Saturday, October 12, 2013

8. Ruru

Chyavana had a son by name Pramati and Pramati had a son by name Ruru.

There was a saint by name Sthulakesha. Once, a newborn female baby was left outside his hermitage by Menaka, the celestial dancer. This child was the result of Menaka's secret intimacy with the Gandharva King Vishwavashu. Menaka was forced to abandon the child due to a sense of shame.

Sage Sthulakesha brought her up. He gave her the name Pramadvara.

Ruru happened to see Pradamvara and fell in love with her. He conveyed his desire to his father Pramati who took up the matter with Sage Sthulakesha. The marriage was agreed upon and a date was also fixed. However, before the marriage could take place, Pradamvara inadvertently stepped on a serpent which bit her. Pradamvara succumbed to the serpent's bite.

When Ruru was lamenting his fiancee's death, he heard a message from the heavens that said he could restore Pradamvara to life by offering a part of his life span to her. Ruru instantly agreed to this. The celestial messenger and the Gandharva King who was Pradamvara's father appealed to Yama, the God of death to give a new lease of life to Pradamvara by taking away a part of the lifespan of Ruru.

Pradamvara was thus brought back to life and the marriage was performed on the date fixed earlier. Unable to stomach the fact that Pradamvara was bitten by a serpent, Ruru developed a deep sense of antagonism and anger towards the serpent race. Whenever he saw a serpent, he would kill it using a weapon.

Once when he was about to kill a snake belonging to the Dundubha species, the snake asked him why he had to be killed when he had not committed any offense towards Ruru. Ruru then explained that since a serpent had bitten his wife, he was determined to kill all snakes. The snake said that all snakes were not alike and that the snakes belonging to the Dundubha race were harmless.

Observing that the snake was gripped by fear, Ruru asked the snake, "You don't appear to be a snake. Who are you?"

The serpent replied, "Formerly, I was a Rishi (sage) by name Sahasrapat. I was transformed into a serpent due to the curse of a brahmin."

Prompted by Ruru, the sage-turned-serpent narrated his story. "I had a friend by name Khagama. He had developed spiritual powers by practice of severe austerity. But he was impetuous by nature. One day, when he was doing Agnihotra (fire sacrifice), I made a snake using grass blades and threw it on him just to frighten him  He swooned, out of shock and fear. Once he regained consciousness, he cursed me to become a snake. I told him that I had only played a joke on him just for fun and pleaded with him to pardon me and revoke his curse. He said 'A curse once given can't be revoked. I can only mitigate its effect. You will e freed from this curse when Ruru, the son of Pramati appears before you.'  And his words have come true with your appearance before me a
nd I am now relieved of the curse"

Instantly, the serpent was transformed back to his original form of a sage. He thanked Ruru, blessed him and said "A brahmin should be well versed in the Vedas. He has a sacred duty of inspiring all creatures with faith in God. He should be kind, benevolent, truthful and forgiving. He should not take away the life of any creature. Nor should he be harsh towards anyone. These are the injunctions of the Vedas. A kshatriya (one belonging to the warrior sect) should, on the other hand,  be stern and should weild the sword."

He then narrated the story of the destruction of the snakes in the Sarpa Yaga (a ritual for destroying the snakes) performed by King Janamejaya, a descendant of the Pandavas to avenge the killing of his father Parikshit by a serpent and how the serpent race was saved from decimation by Sage Astika.

Next Post:  Jaratkaru Weds Jaratkaru!

Previous Post: The Curse on Agni

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