Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The birth of Nahusha - Part 2 of 3

Far away in the kingdom of Prathishthana, there lived King Ayus with his queen Indumathi. Ayus and Indumathi ruled Prathishthana well. Their subjects loved them. However deep inside they were unhappy. They did not have any children of their own.
So King Ayus and Queen Indumathi prayed and meditated on Lord Dattatreyan for a child. Finally after being pleased with their prayers, a son was born to them. The whole kingdom rejoiced at the birth of the son. He was called Nahusha.
The King and the Queen were beset with joy. With their son, it felt as if they were now complete.
Unknown to the royal couple, they were being watched. Hunda, the asura whom Ashokasundari had cursed had heard of the birth of Ayus’s son. He traveled towards the kingdom of Prathishthana and resided in the forests nearby. He kept a watchful eye on the royal couple and the new born baby. When the baby was named Nahusha, Hunda’s suspicions were confirmed.
A year after the birth of Nahusha, the palace was resting after finishing the birthday celebrations of the young prince. Everything was so calm and peaceful.
A hooded figure stealthily came inside the palace and slowly walked up to the room of the royal couple. The king and the queen were fast asleep. The hooded figure then looked at the sleeping baby in the cradle. Quietly without disturbing the king and the queen, the figure picked up the baby and went out the palace the same way the figure had walked in.
The next morning the whole palace was running helter skelter. Their prince was missing. The whole palace and subsequently the kingdom was also searched but no sign of the missing prince.
Queen Indumati was inconsolable. She had had a child after such a great penance. Now, she had just lost the baby. She was so careless. Indumati looked desperately as the guards came back from searching the palace and the other places near the palace. No sign of the prince.
The King and the Queen were in the palace waiting for some news, any news. When they had an unexpected visitor. Sage Narada!
Sage Narada was a wondering saint, who roamed all through the earth and the heavens. He was a regular mischief maker, who worked to make the bad people realize their mistakes and correct them and helped the good people.
Queen Indumati knew that if anyone knew where her son was, it was Sage Narada. She ran to the sage and fell at his feet, almost crying out, "Sir! Sir! My son....have you seen..." She burst out into tears as Ayus came from behind her.
Ayus controlled himself and offered the Sage some refreshments.
Sage Narada spoke without preamble, "Your majesty! I know what is worrying you. But please do not worry. Your son is safe. "
Ayus looked at Sage Narada hoping he had heard right. Indumati almost cried with frustration, "I need to see him. I need to see him now. Please. Tell me where he is. "
Sage Narada shook his head, "No my queen. Now is not the time for your son to live here. "
Queen Indumati almost yelled at the sage, "I am his mother. You just cannot..... "
Sage Narada spoke calmly, "Your son’s life was in grave danger my queen. He was kidnapped by Hunda, who is a very powerful asura . The only reason your son is still alive is that Hunda’s cook is a good kind hearted man."
Queen Indumati looked at Narada baffled unable to make sense of what the sage of saying. Sage Narada told the king and the queen, the story of Ashokasundari and Hunda. The king and queen listened fascinated as Sage Narada continued, "It was Hunda, who came to your palace and kidnapped your son, Ayus!" Indumati was staring at Sage Narada with terrified eyes as the sage continued, "He took your son home and wanted to kill him. Hunda’s cook was a good man. He took your son and safely hid him and told Hunda that he had killed him. The cook has taken your son and left him in the ashrama of Sage Vasishta. "
Queen Indumati came forward and spoke haltingly, "Then....then....I will..go and get my son back from Sage Vasishta."
"No!" Sage Narada said sharply, "Doing that will only put your son in more danger. "
Ayus and Indumati looked at each other with troubled eyes as Sage Narada spoke furiously, "Think! Hunda thinks your son is dead. And your son is safe in the hands of Sage Vasishta, who is one of the most brilliant teachers of warfare. If you bring your son back here, who says Hunda will not make another attempt on your son"s life. And who will protect him then.”
"I have an army. " Indumati started but was stopped by the look on Sage Narada’s face.
"An army was guarding the palace, when Hunda took your son away. They were not able to do anything. " Sage Narada said coldly.
Indumati realized the intelligence of the Sage, but still was not convinced. Sage Narada spoke with a smile, "My Queen! Your son is safe from Hunda and he will learn from one of the best gurus in the world. He will return to you when the time is right. It is for the best. Nahusha will need all his training from Sage Vasishta, when he eventually fights Hunda. "
Finally Ayus and Indumati agreed and Nahusha grew up in the ashrama of Sage Vasishta, unaware of who he was.
The kingdom of Prathishtana waited for its prince.

-From the Padma Purana

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