Apr 20, 2013

Oppiliappan, the unparalleled one.

 Image courtesy: Divine Brahmanda

Markandeya could not believe what he just heard. "Is he out of his mind?", he wondered.

"It was all my fault. I should not have provided refuge to the old man who was on his way to somewhere. Why did I invite him into my house?", he asked himself.

The old man was seated across Markandeya and was trying to read through his mind. "Have you considered my proposal, Sir?", he asked.

Narayana was the elder brother of Lord Balaji, the mighty, rich and popular ruler of seven hills. At his prime age, he looked like a cupid with broad shoulders and thin waist. His tall appearance made him appear mighty and grand. There was a huge competition from the kings of nearby provinces who wanted to marry off one of their daughters to him.

But he did not like any of the princesses he was introduced to.

"I have decided to undergo a long journey in search of my dream girl", said Narayana. Lord Balaji knew that this day would come. But he did not expect it to come so early.

"But brother, you still have your age. I shall make arrangements for you to visit all the provinces which are under my control and be their guest. Maybe you will find one of their daughters to be your dream girl"

"I so want to believe your words come true. But dear brother, I have lost all my hopes. Moreover, my instinct is warning me against such belief. Something tells me that I'm searching for her at the wrong place."

Lord Balaji knew that his brother had made a decision and would not change his mind for whatever reasons. "At least allow me to make arrangements for some of our men to come with you and help you till you find your special someone", he said.

"That is not possible, Lord Balaji. I do not know how long it would take to find her. If it takes several years, I would be wasting the lives of those men for my own sake! I will not allow that to happen".

The next morning, Narayana left the palace of seven hills. His brother had made arrangements for food and shelter for Narayana till he was within the territory of seven hills. He had passed a word to all the kings from nearby provinces asking them to offer any help he may require, should he ask them.

That was forty years ago! During the passing years, Narayana had walked to all corners of the world and had met plenty of girls, none of whom looked even remotely like the girl he was searching to find. After an arduous journey to all around, he finally reached a small village located nearby Kudanthai, a temple town.

It was while he spent his previous night at Thanjavur that he heard from people about Rishi Markandeya who lives in an ashram near Kudanthai. He decided to pay him a visit.

A sudden surge of happiness beckoned him as he reached near the ashram. He could hear his inner voice saying his long search was about to end. "Markandeya is a Rishi. Through his penance, he has acquired immense knowledge of everything. Maybe he will tell me where to find my dream girl", he thought.

Markandeya welcomed the old man into his hut and offered him a meal. It was when Narayana was having his meal that he noticed her for the first time. He knew at that moment that she was the one he has been searching for all through his life!

"Her name is Bhumi", Markandeya introduced his adopted daughter to Narayana.

"Nice to see you", he said. "I have a feeling that we have met somewhere before", he added. Shyness enveloped her suddenly and so intensely when she heard him talking to her. She let out a smile at him and ran inside.

He felt sad at her sudden disappearance. He could not eat anymore. His breathing became uneven, and all through the while he was having his lunch, his eyes darted in search of her. He finished his meal in a haste, washed his hands and took a seat beside Markandeya.

"May I ask you what brings you here?", Markandeya asked.

"Your daughter", he replied instantly.

"I took a long journey a few decades ago in a quest to find my dream girl and marry her. There was so many princesses waiting for my nod to marry them. But I did not like any of them. My instinct told me that I would find my dream girl only when I take a long journey in search of her".

That was forty years ago! I have been to lots of places, met zillions of people and their daughters who wanted to marry me. But I could not marry them. At one point in my life, I even feared that I may never be able to find my dream girl. But my instinct had guided me all the way until I reached your place.

"It was when I saw Bhumi that I realized she is my dream girl. She is the one I have been searching for all my life. Will you please marry her off to me?"

"Markandeya could not believe what he just heard".

"My Lord, forgive me for saying this. But you are an old man. You may not live for long. How can I marry off my daughter to you? God forbid, what if something happens to you soon? My daughter is very young. No father would want to see her daughter suffering from loneliness for the rest of her life".

"I may be old, but I still have my age. I can still fight and rule from this place for the next hundred years!", he said.

"Let your words come true. But how will I know that she is your dream girl? What if it's your lust and not love that convinces you that she is your dream girl?"

Narayana reflected on that question for a long time. "Could he be true? Is it the lust or love that describes my feelings for her?", he contemplated on his own thoughts.

"Lust is like salt in a meal. I sure have a lust for her, but that does not explain all my feelings to her. Salt is added only for taste. Can anyone really have just salt as their meals?"

"True. But one who has tasted salt in his life will never be able to give it up. Humans would age with time, and so will my daughter. If you like the meal only because of its salty taste, you will soon get bored of her when the quantity of salt decreases with time".

"I certainly agree with you, sage Markandeya. Lust adds a flavor to life, but only love lasts forever. I promise you that I would never expect a meal from Bhumi with salt. This promise will be a symbolic gesture of my true love".

"My blessings to you and my daughter. With such a vow, you have become an unparallel human being. After your marriage, you will be named as Lord Oppiliappan, the unparalleled one".