By P Raja
What is love? Definitions galore would vie with one another to answer this poser. But no definition would excel the following: If one can deny oneself and make a gift to satisfy the need of another, even as one is reduced to penury oneself, then this is love indeed.
Here is a story of a Shiva bhakta, a rich man pushed to penury by Shiva in order to give the world the true definition of love. His name was Maranar. Born in an affluent family of landlords in Elayankudi, he grew up to multiply his wealth manifold. He magnanimously fed Shiva’s bhaktas regularly. As more and more bhaktas blessed him, his wealth began to grow faster than ever. And this enabled him to feed many more mouths every day. Soon people began to call him Kuberan, the very god of wealth.
As Sridevi, goddess of wealth, moved out of his house, her place was occupied by Moodevi, the goddess of misfortune. Now all that Maranar and his wife could claim as their own were a hut, a small piece of land in the backyard for their kitchen garden, and above all pinching poverty. Then came Shiva’s final test. One day, Shiva descended on Elayankudi.
The town was drowned in darkness and it was raining heavily. Maranar, who had been so far sitting with an empty stomach on the ‘pyal’ of his hut, lay down to sleep inside. Just then, Shiva in the form of an ascetic, knocked on his door.
“Praised be Shiva, give me something to eat. I’m dying of hunger,” said the ascetic.
Maranar gladly welcomed the ascetic, but he realised that he had nothing to offer. His wife remembered the paddy seeds they had sown in their land early in the day. “Go, collect them and I can prepare some food. I can’t think of any other way,” she said.
Maranar went out in the rain, and in the dark he felt the paddy seeds with his feet and collected them for his wife to cook. Back home, he realised there was no wood to cook food. So, he tore up a portion of the roof and gave his wife some wood.
The woman kindled the fire, fried the paddy seeds, hulled the husk, separated the rice and cooked it. “But there is no curry. If you get me some greens from our backyard …”
Maranar rushed to the backyard once again in the heavy downpour and cut some of the greens and brought them to his wife. The latter, an expert in culinary arts, washed the greens and prepared several dishes with them.
Then they woke the sleeping ascetic to offer him food.
The ascetic did get up, but in his place stood Shiva and his consort seated on a bull. Shiva said: “This is love indeed. I am pleased with your philosophy of life: ‘Your need is greater than mine.’ Now is the time for both of you to follow us to our abode and enjoy eternal bliss.”
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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