Lord Vishnu once incarnated as the twin sons of Dharma and Murti – Narayana and Nara. The two were great devotees of Lord Shiva. They meditated and performed severe penance to understand the Brahman [The force which runs within us all].
As they performed severe penance in the forests of Badrinath, they grew powerful and strong. In fact their penance grew so strong that Indra the Lord of the Devas got worried.
He looked at the two of the sages. I will appear before the two sages and grant them some boon…then they will stop their penance…If they continue this way….they may even become more powerful than me!
He stood before the two sages who were deep in penance. ‘Open your eyes great sages! I am pleased with your devotion! I wish to grant you a boon!’
Indra saw that the two sages did not even open their eyes. Indra did not realize that the two sages were not after any boon or any favour from any God. They were just meditating for the joy of it, not for any other reason….
Indra tried again. ‘Open your eyes, sages!’
The sages did not even seem to hear them. Indra was frustrated. Here were two sages who did not want anything from him…The King of the Devas…
Indra got angry. Using his powers he summoned all the wild animals in the forests. The animals were dragged towards Indra. ‘Attack the sages!’ He commanded the wild animals and stepped back to watch what happened.
Indra was shocked on what happened next. The animals came close to the sages, looked peacefully at the meditating sages and forgot all about attacking them! The power of the meditation of the sages was making the animals forget their hunting instincts….
Indra was now scared badly. The sages were not doing anything. They were affecting their surroundings by the power of heir meditation. If this went on the two sages would soon come after his throne and there was absolutely nothing he could do about that….
Indra being the Lord of the Skies, summoned all the powers of the weather. He ordered the clouds to shower rain, cyclones and thunder at the spot where the two sages were meditating…
Indra should have however known better. The weather did not even affect the two sages….If was as if the sages did not even know that something had changed in the weather. They just continued with the meditation unmindful of anything. Even the hurricane did nothing to the two sages.
Indra thundered back to his heavens angry that two sages had made a mockery out of him….The Great Indra! He fumed. He looked around his court angrily at the Apsaras and the gandharvas….Then suddenly Indra had another idea…So what if the two sages did not want anything from me….The apsaras…they are the most beautiful women in the world…Nobody can resist watching them dance. I will send to dance before the sages…I will see how they continue with their meditation….
That was exactly what Indra did. For safe measure, he sent the Kama Deva, the God of Love and Vasanta, the Lord of Spring with the apsaras. He even sent the gandharvas to play their enticing music to charm the sages.
So the apsaras, gandharvas and the two Gods went before the two sages, who were deep in meditation. Vasanta using his powers transformed the wild forest into a beautiful garden. The gandharvas filled the garden with heavenly music. The apsaras started dancing.
By this time the two sages finished their meditation and opened their eyes. They saw around them and saw that everything around them had changed….The sages saw the apsaras dancing before them…
Narayana, the elder among the two sages came towards Kamadeva with a curious expression. ‘May I ask a question?’ He asked him. Kamadeva was thrilled. The apsaras had broken the concentration of the two sages. He asked the sage, ‘Yes sir!’
‘Who are these women?’ Narayana asked him.
Kamadeva smiled and said, ‘They are the apsaras of heaven. Lord Indra has sent them to you, so that you can also enjoy their dance….’
Narayana and Nara looked at each with with amused glances. The wind blew up and a flower blew towards Narayana. Narayana placed the flower on his thigh.
And Kamadeva looked astonished as the flower transformed into a woman…. Not just any woman….she was ravishingly beautiful…..She was enchanting. The woman looked so beautiful that the apsaras from heaven actually looked….not so beautiful before her….
Narayana looked at Kamadeva and said, ‘I think you can take this woman with you! By my powers I am sure she can dance as well as any of your apsaras. I think you can take her back to Indra. I am sure he will enjoy her dance as well!’
Kamadeva looked at Narayana with awe and realized that the two sages were Maharishis and had overcome all desires. Kamadeva looked at the woman said hesitatingly, ‘Who is she?’
Narayana smiled, ‘She came from my thigh, so you can call her Uruvashi! [‘Uru’ means thigh in Sanskrit] She will as good as any of your apsaras. Take her with you!’
Ashamed Kamadeva went back to Indra and also took Uruvashi back with him….Kamadeva told Indra all that had happened and Indra realized that the two sages were more powerful than him and let the matter go!
However Lord Shiva did not want the matter to go…He knew that the two sages were extraordinary. He wanted the whole world to know about the power of the two sages….He watched with pride as the sages rejected all the temptations of Indra…But Lord Shiva realized that if the true glory of the two sages had to be brought out, he had to do something…..
He looked at the Pashupatastra [Shiva’s most powerful weapon] with him and smiled. He knew what had to be done….
Lord Shiva took his Pashupatrastra and hurled it at the two meditating sages. The whole world watched with fear and astonishment not understanding….Why would Lord Shiva hurl the most powerful weapon known to man at his most favourite devotees? Not only that…the Lord was destroying the world….Why?
The weapon whizzed past the atmosphere at the two sages, who were now deep in meditation.
The world watched with wonder….The power of the meditation was such that the weapon did not create a scratch on them or anywhere else….The weapon just disintegrated when it reached the two sages….Everything was exactly the way it had been….
The world realized that the power of the sages was so great that not even the most powerful weapon could hurt them….
Lord Shiva smiled as the Pashupatastra now reached him again. The world now knew of the power of his devotees!