As I Know: The Lord of the Mountains — Shiv Purana: 03
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Chanchula at the feet of wise brahmin laments …life of extravagance and betrayal she lived and now, is quite disenchanted and later, turns a devotee
Learned brahmin was surprised when he saw a miserable and disillusioned woman before him. As he looked at the woman, she said, “O holy brahmin, I did not know dharma of a true wife. Therefore, I committed grave sins. O swamy, please shower kindness and deliver me from a wicked and sinful life. I heard religious discourse full of nectar-like words of vairagya (detachment, renunciation) fears swallowed up and distressed. I shuddered within and so I developed feelings of renunciation-vairagya. I am not fond of earthly life I lived. I feel condemned that I lived a life of indulgence and infidelity. I feel damned and distraught. I was engaged in evil karmas and pleasures and therefore, was averse to the principles of dharma.”
She spoke in self-condemnatory language and was genuinely repentant it appeared. After some time, she resumed, “I do not know how agonisingly I suffer tortures of a sinful life after death. Who will help a woman of immoral conduct, and is untrustworthy? No sane person will ever help a woman on the path of evil karmas. How shall I face frightening messengers of the lord of death when they put a noose around neck and I lose endurance?” She pleaded as if she were truly lamenting over what she did in the past.
Learned brahmin heard without saying a word. She regained breath and then said, “O holy man, when body is cut into many pieces, how I would undergo pains of suffering? I think I am dead. Sinful life killed me. I burn. My heart bleeds out of pain and I feel shattered. I experience sins engulf deeply. O brahmin, you are like a father and a mother. I came to seek shelter at your feet and therefore, kindly deliver me from sufferings.”
Intensely penitent, tears in eyes and feeling devastated within, she fell at the feet of the brahmin. It was apparent that she had realised the intensity of sins she committed and now, genuinely wanted to lead a life of piety and virtues. Noble, humble and wise brahmin heard words of repentance and agony but did not interrupt.
Assuring in mild and sympathetic words, he said, “It is a matter of great fortune. While you listened to the tale of Shiva, the benign and mild love for vairagya and its solemn influence chastened you. O wife of a good brahmin, do not fear. Bow before lord Shiva. He destroys sins when you bow before him. I shall reveal divine truths about Shiva, which will bless and thus, liberate you. You heard tale of Shiva with devotion, and atoned for the sins sincerely and therefore, you look purified. You also developed a detached attitude toward joys and pleasures of life.”
“O woman, reparation is the greatest remedy for a sinner. Wise men opine that repentance is a surest steriliser of sins, and a sincere remorse cleanses a man of aberrant thoughts and acts. Righteous souls always hold that true atonement purifies a sinner.” Learned brahmin was quite explicit and forthright in emphasising on the woman the significance of true sorrow. If one is apologetic for what one does, one ennobles ‘the self’.
It is not enough to repent if one follows certain rituals or religious dictums, and visits temples, prays or worships and thinks it enough. It is incorrect, for this act does not absolve a man from sins, and so, penitence through prayers or worship, is inadequate. A modern man does it. He is corrupt and greedy, and after pillage and loot, fills coffers and later on, as a gesture of generosity and goodwill, demonstrates that he is a man of dana and charity.
Thereafter, he donates money to different institutions, temples or social organisations, and at times, holds yajnas, feeds hungry people or distributes material things to the needy. However, the money apparently, does not belong to him. Thus, charitable acts do not mean anything. It is his way of repenting or feeling sorry for the ill-gotten wealth with a smiling face while he brags of generous nature. Here, he commits a momentous mistake construing it as charity. In the end, he has to pay for the sins. Everything that he amasses goes waste and it not only destroys him but the entire generation faces perilous situation. A true feeling of remorse and apology absolves such a person from the effects of vicious and spiteful karmas provided he abdicates the path of iniquity and recklessness. Genuine expiation after a sinful act, in truth, leads a man to deliverance from the miseries of life and thereafter, he is one with the soul and consciousness.
Noble brahmin tells remorseful woman that the lord and goddess Parvati are always present in pure hearts, and the soul is one with the great lord. An experience of a moment turns into ecstasy if devotion is genuine. Prayers and devotion free a man from the bondage of material world and the lord blesses a true bhakta.
One goes near the lord only if one is equipped with the knowledge and the spirit of renunciation (vairagya). Detachment toward worldly pleasures opens doors to salvation but a man must understand that the lord obviously wishes devotees to perform daily duties with sincerity. Despite bhakti, he, who worships, fails to attain mukti or salvation, and so, lives a life of animal here and after.
He speaks clearly, “O woman, you drift away from worldly snares and concentrate on Shiva and listen to holy teachings. Sacred words about the lord will purify, and you will definitely attain moksa. You must not ignore truth of life. He, who is devoted to the lord and remains steadfastly fixed at the holy feet of the lord, attains mukti in a single birth.”
Good brahmin was silent, and was filled with a deep sense of empathy and pity. With eyes closed, he forgot ‘the self’ in the thought of Shiva. On the other hand, Chanchula, wife of Bidunga felt immensely happy. After she heard sacred words from the mouth of a learned Brahmin, her eyes appeared filled with tears. Overwhelmed with emotions, she fell at his feet, recuperated after some time and then, with folded hands said, “I am indebted to you.”
Earlier, she felt vastly terrified, for sins of past tortured her enormously but now, it was entirely different because she was wiser and virtuous now. Solemn moments of inner joy and pleasure pleased, and Chanchula realised that she was a liberated woman.
Emerging out of moments of joy and trance, she spoke to the devotee of lord Shiva, “O brahmin, the greatest among the devotees of Shiva, you are blessed. You are selfless and so are always engaged in noble deeds of wellbeing. You are worth admiring and so, saints and sages never stop eulogising. I feel as if falling in a deep sea of hell. Kindly deliver me from sufferings. I want to hear more about the blessings the lord showers on devotees. I also wish to know about the righteous and reverential acts that delight the great lord.”
Chanchula forgot everything about worldly life and now, she was attracted toward a life of knowledge, bhakti and detachment (vairagya). While listening to holy words, a process of purification seemed to have cleansed and transformed her, and therefore, she was lost in the thoughts of Shiva and meditated each moment on him. When body and soul were completely soaked in the nectar of devotion to Shiva, she became oblivious of the world, and thereafter, she left mortal frame without pain or suffering and was free from worldly bondages.
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