Chapter XXVI - 90 Home | Index | Previous | Next

XXVI. Curse or Godsend?

The messenger from the hermitage said, "O emperor, our preceptor has a son; though he is of tender years, the splendour of his spiritual attainment is overwhelming. He reveres his father as his God and has as his chief aim in life, his service and the upkeep of his renown. His name is Sringi. You came to that hermitage; propelled by some inscrutable impulse, you placed a dead snake round the neck of the father of this Sringi, who is also my preceptor: A few children saw it and they ran towards Sringi, who was engaged in games with his comrades, to inform him. He did not believe it at first; he continued with his game. But, the children of the hermitage repeated the news often and insistently; they jeered at him for merrily playing on, when his father had been insulted so grossly. Even his playmates laughed at his callousness. So, he ran as fast as he could towards his cottage, and found that their report was true."

"When he turned back, he saw you moving off from the place and, without any sense of discrimination about what is of lasting significance and what is of temporary interest, urged on by frantic passion and anger, that teenage fellow lost control over himself... and pronounced a curse on you. This has caused unending pain on my preceptor." The Emperor interrupted him and asked, "O son of a hermit, tell me what the curse is". The youth replied, "Lord, I find it hard to tell you. My tongue refuses to utter it. But, yet I have to communicate it since my preceptor has commissioned me to do so. The son of my preceptor promptly took the waters of the holy Kowsiki river in his palm, and pronounced, "Seven days from this day, may the king be bitten by the snake 'Thakshaka', a terrible curse, indeed." The youth stopped, for his grief overpowered him and he broke into tears.

But, the emperor only smiled. He said, "Young hermit, is this a curse? To be bitten by Thakshaka, and that too seven days later? This is no curse, this is a signal gift of grace! This is a blessing from the lips of the son of the preceptor. Immersed in the affairs of the empire, I had become slothful regarding the affairs of the spirit and of God, which are the goals of life. As a result, the merciful Lord, Hari, moved the tongue of that Rishi's son to articulate those words. He has allotted me an interval of seven days! What a great blessing is this! It must be divine will that I should spend every moment of these seven days in the contemplation of God. From this very second, I shall dedicate both time and thought, without intermission at the feet of the Lord. Young friend, what more did your preceptor command you to inform me? Tell me soon. My heart is yearning to hear it."