Five Boons A Tapasvini Could Ask For

[Anasuya and Sita]“I have heard, O Sita, that your hand in marriage was won by the renowned Raghava on the occasion of the self-choice ceremony [svayamvara]. O Maithili, I wish to hear that story in detail. Therefore please narrate to me the entire sequence of events as you experienced them.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 118.24-25)

Download this episode (right click and save)

स्वयं वरे किल प्राप्ता त्वमनेन यशस्विना।
राघवेणेति मे सिते कथा श्रुतिमुपागता।।
तां कथां श्रोतुमिच्छामि विस्तरेण च मैथिलि।
यथाऽनुभूतं कार्त्स्न्येन तन्मे त्वं वक्तुमर्हसि।।

svayaṃ vare kila prāptā tvamanena yaśasvinā।
rāghaveṇeti me site kathā śrutimupāgatā।।
tāṃ kathāṃ śrotumicchāmi vistareṇa ca maithili।
yathā’nubhūtaṃ kārtsnyena tanme tvaṃ vaktumarhasi।।

1. Ascension to heaven

“Dear sir, I would like to reach the heavenly region, svargaloka. I think that is an appropriate reward for my austerities, which were long and steady. I would be greatly pleased if such a reward were bestowed upon me.”

2. A good husband

“Dear sir, my only desire is for a good husband. One who will protect, who will guide, who will be everything to me. I will faithfully serve him, in the manner of the great women who came before me. This will bring all happiness in life, and I will view such a husband as my topmost deity.”

3. Wellbeing for their husband

“Dear sir, you ask what I would like in return for my austerities? I am glad that someone is pleased by my tapasya. I actually want nothing for myself. Can you take care of my husband, though? I voluntarily accepted these austerities for him. May he have a long and healthy life. May he move closer towards transcendence and never fall into the pit of maya.”

4. A high birth

“Dear sir, I did the best I could. Given the circumstances, with the general lack of facility for austerity and penance given to women, I still somehow achieved the status of tapasvini. It is a high compliment to be referred to in that way. I wish that in the next birth I advance further. Let me find favorable conditions, so that I can progress towards the highest destination of all.”

5. To hear the story of Sita’s svayamvara

This is what the tapasvini named Anasuya once asked for. It was not directly a response to a request for a boon. The request was never considered in that light. Anasuya asked as part of a friendly conversation, in welcoming guests to her home, which was situated in the forest.

[Anasuya and Sita]Within the Vedic tradition, the more commonly found term is tapasvi. This refers to the male who undergoes austerity and penance, tapasya, for a higher purpose. Since consciousness is everything, even a person within the occupation of warrior can be considered a tapasvi. This was the case with Arjuna, as he went through the austerity of proceeding in a war that he was not enthusiastic for. This was a sacrifice to please Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

“It is said that the beauty of a tapasvi, or saintly person, is forgiveness. There are many instances in the spiritual history of the world in which many saintly persons, although unnecessarily harassed, did not take action, although they could have done so. Parikshit Maharaja, for example, was unnecessarily cursed by a brahmana boy, and this was very much regretted by the boy’s father, but Parikshit Maharaja accepted the curse and agreed to die within a week as the brahmana boy desired. Parikshit Maharaja was the emperor and was full in power both spiritually and materially, but out of compassion and out of respect for the brahmana community, he did not counteract the action of the brahmana boy but agreed to die within seven days.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.6.48 Purport)

Anasuya is the wife of Atri Rishi. She is also the sister of Kapila Deva. She is well-respected and has great powers due to austerity. But we see from within the Ramayana history that she requests Sita Devi to tell the story of her svayamvara.

This is the marriage arrangement in the style of a self-choice ceremony. The request was made with enthusiasm. Anasuya was not asking only to be polite. Saintly people take great delight in hearing the pastimes of the Supreme Lord, and in that case it was the avatara known as Shri Rama arriving in the city protected by Sita’s father, King Janaka.

This means that the Ramayana itself is literature appropriate for both tapasvis and tapasvinis. We are fortunate to have the descriptions, katha, passed down for accessing in the modern day. Though we may not be highly respected for our dedication in sacrifice and meditation, we have boons available to us that respected people hold in the highest regard.

[Sita-Rama marriage]Shri Rama participated in the contest. He was the only prince in the assembly who could lift the mighty bow. He satisfied the rules of the contest drawn by Janaka. Sita Devi united with the only person who can be her husband, the Supreme Lord.

In Closing:

From austerities to please,
Boons available with ease.

To the tapasvini blessed,
For Anasuya the request.

Of svayamvara story to hear,
Katha heartwarming and dear.

Shri Rama arriving in city where,
Winning hand of Sita there.

Categories: the five

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: