As I Know: The Lord of the Mountains – Shiv Purana: 18
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Vishnu creates a city of beauty and magnificence – Narada arrives, the princess casts a magic spell on him. Enthralled, he requests Vishnu to bestow on him extraordinary looks and qualities, and afterward, he appears in the majestic hall.
After Narada left holy Vishnuloka, Vishnu of delusory powers, spread shadow of maya around as Shiva desired. With the powers of maya, the lord created a beautiful city of brilliance and charm, which was one hundred yojanas in area. Magic city was captivating and mystic. Vishnu made it more enchanting than Vaikuntha. It was greatly ornamented and was capable of arousing passions and love. Here, men and women wandered about in leisure and joy as the delightful city had many places of beauty and charisma. All the four varnas (classes of people doing various jobs according to the class) of which an ideal society is composed of, inhabited the wonderful city.
Sheelnidhi, the most celebrated king governed the country and the fantastic city enhanced king’s glory. He had a daughter whom he wanted to marry off soon. Therefore, he organised a great festival (swayamavara) for the celebration of marriage of the princess. Many princes of various countries from different directions arrived in the capital, dressed up in fabulous royal clothes, ornaments and crests when they heard about the grand celebration. Thus, the city attracted a huge crowd of princes of several states. When sage Narada learnt about the wonderful city, Vishnu had created it charmed and excited. He arrived at the palace of King Sheelnidhi. The king was overwhelmed and accorded royal greetings to the celestial monk, requested Narada to sit on a jewel-studded regal chair and worshipped.
Later on, he called daughter Srimati and asked her to bow at the feet of holy monk. Narada was amazed to see Srimati, a beautiful girl.
He said, “O king, who is this fortunate girl? She is like goddess.”
The king with folded hands said, “O monk, she is my daughter Srimati, and now, the time of marriage has come. She is going to the hall of swayamavara where she will choose a suitable match. She appears a girl of noble qualities. O monk, please tell me about the future of Srimati.”
Charming beauty of princess had already fascinated and mesmerised the sage and therefore, he felt excited and thrilled. A desire to possess the princess arose in the mind of monk.
With an earnest desire, he said to the king, “O lord of earth, your daughter seems the most fortunate and because of great destiny, she appears like goddess Laksmi, full of propitious virtues. Her future husband would be, undoubtedly, like Sankara. He will be powerful, affluent, the lord of gods, indomitable and dauntless, and will be the greatest among the gods with control over senses.”
He said, took leave of the king and went away. In truth, love and passion had overtaken Narada. Celestial maya of Shiva drove him to the love of senses. How to get the princess as wife disturbed. He thought over the plan. He thought loudly, “How to get this girl? How is it possible that she chooses me only among a number of princes of different states, who would arrive to attend swayamavara? A woman loves good and handsome looks of her man, the prospective husband. She can definitely prefer me cheerfully if I look handsome and exquisite… and I do not doubt it.”
He was already very much disturbed. Kamadeva felt battered intensely with deeply warm passions. A desire to disguise as Vishnu cropped up and so, he reached Vaikuntha.
He saluted Vishnu and said, “O lord, I want to speak to you when you are alone.”
Vishnu agreed to the request of Narada and when alone, Vishnu said, “O monk, please tell.”
“O lord, King Sheelnidhi is your great devotee and is always engaged in acts of dharma, and performs karmas with purity of mind. He has a beautiful daughter Srimati with attractive large eyes. She is not only a captivating beauty in the universe but also the most stunning girl in the three worlds. O lord, I wish to marry the girl right now. King Sheelnidhi is organising a swayamavara to marry off and therefore, hundreds of princes from everywhere have arrived. I am your devotee. O lord, therefore, bestow a beautiful image of extraordinary man on me so that Srimati chooses me as husband.”
Vishnu looked at the monk and smiled, and at the same time, he knew the subtle impact of maya of Shiva.
He said, “O monk, go to the much loved place. I shall take care of you and do what is appropriate for you like a physician, who treats a sick man. You are my most adored devotee.” Vishnu said and gave him face of a monkey. Narada felt blessed but was ignorant of the strange and unusual face. Afterward, the lord disappeared. Sage Narada was quite happy after he heard the lord benignly and so thought of the image and beauty of Vishnu.
Within heart, he was deeply indebted to Vishnu. He expressed appreciation in silence and prayers. Nevertheless, he could not understand what Vishnu had done. Later, the celestial monk arrived at the grand hall of swayamavara of Srimati where many princes had assembled. A glance at the imposing and wonderful hall of the marriage, demonstrated its majesty and opulence, which equaled the divine beauty of the hall of Indra.
No doubt, it was a divine marriage. Narada also sat in the hall on a proper chair, and thereafter, deliberated happily that he carried the looks, image and beauty of lord Vishnu and therefore, his choice as Srimati’s husband was a foregone conclusion. She would not garland anyone else, for divine beauty and magic of lord Vishnu glorified him.” He thought and felt extremely delighted.
Monk Narada never thought for a while that he appeared ugly. All those present in the hall, saw Narada in earlier figure. None understood the secret of change in figure and appearances of Narada. Counselors of lord Rudra were present for the security of Narada. They sat in thoughtful bearing in the guise of brahmins. Only those counselors knew the secret of transformed figure of Narada.
Observing that passionate excitement had overcome Narada, they came near monk’s seat, talked to each other, and mocked at the great monk. On the other hand, intensity of love of sage Narada for the princess awfully overwhelmed and disturbed him. Therefore, he refused to recognise facts and ignored sneering words of lord’s counselors in disguise.
Magical beauty of princess enamoured Narada as he waited with excitement and curiosity for the arrival of the beautiful young girl. In the meantime, the princess, surrounded by woman-attendants emerged out of the palace of queens with a garland of gold in hands. Now, she stood in the center of fabulously decorated hall of marriage, and appeared like the most beautiful goddess Laksmi. With the divine and golden garland in hands, the princess of generous earth, walked around the hall and threw cautious and evaluating glances in search of a suitable match among the gathering of princes.
She was annoyed when she looked at monk Narada with the face of a monkey and the body of Vishnu. None knew the mystery surrounding Narada and the designs of lord. After looking at the ugly face and handsome body of Narada in disguise, she went to the other side in resentment. Fears and uncertainty filled the heart of the princess when she found no suitable match among the princes. She did not garland anyone and stood silent like a statue. At that time, Vishnu in the guise of a king arrived but nobody observed. Only the princess could see and recognise him. Instantly, a sense of delight filled the princess and as expected, she garlanded Vishnu.
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