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King Durjaya smitten by blind love


Once there lived a king in Bharthvarsha named Durjaya. One day, King Durjaya happen to be at the banks of river Kalindi while on hunting. There he met the apsara Urvashi and fell in love with her. Blind with love he forgot what he was and married Urvashi and lived with her for many years.

Several years have passed; one day Durjaya remembered his kingdom and wife. He told Urvashi, “Please let me return to my palace for few days.”

“Not yet, king,” replied Urvashi. “Please stay with me for one more year.”

“I will return as soon as I have visited my kingdom,” said Durjaya. “I promise, I will not take too much time.”

“I will let you go on condition that you do not live as the husband of any other woman,” replied Urvashi.

Durjaya agreed to this condition and went to his palace. But because of the word that he had given Urvashi, he stayed away from his wife, and always avoided her. His wife tried to find out what the matter was, but Durjaya would not reply. Finally, the queen got to know what Durjaya had done and realised that her husband had committed a serious sin. He as a responsible King should not have married Urvashi and gone mad with love. The queen therefore told Durjaya, “You have sinned. You must perform penance. You have been addicted to wrong ways. Don’t be so despondent; this will not suit a noble King.”

King Durjaya also felt bad. So he went to meet the sage Kanva to ascertain what sort of penance should be performed for the sin that he had committed. Kanva advised him to go to the Himalayas and meditate.

While Durjaya was going to the Himalayas, he met a gandharva king. The Gandharva king wore a divine garland; Durjaya remembered Urvashi and thought that the garland will be a fitting adornment to the beautiful Urvashi. He began to fight with the Gandharva over the possession of the garland. Durjaya defeated the Gandharva King and obtained the garland. He immediately hastened to the banks of the river Kalindi. But Urvashi has already left that place and Durjaya could not find her anywhere else. Then Durjaya roamed all over the world in search of her.

Finally, Durjaya arrived in the region of Mount Sumeru. The lake Manasa is located there. And by the shores of the lake, Durjaya found Urvashi. He gave the apsara the garland and stayed with her for some time.

After a few days had passed, Urvashi asked Durjaya, “King please tell me what transpired when you went home.”

Durjaya thereupon told Urvashi about the conversation that he had with his wife and about what the sage Kanva had asked him to do.

Urvashi was alarmed when she heard the king’s account. “What have you done?” she exclaimed. “Hasten back, otherwise Kanva and your wife will curse both of us.”

But Durjaya was so smitten with love for Urvashi that he refused to listen to Urvashi’s entreaties. Urvashi therefore made herself very ugly. This repelled Durjaya, and he left Urvashi.

For twelve years Durjaya performed difficult tapasya, living only on fruits and roots. For another twelve years, he lived only on air. After having thus meditated for twenty-four years, Durjaya went to Kanva’s hermitage and told the sage all that he had done.

“I am pleased that you have realised the folly of your ways and have performed tapasya,” said Kanva. “But that alone is not enough. Your sin has been too severe. Go to the city of Varanasi and live there. Shiva is ever-present in that city and he will pardon all your sins.”

Durjaya did everthing that Kanwa have told him to do and was pardoned all his sins. Such are the benefits of praying to Shiva and such are the virtues of the wonderful city of Varanasi.

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