Śrīmad Devi Bhāgavatam | Book 6 Chapter 27
THE SIXTH BOOK
On the marriage of Nārada and his face getting transformed into that of a monkey
1-13. Nārada said:
On hearing these words of her daughter from her nurse, the King addressed the queen Kaikeyi, of lovely eyes, standing close by, thus:
“Have you heard what the nurse has said? Damayantī has mentally chosen the monkey-faced Nārada as her husband. What has she thought? Whatever it be, it is no doubt, an act of great foolishness.
His face is monkey-like; how can I betroth my daughter to him? Where is an ugly beggar Nārada? And where is my daughter Damayantī? The marriage between them is quite unjust; it should never take place.
O Beautiful One of good hairs! Better call her before you in private and show her reasons approved of the Śāstras and of the aged persons and make her desist from such a rash course.”
On hearing her husband’s words, the mother of Damayantī called her in private and said:
“O Child! Where is your this beautiful face? And where is the monkey-like face of Nārada? You are smart and quick; how have you been, then, deluded by such a Moha?
O Child! You are the daughter of a king! Your body is gentle like a creeper. And Nārada always besmears his body with ashes; so his body is very rough.
O Spotless One! How will you change your words with him? Why do you show your attachment to an ugly person? What pleasure do you feel thereby?
You would be married to a beautiful prince; never follow this rash course; your father is very sorry to hear these from your nurse.
O One of soft body! Judge this yourself, what intelligent man is there that is not sorry at the soft Mālatī creeper entwining a thorny tree? Even a stupid silly man would never feed a camel, that likes thorns, with soft betel-leaves.
When your marriage time arrives, say yourself, who will not be sorry to see you going to Nārada and embracing him by his arms!
Nobody likes to speak with an ugly faced one; how will you be able to spend your time with him till your death! ”
14-29. Nārada said:
On hearing the mother’s words, the gentle Damayantī, with her mind intently fixed on me, spoke to her mother, very much depressed in her spirits:
“O Mother! What good face and beautiful form will avail, who is not in the path of love and who is quite ignorant of amorous feelings and sentiments!
And what will the wealth and kingdoms of that unskilled illiterate person avail!
The deer, that roam in the forest, getting enchanted by the Nāda (sound) Rasa, give up their lives even to the singers. So they are fortunate. But fie to the persons who are illiterate and void of feelings of love!
O Mother! Nārada Ṛiṣi is well conversant with the science of music with seven Svaras. No other man except Mahā Deva knows this.
Living with an illiterate person is courting death at every moment. One devoid of qualifications should be always avoided, by all means, though he be wealthy and of a beautiful form.
Fie on the friendship with kings that are illiterate and puffed up with vain arrogance! A well- qualified man, be he even a beggar, is far better to be cultivated friendship with.
Leaving other circumstances out of account, even to change words with such a well-qualified man, makes one highly delighted.
The man is very rare in this world, though he be weak, if he be well versed in the science of music and if he knows Svara, Grāma, Murchchanā and be skilled in eight sentiments of love.
[Note: Svara - Saṣḍaja, Riṣabha, Gāṇdhāra, Madhyama, Panchama, Dhaivata and Niṣāda. Grāma - the gradual increase and decrease in Svaras. Murchchanā - the rising of sounds, an intonation; a duly regulated rise and fall of sound conducting the air and the harmony through the keys in a pleasing manner; changing the key or passing from one key to another; modulation; melody].
The man versed in the knowledge of Svara leads one to the Heaven of Kailāśa as the rivers Ganges and Saraswatī by their own merits lead one to Kailāśa. There is not the least doubt in this.
He is a Deva in his human body who knows the Svara measure; and he who does not know the Svara and its seven grades is a beast though he has a human form - he who finds no delight when he hears the tune regulated by Murchchanā and the seven Svaras.
Do not consider the deer as beasts for they get enchanted when they hear the musical notes. The venomous snakes, though they have no ears, get delighted to hear the enchanting Svara Nada by their eyes.
They even are to be praised; but fie on those human beings who have ears but who do not find any delight when they hear the Nāda!
The little children feel intense pleasure to hear the music, but fie, fie on those elders who are void of this musical sentiments!
Does not my father know that Nārada is ornamented with many qualifications? Who is there in the three worlds like him in singing the Sāma songs!
For this very reason, indeed! I have already selected him as my husband; afterwards, due to a curse, the Muni, the ocean of qualifications, got his face changed into that of a monkey.
The Kinnaras, skilled in the science of music, have their faces horse-like; but are they not dear to all? What business have they to get good faces? They enchant the Devas even by their sweet ravishing songs.
O Mother! Kindly tell my father that I have already chosen Nārada as my husband. Therefore let him deliver me to his hands, without making any further requests in this matter. ”
30-40. Nārada said:
On hearing the words of her daughter Damayantī, that unblameable pure queen knowing her attachment deep towards me, spoke to the King thus:
“O King! Now celebrate in an auspicious day and on an auspicious moment the auspicious marriage of Damayantī; the daughter has said that she has already selected Nārada as her bridegroom and it cannot be other-wise.”
Thus prompted by the queen, the King Śanjaya performed the marriage ceremony of her daughter in accordance with due rites and customs and in an exceedingly becoming manner.
O Ṛiṣi! Thus I entered into the married life and remained there though my heart constantly burned with the thought of my monkey-face.
Whenever the princess used to come to me for my service, I used to get tormented with the remembrance of my monkey-face; but her face beamed with gladness whenever she saw me; never she became sorry nor dejected, even for a moment, to see my face monkey-like.
Thus time passed on. One day the Muni Parvata suddenly came there, after making his sojourn to many places of pilgrimages.
I showed him a great respect and gladly loved him and greeted him duly; he got himself seated in an excellent Āsana and became very sorry to see me.
I am his uncle and have entered into a married life; my face has become monkey-like.
Therefore I am very much depressed in spirits and worried with the sad thought and has become lean and thin. Seeing this he was overwhelmed with pity. He then said:
“O Muni! The curse that I cast on you before out of my anger, I now withdraw. Hear. O Mahāṛṣi! Let your face be by my merits, again as good as it was before; I now feel pity for the daughter of the King.”
41-52. Hearing thus, my heart also became gentle and instantly with a view to free him of my curse, I said:
“Let your journey to the Heavens be re-established. I now make this special favour on you as regards my curse on you before.”
O Dvaipāyana! At his word, before our sight, my face became exceedingly handsome as it was before. The princess Damayantī became very glad and instantly she went to the mother and said:
“O Mother! At the word of Parvata, the great Muni, the curse of your son-in-law has been removed and his face has become handsome as before and the lustre of his body has also increased. ”
The queen was very much filled with ecstasy and joy at Damayantī words and went hurriedly and informed the King. The King Śanjaya gladly went at once to see the Muni.
The great King became very glad and gave lots of wealth, gems and jewels to me and my nephew Parvata as a dowry.
O Dvaipāyana! Thus I have described to you my old story how I felt the strong influence of Māyā.
O Fortunate One! Owing to the illusory nature of the Guṇas, like a magic, no embodied being in this world could have been happy before, or he is happy now or he will be happy hereafter.
Lust, anger, greed, jealousy, attachment, egoism, and vanity, each one of these is very powerful; nobody is able to conquer these.
O Muni! The three Guṇas Sattva, Rājas and Tamas are the entire causes of the coming into this bodily existence of every being.
O Dvaipāyana! Once I was passing with Bhagavān Viṣṇu, laughing and joking, making merriments through a forest, when suddenly I was transformed into a woman.
Next I became the wife of a king enchanted by Māyā, I remained in his house and gave birth to many children.
53-56. Vyāsa said:
O Devarṣi! A great doubt has now arisen in my mind at your word.
O Muni! You are very wise; how then did you get womanhood; how again did you regain your manhood? Who was the king at whose house you stayed and how did you give birth to children; describe fully and satisfy my curiosity.
Describe to me, now, the nature of Māyā, extremely wonderful, by which this entire universe, moving and non-moving, all are enchanted.
O Muni! Though I have heard your nectar-like words, capable to remove all the doubts, embodying the essence of all the Śāstras, yet I am not fully satiated.
Here ends the Twenty-seventh Chapter of the Sixth Book on the marriage of Nārada and his face getting transformed into that of a monkey in Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam of 18,000 verses by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.