IN THE EARLIER column, I spoke of Puranjana and his story, from the Bhagavata Purana. Let us continue with the allegory. This is a literal translation, so the English may seem to be somewhat contrived.
The king did exactly what his queen desired. When she drank, he would drink liquor and become senseless and intoxicated. When she ate, he ate. When she chewed, he chewed. When she sang, he sang. When she wept, he wept. When she conversed, he conversed. When she ran, he ran. When she stood, he stood. When she lay down on the bed, he lay down. When she was seated, he sat down. When she heard, he heard. When she saw, he saw. When she smelt, he smelt. When she touched, he touched. When his wife grieved, he too grieved like a distressed person. When she enjoyed, he enjoyed. When she was happy, he was happy. He was so captivated by his queen that his nature was deceived. Though he didn’t wish it, like an ignorant person, he followed her. He was as helpless as a domesticated animal.
One day, the great archer was astride his chariot, yoked to five horses and was advancing swiftly. There were two shafts, two wheels, one axle, three bamboo poles, five joints between the yoke and the pole, one rein, one charioteer, one seat, two poles for the yoke, five types of weapons, seven bumpers and five kinds of movement. He was adorned in golden ornaments. His armour and inexhaustible quivers were made out of gold. There were 11 commanders and he went to the forest of Panchaprastha. One must remember this is an allegory. The chariot is his body, the five horses are the five senses, the two shafts are notions of ‘I’ and ‘mine’, the two wheels are good deeds and bad deeds, the axle is innate nature, the three bamboo poles are the three gunas (sattva, rajas and tamas), the five joints between the yoke and the pole are the five aspects of the breath of life, the rein is the mind, the charioteer is intelligence, the seat is the heart, the two poles for the yoke are grief and delusion, the five types of equipment are the five objects of the senses, the seven bumpers are the seven sheaths of the body, the five kinds of movement are the five organs of action, the bow is attachment, the inexhaustible quiver represents infinite desire and the 11 commanders are the 10 senses and the mind.
Proud, he picked up his bow and arrows and wandered around on a hunt. He hankered after the hunt. Though she did not deserve it, he left his wife behind. He followed the conduct of asuras. His heart was terrible and he was without compassion. Using his sharp arrows, in that forest, he killed many forest-dwellers. It is decreed that in the waterholes in a forest, a king may kill animals required for a sacrifice, but only as much as is required for the purpose. It is the rule that one should not kill out of greed. If a learned man knows and performs acts in accordance with the rules, he is not touched by those acts. However, if a man is overwhelmed by pride and acts in a contrary way, he is bound by those acts. He descends into the flow of the gunas. With his wisdom destroyed, he heads downwards. Arrows whetted on stone mangled the bodies of many. There was destruction of the distressed ones. Those who had compassion in their hearts found this impossible to tolerate. He killed hares, boars, buffaloes, oxen, ruru antelopes, porcupines and many other animals, regardless of whether they could be used for sacrifices. After this, he was overcome by exhaustion. Hungry, thirsty and tired, he withdrew and returned to his residence. Having returned, he bathed and ate the appropriate food. All his exhaustion went away.
The King of Panchala became attached to material objects and had a strong sense of ‘mine’. They ended up destroying his riches. He was attached to his home, his riches and those who lived on them
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As is the custom, he adorned himself with scents, unguents and garlands. Having adorned all his limbs in this way, he started to search for the queen. He was content and happy. He was extremely proud and his mind was affected by Kandarpa, the god of love. He could not see the beautiful one, the mistress of the house. Distressed, he asked the women in the inner quarters: ‘O beautiful women! As used to be the case earlier, is all well with you and your mistress? Unlike earlier, the prosperity of this household is not attracting me anymore, since the house is without a mother and a wife who regarded her husband as a divinity. It is like a shattered chariot. What wise men will reside her, like a miserable person? Where is that beautiful lady? When I am submerged in an ocean of hardships, she saves me. At every step, she illuminates my intelligence.’ The women replied, ‘O king! We do not know why your beloved is behaving in this way. O destroyer of enemies! Behold. Without a spread, she is lying down on the bare ground.’ Puranjana saw his queen on the ground. Since he was attached to her, he was crushed. Not knowing the reason, he was filled with great bewilderment. With his heart shattered, he spoke to her in soft and comforting words. However, there were no signs that his beloved was feigning this because of love. The brave one, who knew how to beseech, entreated her in slow words. He touched her feet. Making her sit on his lap, he embraced her and spoke to her. Puranjana said, ‘O beautiful one! When servants commit an inauspicious act, if their masters do not impose punishment on their wrongdoing, taking them to be their own, the servants do not learn from the punishment and are unfortunate. Punishment is a supreme favour imposed on the servant by the master. O slender one! A person who does not take this to be a friendly act is foolish. You possess excellent teeth and charming eyebrows. Please smile and cast a loving and bashful glance at me. Your dark locks hang down, like a mass of bees. Your beautiful face has a tall nose. O spirited one! Reveal your face to those who are your own. O wife of a brave person! Other than Brahmanas, if there is anyone who has committed an offence against you, I will punish him. I will ensure that he does not obtain freedom from fear and since I am a servant of Murari, I will see that he does not obtain happiness in the three worlds or anywhere else. I have not seen your face so distressed, without a tilaka mark. Because of rage, it seems terrible. It is without radiance and without affection. I have never seen your well-formed breasts suffer so much because of grief. [They were wet with tears.] Your lips are like bimba fruit, but they are bereft of their reddish tinge. O loved one! Show me your favours. I have committed a crime. Overwhelmed by desire, I acted on my own and went on a hunt. Suffering from the force of the god of love, I am under your subjugation. My patience has been shattered. Acting
according to duty, which beautiful woman will not unite with such a husband?’
In this way, Puranjani (Puranjana’s wife) used her charms to bring Puranjana under her control. She enjoyed herself, finding pleasure with her husband. The queen, the one with the beautiful face, bathed herself well and approached the king. He was content and welcomed her. Embraced by her, he embraced her back. Bereft of his senses, he used loving words to converse with her in private. He did not realise the passing of time. Night and day, he was captivated by the lady. The great-minded one was overwhelmed by this confusion. Using his queen’s arms as a pillow, he lay down on an extremely expensive bed. The brave one thought that she was supreme. Overcome by tamas, he no longer understood what was his and what belonged to someone else. With his senses overcome by the sin of desire, he pleasured with her. His youth passed away, as if it was a fleeting moment. Through Puranjani, Puranjana had 1,100 sons. However, half of his life was over. Through Puranjani, he also had 1,100 daughters and they brought fame to their father and mother. They possessed good conduct and noble qualities. The king of Panchala wished to extend the lineage of his fathers. He had his sons married to wives and his daughters were married to grooms who were their equals. Each of those sons had a hundred sons. In this way, Puranjana’s lineage increased in the land of Panchala. He became attached to material objects and had a strong sense of ‘mine’. They ended up destroying his riches. He was attached to his home, his riches and those who lived on them. He consecrated himself for terrible sacrifices and rites, at which, animals were killed.