Mahābhārata – Episode 95 – The Eagle-Fox Conversation (Part 2)

This article is part 95 of 101 in the series Mahābhārata

The fox said, “A golden child! Listening to the words of this eagle, you’re on the verge of leaving this boy here and going away! Will love and sorrow go away just because you leave? If you abandon him here, later you will definitely feel terrible. Long time ago, Śrīrāma killed Śambhuka and brought a brāhmaṇa boy to life, haven’t you heard? And a dhārmika brought Śvetarāja’s son back to life, don’t you know? Similarly, some siddha or muni or deity might come here upon listening to your wails and shower his compassion.”

The eagle said, “You’re just making the corpse of the child dirty with all your tears; you’re just causing more pain by holding him up. Yama-dharmarāja has granted him a long sleep. The town of the spirit is the end of all friendships and attachments. Just because the fox says so, will the child come back to life? If a hundred such foxes continuosly utter words for a hundred years, even then the child will not come back to life. Do you think he will gain back his life if you sob inconsolably, heave sighs, and scream in sadness? This is a body that can barely be moved and ungainly in sight; what do you gain by continuosly weeping in front of it?”

The fox said, “Oh how ruthless is this world of mortals! All creatures must die here; one must make relationships with kinsmen and friends. The span of life is extremely short. And in that, falsehood, deceit, cheating, abuses! When one comes across a circumstance such as this, one that evokes pain and sorrow, he will say that he doesn’t want this mortal world even for a moment. Oh you humans! Listening to the words of this eagle, how do you get the heart to just leave this beautiful boy on the ground? Something tells me that this child will definitely live; heart of hearts I feel so. What does it even mean for such a child to die? The world consists of both joys and sorrows; just one of them alone will not be with us until the very end. Thus, knowing well that there is a possibility of joy coming after sorrow, why do you abandon this child here?”

The fox stayed in the cemetary and moved about only after it was dark. Therefore it spoke pleasant words with a view to keep all of them there until dark. “If you listen to the words of the fox, you will get destroyed,” said the eagle while the fox said, “If you listen to the words of the eagle, you will lose your child.” Thus they debated. The eagle desired that there be light in the sky; the fox was eagerly awaiting the darkness; both were hungry; and therefore, for their own base ends, they began a huge debate with the relatives of the dead boy, and began advising them with words of the scripture like they were learned scholars. Listening to their nectarine words, all the relatives would set out, ready to leave, and then return to the corpse. They left, they returned. Finally, overcome by sorrow and pity, they sat there crying, knowing not what to do. At this point, Śaṅkara appeared there and asked, “What boon do you desire?”

They all bowed to him and said, “We had just one son in our house; he was dear to all of us just as our very lives; you must breathe life into him again and grant this boon!” Śaṅkara sprinkled water on the boy and blessed him with the words, “May he live to be a hundred!” He satiated the hunger of the eagle and the fox. The Lord seeks the welfare of all creatures, doesn’t he! After that, everyone bowed down to him and feeling satisfied and fulfiled, returned to their homes.

~

Whatever be the difficulties one faces in life, a man should never become ungrateful or treacherous to a friend. Long ago, there lived a brāhmaṇa named Gautama. Once he was stranded in the forest. At that point, a crane by name Nāḻījaṅgha lit a fire to make him warm and brought him fish to roast and eat. By the time it was morning, the crane learnt about the brāhmaṇa’s poverty and sent him to his friend Virūpākṣa, a king of the rākṣasas. Having brought a lot of gold and wealth from the rākṣasa king, Gautama came back to the spot where the crane lived. Without the slightest feeling of gratitude for all the help he received from the bird, the next morning, he killed the bird and packed it for his lunch. When the rākṣasa king learnt of this, he had the brāhmaṇa killed. Eagles and crows too would not dare touch his filthy corpse. Finally, owing to the compassion of Indra, the crane came back to life, and owing to the compassion of the crane, Gautama was revived.

Greed is the cause of all this; avarice is the root of all pāpas. It is from avarice that all others take birth: anger, lust, attachment, intoxication, deceit, cruelty, and so forth. Those free from greed are the noble ones; they are rid of anger and desires; they have nothing to conceal. They are truly worthy of our trust.

Yudhiṣṭhira: When wealth or wife or children or parents go away from us, how to control that sorrow with wisdom?

Bhīṣma: Long back, when Senajit was weeping at the loss of his son, a brāhmaṇa had given him the following words of counsel:

Why are you such an idiot, man? Just a few days, and there will be others who will weep for you in this manner! What is the use of this? We all must return to where we came from. Each and every one of us has to experience the fruits of our karma. All our meetings and relationships in this world are akin to two twigs meeting in the great ocean. They come from somewhere and meet; and soon after move away from each other. Similarly, among all our friends and relatives, separation is definite; therefore one should not develop attachments and affections. Like the rotation of a wheel, joy comes after sorrow and sorrow comes after joy. All these days, there was joy and peace; now sorrow has appeared. In the future, there will be joy again. Sorrow is not eternal, neither are joys. One cannot give reasons such as: friends are the cause of joy, enemies are the cause of sorrow, intellect is the cause for utility, wealth is the cause for comfort, intelligence is the cause for wealth, and so forth. Because, be it a shrewd man or an imbecile, a courageous man or a coward, a dumb man or a poet, a strong man or a helpless one, joys and comforts come to man as per destiny. An utterly foolish man covers himself in a blanket and so is unable to see anything; there is no sorrow for him; wise people who have transcended joys and sorrows are free from it. But everyone else in between, must experience joys and sorrows! One should squarely face whatever comes, be it joy or sorrow, pleasant or unpleasant; one should puff one’s chest and face the reality. Just as a tortoise draws its limbs towards itself, if one is able to pull back all the anger and lust within, leaving nothing behind, he will attain peace and attain the wealth of the Self. He will see the Light but for that he has to let go of desires; it is not possible for the dull minds. It is something that remains ageless even as one grows old. It is like a disease that comes and stays on forever, without ever getting cured. It doesn’t leave you until the end!

To be continued…

This is an English translation of Prof. A R Krishna Shastri’s Kannada classic Vacanabhārata by Arjun Bharadwaj and Hari Ravikumar published in a serialized form.

The original Kannada version of Vacanabhārata is available for free online reading here. To read other works of Prof. Krishna Shastri, click here.

~

Don't miss Prekshaa's annual book launch at 10 am on Sunday, 8 December at Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs, Bangalore.

Click here to know more!

Author(s)

About:

Prof. A R Krishna Sastri was a journalist, scholar, polyglot, and a pioneer of the modern Kannada renaissance, who founded the literary journal Prabuddha Karnāṭaka. His Vacana-bhārata and Kathāmṛta are classics of Kannada literature while his Saṃskṛta-nāṭaka and Bankimacandra are of unrivalled scholarship.

Translator(s)

About:

Arjun is a poet, translator, engineer, and musician. He is a polyglot, well-versed in Sanskrit, Kannada, Hindi, English, Greek, and German. He currently serves as Assistant Professor at Amrita Darshanam - International Centre for Spiritual Studies at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Bangalore. His research interests lie in comparative aesthetics of classical Greek and Sanskrit literature.

About:

Hari is a writer, translator, violinist, and designer with a deep interest in Vedanta, Carnatic music, education pedagogy design, and literature. He has worked on books like The New Bhagavad-Gita, Your Dharma and Mine, Srishti, and Foggy Fool's Farrago.

Prekshaa Publications

Yaugandharam

इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...

Vanitakavitotsavah

इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।

Vaiphalyaphalam

इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।

Nipunapraghunakam

इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।

Bharavatarastavah

अस्मिन् स्तोत्रकाव्ये भगवन्तं शिवं कविरभिष्टौति। वसन्ततिलकयोपनिबद्धस्य काव्यस्यास्य कविकृतम् उल्लाघनाभिधं व्याख्यानं च वर्तते।

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the third volume, some character sketches of great literary savants responsible for Kannada renaissance during the first half of the twentieth century. These remarkable...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the second volume, episodes from the lives of remarkable exponents of classical music and dance, traditional storytellers, thespians, and connoisseurs; as well as his...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the first volume, episodes from the lives of great writers, poets, literary aficionados, exemplars of public life, literary scholars, noble-hearted common folk, advocates...

Evolution of Mahabharata and Other Writings on the Epic is the English translation of S R Ramaswamy's 1972 Kannada classic 'Mahabharatada Belavanige' along with seven of his essays on the great epic. It tells the riveting...

Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...

Bharatilochana

ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...

Vagarthavismayasvadah

“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...