Thursday, August 27, 2015

34. Dirghatamas

There was a sage by name Utathya. When Utathya’s wife Mamata  was alone, she was approached by his younger brother Virhaspati (also known as Brihaspati), the  priest of the Celestials.  Mamata told him that she had conceived through his elder brother and that she could not yield to his wish. But Virhaspati, unable to contain his lust embraced Mamata and began to consummate with her.

The child in the womb of Mamata which had been listening to the Vedas recited by its father spoke to Virhaspati, “Oh father! Give up your desire. I am occupying my mother’s womb and there is no room here for another child.” Virhaspati’s  attempt was thwarted by his getting upset by the child’s words. Angered by this,  he cursed the child saying, “Because you have caused hindrance to my enjoying the pleasure sought by all creatures, you will live in perpetual darkness.”

As a result of this curse, the child was born blind and was called Dirghatamas (enveloped in perpetual darkness). Though born blind, Dirghatamas  became a learned man due to his diligence.  He married Pradweshi. Many children were born to the couple, Gautama being the eldest. But all his children were devoid of virtues and took to wicked ways. His wife also became dissatisfied with him after some years.

When Dirghatamas asked his wife why she was dissatisfied with him, she said that a man was expected to support his wife and children. But Dirghatamas being blind, she had to support him and their children. He offered to get her all the wealth she wanted by approaching a king. Pradweshi said that she was not interested in him any more and that she was abandoning him. Dirghatamas became angry and pronounced a curse on the entire women race that from that day every woman would have only one husband and that she won’t be able to marry again if her husband was dead. Even if a woman was wealthy, she won’t be able to enjoy that wealth. She would have to constantly suffer calumny.

Angered by her husband’s words, Pradweshi commanded her sons to throw their father into the waters of the river Ganges. The sons tied their father to a raft and threw the raft into the river leaving him to the mercy of the stream.

Dirghatamas drifted on the waters for several days passing through many kingdoms.  A king by name Vali noticed him while performing his ablutions in the river, rescued him and took him to his palace. After learning his story, Vali told him, “Oh wise man, I would like you to raise a few wise sons through my wife.”  The sage agreed. Vali sent his wife Sudeshana to the sage. But Sudeshana, knowing that Dirghatamas was blind, sent her maid, a Sudra woman, to him.  The sage begot eleven children through her, Kakshivat being the eldest.  As they grew up, he taught them the Vedas and groomed them to become erudite and wise .  

Once King Vali came to his place. Seeing the children, he asked him, “Are they mine?” The sage said, “No. They are born to me and a Sudra woman. Taking advantage of my blindness, your wife Sudeshana had insulted  me  by sending her maid in her place.”

Vali pacified Dirghatamas and sent Sudeshana to him again. The sage merely  touched her and said, “You will have five children named Anga, Vanga, Kalinga, Pundara and Sushma, who will all be equal to Surya, the Sun God in glory. Five countries will be named after them.”



The line of Vali was thus perpetuated.

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