Crispian Reading From The Mahabharata
Once, the sage Durvasas came to the capital of Kuntibhoja.
He was famed throughout the world for his pennants and meditations
He wanted to spend a few days with the king.
The princess Kunti had been appointed by her father to attend to the wants of the sage.
Indeed, the sage was so pleased with her that he wanted to grant her a boon.
He summoned her to his presence and told her that he would teach her a certain incantation.
If she recited it, any Deva whom she thought of would come to her.
She received the gift with the humility becoming the daughter of a king, and Durvasas went away.
The child - she was hardly a girl - did not understand what Durvasas meant when he said that
"the heavenly being whom she invoked would come to her".
She was as excited as a child with a new toy.
It was early in the morning.
Through the Eastern window she could see the Sun just rising.
The East was drenched in the colour of liquid gold.
The waters of the river were lapping against the walls of the palace.
It was an unforgettable scene.
The Sun and his soft beams - beams which had the coolness of the dawn -
and the beautiful river with her path glowing with the red and gold of the rising Sun.
The scene touched the heart of the young girl.
She lost herself in the beauty of that majestic vision.
Kunti thought how wonderful it would be if the Sun could be there by her side.
In a flash she remembered the mantra which the great Durvasas had taught her.
Why, if she recited it the Sun would come to her.
Yes, that was the way he said. He would come to her.
The poor child, in blissful ignorance, held her palms together, palms that looked like a lotus bud,
and invoked the Sun with the incantation she had learnt.
She opened her eyes - a miracle was happening.
Along the watery path of the river, the Sun's rays travelled fast.
She was blinded by a sudden brilliance.
And then Surya, the Sun God, stood by her side.
He stood looking at her with a smile of teasing amusement.
Kunti was now extremely pleased with the success of her incantation.
She smiled a sweet, happy smile.
"Sage Durvasas said it would work," she said.
"I stood looking at you rising in the East.
The scene was so beautiful and you were so beautiful that I wanted you to come here.
So I recited the incantation which had taught me by the Sage. You have come - how wonderful!"
The Sun was still smiling. He said "now that I have come, what do you want me to do?"
"Why, nothing," said Kunti.
"I just thought of you and imagined how wonderful it would be if you were here beside me, that is all."
"That is not all," said the Deva.
"It is evident that you did not find any meaning in the words of the Sage when he taught you the incantation.
He said that any God whom you invoked would come to you, is that not so?"
"Yes," said the princess, not following his words at all.
"Can you not see" said the God, that it means that
the God will embrace you and give you a son
as beautiful as the God whom you have summoned."
The princess was bewildered.
She did not know what to do or what to say.
"I did not know it!" she said.
"I had no idea that the words meant this!"
Please, forgive me this childishness!
Please, go away and save me from shame!"
"But that is impossible," said the God.
"Once I am summoned by you I cannot go back until I take you.
You must have me.
You cannot escape the power of the mantra which you have used unthinkingly."