O thou who treadest the path of justice and beholdest the countenance of mercy! Thine epistle was received, thy question was noted, and the sweet accents of thy soul were heard from the inmost chambers of thy heart. Whereupon the clouds of th... Read more of 1 at Bahaullah.caInformational Site Network Informational
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Parwati And The Priest

from Deccan Nursery Tales





Once upon a time there was a town called Atpat. In it there was a
temple to the god Shiva. One day when Shiva and his wife Parwati
were walking about they happened to come to this temple. They sat
down there and began to play saripat. [17] After some time Parwati
seeing a priest close by asked him who had won, she or Shiva. "Shiva,"
the priest replied. Parwati became very angry and cursed him, so that
he became a leper, and the pains which overtook him were absolutely
unendurable. One day a band of Apsaras [18] came down from heaven to
the temple. They saw that the priest who lived in it was a leper,
and they asked him the reason. He told them how Parwati had cursed
him. They replied, "Do not be afraid; do as we tell you and you will
get rid of your leprosy. Fast all next Monday, bathe that evening,
worship the god Shiva, and then get half a pound of flour and mix
it with treacle and ghee and eat it for dinner. But whatever you do,
eat no salt all day. Do this for sixteen Mondays in succession, and
on the seventeenth Monday get five pounds of flour, mix with it ghee
and treacle, and offer it to Shiva inside this temple. Then divide it
into three parts; leave one for the god, distribute a second among
the Brahmans or give it to your cows, and take the third home to
be eaten by you and your family." The Apsaras disappeared, and the
priest followed their instructions and became quite well. Some time
afterwards Shiva and Parwati came again to the temple. Parwati saw
the priest cured of his leprosy and asked him how he had got rid of
it. He told her exactly what he had done. She was very much surprised,
and thought that if she did the same she might win back her son
Kartakswami, [19] who had quarrelled with her and had run off in a
rage. On the seventeenth Monday Kartakswami suddenly appeared, and
both of them were reconciled. Later on, Kartakswami asked Parwati how
she had brought him back, and Parwati told him. Now Kartakswami had a
Brahman friend who had gone into a far-off country, and Kartakswami
met him by accident shortly afterwards. He told the Brahman how the
priest had cured himself of leprosy, and how he and Parwati had become
reconciled. So the Brahman also practised the same rites for seventeen
Mondays. He then set out for a distant country. As he travelled he
came to a town. Now it happened that in that town arrangements were
being made for the marriage of the king's daughter. Several princes
had come from far-off countries to compete for her hand, and the king
had erected a splendid pavilion for the royal betrothal. But he would
not himself choose a prince to be his daughter's husband. He ordered
that a garland should be placed on a she-elephant's trunk, and that
the prince round whose neck the she-elephant threw the garland should
be chosen to marry the king's daughter. But the she-elephant passed
by all the princes in turn, until she came to where the Brahman
stood. For he had come with the crowds of people to see the royal
betrothal. Then the she-elephant stopped and put the garland round
the Brahman's neck. The king ordered the Brahman to step forward, and
he married him to his daughter. Some years later when the princess
grew up, and she and the Brahman began to live together, she asked
her husband by what merit he had succeeded in winning her for his
wife, and he told her. And she in turn practised the same rites for
seventeen Mondays. Nine months later a beautiful baby boy was born to
her; and when he in turn grew up she told him the rites which she had
practised to obtain him. And he in turn began to perform them. On the
sixteenth Monday he set out for a journey. As he travelled in a distant
country he came to a town over which ruled a king who had no son and
only one daughter. The king had for a long time past been searching
for a beautiful and virtuous young man, resolved when he found him to
hand over to him his kingdom and marry him to his daughter. As the
Brahman's son entered the town the king saw him and noticed on him
all the marks of royal origin. So he summoned him to his house and
married him to his daughter and seated him on his own throne. Now
the next Monday was the seventeenth Monday since the Brahman's son
had begun the rites which the Apsaras had told to the priest. That
morning he got up and went to the temple and sent a message home to
his wife that she should send him five sers of flour mixed with ghee
and treacle. But the queen was too proud to do this. For she feared
that the people in the street would laugh at her if she sent her
husband five sers of flour mixed with ghee and treacle. So instead
she sent him five hundred rupees in a plate. But because the flour
and ghee and treacle were not sent, the king was unable to complete
his ceremonial, and it was all spoilt. And the god Shiva instead of
being pleased became very angry indeed. And he told the king that,
if he kept the queen as his wife, he would lose his kingdom and die
a beggar. Next day the king sent for his chief minister and told him
what had happened. At first the minister said, "The kingdom belongs
to the queen's father. If you drive her out your subjects will hate
you." But the king replied, "Yes, but not to obey the god's command
is a worse thing still." At last the minister agreed with the king,
and the order went forth that the queen should be driven out of the
city. So the queen was driven out and became quite poor and wandered
along the road. At last she came to a distant town and lodged there
with an old woman, who gave her food and drink. One day the old woman
sent the queen out to sell fruit puddings. As she went into the bazaar
a great wind came and carried off the fruit puddings. When she returned
to the old woman's house, the queen told her what had happened, and
the old woman drove her out of the house. Then she went and lodged
with an oilman, who had great jars full of oil. But one day she went
and looked inside the jars, and all the oil disappeared. So the oilman
drove her off out of the house. The queen left the town and walked
along until she came to a river with abundant water in it. But directly
her eyes fell on the water, it all flowed away and left the water-bed
quite dry. She then journeyed on until she came to a beautiful lake,
but when her glance rested on the lake, it became full of worms, and
the water began to stink. And, when the cowherds came as usual to
water their cattle, the cattle would not drink the stinking water,
and they had to go home thirsty. By chance a Gosavi, or holy man,
came that way and saw the queen, and she told him her story. The
holy man took her to his house and treated her as his own daughter,
and she did her best to serve him faithfully. But, at whatever thing
she looked, it would either disappear or become full of worms and
maggots. At last the holy man searched for the cause of this by means
of his inner knowledge. And thus he learnt that she had incurred the
sin of spoiling the worship of Shiva, which the Apsaras had first
taught the priest. Unless that sin were atoned for, her evil glance
would never be purified. So the holy man prayed to the god Shiva,
and the god was pleased with him; and when the holy man interceded
with him on the queen's behalf, the god said that he would forgive her
if she began and completed properly the rites which she had spoiled
when her husband was performing them. The queen did so, and the god's
anger vanished. Suddenly there rose in the heart of her husband, the
king, a wish to see his queen, and he sent out messengers on every
side to look for her. At last one of the messengers saw the queen in
the holy man's hermitage and went back and told the king. The king
was overjoyed, and, taking his chief minister with him, he journeyed
to the hermitage. He threw himself at the holy man's feet and then
loaded him with presents. And the holy man was pleased and said,
"O King, I have treated your wife exactly as if she had been my own
daughter. She has lived here just as if she had been in her father's
house. Now take her with you back again and once more go through the
marriage ceremony with her." The king consented, and both he and the
queen prostrated themselves before the holy man, and then they both
returned to Atpat. And they celebrated their home-coming with the
greatest splendour. And the rest of the king's reign was as happy as
possible. And we shall be just as happy if we honour Shiva like the
King of Atpat did.





Next: The Rishi And The Brahman

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