Boons of Brahma
(AZADI KE PANKH CREATIONS )
Upon a small mountain, the largest of the few around, surrounded by dense green forests, were three brothers, engaged in tapasya. Or at least two of them were upon it. The third being an abnormally huge and bulky person, had been unable to climb up the mountain. He had seated himself at its base, in the cross legged posture of those who meditate, while his two brothers had persevered to climb to the top. The youngest of the three was seated in the same cross legged posture as their middle brother but the eldest brother, the most determined of the three, stood on one leg, his arms held above his head with his palms together.
The three sons of sage Vishrawas thus performed bhor tapasya to please and seek the favor of Brahma, the Creator and father of their father's father.
Their penance had transported each of them to a different plane. While the years passed and their mortal bodies remained where they were, deriving the energy to execute their bodily functions directly from their tapas (with the exception of the second brother's body, which absorbed nourishment from all around and grew in size till it was almost as tall in seated posture as the mountain was high), their consciousness was transported to another realm. They were shown Creation in its entirety: worlds arising and worlds disappearing, battles won and lost and civilizations begun and destroyed. They saw worlds proceeding differently according to all possible outcomes of the same event, each different outcome giving rise to many more and, consequently, many more worlds, all in a state of perfect harmony. These visions were not meant to distract them, though that could indeed have been possible and would have spawned another alternate world according to the consequences of their getting distracted. They were actually a result of their intense meditation on the Creator. Their concentration was such that each was able to gain a view of the full work of Brahma.
But it was Brahma Himself they wished to view.
Several years passed by the time standards of the mortal world but in the planes where their consciousness journeyed, there was no concept of duration. There was just being, for when creation and destruction happened simultaneously, what was birth and what was death? What was time in between? There was just the journey. The eldest of the three brothers began to experience a deep yearning. His wonderment had reached its limit and anything beyond that would have only led him to a parallel universe to live out the remainder of his life by its laws. However, at all times, he had been aware of his purpose and he felt he was being denied its realization. Out of frustration, he beheaded himself.
However, his mortal body did not perish. In fact, it did not even lose its head. This was because, like his two brothers, he too was in a state of existence which, though linked to the mortal body, was also detached from it. He had beheaded the ethereal form his consciousness existed in, but his earthly body remained unharmed. His sacrifice did not meet its purpose. And so he beheaded himself again, for in that ethereal state, injury or disability was meaningless. Wounds, if inflicted, could be healed simultaneously. The outcome of his second sacrifice was much the same. So he did it again. And again. He kept at it. And as he was about to decapitate himself for the tenth time, a voice from everywhere, as though from every pore of every world, but from nowhere, both at once, spoke, "Not for nothing are you called Dasagreeva."
And the brother called Dasagreeva- literally, the ten headed one- returned to his mortal body and opened his eyes. The eyes of the head he had always possessed. He saw Brahma. The Creator of the world- of the worlds, in fact- was before him, His four heads- one belonging to each of the four ashramas: brahmacharya, grihasta, vanaprastha and sanyasa- revolving continuously. The Creator towered above him, above all of Creation, but Dasagreeva could see Him as though they were of the same height. Dasagreeva knew that to be because of maya, for Brahma did not actually possess a human form, but was perceived as such by those who saw Him only due to maya.
"Pranaam pitamaha". Salutations, forebear.
"Speak your wish, child"
Immortality. Lanka. Wealth. Moksha. Power. Knowledge. Peace. Grace. Rest.
Nine thoughts came to him simultaneously. He was confused. Some of these desires he never knew he had. What was the purpose of his penance? All nine seemed equally worthy of being boons of Brahma. But when he finally spoke, it was this, "I do not know."
Brahma looked upon him and chuckled. Or expressed glee, that, by virtue of maya, could be perceived as chuckling. "Your brothers fared better. But they were not tested to the extent you were. First to be given the sight of Me was Kumbhakarna. I believe these many years of tapasya have taken a toll on his body. When I asked him what he wanted of Me, all he did was yawn. So I granted him eternal sleep. He shall remain asleep unto the end of his days. His body has a remarkable way of fetching him all the nutrition he needs just from the air around."
Dasagreeva stared in shock at this information. He felt pity, amusement, anger and grief at the same time. Fighting conflicting emotions, he said at last with great difficulty, "Brahma! What you have given my brother is no boon. It is the most horrible curse imaginable! Of what use is life to my brother if he spends it all sleeping?"
The head with the face of a man in sanyasa replied, "In a year, he shall sleep for six months, wake for a single day and then go back to sleep for six months. The only day his body will be able to sustain the rigors of the waking world will be the day he is scheduled to wake up on, bear that in mind."
Dasagreeva bowed his head. His heads, since he was sure that in sacrificing nine heads in that state of ethereal consciousness, he had actually awoken nine very different and yet connected states of being within him, and that he'd have to deal with conflicting opinions in his mind all the time. His name, originally a mark of the fact that he had mastered the four Vedas and six Upanishads and was therefore as knowledgeable as ten people, would now assume a new meaning- a being with ten distinct heads.
"And what was my youngest brother Vibheeshana's boon?", he asked.
Brahma uttered a deep humming sound and Dasagreeva was sure that a new world had been created then and there, even though he had no way to verify that for his tapasya was over and he had been returned to his mortal form to perceive only this world. "Vibheeshana asked of Me the lifelong ability to know dharma from adharma and the ability to serve dharma always. I granted him immortality in addition to his wishes. And now, I ask you. What is it you wish for, Dasagreeva, grandson of my son?"
And Dasagreeva spoke everything that he had thought of. All nine things. Brahma smiled and said, "Eight you shall receive but the ninth is not for you. However, you have been tested the harshest, for you have given Me your head nine times. For that, I shall not disappoint you. I give you strength as you would never have imagined. Additionally, I give you complete control of maya and-" and He held out one of His four arms.
"-this", He said, handing Dasagreeva a small vial containing a clear fluid. "That is amritham, the nectar of the gods. This amount is your right, which you have earned through your penance. You may store it anywhere and until it is depleted or the vial is destroyed, no harm can ever befall you."
And giving him the vial, Brahma vanished.
The three brothers made their way home (well, two of them did so of their own accord and one was carried). Dasagreeva had the boons of Brahma Himself now. His sights were set. Lanka.