Thursday, June 28, 2007

The story of King Kusha

Love is wonderful. No, I am not moonstruck, but pondering as usual. The thing is, I was cleaning up some stuff, and happened to see the Amar Chitra Katha comic version of the story of King Kusha. The story triggered some thoughts, and here I am.

For people not in the know, here is the story. It is taken from the Jataka tales. King Okkaka was heirless. Indra granted him two sons as a boon, one wise but ugly and the other handsome but foolish. Sheelavati, the queen asked for the wise one to be born first, and so King Kusha was born. Later, Jayampati, the beautiful child, was born.

Kusha finished his learning quite soon. When his parents asked him to get married, he thought that no princess would agree to get married to a ugly youth like him, and hit upon a ruse to ward off the impending proposals and refusals. He carved a beautiful image of a woman, and asked his parents to find somebody who looked exactly like her. He was confident that they would not be able to find a woman as beautiful as his carving. But he was mistaken. Padmavati, the daughter of Sagala was found and married to Kusha on one condition - the new couple were not to see each other for some time. Padmavati loved to hear him play the veena, and imagined that he had an artist's handsome face.

Kusha could not hide his face long from Padmavati. As soon as she found out that her husband was not the handsome prince she had hoped for, she left for her parents' house. Thither followed Kusha. He became a potter's apprentice, made a beautiful pot with Padmavati's picture on it, and sent it to her. She recognized his work and threw the pot away. He then became the royal wicker-worker's apprentice and sent his work to her, but she rejected that too. He then became a cook at the palace, with the hope that he could at least see her often. She was unrelenting, but Kusha toiled in the royal kitchen, waiting for her to accept him.

Finally, Indra decided to help him. He sent a message to seven different kings in Sagala's name, saying that since his daughter (hey, Indra was a great forger!) had left Kusha, he would marry her off to them. Seven kings with seven armies came to Madda (that was the kingdom of Padmavati). Padmavati's father was now alarmed. Giving Padmavati to any one king would mean war with the other six, and he was just not prepared for it. Padmavati now saw the situation she was in, and appealed to Kusha to help her. Kusha settled matters by offering his seven sisters-in-law to the seven kings. Kusha and Padmavati lived happily ever after.

Now, that was the story. I have a question. I am sure some women, in their vanity, do not consider not-so-good-looking men as worthy of companionship, in spite of their other virtues. But would any man do so much for a woman who has scorned him repeatedly? I have read of men and women who do anything and everything to get to their loved ones back. Rama fought the entire army of Ravana to win Seeta back. In Kalidasa's drama, vikramorvasheeyam, Pururava performed penance for winning Urvashi. One can find umpteen instances like that in other cultures also. In Greek mythology, we have the search for Cupid by Psyche and the pining of Penelope for Ulysses. But in all such stories there is this one common thing - of mutual love that is nourished by longing and even by separation.

Well, I do not want to dissect the story any further and play spoilsport. Do let me know if you liked it :)

14 comments:

mouna said...

yes, i liked it! :)
jataka tales always pull poeple towards them. they are wonderful to say the least.

rk said...

i love stories. this post was a nice little treat! thanks parijata!

Seeta's Ram said...

Thanks for the delightful story with the happy ending and an even happier, funny question at the end a la Vikram Betal.

I am past the age for stories, at least the Raja Rani stories sans a message -- I would much rather enjoy reading Kushagra's corporate battle with his uncle, Rahul Bajaj.

However, what interests me more than the story here is your witty question "But would any man do so much for a woman who has scorned him repeatedly?"

I would say yes, men are so foolish compared to scornful women. In fact, I have a vague recollection of a story of a scorned man not letting go of the woman he loved, a one-way love affair. I don't remember if it was Forsyth or Archer. The latter I guess.

Why are men like that? I would say it is inbuilt by the supreme Engineer in man's DNA.

If the man was not born foolish he wouldn't fall for women and lo, how would the species propagate?

So, as per my pet theme, there is a divine purpose behind His making men foolish.

But then, I also have seen the other way happening in real life. Of women still loving and caring for their worst specimen of a husband. In this case, may be it could be because of the generations of brainwashing of patiyey paradaiva emba tattva!

Love is not only blind, it is foolish too! Perhaps that is the way it should be.

Aram said...

Hey Seeta's Ram: Aren't you ashamed to take Seetamaata's name?

You shamelessly threw her into the fire and on top of it banished her into the forest, the mother who carried your twin sons, one of them called Kusha!

parijata said...

Mouna:
Thanks. Yes, Jataka tales are great.

rk:
I love stories too :)

Seeta's Ram:
I agree with you. Love is blind and foolish and that is the way it should probably be. I would like to think that Kusha did all that to uphold patidharma. Afterall, it is one's duty to live with one's spouse as far as possible, and not cite "irreconcilable differences" at the drop of a hat.

Aram Sir,
Unlike Kusha who gave up rAjadharma for the sake of patidharma, Rama gave up patidharma for upholding rAjadharma. It is not possible to decide which of the two is better. If Rama had relinquished the throne for Seeta's sake, he would have been a better husband, but would have gone down in History as a bad king. There are some pretty convincing arguments as to why Rama was right, and sometimes I am convinced (but one cannot deny that Rama did desert Seeta, when she really needed him).
And by the way, nice one about Kusha's name :)

Aram said...

Hey Parijaatakkaaa:

For heaven's sake, Will you please hurry and take back that knighthood before a fatwa is issued against me too?

Though bodily old, I am childish at heart ( see, I didn't say childlike)! Speaking of old age, my mother's younger sister, a gynaecologist who still practises at 82 and is our beloved patriarch ( no, no, she is still a she) told me today that she has commenced writing a book on the great women in our family of the past 5 generations. She doesn't realize she is the greatest of them all! (But that is for us to write).

Did I call you Madam or Ma'm! And don't call me Ajjayya also. My son though steady with a girl wants to study for the next 3-7 years. Enagintha kiriyarillakkaaa !

Aram said...

Such simple stories, yet so powerful messages!

Wonder what Rama would have done if Seeta had felt aggrieved and approached NOT Rama her darling husband, but Maryada Purushotthama Sri Ramachandra the King of Ayodhya and complained to the king as a subject at the grave injustice meted to her by her husband! What would the Rajadharma dictate?

A clear contradiction of dharmas!

Ayn Rand says in Atlas Shrugged, "Contradictions don't exist! If you find something contradictory, check your premises."

What are the premises here?

Hey Ram said...

Interesting observation: Rajadharma versus Patidharma.

Reminds me of E.M.Forster who said
"I hate the idea of causes, and if I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country."

A country is man made, a rajya is there only so long as neighbors don't invade it. A Seeta on the other hand is for ever - even for seven generations.

Rand Fan said...

@aram
The correct quotation: Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong. -Rand Fan

parijata said...

@Aram:
I will not call you 'Sir'. And please do not call me Akka. It will be more than twenty years before my little biyadiya can even think of going steady with someone ;)

You're right about age. I am not thirty yet, and reading about your Aunt made me feel good; I can still do all that I want to!

People go to great lengths to defend the story of Seeta's desertion. Some say that the uttarakANDa itself is a later addition, absolving Valmiki of writing such a story. Some others say that Rama lost his viShNutva as soon as he killed Ravana just like parashurAma lost his viShNutva when his task of killing kShatriyas was accomplished! They both (supposedly) became mere humans after that, and therefore were fallible! I do not buy both the stories.

You pose an interesting question. What would Rama have done if Seeta had gone to him with a complaint against Rama, her husband? Looking at what had happened before, would he have asked her to submit to another fire-trial? What do you think he would have done?

Thanks for the beautiful quote by Ayn Rand.

@Hey Ram:
What you say about rAjadharma and patidharma is true, very true. As I said, the arguments that justify Rama's actions are many, and occasionally I am also convinced. maryAdApuruShottama like Rama could not have done this one thing wrong. But as you said, leaving one's loving, innocent wife for the sake of rAjya should not be characteristic of one who is so lovingly worshipped by a billion people. (Ugh, my vacillation has no bounds!)

Coincidentally, R (my husband) and I were discussing the issue of patriotism yesterday. He said that patriotism is just another function of our ego, and I could not disagree. Nice quote by Forster.

@Rand Fan:
Welcome to my blog. Thanks for the comment.

Aram said...

biyadiya (V) is a nice nickname.

If she is the only one, I strongly suggest that she be gifted with a couple of siblings.

In our big family, except for my Lt.Col. cousin, everybody has a lone child - even my sister was too lazy to go through all the hassles a second time and so gave birth to identical twins.

A lone child is not desirable in spite of all the constraints of modern day living.

My friend, Dr. Capt. Rao is a psychiatrist and he had made this observation: "Look at any family; the second child has always done much better than the first one. For one thing, the parents will be more experienced with the second child. For another, the second child will have someone to look up to."

As you well know, some great Kannada poet has said, "Makkaliralavva Maney thumbaa."
<><>
After the topic of birth, comes the issue of death, how should I die? Here is a verse framed in her pooja room by my aunt.

Anaayasena Maranam
Vinaa Dainyena Jeevanam
Dehi Mey Krupayaa Deva
Twayi Bhaktim Nirantaram
<>

Anonymous said...

"He said that patriotism is just another function of our ego."

We need to be patriotic for our own selfishness of preserving our selves, lest we should find ourselves being ruled by fanatics and despots. (Bach also has said something to this effect).

Similarly, we should also ensure that democracy is for the educated to protect ourselves from the enemies within.

December Stud said...

You cannot decide if preferring patidharma over rAjadharma is good or bad? I am a lil surprised, that this came from a girl......For me, the answer is quite obvious. All of us are selfish, or at least should be selfish to a certain degree, including God.

And, I am not sure how rAjadharma prevailed by doing what he did. But, I guess I am digressing.

Nice story, but the ending was too fast and didn't really have a climax :)

Love the Jataka tales.....thanks for sharing.

kalsakri said...

"But would any man do so much for a woman who has scorned him repeatedly?"


Yes. I have seen 2 such people in real life .