Dr. M. K. Sarma contributed the following write up to the Blog. I thank him for the gesture. I welcome all readers to give their comments / suggestions.
ADVAITA AND DEVIBHAGAVATA
By M. K. Sarma
Advaita is the ultimate bliss one aspires for.
Bondage to one's mind and body and the search for means of deliverance from ensuing plurality is depicted in Devibhagavata as a very peculiar story.
This is a story narrated by the disciple of Veda Vyasa to the sages seeking their freedom from Kali in the forest, Naimisa.
A king aspiring for a son requested his Guru, Vasistha to conduct a Yajna. During the course of the Yajna, the queen expresed her desire for a female child.
A daughter was born. The King was disappointed. On the advise of Vasistha, the king worshipped Iswara and got the daughter transformed into a male child, subsequently named as Ila ( suggesting meaning mundaneness).
Ila along with his retinue went for hunting and entered a park. The park had a history, however.
The background of the park: Once, when Iswara and Parvati were in mutual enjoyment in that park, holy sages entered the garden for the Darshan of Iswara. Parvati was utterly embarassed as she was totally undressed. The sages left and Iswara made a rule: whoever that entered this garden hereafter would become a female.
King Ila and his retinue including horses got accordingly transformed on entering this garden. Ila who was back to femininety, was ashamed to go back to his kingdom and eventually became the wife of Budha.
After a few years, he got disgusted with his femininety. Praying to Iswara, he earned a boon: He would be male and female on alternate months.
After a few more years, Ila was disgusted even with this and prayed Devi. She granted him permanent male state.
The aim of this story should not be to cow down simpletons into fear for the magical powers of a divine couple. The magic of advaita and plurality appears in this story.
The plurality, we constantly observe is a manifestation in the Single entity that exists. What is manifested is depicted as due to the will in the Single entity. What manifested has the nature of multiplying. Male has a role in a woman begetting children. The will in the Single entity is termed Purusha and the manifestation is named Prakriti. Iswara and Parvati correspond to this couple in the story.
King is required to be identified with the Single entity to be able to protect Dharma. When his awareness is set on the will of the Sigle entity, Advaita he is a male. When he losses himself in plurality, he is part of the plurality, the Prakriti and becomes female. Permanent male state is a blessing that comes best from Prakriti. We should deal with this plurality in such a way that we attain Advaita.