Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana Book 5 Chapter 8:1-14

Book 5: Chapter 8

Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana: Book 5: Chapter 8: Verses 1-14
Bharata conceives an infatuation for a fawn and is reborn as a deer

Sri Suka began again: Having bathed in the great river (Gandaki) and having finished his routine of religious duties (both of an obligatory nature and those demanded by particular occasions) as well as other unavoidable duties (such as easing nature), one day, Bharata squatted on the bank of the river for three Muhurtas (nearly two hours and a half), repeating the sacred syllable Om. Meanwhile, on that spot, O king, a deer approached the river bank all alone to drink water. While it was yet avidly drinking water, there arose a loud, deep and hoarse sound-striking terror into the heart of all-of a lion roaring not very far from that place. Hearing the sound, that deer, which was shy by its very nature and (already) looked with bewildered eyes, felt all the more perturbed at heart, overcome as it was with the fear of the lion, and precipitately leapt across the stream, its eyes swimming and its thirst not yet quenched. Even as the deer, which was big with young, took the leap the foetus, that had been dislodged through excessive fear, came out of the vagina and fell into the stream. Afflicted with exhaustion caused by the premature delivery and the (unusually long) leap (taken by it) as well as with fear (of the lion), and (further) strayed from its troop, the female deer dropped down in some cavern and died.

Moved with compassion at the sight of the helpless young deer, forsaken (by its mother) and being swept away by the current, the royal sage picked it up and took it to the hermitage, like a (true) friend, knowing it to be motherless. As Bharata (now) intensely thought of the young deer as his own (charge) and conceived an attachment for it by nourishing it, protecting it (from wolves and other carnivorous animals), caressing it and humouring it (by scratching and stroking its body) everyday, all his routine duties (such as bathing) including practices of self-restraint as well as his devotional duties such as the worship of the Lord came to be neglected one by one and (were all) actually abandoned in the course of a few days. "Oh, torn from its class as well as from its near and dear ones and alas ! brought under my protection by the fast rotating wheel of Time, this helpless young deer has accepted me alone for its parents, kith and kin and mates, knowing no one else, and has great confidence in me. Hence it behoves me (too) to nourish, protect (from enemies), gratify and fondle in an uncavilling spirit this fawn exclusively depending on me, knowing as I do that it is sinful to forsake him who seeks my protection. Surely worthy and pious souls who are given to self-control and are friends of the poor ignore their own big interests for the sake of such (wretched) creatures." Having thus developed an attachment for it, Bharata's heart remained knit with bonds of love to that young of a deer even while he sat (on the ground), lay asleep, sauntered (here and there), remained standing, ate his food and on other such occasions.

When he thought of fetching (blades of) Kusa grass, flowers, sticks for the sacrificial fire, leaves, fruits, roots or water, he repaired to the woods alongwith the young deer, apprehending danger from wolves and dogs and other (carnivorous) animals. Nay, when due to its innocence it got stuck up at some place on the wayside, he picked it up and bore it on his shoulder out of tenderness with a heart full of great affection and, holding it thus on his lap and bosom, experienced supreme felicity in fondling it. Even while (actually) performing (some) ritual act, the emperor would rise at frequent intervals (to cast a look at it); and, when he had seen it, he pronounced his benedictions on it with a reassured mind, saying "May you be safe on all sides, my darling !"



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