Prakarakarna’s Story ||8||

1Narada said: On hearing the words uttered by the crane Nadijangha, the king became extremely miserable in the company of Markandeya.
2On seeing the king miserable with tears in the eyes, the sage who too was equally sorry, spoke to the crane on his behalf:
3-4“O highly fortunate bird, after creating hope in lndradyumna, I came here along with him to you, hoping that since we two are long-lived, we may know lndradyumna partially. But his purpose is not achieved. He wilJ give up his life by entering fire, since he has come to the stage of frustration and dejection.
5He approached me. I approached you. But his desire was not fulfilled. So I shall follow him. I adjure you with death.
6Good people cannot tolerate seeing that the person who has been given hope and allowed to come near is disappointed. Hence death is far better than life.
7What he had in his heart was requested for by him and it was promised by me, keeping in my mind you, my friend of very long life, in the matter of knowing him.
8There is no purpose in my long life since I was not able to accomplish what had been promised. 0 friend, now, it fulfils the hope and desire of those who request (for help) by deception alone.
9If what is promised is carried out, the state of being a slave in the village of the meanest foJk is praiseworthy in the case of (all) men as in the case of Hariscandra. Not sticking to truthfulness is not praiseworthy at aJI.
10-11Mitra (‘Friend’) is a synonym of Sneha (‘affection’) and that is known as Saptapada (i.e. effected by speaking seven words or going seven steps together). Of what nature is that affection which is not perceptible towards a distressed friend? Hence I shall gather together means of making fire along with (this king) for the sake of one whose body is renown. This is true, O friend.
12Allow me (to go), O highly fortunate Nadijangha, O most excellent one among birds. This is my lattt meeting with you.”
13Narada said: He heard these words uttered by Markandeya, which were as unbearable as thunderbolt. He meditated for a moment. Then (apparently) pleased he spoke to them:
14Nadijangha said: If it is so, O excellent sage, prevent this friend of yours from entering the fire now. There is a person who has lived longer than I.
15He is an owl named Prakarakarna on the mountain Sivaparvata (i.e. Kailasa). He will know king lndradyumna
16Hence I shall go to that mountain, the abode of Siva, along with you and this (king) for the sake of accompfishing the task of (our) friend.
17After he had said this, those three leading Dvijas (‘twice-borns’) a bird, a brahmana, a kshatriya went to Kailasa and saw that owl (staying) in his own nest.
18With due welcome and honour he received them. The Baka was asked about the other two. He then told him about everything that they wanted.
19“You are long-lived. If you know king lndradyumna tell us. There is something to be done by knowing it. We (three) will then remain alive.”
20-21On being asked thus. the owl became sad, because it had to accomplish the task of a friend (but could not do so). He said, “l do not know kinglndradyumna. Twenty-eight Kalpas have passed since I was born on this earth. This king lndradyumna was neither heard of. nor seen on this earth.”
22-23On hearing this, the king was surprised that the span of his life was so great. Although he was sad, he asked (the owl) about his longevity: “If your life is so long, say how it was obtained by you. How did you get this excessively contemptible state of an owl?”
24Prakarakarna said: Listen, O gentle Sir, how I got a long life. It was due to the worship of Siva. This contemptible form of an owl is due to the curse of a great sage.
25Formerly I was a Brahmana born in the family of Vasistha. I was well-known as Ghanta. I was engaged in the worship of Siva at Varanasi.
26I habitually listened (to the discourses) on Dharma in the assembly of good men. I heard (the mode of worshipping). I worshipped Lord Siva with unbroken Bilva (Aegle Marmelos) leaves.
27Neither jasmine nor Mandara (Erythrina Indica) nor lotus nor Mallika (Janninum Zambac) are such a favourite of the enemy of Madana (i.e. Lord Siva) as Sriviksha (i.e. Bilva).
28If a single (i.e. three in a cluster) unbroken Silva leaf is placed on the head of Siva, the merit of (the worship with) a hundred thousand flowers is obtained.
29One can live for a hundred-thousand years in heaven by worshipping the Linga faithfully with unbroken Bilva leaves brought by oneself.
30Hearing this from good scriptures, I used to worship Isvara faithfully thrice a day with Bilva leaves, each being a cluster of three leaves.
31Then at the end of a hundred years, the Moon-crested Lord became satisfied. He appeared before me and spoke to me in a voice as majestic as the sound of cloud:
32Isvara said: O eminent Brahmana, l am satisfied and delighted with your worship with the Bilva leaves. Choose what you desire, which I shall give unto you even if it be very difficult to get.
33I get extremely great satisfaction and delight (when I am worshipped) with even a single unbroken Bilva leaf; not so with crores of other (flowers etc.).
34On being told thus by Lord Sambhu, I chose the boon that had been in my mind. “0 Lord, make me an immortal one. devoid of old age.”
35Then the Lord with sportive grace said to me unhesitatingly, “So (it shall be)” and vanished. I derived great delight and pleasure.
36I knew myself to be the most blessed and contented on the earth. At this time itself there was a certain Brihmana born in the family of Bhrigu.
37Virtuous and meritorious in the course of three births, he was an Aksavit (‘conversant with the sense organs’) as well as Aksarartnavit (‘one who knows the letters and their meaning or one who knows the imperishable one’). A chaste woman well-reputed as Sudarshana was his beloved wife.
38She was the daughter of Devala. She was unparalleled on the earth in regard to her beauty. She used to be joyous at the sight of her husband, on seeing his face.
39In her he begot a daughter who was considered not different from her mother. She (i.e. the girl) ceased to be a child and was heading towards youthful (form and features).
40-41The father was unable to give the daughter endowed with all good qualities, to anyone. She was seen by me at the time of transition from one stage to another (i.e. childhood to maidenhood). She was very charming due to the emotions and sentiments of the developing youthfulness awakening in her. The two stages had a happy mingling in her body like that of rice and gingelly seeds. All the other emotions and sentiments were being expelled from her body.
42-45She was playing along with her friends. She was like a doll of excessive beauty. O Brahmana, on seeing the slenderwaisted lady with shapes and features not to be found in others, I thought thus: ‘The creator by whom she has been made is a different one.’ Thereupon I was made an object of Sattvika Bhavas (i.e. external symptoms of inner feelings, such as perspiration, hair standing on end through thrill etc.) by the Flower-bowed (i.e. god of Love) after sportingly hitting me with arrows. Then her friend was asked by me in faltering speech, “Whose (daughter) is she?” She said, “She is the daughter of a Brahmana belonging to the family of Bhrigu. She has not yet been married to anyone. She has come here to play.”
46Extremely struck and hurt by the Flower-arrowed (i.e. Lord Kama) with volleys of arrows, I went to her father, a scion of the Bhrigu family. Bowing down to him, I requested him (to give) her (to me).
47On coming to know that I was equal (to them) in conduct and nobility (i.e. family-status) and that I was seeking her earnestly, he gave (her) to me verbally in the first instance.
48-50Thereupon the daughter of Bhargava heard that she had been given to an ugly Brahmana, from persons who were speaking (about it). Lamenting, she said to her mother: “See what has been done. By giving me to such a bridegroom, a very improper thing has been perpetrated by my father. I shall stir poisonous liquid and drink it or I shall enter fire. It is better. I will never become the wife of an ugly husband at any cost.”
51Afterwards the mother enlightened her daughter and spoke to Bhirgava with insistence, “Our daughter should not be given to an ugly man.”
52-53After hearing the words of the beloved wife and after going through the treatises on Dharma Sastra he decided thus: “If a better bridegroom arrives he can take away the girl offered (verbally). It is only after the foot has been placed on the rocky slab, at the seventh step, that there shall be the culmination (i.e. ratification) of the marriage ceremony .” After deciding thus the Brahmana gave that daughter to another person.
54On the day previous to the actual marriage the entire thing was heard by me. Therefore, I got extremely ashamed in front of the friends.
55O gentle Sir, I was unable to show my face. Very much afflicted with Just. I abducted her late in the night when she was asleep.
56-58I took her to a lonely place very difficult to be approached and performed the rite of marriage in accordance with the Gandharva form of marriage and carried out what was desired in the heart. Although the lass did not like it. I forcibly had sexual intercourse with her. Her father came closely behind. In the morning of the next-day, he came there surrounded by (some) Brahmanas. On seeing his daughter married, Bhargava who was infuriated cursed me, O gentle Sir.
59Bhargava said: Since any daughter was married by you through the rite of a Nisacara (‘Night-wanderer’ i.e. demon), you shall O sinner, become ere long a Nisacara.”
60-61On being cursed thus, I bowed down to him after clasping his feet. “Alas! Alas!” said I in faltering tone and with eyes filled with tears. Thereafter I said, “Why do you curse me though I am free from blame? In fact your daughter was in the first instance given to me verbally by you.
62-64The girl was married by me. Smriti says that gifting away can take place only once. Kings speak out only once;
learned men speak out only once; girls are offered (in marriage) only once. These three are to talce place only once.
65-66Your Honour cursed me in vain. Let this be pondered over. The evil-minded one who after having given away the daughter verbally, backs out (of his promise) later on, falls into a hell. This is decided in the sacred treatises.”
67On hearing it, he came to the conclusion that my words were true. He mentally repented. The sage then spoke to me thus:
68“My words cannot be otherwise. You will become an owl O excellent Brahmana, even an owl is called a Nisacara (‘night-wanderer’).
69When you become one helping in recognizing Indradyumna, O Brahmana, you will regain your original form.” So said he to me.
70Simultaneously with the utterance of those words by him, I obtained this owl-hood. So many days (in human reckoning) have passed by equivalent to twenty-eight days of Brahma (i.e. twenty-eight Kalpas).
71Formerly I gained a very long life by means of worshipping the Moon-crested Lord with the leaves of the Bilva tree. Now due to this sage’s curse this contemptible form of a Nilacara (i.e. owl) became mine on the (banks of the river Mandikini on the) montain Kailasa.