He Gave His Youth
As Rajan breathed in the fragrance of his garland of champaka flowers, he felt wonderful pleasure as he gazed at the nearby garden and courtyard. A small deer loitered about without care, while a pair of Coo-coo birds sweetly sang in a nearby ashoka tree. Brahmins chanted mantras, and a shenai player enhanced the atmosphere with ragas. The Himalayas jutted up into the sky, beautifying the northern skyline. They seemed very near.
The muni took his seat and played a tampura, he began to sing some devotional bhajans. He sang for some time with eyes closed and intense emotion, his head moving side to side. Drafts of sandalwood incense mingled about. He ended with the refrain of “Jai Rama, Sri Rama, Jai Jai Rama.”
The muni suddenly stopped singing and remained motionless, eyes closed, remaining still, as if in trance for a long time. The atmosphere turned quiet and grave. Everyone felt a pervading peace. A smile lit up his face as his eyes quickly opened, and he uttered “Jai Rama,” his eyes shining with intense spiritual emotions. He offered his welcome again to the guests.
“I know all about your adventures,” said the muni, “We have feathered spies everywhere. Also, the high priests of Jaipur sent messenger birds to inform me. I am glad that you made it this far. We did not anticipate the intrusion of demons so soon, but you will have no fear of demons in this circle of land. This ashram and forest area is protected by multi-dimensional mantra armor. It is impregnable by those in the gross modes of ignorance. So, how may I serve you?”
“Thank you kindly, your holiness, for your hospitality and assurance of the security of this ashram,” said Rajan. “Would you please tell us of this world, and describe the path most beneficial for those who are always feeling fear and lamentation.”
The muni replied, “This world is made of dualities, and the path to contentment is fraught with difficulties, and yet everyone is desirous of some happiness. I know that well myself, for I have tried for many life-times to get happiness. By the blessings of my Guru, I received the mystic vision to see my past lives. I was so many things; I was once a doctor, a millionaire, a king, a lawyer, poet, composer, and a philosopher.
I’ve had little spots of happiness in those lives and now I see that the happy times were short-lived in so many earthy lives, and the good years are always short. Although this knowledge is known to all men, still they pursue the illusion of temporary happiness.
I wish to tell a tale from the age-old texts which will shed light upon this. This story is a part of a long epic told by Lord Shiva to Parvati.” He then spoke the story which goes as follows:
Once a King, named Chandravaloka, hunted in a forest and he lost his way and came upon a large lake filled with blue lotus flowers. He spied a young girl upon the far bank beneath an Asoka tree. He approached the maiden to inquire of his way and beheld her comely shape and features so that he thought her to be born from the planets of the celestials. He found out that she was born of the Apsara Menaka from the hermit sage Kanva, who lived near by.
The King went to that sage who shown bright as the moon and sat surrounded by his star like followers. The King worshipped his feet, and in return, the sage requested that the King give up his cruel sport of hunting the poor deer.
The sage said, “Do not all the living creatures fear death, and so why do you slay them without reason? Have you not heard the story of Pandu? Who mistakenly shot a shaft into a sage who was disguised as a deer?”
The King agreed to this request, and the sage Kanva being pleased with him, granted him a boon. The King’s wish was to accept the sage’s daughter, Indivaraprabha’s hand in marriage. This boon was granted and the King set off with his new bride to return to his kingdom – and they were followed by the sage’s tear filled eyes.
Shortly, the sun being wearied with the toil of the day, seemed to set down to rest upon the mountain peak. The silvery moon rose up and ushered in the darkness of night and the host of twinkling stars, and they all seemed to whisper amorous songs of love that caused the fairy-like entities of the woods to dance and fly about the boughs and creepers. Just then, the King found an Asvattha tree on the bank of a lake whose waters were as pure as the mind of a transcendentalist. Beneath the tree was a secluded spot surrounded by dense boughs and leaves and carpeted with lush grass. They took rest upon a bed of flowers beneath the undulating moonbeams which sparkled about the bowers and creepers like jewel-lamps.
The next morning, the moon seemed to sink in fear of the angry rays of the sun which appeared like a curved sword eager to slay the lord of the night. Suddenly, a pitch black demon, a Brahman-rakshasa, appeared there like a thundercloud with yellow hair like lightening. He wore a garland of entrails and drank blood from a skull as he uttered a horrible cry through his projecting tusks.
He vomited fire and hurled a fiery rage at the King, saying, “Rascal, I am a Brahman-rakshasa by name of Jvalamukha, and this dwelling by the Asvattha tree is my abode, not to be trespassed upon by any of the Gods themselves. How presumptuous has thou come to enjoy it, and so ye shall reap the fruits of your offense. I will drink upon your blood here and now.”
The King heard the ghastly decree and his wife fainted away in fear, and he said humbly, “Pardon this sin, oh great one, for I am a mere mortal traversing through your land and am a guest seeking your protection.”
The demon relented and granted him pardon only on the condition that the King bring him a human sacrifice of a boy of seven years old and of such a noble character that he would volunteer himself for the King’s sake. Also, the boy’s father and mother must place him before the demon and hold his hands and feet while the King slays the boy with a sword, all on the seventh day. If this condition was not met, then the demon would lay waste upon the King’s court.
The King thus agreed to these conditions and went back home in great despondency, for he could see no possible way to find such a willing victim. Arriving at his court, he counseled with his ministers in a dejected state, but one of his wise ministers said to him-
“Do not be forlorn, for I will find such a boy, for verily within this world such wonders are to be found.”
That wise minister made a gold image of a seven year old boy and placed it on a chariot and carried it all about the kingdom in every town and village along with the following proclamation that whosoever would be a boy of seven and of noble mind to be made sacrifice and have a mother and father to hold his hands and feet will benefit his parents with this golden image along with a hundred villages.
And it so happened that such a Brahmin seven year old boy did appear, who was born from a previous life’s wish to only benefit his fellowman with any sacrifice that was asked of him. The boy approached the chariot and agreed to give himself and then ran off to tell his parents.
He submitted to his parents with folded hands the following plea, “For the good of the King and his people and to end your poverty I wish to offer up this temporal perishable body of mine by way of sacrifice to a flesh eating demon, if you agree.”
His parents could only respond with faces screwed up with horror as they said, “What kind of monsters do you take us for, as if any parent would agree to such an abomination! Is your brain fevered? Or has some evil planet stricken you?”
The boy answered with all sagacity, “I speak not out of illusion, but with intellect honed by the wisdom of the ancients versed in Vedanta. This body which is impermanent and full of disease and is destined to end at any time is only meant for the service and welfare of others. In this transient world of pain, the only permanent virtue is achieved by sacrificing one’s temporal body for the benefit of all beings, and what more devotion to my parents could I give then to end their poverty forever?”
So, gradually the boy convinced his weeping parents by many similar discourses and they finally agreed.
The King was delighted to find the boy with such noble character and he adorned the boy with costly jewels and garments and garlanded him with fragrant flowers and rubbed expensive oils and sandalwood paste on his body and placed him on a royal elephant and took him to the abode of the demon with his parents following.
Beneath the Asvattha tree, the King’s priest made oblations into a sacrificial fire and summoned the demon who appeared upon the scene with a loud laughter and ghastly appearance. His eyes blazed and his countenance cast darkness to all directions.
The King bowed before him and said, “I have kept my promise in delivering the boy upon the seventh day.” The demon licked his tusks as he gazed wickedly at the boy.
The boy then said, “The benediction rewarded to me for my deeds, I pray, is not salvation to the heavenly planets which benefits not others, I ask only to give up my body for others, birth after birth!”
At this behest, the celestials crowded the heavens in wonder at the boy and they rained flowers upon him.
The boy was placed before the Brahman-rakshasha and the mother and father held his hands and feet and the King raised his sword to strike and suddenly they were astounded so much by the loud laughter of the boy that all, including the demon, fell to their knees with folded palms and stared with wonder into the boy’s face.
“And this is the meaning of the child’s laughter,” said the muni, “please hear … when a weak person is in threat of his life, he calls upon his father and mother to save him, and if they are not present, then he appeals to the King, and at last, he propitiates his protective deity. But in the boy’s moment of danger, his parents held his feet and hands with greed of gain, and the King was ready to slay him to save himself, and the Brahman-rakshasha demon, who somehow was his protective deity, was ready to eat him!”
“The boy laughed hard and said to himself, “`See how great is the illusory potency of Maya, by her power such so-called parents and so-called Kings are so deluded for the sake of their temporal bodies that they will do anything, and they are filled with such strong desires to continue their existence in such a world where even Brahma, Indra and all demigods must perish themselves!'”
Thus the boy laughed out of joy and wonder at the insurmountable power of Maya.”
“And so,” said the muni, “it is difficult to capture that will-o-wisp called happiness. There is happiness experienced by those in the modes of goodness, but that happiness is always wedged in by other things that are full of unhappiness.
The poet or philosopher gets some intellectual bliss, but that is eclipsed by birth and death, and all the way through this mortal life is pain, enemies, and disappointments. But, they still like this short spot of brief happiness, because it is better than nothing at all.
It is only when they finally hear about the vast ocean of Amrita, the nectar of immortality, that they can finally see the brevity of earthly life for what it is. On the scale of eternal time, such happiness is but a brief moment, like flickering lightning in the night sky. Real happiness is like the blazing sun in the sky.”
“What would be that vast ocean of Amrita?” inquired Rajan.
The muni answered, “That vast ocean of Amrita is a gushing river of spiritual sound vibrations cascading down from the top of the universe, just like the celestial waters of the Ganges. This river of sound is innundating all the saintly sages and devotees in the form of Gita, Bhagavata and countless other transcendental sounds, Jai Rama, Sri Rama, Jai Jai Rama!”
Excerpt from “Gift of the Siddhas”
From James Robinson Cooper : What’s more rational ? To look inside a human cell, see libraries of digital information, biological machines and thousands of biological computers and conclude the cell has been designed Or to look inside a human cell see libraries of digital information, biological machines and thousands of biological computers and conclude it all happened by chance, put together by the blind forces of nature?