Faith

Relief from curse

Arjuna, in the course of a pilgrimage, bathes in several sacred waters. He chances upon five sacred ponds. They are called Agastya, Saubhadra, Pauloma, Karandhama and Bharadwaja. Those bathing in the waters would be as blessed as those performing an aswamedha yaga and their sins would be washed away.

But despite all this, Arjuna discovers something strange, said V.S. Karunakarachariar in a discourse. Visiting sages pay their respects to the sacred ponds from a distance without bathing in them. He is told that in each of the ponds there is a crocodile. The crocodiles will eat up anyone who steps into the water. Arjuna, however, is not afraid because he has been given a boon by his wife Uloopi, the Naga Princess. Uloopi has told him that he need not fear any animal resident in water. So Arjuna steps into the pond called Saubhadra and he is dragged in by the crocodile.

The crocodile then changes into a lovely damsel, who says her name is Varga. She says that the crocodiles in the other ponds are celestials too like her. They are there as crocodiles because of a curse. They had been apsaras attached to Kubera’s court. One day, they had seen a young, handsome man engaged in penance. They had danced before him and tried to distract him. The young rishi had cursed them and told them that they would be crocodiles until a man called Arjuna stepped into the water. So Varga now requests Arjuna to relieve her companions too of the curse and Arjuna agrees.

The lesson is that nothing happens to us without a reason. In the case of the apsaras, they had disturbed a sage engaged in penance and had therefore been cursed. They had spent years as much feared crocodiles until Arjuna stepped in.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 10:40:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/religion/religion-arjunas-relief-from-curse/article7562279.ece

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