A Tale from Mahabharata
Tapati, a daughter of Surya, was a woman of severe tapa. She was always engaged in meditation and tapasya, so she was known as Tapati in the triple world. No other woman of that age whether born of gods or asuras or yakasas or demons was as beautiful as Tapati the three worlds knew. She was the prettiest woman, an incarnation of divinity. Each organ and limb of Tapati appeared captivating. Her body was heavenly, looked gorgeous, well developed, and proportionate and untainted, which granted distinctive and magnificent beauty to Tapati, the daughter of Surya. She had large and black eyes. She behaved well, and was graceful and majestic. She had a saintly nature and always appeared in beautiful attire. She had attained marriageable age. Sun god could not find a man of magnificent looks, impressive in conduct, virtuous with deep knowledge of scriptures appearing fit as a husband of Tapati. To marry her off to an eligible person worried and disturbed Sun god.
Suddenly, a thought occurred. King Samvarna, a son of king Riksa in the dynasty of Kuru, was the most appropriate match for Tapati. He was a strong man with divine virtues he recalled. On the other hand, King Samvarna began to meditate on Sun god. He worshipped Sun god with full devotion. After taking bath and cleansing body properly and keeping control over senses and passions, King would pray and worship Sun god with oblations of water, flowers, fragrance, honey, sugar, rice, milk and various sacrificial fuels while observing rules of rituals regarding prayers and worship as prescribed, for he followed all religious dictums. At that time, intense spirit of bhakti and tapa would take birth and he would begin worshipping Sun god. A deep sense of service and devotion in heart astonished people.
He was pure and egoless. No one could match him in the entire kingdom, and in devotion, he excelled even celestial beings. He was a man of dharma. Finding him an embodiment of virtues and divine qualities, Sun god found Samvarna the most appropriate companion for his daughter. After deliberation on the virtues of the King, he desired to offer Tapati to Samvarna. As Sun god lighted the sky, so on earth, radiance of dharma and enlightened knowledge and wisdom of King Samvarna brought light and glow on earth.
When great holy sages worshipped Sun god in the morning, people of different varnas and categories prayed before Samvarna and worshipped him with devotion and faith. Thus, King Samvarna had a dazzling appearance not found anywhere on earth. Sun god decided to marry off his daughter Tapati to Samvarna because of divine virtues and his all-pervading power on earth.
One day, king Samvarna was hunting in a nearby jungle. While running about and chasing violent beasts in the jungle, he reached the top of a mountain. Unfortunately, his wonderful horse died after suffering from extreme hunger, thirst and exhaustion. After the death of horse, king Samvarna began to rove about on the mountain peak on foot as a sad man. While wandering in the forest, he saw a good-looking girl never seen anywhere before. A killer of enemies Samvarna was alone. To his surprise, gorgeous girl was also unaccompanied. Out of natural eagerness, he went near the beautiful girl, and stood wonderstruck.
At first, he thought that attractive girl must be goddess Laksmi. Then, a thought occurred that she could be luminosity incarnate of Sun god who had descended from above, and was wandering on earth. A stunning glow emanating from girl’s body appeared like blaze of burning fire. She appeared happy and enticing and her fascinating looks enthralled. Standing on a mountaintop, she appeared like a lustrous statue of gold with amazing and striking looks. Her gorgeous beauty enhanced the beauty of the mountain, a mass of gold. The Magic beauty enchanted King Samvarna.
He thought of a beautiful and charismatic woman. It appeared she stood before him. Tapati was a rare treat to the eyes of the king. She was beyond description. She was incredible and awe-inspiring. Divine beauty mesmerized and he stood like a statue as if heart and eyes had stopped movement. She, a divine and staggering beauty, must have emerged out as if a vessel of nectar from the ocean of beauty, after a furious churning of the ocean when gods, asuras and men from earth struggled, he imagined. Thoughts of king Samvarna crossed limits of realism. Finally, he concluded that no other such stunning and divine beauty existed in the world. Intensity of love and infatuation overwhelmed and this caused upheaval in the mind of the king.
King Samvarna decided to speak to Tapati. He went to her and said, “O beautiful damsel, who are you? Whose daughter you are and whom you wait for? O girl of pure smiles, you roam about alone in a deserted jungle. Why is it so? I guess you are neither a goddess nor a daughter of asuras. You are neither a woman from the dynasty of yakasas nor from a family of raksasas. Neither you are from a lineage of snakes nor a daughter of gandharvas. I do not think you are from a dynasty of man.”
King Samvarna examined all possibilities of descent of a divine beauty but reached nowhere. Pretty girl stood quiet with a chaste and sublime smile, spreading obscurity and magic around. After a long pause, he said again, “O youthful beauty, I have never seen or heard about beautiful women like you and I consider none equal to you in beauty and grandeur.” Despite words of praise, she stood without any reaction. This appeared irritating to the king but then, he stood fascinated and bewitched as beauty of the girl thrilled. He was speechless and was unable to restrain while he stood on the mountaintop. After a moment, he wanted to know who she was. His curiosity seemed unending.
“O beautiful woman, I am worried and intense churning is tearing me apart within. Tell me something about…” King Samvarna put many questions to the young girl but she did not answer. She kept looking at him who was besieged with feelings of love and passion. He continued to utter words of queries and passion before her but she did not respond. His mournful wailings continued and after sometime, she disappeared like a dazzling lightning in the clouds. King Samvarna began a frantic search for her. When he failed to find her, he sat unconscious of the world as if for a couple of moments.
A great warrior capable of killing a whole crowd of enemies in a single furious combat was lying almost unconscious on earth as intensity of love vanquished. Like an ordinary human being, love and passion reduced him to a miserable plight. He was unable to figure out mystery of disappearance of beauty he had not seen elsewhere. It was just a simple man’s reaction, totally plagued by feelings of intense love. When he fell on the ground and was in a state of unconsciousness, daughter of Surya, Tapati, appeared with soft and gentle smiles.
Pure love and passion had destroyed wisdom and better sense of the king and when Tapati appeared, she stood for a while and began to speak in gentle and sweet voice, “Oh vanquisher of enemy, get up please. Get up, may God bless you. O lion among the kings, you are the lord, the great king of earth. You should not surrender to illusion of love and passion. It is infatuation.”
Tapati said these words softly but she was full of love and charm. king Samvarna opened his eyes and looked around. A magnificent beauty stood before him. He burnt with the fire of thrill and love.
He spoke to the young girl of beautiful black eyes, “O beautiful woman, it is good you came. Larger-than-life you are. Intoxication of luxurious youth and loveliness inflates beauty and ego. I am obsessed with feelings of love like a slave. Please bless me. Accept my love or else life-breath will abandon me. O girl of large black eyes, you are like inner beauty of a lotus. Cupid, lord of love and passion (Kamadeva) continuously injures me with sharp arrows of passion. I am mad and feelings of passion refuse to calm down. O girl, at this time, I find none to help me. A cobra-like love has stung me. O brave woman of beauty personified, come near me. You speak so sweet. My life is in your hands.”
King Samvarna continued to speak about magic-like beauty for a long time. To him, each organ of Tapati appeared tantalizing, fresh and pure. Pretty face bewitched him as it appeared like a moon and lotus flower. As words of genuine praise poured out, she just observed him.
“O great beauty, Kamadeva, the lord of love, is still torturing and hurting me deeply. Shower mercy and come near. I am your devotee, a bhakta. Do not cast me off. In fact, you should now protect me.” He was silent.
He still looked at the beautiful and mysterious girl with huge black eyes. He had spoken much about feelings he nursed for her. Until now, she had not responded to king’s feelings of love appearing so obvious in words as well as gestures. Even silence appeared to wound him. After a moment, he said, “A mere glimpse bewitched me. I am unsteady and wavering. O beautiful woman, I have lost interest to look at any other woman after seeing you.” Deep and genuine expression of a lovelorn king did not impress her.
Therefore, he was determined to pursue her like a gritty lover and so said in a faltering voice, “I surrender. Be happy with me. O great beauty, accept a bhakta, a devotee. O dear girl, a beauty of large black eyes, Kamadeva, the lord of love, torments me from a moment I saw you. O lotus-eyed girl, kindly extinguish ferocity of burning fire of love and passion and I entreat you to enter into a passionate and sublime union with me, and freshen up divine moments of ecstasy. O woman of blessings, a spirit of Kamadeva took birth the moment I had a glimpse of you though he showered flowers yet these turned into sharp knife-like weapons. His bow and pointed arrows burn me within. He pierces me terribly deep. By yielding to love, please calm down the fire of Kamadeva with rain of love. I shall accept you through a gandharva marriage and this union is the best among different kinds of marriages.” King made his intents clear.
After listening to the king for a long time and realizing sincerity of feelings of love and depth of virtuous utterances, she said, “O king, I am a daughter of a father who is present now. Therefore, I have no right over this body. If you love me, then make a request to my father. O king of kings, you say your life and breath are under my control. Similarly, you have also stolen my heart and life, merely by a hallowed darshana. O lord, the greatest among the kings, I am not the lord of my body so I cannot come near you because women are never free. Your dynasty is famous in the three worlds. Who is the girl who would not desire a man of bhakti, and a king of your standing as a husband? In sensitive conditions, I would like you to bow with folded hands following principles of tapasya before father Sun god and ask for my hand.”
Great revelation of truth and sentiments of love of Tapati for King Samvarna worked as a great relief. Before he could say a word, she said, “O killer of enemies, if he wants to give you in marriage, then I shall become your wife and serve you right from this moment. O the best among the ksatriyas, I am a daughter of omnipresent Sun god and Savita, a younger sister of Savitri. My name is Tapati.” Saying these words mildly, Tapati, a chaste woman, left and after a few steps disappeared. King Samvarna again fell on the ground unconscious. Intensity of love and passion for the princess made him suffer deeply.
Conduct of a king governing a large empire is somewhat debatable. A king must show restraint even in love. He had turned out a very small man with normal human failings. He loved a beautiful woman and soon it turned into an infatuation defying explanation as intensity grew a great deal with burning sensations. Even after disclosure of identity, the divine girl, Tapati, whom he had begun loving, flew away and disappeared into the deep sky. He fell unconscious. It appears unconvincing. Why should he behave so? Such questions disturb.
He loved blindly it is apparent. While wandering on a lonely spot in a jungle, he lost his horse. At that time, a mere straw was sufficient to grant him a needed succour. Perhaps, lovers behave inanely and amusingly but exhibit poetic aberrations where ornamental pouring of emotions indicates grace in words and purity of minds. If it is passion, it gets expression. Even gods in love are desperate and almost mad to the extent of relapsing into a state of unconsciousness. Sincerity and loyalty in love defied reasons. Now, lovers are quite flexible in attitude. Yearnings for a beloved and physical attraction determine love and passion while sincerity is invisible. If one beloved is gone, a lover goes to another, and it is a continuous process in an age of untruth, adharma and hypocrisy.
Times were not very auspicious for the great kingdom. A frantic search continued to locate the king who had gone for hunting. When soldiers and the ministers of the kingdom found no trace of King Samvarna, they deliberated, held consultations, began hectic search again, and ransacked the entire areas of jungles. Ultimately, wise ministers found him in bad shape. It appeared as if a very high flag of lord Indra had fallen on the ground. Worried ministers were shocked. They were unable to bear wretched condition of King Samvarna and it appeared their bodies also burned with fire of love and devotion for the king. It was love for the king, it was anger for an unknown enemy perhaps, and it was a sense of regret at having pushed a great king into pool of sufferings without taking appropriate security measures. Out of genuine love and reverence for the great king, the ministers felt nervous.
Fortunately, elderly men were ministers of kingdom and a few were quite young but in intellect, wisdom, eminence and framing of state policies, they were the greatest. They lifted the love-smitten and unconscious king from the ground like a father who picks up a son. After positioning comfortably at a suitable place, the ministers examined the King’s pulse and felt relieved when they realized that he was alive. After sometime, the king recovered and got up.
Apparently happy and assured, one of the ministers said, “O great King, do not fear. God bless you.”
After a long and exhausting chase of a kill, out of fatigue and thirst, the king might have fallen unconscious on the ground, the ministers and wise men of the kingdom thought. As the crown of the king was intact on the ground, the ministers were quite confident that there had been no fight or battle. They quenched thirst of the king. Now, the king was quite alert and calm. He asked his army to go back and asked one of the ministers to stay with him. A large army returned to the capital and King Samvarna again settled down comfortably on the mountaintop.
After relaxing for a few more moments, he took bath, stood up on the ground with folded hands, looked up, and prayed to Sun god. At that time, king Samvarna, the destroyer of foes, remembered his purohit -the royal priest, monk Vasistha. Now, he was engaged in intense tapasya without rest and therefore, day and night lost meaning for a man of penance.
On the twelfth day, sage Vasistha arrived at the place where king Samvarna was meditating. The purest of mind and heart, sage already knew with the power of divine eye that king Samvarna was obsessed with love of Tapati, the daughter of Sun god. Therefore, he spoke to Samvarna engaged in tapasya with control over his mind and senses. While king beheld him, sage gleaming like sun, went up to meet Sun god.
Sage Vasistha went with folded hands to Sun god whose radiant rays enhanced brilliance. He stood before him and said, “I am Vasistha.” After paying respect, he disclosed the purpose of visit.
After waiting for a few moments, he eulogized Sun god with epithets of the eternal, the immortal and the incarnation of all gods. He added that he sanctified the triple worlds. He was the lord of divine rays. He, the Sun, was the sovereign and was born in the image of dharma. That the Sun was the foundation of the world, and devastation was also under his control. He was the most merciful and munificent among the gods. The Sun god was light of the worlds. Thus, he said many words of praise and adoration. He was like eyes of the entire cosmos and the cause and reason of all creation, the preservation and the destruction. He was an embodiment of three gunas (qualities) and carried image of the Supreme Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva -the Great Trinity. After recalling the eternal powers enshrined in all gods, Vasistha bowed before the Sun god and said, “I pay obeisance to you, O Sun god.”
“O great sage, I welcome you. Please tell me what you wish.” The Sun god spoke humbly to monk Vasistha. After a pause, he said, “O purest among the sages, whatever you wish and howsoever the desired thing is difficult to own, I shall certainly give it you. O great sage, you have praised and worshipped me and therefore, I am eager to bless you with a boon. Ask any boon. Your words of praise are worth emulating and devotees must take care of holy words.”
Sage Vasistha was happy to hear words of Sun god. He saluted and said, “Kindly give Tapati, one of your daughters and younger sister of Savitri because King Samvarna wants to marry and make Tapati, his queen. Fame of King Samvarna is widespread. He is a man of dharma and is aware of intricacies of economy, and is of a generous nature. Therefore, O Sun, the lord of the sky, King Samvarna will be the most suitable husband for Tapati.”
On hearing implorations of sage Vasistha, Sun god made up his mind to give the hand of his daughter to King Samvarna. He said, “O great monk, Samvarna is one of the greatest kings. You are the greatest among monks. Tapati is the greatest among the beautiful, young, charming and bewitching girls. Therefore, what could be the greatest donation other than my daughter? It will be an act of supreme charity.”
Sun god willingly offered the hand of his daughter to the king as desired and therefore, obeyed sage Vasistha without hesitation.
Everyone learnt that the Sun god had agreed to offer Tapati to king Samvarna so that she became a queen of the greatest king immediately after the concurrence and blessings of sage Vasistha. However, before offering Tapati to king Samvarna, sage accepted a gift of daughter from the Sun god. After taking leave from the Sun god, holy sage returned to the top of the mountain where king Samvarna had been mesmerized by the divine beauty. Here, he waited for the arrival of sage eagerly. At that time, he was engaged in tapasya while sage stood at a distance with Tapati, daughter of Sun god.
On seeing Tapati with sage Vasistha approaching the mountain’s peak, he was immensely happy, and in elation and joy, he began to glow. On the other hand, Tapati with broad eyebrows looked devastatingly beautiful while all directions appeared lit by divine radiance she emitted. The king was happy at the outcome of severe tapa, which underwent single-mindedly concentrating on sage Vasistha. Sage’s benevolence and compassion made it possible to get Tapati as his wife he knew. Now, his wishes were answered.
After a while, King Samvarna with the blessings of gods and gandharvas entered into matrimony with chaste Tapati on the mountaintop. After marrying her, he expressed his desire to spend some time with Tapati in the jungle, while enjoying beauty and generosity of nature. At the same time, after getting appropriate mandate from the king, the ministers went back to the capital and looked after the affairs of the kingdom. Sage Vasistha also blessed the couple and went back to his ashrama. King Samvarna and queen Tapati continued to enjoy blissful married life for twelve years.
Unexpectedly, King Samvarna confronted another grave problem. There were no rains in the country, and conditions worsened in the kingdom. With not a drop of water in the fields, crops did not grow and the earth looked dried up and parched. It made lives of people hard. Hunger, thirst and starvation brought miseries. Famine-like conditions drove people to despair,
and so a great exodus started. Suffering people left their homes and ran about in search of water, food and shelter.
People suffered deprivation while nature was ruthless. There was no immediate solution to the miseries. People of cities and country without caring for eternal values and ethics of life, began abandoning sons, daughters and wives and at times, families. Suffering did not mitigate. To add to pains, they indulged in loot and arson and began to kill one another. Because of extreme hunger, people were reduced to skeletons. Now, it was a country of moving skeletons and appeared as if a kingdom of the lord of Death.
When sage Vasistha saw awesome scenario of the suffering people, with his divine power, he asked Rain god to bring prosperity and greenery to the scorched land. At the same time, he brought king Samvarna and Tapati back to the capital. The moment the king and the queen arrived, lord Indra was also generous and everything began to happen as usual. To increase production of grain, he showed tremendous kindness. Sufficient grains filled stores. Thus, people under the care of a noble, pure and pious king began to live happily in an environment of delight.
Afterwards, king Samvarna organized a great yajna, which continued for twelve years. In later years, queen Tapati gave birth to a son Kuru. Later on, he founded a great dynasty of Kuru or Kaurava. The birth of great dynasties is a consequence of severe tapasya and dharma. Only through pious acts, purity of mind and heart while following religiously principles of a virtuous life, a man lays the foundation of a great generation. Perhaps, someone in the near future arrives to herald birth of a new man, a man of peace and harmony, of dharma and truth. Until then, one has to contend with people governing and exploiting innocent people, for there are none to follow dharma and truth, and no one exists to guide people on the path of dharma and truth.