SOMVAR KI KAHANI-II
(This story is connected with Monday fast. Those who observe Monday fast listen to this story in the afternoon after offering prayers to Lord Shiva.)
Once there lived a wealthy merchant in a city. He always had immense wealth and prosperity. But despite all the worldly possessions, he remained sad because he had no son. He regularly observed Monday fast to have a son. He used to go to the Shiva temple and worshipped there Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati with full faith. Goddess Parvati was pleased at his devotion.
She implored Lord Shiva and said, "My Lord, this wealthy merchant is your faithful devotee. He regularly observes Monday fast but still he has no son. Please fulfil his desire."
Hearing the implorings of Parvati, Lord Shiva said, "Let your desire be fulfilled. I grant him a boon. He will be the father of a son, but….."
"Why but my Lord?" asked Parvati.
Lord Shiva said, "but he will live for twelve years only."
Fortunately, this wealthy merchant could hear their conversation. As time passed on, the merchant's wife gave birth to a beautiful son. He celebrated his son's birth with great pomp and show and distributed food, clothes and money among the poor. All prayed for his son's long and happy life. But the merchant was still sad because he knew that his son would not live beyond twelve years. Yama, the god of Death, spares none. Knowing what the situation was, the merchant started observing the Monday fast with greater zest and there was no let up in the worship of Lord Shiva. He practised all the rites of worship.
At the age of eleven, the merchant's son looked quite smart and mature. All desired that he should be married to a beautiful girl. The merchant's wife also wanted her son's marriage. She insisted for it again and again.
The merchant did not agree to this proposal. He sent for his brother-in-law and said, "Accompany my son to Kashiji. Arrange for his best spiritual knowledge. Take enough money from my treasure. Arrange devotional gatherings on your way to Kashiji at every halt and distribute alms among the beggars."
The merchant's son started his journey for Kashi with his maternal uncle. They arranged devotional gatherings and distributed clothes at every halting camp. They also arranged best eats for the Brahmans and made enough offerings to them.
One day they made a halt at a capital of a king. The king's daughter's marriage was to take place that day. The marriage party had already reached the city. The bridegroom's party was terribly disturbed because the bridegroom was blind of one eye. They were in search of a beautiful boy to replace him.
The bridegroom's father sent his men in search of a beautiful boy. The men spotted the merchant's son who was camping in an inn with his maternal uncle. The bridegroom's father was a rich person. He said to the merchant's maternal uncle, "My prestige is at stake. I need a handsome bridegroom in place of my one-eyed son. I shall give enough wealth if your ward agrees to have a temporary marriage with the king's daughter. He shall be free immediately after the marriage ceremony is over."
The merchant’s brother-in-law convinced his sister's son for a temporary marriage. The bride's party praised their luck when they saw a handsome bridegroom with the marching band at the head of the marriage procession.
The merchant's son and the king's daughter were married around the holy fire. At the time of departure, the merchant's son picked his bride's scarf and wrote; "Now we are husband and wife. I am not the son of king. I am the son of a rich merchant. I was on way to Kashiji for spiritual studies. Your real bridegroom is blind of one eye."
The bride noticed her bridegroom writing something on the scarf. She could not read his message at that time. When the marriage party was about to depart, the bride read the message. She was shocked to know the reality. She refused to accompany with the one-eyed bridegroom. The marriage party returned without a bride.
The merchant's son reached Kashiji and devoted himself fully to the spiritual studies. His maternal uncle arranged devotional gatherings and gave donations everyday for the well-being of his sister's son.
On the last day of the twelfth year, the merchant's felt pain in the chest. His maternal uncle was performing the religious rites as per his routine. As he went inside the room, he found the boy dead. He was full of grief, but kept silent, as the Brahmans would not accept food from such a house. With courage, he completed his routine.
When his routine was over, he started crying. Many people gathered around him and shared his grief.
Fortunately, Lord Shiva and Parvati were also passing by that house. When Parvati heard the cries d beating of breast, her motherly compassion got aroused. She was a mother, after all. Having known facts, she said to Lord Shiva, "My dear Sire, please ask Yama to return his life. Yama is always at your command. Please do this favour to me. You are the protector of all creatures."
Lord Shiva agreed and sprinkled Ganga water on the dead body. The boy got up as if he was making an excuse for sleep.
The spiritual education of the merchant's son was over. They started their journey homeward. They arranged spiritual discourses and distributed alms among the needy throughout their way. Now, they were back in the city where this boy was married. The king recognised the boy immediately. He took him to his palace with full honour and on an auspicious day, he arranged to happy departure for his daughter. He also gave adequate dowry.
The merchant's son reached his city alongwith his bride. His father could not believe it. He was sitting on the roof of a big mansion with his wife, waiting for his son. They had decided that they would not come down until their son supported them himself; otherwise they would commit suicide by jumping down the roof.
So the merchant's son alongwith his bride went up to the roof. They touched their feet. The merchant and his wife were very happy to see the couple.