Puru Becomes Young Again
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The Prince admired himself in the full length mirror, adjusting his angavastram on the left shoulder, his thick moustache oiled and brushed back, underlining his masculinity. His lips tilting in a half smile, he was content with his life. After completing a hard day at sword training, he was on his way to meet the love of his life, Tilottama.
With his foot on the threshold to his chambers, the prince noticed a servant walking towards him. The servant stood in front of the prince and said, “Greetings O Prince Puru! His Highness Emperor Yayati sends his greetings to the prince and awaits him in the throne room.” He stood with his spear held in his left hand, his right hand at his mouth and his body almost bent double out of respect.
Puru’s expression never changed as he mentally postponed his rendezvous with Tilottama and walked towards the throne room to meet his father, the emperor.
Seeing his aged father seated on the throne, Puru bowed before him offering his “pranam”. “My dear father, you wished to speak to me?” he asked respectfully.
The emperor glanced at the ministers around him. Understanding his silent command, they all left the throne room along with the attendants, leaving Yayati and Puru alone.
“My dear son, I have a request. I know I shouldn’t ask this of you....?”
Puru rushed forward to place a hand on his father’s lips. “Never say so my father! Command me! I am always at your service.”
Yayati asked the youngest prince for something that none of his other sons were ready to grant him – his youth in exchange for the emperor’s old age, a curse he had acquired from Sage Shukracharya. Prince Puru didn’t think twice before agreeing to his father’s request. A rejoiced Yayati sprang up energetically from the throne while Puru’s form shrunk, his skin wrinkling even as his body bowed down with old age.
Taking leave of his father, Puru went to keep his delayed appointment with Tilottama. Unable to recognise the old man with shrunken shoulders, Tilottama was extremely upset to find out that Puru had sacrificed his youth and good looks for his father’s sake. Unable to face a future with the ancient man in front of her, the lovely princess walked away, breaking the brave Prince’s heart.
Puru ruled the kingdom for thousands of years while his father Yayati explored different avenues to enjoy his youth.
A few thousand years later.....
Yayati returned to the palace and gave back his loving son Puru, his lost youth, and retired to the forest.
A newly rejuvenated Puru with blessings from his father, set out in search of Tilottama. He arrived at her kingdom after five days of travel on horseback. Reaching the palace, he requested a meeting with Princess Tilottama. While he waited in the palace garden, he caught sight of the lovely princess as she sat near the lotus pond, lost in thought. “My Tilottama.......” called Puru softly. She turned around to see a stranger, obviously of royal lineage, looking at her with so much love that she blushed.
The dowager queen looked from afar, tears rolling down her cheeks. Her prince had fallen in love with her great granddaughter who also happened to carry her name.
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