Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were happily residing in Kailash. Once Goddess Parvati requested Lord Shiva, 'Will you take me to Nandankanan?'
Lord Shiva smiled and looked questioningly at Goddess Parvati, 'Why?'
Goddess Parvati said, 'I have heard that the tress there are the most beautiful and hold many mysteries within them...I would like to see such a place myself...'
Lord Shiva smiled and nodded his head.
The next day Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva went to Nandankanan. There the Goddess was wonder struck on seeing the beautiful trees and flowers there....She looked around gazing in wonder. She looked at one tree in particular and turned to Shiva. 'Why is this tree so different from the others?'
Lord Shiva smiled, 'It is not an ordinary tree, Parvati...That is the Kalpataru....'
Goddess Parvati looked astonished from Lord Shiva to the tree...Kalpataru...The tree which could grant any wish...'Is it really the...Kalpataru?' Goddess Parvati whispered looking at the tree.
Lord Shiva laughed, 'Well you can test it yourself....You can wish for anything....'
Goddess Parvati looked teasingly at Lord Shiva and closed her eyes. Then she spoke, 'Kalpataru! I wish to have an intelligent and beautiful daughter now...'
Goddess Parvati opened her eyes to see a beautiful baby at the base of the tree! She picked it up and cuddled it. 'Ashokasundari! You are Ashokasundari!' She sang as she kissed the baby.
Right in front of their eyes, the baby grew to a beautiful young woman! She bowed to Goddess Parvati, 'Mother! I was created for you...What do you want me to do?'
'Go forth and enjoy yourself my child!' Goddess Parvati said. 'When the time is right, you will have Nahusha as your husband...'
Ashokasundari blessed by her mother and father roamed about the gardens of Nandakanan. Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva returned back to Kailash.
Near Nandanakanan, there lived an asura Hunda. When Hunda saw Ashokasundari, he was spell bound by her beauty....
He went to her, 'Beautiful lady! Will you marry me?' He spoke gruffly pulling Ashokasundari towards him.
Ashokasundari pushed Hunda back and shook her head, 'No! I do not wish to marry you...I wish to marry the person who was chosen for me by my mother...' Ashokasundari smiled and was about to walk away when Hunda blocked her way. 'You don't even know who it is that you are going to marry....You are willing to wait for someone whom you don't know....Can't you just marry me? I am begging you...'
Ashokasundari shook her head once more, 'My mother Parvati has chosen this man for me....I will marry no other person other than him.' She insisted again.
By now Hunda was annoyed. The nerve of the woman...to refuse to marry him...one of the most powerful asuras in the world....
Hunda angrily caught Ashokasundari by her hand and pulled her, 'I am Hunda...' He said angrily, '...I am the most powerful asura in the world....When I come and ask you for something....you should do it to me immediately....' Hunda said becoming more and more red as he spoke.
Ashokasundari pushed Hunda with all her might. As the asura fell back Ashokasundari pulled out her sword and pointed it at him and looked at him with his eyes blazing, 'How dare you force me to marry you...I have told you I am not interested....Now get lost before I lose me temper...'
Hunda saw that there was no point in angering Ashokasundari anymore. He knew that if he pushed her any further, she could never accept to marry him...Besides she was in her own territory...he would have to get her out of Nandakanan...Probably then....
A few days later, a young woman was sitting near Nandakanan looking very unhappy and dejected.
Ashokasundari had just finished her morning prayers when she saw the beautiful woman. She went towards her, 'What is the matter? You look so unhappy...Why...'
The woman looked at Ashokasundari and looked at the ground looking brokenhearted. Ashokasundari came forward and sat beside the woman, 'What has happened sister? You look unhappy. Is there anything I can do to...'
The woman took a deep breath as tears poured out of her eyes and she finally spoke, '..I have no one...no one of my own...'
Ashokasundari stroked the woman's hand looking at her waiting for her to continue. The woman said, 'I just lost my husband....He...He is not...not coming back....he is dead...' The woman said choking on the last word. Ashokasundari looked at the woman feeling sorry for the woman. The woman continued, 'I..can't think...of going back to my...our house anymore....It feels so lonely....I feel so alone...' The woman sobbed quietly wiping the tears from her eyes.
Ashokasundari shook her head. 'Sh...Sh...Its...Listen...I will come and stay with you for some days....It will probably help you...You will not be alone anymore....' She said looking at the woman. The woman's face brightened when she heard this. 'You..You really would come with me...You are such a nice person...thank you so much....'
Soon Ashokasundari and the woman left for the woman's house. As Ashokasundari went near the house, a feeling of unease came over her. The house was in the middle of the dense forest...What sort of people would stay in the middle of the dense forest...However she did not say anything....
When they reached the home, Ashokasundari looked around the house and was about to ask the woman, when she found the woman missing! She turned and found no sign of the woman. She went around the house and found it deserted...Feeling frightened Ashokasundari was about to call out for the woman, when she saw a rough hairy hand close her mouth and pull her towards it. She could smell the stale breath of the man as it whispered, 'I told you..to marry me when I asked you...didn't I?'
Ashokasundari looked stunned to hear the voice of Hunda! She realized that the woman must have been Hunda in disguise...She struggled against the strong grip of the monster as the monster's grip tightened.
Hunda pushed Ashokasundari back and she hit the tree behind her as her vision blurred for a minute. Before she could get up Hunda came close to her...Ashokasundari pushed Hunda with all her strength. Hunda was lying dazed as Ashokasundari spoke angrily, 'How dare you touch me without my permission...For this I curse you...' Hunda looked at Ashokasundari as his expression paled, '...I Ashokasundari curse you that you will be killed by the man, who will become my husband...You will be killed by Nahusha...'
Saying this Ashokasundari vanished from there and went back to the heavens...
Hunda was stunned at the curse...He slowly thought things over...Ashokasundari was destined to marry Nahusha...However Ashokasundari has not yet married Nahusha because he has not yet come on earth... That probably meant that Nahusha has not even born on earth now....Hunda's eyes narrowed..If I kill Nahusha before he grows up to kill me....than nothing can kill me....Hunda smiled slyly.
-From the Padma Purana
www.kamakhayadevi.com ................................ Pariskshit and Kali – The death of Parikshit
Yudhishtar was in his palace, when a guard came trembling with shock and fear. Yudhishtar composed himself and spoke sharply, 'What is it my man? You are shaking like a leaf, what is it?'
As the guard spoke his voice shook, 'Lord Krishna....Lord Krishna...'
'What happened to Lord Krishna?' Yudhistar almost shouted as the guard stopped.
'Your majesty...Lord Krishna is no more....He has been killed....' The guard finally said as he spoke haltingly.
Yudhishtar blinked and shook his head. It was no way, he had heard right....How could Lord Krishna....No he had heard wrong....
By then the other Pandavas – Bheema, Arjun, Nakul and Sahadeva also came closer.
Arjuna roughly clutched the guards shoulders and shook him as he spoke harshly, 'What are you saying? How could anything happen to Lord Krishna?'
The guard spoke faintly, 'Sir! After the death of the Yadavas, Lord Krishna was walking alone through the forest....He was sleeping under a tree, sir! A hunter Jara....thought that...that it was a deer and shot....' The guards looked down almost sobbing unable to continue any further.
Arjuna's eye's filled with tears as he thought of his Krishna....Krishna, the beautiful, black Krishna....the cheerful Krishna, the most brilliant strategist in the world....Arjuna looked at the guard blankly....Without Krishna he felt....empty, without any purpose....
Arjuna and Lord Krishna were born on the same day. [In Hindu mythology Lord Krishna is an avatar of Lord Narayana. It is also believed that Nara had been created out of Lord Narayana. Arjuna was supposed to be an incarnation of Nara]
Arjuna suddenly felt living a big burden and swayed as he fell unconscious....
When Arjuna woke up, the pain would still not go away...
Yudhishtar also found that he no longer had the wish to rule Hastinapur and looking at his brothers he realized that they also felt the same way....
The Pandavas then crowned their grandson Parikshit as the king of Hastinapur anaraaand along with their wife Draupadi, gave up their kingdom and went to the Himalayas to meditate.
Parikshit was a great ruler and looked very well after Hastinapur. But unknown to the Pandavas and Parikshit, a greater threat loomed with the death of Lord Krishna.
During the ninth day of the Mahabharatha war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, the third yuga had ended and last yuga - Kali yuga had started. However because of the power of Lord Krishna, Kali could not spread all through the earth....
Now with Lord Krishna gone, Kali started spreading evil in the minds of people. However try at it might, Kali could not enter Parikshit's kingdom. Parikshit was a good ruler and his people loved him. Kali could not corrupt the minds of the people there....
'Then one day, the Kali demon came to speak with Parikshit. It told Parikshit, 'Oh King! I am Kali! The Kali Yuga has started, but I cannot enter your kingdom...If things have to go properly, I have to take over all the places in earth...'
Parikshit shook his head, 'You are a demon...You make people wicked...I will not let you inside my kingdom...'
Kali smiled and said, 'You don't have a choice my king, the four ages – Satya yuga, Treta yuga, Dwapara yuga and Kali yuga are a cycle...each must follow the other...it is the law of the universe...'
Parikshit was troubled but realized that Kali would eventually take over the kingdom...I have to just make sure he does not hurt innocent people...Then I will be able to make sure that only people who do bad things would get hurt....Parikshit spoke, 'I will let you in Kali! But on the condition...You cannot be everywhere...you can only be where there is gambling, drinking of alcohol, prostitution, killing of animals and where ever there is gold... and no where else....'
Kali let out a sly smile, as he just figured out a brilliant idea to trap the king...He meekly nodded his head and vanished from before Parikshit. Parikshit could not help shake the feeling that he had done something which he was going to regret...
Parikshit was a king and like all kings, he always a crown...a crown of gold....
Now Kali smugly entered into Parikshit's crown and waited...
A few days later, Parikshit was traveling through the jungle. He was tired and separated from his army. He was thirsty and going as he came to the ashrama of Sage Samika. The sage was so deep in meditation that he did not even notice the king.
Parikshit bowed again and again at the Sage, but the sage never realized it...A new voice spoke inside the king's head...the voice of Kali, 'You are a king...and this worthless man dares defy you....'
Parikshit shook his head...That was a sage...he could not think like this about him...But the voice persisted, 'That man is defying you...He must be punished...He must be made to look silly for what he has done....'
Though Parikshit tried fighting with the voice in his head, he lost. He looked around and saw a dead snake lying near the sage. With an cruel grin, he picked up the snake and hung it around the neck of the sage and left. Serves the man right...Who does he think he is...
The sage Samika was so deep in his meditation that he did not even realize what had happened....In the evening, Samika's son Sringan had come to ashrama and was horrified to find a dead snake on his father's neck. He removed the snake and looked furiously around.
With a deep breath he closed his eyes and meditated. He realized that it was King Parikshit who had done this. A king is acting like this...Such a king need not exist...
Sringan opened his eyes and in anger cursed Parikshit, 'Parikshit, you will die seven days...from now by a snake bite...'
When King Parikshit had heard the curse, he immediately gave up the throne up to his son Janamejaya. He called for Sage Suka and listened to the Bhagawat Purana the whole of the next seven days....
As Parikshit listened to the stories, his fear of death went away. He realized the ultimate truth of life and death and gave up his body to attain moksha.
True to Sringan's curse, Takshak, the king of the snakes bit King Parikshit's body after the soul had left it, thereby making the sage's words true.
Janamejaya who became the king of Hastinapur after his father, was very angry with Takshak for killing his father. He conducted the great Snake Sacrifice to avenge the death of his father. It was during the Snake Sacrifice that the story of Mahabharatha was narrated for the first time by Sage Vaysampayana to Janamejaya.
............................. The birth of Parikshit
The five Pandavas were looking at Ashwattama with repulsion. The once handsome Ashwattama looked hideous. His features were distorted and ugly beyond comparison. The Pandavas could not believe that Ashwattama would be capable of such a thing....
Yudhishtar realized with tears in his eyes, how wrong he had been in thinking that the war was over....It was far from over....Yudhishtar thought back to the events of the previous day....
Duryodhana was dying and all the Kauravas were dead. The eldest Kaurava – Duryodhana was lying in the battlefield with no one to care for him...Atleast that is what the Pandavas thought....They had gone with Lord Krishna, leaving their people to take rest after the battle.
Unknown to all of them Ashwattama along with Kripacharya and Kritivarma had gone to see Duryodhana. Duryodhana was lying in great pain in the battlefield from the thigh wound that Bheema had given him. All of Duryodhana's brothers, friends and relatives were dead. There was no one to come to help him....Duryodhana was all alone in his pain, just waiting to die, when Ashwatttama came to see him.
Ashwattama sat down beside Duryodhana and put Duryodhana's head on his lap and said sadly. 'My king...Is this what you have been reduced to...' He said with tears in his eyes. 'You were one of the greatest kings in the world...Now...Now look at you....' He said.
Duryodhana spoke feebly, 'What can I do Ashwattama? That wretched Krishna fought for the Pandavas...He single-handed took the war away from us....The Pandavas and Krishna together used every possible means....even wrong means to win....'
Ashwattama was very angry.
He conveniently forgot that the whole war was Duryodhana's doing. Duryodhana had taken away the kingdom of the Pandavas...and humiliated them by exiling them to the forest...Duryodhana had refused to give the kingdom back when the Pandavas came after the period of exile....Duryodhana had repeatedly refused to the peace offers of the Pandavas...
Ashwattama stroked Duryodhana's head. 'We are still here, my king...Your army is not yet completely finished...I will finish the Pandavas for you....' Through his pain Duryodhana gave a smile and said. 'I....I will make you the general of this army.... Go and destroy the Pandavas...' He said giving Ashwattama a ghost of a smile.
Ashwattama placed Duryodhana's head back on the ground and with Kripacharya and Kritivarman walked away.
As Ashwattama walked, his head burned with anger. Ashwattama had never liked the Pandavas. His father Dronacharya loved Arjuna, the third Pandava best....His favourite pupil...Ashwattama snorted. It was because of the wretched Pandavas that he had always been loved second...His father was always talking on and on about 'Arjuna this Arjuna that'....As far as his father Dronacharya was considered, the sun rose and set on Arjuna, the rest did not matter. And in the end did Dronacharya's love for the Pandavas matter...They just killed him too....
'Dronacharya was the Guru of Hastinapur. He had no choice but to fight for the Kauravas, who were the rulers of Hastinapur, during the war...Though Dronacharya loved the Pandavas, he had to fight for the Kauravas.
After Bheeshma had been wounded in battle, Dronacharya was made the general of the Kaurava army.
Duryodhana however never trusted Dronacharya. Duryodhana felt that Dronacharya was not fighting the war to the best of his capabilities...Dronacharya was purposely letting the Pandavas win because he loved them so much....
Duryodhana spoke with Dronacharya in their camp at night, 'Are you trying to tell me, that the great Dronacharya, could not defeat the simple Pandavas...Shame on you....' He said with a taunting voice. Dronacharya remarked in a tight-lipped fashion. 'I will do my best in tomorrow's battle...'
Duryodhana spoke angrily, 'At least tomorrow, I hope you will fight on my side, instead of the side of the wretched Pandavas...'
Duryodhana's remark hurt Dronacharya, but he did not say anything. He just nodded his head and retired for sleeping.
Then Dronacharya did the unthinkable....He went to the extent of trapping Abhimanyu [Arjuna's son] in a maze as every single Kaurava attacked the young Abhimanyu and together killed him...
However, Ashwattama did not think of any of this. For him his father had done what needed to be done as the general of the Kauravas army.
Dronacharya was crushing the Pandava soldiers, over the next days. The Pandavas soldiers were completely stunned and did not know what to do....Dronacharya was using powerful weapons against simple soldiers....
Meanwhile in another part of the battle, Bheema, the Pandava was ploughing through the Kauravas army. He was routing them with his mace as he twirled it. It did not matter to Bheema, whether he was facing people or animals, he just crushed everything in his path.
Bheema while fighting fell an elephant. By some strange coincidence the name of the elephant was Ashwattama.
Bheema roared and ran straight to Dronacharya, 'I have killed Ashwattama...I have killed Ashwattama...' He danced with delight as he yelled at Dronacharya.
Dronacharya almost fumbled from his chariot when he heard the words. Sick and frightened he turned and looked around the battlefield and saw no sign of his son....Then slowly Drona pulled himself together...There was no way anyone could defeat him son....But still the doubt remained in his mind. What if...
He left Bheema and talked to his charioteer. 'Take me to Yudhishtar...' The charioteer raced through the field towards Yudhishtar. Yudhishtar was supposed to be the personification of Righteousness and never to have spoken a lie in his life...If anyone could tell the truth it was Yudhishtar....
Drona came close and asked him, 'Yudhishtar, you are a follower of Dharma...You have never lied in your whole life...Tell me the truth now...' Drona asked in desperation, 'Did your brother just kill Ashwattama?'
Yudhishtar was in a dilemma. He was not supposed to lie...But he also knew that if he told a lie now...his teacher would be finished...He spoke slowly, 'My brother has killed Ashwattama...' Very slowly almost to himself he spoke quietly, 'an elephant.'
At the same time, Lord Krishna who knew what was happening blew his conch so loudly that Drona was unable to hear Yudhistar's last words....
That did it...Drona was heart broken...With his son gone...he had no desire to fight...He threw away all the weapons from his chariot and right in the middle of the battlefield started his meditation to give up his body to die....
It is said that Yudhishtar's chariot was always a few centimeters above from the earth because he had never told a lie. However when he spoke these words to Drona, the chariot crashed on the earth and he became like any other normal mortal.'
Ashwattama was furiously thinking how Drishtadhyumna [Draupadi's brother. Draupadi was the wife of the Pandavas] had killed his father when he was meditating on the field! The nerve of the Pandavas...And they were claiming to be righteous people....Ashwattama fumed.
As he was walking back from his visit to Duryodhana, he realized that he would use any methods necessary to finish the Pandavas, they were a menace...
As he was walking Ashwattama saw an owl sitting on the tree. The owl was being bothered by some crows. Ashwattama watched the crows and the owl idly.
Ashwattama slept under the tree as night came. He woke up to the sound of some birds screeching. Ashwattama woke up groggily as he saw something...The owl was attacking the crows at the night... This gave Ashwattama a very bad idea.
Ashwattama that night, while the Pandava army was sleeping, killed all the main Pandava warriors! To kill someone while they were unarmed was one of the most heinous crimes of war. Ashwattama killed every single warriors without any remorse.
The remaining warriors who tried to escape were killed by Kripacharya and Kritivarman who were standing at the gates to prevent anyone from escaping....
Ashwattama did not know that the Pandavas were away with Lord Krishna at that time. He found the five sons of the Pandavas and thinking that they were the Pandavas, killed all of the them.
Subsequently Ashwattama came to know that he had not killed the Pandavas but their sons – the Upapandavas. Ashwattama realizing that the Pandavas were still alive and would hunt him down, ran to the ashrama of Sage Veda Vyasa to hide there.
The five Pandavas along with Lord Krishna came the next morning and were dumbstruck to find their army dead....The Pandavas could not believe it....After they had thought everything was over.....disaster had struck...Draupadi was inconsolable as she watched her five sons lying dead on the field....
She fiercely sat on the battlefield and spoke with glaring eyes, 'Ashwattama is responsible for this....That man has to die...Only and only when you show me the stone in his forehead, I will believe that you have avenged...you have avenged...' Draupadi pointed around her as her voice cracked. '...till you avenge their death, I will not move from here and I will not eat or drink...'
Yudhishtar knew how stubborn Draupadi could be and did not try arguing with her. He along with his brothers and Lord Krishna went in search of Ashwattama. There they came to the ashrama of Sage Veda Vyasa and found Ashwattama hiding there.
However when the Pandavas confronted Ashwattama, they were shocked. The handsome Ashwattama was looking hideous, ugly and deformed. The work that he had done the previous night had destroyed his soul...
The Pandavas were looking at Ashwattama with repulsion.
On seeing the Pandavas, Ashwattama realized that they were going to kill him.
While he had been young, Ashwattama had pestered his father to teach him the Brahmastra. Though Drona had been reluctant, he had taught his son how to invoke the powerful weapon. But Dronacharya had told him never to invoke the weapon as the consequences would be disastrous.
Realising that he had no other way, Ashwattama plucked a blade of grass and muttered the mantras converting it into a Brahmastra!
Lord Krishna saw this and turned to Arjuna, 'Arjuna! Brahmastra quick!'
Arjuna immediately launched a Braahmastra of his own [which he had learnt from Lord Shiva himself] to counter the attack.
That was when time stood still. The weapons stopped in the air. The great sage Veda Vyasa came forward and spoke to Arjuna and Ashwattama. 'Using the Brahmastra will destroy the earth....Take back your weapons....the earth should not be destroyed now....take it back....' He turned to Arjuna. 'Arjuna! Take back your weapon....NOW'
Arjuna nodded and closed his eyes. He used all the powers of concentration. The Brahmastra was a powerful weapon....once launched it could not be taken back just like that...Arjuna shivered as he used all the powers of his mind and pulled back the weapon....When the weapon was safely back, it drained Arjuna of his strength as he swayed precariously looking at Ashwattama.
The sage then turned to Ashwattama, 'Take back your weapon Ashwattama....' But Ashwattama was flustered. He had pestered his father and learnt how to use the Brahmastra, he had never learnt how to revoke it!
The Sage Veda Vyasa spoke again, 'If you cannot take it back then please divert the weapon to some place where there are no people....Atleast the damage would be minimal...'
As Ashwattama was concentrating hard, some stray thoughts came into his mind...He could divert the weapon...Why should he divert it to some place where there are no people...Ashwattama narrowed his eyes and diverted the weapon. He diverted it straight towards Draupadi and Uttara....
Draupadi's womb was destroyed by the weapon...She could never have children again....Uttara – Arjuna's daughter-in-law was carrying Abhimanyu's son in her womb. The weapon destroyed the child too!
Ashwattama looked as the Pandavas and Lord Krishna looked at him horrified.
Lord Krishna spoke for the first time, his voice trembling with anger, 'You think you have destroyed the Pandavas...I, Krishna am telling you now...You will be under the rule of Uttara's child, whom you just killed! That child will become a great king...And you Ashwattama...'
Krishna looked at the ugly Ashwattama and spoke venomously, 'I curse you...You will always have painful sores all over your body with all diseases...there will always be a foul smell coming from you...you will not have a single friend to talk to....and you will keep roaming the earth, without death till the end of Kali Yuga!' Ashwattama howled as Krishna continued, 'Hand me your stone...' Ashwattama was born with a stone embedded in his forehead. The stone was supposed to keep him free of diseases and death...Ashwattamma having no choice handed over the stone to Krishna.
It is believed that Ashwattama still roams around the earth with no one to talk to...The wound that was caused because of the stone being removed from his head was never supposed to heal...It is believed that he would be given salvation by Kalki, the next Avatar of Lord Vishnu, which is yet to come....
Back at Kurukshetra, the Pandavas were dejected. They had won the great war but for no reason...they had no reason to keep the huge kingdom...no one to share it with...no one to continue it after them....
Lord Krishna however pointed out that they owed to their people to be good kings. The Pandavas reluctantly agreed and became the rulers of Hastinapur.
Uttara was about to give birth, when Lord Krishna came to Hastinapur. The whole kingdom was waiting as this was the heir who was going to rule them eventually.
However disaster struck!
The child was born dead....The people in the palace were brokenhearted as Krishna came forward. Draupadi and Uttara came forward as Uttara spoke between sobs, 'My child....my child...please....please...do something....'
Krishna nodded and took the child in his arms. He closed his eyes and spoke softly, 'I have lived a life following my purpose and fulfilling it...If that is so, I will give you life....' The woman watched as a mysterious force flew from Krishna into the child....
The silence of the whole palace was shattered by the wailing of the young child....Uttara, Draupadi and the Pandavas were thrilled on hearing the young child's wails. They all picked the child and cuddled him.
The child was called as Parikshit – meaning one who was tested by time. As he had already been tested by death, he was given that name...He was also called as Vishnuratha meaning the one who was always protected by Lord Vishnu
Parikshit was a very good king and always followed the path of righteousness. His people adored him. After the Pandavas gave up the kingdom 36 years later, he was made the ruler of Hastinapur and ruled his people very well...
However Parikshit died because of the snake bite as a result of a curse of a sage... That is another story....
Raghu and Indra
After serving Nandini, the divine cow, King Dileepa and his Queen Sudhakshina had a son – Raghu. Raghu was handsome and inherited the qualities of both his parents. He learnt the art of warfare and diplomacy and was adept in the Vedas. His teachers were proud of him. Raghu was such a skilled warrior that his Guru specifically called Dileepa and praised Raghu's fighting prowess.
Dileepa and Sudhakshina were very happy and proud of their son. Immediately after Raghu completed his education, Dileepa made Raghu the crown prince. Raghu was given more responsibilities in the state administration. Dileepa and Sudhakshina was thrilled to find that Raghu showed the same flair for administrating the kingdom.
Before handing over the kingdom to his son, Dileepa had one more wish to fulfill. He talked to Sudhakshina that evening, 'Sudhakshina! I know it is time to make our son the king and retire to the forests...'
Sudhakshina however sensed that her husband had some other ideas, 'Dileepa! Before we go to the forests, I think it is best if we fulfill all our desires...After retiring we cannot come back...' Dileepa looked at Sudhakshina with understanding eyes and was glad that he had such a wonderful wife. He cleared his throat, 'I want to...to do...a hundred Ashwamedha Yagnas...before...'
Sudhakshina smiled. She looked at Dileepa, 'I don't think there is anyone else in the whole world who has the right to do the Yagna more than you. You are a good king, a good man and people are very happy under your rule...Trust me,' Sudhakshina said looking at Dileepa with pride, 'You deserve to complete the 100 Ashwamedha Yagnas.'
Dileepa's eyes shone with pride. Indra was the only person who had completed a hundred Ashwamedha Yagnas till date....
And so it started. As part of the Ashwamedha Yagna, a horse was allowed to roam anywhere around out the world. If the horse went inside another kingdom, the king of the other kingdom either had to fight with the army of the king performing the yagna or accept the supremacy of the king.
Dileepa had a strong army. Now he exercised its full use during the Yagna. Most of the kings were willing to accept the supremacy of the great king. However there were some kings who wanted to fight. Dileepa's army fought with them and were victorious all the times. This way Dileepa completed 99 Ashwamedha Yagnas.
Before the hundredth Yagna was to start, Sudhakshina spoke to her husband, 'Dileepa! This is the hundredth Yagna...'
Dileepa frowned. He had completed 99 Yagnas because of the support of his wife. His army was doing a good job...Why then would his wife have any doubts especially at the dawn of the final Yagna...Dileepa however had no doubts that his wife had something very important to say...He looked at her questioningly as Sudhakshina continued, 'Dileepa! Its just that Indra is the only person who has completed a 100 yagnas...' Dileepa nodded as Sudhakshina continued, 'And Indra is a God...We are just humans....Do you really think Indra would like it if a mere human were able to complete a hundred yagnas....' Sudhakshina finished hesitatingly.
Dileepa looked at Sudhakshina for a long time, 'You think, Indra may create some hurdles so that I do not complete the yagnas?...'
Sudhakshina nodded as Dileepa looked outside the palace window at the morning sun. He could see the priests and the others were busily preparing for the yagna...
He slowly turned to his wife, 'Raghu!' He said as if it was the answer to all his prayers. 'Raghu!' He repeated as his looked at his wife, 'This time Raghu will lead the army...He is old enough and remember what his guru told us when he completed his education...'
Sudhakshina slowly nodded. But she was anxious also. She was after all a mother too...Beut she remembered how proud the Guru had been while explaining what a good warrior Raghu was...If anyone could match up to Indra's might it was Raghu...
Dileepa asked his guard to bring the crown prince there. Raghu was attending to work of the yagna, when the guard called him. Raghu immediately left and found his father and mother looking at him with peculiar expressions in their face. His father was looking at him as if he was the answer to all his prayers. His mother was looking at him with part worry and part pride. Raghu bowed to his parents and waited for his parents to talk.
His father spoke first, 'Son! The final yagna starts today...' Dileepa took a deep breath. 'Your mother and I feel that this yagna...could be very...' Raghu watched as his father fumbled for words. Raghu looked surprised and looked at his mother. Sudhakshina spoke, 'Son! I think Indra would not like it if your father completed this yagna...I think he would create a lot of problems...'
Raghu looked at his mother and slowly nodded his head. What she said was not only possible, it was probable...highly probable...He nodded his head again to himself, 'Father! Mother! Please give me the permission to lead the army...I think I...'
He saw his parents look at him with pride and realized that they had also wanted the same thing! He looked at them with a smile, as they blessed him.
After the ceremonies had started, much to the surprise of the army, their young crown prince lead them. All the soldiers had seen the young prince fight and felt it an honour that he was leading them...
Sudhakshina's fear were totally justified. Indra, the king of the Gods was indeed worried...He had tried creating small hurdles in Dileepa's yagna. However Dileepa had always managed to overcome them. Besides had gotten complacent. He did not think that a mere human would ever be able to complete one yagna, let alone a hundred! If Dileepa completed the last yagna, he would become as powerful as the king of Gods...that was something that Indra could not accept...A human as his equal...No! That could not be allowed to happen...
So Indra came to earth. He came to the place where the horse was roaming. He waited patiently as the army rested for the night. As the army was sleeping for the night, Indra turned invisible and stole the horse. He transported the horse with him to the heavens...
The next morning Raghu woke up with a feeling of dread. He could not shake out the feeling that he had missed something when he was asleep...He was about to get up and go out of his tent, when he saw a guard running towards his camp with fear in his face. Raghu knew something was wrong...horribly wrong. The guard came inside and hurriedly greeted the prince, 'Prince! The horse....!'
Raghu did not wait for the guard to complete his sentence. He pushed the guard aside and ran to end of the soldiers tent. The horse was gone....Raghu stared with disbelief. How on earth did anyone take the horse, crossing all of them.... Raghu bent down to study the tracks. He saw the tracks of the horse and ..nothing else...
Raghu looked desperately around...He was dejected when he heard a tinkling of bells...Raghu smiled though he was desperate. He could recognized that tinkle anywhere....Without turning his back he knew that Nandini was behind him. Nandini, the divine cow whom his father and mother had served. Nandini because of whom he was born! Nandini often came to visit Raghu. Raghu could not explain it, but he loved Nandini as much as he loved his mother...
He turned and bowed to Nandini. He realized Nandini's coming was not a coincidence. Nandini smiled at him. Raghu 'saw' in his mind's eye, what had happened to the horse...
Raghu pursed his lips angrily...His mother's suspicions were true...That coward Indra had taken the horse when they were asleep in the middle on the night! Raghu seethed with rage...He was going to teach Indra a lesson.
Raghu with the help of Nandini took his army to the heavens. Thanking Nandini Raghu took his army and challenged Indra to a fight
Indra was surprised by the daring of Raghu. Indra was however ready. A terrible battle ensued between them. Indra fought and to his surprise found the young prince pretty much his equal! Any move that Indra made, Raghu countered and fought back!
In the end, Indra yelled, 'I did not want to, but you leave me with no choice! I am going to use my Vajrayudha against you...'
Raghu's army shivered when they heard this....This was the great Vajrayudha which had brought down the Vritrasura. It was one of the most powerful weapon known to humans....
Raghu snorted, 'Indra! Just because you are the king of Gods, you think you can scare me! Do what you can, I am not retreating without the horse!'
Indra was surprised! Till date nobody had even dared to fight against him...Now this boy was willing to fight him inspite of his powerful Varayudha! Indra felt a grudging respect for the boy...He somehow felt that there would be no pride in winning over such a boy...He pulled up flag of truce and stopped fighting.
Raghu looked suspiciously. But is was custom to stop fighting when the other side put up a truce.
Indra wanted to meet him in person. Accompanied by his guard, Raghu met Indra. Indra looked at him with respect, 'Raghu!' Indra said without any preamble, 'You are the bravest person I have ever seen....I do not wish to fight you...'
Raghu looked surprised as Indra continued, 'You are fighting for the horse, ask for anything else and I will give you...Anything other than the horse...'
Raghu pondered over some time. Raghu did not mind fighting...But he realized that his men were afraid. They could not fight against the Vajrayudha...What could he ask...other than the horse....
Raghu looked at Indra and spoke, 'If you cannot give me horse, make sure my father gets the fruits of the completion of the Ashwamedha Yagna! Let it be known that Dileepa completed a 100 Ashwamedha yagnas...'
Indra looked at the determined boy and realized that nothing could change his mind...Indra nodded his head...Dileepa now got the fruits of completing a hundred yagnas.
Raghu had done the impossible! He had made sure his father had the results of the completion of the Ashwamedha yagna. He returned home a triumphant man!. His army joyously spread his stories all over the kingdom. Dileepa embraced his son. Sudhakshina blessed her son.
The whole kingdom was happy as Raghu was crowned as their king. After this Dileepa and Sudhakshina retired to the forests, a happy couple, completing all their wishes....
Posted by : JAIDEEP OJHA