The Legend of Sri Venkateswara Part 3 - The story of Padmavati

Please read the earlier parts before going further -
Part 1 - The Lord descnds on Earth
Part 2 - The Lord finds a mother... and his wife too...

Vedavati was a great devotee of Vishnu who wished to marry the lord himself. She performed great penances with this aim. However, once, the demon king Ravana was passing by, and was enamoured by her beauty. He tried to convince her to marry him, but she refused. When he tried to force her, she invoked Agni (Fire) by the powers of her penance, and fell into it, cursing Ravana that his downfall would be brought about by a woman, and she would be responsible for her death.

Years later, Ravana planned to abduct Sita while Rama and Lakshmana were away. Coming to know of the plan, Agni took his place in the Lakshmana rekha – the line drawn by Lakshmana to protect Sita. When Sita crossed the line to give alms to Ravana disguised as a sage, Agni subtly interchanged Vedavati for Sita, and sent Sita to his wife for her safety. It was thus Vedavati who lived in the Ashoka Vatika at Lanka, and who brought about the downfall of Ravana. When Rama killed Ravana on the battle field, he asked Sita to undergo Agni Pariksha, or trial by fire. When Sita entered the fire, Agni appeared with both Vedavati and Sita, and handed them both to Rama, saying that both deserved to be by his side. Rama was, however, committed to remain monogamous, and promised Vedavati that he would marry her at a later time, during Kali Yuga. (In some legends, it is believed that while Lakshmi was Sridevi, the goddess of prosperity, Vedavati was a form of Bhudevi – the goddess of earth, and another wife of Vishnu)

Time passed and the Kali Yuga arrived. Akasa Raja was the king of Narayanapuram, a kingdom on the foothills of Seshachala. He and his wife were pious and erudite, but they had no offspring. They performed many yagnas to beget children, but to no avail. Finally, they were advised to perform the puthra kameshti Yagna (the same one performed by Dasaratha). A plot of land was chosen for the purpose, and men were assigned to plough it to prepare it for the yagna. While ploughing the field, a golden box was found, which was taken to the king. Inside it was a golden lotus with a small baby girl on it. The king was thrilled – at last he had a child! He had little idea that this was no ordinary child – this was Vedavati (or Bhoomi Devi), destined to marry the lord in the form of Srinivasa. He took the child home and named her “Padmavati” – the one who came from a lotus, and brought her up with love and affection. She was a beautiful and gifted child who learnt and mastered all the arts as a fish takes to water.

As Padmavati grew older, she also grew more beautiful and talented, and the king and queen worried about her marriage. They were unable to find a single prince or king even half-way equivalent to her. And how could they? She was destined to marry the lord himself, who was then roaming about the jungles adjoining her kingdom as a common hunter! Meanwhile, the sage Narada arrived and assured the king that he need not worry about Padmavati’s marriage. He informed the king about the reality, and assured him that the lord would arrive to claim his wife soon.

Coming up : Part 4 - A marriage is fixed.... and the  finance too.....



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