The Story of Srimati Tulasi devi
LORD SIVA'S COUNSEL
When the demon arrived there, he saw Lord Siva sitting in a yogic meditation posture at the root of a fig tree. Looking as bright as a million suns, Lord Siva was smiling. He appeared as though the Infinite Light were radiating from every pore of his body. He was wearing a tiger skin and holding a trident and axe, and his head was covered with bright bunches of matted hair. He had five faces and three eyes in each, and there were sacred snakes coiled around his neck. He was the death of death, the destroyer of the world and a powerful lord. His face was serene and beautiful. He immortalises his devotees, awards the fruits of asceticism and is a source of prosperity. He destroys the world and rescues sinners from hell.
Upon seeing Lord Siva, Sankhacuda got down from his chariot and, with his entire army, bowed low to him. He also saluted Bhadrakali, who was on Lord Siva's left side, and Kartikkeya, who was in the front. In response, they bestowed blessings on him. Nandi and other devotees of Lord Siva got up and greeted him in a suitable manner. Sankhacuda spoke cordially to them and then sat down beside Lord Siva, who greeted him cheerfully and said, "O King, Lord Brahma, the creator of the world and the father of religious duty, had a Vaisnava son named Marici, who begat the virtuous Kasyapa. Daksa, another son of Lord Brahma, bowed to Kasyapa and gave him his thirteen daughters in marriage. Of these daughters, Danu, who was very blessed and chaste, gave birth to forty sons. They were all very spirited and known as Danavas. Amongst them, Vipracitti was prominent--he was most valorous, pious and devoted to Lord Visnu. His son's name was Dambha and he obtained Sukracarya as his guru. Following his teacher's advice, he worshiped Lord Krsna at Puskara by reciting the Krsna mantra for one hundred thousand years. Consequently, by Lord Krsna's boon, he was able to get a son like yourself.
"In your former birth, in Goloka, you were very religious and were the chief cowherd friend of Lord Krsna. By Radha's curse you have become lord of the demons here. But you are also a Vaisnava. And a Vaisnava regards everything--from the form of Lord Brahma down to the form of a blade of grass--as very illusory. Even if the four kinds of liberation are offered to him, namely, Salokya, Sarsti, Sayujya and Samipya (to live on the same planet as Lord Visnu, to have the same opulence's as Lord Visnu, to merge with Lord Visnu and to have equal association with Lord Visnu, respectively), he does not care at all for them; for he is only interested in serving Lord Visnu. Nor does he care to have the position of Indra, Kuvera or Brahma, for he thinks them all insignificant. He only cares to worship and serve Lord Krsna. Now you are a true Krsna devotee. Therefore, why do you care for those things that belong to the demigods and which are false to you? Better return to the demigods their kingdoms and please me by this act. Let the demigods be reinstated in their own positions and you govern your own kingdom happily. You are all descendants of Kasyapa Muni. So it is not desirable for relatives to feud. In fact, the sin committed by killing a brahmana is not even one sixteenth as great as that of creating hostilities amongst one's relatives.
"O King, pause. If you think that by restoring to the demigods their kingdoms, you will lose prestige, you should also consider that no one's position is stable or unchanging. When the world is completely dissolved, even Lord Brahma disappears; then, by the will of God, he subsequently reappears. And later, by virtue of his knowledge, he again creates everything. But the type of knowledge, intellect and memory that people receive depends on the amount of austerity they practiced in their previous births.
"Also, consider this: truth is the support of dharma or virtue. In the Satya-yuga (golden or truthful age), virtue is complete; in the Treta-yuga (silver age), it is reduced by one fourth; in the Dvapara yuga (copper age) by one half; and in the Kali yuga (iron age or age of quarrel), by three fourths; and at the end of the Kali yuga, virtue becomes reduced even more, like the moon on the dark-moon night.
"Or consider the sun: in the summer its light is very intense; but not so in the winter. At noon, the sun is very hot; but not so in the morning and evening. In time, the sun rises; in time, it becomes powerful; and in time, it sets. By the working of time, it is obscured by clouds.
"Then consider the moon: when the moon is devoured by Rahu (as in a lunar eclipse) it trembles; when it is released, it becomes bright again. In the full-moon night it becomes full, but does not remain so. In the bright fortnight it waxes daily, but in the dark fortnight it wanes daily. In the bright fortnight, the moon looks healthy and rich but in the dark fortnight it looks decreasingly thinner, as if afflicted by consumption. Thus at one time the moon looks powerful and at another time it looks weak and pale.
"Similarly, Bali Maharaja is presently living in Patala loka (one of the planets beneath the earth) but at another time he will become lord of the demigods. At one time the earth is lush with grains and is the resting place of all beings, but at another time it becomes covered with water. The entire world, including everything moving and non moving, appears at one time and disappears at another.
"Only Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, remains the same. It is by His grace that I obtained the name Mrtyunjaya (the Conqueror of Death). I have witnessed many dissolutions of the world and I shall continue to witness them. Lord Krsna is both material nature and the Supreme Being. He is the individual soul as well as the Supreme Soul. Though He assumes many forms, He is beyond those forms. Whoever repeats His name and sings His glories can conquer death; he does not come under the influence of birth, death, disease, old age and fear. Lord Krsna has created Brahma, the creator; Visnu, the preserver; and me, the destroyer. By His will we possess those potencies and influences. O King! I have delegated Kala, Agni and Rudra to do the work of destruction, whereas I myself only repeat His name and sing His glories incessantly, day and night. For this reason I am called Mrtyunjaya, and by my knowledge, I have conquered death. I am fearless. When death sees me, he flies away just as snakes flee when they see Garuda."
King Sankhacuda thanked and praised Lord Siva repeatedly, and replied modestly. "What you have said is quite true. But please allow me to say a few words. Kindly listen...You have just said that fighting with one's relatives is a great sin. Then why did the Lord, on behalf of the demigods, take away all of Bali Maharaja's possessions and send him down to Patala? And why did the Lord, for the same reason, kill Hiranyaksa, Hiranyakasipu, Sumbha and other Danavas (demons)? Long ago the demons and the demigods worked hard together churning the ocean to obtain nectar from it; but why did the Lord give the nectar to the demigods? O lord, this universe is the sporting ground of Lord Krsna; and anyone He favours with fortune and glory obtains them. The quarrelling between the demigods and the demons is eternal. Victory and defeat come to each party alternately. So it is improper and unnecessary for you to interfere in our quarrel. For you, O great lord, are both my relative and my friend. And your nature is of the Highest Self. To you, the demigods and the demons are equal. So it is certainly shameful for you to become our opponent and favor the demigods. If you win this battle, the glory and fame you would gain would not be as great as if we win. And if we defeat you, the disgrace and infamy you would earn would be much greater than that which we would if we were defeated: for we are small and you are great.
Lord Siva smiled and gently said, "O King, you have descended from a Brahman family, so if I am defeated by you, how shall I incur shame? In former days the Lord fought with Madhu and Kaitabha as well as Hiranyakasipu and Hiranyaksa. And I fought with Tripura. And the universal mother, Durga Devi, fought with Sumbha and other demons. But none of the demons just mentioned, who were killed in the war, can be compared to you in prowess. You are the best of Lord Krsna's attendants. The demigods have sought Lord Hari's protection, so He has sent me on their behalf to approach you. If I am defeated by a sublime person like yourself, how can I be disgraced? But I'm surprised to hear you talk of disgrace and infamy. There is no point in continuing this useless talk. Now, either return to the demigods their kingdoms or prepare to fight with me. I am firm in my determination."
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