THE NINTH BOOK
On the incarnation of Mahâ Laksmî in the house of Kusadhvaja
1-30. Srî Nârâyana said :-- O Muni! Dharmadhvaja and Kusadhvaja practised severe tapasyâs and worshipped Laksmî. They then got separately their desired boons. By the boon of Mahâ Laksmî, they
became again the rulers of the earth. They acquired great religious merits and they also had their children. The wife of Kusadhvaja was named Mâlâvatî. After a long time, the chaste wife delivered one daughter, born of the parts of Kamalâ. The daughter, on being born, became full of wisdom. On being born, the baby began to sing clearly the Vedic mantrams from the lying-in-chamber. Therefore She was named Vedavatî by the Pundits. She bathed after her birth and became ready to go to the forest to practise severe tapas. Everyone then, tried earnestly to dissuade her, devoted to Nârâyana, from the enterprise. But she did not listen to anybody. She went to Puskara and practised hard tapasyâ for one Manvantara. Yet her body did not get lean a bit; rather she grew more plumpy and fatter. By degrees her youth began to show signs in her body; one day she heard an incorporeal voice from the air above, O Fair One! In your next birth Srî Hari, adored by Brahmâ and other gods, will be your husband. Hearing this, her joy knew no bounds. She went to the solitary caves in the Gandhamâdan mountain to practise tapas again. When a long time passed away in this tapasyâ, one day the irresistible Râvana came there as guest. No sooner Vedavatî saw the guest, then she gave him, out of devotion to the guest, water to wash feet, delicious fruits, and cool water for his drink. The villain accept the hospitality and sitting there, began to ask :-- O Auspicious One! Who are you? Seeing the fair smiling lady, with beautiful teeth, her face blooming like the autumnal lotus, of heavy loins, and of full breast, that villain became passionate. He lost entirely all consciousness and became ready to make violence on Her. Seeing this, the chaste Vedavatî, became angry and out of her tapas influence, astounded him and made him insensible to move. He remained motionless like an inanimate body. He could not move his hands nor feet nor could he speak. That wicked fellow then mentally recited praises to her. And the praise of the Higher Sakti can never go futile. She became pleased and granted him religious merits in the next world. But she also pronounced this curse :-- That when you have touch my body out of passion, then you will be ruined with your whole family for my sake. Now see my power. O Nârada! Thus saying to Râvana, Vedavatî left her body by her yogic power. Then Râvana took her body and delivered it to the Ganges and he then returned to his own home. But Râvana thought over the matter repeatedly and exclaimed, What wonder have I seen! Oh! What a miracle this lady has wrought! Râvana thus lamented. This Vedavatî, of pure character, took her birth afterwards as Sîtâ, the daughter of
Janaka. For the sake of this Sîtâ, Râvana was ruined with his whole family. By the religious merits of her previous birth, the ascetic lady got Bhagavân Hari Srî Râma Chandra, the Fullest of the Full, for her husband and remained for a long time in great enjoyment with the Lord of the world; a thing very difficult to be attained! Though she was a Jâtismarâ (one who knows all about her past lives), she did not feel any pain due to her practising severe austerities in her previous birth; for when the pains end in success, the pains are not then felt at all. Sîtâ, in Her fresh youth enjoyed various pleasures in the company of her husband, handsome, peaceful, humorous and witty, the chief of the Devas, loved by the female sex, well-qualified, and just what she desired. But the all-powerful Time is irresistible; the truthful Râmachandra, the scion of the Raghus family, had to keep up the promise made by his father and so he had to go to the forest, ordained by Time. He remained with Sîtâ and Laksmana near the sea. Once the God Fire appeared to Him in the form of a Brâhmana. Fire, in a Brâhmin-form, saw Râma Chandra morose and became himself mortified. Then the Truthful Fire addressed the truthful Râmachandra :-- O Bhagavân Râmachandra! I now speak to you how time is now coming to you. Now has come the time when your Sîtâ will be stolen.
31-48. The course of Destiny is irresistible; none else is more powerful than Time, Fate. So give over your Sîtâ, the World Mother to me and keep with you this Chhâyâ Sîtâ (the shadow Sîtâ; the false Sîtâ). When the time of Sîtâs ordeal by fire will take place I will give Her back to you. The Devas united have sent me to you. I am not really a Brâhmin; but I am Agni Deva (eater of oblations). Râmachandra heard Fire and gave his assent. But his heart shattered. He did not speak of this to Laksmana. By the yogic power Agni (Fire) created a Mâyâ Sîtâ. This Mâyâ Sîtâ, O Nârada, was perfectly equal to the real Sîtâ. Fire, then, handed this Mâyâ Sîtâ to the hands of Râmachandra. Hûtâsana (fire) took the real Sîtâ and said, Never divulge this to any other body and went away. What to speak of divulging the secret to any other body, Laksmana even could not know it. By this time Râma saw one deer, made of all gold. To bring that deer carefully to her, Sîtâ sent Râmachandra with great eagerness. Putting Sîtâ under Laksmanas care, in that forest, Râma went himself immediately and pierced the deer by one arrow. That Mâyâ mrîga (the deer created by magic powers) on being pierced, cried out Ha Laksmana! and seeing Hari before him and remembering the name of Hari, quitted
his life. The deer body then vanished; and a divine body made its appearance in its stead. This new body mounting on an aerial car made of jewels, ascended to Vaikuntha. That Mâyik (magic) deer was in its previous birth, a servant, of the two gate-keepers of Vaikuntha; but, for the sake of some emergency, he had to take up this Râkhsasa birth. He again became the servant of two door-keepers of Vaikuntha. On the other hand Sîtâ Devî, hearing the cry Ha Laksmana! became very distressed and sent Laksmana in search of Râma. No sooner did Laksmana get out of the hermitage, the irresistible Râvana took away Sîtâ gladly to the city of Lanka (Ceylon). Now Râmachandra, seeing Laksmana on the way in the forest, became merged in the ocean of sorrows and without losing any time came hurriedly to the hermitage where he could not find Sîtâ. Instantly he fell unconscious, on the ground; and, after a long time, when he regained his consciousness, he lamented and wandered here and there in search of Her. After some days on the banks of the river Godâvarî, getting the information of Sîtâ, he built a bridge across the ocean with the help of His monkey armies. Then he entered with his army into Lanka and slew Râvana with arrows with all his friends. When Sîtâs ordeal by fire came, Agni (Fire) handed over the real Sîtâ to Râmachandra. The Shadow Sîtâ then humbly addressed Agni and Râma Chandra, O Lord! What am I to do now? Settle my case.
49-53. Agni and Râmachandra both of them then said to Chhâyâ Sîtâ :-- O Devî! Go to Puskara and practise tapasyâ there; that place is the giver of religious merits and then you will be the Svarga Laksmî (Laksmî of Heaven). Hearing this, the Chhâyâ Sîtâ went and practised tapasyâ for the three divine lakh years and became Mahâ Laksmî. This Svarga Laksmî appeared at one time from the sacrificial Kunda (pit). She was known as the daughter of Drupada and became the wife of the five Pândavas. She was Veda Vatî, the daughter of Kusadhvaja in the Satya Yuga; Sîtâ, the wife of Râma and the daughter of Janaka in Tretâ Yuga; and Draupadî, the daughter of Drupada, in the Dvâpara Yuga. As she existed in the Satya, Tretâ, and Dvâpara Yugas, the Three Yugas, hence She is Trihâyanî.
54. Nârada said :-- O Chief of Munis! O Remover of doubts! Why had Draupadî five husbands? A great doubt has arisen in my mind on this point. Remove my doubt.
55-63. Nârâyana said :-- O Devarsi! When, in the city of Lanka, the real Sîtâ came before Râma, then Chhâyâ Sîtâ, full of youth and beauty, became very anxious. Agni Deva and Râmachandra both told
Her to go to Puskara and worship Samkara. While this Chhâyâ Sîtâ was practising austerities in Puskara, She became very anxious to get a good husband and asked from MahâDeva the boon Grant me a husband and repeated it five times. Siva, the chief among the humorous, witty persons, hearing this, said, O Dear! You will get five husbands and thus granted her the boon. Therefore She became the dearest wife of the five Pândavas. Now hear other facts. When the war at Lanka was over, Srî Râmachandra got his own dear wife Sîtâ, and installing Vibhîsana on the throne of Lanka, returned to Ayodhyâ. He ruled for eleven thousand years in Bhârata and finally went to Vaikuntha with his all his subjects. Vedavatî, the incarnation in part of Laksmî dissolved in the body of Kamalâ. Thus I have described to you the pure anecdote of Vedavatî. Hearing this destroys sins and increases virtue. The four Vedas reigned incarnate, in their true forms, on the lips of Vedavatî; hence She was named Vedavatî. Thus I have told you the anecdote of the daughter of Kusadhvaja. Now hear the story of Tulasî, the daughter of Dharmadhvaja.
Here ends the Sixteenth Chapter in the Ninth Book on the incarnation of Mahâ Laksmî in the house of Kusadhvaja in Srî Mad Devî Bhâgavatam of 18,000 verses by Mahârsi Veda Vyâsa.