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The Humbling of Indra - 2 a story from the Brahma-vaivarta Purana

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Part two:

 

The great Muni (sage) was dressed in the skin of a

black deer, and had a bright mark on his forehead. His

head was piled with matted hair, shaded by a paltry

parasol of grass. The cluster of hair on his chest was

circular and intact at the circumference, but in the

center had disappeared. This saintly figure strode

directly to Indra and the boy, squatted between them

on the floor, and there remained, motionless as a

rock.

 

The great Indra, when he saw the newcomer, joyfully

bowed to him, reverentially offered him oblations of

honey and milk, humbly enquired into his welfare, and

with pleasure and esteem offered him the hospitality

due to a guest. Whereupon the boy addressed the holy

man, asking the very questions Indra himself would

have proposed, "O Brahmin, whence have you come? What

is your name and what brings you to this place? Where

is your home and what is the meaning of the grass

parasol over your head? Why in your chest is the

circle of hair dense at the circumference, but almost

bare at the center? Be kind enough to answer, in

brief, these questions. I am anxious to understand."

 

The Muni, hearing the words of the boy, slowly began

his reply, "My name is Lomasha (the hairy one). The

cause of my arrival is to behold Indra. Since I know I

am short-lived, I have decided to build no house,

neither to marry nor to seek a livelihood. I exist by

begging alms. To shield myself from sun and rain I

carry over my head this parasol of

grass. As to the circle of hair on my chest, it is a

source of fear to the people of the world, but

nevertheless teaches wisdom. With the fall of an

Indra, one hair drops. That is why in the center all

the hairs have gone. When the other half of the period

allotted to Brahma expires, I myself am destined to

die. O Brahmin boy, it follows that I am somewhat

short of days; what, therefore, is the use of a wife

and a son, or of a house?

 

"When the mere twinkle of the eyes of Hari causes the

fall of a Brahma, it necessarily follows that all this

is unreal. That is why I am always thinking of the

incomparable lotus-feet of Hari. Faith in Hari is

greater than redemption and is rarely to be secured.

All prosperity is transient like a dream and

interferes with one's belief in Hari.

Shambhu (Shiva), the highest spiritual guide, taught

me this wonderful wisdom, and void of faith, I do not

wish to attain even the four kinds of redemption -

Salokya, etc."

 

So saying, the Muni abruptly vanished and returned to

Kailasa, for He had been Shiva Himself, and Vishnu in

the guise of the boy also disappeared. Indra was

amazed to behold this wonderful phenomenon, which

seemed to him to have been a dream. He no longer felt

the slightest desire to secure worldly prosperity. The

lord of a hundred sacrifices (i.e. Indra, who is known

as Shatakratu since he achieved his position as the

king of the Devas by performing a hundred sacrifices)

summoned Vishvakarma, graciously greeted him with

sweet words, heaped on him a very large number of

precious gems, then with a sumptuous celebration, sent

him home.

 

Indra now desired redemption, having acquired wisdom.

He entrusted the pomp and burden of his office to his

son, and prepared to retire to the forest. Shachi, his

beautiful and passionate queen, was overcome with

grief, and resorted to Indra's spiritual guide,

Brihaspati. She implored him to divert her husband's

mind from its stern resolve. The spiritual guide

conducted her to the presence of Indra, and according

to the rules of ethics, Shachi comforted her husband.

Brihaspati himself composed a treatise dealing with

the stratagems of married love, and expounded its

doctrines to Indra. This priceless book

established on sound foundations the married life of

the reunited pair.

 

----

 

Hari concluded the story and said to Radha, "O Devi, I

have narrated to

you everything connected with the humiliation of

Indra, and how he was

once cured of excessive ambition."

 

-------------------------------

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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