The Seduction of Shiva: Tales of Life and Love
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The god Shiva is utterly seduced by Mohini, the enchanting female form assumed by the god Vishnu during the churning of the ocean for nectar. A barber employs wit and wile and rumours of witchcraft to win his wife back from the lustful attentions of their king. The celestial nymph Urvashi curses the Pandava prince Arjuna when he rejects her sexual advances. A woman caught in adultery befools her elders with a religious ritual. A man with a disagreeable missing wife insists nevertheless that she be recovered by his ruler who has a similar problem.
Refined, colloquial, romantic, cynical, satirical by turns, these stories of erotic love, elegantly translated from the Sanskrit classics, make a sustained argument for the secular ends of life of desire tempered with discrimination and pleasure with restraint.
had a hundred sons who all looked liked me. I went hunting once, and got lost in a dense forest where I turned into a woman while bathing in a lake. Thence I returned to the city, established my sons in the kingdom, and went back to the forest where I bore a hundred sons to a great-souled hermit. I took these boys to my former capital, but destiny has led the two groups to destroy each other. That is why I weep.” ‘Indra gloated over the situation, and spoke harshly to the woman. “Good lady,” he
god? If it was proper, say so.’ ‘Proper or not,’ he responded, ‘let that be, holy one. Those who serve need to obey the master’s order as it is. Just as Parashurama8 cut off his mother’s head on his father’s unquestionable command. What do you say to that?’ ‘Divine deeds cannot be examples for ordinary people,’ she retorted. ‘Just as Rudra’s drinking wine is not an example that brahmans ought to follow. And wise people will not do everything their master says. What can’t he say when moved by
glory; character, resolve and restraint; strength and courage. He is brilliant and charismatic, forgiving and generous. With his competence, age and abstinence, he can protect this heaven unassisted like Indra, and the gods respect him for this. He deserves to have the fruit of paradise, and Indra commands, fair one, that you go to him and do whatever will give him pleasure with you.’ Urvashi was pleased to be thus addressed, for she considered it a great honour. Smiling at Chitrasena, she
exclaimed, ‘you are just a student but you have no manners. How can you take my clothes? This will do you no good at all.’ The demon princess was enraged. ‘I am the daughter of someone who is praised and extolled,’ she retorted. ‘I give, I do not take. You are the child of one who praises, begs and receives. My father is entreated by yours, humbly and frequently. Besides, I have weapons and you don’t. So how dare you display anger, beggar girl, and chatter about taking things back from me?’
seen by physicians.’ ‘What has happened, good girl?’ the queen her mother asked, as she held Usha’s hand and cracked her own fingers for good luck. ‘The physicians are here and want to know.’ ‘We know that the princess had gone with her friends to the water sports of the goddess Parvati,’ said the physicians. ‘That must have caused fatigue which has led to exhaustion, body aches and sleepiness. There is nothing to fear in this. But the queen remained concerned. ‘Sandal paste with ice was put