Chapter 3: Association With the Noble

1. Having listened to Dattatreya's words, Parasurama was delighted and continued his questions in all humility:

2. "O Bhagavan! It is precisely as my Lord Guru has just said. Truly, a man will ever head for destruction in his ignorance.

3. "His salvation lies in investigation (vichara) alone. The remote and proximate causes have also been mentioned by Thee, and they have been traced to mahatmya. I am in great doubt on this point.

4. "How does that happen and what is again its proximate cause? Can it be that it is natural (like courage to a hero)? Then why is it not shared by all?

5-6. "Why have I not got it as yet? Again, there are others who are more troubled and more suffering than I. Why have they not got this means? Kindly tell me." Thus asked, Datta, the Ocean of Mercy, answered:

7. "Listen, Rama! I shall now tell you the fundamental cause of salvation. Association with the wise is the root cause for obliterating all misery.

8-9. "Association with the sages is alone said to lead to the highest good. Your contact with Samvarta has led you to this stage of enlightenment, which is the fore-runner of emancipation. On being approached, the sages teach the greatest good.

10. "Has any one ever got anything great, without contact with the wise? In any case, it is the company which determines the future of the individual.

11. "A man undoubtedly reaps the fruits of his company. I shall relate to you a story to illustrate this:

12. "There was once a king of Dasarna by name Muktachuda. He had two sons: Hemachuda and Manichuda.

13. "They were comely, well-behaved and well-learned. At one time they led a hunting party, consisting of a great retinue of men and warriors, into a deep forest on the Sahya Mountains which was infested with tigers, lions and other wild animals. They were themselves armed with bows and arrows.

14. "There they shot several deer, lions, boars, bisons, wolves, etc., having killed them by the skilful use of their bows.

16. "As more wild animals were being hunted down by the royal hunters, a tornado began to rase, pouring down sand and pebbles.

17. "A thick cloud of dust screened the sky; and it became dark like night, so that neither rocks, trees nor men could be seen.

18. "The mountain was shrouded in darkness, so that neither hills nor valleys could be seen. The retinue hurried away afflicted by the sands and pebbles hurled down by the tornado.

19. "A few of them took shelter under rocks, others in caves, and still others under trees. The royal pair mounted on horses and rode away into the distance.

20. "Hemachuda ultimately reached the hermitage of a sage, which had been built in a fine garden of plantain, date and other trees.

21. "There he saw a charming maiden whose body, bright as gold, shone like a flame of fire.

22-23. "The prince was bewitched at the sight of the girl, who looked like the Goddess of Fortune, and spoke to her thus: 'Who are you, fair lady, who live fearlessly in such a dreadful and solitary forest? Whose are you? Why are you here? Are you alone?'

24. "On being spoken to, that spotless maiden replied: 'Welcome, prince! Please sit down.

25. Hospitality is the sacred duty of the pious. I notice you have been overtaken by the tornado and afflicted.

26. "Tie your horse to the date-palm. Sit here and take rest, and then you will be able to listen to me in comfort."

27-29. "She gave him fruits to eat and juices to drink. After he had refreshed himself, he was further treated with her charming words which dropped like sweet nectar from her lips. 'Prince! There is that well-known sage, Vyaghrapada, and ardent devotee of Siva, by whose penance all the worlds have been transcended, and who is eagerly worshipped even by the greatest saints for his unparalleled wisdom both with regard to this and other worlds.

30. "I am his foster child - Hemalekha is my name. There was a Vidyadhari (celestial damsel) ( - Vidyaprabha by name) and very beautiful.

31. "One day she came here to bathe in this river, the Vena, to which Sushena, the King of Vanga, also came at the same time.

32. "He saw the celestial beauty bathing. She was the fairest in the world, lithe in body and with the most beautiful breasts.

33. "He fell in love with her which love she returned.

34. "Their love consummated, he returned home leaving her pregnant.

35. "Afraid of slander, she caused an abortion. I was however born alive from that womb.

36. "As Vyaghrapada came to the river bank for his evening ablutions, he picked me up because of his great love for all, in order to bring me up with a mother's care.

37. "He who offers righteous protection is said to be the father. I am therefore his daughter by virtue of this and devoted to him.

38-39. "There is certainly no fear for me anywhere on earth on account of his greatness. Be they Gods or Asuras, they cannot enter this hermitage with bad motives; if they did they would only be counting their own ruin. I have now told you my story. Wait here, Prince, a little.

40. "That same lord, my foster-father, will soon be here. Salute him and hear him with humility; your desire will be fulfilled, and you may leave here in the morning.'

41. "Having heard her and becoming enamoured of her, he was silent for fear of giving offence; yet he became distressed in mind.

42-46. "Noting the prince love-stricken, that highly accomplished girl continued: 'Bravo Prince! Be steady! My father is about to come. Tell him all.' As she was saying this Vyaghrapada the great saint arrived, carrying a basket of flowers culled from the forest for worship. Seeing the sage coming, the prince rose up from his seat, prostrated before him mentioning his own name, and then took his seat as directed. The sage noticed that the man was love-stricken; taking in the whole situation by his occult powers, he pondered on what would be the best course in the circumstances; and ended by bestowing Hemalekha on the young man as his life-partner.

47-49. "The prince was filled with joy and returned with her to his own capital. Muktachuda, his father, was also very pleased and ordered festivities in the kingdom. He then had the marriage performed ceremoniously, and the loving couple passed a very happy honeymoon in the palace, in forest retreats, and in holiday resorts. But the infatuated prince noticed that Hemalekha was not as amorous as himself.

50. "Feeling that she was always unresponsive, he asked her in private: 'My dear! How is it you are not as attentive to me as I am to you?

51. "Thou fairest of girls radiant with smiles! How is it that you are never keen on seeking pleasure or enjoying it? Are not these pleasures to your taste?

52. "You look indifferent even during the greatest pleasures. How can I be happy if your interest is not awakened?

53. "Even when I am close to you, your mind seems to be elsewhere; when spoken to, you do not seem to listen.

54. "As I hold you in close embrace for a long while, you seem unconscious of me, and then ask me, 'Lord, when did you come?'

55. "None of the carefully planned arrangements seem to interest you and you do not take part in them.

56. "When I turn away from you, you remain with your eyes closed; and so you continue whenever I approach you.

57. "Tell me how I can derive pleasure with nothing but an artist's model which is what you are, seeing your indifference to all enjoyments.

58. "What does not please you cannot please me either. I am always looking to you, trying to please you like a lily looking up at the moon.

Note: - Kumuda, a certain lily, blossoms only in the night and is therefore said to be the beloved of the Moon, as the lotus blossoming in the day is said to be the beloved of the Sun.

59. "Speak, dear! Why are you like this? You are dearer to me than even life. I adjure you! Speak and so relieve my mind."

Thus ends the Third Chapter in the section on the potency of the association with the wise, in Tripura Rahasya.