(Immediately after the royal wedding, Kashiraja was ushered into Queen Madalasa’s chambers. The Queen bowed and started an interesting conversation with the King. “Madaalasaam manjula vaagvilaasam”, was the poetic tribute which Kalidasa gave. )
“I want to spend my time in Brahmacharya.”
“Then why did you get married?”
“I was not interested. My view was acceptable even to my father. But my mother put pressure and got me married.”
“Brahmacharya is not possible after marriage.”
“Why? There are examples of several couples, who, although married have remained bachelors for life|”
“But I am not prepared for that. I want issues.”
“You may go through a second marriage. I will not come in the way.”
“Kings marry many a time. But that custom is not prevalent in our family. It is our royal heritage to be wedded to a single wife.”
“I am not, however interested. Until I attain fulfilment, I have decided to dwell in Brahmacharya.”
“Then who will adorn our throne?”
“You will not die. Where is the need for fear thereafter?”
“Death is inevitable after birth. Birth and death take place one after the other in succession. Nobody can prevent the occurrence.”
“If you resolve about observing Brahmacharya for life, you will become an Ichamarani. Are not Suka, Vamedeva, Parasurama, Dattatreya and Anjaneya glorious examples? If prayed for, Dattaguru indeed gives darshan even now – this very moment.”
“Why are so rigid on the subject to issues?”
“Instead of useless children being born, it is better to have no children.”
“Is that why you are worried?”
“You have no cause for that kind of fear. When there is a pure – hearted mother like you and a pure father like me, can there be emergence of an evil issue?”
“Wasn’t Ravana the son of Pulastya Brahma? Wasn’t the accursed Hiranyakashipu the son of Kashyapa Prajapathi? My fear consists in the possibility of the birth of a son who would be inimical to Iswara. From such a son, instead of the family tree prospering there is bound to be family destruction.”
“You seem to be an indescribable woman.”
“Right I admit I am a strange lady. What do you want me to do?”
“You have to be my consort and get me a son who will succeed to the throne!”
“Then you should also agree to my conditions.”
“I won’t agree to mere consent. I must have complete control over children born of me. You must not have any say to the matter. Their training and care, education and intellectual evolution – all must proceed according to my desire.”
“You should not come in the way even if I kill them.”
“You are a strange lady. All right, I agree to even that.”
“Swear in the name of the Omnipresent and Omniscient Paramatman and say that you and not I, will have full control over the born to us. To this I agree! I agree!! I agree!!!”
Within a year, the King was blessed with a son. The Queen named him Atmananda. She filled the walls of her room with inspiring pictures of Mahatmas and incarnations of God. She appointed a Brahmin recluse to educate the youngster. The father would also join the mother in religious instruction of the boy. The mother’s sacred intentions, the sacred atmosphere and the teachings of a Guru who was a total recluse had a tremendous influence on the formative mind of the boy. The result was that when he was barely twelve years old, the prince became a recluse and left the royal household.
Three years later, the royal couple had another son. He became a recluse in the same way as his elder brother.
A third son was born after some time. When he attained the age of five, the King approached the Queen and asked, “Two of the children, as a result of your instructions, have left the household as sadhus. What are your intentions about the third? Are you going to make him a sanyasi?”
“Oh! Certainly,” replied the Queen with assurance. “The fate of the throne,” said the King is finished! It is better you refresh your memory of the first conversation we had with each other. Do not forget that the progeny is to adorn the royal throne.”
“May be”, cautioned the Queen, “I have already taken a vow from you. You cannot go back on that.”
“No” said the King. “I cannot take back my word of promise. But I have a prayer. Please do not make him a sanyasi. I will give him education befitting the royal order. Leave him to my control.”
“All right”, said the Queen agreeing to the King’s proposal.
The boy’s name was Ashok Kumar. The King imparted to him instructions on political science. At the appropriate age, Ashok was crowned as the King.
After transferring all powers of the kingdom to him, the King and the Queen migrated to the forest for Thapas. They joined the ashram of Atmananda, their elder son.
Atmananda began to observe some lines of worry in the otherwise serene face of the mother. He was wondering about the kind of worry that could afflict an enlightened Thapasvini. Being unable to resolve the conflict of his mind, he asked the mother one day:
“Mother! It appears to me that you are sad about something?”
“Dear child! You are correct”, admitted the Queen. “How much I tried to compose myself, I haven’t succeeded and the spectre of worry has been haunting me now and then.”
“Why? If I can help in banishing your worry, please direct me. I shall fulfil your mission and return.” offered Atmananda.
“Child!” replied the Queen. “I am worried about none other than your youngest bother. He is immersed in royal pleasures and forgotten God. After sometime, he will be consigned to hell. Haven’t you heard of the saying – kingdom from Thapas and hell from kingdom?”
“Mother! What should I do? Command me”, Atmananda earnestly asked her.”
“You meet your uncle”, commanded Madalasa. “Take his army, proceed against your youngest brother and conquer him in the war. After vanquishing him, you rob him of his kingdom and send him to the forest for Thapas. You get married as soon as you become the King. Until you beget a son and until such time he comes of age, you retain rulership and thereafter you can transfer power to him and retire to this forest with your queen for the Thapas. This is my command. I do not want any of the children born to me to be ignorant, idiotic, sinful and pleasure-seeking. I want all my three children to be devotees of God. Do you know the ideal of Indian motherhood? It is the duty of every mother to see that the moment the jeeva comes out of her womb, she not only protects him from the shackles of recurrent bondage, but also helps in blossoming him into an enlightened and liberated person”.
“Mother!” said Atmananda, “I will act according to your command”.
Atmananda met his uncle and conveyed to him the orders of his mother. With the help of his army, he defeated his brother in the battle, dispossessed him of the kingdom and put him behind bars.
Six months passed. On a certain night, Atmananda proceeded to the prison where his brother was lodged and surprised him with an offer.
“King! I restore the kingdom to you. Rule happily”.
Ashok Kumar was taken aback. He said, “You have conquered me and secured the kingdom. What is the reason for returning a kingdom that is already in your hands? Nobody will ever do like this”.
“I was a sanyasi before clarified”, Atmananda said, “I had a lurking feeling that there might be happiness in royal pleasures. In order to gratify my desire, I conquered you and obtained the kingdom. During these six months of experience, all my delusion has disappeared. Formerly, I was enjoying bliss on the laps of God. Now, I am caught in the whirlpool of illusion. I do not want the kingdom any longer. You take back your kingdom. One who abandons Thapas and assumes control over a kingdom is a fool! An idiot! Why should heaven be abandoned for hell”?
“Then, should I not also indulge in Thapas?” Ashok asked him further.
“You need not engage yourself in Thapas. You burden yourself with your problems of life. I leave for Thapas”, asserted Atmananda. Removing the crown from his head, he placed it on his brother’s head. Ashok Kumar was filled with wonder. He said to himself: “This person wants to give up the kingdom and leave for Thapas. My parents are also performing Thapas in the forest. Therefore, I shall myself go over their place and seek their blessings”. After ruminating thus, he told Atmananda, “You have done a lot of Thapas and completed it. I will now proceed to the place of my parents for Thapas. You keep your kingdom with you. Get married and be happy with your children. You keep your crown to yourself”.
The crown found its place on Atmananda’s head again. That was exactly what he wanted. It was only in order to make Ashok spell out and act in this way that he had contrived this plan.
Ashok Kumar was sent to the ashram where his parents were living. As soon as he reached the place, he came to know that the person who conquered him was none other than his eldest brother and that he had done so according to his mother’s command.
Atmananda got married. A son was also born to him. The son came of age but Atmananda did not transfer power to him and retire to Thapas as per his mother’s command. He had sunk deep in the kingly pleasures and forgotten his mother’s words.
A devout sanyasini was called at the palace of Atmananda. The King welcomed her and offered worship and hospitality. Then he asked her:
“Holy mother! My country is stricken with conditions of famine. What do you think could be the reason?”
“Rajaa Kaalasya Kaaranam”, she said. “The sins of the king visit the kingdom”.
Atmananda was surprised. He asked her:
“What kind of sin have I committed?”
“You have committed the gravest sin, the biggest crime”.
“What is it about?”
“You have betrayed your own mother”.
“Yes! Yes!! I have forgotten my vow. What should I do now?”
“Crown your son as the sovereign of this land and retire to the forest with your consort. Famine will flee from this country”.
That very day, Atmananda gave up his kingdom, performed the coronation ceremony of his son and set out to his mother’s ashram with his consort. There he came to know that the sanyasini was none other than his own mother.
When the three children and the husband were having a delightful day and nice time, Madalasa addressed all of them and said, “My Lord! My sunny sons! You are all blessed, pure souls. God has lifted you from what would have been an abysmal hell. Thapas has purified and sanctified your inner frame”.
“If the mother is enlightened, she will bring prosperity to her entire clan. She will glorify her family by adherence to dharma and justice, disciplined life and love of God. If, on the other hand, she is unenlightened, in addition to her falling to hell, she will drive all her people to hell”.
“Our life is like a stage drama. Everyone is bound together with others with strings of indebtedness. During the process of our reaping the harvest of karma of the previous cycles of life, we will be giving away to concerned people something by way of liquidation of indebtedness and receiving also from others by way of fulfilment of similar bonds. It is in this business of paying and receiving, that problems of pride and prejudice are produced. Despite the functioning of a virtual trade fair, God has invested us with the powers of discretion and of the intellect to acquire just the kind of treasure that survives after death. After rebirth, for a woman- a man’s relationship and for a man, a woman’s relationship is brought about and the children are the products of their union. Home, mutt, kingdom and sheaths are the convenient creations designed to bring family comforts and happiness. Examined in proper perspective, starting from our own physical body the whole universe is Paramatman’s manifestation of maya with illusory playthings. The moment the fruits of our karma are reaped, we leave this world, leaving everything behind”.
“In this tasteless life, only the Paramatman is the personification of taste. The purpose of life is to discover and know this phenomenon. It is the function of every human person to establish and maintain constant communion with God without being carried away by sensory perceptions which bring delusions every minute”.
“Thapas, alone is the secret of life. Thapas burns all sins and bonds of karma. It destroys the wavering tendency of the mind. The forest is indeed the fittest place for thapas. It has therefore been our cultural heritage of immemorial antiquity that we should spend three-fourths of our life in the forest. If a person’s life extends over 108 years, 24 years will be spent in boyhood, 36 years in youth and 48 years in old age. The eighth year itself of one should begin with forest life. Till the 24th year, one should spend one’s time in the Ashram of a Rishi in Guruseva. During old age, one should lead an austere life in the forest till the moment of death. Only small period of the remaining of life should be earmarked for family life and home living. Even then, one should lead a cautious life meditating on God. At the moment of throwing away the corporeal appendage (the body), one should be prepared to encounter death with a smile on the face just as one meets a friend”.
“It had been my cherished ambition that my husband and my children should lead this kind of exemplary life. My divine husband has been to a great extent instrumental in helping my children to proceed on the disinterested path. My children have also fulfilled my desires. For uniting these paragons of virtue with me. I am offering grateful thanks to God”.
“Oh God! Lord of the Universe! Prostrations ad infinitum to you!!! Bless us all with the boon of salvation”.
“Madaalasaam manjula vaagvilaasam,
Maatanga-kanyaam manasaa smaraami”.