Mahaabhaarat | Stories
|12-Shaanti Parv, 50|
|Stories-MBH - 8-Shaanti - page 12|
Branched from G-8-Shaanti/9
When Krishn visited the exiled Paandav in the forest of Kaamyak Van, He pointed out that the virtuous often suffered because of the condition of the stars and their own Karm as had happened to King Shreevats and his wife Chintaadevee. At Yudhishthir's plea, He narrated their story.
Vaasudev said to Yudhishthir - "Shreevats was the son of Chitrarath who ruled over the entire eastern world and had preformed hundreds of Ashwamedh and Raajsooya sacrifices. None equaled him in virtue. His wife was the daughter of King Chitrasen, named Chintaadevee, who was equally meritorious. One day the goddess Lakshmee had a dispute with the maleficent god Shani over who was the greater of the two. They decided to take the opinion of Shreevats, s they both went there. After they had taken their seat on thrones, Shreevats said that as the superior was always stationed to the right and the inferior to the left, the goddess was the greater. Shani was furious and sought for some chink in the King’s armor.
One day, after the King had bathed, a black dog came and licked the bath water. By means of this chink Shani entered the king and gradually overcame his intelligence. The kingdom was overwhelmed with all sorts of afflictions. Wrapping up their precious gems in a cloth, the royal couple took to the forest. There they saw an illusory river where Shani appeared in the guise of a boatman. He agreed to take them across one by one, beginning with the bundle they carried. He took away their store of wealth and vanished along with the river.
After suffering great privations they came to another forest where Shreevats invoked Vishnu and heard an unseen voice announcing that as long as they lived there, they would be protected. One day they found a group of fishermen in the forest and begged some fish from them. When the fishermen failed to catch any, the king bade them cast their nets again, whereupon they landed a huge catch. Gladly they gave fish to the couple. The queen knew that eating roasted fish was an antidote for Shani’s evil eye. With great care she roasted the fish and went to the lake to wash off the ashes. There the fish came alive and escaped into the water. The King exclaimed that out of hunger she must have eaten it up and was now spinning this amazing tale of a roasted fish swimming away. At that point Shani’s voice was heard announcing that all this had happened to teach him a lesson for judging him inferior to Lakshmee. Shani boasted that because of his power even Raam and Shiv had to lose Sita and Satee, Bali lost his kingdom and Vishnu had to leave Vaikunth and assume the form of a worm within a stone in Gandakee mountain. Now he had succeeded in creating dissonance between Shreevats and Chintaadevee.
For five years the couple suffered thus. After this, they went to a town and took shelter among woodcutters. He sold a load of sandalwood and with that money he bought all provisions to give a feast to the woodcutters. Chintaadevee prepared a wondrous feast that everyone praised.
One day a merchant’s boat hit a sandbank and got damaged. Shani appeared in the guise of a soothsayer and told him that this had occurred because he had not joined his wife in worshipping the nine celestial bodies. As a remedy he must invite all woodcutters’ wives to touch the boat. Among them was a virtuous woman whose touch would free the boat. Chintaadevee obliged him, but the merchant abducted her as a sure remedy in case his boat was ever grounded again. The queen prayed to the Sun god to save her virtue and found herself turned leprous white. Shreevats searched high and low for his wife, asking everyone but could not find her. Finally he came to the hermitage of Surabhi and told her all that had happened. She advised him to stay with her as Shani had no influence there. One stream of her milk fed him while another wet the ground. With that clay Shreevats made pairs of golden slabs that he joined into one by the powers of his two sprites Taal and Betaal.
One day that merchant’s boat anchored at that place. The King begged him to carry the slabs for trade along with him. The greedy merchant took the gold on board and threw the King into the sea. The King cried out for his wife who threw him a pillow, while the two sprites he commanded - Taal and Betaal - kept him afloat on a raft. Thus he reached Sautipur at the house of a gardener where the dried-up garden burst into bloom at his touch. Astonished, the gardener’s wife Malinee sought out the cause and found Shreevats, who told her his whole story. She gave him shelter.
Malinee told him that the King here was Bahudev whose daughter Bhadraa was a renowned beauty who had obtained from Paarvatee the boon to wed Shreevats. Bahudev held a Swayamvar for her. Shreevats sat below a Kadamb tree. An unseen voice guided Bhadraa to that very spot and she chose him as her husband out of all the assembled kings. Ashamed, Bahudev had a cottage built for them outside the palace and decided never to look upon Bhadraa.
Advised by Bhadraa, Shreevats worshipped god night and day for twelve years. One day he went to the banks of the river and began searching every boat. It so happened that the same merchant who took his gold arrived there. Shreevats seized the boat and had the King's men unload all the gold. The merchant complained to the king that his son-in-law had robbed him. Being summoned, Shreevats challenged the false Saadhu to split the golden slabs if he had made them. The Saadhu failed, whereupon Shreevats did so easily. The King then stood up respectfully and begged Shreevats to tell him who he truly was. Shreevats related his entire history. Bahudev fell to the ground begging forgiveness for his earlier rudeness. They went to the merchant’s boat and found Chintaadevee there, leprous white and wrinkled. Knowing that the bad days were over, she called upon the Sun god and was restored to her original beauty and youth.
Thus the long separated couple were
united and went back to Bahudev's kingdom. The next morning
The next day Shreevats took his two wives on a chariot and called Taal and Betaal who flew it back to his kingdom in a trice. There he performed many Raajsooya and Ashwamedh sacrifices, had two daughters and a hundred sons by his two queens. None remained poor in his kingdom. Ultimately, with his queen he went to the abode of Vishnu.
Krishn told Yudhisthir not to grieve unnecessarily over suffering that was fated. Whosoever listened to the tale of Shreevats and Shani attained heaven and freedom from Shani's evil eye. Saying this, Krishn returned to Dwaarakaa with Subhadraa and her son while Dhrishtdyumn left for Paanchaal with his five nephews.
Created by Sushma Gupta On 03/09/02
Modified on 10/19/11