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The Transformed Mouse Seeks a Bridegroom3

March 5, 2011 in Panchatantra

On the shore of the Ganges there was a hermitage filled with holy men dedicated to prayer, self denial, repentance, the study of holy scriptures, fasting, and meditation. They drank only small amounts of very pure water, and mortified their bodies with a diet of bulbs, roots, fruits, and water plants. Their only clothing were loincloths made from tree bark.

The father of the hermitage was named Yajnavalkya. He had just finished bathing in the Ganges and was about to rinse out his mouth when a little mouse fell from a falcon’s beak into his hand. After looking at it, he set it onto a fig leaf, bathed himself once more, rinsed out his mouth, and performed his penitential and other rituals. Then through the power of his holiness he transformed the mouse into a girl.

Taking her home with him to his hermitage, he said to his wife, who was childless, “My dear, take her in place of a daughter. Bring her up with care!”

Thereafter she was reared, loved, and nurtured. When she was twelve years old, and the wife saw that she was ready for marriage, she said to her husband, “Listen, husband, do you not see that it is past time for our daughter’s marriage?”

He said, “What you say is quite right! So if she is willing, I will summon the exalted sun god and present her to him as a wife.

His wife said, “What could be said against that? Do it!”

Through the power of prayer and incantations the sun appeared without delay, saying, “Holy man, why do you summon me?”

The man answered, “Behold! Here stands my little daughter. If she will have you, take her as a wife!”

Having said this, he said to his daughter, “Daughter, does this exalted one please you, this sun god who illuminates the three worlds?”

The daughter said, “Father, he is too hot. I do not want him. Summon a better one!”

Hearing this, the wise man said to the sun, “Exalted one, is there a being more powerful than you?”

The sun answered, “Yes, there is a stronger one than I. The cloud, through whose cover I become invisible.”

Then the wise man summoned the cloud and said to his daughter, “Daughter, shall I give you to this one as a wife?”

She answered, “He is black and cold. Therefore give me to another powerful being!”

Upon this the wise man asked the cloud, “Listen, cloud! Is there anyone more powerful than you?”

The cloud answered, “The wind is more powerful than I! Driven by the wind, I am scattered into a thousand pieces.”

After hearing this, the wise man summoned the wind and said, “Daughter, does the wind please you most of all as a husband?”

She answered, “Father! He is entirely too inconstant. Summon a more powerful one instead!”

The wise man said, “Wind, is there anyone more powerful than you?”

The wind said, “The mountain is more powerful than I, for however strong I am, he still stands firmly against me.”

Then the wise man summoned the mountain and said to the girl, “Daughter, shall I give you to this one in marriage?”

She answered, “Father, he is hard and rigid. Therefore give me to another one.”

The wise man asked the mountain, “Listen, king of the mountains, is there anyone more powerful than you?”

The mountain answered, “The mice are more powerful than I, for they make holes in my body with violence.”

With that the wise man summoned a mouse and showed him to her, saying, “Daughter, shall I give you to him as a wife? Does this mouse king please you?”

Seeing him, she thought, “He is of my own kind.”

Her hair stood on end with pleasure, making her even more beautiful, and she said, “Father, make me into a mouse and give me to him as a wife so I can fulfill the domestic duties prescribed for my kind!”

Through the power of his holiness he transformed her into a little mouse and gave her to the other mouse as a wife.


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