Feb 29, 2024
Feb 29, 2024
by P C K Prem
The images of the courage and bravery of the army of Bheem was adequately described to Samar and it infused terror in him. With a vast army consisting of thousands of trained soldiers, elephants and horses, Bheem embarked on a long journey to war. The entire army was divided into battalions, each commanded by many feudal lords, ministers, princes and chief of the army. It appeared the army had covered all the directions. It was a huge army. When it marched towards Rada, it appeared as if the earth trembled. There was immense noise, drum beatings, loud and lingering sounds of the blowing of conches and songs of inspiration, which kept the soldiers upbeat and excited. It was a terrible scene before the actual beginning of a great war. The march of the army, elephants and horses raised dust that seemed to cover even the glow of the shining sun. It was a frightening scene.
When Samarbhatt was informed of the imminent attack by Bheem, he, without a thought, asked his army to assemble fully equipped with their weapons. When everything was ready, he ordered the forces to march towards the enemy. It was a war of huge proportions. It appeared as if two great seas from the east and west had collided. It was a war of mountain-like kings and generals where armies fought fiercely. There was tremendous noise with the trumpeting of elephants, and the hooves of the horses crushed many soldiers on the ground along with terrific onslaught of elephants whose huge legs crushed soldiers beyond recognition. The collision of swords of soldiers emitted sparks with lingering waves of fire in the sky, and instilled fears in the minds of the fighting army, but none was prepared to withdraw.
It was a devastating scene where blood flowed incessantly in the battlefield and the dead bodies of the soldiers began to lie abandoned on the field. It was a dreadful scene. Thousands of soldiers were killed. Nobody consented to the cessation of fierce hostilities. Here, relations had lost sanctity and lives of men were cheap. It was a fight for survival. It was hunger and thirst for more and more. Here, the greed for land and property was uppermost in the minds of those who fought. The war started on principles but soon ethics and principles were relegated to the background.
Now, it was a land of dead persons, where blood flowed and wicked instincts of men ruled the mindset of people. The soldiers of both the kings were fighting without clearly knowing the outcome. Shankh, Aksh and Chund with other sincere and loyal friends completely uprooted and destroyed the army of Samarbhatt. They reduced to nothing his murderous strategies. Breaking strong barriers of defense, they furiously infiltrated into the strongholds of Samarbhatt and there began a terrible bloody war again. It was a total massacre as it were. Mounted on a strong elephant, Bheem broke the security circles of Samar, reached him in a swift move, and killed all the four horses of the chariot of Samar. Now, Samar was without a chariot. He attacked the elephant of Bheem with an arrow-like sharp weapon, a javelin. The severe strike of a piercing weapon wounded the elephant and it fell to the ground. Afterwards, a terrible swordfight began. Extremely infuriated, the two brothers with shields and swords in hands were now engaged in a bloody duel. Bheembhatt could have killed his brother if he had wanted by using the unique power he had. He was in a position to annihilate the entire forces of the enemy, had he desired. He had the power of becoming invisible. However, dharma and truth were important for him. He was steadfast in the observance of the rules of battle. He could not cheat his brother, the king.
It was a dreadful fight between the two. After a long battle, he killed Samarbhatt and the war ended. There were jubilations and celebrations. After eliminating the last soldier, he was silent. Those who surrendered, he gave them shelter. Thus, he proved his generosity. After the war, he went to the capital of Rada accompanied by ministers, generals and army. It was a return to the homeland after years of exile. He met his mother and she wept profusely while hugging her son. Those were tears of satisfaction, victory and happiness.
The people of the town accorded a warm welcome to the real heir of the state. He occupied the throne of Rada. The ministers, advisors and officials who had always admired Bheem’s qualities and virtues were happy and extended a hearty welcome to him. On the other hand, Bheem also expressed gratitude and respects to the public. There were celebrations and festivals on his arrival. He was not greedy or selfish. After sometime, he offered the kingdom of Laat to Shankhdutt. He sent him back to Laat along with the army. He did not fail to recognize the services, devotion and loyalty of other friends like Chund and Aksh. He offered sufficient money, wealth and other costly gifts with some villages so that they could spend lives happily. They went away satisfied after expressing gratitude and there, he lived a life of happiness and conjugal pleasure with his queen Hansawali. Later on, he almost won the whole of the earth and brought the princesses of the various countries he conquered and started living a life of happiness and pleasure. It was a life of total enjoyment and he forgot everything else. He was now spending time with the queens and loved their warmth, and so passions occupied his time. He left the governance to the ministers. He was addicted to physical pleasures, and with woman and wine, other intoxicants also appeared more soothing and ecstatic. That was the life of a great victor lost in the passions of life.
Once, the great Sage Uttanga, arrived in the capital to meet him. It was not pre-decided. The sage just wanted to visit the king. His guards appeared before the king and told him of the holy arrival. As he was lost in pleasure, passions, lust, sex and other enjoyments of life, and he was blind with a sense of ego and pride, he did not heed the message of the guards of the gate to his inner palace where he lived with the queens.
This unbecoming behaviour of the king annoyed the holy sage, who cursing the king, said, “O king, blind and infatuated, you will go astray and in the next life take birth in the yoni of an elephant.”
Hearing these strong words of curse the king realized his folly. He immediately appeared before the sage, fell at his feet, and began to plead. He asked for forgiveness and regretted his attitude, which exhibited arrogance and total apathy to a man of tapa. On the other hand, he knew that the sage must have known his not very appreciative attitude towards public of the state. All these thoughts disturbed, and he was sorry for whatever he had done. It was evident that a man becomes a beast if vanquished by the love of wine and women, he realized.
The sage for a while did not relent and later on, when his anger subsided he said, “O king, you will be an elephant. My words will be true. However, remember, in later birth when you will be an elephant you will meet a blind man Prachandshakti, a minister of a king under the curse of a snake. You will behave with the blind man properly and this fine conduct will deliver you from this terrible curse. You will attain the status of a gandharava with the blessings of Lord Shiva, and at the same time, the blind man will also be free from the curse of loss of sight.” He kept listening to the words but was unable to say anything. It was shocking and horrifying. He stood there motionless, cursing his past life of pleasures. Sage Uttanga stood for a while and then went away.
The elephant said, “O blind man, you are in fact Pranchandshakti. I am Bheembhat suffering due to the curse of the great Sage Uttanga. Now, I feel, the time has come when I shall be delivered from the sufferings of being an elephant.”
He was a free soul now. Delivered from the yoni of an elephant, he was granted the status of a gandharava. He looked divine and glowing. Shakti got back his eyesight and finding the gandharava before him, he was ecstatic. It was a day of happiness, an enjoyable event. Fortunately, Mrigank, who was listening to the conversation between the elephant and the blind man secretly behind the grove of creepers and branches of the trees, was firm in the belief that the lost minister was his old friend. Those were moments of joy and delight, of attainment and freedom. Those were also times of reunion and faith in the virtues and honesty in life. It was now a victory of honesty, truth and a life of dharma.
The tale makes one thing evident—that in truth is hidden the meaning of life. If a man acts according to the principles of dharma and truth, nothing can hurt him. Even a sin that a man commits on earth never goes without punishment. One is punished, if one sins. If one thinks of the past, present and future, and decides to live a life of purity, truth, dharma and virtues, one attains salvation and goes to heaven; and one is also freed from the sufferings of yonis where one gets nothing but miseries and pains unending.
More by : P C K Prem