Ramayana of Valmiki

by Hari Prasad Shastri | 1952 | 527,382 words | ISBN-10: 9333119590 | ISBN-13: 9789333119597

This page is entitled “the story of ila” and represents Chapter 87 of the Uttara-kanda of the Ramayana (English translation by Hari Prasad Shastri). The Ramayana narrates the legend of Rama and Sita and her abduction by Ravana, the king of Lanka. It contains 24,000 verses divided into seven sections [viz., Uttara-kanda].

Chapter 87 - The Story of Ila

Having listened to Lakshmana, the eloquent and powerful Raghava answered with a smile:—

“O Best of Men, Lakshmana, that which you have related regarding the slaying of Vritra and the fruits of the Horsesacrifice are wholly true, O Gentle One. It is said that formerly Kardama, the son of Prajapati, the extremely virtuous and blessed Ila, reigned over the province of Bahlika. That highly illustrious monarch, O Lion of Men, having made the entire earth subject to him, reigned over his subjects as his own sons.

“The magnanimous Gods, the wealthy Daityas, the Nagas, Rakshasas, Gandharvas and Yakshas, inspired by fear, constantly worshipped him, O Dear Friend, O Joy of the Raghus, and the Three Worlds trembled before that irascible potentate. Such was that prince, the illustrious Sovereign of the Bahlikas, full of energy, highly intelligent and fixed in his duty.

“During the lovely month of Caitra, that long-armed warrior went hunting in the enchanting forest with his attendants, infantry and cavalry, and that magnanimous prince, in that wood, slew wild beasts in their hundreds and thousands, yet was not sated. Countless animals of all kinds had already perished when he reached the country where Karttikeya had been born. There the foremost of the Gods, the invincible Hara, was sporting with the daughter of the King of the Mountains, and, having transformed himself into a woman, the Lord of Uma, whose emblem is the bull, sought to entertain the Goddess in the midst of the waterfalls. Wherever there were male beings or trees in the forest, whatsoever there was, assumed a female form. King Ila, the son of Kardama penetrated into that place slaying innumerable beasts and he observed that they were all female, thereafter he became aware that he too was changed into a woman, as also his followers. His distress was great on this metamorphosis and he recognized it to be the work of Uma’s consort and was seized with terror.

Thereupon that monarch, with his attendants, his army and his chariots, took refuge with that mighty blue-throated God, Kapardin, and the magnanimous Maheshwara, laughing with that Goddess, the bestower of grace, said to the son of Prajapati:—

“‘Rise, rise, O Royal Rishi, O Valiant son of Kardama, except manhood, ask what you will!’

The king was sorely disappointed by this reply of the magnanimous Shiva. Transformed into a woman, he did not wish to accept any other boon from the foremost of the Gods and, in his profound distress, that prince, falling at the feet of the daughter of the King of the Mountains, Uma, with his whole heart entreated her, saying:—

“‘O You who distributest your favours in all the worlds, O Lovely Goddess, whose sight is never fruitless, cast your merciful glance upon me!’

“Knowing what was passing in the heart of the Rajarishi, that Goddess, who stood before Hara, she, the consort of Rudra, made this reply:—

“‘Half the boon, that you dost beg of us both, shall be granted by Mahadeva and the other half by me, therefore receive this half from man and woman according to your desire!’

“Hearing that remarkable and unparalleled boon bestowed by that Goddess, the king, overcome with joy, said:—

“‘If I have found favour with you, O Goddess, whose beauty is unrivalled on earth, may I be a woman during one month and, in the second month, assume the form of a man!’

“Then that Goddess of gracious mien, understanding his desire, answered amicably:—

“‘It shall be so, O King, and when you are a man, you shalt not remember you wast ever a woman and, in the succeeding month, having become a woman, you shalt forget you wast ever a man!’

“That is how that king, born of Kardama, being a man for one month became a woman the following month under the name of Ila, the most lovely female in the Three Worlds.”

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