start his penance there.

The first month, Dhruva sustained on some fruits he found in the jungle. The next month, it was leaves and thereafter a handful of grass and in six months time, he had controlled his hunger and thirst and gained the control of his breath and was standing on one leg, with eyes closed in meditating upon the glorious form of Sri Hari as Sage Narada had described to him. He was oblivious of the surroundings. His penance was causing lot of vibrations and the king of the Devas, Indra was perturbed thinking that Dhruva was doing penance to become the king of Devas. He wanted to distract and if possible destroy the child but the seven celestial rishis formed a circle around him to protect him.

When the tapas (penance) became more severe, it started to affect the atmosphere. Changes in the climate were visible and the heat became unbearable. The Devas then rushed to Sri Hari to request Him to save them. The Lord smiled and said that he would grant their wish and shortly appeared before Dhruva. Dhruva had his eyes closed and was meditating upon the form described by Sage Narada and the Lord had to call again to make the child aware that He was present in front of him.

Dhruva opened his eyes and to his joy found Sri Hari looking at him with great affection. “What do you want my child” the Lord asked in a loving voice.

Dhruva realised that he had forgotten everything he wanted to ask the Lord. The sight of Sri Hari was so blissful that he wanted only to remain with the Lord forever.

“I want to remain with you forever, my Lord” he said. His voice was full of peace and longing to be with the Lord.

Sri Hari said, “Dhruva, I know the purpose for which you came here to meditate. Now, you go back to your palace with no fear. Your father will welcome you and you will live a wonderful life and rule the kingdom for numerous years. After your tenure is over in this earth, you shall come to me and I shall give you a place where nobody can reach you. Go Child, go back!”

Dhruva prostrated to the Lord and got up and Sri Hari vanished.

Meanwhile as soon as Dhruva had left the kingdom, Uttanapada felt remorse for his action and the bad treatment which had been meted to Dhruva, who was a mere kid. He decided to bring him back and set out on the mission when Sage Narada came and pacified Uttanapada.

“He will come back after achieving his goal” said Narada. “He is an extraordinary child! You wait patiently at the palace.” Uttanapada returned to the palace reluctantly and was eagerly awaiting Dhruva’s return.

Now, that Dhruva was coming back, Sage Narada came to the king and announced that his child had surpassed great sages in his meditation and attained the impossible – the darshan of Sri Hari within such a short span of time. The king was elated and so were the queens Suniti and Suruchi. Suruchi had also realised her fault and was repentant. Uttanapada sent elephants, horses and chariots to escort little Dhruva home and it was the most joyful reunion!

Dhruva succeeded his father to the throne and ruled the country for many years. At the time of his leaving this material world, Sri Hari sent two Vishnu Dhootas (messengers of Lord Vishnu) and made him the Pole Star, who would shine till the Universe existed. His mother was also given a place near him.

Even today, we can see the Pole star, Dhruva shining happily as if immersed in the bliss of Sri Hari!!

 

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