Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

Maya's Gratitude

Mahabharata


This chapter is from [Maha:2.1-2.12].

The Asura Maya, saved by Arjuna and Krishna from being consumed in the burning of the Khandava forest, was exceedingly grateful to the Pandava. He said to Arjuna, "You have saved my life. In return, what do you wish from me? Would you like great wealth? Would you like powerful weapons of war? Or would you prefer to learn the science of magical warfare only known to the Rakshasas? Name your preference and it shall be yours."

Arjuna said, "You sought my protection when you were defenseless. It is the duty of a Kshatriya to offer his protection to all who are worthy, and those who ask for it. I have merely performed your duty. You owe me nothing. Your friendship is enough for me. Do something for my dearest friend Krishna, that will be enough for me."

Krishna thought for a while and said, "Your city has been constructed by Vishwakarma and is truly beautiful. However, the palace is much too plain for such a wonderful city. Let a palatial meeting hall be constructed for Yudhishtra the just. You are the best person to construct it, being the architect of the Asuras."

Maya said, "I will construct a palace, the likes of which shall not be found not even in the heavens. I will leave now, but will be back soon. Long ago, north of Mt. Kailasa near the the Mainaka mountains, the Danavas conducted a sacrifice on the banks of Lake Vindu. During this sacrifice, I had collected a vast quantity of building material, jewels and gems. All this wealth has been placed in a mansion belonging to an Asura named Vrishaparva. I shall bring back those materials and shall construct a delightful palace for you and your brothers. There is also a fierce club used by the King of the Asuras of yore. It will be a weapon worth of your brother Bheema. There is also a conch named Devadatta, which was belonged to Varuna long ago. It shall be yours."

With these words, the Daitya left for the Mainaka mountains. He returned with the promised club and conch, as well as the best building materials in all seven worlds. On an auspicious day, he performed the initial propitiatory rites of foundation and gratified the Brahmanas with rich presents of various kinds, Maya measured out a plot of land five thousand cubits square and began the construction. Soon the peerless palace of great beauty and endowed with great wealth in the form of precious stones was completed. The columns of this palace were made of gold. Maya also appointed his kinsmen, eight thousand Rakshasas known as the Kinkaras to guard this palace. Inside the palace, there were many interesting devices that were a delight to behold and would caused wonderment to even the most jaded observer. It took the Daitya just fourteen months to complete this building.

On a sacred day, with the chant of Vedic hymns, Yudhishtra entered the palace accompanied by his brothers and led by his chief priest Dhaumya. To mark the occasion, he gave many gifts to the Brahmanas and gladdened their hearts. Many Kshatriya allies of the Pandavas had also come to witness the opening ceremony. When Yudhishtra sat on his high throne, with his brothers seated below, he shone like Indra at his court in Amravati.

The celestial Rishi Narada came to see the Pandavas in this newly constructed hall. He was worshiped with sacred water and offered an appropriate seat. The King then enquired about the reason for the sage's visit.

Narada said, "I had received news that you have built a beautiful palace with the help of the Maya. I wished to see it with my own eyes. Besides, I also wanted to give you advice about administering your kingdom and in statecraft."

With these words, the sage then gave him a lecture on the how a King ought to rule his kingdom. His advice covered the question of appropriate taxes, of the need for appointing competent officials, of the need for nurturing the arts and sciences. He also gave him useful advice on how to guard against coups, and to guard against the spies employed by rival Kings. He also stressed the importance of employing competent spies to ferret out disturbances before they could cause trouble for the King.

Yudhishtra promised to abide by the advice of the Rishi. He then asked the Rishi, "Sire, you have the power to travel among the seven worlds at the speed of thought. Have you seen any other hall that is superior to mine?"

Narada smiled and replied, "O Child, I have never seen nor heard ever before, neither among men, nor among the gods, any assembly room built of gems and precious stones like this hall of thine. I have been to the hall of Indra, it is not equal to yours. I have been to the hall of Yama that shines like burnished gold, but it is inferior to this hall in beauty. I have visited Pushakaramalini, the hall of Varuna, floating in the waters, but it is not equal to yours. The hall of Kubera certainly displays his immense wealth, but is not as beautiful as yours. I have been to the hall of Lord Brahma, the grandsire of all beings, where the Prajapatis offer him worship, but its splendor is nothing to yours. I have seen all these assembly halls O King, but without question, your hall is the best that ever was."

Highly gratified, Yudhishtra then said, "Sire, You must have met my father Pandu amongst the blessed dead. How is he? Is he happy? Is he pleased with our success? I am also curious to know why my father is in the hall of Yama, and not in the hall of Indra?"

Narada said, "O King, those kings who die on the battlefield, attain the kingdom of heaven, and spend their days in the company of Indra, the lord of celestials. Those Kings who either perform the Rajasooya Yagna or have it performed by the descendants, obtain the right to sit in the hall of Indra. If you wish your father Pandu to obtain the signal honor of sitting in Indra's court, you must perform the Rajasooya Yagna. Beware, however, for this sacrifice is exceedingly hard to perform, for the Brahma Rakshasas will try to interrupt such a potent Yagna. If you think you can maintain the desired vigilance, by all means perform this ritual and gratify your father."

With these words, the Rishi left on his wanderings. Yudhishtra began thinking seriously about conducting the Rajasooya Yagna.

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Last Modified At: Sat Nov 13 12:35:37 2004