Tuesday, November 7, 2017

39. Kalmashapada is freed from his curse.

Vasishta returned to his hermitage but, unable to bear the emptiness of the place which was earlier inhabited by his sons, he began to wander again.

He came across a river swollen with water and decided to make another attempt  to kill himself. He tied himself with several cords and plunged into the river. But the force of the stream broke the cords and cast him on the shore.

Since the river broke the cord, Vasishta named the river Vipasa (pasa – cord or rope, vipasa -the cord-breaker). He continued to wander.

He came across another river named Haimavati which was full of crocodiles and other monsters. Vasishta flung himself into the river hoping to be eaten by the crocodiles and other monsters. But the river mistook him for an unquenchable mass of fire  and flew in hundred different directions. The river came to be called Satadru (the river of hundred courses).

Vasishta found himself on a dry land, with the river having flown away in different directions. He exclaimed “Oh! I can’t kill myself.” He then returned to his hermitage.

As he was entering the hermitage, he heard a very intelligent recitation of the Vedas. He turned back and found that his daughter in law Adrisyanti, wife of Saktri, was coming behind him. He asked her who was reciting the Vedas with the six angas, in the voice of his deceased son Saktri.

Adrisyanti replied “The voice is coming from my womb. I have been carrying the child of Saktri for the past 12 years.”

Vasishta was very happy that his race would continue. He gave up all thoughts of ending his life and resided in his hermitage with Adrisyanti.

One day, as Vasishta was walking in the woods along with Adrisyanti, they were met by King Kalmashapada. Being under the possession of the Rakshasa Kinkara, the king came towards Vasishta desiring to devour him. Seeing this, Adrisyanti said, “He is coming towards us with a club in his hand. Please protect me.”

Vasishta replied, “Don’t fear. He is not a Rakshasa. He is King Kalmashapada.”
Vasishta sprinkled water sanctified by incantations on the king and freed him from the curse.

The king who had been seized by the curse of Saktri for twelve years like Surya seized by Rahu,during an eclipse, got freed from the curse.

Liberated from the grip of the Rakshasa, the king illuminated the forest with his splendor like the sun illuminating the evening clouds. He paid obeisance to Vasishta and said “Oh! Great Sage! I am the son of Sudasa and your disciple. Please tell me what I should do to please you.”

Vasishta replied, “My desire has already been fulfilled. Please return to your kingdom and take care of your subjects. Never insult the Brahmins.”

The king replied, “Hereafter, I will never insult Brahmins but will show them the respect due to them. Please grant me a boon for begetting a son who will possess beauty, perform accomplishments and perpetuate the Ikshvaku race.”

Vasishta granted him the boon. He then accompanied King Kalmashapada to his capital Ayodhya. The citizens came out of their houses with overwhelming joy, to receive the sage.

The king, along with the sage, reentered his capital after a long time. His splendor filled the city like the moon filling the whole firmament with its splendor during the autumn.

The streets of the city were swept clean, sprinkled with water and decorated with banners and pendants when the news of the king returning to the capital reached the city sometime before his arrival. The city looked like Amaravathi, the capital of the Celestials.

After the King and the Sage had entered the palace, the Queen approached the Sage at the king’s command.

The sage entered into a covenant (a solemn agreement) with the queen and united with her as permitted by the rules and custom then prevailing. The queen soon became conceived, after which the sage left the palace.

The queen bore the embryo in her womb for a long time. In the twelfth year, she tore her womb open with a piece of stone. At that time, the child was born and named Asmaka, He grew to become a royal sage and founded the city of Paudanya.

Listening to this story narrated by the Gandharva, Arjuna asked him “Why did Kalmashapada command his queen to unite with Sage Vasishta for begetting a son? Why did Sage Vasishta who was well versed in all rules of morality unite with the queen? Was this not a sin on his part?”

The Gandharva replied “Arjuna! There is a reason for this. After Kalmashapada was cursed by Saktri, he went to the forest with his queen Madayanati. He became very hungry and began to search for some food.

“He saw a Brahmin and his wife enjoying themselves. Seeing the king, the couple ran away before their union was consummated. The king pursued the Brahmin and caught him.

The Brahmin’s wife told the king, “O king! You are born in the Surya Vamsa (Sun Dynasty). You are devoted to the observance of morality. My season has come and I am uniting with my husband. My desire has not been gratified yet. So, please release my husband.”

However, the king, ignoring the pleas of the woman, devoured the Brahmin. 

Gripped by grief and anger, the woman cursed the king “You killed my husband before we could consummate our union. When you unite with your wife, you will meet with instant death. Your wife will bring forth a son by uniting with Sage Vasishta whose sons were devoured by you. And that child will be the perpetrator of your race.”

After pronouncing this curse on the king, that woman threw herself into fire right before the eyes of the king.

Vasishta, through his ascetic powers, was aware of this curse. King Kalmashapada, however, forgot about the curse and approached his wife Madayanati after he was freed from the Rakshasa dwelling in him by Vasishta. Madayanati gently reminded him of the curse. The king became alarmed and approached Vasishta.

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