Significance of Anant Vrat (chapter-42)
Shri Guru narrated the significance of Anant vrat to Sayamdeo. He said, `Dharmaraj, the son of Pandu, did this vrat. He regained his kingdom, which was lost in a game of chess with the Kouravas. Thereafter the Pandavas were living in the forest with great sufferings. Th Kouravas sent durvas Rishi to the Pandavas for harassing them even in the forest. Shrikrishna, protector of his devotees, assisted Pandavas in difficulties. Once Droupadi and the five Pandavas bowed to Shrikrishna and asked , `How shall we be relieved from this vanvas (living in forest)?'
Shrikrishna advised them to do the Anant vrat. shrikrishna said, `Anant should be worshipped on bhadrapad Shuddha 14. I will tell you a tale regarding this Vrat. In the Krit-yug there lived a Brahmin named Sumantu of the vashishta Gotra. Deeksha was his devoted wife. She begot a daughter named Sushila. Later Deeksha died and in order to continue the Grahastha rites he married with Karkasha, who used to quarrel with her husband and daughter every now and then. Due to this, Sumantu was always dejected.
As Sushila grew, she became fit for marriage. One day Koundinya came to Sumantu, who gave Sushila to him in marriage. In Ashadh and Shrawan months, Sushila and Koundinya lived with Sumantu, but Karkasha quarrelled with Sushila daily. So Koundinya requested Sumantu to allow him to go home. Sumantu felt very sorry, as his only daughter would be going away. He said, `This is not my wife but she is my enemy. Now my daughter will go away. Where there is no peace, the home is like a forest.
Koundinya consoled him. Due to his pursuation, he agreed to stay for 12 days more. On the 13th day Sumantu asked his wife to prepare delicious food for his daughter and son-in-law, as they were departing. Karkasha entered the inner room, shut the door and placed stones against the door so that it should not be opened easily. At least Sumantu gave wheat konda to Sushila and bade them goodbye.
Next morning they reached a river. Koundinya got down from the chariot and went to the river for bath and rituals. Sushila saw that many females wearing red silk saries, had gathered in the sand and they were worshipping some god. Sushila went to them, and inquired what they were doing. The females replied, `We are worshipping Anant. By doing this vrat, all the desires are fulfilled.' Sushila took instructions from them. She gave 14 knots to a red string and prepared Anant and shesh (cobra) of darbha and worshipped Anant with 16 upchars. She then tied the Anant on her wrist.
Once when they were sitting, Koundinya observed the red string on the wrist of Sushila. He asked angrily, 'Did you tie this red string to keep me under your thumb?' She said, `This is Anant, by whose favour we got this kingdom and prosperity.' Hearing this, Koundinya took the string by force and threw it into fire. He remakred, `It is due to my penance that this kingdom is botained by us.'
Sushila was very dejcted. She hastened to take out the Anant from fire and put it in milk. But due to this the Anant was enraged. The kingdom and all their glory was destroyed in no time and Koundinya became a pauper. Koundinya now repented and resolved that so long as he would not see Anant, he would neither drink or eat.
Having resolved, he started with Sushila and went into a forest. He saw a tree laden with fruits but no bird touched its friut. Koundinya asked the tree if it had seen Anant. the tree said, `I have not seen Anant, but if you see, please speak to him about me.' Further he saw a cow and a calf. They were trying to eat grass; but they could not do so. Then he saw a big bull. Further he saw two lakes. The goose and other birds did not drink the water. Later he came across an elephant and an ass who could not speak. Koundinya had asked all if they had seen Anant. They all denied, but said if he saw Anant, he should speak about him to each of them. At last Koundinya was tried of walking and he lay down on the ground.
In the meantime an old Brahmin came there and inquired about him. Knowing the cause of his worry he said, `I shall show you Anant. Come with me.' Koundinya followed him and saw a fine city. Brahmin seated Koundinya on the throne of precious stones and appeared before him in his real form. Seeing this, Koundinya was amazed and he bowed to Shri Anant and began to praise him. Shri Anant was pleased and gave him 3 boons. By the first he attained Dharma, by the second his poverty was destroyed and by the third he got abode in vaikuntha.
Koundinya referred to the tree, the cow with the calf, the bull, the two lakes, elephant, ass and the old Brahmin. Shri Anant said, `The tree, laden with fruits, was a Brahmin, who was proud of his learning and did not teach his students, hence he became a tree. The cow had given an unfertile land to a Brahmin in charity. The bull was a rich Brahmin who did not give in charity to anyone. The two lakes were two sisters who exchanged charity among themselves. The elephant is your anger and the ass is your vanity. The old brahmin you met was myself. Whomsoever you have seen, are all liberated.
After receiving the blessing of Shri Anant, Koundinya lived as a ruler for many years and in the end went to heaven.
Srikrishna told this to Yudhisthira, who then worshipped Anant with devotion. Shri Guru told this Sayamdeo and asked him to let his eldest son Nagnath to do Anant Puja. Sayamdeo did as advised, arranged grand samardhana and dined with Shri Guru. Sayamdeo then returned to his place, kept the family there and he alone returned to Shri Guru to serve him. In this way your forefathers attained the favour of Shri Guru.