Friday, June 08, 2012

Episode 12: The Gates of Heaven

In this feature, we outline the chapters of The Legend of Ponnivala as we've laid them out in the animated and print series. The sub-story descriptions are those that occur in each episode, and are drawn from our Teacher's Handbook.

The King and Queen of Ponnivala set out on a long walk towards the gates of heaven, hoping for an end to their childless condition. They meet with many adventures. The Queen even carries her husband on her back. Unfortunately he grows too weak to continuee and has to stop part way. Finally, with Lord Vishnu’s help, the Queen reaches their destination alone.

A Great Insult & Its Consequences

The king and queen set off on their long journey. But they have gone only a short distance when a large sow blocks their path. It is the same she-boar that the queen had earlier purchased and raised on her lands, in hopes of its bearing offspring. The heroine is impatient now. She is eager to get on with her travel plans and feels that the boar is being rude. So she kicks it with her right foot. The boar takes this as an insult. The huge animal now acts as a soothsayer who can see the future. She predicts that the queen will eventually bear two sons and one daughter in return for her good deeds. But the mother boar also says that she will bear a son too, an extraordinarily large male who will kill the queen’s sons. With this curse spoken, the mother-boar jumps off the path and runs away. Next a little palace dog, appears. She is the queen’s personal pet. It too wants a boon, and it knows what has just transpired. So it asks for a pup that will have poison in its teeth. Her plan is that once born, her tiny daughter will become the one to actually kill that great black boar.

The King Falters but His Queen Comes to the Rescue

With a long list of requested gifts on their minds, the couple now set out for the abode of the gods. Soon the husband begins to tire and the queen has to urge him on. She coaxes him, then carries him on her back, up the steep path. Lord Vishnu is watching and teases her at several points, making the journey even more difficult. Finally the husband faints and she finds a little pond water that might revive him. Again Lord Vishnu plays with her, making the water recede. At last the god allows her to fetch a few handfuls. The water is almost magical it is so potent. The king quickly revives.

There Are Many Challenges Along The Pilgrims’ Path

Next the pilgrims face a huge mountain cliff. Vishnu helps by lifting the two over the worst spots. Next they cross rivers of stone, of thorns, of butter oil, and finally of fire. When these feats are complete the couple face yet another threat. This time they are confronted with a forest full of cobras. One cobra asks the queen for a son, someone who can later assist her in a time of need. The queen agrees to carry this special request with her as well.

The King Drops Into a Deep Sleep

...but the Queen reaches her destination

Finally the king and queen reach a flight of steps leading to heaven. Vishnu tells the queen that only she will do the penance. Her husband is tired and will wait there for them. He falls into a deep sleep and Lord Vishnu puts his life in a little protective box. As the Lord and the queen climb the steps they see visions of people being tortured in hell. Vishnu instructs her not to be frightened. Finally they reach the place where the queen will sit in deep meditation. Lord Vishnu builds a special pillar, made of sharp needles, for her to sit on.

No comments:

Post a Comment