Yayati: a classic tale of lust (page 28)

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How timely his arrival was! My death was averted by his coming. Puroo got back his youth. And I was saved from an overwhelming sin!

That golden-haired girl ... Is it possible that in her last moments Alaka had prayed to God, saying that her desire to serve Yayati had been left unfulfilled? How could it have been ordained that she should return to Hastinapur to be my daughter-in-law?

Sharmishtha also had come in the nick of time. She had come to live in a village near Hastinapur, so as to keep in touch with news of Puroo on the battlefield. She was afraid that Puroo might also have been taken captive with Yadu. Hearing of Yadu’s return to the capital, she and Alaka decided to come to Hastinapur early in the morning; but in the night when Sharmishtha woke up Alaka was not there! She looked for Alaka all night in that village. Heavy at heart, she somehow reached Hastinapur in the evening. She saw Puroo entering the town with Yadu. The crowds were hailing Puroo as the saviour of Yadu and Puroo received more cheers and greater ovation than Yadu. Her heart was full. She wanted to see him at closer quarters but did not succeed. Suddenly Puroo and Yadu went away somewhere. Later an old man told her, ‘They have both gone to Ashokavan for an audience with the Queen.’ She was terrified. Would Devayani bless Puroo as the saviour of her son’s life or would she avenge herself on him as the son of a co-wife?

She did not know what to do to ensure the safety of Puroo. She just ran for Ashokavan. But it was only when I saw Yati again, that I realised, that miracles greater than the most miraculous do happen.

Yati came on purpose to see me, knowing that I was ill in bed. I wanted to get up to bow to him, but he would not let me. He drew me in close embrace. The hard-hearted, harsh Yati that I had met in the forest and this loving Yati — what a contrast it was. I wished Mother was here to witness this meeting of her two sons.

I said to Yati, ‘You are the elder brother. This kingdom is yours. You must take the throne.’

He smiled and said, ‘A deer skin is a better place to sit on than a throne. Try it and see.’ Yati had said it casually, but his words sank deep. They germinated and grew into a big tree.

In life, I had gone the limit in sensuality. It was only natural that I should now turn to renunciation. I resolved to renounce the household. Kacha agreed with me and it was no wonder that Sharmishtha should follow me into the jungle. What astounded me was Devayani. She also resolved to go with me.

That night I was just coming round. For a few moments, I was fully conscious. It first seemed as if Alaka was sitting by my bed. But I realised the next moment that she was Devayani. She was fanning me.

I looked down and there was Sharmishtha massaging my feet.

I pondered over this great change in Devayani for a long time in bed. Kacha must have talked to her at length. But that was nothing new to her. In the end, I brought it up before Kacha. I asked him in jest the cause of this reformation in Devayani. Seeing that I believed him to have worked the miracle, he said, ‘You are wrong, Your Majesty. What I had been striving for years happened that night; but not because of me but because of Puroo.’

I said in astonishment, ‘How?’

‘When Puroo took over your old age, you gave him the kingdom in return. But as soon as he got back his youth, he ran to Devayani. He fell at her feet and said, “Mother, Yadu is my elder brother. Father has given me the kingdom. But I will not take it. I shall not take the throne insulting Yadu. Let Yadu be king. I will take his orders. I swear by you mother. I swear by my mother Sharmishtha, I want you as mother, I want Yadu as brother. I do not want a kingdom. I want a mother and a brother.” ’

Devayani who had never before yielded to anyone or anything melted at this love, affection and sacrifice of Puroo. She hugged him and bathing him with tears said, ‘Puroo, as to who is to take the throne, that is for the king and his subjects to decide. But you have today given me something which is beyond all kingdoms. A selfless warrior like you has made me his mother. Puroo, who taught you so much love? It would have been far better if I had been taught that in my childhood. I am now going to learn it from you. You gladly took over your father’s old age. From love for your brother, you were prepared to relinquish your kingdom. Puroo, I want nothing more than the strength to love like you.’

Puroo had relinquished his right to the throne, but the subjects to the last man wanted him to be king. Yadu’s defeat had lowered him in their estimation. The Dasyu rebellion to the north had to be put down. It could only be done by a brave king. Devayani also bowed to the wish of the people.

On the day of Puroo’s coronation we retired to the jungle. Immediately after the ceremony, Kacha asked all three of us, ‘Does any of you have any residual wish?’ Devayani and Sharmishtha immediately said, ‘No.’ I however kept quiet. Kacha said, ‘Your Majesty...’

I said, ‘Now, I am not to be called Your Majesty, but Yayati. We are friends, right from the days of the sacrifice in Maharishi Angiras’s hermitage. Today again, we are friends as in childhood.’ Kacha said, ‘All right. Yayati, is there anything more you wish for?’

‘Yes, two of my wishes are yet unfulfilled.’

‘Which are they?’

‘Madhav’s mother is now very old. I wish to take her with us, so I can be of some service to her. And that we three should tell our story to the whole world without any reservations.’

King Puroo came to receive our blessings. I blessed him with, ‘May this family attain fame in your name. Like your valour, may your spirit of sacrifice grow.’

‘What else Your Majesty?’

‘I am no Majesty!’

‘What else Father?’

‘I have no household now.’

‘What else ...’

‘In happiness and misery, remember one thing. Sex and wealth are the great symbols of manhood. They are inspiring symbols. They sustain life. But they are unbridled. There is no knowing when they will run amuck. Their reins must at all times be in the hands of duty.’

Oh man, desire is never satisfied by indulgence.

Like the sacrificial fire, it ever grows with every offering.