3 | Śrī Rāma Carita Mānasa Stotra

Having realized the greatness of the Hero of Raghu’s race, Satī in Her awe concealed the truth from Śiva. “I made no test my Lord; I made obeisance just like You. What You said cannot be untrue; I am fully convinced in my heart.” Lord Śaṅkara then looked within by contemplation and came to know all that Satī had done. Again, He bowed His head to the delusive power of Śrī Rāma, that had prompted Satī to tell a lie. What has been preordained by the will of Śrī Hari must have its way, the all-wise Śambhu thought within Himself. Satī had assumed the disguise of Sītā: this made Śiva much disconsolate at heart. “If I continue to love Satī as heretofore, the cult of Devotion will disappear and it will be indecorous to do so.” (1 - 4)

“Satī is too chaste to be abandoned, and it is a great sin to love her any more as a wife.” The great Lord Śiva uttered not a word aloud, although there was great agony in His heart. (56)

Then Śaṅkara bowed His head at the feet of the Lord; and as soon as He invoked Śrī Rāma the idea came to His mind that He should have no connection with Satī so long as she continued to remain in that body. Śiva resolved accordingly and having so resolved the stable-minded Lord Śaṅkara proceeded towards His home (Mount Kailāśa) with His mind fixed on the Hero of Raghu’s race. Even as He stepped forward a charming voice from heaven thundered forth. “Glory to the great Lord Śiva, who has so staunchly upheld the cause of Devotion. Who else than You can take such a vow? You are a devotee of Śrī Rāma and the all-powerful Lord at the same time.” Satī felt troubled at heart when She heard the heavenly voice. She addressed Śiva in a faltering voice, “Tell me, O merciful Lord! what vow You have taken. You are an embodiment of Truth and compassionate to the poor.” Even though Satī inquired in ways more than one, the Slayer of the demon Tripura, Śaṅkara spoke not a word. (1 - 4)

Satī concluded that the omniscient Lord had come to know everything and felt sorry that She had tried to deceive Śambhu. The woman is silly and stupid by nature, She realized. (57A)

Even water (when mixed with milk) sells as milk; look at the unifying process of love. The water, however, is separated from the milk and the taste also disappears the moment a drop of acid is introduced into it in the form of a dees. (57B)

Satī felt perturbed in Her heart at the thought of what She had done; and the extent of Her anxiety could neither be gauged nor described. She realized that Lord Śiva is a supremely unfathomable ocean of mercy, hence He did not openly declare Her fault. From the attitude of Śaṅkara, however, She judged that the Lord had abandoned Her, and felt disturbed in Her heart. Conscious of Her guilt She could not utter a word of protest; but all the while Her heart smouldered like a furnace. Perceiving the sad look of Satī, Śiva (who has a bull emblazoned on His standard) narrated beautiful stories in order to divert Her mind. Relating various legends while on His way, the Lord of the universe, Śiva, reached Kailāśa. Then, recalling His vow, Śambhu sat down there under a banyan tree in the Yogic pose known as Padmāsana (the pose of a lotus). Śaṅkara communed with His own Self and passed into an unbroken and indefinitely long Samādhi (trance). (1 - 4)

Then Satī dwelt in Kailāśa, Her mind grievously sorrowing. Nobody knew anything about what was going on in Her mind; but the days hung heavy on Her like so many Yugas or ages. (58)

The grief that preyed on Satī’s mind was ever new; for She did not know when She would be able to cross the ocean of sorrow. “I slighted the Lord of Raghus and again took my husband’s words to be untrue; Providence has repaid me for my sins and has done only that which I deserved. Now, O God, it does not behove you that you should make me survive even after alienating me from Śaṅkara.” The anguish of Her heart was beyond words. The sane lady invoked the presence of Rāma in Her heart and addressed Him thus; “If they refer to You as compassionate to the poor and if the Vedas have glorified You as the dispeller of sorrow, I beseech with joined palms. O Lord, that I may be speedily rid of this body of mine. If I have any devotion to the feet of Śiva and if I am true to my vow in thought, word and deed - (1 - 4)

“Then, O all-perceiving Lord, listen to me and speedily devise some plan whereby I may die and be thus rid of this unbearable calamity without much exertion.” (59)

The daughter of Dakṣa, Satī, thus felt very miserable. Her deep agony was terrible beyond words. When eighty-seven thousand years elapsed, the immortal Śambhu emerged from His trance. Śiva started repeating the name of Rāma; then Satī came to know that the Lord of the universe had come to the waking state. She went and bowed at the feet of Śambhu, Śaṅkara gave Her a seat opposite Himself. He began to narrate the delightful stories of Śrī Hari. Meanwhile Dakṣa (Satī’s father) had come to be the lord of created beings. On careful consideration the Creator (Brahmā) found Dakṣa qualified in every way and appointed him as the supreme lord of created beings. When Dakṣa attained this high position, the pride of his heart knew no bounds. Never was a creature born in this world, whom power did not intoxicate. (1 - 4)

Dakṣa got together all the sages and he began to perform a big sacrifice. All the gods who obtain a share of the oblations offered at a sacrifice were cordially invited to attend. (60)

Kinnaras (a species of demigods), Nāgas, Siddhas (a class of celestial beings) and Gandharvas (celestial songsters) and the whole host of gods proceeded to the sacrifice along with their wives. All the gods with the exception of Viṣṇu, Virañci (the Creator) and the great Lord Śiva, set out in their aerial cars. Satī beheld beautiful aerial cars of various patterns coursing through the air. Celestial damsels were singing melodious strains, which intruded upon the ears of ascetics and broke their meditation. When Satī inquired about the stir in the air, Śiva explained the whole thing. She was somewhat delighted to hear of the sacrifice, commenced by Her father and thought of making it an excuse for staying a few days with Her father in case the great Lord Śiva granted Her leave. Repudiation by Her lord tormented Her heart not a little; but conscious of Her guilt She would not utter a word. At last Satī spoke in a charming voice tinged with awe, misgiving and affection - (1 - 4)

“There is great rejoicing at my father’s house, O Lord. If You grant me leave, I would fain go and see it, O storehouse of compassion.” (61)

Lord Śiva replied, “Your suggestion is good and has commended itself to Me as well. But the anomaly is that Your father has sent no invitation to us. Dakṣa has invited all his other daughters; but because of the grudge he bears to us you too have been ignored. In the court of Brahmā he once took offence at my behaviour; that is why he insults us even now. If you go there uninvited, Bhavānī, all decorum, affection and honour will be cast to the winds. It is no doubt true one should call on one’s friend, master, father or teacher without waiting for a formal invitation; yet where someone nurses a grudge against you, you reap no good by going there.” Śambhu expostulated with Satī in so many ways; but as fate had willed it, wisdom would not dawn on Her. The Lord repeated once more that if She went to Her father’s place uninvited. He anticipated no good results from it. (1 - 4)

Having reasoned with Her in ways more than one when Hara at last perceived that the daughter of Dakṣa was not going to stay, the Slayer of Tripura detailed a few of His principal attendants as Her escort and sent Her away. (62)

When Bhavānī (etymologically, the Consort of Bhava, an epithet of Śiva) reached Her father’s house, no one greeted Her for fear of incurring Dakṣa’s displeasure. Her mother was the solitary figure who met Her kindly. Her sisters received Her with profuse smiles. Dakṣa would not even inquire about Her health; he burnt all over with rage at the very sight of Satī. Satī then went to have a look at the sacrifice; but nowhere did She find any share of oblations set apart for Śambhu. Then did She realize the force of Śaṅkara’s warning; Her heart burnt within Her at the thought of the insult offered to Her lord. The former grief (that of repudiation by Her lord) did not torment Her heart so much as the great agony She now felt (as a result of the insult offered to Her husband). Although there are terrible agonies of various kinds in this world, the insult offered to one’s own people is the most painful of them all. The thought of the same made Satī furious. Her mother tried to pacify Her in many ways. (1 - 4)

The insult to Śiva was something unbearable; Her heart could not, therefore, be pacified. Then, sharply reproaching the whole assembly, She spoke in angry accents: - (63)

“Hear ye elders of the assembly and all great sages! All of you who have reviled Śaṅkara or heard Him reviled must forthwith reap the fruit of your sin and My father too shall fully repent. Wherever you hear a saint, Śambhu or Viṣṇu (the Lord of Lakṣmī) vilified, the rule is that if it lies within your power you should tear out the tongue of the reviler or you should run away closing your ears. The Slayer of Tripura, the great Lord Śiva, is the universal Spirit; He is the father of the universe and is beneficent to all. It is Him that my stupid father vilifies; and this body of Mine has sprung from the loins of Dakṣa. Therefore, installing in My heart Lord Śiva, who bears the moon on His forehead and a bull as His emblem, I shall immediately quit this body.” As She spoke thus She burnt Her body with the fire of Yoga. A plaintive cry rose from the whole assembly. (1 - 4)

Hearing of Satī’s death, the attendants of Śambhu began to destroy the sacrifice. Seeing the sacrifice being destroyed, the great sage Bhṛgu protected it. (64)

Śaṅkara got all the news and in His wrath He sent Vīrabhadra. Going there the latter made havoc of the sacrifice and requited all the gods according to their deserts. As is well-known to the world, Dakṣa met the same fate which an opponent of Śambhu generally meets. The story is known throughout the world; that is why I have told it in brief. While dying, Satī asked a boon of Śrī Hari that She might remain devoted to the feet of Śiva in all successive births. That is why She was reborn as Pārvatī (lit., daughter of a mountain) in the house of Himāchala (the deity presiding over the Himālaya mountain). Ever since Umā was born in the house of Himālaya the mountain became an abode of all blessings and prosperity. Sages built beautiful hermitages here and there and Himālaya assigned them suitable abodes (in the form of caves etc.). (1 - 4)

Young trees of different varieties were endowed with never failing blossoms and fruits, and mines of jewels of various kinds appeared on the beautiful mountain. (65)

All the rivers bore holy waters; birds, beasts and bees, all rejoiced. All animals gave up their natural antipathies and all those who dwelt on the mountain loved one another. With the advent of Girijā (a synonym of Pārvatī) the mountain (Himālaya) wore a cheerful look even as devotion to Śrī Rāma lights up the face of a devotee. Everyday brought a new delight to the house of Himāchala, whose glory was sung even by great gods like Brahmā (the Creator). Receiving all the news Nārada eagerly went to the house of Himāchala. The king of mountains (the presiding deity of the Himālayas), received him with great honour; washing the sage’s feet he led him to a beautiful seat. He bowed his head at the sage’s feet along with his wife and had his whole mansion sprinkled with the water hallowed by his feet. Himāchala extolled his own good luck and, summoning his daughter, placed her at the sage’s feet. (1 - 4)

“You know everything, including the past, present and future, and have access everywhere. Therefore, O good sage, tell me what is good and what is bad about my daughter after a mature consideration.” (66)

The sage smilingly replied in the following soft yet significant words: “Your daughter is a mine of all virtues - pretty, amiable and intelligent by nature. She will be called Umā, Ambikā (lit., mother) and Bhavānī. Adorned with all good traits, the girl shall win the unfailing love of her husband. She shall remain ever united with her lord and bring glory to her parents. She shall command the respect of the whole universe; he who waits upon her shall lack nothing. By the mere thought of her name women in this world shall be enabled to tread the path of fidelity to their lord, which is sharp as the edge of a sword. Your daughter, O Himālaya, is endowed with auspicious marks. Hear now the few drawbacks she possesses. Devoid of merits, free from pride, without father or mother, unconcerned and free from doubts - (1 - 4)

“An ascetic with matted hair and a heart devoid of longing, stark naked and with hideous accoutrements - such a one shall be her lord, as I can read from the lines on her palm.” (67)

Hearing the words of the sage and believing them to be true, Himālaya and his wife became disconsolate; while Umā felt delighted. Even Nārada could not perceive this difference. Even though their outer expression was the same, their feeling was different, Girijā and all her playmates, Himālaya and his wife, Menā, all had their hair standing on their end and their eyes were full of tears. The words of the celestial sage Nārada could not be untrue: Umā cherished them in her heart. Love for the lotus feet of Śiva sprouted in her heart. She however, felt diffident in her mind; union with Śiva appeared so difficult to her. Finding the time inopportune for its disclosure, she concealed her emotion and then sat down in the lap of one of her playmates. The prediction of the sage could not be false: the thought made Himavān and his wife as well as the senior playmates anxious. Collecting himself, the lord of mountains said, “Tell me, holy sir, what remedy should now be employed?” (1 - 4)

The chief of sages, Nārada, replied: “Hear, O Himavān; whatever has been decreed by Fate no one can undo - not even gods, demons, human beings, Nāgas or sages. (68)

“Nevertheless I tell you one remedy: this may avail if Heaven helps you. Umā will undoubtedly get such a husband as I have described to you. But whatever demerits I have shown in her bridegroom exist in Śiva so far as I can guess. If her marriage takes place with Śaṅkara, everyone will call the demerits as good as virtues. Even though Śrī Hari uses the serpent-god Śeṣa as His couch and sleeps thereon, the wise do not blame Him for the same. Even so the sun and fire absorb moisture in all forms, but no one calls them names. Again, water of every description, pure as well as impure, flows into the Gaṅgā; yet no one calls the heavenly stream impure. Even like the sun, fire and the Gaṅgā, the mighty incur no blame.” (1 - 4)

“If in their pride of wisdom foolish men emulate the great, they are cast into hell for a whole Kalpa or life-time of the universe. Can an embodied soul vie with God?” (69)

“Holy men would never drink wine even if they came to know that it had been made of water from the Gaṅgā; but the same wine becomes pure when it is poured into the Gaṅgā. The difference between an individual soul and God should be similarly explained. Śambhu is all-powerful by nature; for He is no other than God Himself. Hence matrimony with Him will prove auspicious in every way. The great Lord Śiva is certainly difficult to propitiate; but He is quickly pleased when penance is undergone. If your daughter practises austerity, the Slayer of the demon Tripura, Śiva, can even erase the lines of Fate. Even though there may be many potential groom in the world, there is no match for her except Śiva. He is the bestower of boons, the dispeller of the agony of the suppliant, an ocean of benevolence and the delight of His devotee. Without propitiating Śiva the object of one’s desire cannot be attained through millions of Yogic practices and Japa (repetitions of a mystic formula).” (1 - 4)

So saying and with his thoughts fixed on Śrī Hari, Nārada gave his blessings to Girijā and said, “Shed all fear, O lord of mountains; all will now turn out well.” (70)

Having spoken thus, the sage returned to the abode of Brahmā (the Creator). Now hear the end of the story how it came about. Finding her husband alone, Mainā (Himālaya’s wife) said to him, “My lord, I could not follow the words of the sage. If the match, his house and his pedigree are without parallel and worthy of our daughter, the marriage may be concluded. If not, the girl had better remain unmarried; for, my lord, Umā is dear to me as my own life. If we fail to secure a match worthy of Girijā, everyone will say Himālaya is dull by nature. Keep this in mind, my lord, while concluding an alliance, so that there may be no cause for repentance.” Having spoken these words Mainā laid herself prostrate with her head at the feet of her lord. The lord of mountains, Himālaya, replied in endearing terms, “Sooner shall the moon way emit flames of fire but the prophecy of Nārada should prove untrue.” (1 - 4)

“Put away all anxiety, my dear, and fix your thoughts on the Lord. He alone who has created Pārvatī, will bring her happiness.” (71)

“Now if you cherish any love for your child, then go and admonish her that she should practise austerity which may bring about her union with Śiva: there is no other way of overcoming sorrow. The words of Nārada are pregnant and full of reason. Śiva (who bears a bull for His emblem) is handsome and a mine of all virtues: recognizing this truth do not entertain any misgiving. Śaṅkara is irreproachable in every way.” Hearing the above words of her husband Mainā felt delighted at heart; she at once rose and went where Girijā was. At the sight of Umā tears rushed to her eyes and she affectionately took the girl in her lap. Again and again she hugged the child; her voice was choked with emotion and she found herself tongue-tied. The Mother of the universe, the all-knowing Bhavānī, then spoke the following soft words, which brought delight to her mother: - (1 - 4)

“Listen, mother: I relate to you a vision which I saw. A handsome and fair- complexioned noble Brāhmaṇa gave me the following exhortation.” (72)

“Recognizing the truth of Nārada’s words go and practise austerity, O mountain- maid; the idea has commended itself to your father and mother as well. Austerity is conducive to joy and puts an end to sorrow and evils. By virtue of penance the Creator creates the universe. By virtue of penance Viṣṇu protects the whole world. By virtue of penance Śambhu brings about dissolution. By virtue of penance, again, Śeṣa (the serpent-god) bears the burden of the earth on his head. In fact, the entire creation rests on penance, Bhavānī. Bearing this in mind, go and practise austerity.” Hearing these words the mother was filled with wonder. She sent for Himālaya and communicated the vision to him. Consoling her parents in many ways Umā set out for penance in a joyous mood. Her loving household and parents felt miserable and none could speak a word. (1 - 4)

The sage Vedaśirā then came and consoled them all. They were comforted when they heard of the glory of Pārvatī. (73)

Cherishing in her heart the feet of her dear lord, Umā went to the forest and began her penance. Her delicate frame was little fit for austerities; yet she renounced all luxuries fixing her mind on the feet of her lord. Her devotion to the feet of her lord presented a new phase every day; and she got so absorbed in penance that she lost all consciousness of her body. For a thousand years she lived on roots and fruits alone; while for another hundred years she subsisted on vegetables. For some days her only sustenance was water and air; while for a few days she observed a rigorous fast. For three thousand years she maintained herself on the withered leaves of the Bela tree that dropped on the ground. Finally she gave up even dry leaves; Umā then came to be known by the name of Aparṇā (living without leaves). Seeing her body emaciated through self-mortification the deep voice of Brahmā (the Creator) resounded through the heavens: - (1 - 4)

"Listen, O daughter of the mountain-king; your desire is accomplished. Cease all your rigorous penance; the Slayer of Tripura will soon be yours.” (74)

“There have been many self-possessed and illumined sages; but not one of them, Bhavānī, performed such penance as this. Now cherish in your heart this supreme utterance from heaven, knowing it to be invariably true and ever sacred. When your father comes to call you, give up all resistance and return home at once. Again, when the seven sages meet you, be assured of the veracity of this oracle.” Girijā (the daughter of Himavān) rejoiced to hear this utterance of Brahmā echoed by heaven and a thrill ran through her limbs. [Yājñyavalkya says to Bharadvāja] I have thus sung the beautiful story of Umā; now hear the charming account of Śambhu. Ever since Satī went and quitted her body, Śiva’s mind recoiled from everything. He ever repeated the name of the Lord of Raghus and heard the recitation of Śrī Rāma’s glories here and there. (1 - 4)

The embodiment of intelligence and bliss, the abode of happiness, Śiva, who is ever free from error, arrogance and desire, roamed about on earth with His heart fixed on Śrī Hari, the delight of the whole world. (75)

Here He instructed the sages in wisdom and there He extolled the virtues of Śrī Rāma. Though passionless and all-wise, the Lord was smitten with the pangs of separation from His devotee (Satī). In this way a considerable time elapsed. Devotion to the feet of Śrī Rāma was ever budding in His heart. When Śrī Rāma saw the self- discipline and affection of Śaṅkara and the indelible stamp of devotion on His heart, the merciful Lord, who fully recognizes services rendered to Him, and is a mine of beauty and amiability and an embodiment of great splendour, appeared before Śaṅkara and extolled Him in ways more than one. “Who else than You can accomplish such a vow?” He said, Śrī Rāma admonished Him in many ways and told Him of the birth of Pārvatī. The Lord in His infinite compassion narrated at full length the most pious doings of Girijā. (1 - 4)

“Now, Śiva, if You have any affection for Me, listen to My appeal. Go and marry Śailajā (the daughter of Himācala): grant this boon to Me.” (76)

Śiva replied, “Although this is hardly justifiable, the words of a master cannot be set aside at the same time. My lord, your command must be respectfully carried out: this is my paramount duty. The words of one’s parents, teacher and master must be unquestionably obeyed as conducive to bliss. You are my supreme benefactor in every way; therefore, my lord, I bow to Your commands.” The Lord, was pleased to hear the well-chosen words of Śaṅkara; which were inspired with devotion, wisdom and piety. The Lord said, “Your vow has been kept; now bear in mind what I have told You.” Saying so He went out of sight. Śaṅkara cherished the impression of the vision in His heart. That very moment the seven sages called on Śiva. The Lord spoke to them in most charming accents: - (1 - 4)

“Going to Pārvatī, you put her love to the test. Then directing her father, Himālaya, to her, send her back to her home and dispel her doubts.” (77)

There the seers saw Gaurī (a name of Pārvatī; lit. , fair-complexioned) as if she were penance itself personified. The sages said, “Hear, O daughter of Himācala: why are you practising such rigorous penance? Whom do you worship and what do you seek? Why not confide to us the real secret?” “I feel very shy in making my submission. You will be amused to hear of my folly. Yet my mind has taken a rigid attitude and heeds no advice; it would raise a wall on water. Relying on the truth of Nārada’s prophecy, I long to fly even without wings. Look at my madness; I always covet Śiva as my husband .” (1 - 4)

Hearing the above reply the sages laughed and said, “After all your body owes its existence to a mountain (Himālaya); tell us who could live in his home whoever listened to Nārada’s advice.” (78)

“He called on and admonished the sons of Dakṣa and they never saw their home again. It was he who ruined the home of Chitraketu; and again Hiraṇyakaśipu (the father of Prahlāda) met a similar fate. Men and women who listen to Nārada’s advice are sure to leave their home and become mendicants. Guileful at heart, he bears on his person the marks of a pious man; he would make everyone just like himself. Relying on his words you crave for a husband who is apathetic by nature, devoid of attributes, shameless, homeless and naked, who has an inauspicious look about him, wears a string of skulls around his neck, is without a family and has serpents for his ornaments. Tell us, what happiness do you expect by obtaining such a husband? You have fallen an easy prey to the machinations of that imposter! Śiva married Satī at the intercession of some friends; but later on he abandoned her and left her to die.” (1 - 4)

“Śiva is care-free now; he lives on alms and enjoys a sound sleep. Can women ever stay in the house of habitual recluses?” (79)

“Even now accept our advice; we have thought of an excellent match for you - exceptionally good-looking, pious, agreeable and amiable, whose glory and exploits are sung by the Vedas. He is free from blemish, is a mine of all virtues and the lord of Lakṣmī (the goddess of prosperity) and has His abode in Vaikuṇṭha. Such a suitor we shall unite with you.” Hearing this, Bhavānī laughed and said, “You have rightly observed that this body of mine is begotten of a rock: I would sooner die than give up my tenacity. Gold is another product of rock which does not abandon its character even on being consigned to fire. I may not ignore Nārada’s advice; whether my house is full or desolate, I fear not. He who has no faith in the words of his preceptor, cannot easily attain either happiness or success even in a dream.” (1 - 4)

“The great God Śiva may be full of demerits and Viṣṇu may be a repository of all virtues. One is, however, concerned with him alone who gladdens one’s heart.” (80)

“Had you met me earlier, O great sages! I would have listened to your advice with reverence. But now that I have staked my life for Śambhu, who will weigh His merits and demerits? If you are specially bent upon uniting a pair and cannot help negotiating a match, there is no dearth of suitors and maidens; and those who take delight in such games know no weariness. As for myself I must wed Śambhu or remain a virgin, no matter if I have to continue the struggle for ten million lives. I will not disregard Nārada’s admonition even if Śambhu Himself tells me a hundred times to do so.” “I fall at your feet,” continued Pārvatī, the Mother of the universe, “Please return to your home. It is already late.” Seeing Pārvatī’s devotion the enlightened sages exclaimed, “Glory, all glory to You, O Bhavānī, Mother of the universe!” (1 - 4)

“You are Māyā, while Śiva is God Himself; You are the parents of the whole universe.” Bowing their head at the feet of Pārvatī, they departed. A thrill ran through their frame again and again. (81)

The sages went and despatched Himavān to Girijā and he with many entreaties brought her home. The seven seers then called on Śiva and told Him the whole history of Umā. Śiva was enraptured to hear of her love; and the Saptarṣis gladly went home. The all-wise Śambhu then concentrated His mind and began to meditate on the Lord of Raghus. A demon, Tāraka by name, flourished in those days; his strength of arm, glory and majesty were great indeed. He conquered all the spheres as well as the guardians of those spheres; all the gods were robbed of their happiness and prosperity. Knowing neither age nor death, he was invincible. The gods fought many a battle with him and lost them. They then went to Virañci (Brahmā) and told him their grievances. The Creator found all the gods miserable. (1 - 4)

Brahmā reassured them all saying, “The demon shall die only when there is a son sprung from the loins of Śambhu; for he alone can subdue the demon in battle.” (82)

“Hearing what I say, act accordingly; God will help you and the plan will succeed. Satī, who left her body at the sacrifice performed by Dakṣa, has been born again in the house of Himācala. She has undergone penance for winning the hand of Śambhu; while Śiva has renounced everything and sits absorbed in contemplation. Although it is most unseemly, yet hear one proposal of mine. Approaching Cupid (the god of love), send him to Śiva; and let him disturb the serenity of Śaṅkara’s mind. Then we shall go and bow our head at Śiva’s feet and prevail on Him to marry even against His will. In this way alone may the interests of the gods be served.” “The idea is excellent,” everyone said. The gods then prayed with great devotion and the god of love, armed with five arrows and having a fish emblazoned on his standard, appeared on the scene. (1 - 4)

The gods told him all their distress; hearing their tale, the god of love pondered and spoke thus with a smile, “I expect no good results for myself from hostility to Śambhu.” (83)

“However, I shall do your work; for the Vedas say benevolence is the highest virtue. The saints ever praise him who lays down his life in the service of others.” So saying, the god of love bowed his head to all and departed with his associates, the bow of flowers in hand. While leaving, Love thought within himself that hostility to Śiva would mean sure death to him. He then exhibited his power and brought the whole world under his sway. When the god of love (who bears a fish for his emblem) betrayed his anger, all the barriers imposed by the Vedas were swept away in a moment. The whole army of Viveka (discriminating knowledge) - continence, religious vows, self-restraint of many kinds, fortitude, piety, spiritual wisdom and the knowledge of qualified divinity both with form and without form, morality, muttering of prayers, Yoga (contemplative union with God), dispassion and so on, fled in panic. (1 - 4)

Viveka took to flight with his associates; his great warriors turned their back on the field of battle. They all went and hid themselves in mountain-caves in the form of sacred books at that time. There was commotion in the world and everybody said, “My goodness, what is going to happen? What power will save us? Who is that superhuman being with two heads to conquer whom the lord of Rati, Love, has lifted his bow and arrows in rage?”

Whatever creatures existed in the world, whether animate or inanimate and bearing masculine or feminine appellations transgressed their natural bounds and were completely possessed by lust. (84)

The minds of all were seized with lust; the boughs of trees bent low at the sight of creepers. Rivers in spate rushed to meet the ocean; lakes and ponds united in love with one another. Where such was reported to be the case with the inanimate creation, who can relate the doings of sentient beings? Beasts that walk on land and birds traversing the air, and water lost all sense of time and became victims of lust. The whole world was blinded with passion and agitated. The Cakravāka birds (ruddy geese) regarded neither day nor night. Gods, demons, human beings, Kinnaras (a class of demi- gods), serpents, evil spirits, fiends, ghosts and vampires - I have refrained from dwelling on the condition of these, knowing them to be eternal slaves of passion. Even Siddhas (spiritual adepts), great sages who had no attraction for the world and Yogīs (mystics) gave up their Yoga (contemplative union with God) under the influence of lust. (1 - 4)

Even great Yogīs and ascetics were completely possessed by lust, to say nothing of low-minded people? Those who till lately looked upon the animate and inanimate creation as full of Brahma (God) now saw it as full of the fair sex. Women perceived the whole world as full of men; while the latter beheld it as full of women. For nearly an hour this wonderful game of Love lasted in the universe.

Nobody could remain self-possessed; the hearts of all were stolen by the god of love. They alone could hold their own against him, to whom the Hero of Raghu’s race extended His protection. (85)

The wonder lasted for an hour or so till the god of love reached Śambhu. Cupid trembled at the sight of Śiva; the whole world returned to itself. All living beings regained their peace of mind at once, even as the intoxicated feel relieved when their spell of drunkenness is over. The god of love was struck with terror at the sight of Bhagavān Rudra (Śiva), who is so difficult to conquer and so hard to comprehend. He felt shy in retreating and was incapable of doing anything; ultimately he resolved upon death and devised a plan. He forthwith manifested the lovely spring, the king of all seasons; rows of young trees laden with flowers appeared so charming. Woods and groves, wells and ponds and all the quarters of heaven assumed a most delightful aspect. Everywhere nature overflowed with love as it were; the sight aroused passion even in dead souls. (1 - 4)

Passion was aroused even in dead souls and the beauty of the forest beggared description. A cool, gentle and fragrant breeze fanned the fire of passion as a faithful companion. Rows of lotuses blossomed in lakes and swarms of charming bees hummed on them. Swans, cuckoos and parrots uttered their sweet notes; while celestial damsels sang and danced.

The god of love with his army of followers exhausted all his numberless stratagems; Śiva’s unbroken trance, however, could not be disturbed. This made Cupid angry. (86)

Seeing a beautiful bough of a mango tree, the god of love climbed up to it in a mood of frustration. He joined his five arrows to his bow of flowers, and casting an angry look drew the string home to his very ears. He discharged the five sharp arrows, which smote the breast of Śiva. The trance was now broken and Śambhu awoke. The Lord’s mind was much agitated. Opening His eyes He looked all round. When He saw Cupid hiding behind mango leaves, He flew into a rage, which made all the three spheres tremble. Śiva then uncovered His third eye; the moment He looked at the god of love the latter was reduced to ashes. A loud wail went up through the universe. The gods were alarmed, while the demons were gratified. The thought of (loss of) sense-delights made the voluptuary sad; while the striving Yogīs were relieved of a thorn as it were. (1 - 4)

The Yogīs were freed from torment; while Rati (wife of the god of love) fainted as soon as she heard of the fate of her lord. Weeping and wailing and mourning in various ways she approached Śaṅkara; and making loving entreaties in divergent ways she stood before the Lord with clasped hands. Seeing the helpless woman, the benevolent Lord Śiva, who is so easy to placate, prophesied as follows: -

“Henceforth, O Rati, your husband shall be called by the name of Anaṅga (bodiless); he shall dominate all even without a body. Now hear how you will meet him again. (87)

“When Śrī Kṛṣṇa will descend in the line of Yadu to relieve the earth of its heavy burden, your lord will be born again as His son (Pradyumna); this prediction of Mine can never be untrue.” Hearing the words of Śaṅkara, Rati went away. I now proceed to relate the subsequent part of the story. When Brahmā (the Creator) and the other gods received all the tidings, they repaired to Vaikuṇṭha (the abode of God Viṣṇu). Thence all the gods, including Viṣṇu and Virañcī (Brahmā), went where the all-merciful Śiva was. They severally extolled and won the pleasure of the Lord whose crest is adorned by the crescent. Śiva, who is an ocean of compassion and has a bull emblazoned on His standard, said, “Tell me, immortals, what has brought you here?” To this Brahmā replied, “Lord, You are the inner controller of all; even then, my master, my devotion to You urges me to make the following submission - (1 - 4)

“The heart of all the immortals is seized with a dominating impulse. They long to witness Your wedding with their own eyes, my lord. (88)

“O humbler of the pride of Love! Devise some means whereby we may be enabled to feast our eyes on this glad event. Having burnt the god of love You have done well in granting a boon to Rati, O ocean of compassion. Having meted out punishment, good masters shower their grace as a matter of course: such is their natural habit. Pārvatī has practised penance the magnitude of which cannot be estimated; kindly accept her now.” Hearing the entreaty of Brahmā and remembering the words of the Lord (Śrī Rāma), Śiva gladly said, “Amen!” The gods thereupon sounded their kettledrums; and raining down flowers they exclaimed, “Victory, victory to the Lord of celestials!” Considering it to be an opportune moment, the seven seers arrived on the scene. Brahmā immediately sent them to the abode of Himavān. They approached Bhavānī in the first instance and addressed the following sweet yet deceptive words to her: - (1 - 4)

“Relying on the advice of Nārada you would not heed our remonstrance then. Your vow has failed now; for the great Lord Śiva has burnt the god of love!” (89)