New Ecopsychology
or Spiritual Ecology

Three Feats of Dobrynya

Dobrynya was riding through the forests and fields. And it seemed that the sun was shining in his Heroic chest! There was no affair that would be beyond his strength! There was no enemy that could overcome him!

Each time he saw a maiden, her beauty started blossoming like an apple tree in spring. Each time he saw a fellow, the good strength of that fellow increased. Each time he saw either a grandfather or grandmother and looked into the soul where love and youth lived, their infirmities of the old age were healed and their eyes lighted up with a good smile. Dobrynya smiled at everyone and said:

“Now live in this way!”

And people lived according to the words of Dobrynya and kept his commandments of Love and Good; and harmony reigned in houses, and light shone in the hearts!

… Dobrynya was riding and observing everything.

He saw a stone lying in the intersection of three roads. The following words were on this stone:

“The one who will go to the left will be married.

The one who will go to the right will be rich.

The one who will go straight will be killed.”

Dobrynya was surprised, thinking: “Who has invented such orders?” He decided to check all three roads.

So he rode to the left, thinking: “It’s not right for a Hero to be married! I’ll go and have a look!”

Soon he saw two high patterned towers and approached the closer one of them. In that tower, there were rouged damsels whose eyebrows were penciled with antimony. Those damsels were shining with flashy beauty and seducing with immodest clothes. They rushed to meet and embrace the Hero, wanting to give him roast pen-swans and make him drunk with wine to rob him then…

But Dobrynya looked at them with surprise. He neither drank their wine, nor ate their fried pen-swans, nor became enticed with their artificial beauty.

He said to them:

“Were these beautiful bodies given to you to obtain riches with low-down actions? Human happiness is not in worldly riches! I feel sorry for you, poor: you haven’t even heard about real happiness and joy! The wealth of the souls has flowed away with your wine, and joy has died like a caught and killed pen-swan… Old age will come to you soon and after it — death… So you will never cognize love! You are wasting your lives…”

The damsels had never heard such words before. They became afraid when Dobrynya spoke about old age and death. They began weeping, and their paint started flowing down their cheeks…

Dobrynya asked them:

“Where are those fellows who have drunk your wine and eaten your pen-swans?”

The damsels replied:

“Some went away naked and barefoot; others live like we,” — and they pointed at the adjacent tower where the fellows seduced damsels, made them drunk with wine and stole their riches…

“Bring them here quickly! You were living unjustly together — so you all must answer and correct your mistakes!”

Dobrynya gathered fellows and damsels in front of him and began explaining to them about life and death, happiness and selfless love. He also said that everyone would answer for his or her evil deeds and have to correct them.

“Choose a companion for yourself: a damsel — a fellow, a fellow — a damsel. And go along your land, giving back what you took from others unjustly! And help those whom you can help! Only thus your hearts will become free! And only then you will be able to love each other! Understand also that good and gentle babies are born only when their parents live in heart love! A new life can come to you only if your hearts are full of love! Only then you will find that happiness which fears neither old age nor death!”

The fellows and damsels did everything according to Dobrynya’s words. They went along their land to give back that which was stolen and learn the lost kindness and unselfish love.

Dobrynya came back to the stone and etched out the first inscription with his sword. It disappeared, as if it was not there at all.

… Dobrynya rode to the right, thinking: “It’s wrong for a Hero to be rich! I’ll go and have a look!”

Soon he saw before him a mountain full of gold and gems. Heaps of human bones were seen under it. Among those heaps, people were walking and dragging bags with gold and jewels. They dragged them but could not carry away all that their greed wanted to take.

And in the mountain, the serpent with thirty heads was sitting, eating with pleasure, sleeping with pleasure, and throwing the human bones down the mountain. That serpent always had his dinner ready, since those treasures, like heavy chains, fettered people to the mountain! They wanted to take more and more but could not carry them away!

Dobrynya gathered people bent under the excessive weight and explained to them about the serpent that lived in the mountain. He also said that only those riches really belong to a person which he or she is able to take to another world and which he or she is ready to give. Besides, he explained that only the wealth that is used for good purposes can ever increase.

People began to straighten and feel free. They went to give others what they could take with them. They also went to do good and spread the words of Dobrynya about the golden mountain and real human treasures.

Here the serpent felt that something was wrong: he looked everywhere, but there were no humans, just gold and precious stones… Only Dobrynya stood before the mountain and waited for the serpent.

So he rushed to Dobrynya, spitting fire out of his thirty heads and puffing out stinking smoke.

Dobrynya said to him:

“Why are you so punished, poor serpent?”

All his heads hissed at Dobrynya:

“Why have you come here? Are you looking for your death? So, know that you have found it! People will not see you on earth anymore! I’ll pick your bones and put them on a prominent place, so that other Heroes won’t dare to prevent me from living as I want! I lived without grief: every day I had a bunch of people for dinner! They walked around the mountain as if being chained to the gold. You freed them, so you will die a horrible death!”

“We will see who will win,” — Dobrynya smiled, raised his fiery shield, and unsheathed his shining sword.

The battle began.

The serpent spat fire out of his thirty heads and swooped down on Dobrynya. Dobrynya reflected that fire with his shield and knocked down the scales of the serpent’s armor with his sword.

They were fighting day and night. And on the third day, the serpent became naked: not a single scale remained on his body. Then Dobrynya cut him into pieces, and every head received its part.

Thirty snakes started crawling on the ground, asking Dobrynya for forgiveness…

And Dobrynya told them:

“Because you have killed so many people, you will live in the bodies of snakes and change your skin every year until neither anger nor poison remains in you! Then you will be allowed to become frogs and lizards and cognize how to live on the Earth without malice!”

Dobrynya came back to the stone and etched out the second inscription with his sword. It disappeared, as if it was not there at all.

… Dobrynya rode straight to that place where one should be killed. “It’s not right for a Hero to be killed!” — he thought. — “I’ll go and have a look!”

He was riding without noticing anything dangerous.

Soon a capital town appeared before him. A prince met Dobrynya, sat him at a table next to himself, to the place of honor, and served him diverse fare. Psaltery players started singing and praising him; servants placed a golden helmet on his head and gave him ornate armor. When the time to sleep came, they laid down Dobrynya on a soft featherbed and covered him with a silk blanket. Dobrynya was surrounded by fame and glory, but still there was no danger!

Time passed, and nothing changed! There was no one to whom Dobrynya could help, no one who could be delivered from bondage!

Dobrynya felt disquieted, since he was not used to a life in which he would be doing nothing!

He started asking God-the-Father:

“Where is that enemy against whom I should fight?”

“The main enemy can live inside. If you had yielded to those abundant praises and to the life in contentment, if you had forgotten about people’s afflictions and about your Heroic predestination — this would have been the end of Dobrynya-Hero! The most difficult feat is to overcome oneself! The one in whom the selfness is dead and love became all-encompassing is, truly, a Great Hero! You have withstood this test! You didn’t yield to the glory and fame! You didn’t forget your predestination!”

Dobrynya thanked the prince and his servants for their reception and honor and prepared himself for the road.

He went to the stone, struck it with his sword, and the last inscription disappeared, as if it was not there at all.

Then Dobrynya cut the stone in half — and the source of clear, healing water appeared between the two parts. A lake formed. From that moment on, this clear water quenched thirst, cured sicknesses, and filled with joy.

Fish began to live in that lake.

Birds came to that lake to build their nests.

Fluffy forest animals came there to drink.

People came to that lake too. They bathed in its waters — and a passion for worldly riches and fame decreased in them. The bodies and souls became pure and filled with love.

… And Dobrynya rode further.

Dobrynya was riding through the forests and fields. And it seemed that the sun was shining in his Heroic chest! There was no affair that would be beyond his strength! There was no enemy that could overcome him!

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