The Conquest of Fate
In the Dakshinadêśa there lived a Brâhmiṇ boy who from his childhood was given a very liberal education in Sanskṛit. He had read so much in philosophy that before he reached the sixteenth year of his life he began to despise the pleasures of the world. Everything which he saw was an illusion (mithyâ) to him. So he resolved to renounce the world and to go to a forest, there to meet with some great sage, and pass his days with him in peace and happiness.
Having thus made up his mind, he left his home one day without the knowledge of his parents and travelled towards the Dandakâranya. After wandering for a long time in that impenetrable forest, and undergoing all the miseries of a wood inhabited only by wild beasts, he reached the banks of the Tuṅgabhadrâ. His sufferings in his wanderings in a forest untrodden by human feet, his loneliness in the midst of wild beasts, his fears whether after all he had not failed in his search for consolation in a preceptor to teach him the higher branches of philosophy, came up one after another before his mind. Dejected and weary, he cast his glance forward as far as it could reach. Was it a reality or only imagination? He saw before him a lonely cottage of leaves (parṇaśâlâ). To a lonely traveller even the appearance of shelter is welcome, so he followed up his vision till it became a reality, and an aged hoary Brâhmiṇ, full fourscore and more in years, welcomed our young philosopher.
“What has brought you here, my child, to this lonely forest thus alone?” spoke in a sweet voice the hoary lord of the cottage of leaves.
“A thirst for knowledge, so that I may acquire the mastery over the higher branches of philosophy,” was the reply of our young adventurer, whose name was Subrahmanya.
“Sit down my child,” said the old sage, much pleased that in this Kaliyuga, which is one long epoch of sin, there was at least one young lad who had forsaken his home for philosophy.
Having thus seen our hero safely relieved from falling a prey to the tigers and lions of the Dandakâranya, let us enquire into the story of the old sage.