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ambapaalika – a story by Acharya Chatursen Shastri

mujaffarapur se pashchim kee or jo pakkee sadak jaatee hai, us par mujaffarapur se lagabhag 18-20 meel par ‘baisodh’ naamak ek bilakul chhota-sa gaanv hai, jisamen 30-40 ghar bhoomihaar braahmanon ke aur kuchh kshatriyon ke bach rahe hain. is gaanv ke chaaron or koson tak khandahar, teele aur puraanee tootee-phootee moortiyaan dher-kee-dher milatee hain, jo is baat kee smrti dilaatee hain ki yahaan kabhee koee bada bhaaree samrddhishaalee nagar basa raha hoga.

vaastav mein dhaee hazaar varsh poorv yahaan ek vishaal nagar basa tha, jisaka naam vaishaalee tha, aur jo prabal prataapee lichchhavi-ganatantr ke shaasan mein tha.

vaishaalee lichchhavi-ganatantr kee ek pradhaan nagaree aur riyaasat thee. nagar vyaapaariyon, jauhariyon, shilpakaaron aur bhinn-bhinn prakaar ke desh-videsh ke yaatriyon se paripoorn tha. ‘shreshthi-chatvar’ nagar ka pradhaan baazaar tha, jahaan jauhariyon aur bade-bade vyaapaariyon kee kothiyaan theen aur jinakee vyaapaarik shaakhaen samast uttar bhaarat mein phailee huee theen.

dukaanadaar svachchh paridhaan dhaaran kie, paan kucharate, hans-hansakar graahakon se baaten karate. jauharee panna, laal, moonga, motee, pukharaaj, heera aur any ratnon kee pareeksha tatha len-den mein vyast rahate the. nipun kaareegar anagadh ratnon ko saan chadhaate, svarn-aabharanon mein rangeen ratn jadate aur motee goonthate the. gandhee log kesar ke thaile hilaate the. chandan ke telon mein bhinn-bhinn sugandh milaakar itr banae jaate aur naagarik unaka khula upayog karate the. resham aur bahumooly maheen malamal ke vyaapaariyon kee dukaanon par bagadaad aur faaras ke vyaapaaree lambe-lambe labaade pahane, bheed-kee-bheed pade rahate the. nagar kee galiyaan sankaree aur tang theen aur unamen gaganachumbee attaalikaen khadee theen, jinake andhere tahakhaanon mein in dhan-kuberon ka bada bhaaree kosh aur dravy rakha rahata tha.

sandhya-samay sundar shvet bailon ke rathon par, jin par badhiya sunahara kaam hua rahata tha, naagarik sair karane raajapath par nikalate the. idhar-udhar haathee jhoomate hue badha karate the aur un par unake adhipati ratnaabharanon se sajjit apane daason tatha shareer-rakshakon se ghire hue chala karate the.

abhee din nikalane mein deree thee. poorv kee or prakaash kee aabha dikhaee pad rahee thee, par maarg mein andhera tha. raajamahal ke toran par abhee tak prakaash jal raha tha. chaaron or pratihaar pade so rahe the. unamen se keval ek bhaala tekakar khada neend mein jhoom raha tha. toran ke idhar-udhar kaee kutte pade so rahe the.

dheere-dheere din ka prakaash phailane laga. raajavargee idhar-se-udhar aane-jaane lage. pratihaararakshee sena ka ek naveen dal toran par aa pahuncha. unamen se ek dandadhar ne aage badhakar bhaale ke sahaare khade-khade oonghate manushy ko pukaar kar kaha–mahaanaaman! saavadhaan hoo aur ghar jaakar vishraam karo. mahaanaaman ne sajag hokar apane deerghakaay ka aur bhee vistaar karake ek zor kee angadaee lee aur yah kahakar ki–tumhaara kalyaan ho, vah apana bhaala dharatee par tekata hua teesare toran kee or badh gaya. pashchim kee or puraana praasaad aur raajamahal ka upavan tha, jisakee dekh-rekh mahaanaaman ke supurd thee. yaheen usakee chhotee-see kutiya thee, jahaan vah apanee praudha patnee ke saath 17 varsh se ekaras–aandhee-paanee, sardee-garmee mein rahata tha.

vah neend mein jhoomata hua oongh raha tha. ab bhee prabhaat ka prakaash dhundhala tha. usane apanee kutee ke paas ek kadalee vrksh ke neeche, aamrakunj mein ek shvet vastu padee rahane ka bhaan kiya. nikat jaakar dekha, ek navajaat shishu svachchh vastron mein lipata apana angootha choos raha hai. aashcharyachakit hokar mahaanaaman ne shishu ko utha liya. dekha, kanya hai. usane apanee stree ko pukaarakar use vah kanya dekar kaha–dekho, aaj is prakaar apane jeevan kee puraanee saadh mitee.

vah kanya–us daridr lichchhavi mahaanaaman ke us daridraavaas mein shashikala kee bhaanti badhane lagee. usaka naam rakkha gaya ambapaalika.

vaishaalee se uttar-pashchim 25 kos par ek chhote-se gaanv mein, ek kinaare par ek saadhaaran ghar tha. usake dvaar par ek vrddh praat-kaal baitha daatun kar raha tha. poorv ke dvaar par pair kee aahat sunakar usane peechhe ko dekha, ek champak pushp kee kalee ke samaan, ekaadashavarshiya, ati sundaree baalika, jisake ghungharaale baal lahalaha rahe the, daudatee-daudatee baahar aaee aur vrddh ko dekh usase lipatane ko lapakee par pair phisalane se gir gaee. vah girakar rone lagee.

vrddh ne daatun phenk, daudakar baalika ko uthaaya, usakee dhool jhaadee, baalika ne rona rokakar kaha–baaba, ghar mein aata bilkul nahin hai, ham log kya khaenge? vrddh ne use god mein uthaate hue kaha–kuchh chinta nahin, main abhee gehoon pisavaane kee vyavastha karata hoo. baalika ne kaha–gehoon ka bhee to ek daana nahin hai. vrddh kshanabhar avaak raha. usane kaha–tab thahar, main abhee shikaar maarakar laata hoon. baalika ne rokakar kaha–nahin, nahin, main pakshee ka maans nahin khaoongee.

vrddh mahaanaaman lichchhavi tha aur kanya thee ambapaalika. vrddh kee patnee ka svargavaas hue 8 saal vyateet ho gae the. usake baad kanya kee paricharya mein baadha padatee dekh, mahaanaaman ne raaj-seva chhodakar apane graam mein aakar baalika kee seva-sushrusha abaadh roop se karane ka nishchay kar liya tha. vah gat aath varshon se isee gaanv mein rahata tha. ambapaalika ko usane is tarah paala jaise pakshee chugga de-dekar apane shishu pakshee ko paalata hai. parantu khed hai, dheere-dheere usakee chhotee-see kamaee kee kshudr poonjee yatn se kharch karane par bhee samaapt ho hee gaee. aur phir dheere-dheere patnee ke smrti-roop do-chaar kshudr aabhooshan bhee udar-guha mein pahunch chuke.

ab aaj kya kiya jae? ab to aata bhee nahin, ek daana gehoon bhee nahin. vrddh kee praanon kee putalee is prashn par chintit ho rahee hai. yah aur bhee kasht ka prashn tha. par vrddh ne hansakar kaha–achchha, achchha, main abhee gehoon lie aata hoo. itana kahakar vrddh ne baalika ke tadaatad 3-4 chumban lie aur use god se utaarate-utaarate do boond aansoo gira die. baalika bheetar gaee aur vrddh chintaamagn baith gaya. antatah usane ek baar phir mahaaraaj kee seva mein upasthit hokar puraanee naukaree kee yaachana karane ka nishchay kiya. usake baahu ka paurush to thak chuka tha. parantu kya kiya jae, kanya ka vichaar sarvopari tha. phir bhee vrddh ke ati gambheer hone ka yahee maatr kaaran na tha.

laakh vrddh hone par bhee usakee bhuja mein bal tha, bahut tha. par usakee chinta thee : baalika ka apratim saundary. sahasraadhik baalikaen bhee kya us paarijaat-kusum-tuly kundakalika ke samaan theen? kis pushp mein utanee gandh, komalata aur saundary tha? use bhay tha ki raaj-niyamaanusaar vah vivaah se vanchit karake kaheen nagar-veshya na bana dee jae; kyonki lichchhavi-ganatantr mein yah kaanoon tha ki raajy kee jo kanya atyadhik sundaree hotee thee, use kisee ek purush kee patnee na hone diya jaakar naagarikon ke lie surakshit rakha jaaya karata tha. vaastav mein isee bhay se mahaanaaman raajadhaanee chhodakar bhaaga tha, jisase kisee kee drshti us baalika par na pade. par ab upaay na tha. mahaanaaman ne raajadhaanee mein ek baar jaane ka nishchay kiya.

vaishaalee kee or jaanevaalee sadak par varsha ke kaaran badee keechad ho rahee thee. kaheen-kaheen to naalon ka paanee kachchee sadak ko todakar sadak par nadee kee tarah bah raha tha. abhee varsha ho chukee thee. vrddh aur usakee putree donon bheeg gae the, par dheere-dheere badhe chale ja rahe the. hava band thee, garmee badh gaee thee aur doorasth parvaton kee chotiyon mein ast hote hue soory ko dekh-dekhakar vrddh dar raha tha. nikat kisee bastee ke chihn na the. yadi kaheen chaupat mein andhera ho gaya to kahaan raat kategee, bachchee khaegee kya, yahee vrddh ke bhay ka kaaran tha. vah laathee tekata-tekata dheere-dheere aage badh raha tha. vah svayan thak gaya tha aur baalika to kshan-kshan mein vishraam kee ichchha prakat kar rahee thee. baalika ne kaha–pita! ab main aur nahin chal sakatee, mere pairon mein dekho, lahoo bah raha hai, ve phat gae hain.

vrddh ne sneh se use chumakaarakar kaha–ab, thodee door aur; nikat hee kaheen gaanv ya bastee milane par thaharane mein subheeta rahega. par baalika aur kuchh pag chalakar maarg mein hee ek oonchee jagah par baith gaee. vrddh bhee nirupaay ho, paas hee baith gaya. andhakaar ne chaaron or se unhen gher liya.

sahasa baalika ne chaunkakar kaha–pitaajee, dekho, ghodon kee taap ka shabd sunaee de raha hai. buddhe ne uthakar door tak drshti karake dekha. sadak ke nikat ek ghana semal ka vrksh tha, jisake neeche ghor andhakaar tha. vrddh kanya ka haath pakad, vaheen ja chhipa. aakaash mein ab bhee baadal ghir rahe the aur phir zor kee varsha hone ke rang-dhang deekh padate the. beech-beech mein bijalee bhee chamak jaatee. thodee der baad bahut-se savaar vahaan tak aa pahunche. varsha bhee shuroo ho gaee. savaaron ne nishchay kiya ki us vrksh ke neeche aashray len.

vrddh bhay se baalika ko chhaatee mein chhipae vrksh kee jad se chipakakar baith gaya. sahasa bijalee kee chamak mein ashvaarohiyon ne vrksh ke nikat manushy-moorti ko dekhakar kaha–are! vrksh ke nikat yah kaun hai? vrddh vahaan se hatakar chupachaap khet mein jaane laga. tatkshan ek barchha aakar usakee chhaatee ko videern kar gaya. vrddh ek cheetkaar karake dharatee par gir gaya. baalika zor se chilla uthee.

ashvaarohee dal ne nikat jaakar dekha–mrt purush vrddh aur nissr hai. par kanya ko dekhate hee barchha phenkane vaale savaar ne kaha–vaah! boodhe ko maarakar ratn mila. isamen kisee ka saajha nahin hai?

baalika bhay aur shok se chilla uthee. ashvaarohee ne usakee parava na kar use ghode par rakh liya aur ve aage badhe.

vaibhavashaalinee vaishaalee ka jo ‘shreshthi-chatvar’ naamak baazaar tha usake uttar kon par ek vishaal praasaad, jisake gumbajon ka prakaash raatri ko ganga paar se bhee deekhata tha. baahar ka sinhadvaar vishaal pattharon ka banaaya gaya tha, jise uthaana aur jodana daityon ka hee kaam ho sakata tha. in pattharon par sthaapaty kala aur shilp kee sookshm buddhi kharch kee gaee thee. d‌yodhee par gahara hara rang kiya hua tha aur oonche maharaabadaar phaatak par phoolon kee gunthee huee sundar maalaen latak rahee theen.

pahale aangan mein pravesh karane par shvet attaalikaon kee pankti deekh padatee thee. unakee deevaaron par kaanch kee tarah chamakadaar shvet palastar kiya gaya tha. seedhiyon par bhinn-bhinn prakaar ke khudarang bahumooly patthar lage the, aur khidakiyon mein billaur ke kivaad the, jinamen shreshthi-chatvar kee bahaar baithe-hee-baithe deekh padatee thee. doosare aangan mein gaadee, bail, ghode, haathee bandhe the aur mahaavat unhen chaaval-ghee khila rahe the. teesare aangan mein atithishaala tatha aagat janon ke thaharane ka prabandh tha. yahaan bahut sundar vishaal pattharon ke khambhon par meharaab khade hue the…

chauthe aangan mein naatyashaala aur gaayanabhavan tha. paanchave aangan mein bhinn-bhinn prakaar ke shilpakaar aur jauharee log naana prakaar ke aabhooshan bana aur ratnon ko ghis rahe the. chhathe aangan mein bhinn-bhinn desh ke pashu-pakshiyon ka adbhut sangrah tha. saatavaan aangan bilkul shvet patthar ka bana tha, aur usamen sunahara kaam ho raha tha. isamen do bheemakaay sinh svarn kee mekhalaon se drdhataapoorvak bandhe the aur chaandee ke paatron mein paanee bhara unake nikat dhara tha. grhasvaaminee ambapaalika isee kaksh mein viraajatee thee.

sandhya ho gaee thee. parichaarak aur parichaarikaen daud-dhoop kar rahee theen, koee sugandhit jal aangan mein chhidak rahee thee, koee dhoop jalaakar bhavan ko suvaasit kar rahee thee, koee sahasr deep-guchchh mein sugandhit tel daalakar prakaashit karane mein vyast thee. bahut-se maalee toran aur alind par taaze pushpon ke guladaste aur maalaon ko saja rahe the. alind mein dandadhar apane-apane sthaanon par bhaala tek sthir bhaav se khade the. dvaarapaal toran paar apane dvaar-rakshak dal ke saath sashastr upasthit tha.

kshanabhar baad praasaad bhaanti-bhaanti ke rangeen prakaashon se jagamaga utha. bhaanti-bhaanti ke rangeen phavvaare chalane lage aur un par prakaash ka pratibimb indradhanush kee bahaar dikhaane laga. dheere-dheere pratishthit naagarik koee paalakee mein, koee rath par aur koee haathee par chadhakar pratham toran paar kar aane lage. parichaarakagan daud-daudakar atithiyon ko saadar utaarakar bheetaree alind mein pahunchaane tatha unakee savaariyon kee vyavasthakarane lage. haathee-ghode, rath, paalakee aadi vaahanon ka taanta lag gaya. unakee bheed se baahar ka vishaal praangan bhar gaya.

saataven toran ke bheetar shvet patthar ke ek vishaal sabha-bhavan mein ambapaalika naagarik yuvakon bhee abhyarthana kar rahee thee. vah bhavan ek tukade ke 64 hare rang ke patthar ke khambhon par nirmit hua tha, aur is par rangeen ratnon ko jadakar phool-pattee, paksh tatha van ke drshy banae gae the. chhat par svarn ka pattar madha tha, jahaan par baareek khudaee aur rangeen meena ka kaam ho raha tha. is vishaal bhavan mein dugdh-phen ke samaan ujjval varn ka ati mulaayam aur bahumooly bichhaavan bichha tha. thode-thode antar se bahut-see vediyaan, prthak banee theen, jahaan komal upadhaan, mady ke svarn-paatr aur pyaaliyaan, jua khelane ke paase tatha any vinod-saamagree, bhinn-bhinn prakaar ke granth, bahumooly chitr tatha any bahut-see manoranjan kee saamagree theen.

mahaapratihaar alind tak atithi yuvakon ko laata, vahaan se pradhaan parichaarika use kaksh tak le aatee. kaksh-dvaar par svayan ambapaalika saakshaat rati ke samaan aagat janon ka haath pakadakar svaagat karatee, ek vedee par le jaakar baithaatee, sugandh aur pushp-maalaon se satkaar karatee tatha apane haathon se mady daalakar pilaatee thee. us svarg-sadan mein, roop, yauvan aur jeevan ke aalok mein arddharaatri tak nity hee maadhury aur aanand ka pravaah bahata tha. saikadon daasiyaan daud-dhoop karake yaachit vastu tatkaal juta deteen. phir kuchh thaharakar sangeet-laharee uthatee. komal tantu-vaady gambheer mrdang ke saath vaishaalee ke shreshthi putron, raajavargiyon aur kumaaron ke hrday ko masos daalata tha. vaady kee taal par mom kee putalee ke samaan kumaariyaan madhur svar se svar-taal aur moorchchhanaamay sangeet-gaan karateen, aur nartakiyaan thumakakar naachatee theen. us svapn-saundary ke drshy ko yuvak sugandhit mady ke ghoont ke saath peekar apane janm ko dhany maanate the.

ambapaalika ab 20 varsh kee poorn yuvatee thee. usaka yauvan aur saundary madhyaakaash mein tha. aur lichchhavi ganatantr ke raaja hee nahin, magadh, koshal aur videh ke mahaaraaja tak usake lie sadaiv abhilaashee bane rahate the. in sabhee mahaanrpatiyon kee or se ratn, astr, haathee aadi bhent mein aate rahate the aur ambapaalika apanee krpa aur prem ke chihn-svaroop kabhee-kabhee taaze phoolon kee ekaadh maala tatha kuchh gandh dravy unhen pradaan kar diya karatee thee.

vidhaata ne maano use svarn se banaaya tha. usaka rang gora hee na tha, us par sunaharee prabha thee–jaise champe kee avikasit kalee mein hotee hai. usake shareer kee lachak, angon kee sudaulata varnan se baahar kee baat thee. us saundary mein visheshata yah thee ki samay ka atyaachaar bhee us saundary ko nasht na kar saka tha. jaise motee ka part utaar dene se naee aabha, naya paanee damakane lagata hai, usee prakaar ambapaalika ka shareer prativarsh nikhaar paata tha. usaka kad kuchh lamba, deh maansal aur kuch peen the. tis par usakee kamar itanee patalee thee ki use katibandhan baandhane kee aavashyakata hee nahin padatee thee. usake ang-pratyang chaitany the, maano prakrti ne unhen nrty karane aur aanand-bhog karane ko hee banaaya tha.

usake netron mein sookshm laalasa kee jhalak aur drshti mein gazab kee madira bhar rahee thee. usaka svabhaav satej tha, chitavan mein drdhata, nirbheekata, vinod aur svechchhaachaarita saaf jhalakatee thee. use dekhate hee aamod-pramod kee abhilaasha pratyek purush ke hrday mein utpann ho jaatee thee.
jaisa kaha ja chuka hai, usakee rangat par ek sunaharee jhalak thee, gaal komal aur gulaabee the, onth laal aur utphull the, maano koee paka hua raseela phal chamak raha ho. usake daant heere kee tarah svachchh, chamakadaar aur anaar kee pankti kee tarah sudaul, kuch peen tatha aneedaar the. naak patalee, gardan hans jaisee, kandhe sudaul, baahu mrnaal jaisee thee. sir ke baal kaale, lambe, ghungharaale tatha resham se bhee mulaayam the. aankhen kaalee aur kanteelee, anguliyaan patalee aur mulaayam theen. un par usake gulaabee naakhoonon kee badee bahaar thee. pair chhote aur sundar the. jab vah thasak ke saath uthakar khadee ho jaatee to log use ekatak dekhate rah jaate the. usakee bhujaon aur deh ka poorv bhaag sada khula rahata tha.

vaishaalee mein badee bhaaree bechainee phail gaee. ashvaarohee dal-ke-dal nagar ke toran se hokar nagar ke baahar nikal rahe the. pratihaar log aur kisee ko na baahar nikalane dete the aur na bheetar ghusane dete the. toran ke idhar-udhar bahut-se naagarik sena ka yah akasmaat prasthaan dekh rahe the. ek purush ne poochha–kyon bhaee, jaanate ho yah sena kahaan ja rahee hai? usane kaha–na, yah koee nahin jaanata. ashvaarohee dal nikal gaya. peechhe kaee sena-naayak dheere-dheere paraamarsh karate chale gae.

kshan-bhar mein sanvaad phail gaya. magadh ke prataapee samraat shishunaagavanshee bimbasaar ne vaishaalee par chadhaee kee. ganga ke dakshin chhor par durjay magadh sena drshti ke us chhor se is chhor tak phailee huee thee. is sena mein 10 hazaar haathee, 50 hazaar ashvaarohee aur paanch laakh paidal the.

vaishaalee ke lichchhavi-ganatantr ka prataap bhee saadhaaran na tha. ganga ke uttar kon par dekhate-dekhate sainy-samooh ekatrit ho gaya. lichchhaviyon ke paas 8 hazaar haathee, 1 laakh ashvaarohee aur 6 laakh paidal the.

teen din tak donon dal aamane-saamane date rahe. teesare din lichchhavi logon ne dekha, us paar deron kee sankhya kam ho gaee hai. nipun sahasron sainik ghaat se paar aane kee taiyaaree kar rahe hain, yah samajhane mein der na lagee. dopahar hote-hote magadh-sena ganga paar karane lagee. lichchhavi-sena chupachaap khadee rahee. jyon hee kuchh sena ne bhoomi par paanv rakha tyon hee vaishaalee kee sena jay-jayakaar karate badh chalee, maano sahasr ulkaapaat hue hon. megh-sangharshan kee tarah ghor garjana karake donon senaen bhid gaeen. magadh-sena kee gati ruk gaee. baan, barchhe aur talavaaron kee pralay mach gaee. us din, din-bhar sangraam raha. sooryaast dekh, donon senaen peechhe ko phireen.

do maas se nagar ka ghera jaaree hai. beech-beech mein yuddh ho jaata hai. koee paksh nirbal nahin hota. nagar kee teen dishaen magadh-shivir se ghiree hain. beech mein jo sabase bada dera hai, usake oopar sone ka garudadhvaj ast hote soory kee kiranon se agni kee tarah damak raha hai. usake aage ek svarn-peeth par gauravarn samraat viraajamaan hain. nikat ek-do vishvaasee paarshad hain. samraat ati sundar, balishth aur gambheeramoorti hain. netron mein tej aur sneh, drshti mein veeratv aur audaary tatha pratibha mein adamy tej prakat ho raha hai. samraat aadhe lete hue kuchh mantrana kar rahe hain. ek karnik neeche baitha unake aadeshaanusaar likhata jaata hai. ek dandadhar ne aage badhakar pukaarakar kaha–mahaanaayak yuvaraaj bhattaarakapaadeey gopaaladev toran par upasthit hain. samraat ne chaunkakar udhar dekha aur bheetar bulaane ka sanket kiya. saath hee karnik aur mantree ko vida kiya.

gopaaladev ne talavaar myaan se kheench sheesh se lagaee aur phir vinamr nivedan kiya–mahaaraajaadhiraaj kee aagyaanusaar sab vyavastha theek hai. devashree padhaarane ka kasht karen. samraat ke netron mein utphullata utpann huee. ve uthakar vastr pahanane ke lie pat-mandap mein ghus gae.

vaishaalee ke raajapath janashoony the, do prahar raatri ja chukee thee, yuddh ke aatank ne nagar ke ullaas ko moorchhit kar diya tha. kaheen-kaheen praharee khade us andhakaaramayee raatri mein bhayaanak bhoot-se prateet hote the. dheere-dheere do manushy moortiyaan andhakaar ka bhedan karatee huee vaishaalee ke gupt dvaar ke nikat pahuncheen. ek ne dvaar par aaghaat kiya, bheetar prashn hua–sanket?

manushyamoorti ne kaha–abhinay!

halkee cheetkaar karake dvaar khul gaya. donon moortiyaan bheetar ghusakar raajapath chhod, andheree galiyon kee attaalikaon kee parachhaeen mein chhipatee-chhipatee aage badhane lageen. ek sthaan par praharee ne baadha dekar poochha–kaun? ek vyakti ne kaha–aage badhakar dekho. praharee nikat aaya. hathaat doosare vyakti ne usaka sir dhad se juda kar diya. donon phir aage badhe. ambapaalika ke dvaar par antatah unakee yaatra samaapt huee. dvaar par ek pratihaar maano unakee prateeksha kar raha tha. sanket karate hee usane dvaar khol diya aur aagantukagan ko bheetar lekar dvaar band kar liya.

aaj is vishaal raajamahal sadrsh bhavan mein sannaata tha. na rang-birangee roshanee, na phavvaare, na daas-daasee ganon kee daud-dhoop. donon vyakti chupachaap pratihaar ke saath ja rahe the. saataven alind ko paar karane par dekha, ek aur moorti ek khambhe ke sahaare khadee hai. usane aage badhakar kaha–idhar se padhaarie shreemaan! pratihaar vaheen ruk gaya. naveen vyakti stree thee aur vah sarvaang kaale vastr se dhaanpe hue thee. donon aagantuk kaee praangan aur alind paar karate hue kuchh seedhiyaan utarakar ek chhote-se dvaar par pahunche jo chaandee ka tha aur jis par atishay manohar jaalee ka kaam ho raha tha aur usee jaalee mein se chhan-chhanakar rangeen prakaash baahar pad raha tha.

dvaar kholate hee dekha, ek bahut bada kaksh bhinn-bhinn prakaar kee sukh-saamagriyon se paripoorn tha. yadyapi utana bada nahin, jahaan naagarikajanon ka praayah svaagat hota tha, parantu sajaavat kee drshti se is kaksh ke sammukh usakee ganana nahin ho sakatee thee. yah samast bhavan shvet aur kaale pattharon se bana tha. aur sarvatr hee sunaharee pachcheekaaree ka kaam ho raha tha. usamen bade-bade billaur ke athapahaloo amooly khambhe lage the, jinamen manushy ka hoobahoo pratibimb sahasron kee sankhyaon mein deekhata tha. bade-bade aur bhinn-bhinn bhaavapoorn chitr tange the. sahasr deep-guchchhon mein sugandhit tel jal raha tha. samast kaksh bheenee sugandh se mahak raha tha. dharatee par ek mahaamoolyavaan rangeen bichhaavan tha jis par pair padate hee haath bhar dhans jaata tha. beechombeech ek vichitr aakrti kee solah-pahaloo sone kee chaukee padee thee, jis par mor-pankh ke khambhon par motiyon kee jhaalar laga ek chandova tan raha tha aur peechhe rangeen resham ke parade latak rahe the, jisamen taaze pushpon ka shrngaar badee sughadaee se kiya gaya tha. nikat hee ek chhotee-see ratnajatit tipaee par mady-paatr aur panne ka bada-sa paatr dhara hua tha.

hathaat saamane ka parada utha aur usamen vah roop-raashi prakat huee jisake bina alind shoony ho raha tha. use dekhate hee aagantukagan mein se ek to dheere-dheere peechhe hatakar kaksh se baahar ho gaya, doosara vyakti stambhit-sa khada raha. ambapaalika aage badhee. vah bahut maheen shvet resham kee poshaak pahane hue thee. vah itanee baareek thee ki usake aar-paar saaf deekh padata tha. usamen se chhanakar usake sunahare shareer kee rangat apoorv chhata dikha rahee thee. par yah kamar tak hee tha. vah cholee ya koee doosara vastr nahin pahane thee. isalie usakee kamar ke oopar ke ang-pratyang saaf deekh padate the.

vidhaata ne use kis kshan mein gadha tha. hamaaree to yah dhaarana hai ki koee chitrakaar na to vaisa chitr hee ankit kar sakata tha aur na koee moortikaar vaisee moorti hee bana sakata tha.
us bhuvan-mohinee kee chhata aagantuk ke hrday ko chhedakar paar ho gaee. gahare kaale rang ke baal usake ujjval aur snigdh kandhon par lahara rahe the. sphatik ke samaan chikane mastak par motiyon ka gutha hua aabhooshan apoorv shobha dikha raha tha. usakee kaalee aur kanteelee aankhen, tote ke samaan nukeelee naak, bimbaphal jaise adhar-oshth aur anaaradaane ke samaan ujjval daant, gora aur gol chibuk bina hee shrngaar ke anuraag aur aanand bikher raha tha. ab se dhaee hazaar varsh poorv kee vah vaishaalee kee veshya aisee hee thee.

motee kee kor lagee huee sundar odhanee peechhe kee or latak rahee thee aur isalie usaka unmatt kar denevaala mukh saaph dekha ja sakata tha. vah apanee patalee kamar mein ek dheela-sa bahumooly rangeen shaal lapete hue thee. hans ke samaan ujjval gardan mein angoor ke baraabar motiyon kee maala latak rahee thee aur goree-goree gol kalaiyon mein neelam kee pahunchee padee huee thee.

us makadee ke jaale ke samaan baareek ujjval paridhaan ke neeche, sunahare taaron kee bunaavat ka ek adbhut ghaaghara tha, jo us prakaash mein bijalee kee tarah chamak raha tha. pairon mein chhotee-chhotee laal rang kee upaanat theen, jo sunahare feete se kas rahee theen.

us samay kaksh mein gulaabee rang ka prakaash ho raha tha. us prakaash mein ambapaalika ka maano parada cheerakar is roop-rang mein prakat hona aagantuk vyakti ko moortimatee madira ka avtaran-sa prateet hua. vah abhee tak stabdh khada tha. dheere-dheere ambapaalika aage badhee. usake peechhe 16 daasiyaan ek hee roop aur rang kee maano paashaan-pratimaen hee aage badh rahee theen.

ambapaalika dheere-dheere aage badhakar aagantuk ke nikat aakar jhukee aur phir ghutane ke bal baith, usane kaha–parameshvar, param vaishnav, param bhattaarak, mahaaraajaadhiraaj kee jay ho. isake baad usane samraat ke charanon mein pranaam karane ko sir jhuka diya. daasiyaan bhee prthvee par jhukee gaeen.

aagantuk mahaaprataapee magadh-samraat bimbasaar the. unhonne haath badhaakar ambapaalika ko oopar uthaaya. ambapaalika ne nivedan kiya–mahaaraajaadhiraaj peeth par viraajen. samraat ne oopar ka parichchhad utaar phenka, ve peeth par viraajamaan hue.

ambapaalika ne neeche dharatee par baithakar samraat ka gandh, pushp aadi se satkaar kiya. isake baad usane apanee mad-bharee aankhen samraat par daalakar kaha–mahaaraajaadhiraaj ne badee anukampa kee, bada kasht kiya.

samraat ne kinchit mohak svar mein kaha–ambapaalee! yadi main yah kahoon ki keval vinod ke lie aaya hoo to yah yathaarth nahin. tumhaare roop-gun kee prashansa sunakar sthir nahin rah saka, aur is kathin yuddh mein vyast rahane par bhee tumhen dekhane ke lie shatrupuree mein ghus aaya, parantu tumhaara prabandh dhany hai.

ambapaalika–(lajjit-see hokar zara muskaraakar) main pahale hee sun chukee hoo ki dev striyon kee chaatukaaree mein bade praveen hain.

samraat–chaatukaaree nahin, ambapaalike! tum vaastav mein roop aur gun mein adviteey ho!

ambapaalika–shreemaan, main krtaarth huee. isake baad vah apane muktaavanindit daanton kee chhata dikhaate hue samraat kee seva mein khadee huee. samraat ne pyaala le aur use kheenchakar bagal mein baitha liya. sanket paate hee daasiyon ne kshanabhar mein gaayan-vaady ka sanrajaam juta diya. kaksh sangeet-laharee mein doob gaya aur us gambheer nistabdh raatri mein magadh ke prataapee samraat us ek veshya par apane saamraajy ko bhool baithe.

ek varsh beet gaya. prataapee lichchhavi-raaj magadh saamraajy ke aage mastak nat karane ko baadhy hue. ab vaishaalee mein umang na thee. ambapaalika ka dvaar sadaiv band rahata tha. dvaar par kada pahara tha. koee vyakti na use dekh sakata tha, na usase mil sakata tha. usake bahut-se yuvak mitr us yuddh mein nihat hue the, par jo bach rahe the, ve ambapaalee ke is parivartan par aashcharyaanvit the. ve kisee bhee tarah usaka saakshaat na kar sakate the. door-door tak yah baat phail gaee thee.

ambapaalika ke sahasraavadhi vetan-bhogee daas-daasee, sainik aur anucharon mein se bhee keval do vyakti the jo ambapaalika ko dekh sakate aur usase baat kar sakate the. ek pradhaan parichaarika yoothika, doosara ek vrddh dandadhar jise bheetar-baahar sarvatr aane kee svatantrata thee. samraat ka aagaman keval inheen donon ko maaloom tha aur ve donon hee yah rahasy bhee jaanate the ki ambapaalika ko samraat se garbh hai.

yathaasamay putr prasav hua. yah rahasy bhee keval inheen do vyaktiyon par hee prakat hua. aur vah putr usee dandadhar ne gupt roop se raajadhaanee le jaakar magadh samraat kee god mein daalakar, ambapaalika ka anurodh sunaakar kaha– mahaaraajaadhiraaj kee seva mein meree svaaminee ne nivedan kiya hai ki unakee tuchchh bhent-svaroop magadh ke bhaavee samraat aapake charanon mein samarpit hain. samraat ne shishu ko sinhaasan par daalakar vrddh dandadhar se utphull nayan se kaha–magadh ke samraat ko jhatapat abhivaadan karo. dandadhar ne kosh se talavaar nikaal, mastak par lagaee aur teen baar jayaghosh karake talavaar shishu ke charanon mein rakh dee. samraat ne talavaar uthaakar vrddh kee kamar mein baandhate-baandhate kaha–apanee svaaminee ko meree yah tuchchh bhent dena. yah kahakar unhonne ek vastu vrddh ke haath mein chupachaap de dee. vah vastu kya thee, yah gyaat hone ka koee upaay nahin.

bhagavaan buddh vaishaalee mein padhaare hain aur ambapaalika kee baadee mein thahare hain. aaj hathaat ambapaalika ke mahal mein halachal mach rahee hai. sabhee daas-daasee, pratihaar, dvaarapaal daud-dhoop kar rahe hain. haathee, ghode, paalakee, rath saj rahe hain. savaar shastr-sajjit ho rahe hain. ambapaalika bhagavaan buddh ke darshanaarth baadee mein ja rahee hai. ek varsh baad aaj vah phir sarvasaadhaaran ke sammukh nikal rahee hai. samast vaishaalee mein yah samaachaar phail gaya hai. log jhund-ke-jhund use dekhane raajamaarg par dat gae hain. ambapaalika ek shvet haathee par savaar hokar dheere-dheere aage badh rahee hai. daasiyon ka paidal jhund usake peechhe hai, usake peechhe ashvaarohee dal hai aur usake baad haathiyon par bhagavaan kee pooja-saamagree. sabase peechhe bahut-se vaahan, karmachaaree aur pauragan.

ambapaalika ek saadhaaran peet-varn paridhaan dhaaran kie adhomukh baithee hai. ek bhee aabhooshan usake shareer par nahin hai. baadee se kuchh door hee usane savaaree rokane kee aagya dee. vah paidal bhagavaan ke nivaas tak pahunchee, peechhe 100 daasiyon ke haath mein poojan-saamagree thee.

tathaagat buddh kee avastha assee ko paar kar gaee thee. ek gauravarn, deerghakaay, shvetakesh, krsh, kintu balishth mahaapurush padmaasan se shaant mudra mein ek saghan vrksh kee chhaaya mein baithe the. sahasraavadhik shishyagan door tak mundit-shir aur peet vastr dhaaran kie stabdh-se shreemukh ke pratyek shabd ko hrtpatal par likh rahe the. aanand naamak shishy ne nivedan kiya–prabhu! ambapaalika darshanaarth aaee hai. tathaagat ne kinchit haasy se apane karun netr oopar uthae. ambapaalika dharatee mein lotakar kahane lagee–prabho! traahi maam. traahi maam.

bhagavaan ne kaha–kalyaan! kalyaan! aanand ne kaha–utho ambapaalee. mahaaprabhu prasann hain. ambapaalee ne yathaavidhi bhagavaan ka arghyadaan, paady, madhupark se poojan kiya aur charan-raj netron mein lagaee, phir haath baandh sammukh khadee ho gaee.

bhagavaan ne hansakar kaha–ab aur kya chaahie ambapaalee?

“prabho! bhagavan. is apadaarth ka aatithy sveekaar ho, in charan-kamalon kee devadurlabh raj-kan kinkaree kee kutiya ko pradaan ho.”

prabhu ne karun svar mein kaha–tathaastu. bhikshugan sahasr kanth se jayollaas se chilla uthe. parantu yah kya? us naad ko videern karatahua ek aur naad utha. bhagavaan ne poochha–aanand. yah kya hai? “prabho! lichchhaviraajavarg aur amaatyavarg shreepaad-padm ke darshanaarth aa raha hai.” prabhu hans pade. ambapaalika hat gaee. prataapee lichchhaviraajagan, raajakumaar, amaatyavarg aur antah pur ne ek saath hee bhagavaan ke charanon mein mahaan mastak jhuka die. bhagavaan ne kaha–kalyaan! kalyaan!

mahaaraaj ne pad-dhooli mukut par lagaakar kaha–mahaaprabhu. yah tuchchh raajadhaanee in charanon mein padhaarane se krtakrty huee. parantu prabho. yah veshya kee baadee hai, shreecharanon ke yogy nahin. prabhu ke lie raajapraasaad prastut hai aur raajavansh prabhu-pad-seva ko bahut utsuk hai. bhagavaan ne hansakar kaha–tathaagat ke lie veshya aur raaja mein kya antar hai? tathaagat samadrshti hai.

“prabho! tab kal ka aatithy raaj-parivaar ko pradaan kar krtaarth karen!”

“vah to main ambapaalika ka sveekaar kar chuka.”

raaja niruttar hue. ve phir pranaam kar laute. kuchh shvet vastr dhaaran kie the, kuchh laal aur kuchh aabhooshan pahane the.

ambapaalika rath mein baithakar lautee. usane aagya dee–mera rath lichchhavi mahaaraajaon ke baraabar haanko. unake pahiye ke baraabar mera pahiya aur unake dhure ke baraabar mera dhura rahe, tatha unake ghode ke baraabar mera ghoda.

lichchhaviyon ne dekhakar krodh-mishrit aashchary se poochha–ambapaalike, yah kya baat hai? too ham logon ke baraabar apana rath haank rahee hai?

usane uttar diya–mere prabhu. mainne tathaagat aur usake shishyavarg ko bhojan ka nimantran diya hai aur vah unhonne sveekaar kiya hai.

unhonne kaha–he ambapaalee. hamase ek laakh svarn-mudra le aur yah bhojan hamen karaane de.

“mere prabhu, yah sambhav hee nahin hai.”

“tab 100 graam le aur yah nimantran hamen bech de.”

“nahin svaamee. kadaapi nahin.”

“aadha raajy le aur yah nimantran hamen de de.”

“mere prabhu. aap ek tuchchh bhookhand ke svaamee hain, par yadi samast bhoomandal ke chakravartee bhee hote aur apana samast saamraajy mujhe dete to bhee main aisee keerti kee jevanaar ko nahin bech sakatee thee.”

lichchhavi raajaon ne tab apana haath patakakar kaha–haay! ambapaalika ne hamen paraajit kar diya, ambapaalika hamase badh gaee. ambapaalike! tab tum svachchhandata se hamase aage rath haanko. ambapaalika ne rath badhaaya. gard ka ek toophaan peechhe rah gaya.

das sahasr bhikshuon ke saath bhagavaan buddh ne ambapaalika ke praasaad ko aalokit kiya. vaishaalee ke raajamaarg mein nagar ke praanee aa joojhe the. mahaapurush buddh aur unake veetaraagee bhikshu bhoomi par drshti die paidal dheere-dheere aage badh rahe the. nagar ke shreshthigan dukaanon se uth-uthakar maarg kee bhoomi ko bhagavaan ke charan rakhane se poorv apane uttareey se jhaad rahe the. koee naagarik bheed se nikalakar path par apane bahumooly shaal bichha rahe the. mahaaprabhu bina kuchh kahe ekaras dheere-dheere aage badh rahe the. vah mahaan sannyaasee, prabal veetaraagee, mahaapraan vrddh, purush shreshth jay-jayakaar kee prachand ghoshana se zara bhee vichalit nahin ho raha tha. usakee drshti maano prthvee mein paataal tak ghus gaee thee. aur striyaan jharokhon se kheel aur pushp-varsha kar rahee theen. ambapaalika ka toran aate hee chaar dandadharon ne daudakar path par kaushey bichha diya. dvaar mein pravesh karane par sarvatr kaushey bichha tha. anaginat karmachaaree bhikshugan ke sammaanaarth daud gae. peet-vasanadhaaree mundit bhikshu nakshatron kee tarah us vishaal praangan mein, mahaajan-samooh mein chamak rahe the.

atithishaala mein bhagavaan ke pahunchate hee ambapaalika ne 200 daasiyon ke saath svayan aakar tathaagat ke charanon mein sir jhukaaya aur vahaan se vah apane anchal se path kee dhool jhaadatee huee prabhu ko bheetaree alind tak le gaee. is samay prabhu ke saath keval aanand chal rahe the.

praangan ke madhy mein ek chandan kee chaukee par shuddh aasan bichha tha. ambapaalika ke anurodh par prabhu vahaan viraajamaan hue. ambapaalika ne arghy-paady daan karake bhojan prastut karane kee aagya maangee. aagya milate hee ambapaalika svayan svarn-thaal mein bhojan le aaee. anek prakaar ke chaaval aur rotiyaan theen. ambapaalika seva mein karabaddh khadee rahee. bhagavaan ne maun hokar bhojan kiya aur trpt hokar kaha–bas.

ambapaalika ke netron se ashrudhaara bahee. prabhu jyon hee shuddh hokar aasan par viraaje, ambapaalika ne prthvee mein girakar pranaam kiya.

bhagavaan ne kaha–ambapaalika, ab aur teree kya ichchha hai?

“prabhu ek tuchchh bhiksha pradaan ho?”

tathaagat ne gambheer hokar kaha–vah kya hai?

“prabho. aagya keejie, koee bhikshu apana uttareey pradaan kare.” aanand ne uttareey utaarakar ambapaalika ko de diya. kshan-bhar ke lie ambapaalika bheetar gaee parantu doosare hee kshan vah usee vastr se ang lapete aa rahee thee. us bauddh bhikshu ke pradaan kie ekamaatr vastr ko chhodakar usake paas na koee aur vastr tha, na aabharan. usake netron se aviral ashrudhaara bah rahee thee. bhagavaan vimoodh usaka vyaapaar dekh rahe the. vah aakar bhagavaan ke sammukh phir lot gaee.

bhagavaan ne shubh hast se use sparsh karake kaha–utho, utho. he kalyaanee. tumhaaree ichchha kya hai?

“mahaaprabhu. apavitr daasee kee ghrshtata kshama ho. yah mahaanaaree-shareer kalankit karake main jeevit rahane par baadhit kee gaee; shubh sankalp se main vanchit rahee, prabho, yah samast sampada kalushit tapashcharya ka sanchay hai. main kitanee vyaakul, kitanee kunthit, kitanee shoonyahrdaya rahakar ab tak jeevit rahee hoon, yah kaise kahoon. mere jeevan mein do jvalant din aae. pratham din ke phalasvaroop main aaj magadh ke bhaavee samraat kee raajamaata hoon, parantu bhagavan. aaj ke mahaan punyayog ke phalasvaroop ab main isase bhee uchch pad praapt karane kee dhrsht abhilaasha karatee hoon. mahaaprabhu prasann hon. jab bhagavaan kee charan-raj se yah ghar pavitr hua, tab yahaan vilaas aur paap kaisa? usakee saamagree hee kyon, usakee smrti hee kyon?

isalie bhagavaan ke charan-kamalon mein yah saaree sampada–mahal, ataaree, dhan, kosh, haathee, pyaade, rath, vastr, bhandaar aadi sab samarpit hai. prabhu ne bhiksha ka uttareey mujhe bhiksha mein diya hai, mere shareer kee lajja-nivaaran ko yah bahut hai svamin. aaj se ambapaalee bhikshunee huee. ab yah is bhiksha mein praapt pavitr vastr ko praan dekar bhee sammaanit karegee. he prabhu. aagya ho.”

itana kahakar aviral ashrudhaara se bhagavat-charanon ko dhotee huee,ambapaalika buddh kee charan-raj netron se lagaakar uthee, aur dheere-dheere mahal se baahar chalee. mahaaveetaraag buddh ke netr aapyaayit hue. unhonne ‘tathaastu’ kaha aur khade hokar usaka sir sparsh karake kaha–kalyaan! kalyaan! sahasr-sahasr kanth se ‘jay ambapaalike, jay ambapaalike’ ka gaganabhedee naad utha. sahasron nar-naaree peechhe chale. ambapaalika us peet paridhaan ko dhaaran kie, neecha sir kie, paidal usee raajamaarg se bhoomi par drshti die dheere-dheere nagar se baahar ja rahee thee aur usake peechhe samast nagar umada ja raha tha. khidakiyon se paur vadhuen pushp aur kheel-varsha kar rahee theen.

bhagavaan ne kaha–he aanand, yah sthaan bauddh bhikshuon ka pratham vihaar hoga. bauddh bhikshu yahaan rahakar sanmaarg ka anveshan karenge–yahee tathaagat kee ichchha hai.

aanand ne sir jhukaaya. bhikshu-mandal jay-naad kar utha. buddh bhagavaan dheere-dheere uthakar nagar ke raajamaarg se aate hue ambapaalika kee baadee mein aakar apane aasan par viraajamaan hue. kuchh door ek vrksh kee jad mein ambapaalika sthir baithee thee. bhagavaan ko sthit dekh vah uthee aur dheer bhaav se prabhu ke sammukh aakar khadee huee. bhagavaan ne usakee or dekha. ambapaalika ne vinayaavanat hokar kaha–

‘buddhan saranan gachchhaami
dhamman saranan gachchhaami
sanghan saranan gachchhaami’

tathaagat sthir hue. unhonne tatkaal pavitr jal usake mastak par sinchan kiya aur pavitr vaakyon ka upadesh dekar kaha–bhikshuon! mahaasaadhvee ambapaalika ka svaagat karo.
phir jayanaad se dishaen goonj utheen aur ambapaalika tathaagat tatha any vrddh bhikshugan ko pranaam kar vahaan se chal dee aur phir vaishaalee ke purush use na dekh sake!!

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