Dilipa gets the boon
Agonized Dilipa regretted his past unintentional act and sought the intervention of the Sage to atone the sin fearing backlash breaking the link in the lineage in view of his childless state. Sage Vashishta advised ‘Dilipa, instead of repenting the past, pacify the divine Cow Kamadenu by tending her offspring Nandini. Kamadenu has gone to the Underworld (Abyss) to attend a fire sacrifice performed by Varuna and the infant Nandini is left alone and helpless in Heaven. Utilize this opportune time to appease Divine Kamadenu by tending her offspring Nandini for she is alone and helpless. Reach Heaven fast and attend to all her daily chores remaining as her protector till her mother returns. Be by the side of Nandini as she gazes in dense forest , walk with her as she walks, couch as she couches and roam with her till she fall tired and retires. In stay there lead an ascetic life, eat what you get in forest, sleep on the mattress of Kusha grass ( Darbha Grass) and pay all worship to Nandini until mother Cow returns and propitiated. Receive Kamadenu with due reverence as and when she returns from the Underworld and be sure, she shall condone your sin and grant boon to quench your thirst for an offspring.
Soothing counseling well absorbed, Dilipa swiftly left the ashram after clasping the feet of Vashishta and profusely thanking him for his counseling. No moment was then wasted and when morning broke, the couple took bath and traveled to Heaven to tend the Cow Nandini. Each day they fed the cow with freshest grass brought from the garden and shadowed her as she grazed the forest wood, and brought her back to the ashram in the evening. Dilipa’s wife Sudakshina cleansed her body, fanned and smoothed to her comfort. Days passed and the righteous couples revered and attended to her daily chores arduously. Patient Dilipa assiduously tended her in wood and Sudakshina pleasantly welcomed her in the evening each day. However watching all, Nandini perceived the intention behind the holy service of the couple and decided to test their honesty once.
As schemed by Nandini, on a fateful day when the King had followed the holy cow in the green slopes of the forest, while Nandini was grazing on lush green belt, Dilipa gazed on the beauties of the scene a distance away and relaxed his attention on Nandini which had just entered a cave. Suddenly when he redrew his attention on the Cow, he saw her inside the cave and soon was under the paw of a fierce lion. Nandini fell to the ground. Shocked and dismayed at the sight, he rushed near the cave and tried to fit an arrow to shoot the lion, but, alas the hands lifted remained thus and numb. He could not move his hands even slightly as the lion started addressing him in human voice. Dilipa remained crazy as the animal spoke with human voice.
Thus spoke the Lion casually ‘Oh, King, know me as Kumbodara, friend of Nikumbha who is a servant in the altar of Lord Shiva. I was sent here by none other than the Lord himself to stand guard this tree ‘Devatharu’, pet tree beloved as her own son by Goddess Parvathi. One day a wild forest elephant rubbed its body severely against this tree, tearing off the barks. Badly and fiercely rubbed body causing pain, Devatharu writhed in agony and groaned. Hearing the groan of Devatharu mother Parvathi rushed to the site see the plight of the tree and soothed her. Thereafter she rushed to her lord and complained about the incident, seeking protection to the tree from future attacks. Therefore my Lord deputed me to remain here in the form of a Lion to scare away the preying animals hurting this tree in any manner. On command of my lord, I am on guard here protecting the tree through day and night. No animal ramble here and I have to prey for my food only those which rarely venture here. Pity my plight Oh, King, it shall be a wild guess how long present status of my half hunger would continue and me to remain on grass and fruits to satiate hunger that eats away my real strength. King, cease interference in my sovereign sway and do not block my precious feast which I have hard earned after so many days. If you desire to loosen your numbed shafts to regain action again, desist from your futile act and go away from here.
Dilipa taking no comfort from the words of the Lion resorted to pleading ‘Listen, Oh, King of Jungle, know the power of my master (meaning Guru) I revere which shall even destroy the the universe. You cannot slaughter the Cow, which is his treasure and dear to him. Do not insert spokes in his daily chain of chores by making the Cow your feast. Leave away the Cow and instead have me as your food to satiate your hunger’.
Kumbodara smiled through its flashing teeth and said ‘Oh, King my pity to your madness. If this is lost, your fiery Guru can be appeased with your gifts of more Cows. See the other side, your renouncing your precious body will take away the shelter from those who depend on you. What guarantee shall be there that after your demise your folks shall get adequate shelter ? Therefore save your dwelling on earth, Oh, King, think twice before you act and quickly empty the scene.
Unmoved with the sermon Dilipa reacted ‘Oh, lord of woods, desist from flattering me. Remember the aphorism ‘whoever betrays his master’s trust, they commit blasphemy’. Clear my doubt first, would you betray the trust Lord Siva has reposed and allow the tree be destroyed? Even gifting a million Cows against this holy Cow shall not soften my Guru to whom this Cow is his soul. How would I show my face to him when this holy Cow is lost and gone? Be merciful, Oh, Lion, take me as ransom and leave the Cow to safety’. As Dilipa continued to convince the Lion the reluctant Lion finally agreed to have him as her feast. Said the Lion ‘King, throw away your weapons and be my feast. I will leave the Cow to flee’. Not a moment was lost thereafter. Quickly and unhesitatingly Dilipa threw away his weapons and cast himself as prey before the lion.
As Dilipa lay prostrated before the Lion as prey, rain of flowers fell on him with a sweet voice calling ‘Get up my son’. Hearing the voice, as Dilipa got up there stood Nandini before the King, but not the Lion. ‘Oh, hero King, listen , by magic art I raised this scene to test your piety and faith. Your piety has pleased me.Not even for a moment ponder and seek a boon that pleases you’ sermoned the Cow. Clasping his hands, King kneeled before Nandini ‘Mother of Cow, give me a son of noble race to rule the kingdom following me’.
In return Nandini blessed ‘worry not, Dilipa, forthwith take the boon you longed for. Fill the milk flowing from my udder in a leafy cup and both of you drink to quench your thirst for an offspring’. Suddenly Dilipa saw milk flowing from her udder, and Dilipa filled the milk in a hurriedly made leafy cup till the flow of milk stopped. After prostrating and paying obedience to Nandini, the couple returned to their ashram and narrated the magic scenes to the Sage Vashishta on whose consent the couple drank the milk and returned to their Kingdom