The Vulture’s Story ||9||

1The Owl said: Thus everything connected with my previous birth has been told, viz. the form, the cause of long life and the birth as an owl.
2After saying this to that one having the same name as lndra (i.e. King Indradyumna), when he stopped, the crane Nadijangha who was sad, spoke these words to his friend:
3Nadijangha said: The purpose for which we all have come, O highly intelligent one, has not been achieved. Therefore, it has come to this that all the three of us should die.
4If Indradyumna is not recognized and known this, gentle Sir, will wish to die. Following him, Markandeya (will die) and it is clear (that) I (will die) after him.
5Fie upon the life of the affectionless evil-minded one who watches (his) friend dying as the task of (his) friend is unaccomplished !
6Therefore, O bird, I shall follow these two who are dying. I take leave of you. Here is my final obeisance and embrace.
7After being unable to accomplish what has been promised to a friend or to a guest, how is it that those who have shattered hopes, but, yet desire to live, do not feel ashamed?
8Hence I shall undoubtedly enter fire along with these two. I have taken leave of you. Out of affection, kindly offer me water libations.
9When Nadijangha said thus, the owl steadied himself and spoke these words of nectar-like sweetness, in a faltering voice and with tears in his eyes.
10Uluka (the owl) said: (Defective verse) If you die when I, your friend, am alive, from to-day onwards who will take (i.e. covet) my heart (i.e. friendship)?
11There is a great means of escape (i.e. wayout) in this matter. There is a friend of mine on the mountain Gandhamadana. He is a friend as dear to me as my own life. He is a vulture who has Jived a longer life than I.
12He will know and recognize king Indradyumna. After saying thus, the owl stepped forward and stood there. He, the king, (sage) Markandeya and the crane went to Gandhamadana.
13-15aOn seeing his friend coming and standing in front of him, the vulture (came out) from his nest. He was very delighted. He came before aU of them. After duly welcoming and honouring them at the outset with great hospitality, offering of seats and foodstuffs, the king of vultures asked the owl his object (of visit).
15b-16He replied: “This crane is a friend of mine. The sage is his friend. The third one is a friend of the sage. It is on his behalf that this matter has been taken up. He will himself live when Indradyumna is seen and recognized and not otherwise.
17-18Clearly he will enter fire. After that we will (also do so). He has been forbidden by me because I know you to be long-lived. So if you know him, tell us. Grant the lives unto the four of us. After protecting us, obtain good reputation and the destruction of all sins.”
19The Vulture said: Since my birth, O owl, fifty-six Kalpas have elapsed, but king Indradyumna has neither been seen nor heard of.
20lndradyumna was struck with wonder on hearing it. Though he was distressed, he asked the bird the cause of his long life.
21The Vulture said: Listen, O gentle Sir, formerly I was born as a monkey. I was very fickle. Once in the due order of seasons, the season of spring appeared.
22-23On the fourteenth day in the bright half of the month of Caitra, the constellation being Hasta and the Yoga being Harshana, the Damanaka festival was celebrated in a Siva temple in the middle of the forest, (in the temple) named Jagadyogesvara, in front of the lord of Devas, the origin of the world.
24-27The Linga had been placed here in a golden swing by the people. At night I climbed on to it and rocked the swing again and again for a long time on account of the fickleness natural to my species. In the morning the people who came there for the purpose of worship saw a monkey in the swing. They beat me with sticks and rods. I died even as I was within the swing in the temple of Siva. I died due to their many hard beatings and blows as unbearable as thunderbolt. Thanks to the greatness of swinging Siva, I was reborn in the palace of a king.
28-31I was known as Kusadhvaja and was the son of the lord of Kasi. I had the power to remember (the incidents of) the previous birth. I succeeded to the kingdom and inherited great fortune and power. I celebrated the Damanaka festival popular all over the earth, in the month of Caitra. As one swings Siva stationed in the Dola (‘Swing’) all inauspiciousness vanishes and merit comes, 0 gentle Sir. I took Siva-Diksha (‘initiation for the purpose of the worship of Siva’). I was consecrated by means of all consecratory rites by Sivacaryas (i.e. preceptors in the sacred rites and literature pertaining to Siva). After getting all the consecratory rites ending with Nirvaha-Diksha il (the Diksha of completion and conclusion) from the Agamas, I became rid of Pasupasas (‘the bondages of individual souls’).
32With the mind internally directed, I thus propitiated the lord of Devas, the consort of Uma, the preceptor of the worlds, and the cause of the destruction of all distresses.
33I restrained the activities of the mind and practised Vairagya (i.e. detachment, having no attachment to the worldly affairs). I repeated the Udgitha Mantra and meditated upon its meaning. I thought of the eighth sentiment (i.e. Adbhuta or wonder).
34On knowing that I was unaffected by Antarayas (i.e. obstacles, hindrances) through Pranidhana (‘abstract contemplation’) and deep-rooted practice, Hara became pleased and said:
35O Kusadhvaja, I am satisfied. Choose whatever is desired as your boon. None else has such a steady (spiritual) practice on the whole of the earth.
36On hearing this, Sambhu was told by me, “I shall be one of your Ganas with this body itself”. The Lord spoke the words. “So be it.”
37Then he brought me to Kailasa and granted me an aerial chariot which was studded with all precious stones. It was a divine aerial chariot equipped with divinely miraculous features.
38-39Seated in it and delighted very much, I used to move about. After the lapse of some time on this very mountain in spring when the gentle southern wind was blowing, I was seated near the window (of my Vimana) and saw the daughter of a sage. The fire of love blazed in me.
40-44O gentle Sir, I saw the daughter of sage Agnivesya standing in water without any clothes on. She was on the threshold of youth. She was a Syama , with slender waist. She was fawn-eyed. She had ample buttocks. Her thighs resembled the interior of a plantain tree (full, round and lovely). Her breasts were very close to each other. Beauty was gradually sprouting in her body. Her face resembled the lotus that was in full bloom. She could be adequately described only by good scholars and that too in accordance with their intellect and not in accordance with her instrinsic nature. Her side glances were like volleys of arrows. Smara (‘god of Love’) seemed to occupy her body himself and struck me hard with those arrows. She was playing as she liked surrounded by her friends. Impatient with love I got down from the aerial chariot and abducted her.
45On being seized by me and placed in the aerial chariot she lamented loudly for a long time shouting “O father, O father”, O gentle Sir.
46-47aHer friends were very sad. They ran to the sage and said to him, “Your daughter is being taken away by a certain Vaimanika (‘one moving about in an aerial chariot’). O holy lord, she is crying. Save her. Get up.”
47b-49aOn hearing these words of those (girls) from all round, the gentle sage, the storehouse of austerities, Agnivesya, hurriedly came up to her in the sky. “Stop, stop,” said he to me and restricted my movement through the power of his penance. The infuriated sage then spoke tbese unbearable words to me:
49b-51aAgnivesya said: My daughter was carried away by force by you in the manner in which a piece of flesh is carried away by a vulture in the sky. So, be a vulture now immediateJy. My daughter, an ascetic girl, has been abducted by you against her will. O vicious one, obtain its fruit now itself.
51b-52aOn hearing this I was overcome with fear. I bent down my face with shame. I grasped the feet of the sage. I fell down at his feet and grasped them. I lamented loudly.
52b-54a(I then said thus:) “She has not been abducted by me after knowing (that she is an ascetic girl). She has not been outraged till now. 0 ascetic, be pleased. Take back your curse. Ascetics naturally r orgive those who bow down. They are good people. So, be pleased. Let me not become a vulture.”
54b-56When I sought refuge in him and bowed down to him thus, the great sage became appeased and said, “My words cannot at all be untrue. But when you assist in recognizing King Indradyumna, you will get freed from the curse.”
57After saying this that sage took with him nis daughter whose modesty had not been violated and went to his own abode. I became a vulture then.
58Thus, O gentle Sir, everything has been recounted to you. My birth in the royal abode was due to the rocking of the swing of Isvara at the time of the celebration of Damanaka festival. This is how I became an attendant of Siva and (later) was transformed due to the curse of Agnivesya into a vulture.