4:26 AMPosted by gopalakrishna
Once Jaimini, a disciple of sage Vedavyasa expressed his curiosity before Markandeya- 'O Lord! In the great epic Mahabharat, which was created by Vedavyasa, description of Dharma, Arth, Kama and Moksha appears to be intertwined at times and at other times, it appears to be separate from one another. Vedavyasa had described the norms, the stages and the means to perform the duties in all the four stages. This epic contains cryptic knowledge of Vedas. Hence O great sage! I have approached you in order to grasp the full knowledge contained in Mahabharat with your help. Why did Lord take human incarnation even though He is the cause of the origin, perpetuation and destruction of the universe? How did Draupadi become the wife of five Pandavas? How did Balaram expiate for the sin of killing a Brahmin? How did Draupadi's sons give up their lives? Kindly narrate all these things in detail. '
Markandeya says- 'O Muni ! Presently I am engaged in evening worship. Hence I do not have time to narrate these things in detail. But I am telling you about the birds which will narrate you the entire content of Mahabharat. Those birds will also remove all your doubts. Sons of the great bird Drona- Pingaksha, Vibodha, Suputra, Sumuk etc. stay in the caves among the hills of Vindhyachal. They are proficient in Vedas. Go and ask them, they will remove all your doubts.'
Markandeya's words surprised Jaimini. To confirm, he asked again- 'It is surprising that the birds could narrate the content of Mahabharat just like human beings. It is even more surprising that they are proficient in Vedas knowledge, which is even rare to find among humans. Kindly tell me how did they come to acquire such profound knowledge despite having being born in the form of birds. Why do you call them as the sons of Drona?'
Markandeya says- 'Long ago, a strange event took place in Nandanvan involving Indra, Devrishi Narad and some of the elves. One day, Indra was enjoying his time in the Nandanvan forest along with his elves. At the same time Narad also arrived there. Indra welcomed and offered him a seat. The elves also greeted Narad. Indra then said- 'Munivar! Tell me what you desire now? If you desire to listen to a song, should I order the Gandharvas or if you wish to watch the dance, should I order one of my elves, Menka, Rambha, Mishrakeshi or Urvashi? Any of these four can perform a seducing dance before you.'
Narad expressed his desire to watch the dance of an elf, who was superior in beauty to the other elves. This led to a row among the elves. Each one of them was proud of her beauty and talent. Narad then advised them to test their beauty by breaking sage Durvaasa's penance who was at that time staying on a hilltop. All the elves expressed their inability to perform this task successfully. Only an elf named Vapu, driven by her haughtiness accepted to break the penance of sage Durvaasa.
Accordingly she reached the hill where Durvaasa was staying and began to sing an infatuating song in her sweet voice. Very soon, the song began to show its effect on Durvaasa. Attracted by the sweet voice, Durvaasa went in search of the origin of the voice and found Vapu singing at a distance. Durvaasa understood that the elf had come to break his penance. Angrily, he cursed the elf that she would take birth in the lineage of the birds for sixteen years, she would not bear a child and ultimately would be killed by a weapon to regain her heavenly abode. After saying this, sage Durvaasa migrated to Akashganga.
BIRTH OF FOUR BIRDS
Markandeya says - 'In the lineage of the avian King Garud, there were two brothers- Kank and Kandhar. One day, Kank visited Kailash Parbat where a demon Vidrayudrup, who was a slave of Kuber, was enjoying privacy with his wife and drinking wine. Seeing Kank, the demon showed his displeasure at his arrival at an improper time. But Kank boldly asserted his right on the mountain as according to him, it belonged to all. The infuriated demon decapitated Kank with his sword.
Hearing the news of his brother's killing, Kandhar resolved to kill the demon. After performing the last rites of his brother, he also arrived on the mountain where the demon Vidrayudrup was still drinking wine with his wife. The demon lost his temper again. Kandhar then challenged the demon to have a fight with him. A fierce battle ensued between them. Ultimately, Kandhar killed the demon. The demon's wife- Madanika finding herself in a helpless situation accepted Kandhar as her husband. Thus, Kandhar returned to his palace with a newly found wife. Madanika was in fact the daughter of Menka, the elf and could change her guise at will. After marrying Kandhar, she took the guise of the bird. The bird Madanika was born as elf - Vapu in her next birth due to the curse of sage Durvaasa. Kandhar named her Taarkshi.
A Brahmin named Mandapal had four sons. Drona was the youngest among them and proficient in scriptures, Vedas etc. Kandhar married his daughter, Taarkshi to Drona. After their marriage, Drona and Taarkshi were spending their time happily. Taarkshi conceived during the same time when the battle of Mahabharat was going on. As destiny would have it, Taarkshi flew over the battlefield where she saw Arjuna and Bhagdatt, the king of Pragjyotishpur, fighting valiantly against each other. Accidentally an arrow aimed at Bhagdatt went in the direction of Taarkshi and struck her in the abdomen and tore it apart. As a result of this, four eggs fell on the ground. At the same time, a huge bell fell from Supratik's neck, the elephant of Bhagdatt, and covered the eggs safely.
After the battle of Mahabharat was over, a sage Shami visited the battlefield. There he happened to spot the bell and heard faint chirping coming from underneath the bell. The sage removed the bell and discovered four wingless chicks beneath it. Surprisingly he said to his disciples- 'Look! Falling of these eggs and getting safely covered by the bell simultaneously shows that these chicks are no ordinary birds.' Then he instructed his disciples to carry the eggs to the hermitage and keep it securely at a place safe from predators. The disciples did as told.
BIRDS MIGRATE TO VINDHYACHAL
Sage Shami thereafter began to foster the chicks in his hermitage. With time, the chicks grew feathers and began to fly here and there. But every time the birds went out, they returned to the hermitage by evening. The birds also gained Vedic knowledge by hearing the discourses, which sage Shami used to give daily to his disciples.
One day, when sage Shami was preaching his disciples, the birds arrived there and said- 'O great sage! You are like our father because you have protected us. You are our teacher also because we have gained knowledge from you. Now we have grown up, kindly tell us what should we do?'. The birds speaking like learned people amazed the sage as well as his disciple.
He asked the birds- 'Tell us, how did you speak so clearly and is there any curse behind your present condition?'. The birds replied- 'O sage! Long ago, there used to live a sage, Vipulasvan. He had two sons- Sukrish and Tumbaru. In our previous birth, we were the sons of Sukrish. When our father and uncle performed Yagya, we brought them all the required materials. One day, Indra arrived at our hermitage disguised as an aged bird. The aged bird was starving, hence we requested our father to provide him with some food. Upon enquiring by our father, the bird expressed his desire to eat human flesh. Our father tried to dissuade the bird but it did not give up its insistence. Then our father called us and said that he had promised the bird to feed it with human flesh. So, we were asked to donate our body in order to satisfy the bird's hunger. But being frightened, we expressed our inability to meet the demand of the starving bird. This infuriated our father for we were violating his promise that he had made to the bird. He then cursed us to take birth as birds in our next life and himself got ready to donate his body. As our father was breathing his last, Indra resumed his real self and said- 'O great sage! I took this guise only to test your character. Kindly forgive me and tell me what you desire now?' Indra blessed our father to have divine knowledge and penance free from all obstacles. Thereafter we also fell at our father's feet and begged for his pardon. We requested him to take back his words but he said that his words would not go futile. But still he blessed us to have supreme knowledge even in the form of birds.'
Concluding their talk, the birds said- 'O lord! Thus controlled by destiny, our father cursed us. After sometime, we took birth in bird form in the battlefield where you found us and fostered us in your hermitage. Now we are strong enough to fly long distances. So kindly free us from your obligation.'
Hearing the words of the birds, sage Shami said to his disciples- 'Look! I had already told you that these birds were no ordinary creatures. They even survived the battle of Mahabharat. It shows their greatness.' Then sage Shami granted them permission to migrate to the Vindhyachal. The birds decided to pass their time by studying the Vedas and doing penance as long as they stayed there.
DIVINE PLAYS OF GOD
Sage Jaimini reached Vindhyachal and arrived before the birds as per Markandeya's instructions. He said- 'O birds! I am Jaimini, the disciple of Vedavyasa. I have come here with a desire to have your glimpse.' The birds welcomed him saying- 'It is our great fortune that you have arrived here. Your arrival has made us feel as if God himself has arrived.' Jaimini said- 'O learned birds! Kindly listen to the purpose of my visit. Sage Markandeya instructed me to come here and see you. You kindly answer my questions that I have in the context of Mahabharat.' The birds assured him of every possible explanation as per their knowledge. Sage Jaimini proceeded- 'Why did Lord take human incarnation even though He is the cause of the origin, perpetuation and destruction of the universe? How did Draupadi come to be the queen of five Pandavas? How did Balaram expiate for the sin of killing a Brahmin? How were Draupadi's sons attain martyrdom? Kindly narrate all these things in detail.'
The birds say- 'The omnipotent, omniscient and the omnipresent Almighty God is worshipped even by the deities. We salute that Lord Vishnu who is the originator of this universe and who pervades everywhere. We salute Brahma from whose four mouths, the Vedas appeared and sanctified all the three worlds. We bow down at the feet of Mahadev. Those sages who have metaphysical knowledge assert that Narayan exists in four forms, which are both tangible and intangible. His first form is Vasudev, appearance of who is more imaginative in nature. This form exists everywhere and in every ages.
The second form of Narayan is the one that bears the earth on his head. This form of god is known as Shesh. Being Taamasi in nature, this form has taken a serpent incarnation. The third form of God exhibits his divine power and plays. It fosters all the creatures, protects religion, and is known as Pradyumna. Yet another form of God known as Aniruddh rests on the serpent's bed in the abysmal depth of water. It carries out the task of creation.
The third form of God destroys the irreligious demons. In the past, this same form rescued the earth from the abyss in the incarnation of a boar (Varaha avatar) and killed the demon King Hiranyakashipu in the form of Narsimha (lion face with human body). This same form of God has appeared now in Lord Krishna's incarnation.
DRAUPADI'S FIVE HUSBANDS
The birds say- 'Frightened by the severe penance of Trishira, Indra killed him to protect his authority and power. But the sin of killing a Brahmin took away Indra's radiance. Trishira was the son of Twashta. Twashta became furious at his son's death. He plucked one strand of hair from his hair-lock and offered it in the sacrificial fire. This resulted into the creation of a formidable and strong demon named Vritrasur. This demon was created with the objective of killing Indra.
Learning about the birth of Vritrasur, Indra sent Saptarishis as emissaries to work out a pact with the demon. The Saptarishis effected a friendship between Indra and Vritrasur. But Indra had other ideas. He took Vritrasur by surprise and killed him. This deceitful action of Indra further enraged the clans of the demons. Soon the atrocities of the demons increased to unbearable limits. Even Prithvi felt unable to bear the burden of their atrocities. She approached the deities and requested them to get her rid of the burden.
Thus, to relieve Prithvi of her burden, the deities began to take incarnation on earth. Dharma and Vayu implanted Indra's radiance in the womb of Kunti. This resulted in the birth of Yudhishthir and Bheema. Then Indra himself produced Arjuna from Kunti. Nakul and Sahadev were born because of Indra's radiance implanted by Ashwini kumars in the womb of Madri. Thus all the five Pandavas originated from the same source even though they appeared as distinct entities, whereas Draupadi was none other than Shuchi, the wife of Indra, produced from the altar in Drupad's palace. In human incarnation, Draupadi got five Pandavas as her husband.
EXPIATION OF BALARAM
Shri Krishna's brother Balaram had remained impartial in the battle of Mahabharat. Instead of championing the cause either for the Pandavas or for the Kauravas, he had preferred to go on a pilgrimage. His wife Revati also accompanied him on this pilgrimage. Once while travelling, Balaram drank toddy and entered a beautiful garden known as Raivat. Taking a stroll, Balaram and Revati then reached a hut.
In the hut, many Brahmins were sitting and listening to Sutaji's oration. When the Brahmins saw Balaram, they stood up and felicitated him. Only Sutaji did not stand up. Balaram felt insulted and at once killed him. When Balaram regained his composure after the intoxication receded, he felt guilty for his deed. His belief that killing of Suta would enable him to attain a place in Brahma loka proved to be based on false notion as the Brahmins had shunned him for his deed.
After Balaram realised his folly, he began to curse himself and resolved to observe a twelve-year long fast in order to expiate for his sin. Thereafter, Balaram migrated to a place of pilgrimage known as Pratiloma Saraswati to carry out his expiation.
KILLING OF DRAUPADI'S SONS
In Treta Yug, there was a king named Harishchandra. Once he was hunting in the Mahabaahu forest when suddenly, he heard loud cries of a woman- 'Save me! Save me!' It was followed by the cries of many women. Hearing those cries, King Harishchandra shouted loudly- 'Don't be afraid' and dashed in the direction of the cries. The cries however were an illusion created by Vighnaraj, the lord of the obstacles. At that time when King Harishchandra heard those cries, sage Vishwamitra was observing severe penance in the forest. In order to test Harishchandra's virtuosity, Vighnaraj entered his body. As soon as Vighnaraj entered Harishchandra's body, Harishchandra lost his temper and began to abuse Vishwamitra, which enraged him. His anger destroyed all the knowledge, he had acquired due to his severe penance. Seeing the angry Vishwamitra, King Harishchandra began to shiver. With folded hands, he begged Vishwamitra's pardon. He said- 'O great sage! It is my duty to protect the subjects. Kindly forgive me. Your wrath could greatly affect the performance of my duties as a king. Vishwamitra said- 'O king! If you are a true follower of religion, tell me, who should be given a donation? Who should be protected and who should be fought with?' Harishchandra answered- 'O great penancer! Donations should be made only to such a Brahmin who indulges in fast and religious actions. Protection should be extended to those who are afraid and battle should be fought with enemies.'
Vishwamitra said- 'If you are a religious king, give me Dakshina (donation) as I am a Brahmin seeking salvation.' Harishchandra said- 'Tell me your desire. I am ready to grant it. Vishwamitra said- 'O king! Just presume that I have received whatever you would donate me. Now, give me Dakshina for the Rajsuya Yagya.'
Harishchandra said- 'Ask me whatever you wish to have as the Dakshina of Rajsuya Yagya.' Vishwamitra said- 'O king! Give me all you have except your own body, your wife and child.' Feeling pleased, King Harishchandra granted what Vishwamitra desired. Vishwamitra said- 'O king! Tell me, who is the lord of your kingdom?' Harishchandra said- 'Since the moment I have presented this kingdom to you, you are its master.' Vishwamitra said- 'If I am the master of this kingdom, what are you doing here? Leave at once! But before leaving, remove all your clothes, ornaments and other royal insignia and go out wearing tree's bark only.'
Thus after losing his kingdom, King Harishchandra got ready to leave with his wife Shaivya and son Rohit. Vishwamitra then intercepted him and said- 'Where are you going without paying a Dakshina for Rajsuya Yagya. Harishchandra said- 'O lord! I have donated my whole kingdom. Now only our bodies remain with us. What can I give you now?' Vishwamitra said- 'You cannot leave without paying a Dakshina because you have promised me.' Harishchandra said- 'Don't be angry, O Brahmin! I have nothing at present in my position but I will definitely pay you your Dakshina in due time.' Vishwamitra said angrily- 'Specify the time period within which you will give me my Dakshina or else be ready to get cursed by me.' Harishchandra said- 'I will pay the Dakshina within a month.' Thereafter, Harishchandra started to live in seclusion with his wife and children. Seeing the king's pitiable condition, his entire subjects began to follow him. Seeing their condition, Harishchandra halted and took a look on his subjects. At the same time, sage Vishwamitra also arrived there and began to curse Harishchandra for having attachment towards his subjects. Hearing the harsh words of Vishwamitra, Harishchandra left the kingdom with his wife Shaivya and son Rohit. To drive the king away as soon as possible, Vishwamitra began to beat the queen's back with a stick.
Vishwamitra's abhorrent action enraged the five guardian deities of the directions and they condemned him. Enraged Vishwamitra cursed them- 'O sinners! Go and take birth as human beings.' This curse of Vishwamitra frightened the deities. They begged his pardon. Pleased by their prayers, Vishwamitra said- 'My words cannot be undone. But despite having incarnation of human beings, you will remain bachelors throughout your life. You will never feel attachment and allurement for anybody.' Thus due to Vishwamitra's curse, those five guardian deities took birth as the five sons of Draupadi. Dronacharya's son, Ashwatthama, ultimately killed them.
After being thrown out from his kingdom by Vishwamitra, Harishchandra reached the holy town of Varanasi, which was an abode of Lord Mahadev. There Harishchandra saw Vishwamitra standing before him. Vishwamitra said- 'A month has been completed now. Now, give me my Dakshina.' Harishchandra said- 'There is still half an hour in the completion of this month. Please wait. I will give your Dakshina.' Vishwamitra said- 'I will come after half an hour.' Saying this, Vishwamitra departed.
When Vishwamitra left, Harishchandra started to worry as to what would happen to him in his next birth if he did not keep his promise made to a Brahmin. Seeing him perplexed, queen Shaivya tried to console him. She said- 'Man requires a wife only to produce a child. Now we already have a child- Rohit. Hence I am no longer useful for you. You sell me and pay the acquired wealth as Dakshina to the Brahmin.' Harishchandra fainted after hearing his wife's words. The queen began to wail at her husband's condition. Thus wailing, the queen also fell unconscious. The little Rohit also felt perplexed by his parent's condition. He began to cry- 'O father! O mother! I am hungry. Give me food.' At the same time, Vishwamitra arrived there in the guise of Kaal. After sprinkling water on Harishchandra's face, he made him conscious and said- 'O king! Get up and pay my Dakshina. Your sorrows will increase if you do not fulfil your promise.'
Harishchandra was regaining his consciousness slowly but seeing Vishwamitra he fainted once again. This further enraged Vishwamitra. He said- 'O king! If you have even slightest of respect for Dharma, give my Dakshina at once. I will wait till evening and curse you if you fail to pay my Dakshina.' Saying this Vishwamitra departed. The fear of the curse began to terrorise Harishchandra. Meanwhile the queen also regained consciousness. She once again insisted to sell her in order to pay the Dakshina. This time, Harishchandra accepted her proposal and took the queen to the township. There addressing the crowd, he said- 'O dear citizens, kindly listen to me. I am selling my wife who is dearer to me than my own life. Anybody interested in buying her, please do so before evening.' An old Brahmin stepped forward from the crowd and said- 'I will buy her.' Hearing his words, Harishchandra became extremely sad that he could not even utter a word. The Brahmin then stuffed the money in the bark clothes of Harishchandra and began to drag the queen by her hair. The boy Rohit began to cry holding the hem of her mother. Seeing the condition of her son, the queen requested the Brahmin- 'O Arya! Kindly let me see the face of my child for once.' Then the queen turned towards Rohit and said- 'O son! Your mother is no longer free now. She has become a slave. Do not touch me because I have become an untouchable.'
Then the old Brahmin began to forcibly drag the queen with him. Rohit also followed them crying loudly for his mother. The old Brahmin angrily kicked him. But still the boy did not give up following them. At last, the queen requested the Brahmin- 'O lord! I will not be able to serve you without my son. So kindly buy him also.' Hearing the words of the queen, the Brahmin once again stuffed some more money in the clothes of Harishchandra and tied the boy with the queen and began to drag both of them. Meanwhile Vishwamitra also appeared there and demanded the Dakshina. Harishchandra gave him all the money he had got from selling his wife and son. Seeing that amount of money, Vishwamitra boiled with anger and said- 'O wretched among the Kshatriyas! You call this small amount of money as Dakshina! Now look at the powers of my penance.' Harishchandra trembled with fear and said- 'O lord! Please wait a little more.' Vishwamitra said- 'Now only, a quarter of the day remains. I will wait only for this period and not more.' Saying this, Vishwamitra went away. With stooped face, Harishchandra once again said addressing the crowd- 'Now I am available for sale. Whoever wishes to buy me, please come forward before sunset.' Dharma in the guise of a Chandaal stepped forward from the crowd. He had a huge stinking body. He said- 'I will buy you.' Harishchandra asked- 'Who are you?' The Chandaal said- 'I am a Chandaal. My name is Praveer and I am the resident of this very town.' Harishchandra thought- 'It is better to accept the curse than accepting the slavery of a Chandaal.' At the same time, Vishwamitra also arrived there and said angrily- 'This Chandaal is ready to pay you a lot of money. Why don't you then pay my Dakshina?' Harishchandra said- 'O lord! I am born in Suryavansh. Accepting the slavery of a Chandaal causes great pain for me. I have no money now. Since now onwards, I will be your slave and do whatever you will ask me to do.' Vishwamitra said- 'If you are my slave and ready to obey me, then I sell you to this Chandaal for 1000 gold coins. Go and become his slave.' The Chandaal then presented many villages that were spread over an area of 100 Yojans to Vishwamitra and tying Harishchandra with a rope dragged him to his town.
In the Chandaal's house, Harishchandra contemplated- 'The queen must be thinking that I would soon get her freed from the slavery of the old Brahmin after paying his dues. But she does not know that I myself have become the slave of a Chandaal.' After a few days, the Chandaal appointed Harishchandra as the supervisor of the cremation place and instructed him to be there present all the time and to cremate each dead body only after thorough investigation. He also instructed him to collect the toll for cremating every dead body and divide it in such a way that one sixth part of the toll goes to the king and from the remaining five parts, three parts should be reserved for him he should take only the remaining two parts as his remuneration. Since that day, Harishchandra began to live in the cremation ground. He always remembered the glorious days of his kingdom, his queen and his son. He had great regret that just because of the anger of Vishwamitra, he lost everything. Very soon, his new found occupation began to show on his appearance. His hair grew long and was unkempt, his body dry and stinking. In this guise, he began to roam in the cremation ground always carrying a stick in his hand. His whole day passed in the assessment of the cremation toll and its division among the various claimants. He had lost his mental stature as he even forgot the count of the days and could not distinguish between the day and night.
One day, a snake bit Rohit as a result of which, he died. Shaivya brought Rohit, crying and wailing to the cremation ground. Even in the unkempt guise, she recognised Harishchandra. Hearing her wailing, Harishchandra went near her expecting to get the clothes of the deceased. There he saw a woman carrying a dead boy wrapped in a black cloth. He could not recognise queen Shaivya but the royal appearance of the boy forced him to think- 'To which royal family did this unfortunate boy belong to? How pitiable, the cruel Kaal did not even spare this boy. My son Rohit would have attained the same age by now.' His silence further hurt the queen who said- 'O lord! O king! How come, you have been living here without caring for your wife and son? We have already lost our kingdom. Now, we have lost our son also. O destiny! Did you not destroy everything of Harishchandra?' Harishchandra began to think who that woman could be and who that dead boy was? 'Isn't she my wife?' Thus recognising his wife and dead son, Harishchandra began to cry loudly and fainted. The queen after seeing her husband's condition fainted too. After sometime both of them regained their consciousness. Then the king took the dead boy in his lap and once again fainted. Queen Shaivya began to wonder why Harishchandra was staying in the cremation ground. For a moment, she forgot her sorrow and began to look at her fainted husband. Then she noticed the stick in Harishchandra's hand. Usually Chandaals used to carry that kind of stick. She became dejected with the thought that she had become the wife of a Chandaal. She then began to curse the destiny and began to wail embracing King Harishchandra and said- 'O king! I don't know whether I am dreaming or it is a reality. I have lost the power of thinking.'
Hearing the words of the queen, the king opened his eyes and narrated the whole events that led to his becoming a Chandaal. Then the queen narrated her experiences and how their son Rohit died because of snakebite. Harishchandra fell on the ground and began to hug his dead son. He was wailing- 'How unfortunate I am that even my wishes are not under my control. Without the permission of the Chandaal, I cannot even commit self-immolation. But now, I will not differentiate between the sin and virtuosity. I will destroy my body in the pyre of my son.' The queen said- 'O king! I am also unable to bear the burden of sorrows. I will also commit immolation with you. Then all three of us will stay unitedly in the heaven. It won't matter to us even if we suffer the tortures of hell.' Then the king arranged a huge pyre and put his dead son on it. With the queen, he began to pray to God. Just then all the deities arrived there led by Dharma. Sage Vishwamitra also accompanied them. They praised Harishchandra. Then Dharma, Indra and Vishwamitra came closer to the king.
Dharma said- 'O king! You have satisfied me with your merits like patience, endurance, truthfulness etc.' Indra said- 'Harishchandra, you are very fortunate. You have won our hearts along with your wife and son. You have even won the heaven with your action. I invite you to stay in heaven along with your wife and son.' Then Indra sprinkled ambrosia on the dead Rohit. Rohit got up and sat up in no time. Harishchandra, his wife and son Rohit were clad in divine clothes and garlands. Indra invited them to stay in the heaven forever but Harishchandra said- 'O king of the deities! Without the permission of this Chandaal, I cannot go anywhere.
' Dharma said- 'O king! I had learnt in advance about the miseries you would suffer in future. That's why I took the guise of a Chandaal and showed you all the grotesque action.' Indra once again invited them to heaven but once again, Harishchandra refused saying that in Koshal, people must have been living mournfully in his absence. 'I cannot leave them in that pitiable condition to enjoy the comforts of the heaven', said Harishchandra. Then, Indra, Dharma and Vishwamitra led Harishchandra to Ayodhya, the capital of Koshal. There they carried out the coronation of Rohit. Thereafter, they took Harishchandra and his queen Shaivya to the heaven.
THE STORK AND THE PARTRIDGE
The birds say- O great sage Jaimini! When, King Harishchandra attained his heavenly abode, their family priest, sage Vashishta re-emerged from water. He came to know about the entire development. He was angry at Vishwamitra's stubbornness. He at once cursed Vishwamitra to become a stork.
On the other hand Vishwamitra cursed Vashishta to become a partridge. Thus both of them turned into birds and began to fight. Their fight caused great panic all around. At last accompanied by the deities, Brahma himself arrived at the scene and dissuaded the birds from fighting. But Brahma could not convince them and they continued to fight.
Brahma then destroyed their avian appearances and both the sages regained their original form. Their enemity too ended at the same time. Brahma explained to them that Vishwamitra had not done any harm to Harishchandra. In fact he had felicitated Harishchandra's ascend to the heaven. Both the sages felt ashamed and they embraced each other before leaving for their respective hermitages.
BIRTH OF LIVING CREATURES
Jaimini says- O great birds, how does a living being take birth? How does it grow in the womb bearing all the pain? How does it grow after taking birth? What happens to the soul after death? How does it experience the fruits of his Karmas? The greatest surprise is how does a little foetus survive in the womb. Kindly clear all these doubts.
Birds say- Once upon a time, a Brahmin lived along with his son- Sumati. One day, the Brahmin instructed Sumati to study Vedas under the tutelage of a teacher and himself went to the forest to attain Brahmagyan- the knowledge which frees the soul from transmigration. But due to his laziness, Sumati did not pay heed to his father. When his father repeated his instruction, he simply laughed and said- 'O father! I know everything. I have studied all the Vedas in my various births. I have experienced the darkness of mother's belly for many times. I have suffered thousand kinds of diseases in my previous lives. I have experienced the authority as well as slavery in my previous births. I had killed as well as got killed by others. Hence, I feel, I have all the knowledge and I am sure that I will definitely attain Brahmapad.' Sumati's father was pleased at his son's claims and asked him how he attained such virtuosity.
Sumati said- 'O father! I was a Brahmin in my previous birth. I had attained the designation of Acharya. After sometime, I became a recluse. I was blessed with an extraordinary memory, which I retained even after my death. This is the reason why I remember the self knowledge attained in my previous birth. With the support of this knowledge and religious virtues, I will attempt to attain salvation. Tell me what you expect from me. I will try to fulfil your expectations.' The Brahmin then asked many questions related to life and death. Sumati explained those queries thus:
Those who never tell a lie, who have faith and devotion, only such people die peacefully. Whoever's mind is free from the evils like Kama, Krodh, Moha, Dwesh etc. (lust, anger, affection, jealousy etc.) and who are altruistic in nature and make donations liberally die in peace. Those who lack these virtues suffer great pain at the time of death. As soon as such people sight Yamadoot they begin to cry and call their relatives. But their relatives do not understand their calls. Then the dying person turns away his eyes and grasps for breath. He feels great pain when his soul leaves his body. Even after death, sufferings of such people do not end. They have to undergo scores of tortures in hell. Those who donate umbrella, shoes, clothes and cereals attain heaven. The sinners on the other hand pass through different hells and take birth as inferior creature in their next lives. After continuous transmigration through lower life forms, these sinners once again take birth as human beings but are imperfect. They remain dwarf, hunched or have any other deformity. Then they pass through all the four castes- Shudra, Vaishya, Kshatriya and Brahmin classes. As their action improves, they might even attain the position of Indra.'
The end of Makendeya Purana
Brahma Vaivarta Purana
It’s the twelth Purana. It contains four parts- Brahma khand, Prakriti khand, Ganesh khand and Shri Krishna Janma khand.
In Naimisharanya Tirth, addressing a gathering of great sages like Shaunak etc., Sutaji has described this Purana as the marvelous creation. This Purana describes the plays of the Lord Krishna and Radha in considerable detail. Thus, it is a basic source of inspiration for all the subsequent treatises that depict the life of Radha. It is only Purana that exclusively describes the episodes from the life of Radha, the most beloved lady of Lord Shri Krishna.
Brahma khand: Creation of the universe. Origin of Narayana from the body of Shri Krishna. Origin of Radha in Rasamandal. Origin of Gopas, Gopis and cows from the bodies of Radha and Krishna. Creation of all other animate-inanimate world.
Prakriti khand: Greatness of Durga, Radha, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Savitri in the creation of the world. Tales of Savitri-Satyavaan, Surabhi, Swaha and Swadha. Description of the clan of Surath. Tale of Ganga. Tales from Ramayana. Curse of Durvasa on Indra. Worship of Lakshmi.
Ganesh khand: Mainly discusses about the greatness of Lord Ganesh. Also contains tales of Jamadagni, Karteveerya, Parashurama etc.
Brahma khand: Creation of the universe. Origin of Narayana from the body of Shri Krishna. Origin of Radha in Rasamandal. Origin of Gopas, Gopis and cows from the bodies of Radha and Krishna. Creation of all other animate-inanimate world.
Prakriti khand: Greatness of Durga, Radha, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Savitri in the creation of the world. Tales of Savitri-Satyavaan, Surabhi, Swaha and Swadha. Description of the clan of Surath. Tale of Ganga. Tales from Ramayana. Curse of Durvasa on Indra. Worship of Lakshmi.
Ganesh khand: Mainly discusses about the greatness of Lord Ganesh. Also contains tales of Jamadagni, Karteveerya, Parashurama etc.
Shri Krishna khand: Describes the life and plays of Lord Shri Krishna, under the heads of Braj leela, Mathura leela, reunion of Radha and Krishna. Migration of the residents of Gokul to Gokula.
In the opinion of this Purana, there are ten features of Maha Purana. These are: creation, preservation, Pralaya (destruction), fostering, karma, description of lust, description of each of the fourteen Manus and their dynasties. Description of salvation, recitation of the virtues of Shri Hari and description of the glory of the gods. But Puranas with five features and Upa Puranas has following common features: creation, destruction, description of Chandra and Surya dynasties and their kings and description of the fourteen Manus.
This Purana consists of 32 chapters:
There was a forest known as naimisharanya.
The sages (maharshis) arranged for a sacrifice (yajna) in this forest and the ceremony went on for twelve years. Naimisharanya forest was a wonderful place to arrange sacrifices in. The climate was pleasant. There were trees full of climate was pleasant. There were trees full of flowers and fruit. There was no shortage of food in the forest, and animals, birds and sages lived thee happily.
Many sages came to attend the sacrifice that had been arranged in naimisharanya. With them was Romaharshana (alternatively Lomaharshana). Vedavyasa’s disciple. Vedavyasa had instructed this disciple of his in the knowledge of the Puranas. The assembled sages worshipped the learned Romaharshana and said, “Please tell us the stories of the Puranas. Who created the universe, who is its preserver and who will destroy it? Please instruct us in all these mysteries”.
Romaharshana replied, “Many years ago, Daksha and the other sages had asked Brahma these very questions. I have learnt about Brahma’s replies from my guru) teacher) Vedavyasa. I will relate to you what I know”.
In the beginning, there was water everywhere and the Brahman (the divine essence) slept on this water in the form of Vishnu. Since water is called nara and since ayana means a bed, Vishnu is known as Narayana.
In the water there emerged a golden egg (anda). Brahma was born inside this egg. Since he created himself, he is called Svayambhu, born (bhu) by himself (svayam). For one whole year, Brahma lived inside the egg. He then split the egg into two and created neaven (svarga) and the earth (prithivi) from the two parts of the egg. Skies, directions, time, language and senses were created in both heaven and earth.
From the powers of his mind, Brahma gave birth to seven great sages. Their names were Marichi, Atri, Angira, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu and Vashishtha. Brahma also created the god Rudra and the sage Sanatkumara.
9.2 More Creation
9.2 More Creation
To continue with the process of creation, Brahma gave birth to a man and a woman from his own body. The man was named Svayambhuva Manu and the woman was named Shatarupa. Humans are descended from Manu. That is the reason they are known as manava. Manu and Shatarupa had three sons named Vira. Priyavrata and Uttanapada.
Uttanapada’s son was the great Dhruva. Dhruva performed very difficult meditation (tapasya) for three thousand divine years. Brahma was so pleased at this that he granted Dhruva an eternal place in the sky, near the constellation that is known as saptarshi or the seven sages. This is the constellation Ursa Majoris and Dhruva is the pole Star.
In Dhruva’s line there was a king named Prachinavarhi. Prachinavarhi had ten sons, known as the Prachetas. These Prachetas were supposed to look after the world and rule over it, but they were not interested in such mundane matters. They went off instead to perform tapasya under the ocean. The tapasya went on for ten thousand years. The upshot was that the earth had no ruler and began to suffer. People started to die and thick forests sprouted everywhere. So thick were the forests that even the winds could not blow.
News of this catastrophe reached the Prachetas. They were furious with the trees and created wind (vayu) and fire (agni) from their mouths. The wind dried up the trees and the fire burnt them, so that, very soon, there were very few trees left on earth.
Everyone was alarmed at the effects of the Prachetas anger. The moon-god Soma (or Chandra) came to the Prachetas with a beautiful woman and said, “Prachetas, please control your anger. You need someone to rule over the world so that you can concentrate on your tapasya. This beautiful woman is named Daksha. He will rule over the world”.
The Prachetas agreed to this proposal and Daksha was born. The word praja means subject and the word pati means master. Since Daksha ruled over the world and its subjects, Daksha came to be known as Prajapati.
The sages interrupted Romaharshana. They said, “Sage, we are completely confused. We have heard that Daksha was born from Brahma’s toe. And yet you have told us that Daksha was the son of the Prachetas. How is this possible?”
Romaharshana replied, “There is no reason for bewilderment. Many Dakshas have been born to rule over the world. One was born from Brahma’s toe, yet another was the son of the Prachetas.”
9.3 Daksha’s Offspring
9.3 Daksha’s Offspring
Daksha’s wife was named Asikli and Asikli gave birth to five thousand sons. They were known as the Haryashvas. The Haryashvas were destined to rule over the world. But the sage Narada went to the Haryashvas and said, “How can you rule over the world if you don’t even know what the world looks like? Are you familiar with its geography and its limits? First find out about these things, before you contemplate ruling over the world.”
The Haryashvas went off to explore the world and never returned.
Daksha and Asikli then had another thousand sons who were named the
Shavalashvas. Narada told them what he had told the Haryashvas and the Shavalashvas also went off to explore the world and never returned.
Shavalashvas. Narada told them what he had told the Haryashvas and the Shavalashvas also went off to explore the world and never returned.
Daksha and Asikli were distressed that their children should disappear in this manner. Daksha blamed Narada for the instigation and proposed to kill him. But Brahma intervened and persuaded Daksha to control his anger. This Daksha agreed to do, provided that his conditions were met. “Brahma must marry my daughter Priya,” he said. “And Narada must be born as Priya’s son.”
These conditions were accepted.
In fact, Daksha and Asikli had sixty daughters. (Elsewhere, the Brahma Purana mentions fifty daughters.) Ten of these daughters were married to the god Dharma and thirteen to the sage Kashyapa. Twenty-seven daughters were married to Soma or Chandra. The remaining daughters were married to the sages Arishtanemi, Vahuputra, Angirasa and Krishashva.
The ten daughters who were married to the god Dharma were named Arundhati, Vasu, Yami, Lamba, Bhanu, Marutvati, Sankalpa, Muhurta. Sadhya and Vishva. Arundhati’s children were the objects (vishaya) of the world. Vasu’s children were the eight gods known as the Vasus. Their names were Apa, Dhruva, Soma, Dhara, Salila, Anala, Pratyusha and Prabhasa. Anala’s son was Kumara. Because Kumara was brought up by goddesses known as the Krittikas, he came to be called Kartikeya. Prabhasa’s son was Vishvakarma. Vishvakarma was skilled in architecture and the making of jewelry. He became the architect of the gods.
Sadhya’s children were the gods known as Sadhyadevas and Vishva’s children were the gods known as Vishvadervas.
The twenty-seven daughters of Daksha who ere married to Soma are known as the nakshatras (stars).
As you have already been told, Kashyapa married thirteen of Daksha’s daughters. Their names were Aditi, Diti, Danu, Arishta, Surasa, Khasa, Surabhi, Vinata. Tamra, Krodhavasha, Ila, Kadru and Muni.
Aditi’s sons were the twelve gods known as the adityas. Their names were Vishnu, Shakra. Aryama, Dhata, Vidhata, Tvashta, Pusha, Vivasvana, Savita, Mitravaruna, Amsha and Bhaga.
Diti’s sons were the daityas (demons). They were named Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu, and amongst their descendants were several other powerful daityas liked Vali and Vanasura. Diti also had a daughter named Simhika who was married to a danava (demon) named Viprachitti. Their offspring’s were terrible demons like Vatapi, Namuchi, Ilvala, Maricha and the nivatakavachas.
The hundred sons of Danu came to be known as danavas. The danavas were thus cousins to the daityas and also to the adityas. In the danava line were born demons like the poulamas and kalakeyas.
Arishta’s sons were the gandharvas (singers of heaven).
Surasa gave birth to the snakes (sarpa).
Khasa’s children were the yakshas (demi-gods who were the companions of Kubera, the god of wealth) and the rakshasas (demons).
Surabhi’s descendants were cows and buffaloes.
Vinata had two sons named Aruna and Garuda. Garuda became the king of the birds.
Tamra has six daughters. From these daughters were born owls, eagles, vultures, crows, water-fowl, horses, camels and donkeys.
Krodhavasha had fourteen thousand children known as nagas (snakes).
Ila gave birth to trees, creepers, shrubs and bushes.
Kadru’s sons were also known as nagas or snakes. Among the more important of Kadru’s sons were Ananta, Vasuki, Takshaka and Nahusha.
Muni gave birth to the apsaras (dancers of heaven).
Diti’s children (daityas) and Auditi’s children (adityas) continually fought amongst themselves. On one particular occasion, the gods succeed in killing many of the demons. Thirsting for revenge, Diti began to pray to her husband, Kashyapa that she might given birth to a son who would kill Indra, the king of the gods.
Kashyapa found it difficult to refuse his wife outright. “All right”, he said. “You have to bear the son in your womb for a hundred years. And throughout this period, you will have indeed kill Indira. But if you do not observe these instructions to the letter, your desire will not be satisfied.”
Diti resolved to do as her husband had bidden her. But Indra had got to know about Diti’s resolve and was waiting for an opportunity to save himself. There was an occasion when, tired after her prayers. Diti went to sleep without first washing her feet. This was an unclean act and it gave Indra the required opportunity. He adopted a miniscule form and entered Diti’s womb. With his weapon vajra, he sliced up the baby inside the womb into seven parts. The baby naturally began to cry at the pain.
Indra kept on saying, “ma ruda,” that is, “don’t cry.” But the bay, or rather its seven parts, would not listen. Indra thereupon sliced up each of the seven parts into seven more sections, so that there were forty-nine sections in all. When these forty-nine sections were born, they came to known as the Maruts, from the words that Indra had addressed them. Since Diti had not been able to adhere to the conditions her husband had set, the Maruts did not kill Indra. They instead became Indra’s followers or companions, and were treated as gods.
In Dhruva’s line there was a king named Anga, Anga was religious and followed the righteous path. But unfortunately, Anga’s son Vena inherited none of the good qualities of his father. Vena’s mother was Sunitha and she happened to be the daughter of Mrityu. Mrityu was notorious for his evil ways and deeds. Vena spent a lot of time with his maternal grandfather and picked up these evil characteristics.
Vena gave up the religion that was laid down in the Vedas and stopped all yajnas. He instructed his subjects that he alone was to be worshiped.
The sages led by Marichi came to Vena to try and persuade him to mend his ways. But Vena was in no mood to listen. He insisted that there was no one equal to him in the whole universe.
The sages realized that Vena was a lost cause. They physically caught hold of Vena and began to knead his right thigh. From this kneading thee emerged a horrible looking creature. It was a dwarf and its complexion, was extremely dark. The sage Atri was so aghast at the dwarf’s appearance that he blurted out, “nishida”, which means “sit”. From this, the dwarf came to be known as nishada. The race of nishadas became hunters and fishermen, and lived in the Vindhya mountains. From them were also descended uncivilized races like tusharas and tunduras.
The evil that was in Vena’s body and mind came out with the emergence of the nishada.
When the sages began to knead Vena’s right arm, Prithu emerged. He shone like a flaming fire and his energy lit up the four directions. He held a bow in his hand and he was clad in beautiful armour. As soon as Prithu was born, Vena died.
All the rivers and the oceans arrived with their waters and their jewels to anoint Prithu as the king. The gods and the sages also came for the coronation. Brahma himself crowned Prithu the king of the earth. He also took the opportunity to apportion out the lordships of other parts of the universe. Soma was appointed lord over creepers, herbs, starts (nakshatras), planets (grahas), sacrifices, meditation (tapasya) and over the first of the four classes (brahmanas). Varuna became lord of the oceans, Kubera of all the kings, Vishnu of the adityas, Agni of vasus, Daksha of all Prahlada of daityas and danavas, Yama of the pritris (ancestors), Shiva of yakshas, rakshasas and pishachas (ghosts), and Himalaya of the mountains.
The ocean (samudra) was made the lord of all rivers. Chitraratha of gandharvas, Vasuki of nagas, Takshaka of sarpas, Garuda of birds, the tiger of deer, Airavata of elephants, Ucchaihshrava of horses, the bull of cows and the ashvattha tree (a banyan) of all trees. Brahma also appointed four overlords (dikapalas) for the four directions. To the east there was Sudhanva, to the south Shankhapada, to the west Ketumana and to the north Hiranyaroma.
Prithu was a king who ruled the earth well. During his reign, the earth was laden with foodgrains. The cows were full of milk and the subjects were happy. To glorify King Prithu, the sages performed a sacrifice and from this sacrifice there emerged two races known as the sutas and the magadhas should sing praises in honour of Prithu.
“But what praise will we sing?” asked the sutas and the magadhas. “Prithu is still young. He has not done much that can be praised”.
“That may be true,” replied the sages. “But he will do wonderous deeds in the future. Sing praises of those wonderful deeds. We will tell you about them.”
Having learnt of these future deeds from the sages, the sutas and the magadhas began to compose songs and chant praises in honour of Prithu. These stories were related throughout the earth. Some of Prithu’s subjects heard these stories and came to see Prithu. “King,” they said. “We have heard of your great deeds. But we find it difficult to make a living. Please indicate to us our habitations on earth. And tell us where we may be able to get the food we need for subsistence.”
King Prithu picked up his bow and arrow. He decided to kill the earth, since the earth was not yielding foodgrains to his subjects. The earth adopted the form of a cow and began to flee. But wherever the earth went, Prithu followed with his bow and arrow. He followed the earth to the heaven and to the underworld.
Finally, in desperation, the earth started to pray to Prithu. “King,” she said, “please control your anger. I am a woman. Killing me will only mean a sin for you. Besides, what purpose will killing me serve? Your subjects will then be without a place to live in. There must be some other way of ensuring that your subjects can make a living.
The earth then herself offered a solution and King Prithu did her bidding, With his bow, he leveled out the earth. The plains could now be used for villages and cities and for agriculture and animal husbandry. The plains could now be used for villages and cities and for agriculture and animal husbandry. The mountains were gathered together in select places, instead of being littered over whole earth. Earlier, Prithu’s subjects had lived off fruits and roots. Now Prithu milked the earth (in her form of a cow) and obtained the seeds of foodgrains on which people could live. Because of Prithu’s deeds, the earth came to be known as prithivi.
A manvantara is an era. There are four smaller eras (yugas) and their names are satya or krita yuga, treta yuga, dvapara yuga and kali yuga. Each cycle of satya yuga, treat yuga, dvapara yuga and kali yuga is called a mahayuga. A mahayuga comprises of 12,000 years of the gods, or equivalently, 4320,000 years for human. 71 mahayugas constitute a manvantara and 14 manvantaras constitute a cycle (kalpa). One kalpa is one of Brahma’s days and the universe is destroyed at the end of a Kalpa.
Each manvantara is ruled over by a Manu. In the present kalpa, six manvantaras have already passed and the names of the six Manus who ruled were Svayambhuva, Svarochisha, Uttama, Tamasa, Raivata and Chakshusha. The name of the seventh Manu, who rules over the seventh manvantara of the present kalpa, is Vaivasvata.
The titles of the seven great sages (saptarshi) as well as the tile of Indra change from manvantara to manvantara. The gods also change.
In the present vaivasvata manvantara, the seven great sages are Atri, Vashishtha, Kashyapa, Goutama, Bharadvaja, Vishvamitra and Jamadagni. The gods now are the sadhyas, the rudras, the vishwadevas, the vasus, the maruts, the adityas and the two ashvinis.
There will be seven Manus in the future before the universe is destroyed. Five of these Manus will be known as Savarni Manus. The remaining two will be called Bhoutya and Rouchya.
9.6 The Sun and the Solar Dynasty
9.6 The Sun and the Solar Dynasty
You have probably forgotten by now that Kashyapa and Aditi had a son named Vivasvana.
This was the sun god, also known as Surya or Martanda.
Surya was married to Samjna, Vishvakarma’s daughter. They had two sons. The fist son was Vaivasvata Manu and the second son was Yama or Shraddhadeva, the god of death. Yama had a twin sister named Yamuna.
The sun’s energy was so strong that Samjna could not bear to look at her husband. Through her powers, she created an image from her own body that looked exactly like her. This image was called Chhaya (shadow).
Samjna told Chhaya, “I cannot bear the energy of my husband, I am going off to my father’s house. Stay here, pretend to be Samjna and look after my children. Under no circumstances tell anyone, certainly not my husband, that your are not Samjna.”
“I will do as you have asked me to,” replied Chhaya. “But the moment someone curses me or pulls me by the hair, I shall be forced to reveal the truth.”
Samjna went to her father Vishvakarma kept asking her to return to her husband. But this Samjna refused to do. Instead, she went to the land known as Uttara Kuru and started to live there as a mare.
Meanwhile, Surya, who had not realized that Samjna had been replaced by Chhaya, had two sons through Chhaya. They were named Savarni Manu and Shani (Saturn). As soon as her own children were born, Chhaya no longer displayed as much of love for Samjna’s children as she used to do. Vaivasvata Manu was a quiet sort of person and he ignored the implied neglect. But Yama was not the tolerant. Besides, he was also younger. He raised his leg to kick Chhaya. At this, Chhaya cursed Yama that his legs would fall off.
Yama went and complained to Surya. ” I have not really kicked her,” he said. “I only threatened to. And does a mother ever curse her children?”
“I can’t undo the curse, ” replied Surya. “At best, I can reduce its severity. Your legs will not actually fall off. Some of the flesh from your legs will fall off onto the earth and create worms. Thereby, you will be freed of your curse.”
But nevertheless, Surya felt that there was some truth in Yama’s asking whether a mother would ever curse her children. He taxed Chhaya with the truth, but Chhaya would not reveal anything Surya then grasped her by the hair and threatened to curse her. Since her conditions were now violated, Chhaya blurted out the truth.
In an extremely angry mood, Surya dashed off to Vishvakarma’s house. Vishvakarma tried to cool him down. “it is all because of your exercises energy that this has happened,; exclaimed Vishvakarma. “If you permit, I will shave off some of the extra energy. Then Samjna will be able to look at you.”
Surya agreed to this proposition. With the shaved off energy, Vishvakarma manufactured Vishnu’s chakra (a weapon like a bladed discus).
Surya found out that Samjna was in Uttara Kuru in the form of a mare. He joined her there in the form of a horse. As horse, they had two sons named Nasatya and Dasra. Since ashva means horse, the sons were also known as the two Ashvinish and became the physicians of the gods.
Surya and Samjna then gave up their equine forms and lived happily ever after.
9.7 Vaivasvata Manu’s Children
9.7 Vaivasvata Manu’s Children
Vaivasvata Manu has no children and he arranged for a sacrifice so that he might have a son. Nine sons were born as a result of this sacrifice. Their names were Ikshvaku, Nabhaga, Dhrishta, Sharyati, Narishyanta, Pramshu, Rishta, Karusha and Prishadhra. Manu also made an offering to the two gods Mitra and Varuna. As a result of this offering, a daughter named Ila was born.
Budha was the son of Chandra, and Budha and Ila had a son named Pururva. Subsequently, thanks to a boon conferred on her by Mitra and Varuna. Ila became a man named Sudyumna. Sudyumna’s sons were Utkala, Gaya and Vinatashva. Utkala ruled in Orissa, Gaya in the region that is also called Gaya, and Vinatashva in the west.
Sudyumna was not entitled to rule since he had earlier been a woman. He lived in the city known as Pratishthana. Pururava inherited this later on.
When Vaivasvata Manu died, his ten sons divided up the earth amongst themselves, Ikshvaku ruled in the central regions. He had a hundred sons, the eldest of whom was named Vikukshi. Vikukshi came to be known as Shashada. Thereby hangs a tale.
Ikshvaku wanted to organize a sacrifice and he sent his son Vikukshi to the forest to fetch some meat for the sacrifice. While hunting for game, Vikukshi felt very hungry and ate up some of the meat. This was a sacrilege and the sage Vashishtha advised Ikshvaku to banish Vikukshi from his kingdom. Because the meat that he had eaten had been the meat of a rabbit (shashaka), Vikukshi came to be known as Shashada.
But after Ikshvaku died, Vikukshi returned to his father’s kingdom and began to rule there. This was the kingdom of Ayodhya. One of Vikukshi’s sons was Kakutshta, and Rama of Ramayana fame was born in this line.
Kubalashva was one of the kings descended from Kakutstha. Kubalashva’s father was named Vrihadashva.
After Vrihadashva had ruled for many years, he desired to retire to the forest. He therefore prepared to hand over the kingdom to his son Kubalashva. But learning of King Vrihadashva’s resolve, a sage named Utanka came to meet the king.
“Don’t go to the forest right now”, Utanka told the king. My hermitage (ashrama) is on the shores of the ocean and is surrounded by sand in all directions. A strong rakshasa named Dhundhu lives under the sand. He is so strong that even the gods have been unable to kill him. Once every year, Dhundhu exhales his breath and this raises a tremendous cloud of sand and dust. For an entire week the sun remains shrouded in dust and for the whole week, there are earthquakes as a result of Dhundhu’s exhalation. This is disturbing my mediation (tapasya) and you can’t very well go away to the forest without first doing something about Dhundhu. Only you are capable of killing him. I have accumulated a lot of power as a result of my tapasya and I will give this to you if you kill Dhundhu.”
Vrihadashva told Utanka that there was no need for Vrihadashva himself to kill Dhundhu. He would go to the forest as he had decided. His son Kubalashva was perfectly capable of killing Dhundhu and would accompany Utanka.
Kubalashva and his hundred sons went to the shores of the ocean where all the sand was. Kubalashva asked his sons to start digging so that they might find Dhundhu. Dhundhu attacked Kubalashva’s sons and killed all of them but three. The three who escaped were named Dridashva, Chandrashva and Kapilashva. But Dhundhu himself was killed by Kubalashva. As a result of this great feat, Kubalashva came to be known as Dhundhumara. The sage Utanka blessed Kubalashva and by the sage’s blessings, Kubalashva’s dead sons went straight to heaven.
From Dridashva was descended a king named Trayaruni. Trayaruni was a righteous king and followed all the religious dictates. But Trayarun’s son Satyavrata was quite the opposite and refused to follow the righteous path. King Trayaruni’s chief priest was the great sage Vashishtha. Vashishtha advised the king that his evil son should be banished from the kingdom. Trayaruni accepted the sage’s advice. Consequently, Satyavrata started to live with outcasts (chandalas) outside the kingdom.
After some time, Trayaruni relinquished his kingship and went away to the forest. The kingdom had no king and degenerated into anarchy. The absence of a king is also frowned upon by the gods and for twelve years there was a terrible drought.
Vishvamitra was another great sage. While all this was going on, Vishvamitra was not present in the kingdom. He had gone away to perform tapasya on the shores of the ocean, having left his wife and children in a hermitage (ashrama) that was in the kingdom. But because there was such a long spell of drought, there was also famine in the kingdom. People started to starve. Vishvamitra’s wife decided to sell her son so that she might have some food to eat. She tied a rope round the son’s neck and took him to the market-place. There, she sold him in exchange for a thousand cows. Since a rope had been tied around the son’s neck (gala), he came to be known as Galava.
But Satyavrata discovered what terrible straits Vishvamitra’s family was in. He freed Galava and started to take care of Vishvamitra’s wife and children.
Satyavrata had not been terribly fond of Vashishtha. He blamed the sage for his banishment. When thee was famine everywhere, Satyavrata stole Vashishtha’s cow. He killed the cow and served the meat to Vishvamitra’s sons, apart from eating it himself.
Vashishtha was in a terrible rage when he got to know about this incident. He cursed Satyavrata.
“You have committed three sins (shanku),” Vashishtha told Satyavrata. “Firstly, you have angered your father Trayaruni. Secondly, you have stolen and killed a cow. Thirdly, you have eaten beef, a forbidden meat. Because of these three sins, you will henceforth be known as Trishanku and be eternally cursed.” (The word tri means three.)
Satyavrata had however taken care of Vishvamitra’s family when the sage was away on his meditation. After Vishvamitra returned, he was very happy to learn about what Trishanku had done and offered to grant him a boon. Trishanku desired the boon that he might be allowed to go to heaven in his own physical body. Thanks to Vishvamitra’s immense powers, even this virtually impossible task was accomplished. Trishanku became king in Trayaruni’s kingdom and Vishvamitra acted as his chief priest.
Trishanku’s son was Harishchandra and from Harishchandra was descended a king named Bahu. Bahu devoted too much time to pleasurable pursuits. The upshot of this was that the defence of the kingdom was not properly taken care of. Enemy kings seized this opportunity to attack Bahu’s kingdom. They drove Bahu out and Bahu went off to the forest with his wife Yadavi,
The enemy kings who dislodged Bahu were led by the Haihaya and Talajangha kings. They were aided by the Shakas, Yavanas, Paradas, Kambojas and Pahlavas.
King Bahu died in the forest. His wife Yadavi desired to die on her husband’s funeral pyre. But since Yadavi was pregnant at the time, the sage Ourva persuaded her that such an act would be a sin. He brought Yadavi to his own hermitage and began to take care of her.
Bahu had also a second wife and she had once tried to poison Yadavi. The poison (gara) had however done Yadavi no harm and emerged when the baby was born. Since the baby was born together with poison, he came to known as Sagara.
The sage Ourva took care of Sagara’s education. He imparted to Sagara the knowledge of all the shastras and also the usage of weapons. Amongst other things, Sagara acquired the skill of using a divine weapon known as agneyastra.
When he grew up, Sagara attacked the Haihaya kings and defeated them through the use of agneyastra. He then defeated the Shakas, Yavanas, Paradas, Kambojas and Pahlavas and was about to kill them all. But these enemy kings fled to the sage Vashishtha for refuge and Vashishtha persuaded Sagara not to kill his enemies. Instead, the heads of the Shakas were half shaven off. The Yavanas and Kambojas had their heads completely shaven. The Pahlavas were instructed that they would have to keep beards. These enemy kings also lost all right to follow the religion laid down in the Vedas. Amongst the other kings who Sagara defeated were the Konasarpas, the Mahishakas, the Darvas, the Cholas and the Keralas.
King Sagara had two wives. The first was named Keshini and she was the daughter of the king of Vidarbha. The Brahma Purana does not tell us the name of the second wife but from the Mahabharata we know that it was Sumati. Keshini and Sumati had no sons. They therefore began to pray to Ourva so that they might have sons.
Ourva was pleased at these prayers and said, ” Both of you will have sons. But one of you will have a single son and the other will have sixty thousand sons. Tell me, who wants what.”
Keshini asked for a single son and Sumati asked for sixty thousand sons. In due course, Keshini gave birth to a son named Panchajana. Sumati gave birth to a gourd. Inside the gourd there was a lump of meat. The gourd was placed inside a pot full of clarified butter (ghrita). And from the lump of meat were born sixty thousand sons.
King Sagara proceeded to conquer the entire earth. As a recognition of this conquest, he initiated an ashvamedha yajna (horse sacrifice). In this ceremony, the sacrificial horse is left free to wander all over the earth. The sixty thousand sons accompanied the horse as its guards. The horse eventually reached the shores of the ocean that lies towards the south-east. While Sagara’s sons were resting, the horse was stolen. The sons started to look for the horse and began to dig up the sands in their search. In this process, they came upon the sage Kapila. Kapila had been meditating and his meditation was disturbed by the terrible din that Sagara’s sons made. He gazed at them in fury and all but four of the sons were burnt to ashes. The four sons who were saved were named Varhiketu, Suketu, Dharmaketu and Panchajana.
The Brahma Purana is slightly confused here. Was Panchajana Keshini’s son or Sumati’s son? There is some inconsistency with the account given in the Mahabharata. In the Mahabharata, it is Keshini who gave birth to sixty thousand sons and it is Sumati who had a single son named Asamanja. Also in the Mahabharata, all sixty thousand sons were burnt to ashes.
The Brahma Purana also tells us that the sacrificial horse was obtained by Sagara from the ocean. This is the reason why the ocean is referred to as sagara.
To come back to the account given in the Brahma Purana. Panchajana’s son was Amshumana and Amshumana’s son was Dilipa. Dilipa had a son named Bhagiratha. Bhagiratha brought down the river Ganga from heaven to earth and thus redeemed his ancestors who had been burnt to ashes by Kapila. It was because of this that the river Ganga came to be known as Bhagirathi.
From Bhagiratha was descended Raghu. Raghu’s son was Aja, Aja’s son Dasharatha and Dasharatha’s son Rama.
9.11 The Moon and the Lunar Dynasty
There was a sage named Atri. Atri performed very difficult tapasya. So difficult was the tapasya that Atri’s energy was thrown up into the sky. The sky could not bear this energy and hurled it down onto the earth. This energy then gave birth to Soma or Chandra, the moon god. Brahma took Chandra up into his chariot and drove the chariot around the earth twenty-one times. From whatever energy was left after Chandra has been created, the herbs were born.
Chandra also performed very difficult tapasya. One padma year consists of 10,000,000,000,000 normal years. For one hundred such padma years, Chandra mediated. After the meditation was over, Brahma appointed Chandra lord over seeds, herbs, brahmanas and the oceans. Chandra also performed a rajasuya yajna (royal sacrifice) as a celebration of his lordship. This gave him a lot pomp, glory, wealth and respect.
But all this merely served to turn Chandra’s head. The guru (teacher) of the gods was the sage Brihaspati. Brihaspati had a wife named Tara and Chandra abducted Tara. Despite the gods and the sages asking Chandra to return Tara, the moon god would not listen. A terrible war then raged over Tara, the gods fighting for Chandra. Shukracharya, the guru of the demons, fought on Chandra’s side and Shiva fought on Brihaspati’s side. This war (Samgrama) came to be known as tarakamaya samgrama, since it was fought over Tara.
Finally Brahma intervened and a truce was called. But Chandra and Tara had by then had a son, and Brihaspati refused to accept this son as his own. This son was Budha. As you already known, Budha married Ila and they had a son named Pururava.
The Brahma Purana now describes several kings belonging to the lunar dynasty.
In the lunar dynasty, there was born a powerful king named Nahusha. He married Viraja and they had six sons named Yati, Yajati, Samyati, Ayati, Yati, and Suyati. Yati became a hermit. So although Yayati was not the eldest, he was crowned king after Nahusha.
Yayati had two wives. The first was Devayani, daughter of Shukracharya. And the second was Sharmishtha, daughter of Vrishaparva, the king of the danavas. Devayani had two sons named Yadu and Turvasu and Sharmishtha had three sons named Druhya, Anu and Puru. Yayati conquered the whole earth and ruled over it. When he became old, he divided the earth amongst his five sons. Yadu was given the lands to the east, Puru the lands in the center, Turvasu the lands to the south and south-east, Druhya those to the north and Anu those to the west.
Yayati gave up his weapons and decided to travel throughout the world. He called Yadu to him and said, “I wish to explore the world and my old age is a hindrance. Please accept my old age and give me your youth in return.”
Yadu refused. “I will not,” he said. “One cannot eat well when one is old, nor can one pleasure the comforts of the world. Old age is not pleasant. Ask one of my brothers instead.”
Yadu’s refusal angered Yayati. He cursed Yadu that he or his descendants would never be kings. Yayati next requested Druhya, Turvasu and Anu, but they too refused and were similarly cursed by their father. But Puru agreed to his father’s request and gladly accepted the old age. He was blessed by his father.
After many years had passed, Yayati got tired of the world and returned Puru’s youth to him. He accepted back his old age and retired to the forest to mediate.
From Puru was descended King Bharata after whom the land came to be known as Bharatavarsha. Also in this line was King Kuru, after whom all the descendants came to be known as Kauravas. The sacred place named Kurukshetra owes its name to King Kuru.
From Turvasu were descended the kings of Pandya, Kerala, Kola and Chola.
From Druhya were descended the kings of Gandhara. The horses of the Gandhara kingdom are famous.
Yadu had five sons, Sahasrada, Payoda, Kroshtu, Nila and Anjika. Sahasrada’s descendants were the Haihayas, amongst whom the most famous was Kartyavirya Arjuna. Arjuna pleased the sage Dattatreya and became invincible. He also had a thousand arms. Arjuna’s greatest deeds were his defeat and imprisonment of Ravana, king of Lanks. Kroshtu’s descendants were Vrishni and Andhaka and in the Vrishni line was born Krishna.
Having heard accounts of the solar and lunar dynasties, the sages requested Romaharshana. “Tell us a little about the geography of the world. What does the earth look like? What are its limits?”
The earth is divided into seven regions (dvipas). Their names are Jambudvipa, Plakshadvipa, Shalmaladvipa, Kushadvipa, Krounchadvipa, Shakadvipa and Pushkaradvipa. These regions are surrounded by seven oceans and their names are Lavana, Ikshu, Sura, Sarpi, Dadhi, Dugdha and Jala.
Jambudvipa is in the center and right in the middle of Jambudvipa is Mount Sumeru. To the south of Sumeru are the mountains Himavana, Hemakuta and Nishadha and to the north of Sumeru are the mountains Nila, Shveta and Shringi.Jambudvipa itself is divided into several regions (varshas). For example, Sumeru is in the middle of Ilavritavarsha. Braratavarsha is to the south of Sumeru. To the east of Sumeru is Bhadrashvarsha and to the west is Ketumalavarsha. Harivarsha lies to the south and Ramyakavarsha to the north. Still further north is Hiranmayavarsha and beyond that, Uttara Kuruvarsha.
Brahma’s city is on the peak of Sumeru. It is there that the river Ganga descends from heaven and gets divided into four tributaries. Sita flows eastwards, Chakshu westwards, Bhadra Northwards and Alakananda southwards into Bharatavarsha.
There are seven major mountain range sin Bharatavarsha and their names are Mahendra, Malya, Sahya, Shuktimana, Riksha, Vindhya and Pariyatra. Bharatavarsha itself is divided into nine regions (dvipas). The names of eight of these regions are Indradvipa, Soumya, Gandharva and Varuna. The ninth region is completely surrounded by the ocean in all directions. To the east of Bharatavarsha live the Kiratas and to the west the Yavanas.
Below the earth lie the seven regions of the underworld (Patala). Their names are Atala, Vitala, Nitala, Sutala, Talatala, Rasatala and Patala. The daityas, danavas and the snakes (sarpa) live there. The underworld is a wonderful place, more beautiful than heaven itself. The sage Narada once went on a trip to the underworld and was bowled over by its beauty. It is full of palaces and jewels. The sun rises there, but does not radiate too much of heat. The moon also rises, but its beams are not at all chilly. The forests are populated by beautiful trees and the ponds are thick with lotus flowers, the songs of cuckoo birds are heard everywhere. Below the underworld sleeps a great snake, known as Shesha or Ananta. It has a thousand hoods, all covered with jewels. In fact, this snake is really Vishnu in one of this various forms.
Also part of the world are hells (naraka), presided over by Yama, the god of death. Those are full of weapons, fire and poisons and sinners are sent there to be punished. Sins that are punished by dispatch to one of the several hells are lying, murder, killing cows, destroying cities, drinking, killing brahmanas, theft, selling wines or hair, criticizing the Vedas, insulting elders, making weapons, selling salt, destroying forests needlessly, killing sheep or deer, cheating and studying under one’s own son. Each sinner receives a punishment that is in proportion to the severity of his sin. Of course, if one performs penance (prayashchitta) for one’s sins, one need not go to naraka. The best form of penance is praying to Krishna.
The earth (Prithivi or bhuloka) extends upto those arts of the sky that can be lit up by the rays of the sun and the moon. The expanse from there to the solar circle is known as bhuvarloka and holy sages live there. Above the solar circle is the lunar circle and beyond it, in succession, come the regions of Mercury (Budha), Venus (Shukra), Mars (Mangala), Jupiter (Brihaspati), Saturn (Shani), the Great Bear constellation (saptarshi) and the Pole Star (Dhruva). The region from the solar circle to Dhruvaloka is known as heaven (Svarloka or svarga). Beyond Dhruvaloka is Maharloka and further away, Janaloka are Tapaloka and Satyaloka. At the end of a kalpa, all the three lokas (regions) of bhuloka, bhuvarloka and svarloka are destroyed. But the four lokas of Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapaloka and Satyaloka are not destroyed.
There is an ocean to the south of Bharatavarsha. One the shores of this great ocean there is a land named Ondra or Utkala (present Orissa). Utkala is populated by religious people and the brahmanas who live there are learned in the Vedas. They are very good priests, learned in the Puranas and the shastras and skilled in the art of sacrifices. In the land of Utkala, there is an image of the sun (Surya) known as Konaditya. The word aditya also means the sun, as does the word arka. Thus, Konaditya is the same as Konarka, a corruption of the latter word being Konaraka. The image of Konaditys is so wonderful that even if one gazes at the image, all one’s sins are forgiven.
All around the temple there is sand. But nevertheless, many trees grow around the temple. The best time to worship the sun there is at the time of sunrise. One has to face the east and draw a lotus flower on the ground with red sandalwood. The lotus flower must have exactly eight petals. A copper vessel has to be placed at the center of the flower and filled with paddy, sesamum water, red sandalwood, red flowers and sacred grass. One prays to Surya to descend on the lotus flower that has thus been drawn. If one worships Konaditya according to these prescribed rites, the sins of seven preceding generations are forgiven.
The twelve adityas are nothing but different forms of Surya. Their names are Indra. Dhata, Parjanya, Tvashta, Pusha Aryama, Bhaga Vivasvana, Vishnu, Amshumana, Varuna, and Mitra. As Indra, Surya destroys the enemies of the gods. As Dhata, he creates living beings. As Parjanya, he showers down rain. As Tvashta, he lives in the trees and herbs. As Pusha, he makes foodgrains grow. As Aryama, he is in the wind. As Bhaga, he is in the body of all living beings. As Vivasvana, he is in fire and helps to cook food. As Vishnu, he destroys the enemies of the gods. As Amshumana, he is again in the wind. As Varuna, Surya is in the waters and as Mitra, he is in the moon and in the oceans.
In each month of the year, it is a different aditya who shines. Indra shines in the month of Ashvina, Dhata in Kartika, Parjanya in Shravana, Tvashta in Falguna, Pusha in Pousha, Aryama in Vaishakha, Bhaga in Magha, Vivasvana in Jyaishtha, Vishnu in Chaitra, Amshumana in Ashada, Varuna, in Bhadra and Mitra in Agrahayana. Vishnu has twelve hundred rays, Aryama one thousand and three hundred. Vivasvana seventy-two, Amshumana fifteen, Parjanya seventy-two, Varuna one thousand and three hundred, Tvashta one thousand and one hundred, Indra two thousand and two hundred, Dhata eleven hundred, Mitra one thousand and Pusha nine hundred. Apart from the names of the twelve adityas, Surya has twelve other names as well. These are Aditya, Savita, Surya, Mihira, Arka, Prabhakara, Martanda, Bhaskara, Bhanu, Chitrabhanu, Divakara and Ravi.
Brahma once recounted to the sages the one hundred and eight sacred names of Surya. The Brahma Purana lists these names and we reproduce them in nine groups of twelve names each.
(1) Surya, Archana, Bhagavana, Tvashta, Pusha, Arka, Savita, Ravi, Gabhastimana, Aja, Kala, Mrityu.
(2) Dhata, Prabhakara, Prithivi, Jala, Teja, Akasha, Vayu, Parayana, Soma, Brihaspati, Shukra, Budha.
(3) Angaraka, Indra, Vivasvana, Diptamshu, Shuchi, Shouri, Shanaishvara, Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Skanda, Vaishravana.
(4) Yama, Vaidyutam jathara, Agni, Aindhana, Tejohpati, Dharmadhvaja, Vedakarta, Vedanga, Vedavahana, Krita, Treta.
(5) Dvapara, Kali, Sarvasurashraya, Kala, Kashtha, Muhurta, Kshapa, Yama, Kshana, Samvatsara, Ashvattha, Kalachakra.
(6) Vibhavasu, Shashvata, Purusha, Yogi, Vyaktavyakta, Sanatana, Kaladhyaksha, Prajadhyaksha, Vishvakaram, Tamonuda, Varuna, Sagara.
(7) Amsha, Jimuta, Jivana, Ariha, Bhutashraya, Bhutapati, Sarvalokanamaskrita, Shrashta, Samvartaka, Vahni, Sarvadi, Alolupa.
(8) Ananta, Kapila, Bhanu, Kamada, Sarvotamukha, Jaya, Vishala, Varada, Sarvabhutasevita, Mana, Suparna, Bhutadi.
(9) Shighraga, Pranadharana, Dhanvantari, Dhumakety, Adideva, Aditinandana, Dvadashatma, Ravi, Daksha, Pita, Mata, Pitamaha.
9.15 Indradyumna and Purushottama Kshetra
9.15 Indradyumna and Purushottama Kshetra
In satya yuga there was a king named Indradyumna. He was a very powerful king as Indra himself. He was handsome, honest and truthful, learned in the shastras and the Vedas, and skilled in the use of weapons. His radiance put the sun to shame. Indradyumna was devoted to Vishnu. He once decided that he would worship Vishnu. A tirtha is a sacred place of pilgrimage. Indradyumna scanned all the existing tirthas and cities. But none of them satisfied him. None of them, he felt, was appropriate as a place for worshipping Vishnu.
Indradyumna’s own capital was the city of Avanti, in the kingdom of Malva. Avanti was a beautiful and wealthy city, surrounded on all sides by moats and other fortifications. Traders from many countries came there with all sorts or commodities for trading. The roads of the city were lined with shopes. The houses were painted white. The king’s stables were full of horses and elephants. All citizens of Avanti were pleasant of appearance and happy. Sacrifices were held fairly often. Many were the temples, groves and ponds in Avanti. Any tree that grew on earth could be found there.
There was a temple to Shiva in the city. This was known as the temple of Mahakala. The image there was so sacred that worshipping Shiva in the temple of Mahakala was tantamount to performing one thousand ashvamedha yajnas.
The river Shipra flowed past Avanti. On the banks of the river there was a temple of Vishnu known as Govindasvami. Another temple to Vishnu was named Vikramasvami,
But Indradyumna was not satisfied with these temples. He wanted to build another temple to Vishnu. He left Avanti to look for a proper place. His soldiers and subjects accompanied their king, so that it looked as if the entire city of Avanti was on the march. After traveling for many days, they arrived on the shores of the southern ocean, the ocean that is known as lavana samudra.
There were so many waves in the ocean that the ocean itself seemed to be dancing. Marine animals lived in the ocean and the waters were also the source of all sorts of jewels. Indradyumna began to live on the shores of the ocean. He discovered a place near the ocean that was thick with flower and fruit trees. Many types of birds gathered there to eat the fruit. This was the place known as Purushottama kshetra (place), the city of Puri of modern times.
Purshottama kshetra was a very important tirtha. But all knowledge of this tirtha had been hidden until Indradyumna arrived on the scene. There was a reason for this. Many years ago, there used to be an image of Vishnu there, where people used to pray. So sacred was the image that all the sins of the worshippers were immediately forgiven. The result was that Yama could not punish any of the sinners. They simply prayed to Vishnu’s image and escaped. Yama therefore prayed to Vishnu for a solution. Vishnu hid the image under the sand so that no one knew that it existed.
Indradyumna liked Purushottama Kshetra. The river Mahanadi or Chitropala flowed not very far away. The people who lived around the place were religious. He decided that this was the right place for building a temple to Vishnu. On an auspicious day, the foundation stone was laid.
Indradyumna then got in touch with the kings of Kalkinga, Utakala and Koshala. He requested their help in fetching stones for the building of the temple. The kings sent their architects to the Vindhya mountains. The stones were gathered from these mountains and brought to Purushottama Kshetra in boats and chariots. Messengers were also sent to several other kings for aid. They came with their armies and with a lot of wealth.
Indradyumna told the assembled kings, “I wish to accomplish two difficult tasks. The first is to perform an ashvamedha yajna here. And the second is to build a temple to Vishnu. Both of these are difficult jobs, particularly the second. But if you help me, I am confident that both jobs can be done.”
The kings agreed to help. They offered jewels, wealth, gold, clothes, food grains and other objects. The place where the yajna was to be held was made entirely out of gold. In fact, all the objects used in the yajna were made out of gold. Brahmanas from all over Jambudvipa came to witness the sacrifice. They were donated elephants, horses and cows as alms. Never has there been any other sacrifice to rival the one that Indradyumna performed.
After the sacrifice was over and the temple built, there remained the more important question of the image. How was this to be made? Indradyumna began to pray to Vishnu for guidance.
Vishnu appeared before Indradyumna in a dream and said, “Why are you so miserable? When the sun rises, go to the shores of the ocean. There you will find a tree. Half of the tree is in the water and the remaining half in the sand. Chop down this tree. It s wood will give you the material for the image.
In the morning, Indradyumna went to the seashore and found the tree. It was just as Vishnu had described it to be. With an axe, he chopped down the tree. As he was about to slice the trunk in two, two brahmanas appeared before him. Although Indradyumna did not know it, these two brahmanas were Vishnu and Vishvakarma in disguise.
“King. What have you done?” exclaimed the brahmanas. “You have cut down the only tree that was on the shores of the ocean.”
“Forgive me,” replied Indradyumna. “I wished to make an image of Vishnu. Vishnu has instructed me in a dream that this is the tree from which the image should be made.”
“That is an excellent idea,” said the brahmana who was Vishnu in disguise. “There is nothing so holy as praying to Vishnu. Meet my companion. He is as skilled as the great Vishvakarma himself. If you want, he will build the image for you.”
King Indradyumna agreed. And instructed by Vishnu, Vishvakarma started to build the image. Or, to be more accurate, there were three different images. The first one was that of Baladeva or Balarama. This was completely white in colour, except for the eyes, which were red. The image was dressed in blue and a snake held its hood over Balarama’s head. A club and a mace were in Balarama’s hands. The second image was Krishna’s. This was blue in colour, with eyes like lotus flowers. The image was dressed in yellow and had a chakra in its hand. The third image was that of Krishna’s sister Subhadra. This image was golden in colour and was dressed in wonderful clothes.
When Indradyumna discovered that the images were made in a matter of minutes, he was thunderstruck. He realised that the two brahmanas cold not be mere mortals. He fell at their feet and said, “Please tell me who you are. You cannot be humans.”
Vishnu and Vishvakarma then revealed their true selves and Indradyumna was thrilled. Vishnu blessed the king and told him that he would rule for ten thousand and nine hundred years. And even after Indradyumna died, a place would be reserved for him in heaven.
On an auspicious day, the three images were instated in the temple.
Many years ago, a great destruction (pralaya) took place. The earth was shrouded in darkness and nothing could be seen. There was neither sun nor moon. Lightning and thunder crushed mountains and trees. There were showers of meteors. Lakes and rivers dried up. The entire earth burnt with fire and the flames of the fire reached down to the underworld. All living beings perished in this fire, including the gods and the demons.
There was a sage named Markandeya. While all this was going on, Markandeya was busy meditating. Such was the power of Markandeya’s tapasya that the fire dared not touch him. But it is also true that Markandeya was scared of the fire that raged all around him. He suffered from hunger and thirst and forgot all about his tapasya. His lips and throat dried up from fear. Markandeya discovered that there was a banyan tree that was untouched by all these ravages. He retired to the shade of the banyan tree and started to pray to Vishnu.
Clouds gathered in the sky. They were thick and dark clouds and they spread all over the earth. It started to rain and it poured and poured. Water was everywhere and the earth was flooded. The water put out the fire. It rained continuously for twelve years. The oceans flooded the shores and the mountains were pulverised. Vishnu slept on the water.
Markandeya did not know what to do. There was water everywhere and he floated on it. But he continued to pray to Vishnu.
Vishnu spoke to Markandeya. “Do not be frightened, Markandeya,” he said. “You are devoted to me and I shall protect you.”
Markandeya did not realise that it was Vishnu who was speaking. “Who dares to address me thus?” he demanded. “Am I a child that I should be so addressed? I am the great Markandeya, blessed by Brahma himself.”
But try as he might, Markandeya cold not see anyone anywhere. Where had the voice come from then? Had it all been an illusion? Not knowing what to do, he started to pray again to Vishnu. Suddenly he saw the banyan tree floating on the water. A golden bed was spread on the branches of the tree and on the bed there slept a small boy. Markandeya was exceedingly surprised to see the small boy floating in the middle of this deluge. He was so confused by his illusions that he did not realise that this boy was none other than Vishnu.
The boy spoke to Markandeya. “You are tired,” said the boy. “You are looking for a refuge. Enter my body and rest for some time.”
Markandeya was so confused that, before he could react, he entered the boy’s body through the mouth. Inside the boy’s stomach Markandeya discovered all the worlds, the seven regions and the seven oceans. The mountains and the kingdoms were all there. So were all living beings.
Markandeya did not know what to make of all this. He started to pray to Vishnu. No sooner than he had started, he came out of the boy’s mouth. Vishnu now appeared before him and blessed him. The sage spent a thousand years with Vishnu. Vishnu then asked, “I wish to grant you a boon. What is your desire?”
“I want to build a temple to Shiva in Purushottama Kshetra,” replied Markandeya. “This will prove to everyone that Vishnu and Shiva are really one and the same.”
Vishnu granted the boon and Markandeya built a temple to Shiva known as Bhuvaneshvara (Lord of the World).
9.17 King Shveta
9.17 King Shveta
In satya yuga there used to be a king named Shveta. He was such a good king that during his reign people lived for ten thousand years. No one dies as a child. Longevity was high and there was no infant mortality.
But there was a sage named Kapalagoutama. Unfortunately, the sage’s son died as an infant. The sage brought the dead body to Shveta and the king resolved that if he could not bring the sage’s son back to life within a week, he would immolate himself in a fire. Having thus taken an oath, king Shveta worshipped Shiva with one thousand and one hundred blue lotus flowers. Shiva appeared before the king and granted the boon that the infant son might be brought back to life.
King Shveta ruled for a thousand years. He also built a temple to Vishnu in Purushottama kshetra. The temple that had been built by Indradyumna was known as the temple of Jagannatha. Shveta’s temple was not very far from this and was known as the temple of Shvetamadhava. The image in this temple was as white as the moon.
There was a king of the daityas named Vali. He was powerful and invincible. He was also righteous and truthful. The gods cold not bear to see Vali’s prosperity and began to plot how Vali might be foiled. So well did Vali rule that disease, drought and evil disappeared throughout the three worlds.
In desperation, the gods approached Vishnu. “Please do something about Vali”, they requested. “You always help us out when we are in trouble.”
“There is no difference between Vali and the gods so far as I am concerned,” replied Vishnu “Vali is devoted to me. I cannot therefore fight with him. But I will think of a way so that his kingdom might be taken away from him and given to you.”
Vishnu decided to be born as Aditi’s son. The son was a dwarf. This was the vamana avatara (dwarf incarnation) of Vishnu.
Vali proposed to organise a horse sacrifice. Many sages came to the sacrifice and Shukracharya was the chief priest. The dwarf also arrived to witness the yajna.
Shukracharya realised that the dwarf was none other than Vishnu. He told Vali, “I suspect that this dwarf is Vishnu in disguise. He must have come here to ask you for something. Please do not grant him anything without first consulting me.”
“Certainly not,” replied Vali. “It is good fortune indeed that the great Vishnu has come to my house. What is there to consult about? I shall grant Vishnu whatever he wants.”
Vali went to the dwarf to ascertain what the dwarf wanted. Vishnu expressed the wish that he might be given as much of land as might be covered in three of the dwarf’s steps. This boon Vali readily granted. But no sooner than the boon had been granted, the dwarf adopted a gigantic form. He placed one foot on Vali’s yajna and the second on Brahmaloka.
“Where will I place my third step?” demanded Vishnu. “There is no more space left in the entire universe. Find me a place for my third step.”
Vali smiled and said, “Place it on my back.”
Vishnu was charmed at Vali’s generosity. He granted Vali the boon that Vali would hold the title of Indra in a future manvantara. He then appointed Vali king of the underworld. But Indra’s kingdom of heaven, which Vali had conquered, was returned to Indra.
Brahma had all this while been in Brahmaloka. When Vishnu placed his second foot on Brahmaloka, Brahma felt that he should welcome his water-pot (kamandalu) to wash the foot. The water spilled over from the foot and fell on the mountains. There the water divided into four. Vishnu accepted the flow that went northwards. The flow that went westwards returned to Brahma’s kamandalu. The flow that went eastwards was gathered up by the gods and the sages. But the flow that went southwards got entangled in Shiva’s matted hair. This water was the river Ganga.
Part of the water of the Ganga that got stuck in Shiva’s hair was brought down to earth by Bhagiratha. The remaining part was brought down by the sage Gautama.
Parvati was married to Shiva, but Shiva seemed to be fonder of Ganga than of Parvati. Parvati resolved that a way had to be found to remove Ganga from Shiva’s hair. She tried persuasion, but Shiva refused to listen.
At this time, there was a terrible drought on earth which went on for fourteen years. The only place that was not affected by the drought was the sage Gouthama’s hermitage. Other people also gathered in the hermitage to save themselves from the drought and Goutama welcomed them all. Ganesha thought that he might be able to devise a way to free his mother of the Ganga problem. He went and began to live in Gouthama’s hermitage.
Ganesha cultivated the acquaintance of the other sages and become quite friendly with them.
One of Parvati’s companions was Jaya. Ganesha told Jaya that she was to adopt the form of a cow and eat up the grain in Goutama’s fields. And the moment she was struck, she was to lie down on the ground and pretend to be dead.
Goutama noticed that a cow was eating up his grain. He tried to drive away the cow by striking it with a blade of grass. As soon as he did this, the cow uttered a shrill bellow and fell down on the ground. Ganesha and the other sages came running to see what had happened. They discovered that, to all intents and purposes, a cow had been struck down dead by sage Goutama. They therefore refused to stay in an ashrama where such a sin had been committed.
Goutama tried to restrain them. “Please do not go away and forsake me,” he said. “Tell me how I may performed penance.”
“You will have to bring down Ganga from Shiva’s hair,” replied Ganesh. “When that water touches the dead body of the cow, your sin will be forgiven.”
“You will have to bring down Ganga from Shiva’s hair,” replied Ganesha. “When that water touches the dead body of the cow, your sin will be forgiven.”
Ganesha was so friendly with the other sages that they all accepted his solution. Goutama also agreed to do the needful.
Accordingly, Goutama went to Mount Kailasa and began to pray to Shiva. Shiva was pleased at Goutama’s tapasya and offered to grant a boon. Goutama naturally wanted the boon that Ganga might be brought down to earth. Shiva agreed. It was thus that Ganga was brought down to earth by the sage Goutama. Ganga has four tributaries in heaven, seven on earth and four in the underworld. Since it was Goutama who brought Ganga down to earth, the river is also known as Goutami Ganga.
9.20 The Doves
9.20 The Doves
In a mountain known as Brahmagiri there used to live a hunter who was very cruel. He not only killed birds and animals, but brahmanas and sages as well.
The hunter once went on a hunt. He killed many animals and birds and some he put in his cages. He had penetrated so far inside the forest that he was far from home. It became night and also started to rain. Hungry and thirsty, the hunter lost his way. He climbed up a tree and decided to spend the night there. But his mind kept going back to his wife and children at home.
For many years a dove and its family had lived happily on that tree. Both the male and female had gone out to look for food. But although the make dove had returned to the nest, the female dove had not. In fact, the female had been captured by the hunter and was now inside a cage.
The male did not know this. He mourned for his wife.
These words of mourning were heard by the female dove inside the cage and she made her presence felt. The male dove came down and discovered his wife inside the cage. “The hunter is sleeping now,” he said. “Now is the time for me to free you.”
“No,” replied the female dove. “You know how it is with living beings. One living being lives on another. I can find not fault with the hunter, he is merely collecting his food. He is like a guest to us. And it is our duty to offer up our bodies for the sake of a guest.”
“You are quite right,” said the male dove. “I lost my sense of propriety. We have to serve our guest. But how do we serve our guest? We have nothing that we can call our own.”
“At the moment the hunter is suffering most from the cold,” replied the female dove. “We have to light a fire to warm him up. Go and find a fire and bring plenty of dead leaves and branches so that the fire may burn.”
The male dove found a flaming branch. He also brought many dry leaves and branches so that the fire could burn. The rain had stopped and the fire warmed up the hunter.
“Now,” said the female dove, “free me so that I may immolate myself in the fire. My roasted flesh will serve as food for the hunter.”
“Never,” replied the male dove. “It is my right to serve the guest first.”
Saying this, the male dove hurled himself into the fire. The hunter had heard the entire conversation and marveled that two doves could be so altruistic. The female dove now requested the hunter to free her from the cage. And as soon as he did this, the female dove also hurled herself into the fire.
This selfless deed of the two doves was so wonderful that a space vehicle (vimana) came down to take the two doves straight to heaven. The cruel hunter was also impressed and repented his past misdeeds. He told the doves, “You are indeed blessed. Before you go to heaven, please tell me how I may perform penance for my sins.”
“Go to Goutami Ganga and bathe there for fifteen days,” replied the doves. “Your sins will also be forgiven.”
The hunter did as he had been asked to. The place where the doves immolated themselves became a holy tirtha known as kapotatirtha, since the word kapota means dove.
9.21 Garuda and Maninaga
You have already been told about the great snake (naga) Ananta. Ananta had a son named Maninaga. Garuda was the enemy of the snakes and the snakes were all afraid of Garuda.
Maninaga began to pray to Shiva. Having pleased Shiva, he obtained the boon that Garuda would be able to do him no harm. Armed with this boon, Maninaga started to wander around freely and did not run away even when faced with Garuda. Garuda found this to be exceedingly strange. Although he could not kill Maninaga, he captured him and kept him imprisoned in his own house.
Shiva had a companion named Nandi. Nandi told Shiva, “Lord, what has happened to Maninaga? We have not seen him for some time. I hope that Garuda has not done him some harm.”
Shiva of curse knew what had happened. He advised Nandi to pray to Vishnu. Nandi was to please Vishnu and then ask for the boon that Maninaga might be freed from Garuda’s imprisonment. Nandi did this and Vishnu asked Garuda to release Maninaga.
“Lord,” Garuda told Vishnu,” this is very unfair. Other masters treat their servants really well. They give their servants gifts. See how Shiva has sent Nandi himself to rescue Shiva’s devotee Maninaga. You never give me any gifts. Moreover, when I obtain something on my own, you ask me to relinquish it. Is this proper on your part? It is on me that you ride when you go out to fight the demons. They get defeated because of my prowess. And yet it tickles your ego no end to think that you have defeated them yourself.”
Vishnu smiled and replied, “Garuda, you are quite right. You have become thin and learn from bearing my weight. It is quite true that I can defeat the demons only because of your prowess. You have a lot of strength. Why don’t you bear the weight of my little finger and demonstrate your strength?”
Vishnu placed his little finger on Garuda’s head. So heavy was the finger that Garuda was crushed against the ground.
“Please forgive me,” said Garuda. “I have been very stupid. I am an ignorant ass and you are the lord of everything. I have been completely flattened by the weight of your little finger. Please tell me how I may regain my old self.”
Vishnu asked Nandi to take Garuda to Shiva. Shiva would find a way of restoring Grauda’s old appearance. Maninaga was releases and Nandi took Garuda to Shiva. Shiva asked Garuda to bathe in Goutami Ganga. This would make his appearance normal again.
Garuda did this. Not only was his old appearance restored, he became stronger and swifter than he used to be. The place where Garuda bathed is a tirtha known as Garudatirtha.
9.22 Vishvamitra and Indra
9.22 Vishvamitra and Indra
Many years ago, there was a terrible drought. There was no food to be had.
The sage Vishvamitra had come to the banks of the river Goutami Ganga with his disciples. Vishvamitra’s wife, children and disciples were all hungry. The sage therefore sent his disciples out to look for food. They searched everywhere, but could find no food. The only object that they could find was the body of a dead dog. They brought this to Vishvamitra.
“We have no choice,” Vishvamitra told his disciples. “Clean the meat carefully with water. Then offer it to the gods, the sages and the ancestors. This is what we have to live on.”
Offering the meat of a dog to the gods was unheard of. Indra adopted the form of a hawk and stole the vessel in which the meat was kept. But Vishvamitra got to know about this and got ready to curse Indra. Indra was naturally scared of Vishvamitra’s curse. He changed the dog-meat into amrita (a heavenly drink) and brought the vessel back.
“I don’t want amrita,” Vishvamitra told Indra. “Bring the dog-meat back. I don’t want to have amrita when the whole world is starving for food. There is no food available and I do not see any sin in eating dog-meat. Nor should there be a sin in offering it to the gods.”
Indra was the god of rains. He realised that the only way to persuade Vishvamitra against eating the dog-meat was to make it rain so that there would be an end to the drought. Instructed by Indra, the clouds poured down rain. Vishvamitra and his disciples now consented to partake of the amrita.
The place where all this happened has come to be known as Vishvamitratirtha.
There used to be a brahmana named Shveta. He was a friend of the sage Goutama and had a hermitage on the banks of the Goutami Ganga. Shveta was also devoted to Shiva. In due course, Shiveta died and Yama’s messengers arrived to take Shveta to Yama. But they could not even enter Shveta’s house.
Finding that Yama’s messengers are not returning, Yama’s companion Chitraka told Yama, “What do you think has happened? Why aren’t the messengers returning?
Yama now sent his companion Mrityu (literally death) to find out what was going on. Mrityu went to Shveta’s house and found Yama’s messengers standing outside the house. They explained that they were unable to enter the house because Shiva himself was guarding Shveta’s body.
One of Shiva’s companions asked Mrityu. “What are you doing here? What do you want?”
“I have come to take Shveta to Yama,” replied Mrityu. “His time on earth is up.”
Mrityu flung a noose to grasp Shveta’s body. But Shiva’s companion struck Mrityu with a rod and killed him. When the news of this was taken to Yama, he was furious. With all his companions he attacked Shveta’s house. Nandi, Ganesha, Kartikeya and several of Shiva’s companions came to fight on Shiva’s side, and a battle royal raged. All the gods arrived to mediate and end the strife. Things had a got a bit out of hand and Yama himself had been killed by Kartikeya.
The problem seemed to defy solution. Yama was, after all, performing his duty. But Shiva insisted that his devotees would never be taken to Yama, but would instead go straight to heaven. Shiva’s condition was finally agreed to. Nandi brought water from the Goutami Ganga and sprinkled it on Yama and the others who had died in the fighting. They were all immediately brought back to life.
Kubera was the eldest son of the sage Vishrava. Vishrava had two wives. The fist wife give birth to Kubera. The second wife was a rakshasa (demon) woman and gave birth to Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Vibhishana. Kubera used to rule in Lanka and his relations with his cousins were extremely good. But Ravana’s mother did not like idea of her sons mixing so much with Kubera.
She called her sons and said, “What are you up to? Why do you cause me so much of pain? You are demons and Kubera is a god. Is it proper that you should be so friendly with him? The relation between gods and demons is one of enmity. Consider Kubera’s pomp and glory. Have you got anything like that to show for yourselves? Do something so as to improve your own statures.”
Thus instructed by their mother, Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Vibhishana went off to the forest to perform tapasya. They pleased Brahma with their prayers and desired the boon that they might win over the kingdom of Lanka. Ravana also obtained the boon that he would become very strong.
Thus fortified with the boons, the demons attacked Kubera and defeated him. They drove Kubera out of Lanka. Kubera possessed a beautiful vimana named pushpaka. This was also appropriated by Ravana. Ravana also made it known that whoever gave Kubera refuge would be killed by him. This meant that no one dared give refuge to Kubera.
Kubera sought the advice of his grandfather Pulastya. Pulastya told him to go to the banks of the Goutami Ganga and pray to Shiva there. Shiva appeared before Kubera and blessed him. He granted Kubera the boon that Kubera would become the god of all wealth.
In the Ikshvaku dynasty there ruled a king named Harishchandra. Harishchandra had no son. One day two sages named Narada and Parvata came to visit Harishchandra and told him that he would go to hell if he did not have a son.
“How can I obtain a son?” asked Harishchandra.
“Go to the banks of the Goutami Ganga,” advised the sages. “Pray to the god Varuna there. We are sure that Varuna will grant you a son.”
Harishchandra pleased Varuna with his prayers and asked for a son.
“You will have a son,” said Varuna. “But there is a condition attached. You will have to subsequently organise a yajna in my honour and you will have to sacrifice your son at this yajna. Tell me if this condition is acceptable to you.”
“Yes indeed,” replied Harishchandra.
In due course, Harishchandra had a son who was named Rohita.
Varuna came to Harishchandra and asked, “What about the yajna in my honour?”
“My son is still too young,” replied Harishchandra. “Let him at least attain ten days of age. Till then, the baby is in any case impure and is not fit to be sacrificed.”
After ten days Varuna came again and asked, “What about the yajna in my honour?
“Please let him grow his teeth,” replied Harishchandra. “Animals are sacrificed at yajnas. And no one becomes an animal until he actually has teeth.”
Varuna waited till the teeth grew and returned when Rohita was seven years of age. “What about the yajna in my honour?” he asked.
“These are only milk teeth,” replied Harishchandra. “These do not characterise an animal. Please wait until his proper teeth have grown.”
Varuna returned when the proper teeth grew and asked, “What about the yajna in my honour?”
“He is the son of kshatriya (the second of the four classes, a warrior class),” replied Harishchandra. “But his training in the art of fighting has not even begun. He cannot be called a kshatriya until he knows how to fight. Till that day he is an incomplete man. Do you really want such an incomplete man as a sacrifice?”
After some years had passed, Rohita became skilled in the art of fighting and was appointed the heir-apparent (yuvaraja) to the kingdom. He was then sixteen years of age.
Varuna appeared again and asked, “What about the yajna in my honour?”
This time the entire conversation took place in front of the prince and Rohita intervened before Harishchandra could say anything. “Father,” he said, “I have already resolved to perform a yajna in Vishnu’s honour. Grant me the permission to complete that first. After that, do what you will.”
Rohita went off to the forest. Meanwhile, Varuna had had enough and he afflicted Harishchandra with a painful stomach ailment. News of his father’s illness was taken to Rohita in the forest. In the forest, Rohita met a sage named Ajigarta. The sage was very poor and, together with his wife and three sons, was starving.
“Will you sell one of your three sons to me?” asked Rohita. “The boy is needed for a sacrifice.”
“I shall not sell my eldest son,” said the sage. “My wife will not permit the youngest one to be sold. You can have the one in the middle. His name is Shunahshefa. The price will be one thousand cows, one thousand golden coins, one thousand pieces of clothing and a lot of wealth.”
Rohita paid the price and brought Shunahshefa home to Harishchandra.
“We can’t do this,” said Harishchandra. “It is the duty of kings to protect the brahmanas. How can we sacrifice the son of a brahmana? It is better to die instead. Go and return Shunahshefa to his father.”
Just then a divine voice was heard from heaven. The voice said, “There is no need for anyone to die. Take Shunahshefa to the banks of the Goutami Ganga and perform the yajna to Varuna there. Goutami Ganga is such a sacred river that no human sacrifices are needed if a yajna is performed there.
This is what Harishchandra did not Varuna was satisfied. As for Shunahshefa, he was adopted by the sage Vishvamitra as a son.
The sage Goutama had a son named Vriddhagoutama. Vriddhagoutama was also a sage. But he was very ugly. Besides, he had no nose; had never had one since he had been born. He was so ashamed of this deformity that he could not bear to join the other children of the sages in studying the Vedas and Shastras under a teacher. But Vriddhagoutama knew some incantations (mantras) which he always chanted. He also worshipped the god Agni.
When he grew a bit older, Vriddhagoutama went out to tour the world. He traveled to many places and met many people. Since he was deformed, he never got married. Who would want to marry a person so ugly as he?
In the course of his travels, Vriddhagoutama arrived at a mountain named Shitagiri. He discovered a beautiful cave in the mountain and thought that this might be a good place to live in. So he entered the cave and was very surprised to find an old woman inside. The old woman had obviously been living inside the cave for many years. Her body was thin and wasted from the rigours of severe tapasya.
Vriddhagoutama was about to touch the feet of such a venerable old woman, but the woman restrained him. “Please don’t touch my feet,” said the woman. “You are my guru. Does a guru ever bow before his disciple?”
Vriddagoutama was surprised at these words. This was the first time in his life that he had met the old woman. “How can I be your guru?”, he asked. “You are much older than me. Besides, I have never learnt anything and you are clearly a respected ascetic. Your words are a complete mystery to me.”
“Let me tell you my story,” said the old woman. “Otherwise, you will not understand.”
There used to be a handsome and brave prince named Ritadhvaja. He was the son of King Arshtishena. Ritadhvaja went on a hunt to the forest and arrived at that very cave. There he happened to meet an apsara named Sushyama. The two fell in love with each other and got married. But eventually, Ritadhvaja had to return home and Sushyama gave birth to a daughter there. Sushyama left her daughter in the cave itself with the instruction that she was not to leave the cave. The first man to enter the cave would become her husband. It was this daughter who had now become the old woman. Ritadhvaja had reigned for eighty thousand years. After that, ritadhvaja’s son had reigned for ten thousand years. All this while, Sushyama’s daughter had lived in the cave, that is, for ninety thousand years all together.
“Now you see that you are to be my husband,” said the old woman. “Is a husband not a guru?”
“What you say is quite impossible,” replied Vriddhagoutama. “You are much older than me. I am only a thousand years old and you more than ninety thousand. How can we marry? I am like a child next to you.”
“If you do not marry me, I will kill myself,” said the old woman.
“But I am ugly,” protested Vriddhagoutama. “I will promise you this much. If I every become handsome and learned, I will indeed marry you.”
“I have pleased the goddess Sarasvati, who presides over all learning, through my tapasya,” said the old woman. “She will make you learned. I have also pleased the god Varuna and he will make you handsome.”
Vriddhagoutama became handsome and learned and married the old woman. They lived happily in the cave.
One day, various sages came to visit the couple. Amongst them there were sages like Vashishtha and Vamadeva. But there were also young sages who ere not all that sensible. The younger sages started to laugh at the sight of the young and handsome Vriddhagoutama and his aged wife.
“Who is this man?” they asked the old woman. “Is he your son or your grandson?”
The sages went away, but the couple felt ashamed. They asked the sage Agastya what they might do. Agastya told them to go and bathe in the river Goutami Ganga. The river is so sacred that all one’s heart’s desires are thereby granted. The couple did this and prayed to Vishnu and Shiva. Wonder of wonders, the old woman became young and pretty. The place on the banks of the river where these wonderful things happened is a tirtha named vriddhasangama.
Many years ago, there used to be a sage named Dadhici. His wife was Lopamudra. Dadhichi’s hermitage was right next to the holy river Ganga. Lopamudra’s sister Gabhastini also used to live in the hermitage. Such was the sage Dadhichi’s powers that daityas and danavas dared not set foot inside the hermitage.
The gods once fought with the demons and managed to defeat them. After the war was over, they came to pay their respects to Dadhichi. Dadhichi welcomed his guests and wanted to know how they were faring.
“Thanks to your blessings, we are fine,” replied the gods. “We have just defeated the demons in a war. In fact, we have a slight problem. We no longer need our weapons now that the demons have run away. We don’t know of a safe place where we can store all these weapons. We were wondering if we might keep the weapons in your ashrama. This is one of the safest places that can be found.”
Dadhichi consented to this proposal. The gods left their weapons in the hermitage and went back to heaven.
When Lopamudra heard what Dadhichi had done, she was not at all pleased. “You have done something that is mot improper,” she told her husband. “One should never accept responsibility for someone else’s property, especially if one is an ascetic and has not material possessions of one’s own. Moreover, you have agreed to store the weapons of the gods. Dose this not mean that those who are the god’s enemies will look upon you too as an enemy? And what are you going to do if something should happen to the weapons? Will the gods not blame you then?”
“Your points are well taken,” said Dadhichi. “But I had not thought of them and I have given the gods my word. I can’t very well go back on my word now.”
A hundred years passed. The gods did not return to collect their weapons. The weapons began to lose their luster, Dadhichi did not know how the energy of the weapons might be preserved. He washed them with holy water and the energy of the weapons got dissolve in the water. Dadhichi then drank up the water. As for the weapons themselves, they faded away once their energy was gone.
Finally the gods came to claim their weapons. “Can we have our weapons back? They asked.
“Our enemies have become powerful again. We need our weapons.”
“That may be,” said Dadhichi. “But the weapons are no longer there. I have swallowed up their energy. Let me tell you what can be done. I will use the powers of meditation (yoga) to give up my life. Then excellent weapons can be made out of my bones.
The gods were reluctant, but thee was no other solution. Dadhichi died and the gods requested Vishvakarma to make weapons for them out of Dadhichi’s bones. Vishvakarma complied and the weapon name vajra that he made was truly remarkable.
Lopamudra was away when this incident took place. She returned and found that her husband had died. She was afflicted with sorrow and wished to immolate herself in a fire. But she happened to be pregnant at the time, so that this could not immediately be done. Once the baby was born, she killed herself after having handed over the baby to a pippala (fig) tree for rearing.
Since the pippala tree brought up the boy, he came to be known as Pippalada. Chandra was the lord over all trees. The trees asked Chandra for some amrita for Pippalada and Chandra obliged. The amrita gave Pippalada a lot of strength.
When Pippalada grew up, he wanted to know who his parents were and the trees told him the story. Pippalada blamed the gods for his parents death and decided to seek revenge. The trees brought Pippalada to Chandra.
“You are still too young,” said Chandra. “First you must become learned and well-versed in the use of weapons. Go to the forest of dandakaranya. The river Goutami Ganga flows through that forest. Pray to Shiva there and I am sure that your wishes will be fulfilled.”
Pippalada pleased Shiva through his prayers.
“What boon do you desire?” asked Shiva.
I want the boon that I may be able to destroy the gods,” replied Pippalada.
“I have a third eye in the middle of my forehead,” said Shiva. “The day you can see my third eye, your wish will be granted.”
Try as he might, Pippalada could not see Shiva’s third eye. Pippalada therefore performed even more difficult tapasya for even more years. Eventually he managed to see Shiva’s third eye. From Shiva’s third eye was born a demon that looked like a mare.
“What is your desire?” asked the demon of Pippalada.
“Kill my enemies, the gods,” was the reply.
The demon immediately attacked Pippalada.
“What are you doing?” asked Pippalada. “Why are you trying to kill me? I asked you to kill the gods.”
“But your body has bee created by the gods,” replied the demon. “I will therefore kill you also.”
Pippalada ran to Shiva for deliverance. Shiva earmarked a region inside the forest for Pippalada. There the demon was not permitted to enter. Pippalada lived there, protected from the ravages of the demon. Meanwhile, the gods requested Shiva to save them as well. Shiva persuaded Pippalada to control his anger. He convinced Pippalada that nothing was to be gained by killing the gods. That would not bring his parents back.
Pippalada agreed. But he wished to see his parents once. Accordingly, vimana descended from heaven on which Dadhichi and Lopamudra were seated. They blessed Pippalada and asked him to marry and have children.
As for the demon, it became a river and merged with the holy Ganga.
There was a city named Pratishthana. A king named Shurasena ruled in that city. Shurasena did not have any sons. After a lot of effort, a son was born to him. But the son happened to be a snake. The king and the queen were mortified at this turn of events. But they brought up their son in great secrecy. Not even the king’s ministers and priests knew that the prince was a snake.
When the prince grew slightly, he began to talk like a human, even though he was a snake. King Shurasena arranged for the prince’s education. After the snake had become learned in the knowledge of the Vedas, he told his father, “Father, it is time for me to get married. If I do not have a son, I am certain to go to naraka.”
King Shurasena was very surprised to hear this. “How is that possible?” he asked. “Which princess will consent to marry a snake?”
“I don’t know,” replied the prince. “But I do know that I have to get married. Other wise, I will commit suicide. There are many forms of marriage that are permissible. Perhaps a princess can be kidnapped and married to me.”
Shurasena called his ministers and told them, “My son Nageshvara has now come of age. He has also been made the heir-apparent to the kingdom. There is no one equal to him in bravery on earth, in heaven or in the underworld. I am getting old. Please arrange for Nageshvara to get married. I shall then relinquish my kingdom and retire to the forest.”
The king did not of course tell his ministers that Nageshvara was a snake.
Shurasena had an aged minister. This minister reported that there was a king named Vijaya who ruled in the eastern part of the country. King Vijaya had eight sons and one daughter. The daughter’s name was Bhogavati and she was very beautiful. She would be the right match for Nageshvara.
The aged minister was sent as a messenger to Vijaya and the king agreed to the match. There was a custom amongst kshatriyas that the bride did not always have to be married to the bridegroom in person. She could also be married to the bridegroom’s sword or some other weapon. The minister explained to King Vijaya that there were some private reasons which made it impossible for Nageshvara to come in person for the marriage. Bhogavati should be married off to Nageshvara’s sword. Vijaya consented to this and the marriage ceremony was performed. The entire retinue then returned to the city of Pratishthana.
But what was to be done now that the marriage was over? Nageshvara’s mother sent a made to Bhogavati. The maid was to tell Bhogavati that her husband was actually a snake and then observe her reaction.
The maid told Bhogavati, “Your husband is a god, but he has the form of a snake.”
“That is my good fortune,” replied Bhoavati. “Normally, women are married to men. I must have performed many good deeds in my earlier life to have been married to a god.”
Bhogavati was then brought to Nageshvara and at the sight of Bhogavati, Nageshvara remembered his earlier life. He used to be a snake (naga) in his earlier life and was a companion of Shiva’s. His wife in the earlier life was Bhogavati.
There had bee an occasion when Shiva had laughed at a joke of parvati’s and Nageshvara had also laughed. This had annoyed Shiva and he had cursed Nageshvara that he would be born on earth as the son of a human, but in the form of a snake. When he went and bathed in Goutami Ganga, the period of the curse would be over. When Nageshvara recounted these incidents to Bhogavati, she also remembered her earlier life. The two went and bathed in the scared river and Nageshvara obtained a handsome and divine form. Nageshavara ruled after Shurasena’s death. And when Nageshvara and Bhogavati died, they went back to Kailasa to live with Shiva.
On the banks of the Goutami Ganga, Nageshvara and Bhogavati built a temple to Shiva. This is a famous tirtha known as nagatirtha.
9.29 Brahma’s Head
9.29 Brahma’s Head
Years ago, there was a war between the gods and the demons and the gods lost. The gods came to Brahma for advice and Brahma asked them to pray to Shiva.
When Shiva appeared before them, the gods said, “The demons have defeated us. Please kill them and save us.”
Shiva went to fight with the demons. He drove the demons off from Mount Sumeru and out of heaven. He pursued them to the ends of the earth. All this exertion made Shiva sweat. And wherever the drops of sweat fell down on the ground, terrible ogresses named matris were created. The matris also started to kill the demons and pursued them down to the underworld.
While the matris were killing the demons in the underworld, Brahma and the other dos waited on the banks of the river Goutami Ganga. This place came to be known as Pratishthana.
When the matris had killed all the demons, they returned to earth and began to live on the banks of the Goutami Ganga. This tirtha has come to be known as matritirtha.
Brahma used to have five heads. The fifth head was in the shape of a donkey’s head. When the demons were running away to the underworld, this donkey’s head addressed the demons and said, “Why are you running away? Come back and fight with the gods. I shall aid you in your fight.”
The gods were alarmed at this paradoxical situation. Brahma was helping them in their flight with the demons and Brahma’s fifth head was trying to help the demons. They went to Vishnu and said, “Please cut off Brahma’s fifth head. It is causing too much of confusion.”
“I can do what you want,” replied Vishnu, “but there is a problem. When the cut-off head falls on earth, it will destroy the earth. I think you should pray to Shiva to find a way out.”
The gods prayed to Shiva and Shiva agreed to cut off the head. But what was to be done with the severed head? The earth refused to bear it and so did the ocean. Finally it was decided that Shiva himself would bear the head.
The place where Shiva cut off Brahma’s fifth head is known as rudratirtha. Ever since that day, Brahma has had four heads and is known as Chaturmukha (chatur connotes four and mukha connotes face). There is a temple to Brahma on the banks of the Goutami Ganga. This is a holy place known as brahmatirtha. A killer of brahmanas is pardoned his sin if he visits this temple.
9.30 The Owl and the Dove
9.30 The Owl and the Dove
A dove used to live on the banks of the Goutami Ganga. The dove’s name was Anuhrada and its wife’s name was Heti. Anuhrada was Yama’s grandson.
Not very far away, there lived an owl named Uluka. The owl’s wife was called Uluki. The owls were descended from the god Agni.
The doves and the owls were enemies. They fought amongst themselves continually. The doves had received all sorts of weapons from Yama and the owls had received all sorts of weapons from Agni. These divine weapons threatened to burn up everything. But Yama and Agni intervened. They persuaded the owls and the doves to forget their enmity and live together as friends.
The place where the doves lived came to be known as a tirtha named yamyatirtha. And the place where the owls lived came to be known as agnitirtha.
9.31 The Hunter
9.31 The Hunter
There was a sage named Veda. He used to pray to Shiva every day. The prayers lasted till the afternoon and after the prayers were over, Veda used to go to the nearby villages to beg alms.
A hunter named Bhilla used to come to the forest every afternoon to hunt. After the hunt was over, he used to come to Shiva’s linga (image) and offer to Shiva whatever it was that he had hunted. In the process of doing this, he often moved Veda’s offerings out of the way. Strange though it might seem, Shiva was stirred by Bhilla’s offerings and eagerly used to wait for it every day.
Bhilla and Veda never met. But Veda noticed that every day his offerings lay scattered and a little bit of meat lay by the side. Since this always happened when Veda had gone out to beg for alms, Veda did not know who was responsible. But one day, he decided to wait in hiding so as to catch the culprit red-handed.
While Veda waited, Bhilla arrived and offered what he had brought to Shiva. Veda was amazed to discover that Shiva himself appeared before Bhilla and asked, “Why are you late today? I have been waiting for you. Did you get very tired?”
Bhilla went away after making his offerings. But Veda came up to Shiva and said, “What is all this? This is a cruel and evil hunter, and yet, you appear before him. I have been performing tapasya for so many years and you never appear before me. I am disgusted at this partiality. I will break your linga with this stone.”
“Do it if you must,” replied Shiva. “But please wait till tomorrow.”
Next day, when Veda came to present his offerings, he found traces of blood on top of the linga. He carefully washed away the traces of blood and completed his prayers.
After some time, Bhilla also came to present his offerings and discovered traces of blood on top of the linga. He thought that he was in some way responsible for this and blamed himself for some unknown transgression. He picked up a sharp arrow and began to pierce his body repeatedly with this arrow as punishment.
Shiva appeared before both of them and said, “Now you see the difference between Veda and Bhilla. Veda has given me his offerings, but Bhilla has given me his whole soul. That is the difference between ritual and true devotion.”
The place where Bhilla used to pray to Shiva is a famous tirtha known as bhillatirtha.
9.32 Goutama and Manikundala
9.32 Goutama and Manikundala
There was a city named Bhouvana. In that city there lived a brahmana named Goutama. The brahmana had a vaishya friend named Manikundala. (A vaishya belongs to the third of the three classes and his primary duties are trade and agriculture).
Goutama’s mother gave him a lot of ill advice. As a result of this, Goutama told Manikundala, “Let us go to other countries to trade and make profits.”
“But my father has a lot of wealth,” replied Manikundala. “What is the need to obtain more wealth?”
“You don’t have the proper perspective,” said Goutama. “A successful person is one who does not thrive on what is left to him by his father. He makes his own fortune.”
Manikundala was convinced by Gountama’s logic. He did not realise that his so-called friend was out to defraud him.
The two friends set out on their journey, Manikundala providing all the capital.
In the course of their travels Goutama remarked, “Have you noticed how those who follow the path of dharma (righteousness) always suffer? They are neither wealthy nor happy. There seems to be no point in being righteous.”
“Please don’t say that,” protested manikundala. “Happiness lies in following the path of dharma. Poverty and misery are inevitable, they are of no account at all.”
The two friends argued over this, but could not decide who was right. They resolved to have a bet. They would ask the opinions of others. And whoever lost the bet would surrender all his wealth to the winner. They asked many people for their opinions. Naturally most people said that it was the evil who thrived and prospered. And it was the righteous who suffered. The upshot of this was that Manikundala surrendered all his wealth to Goutama. But Manikundala continued to praise dharma.
“You are an utter ass,” said Goutama. “Haven’t you lost all your wealth to me? Yet you continue to praise dharma.”
“The wealth is of no account at all,” replied Manikundala. “Dharma is on my side and your apparent victory is only an illusion. Dharma will triumph in the end.”
The two friends decided to have another bet. This time it was agreed that whoever lost the bet would have his two arms chopped off. They again asked several people and most people said that is was adharma (evil) which triumphed. So Manikundala lost his two arms.
“How does it feel now?” asked Goutama.
“The same as ever,” replied Manikundala. “What is important is dharma. And dharma is on my side.”
Goutama lost his temper at this. He threatened to cut off Manikundala’s head if Manikundala persisted in his praise of dharma. But Manikundala was unperturbed. The friends decided to have another bet. This time it was agreed that whoever lost would forfeit his life. Manikundala lost yet again. And Goutama gouged out Manikundala’s eyes and left him for dead.
Manikundala lay on the banks of the Goutami Ganga and pondered about the fate that had befallen him. It became night.
There was an image of Vishnu on the banks of the river and the rakshasa Vibhishana used to come there every night to pray to Vishnu. Vibhishana’s son discovered Manikundala lying there and found out from him the entire story. He recounted the story to his father.
“Many years ago, I had joined Rama in his fight with Ravana,” Vibhishana told his son. “Ragvana’s son Meghanada shot a venomous arrow at Rama’s brother Lakshmana. Lakshmana fell unconscious. The monkey Hanumana then went to the Himalayas and brought a mountain named Grandhamadana to Lanka. On that mountain there was a wonderful herb named vishalyakarani which cures all illnesses. When Hanumana returned the mountain to the Himalayas, a bit of the vishalyakarani fell down at this spot. Near Vishnu’s image. Let us try and find it. We should be able to cure Manikundala.”
Father and son hunted for the herb. The vishalyakarani had become a huge tree. They lopped off a branch and placed it on Manikundala’s chest. Manikundala immediately regained his eyes and arms. After curing Manikundala, Vibhishana and his retinue returned to Lanka.
Manikundala began to travel. He eventually came to a city named Mahapura where a king named Maharaja ruled. Maharaja had no sons, only a daughter. The daughter was blind. Maharaja had announced that whoever cured his daughter would become his son-in-law and rule after him. Manikundala cured the princess with his knowledge of the vishalyakarani. He then married the princess and became king of Mahapura after Maharaja.
Many years later, Goutama was brought before Manikundala by the soldiers. He had been arrested on the charge of committing a crime. Goutama had lost all his wealth by then and was no more than a beggar. Manikundala pardoned his friend and shared with him whatever he had.
Such are the virtues of following the path of dharma. There are many tirthas along the banks of the Goutami Ganga where these wonderful incidents took place.
There was a sage named Kandu. He had a hermitage on the banks of the Goutami Ganga. The ashrama was a beautiful place and Kandu performed very difficult tapasya there. In the summer Kandu meditated in the hot sun, in the monsoon he meditated on the wet ground, and in the winter he meditated dressed in wet clothing.
Indra got sacred as a result of all this tapasya. He thought that the sage Kandu might want to become Indra the king of the gods. He therefore called an apsara named disturb Kandu’s tapasya.
Pramlocha went to the hermitage and began to sing there in a beautiful voice. This disturbed Kandu and he discovered a beautiful woman wandering around in his ashrama.
“Who are you?” Kandu asked the woman.
“I have come here to pluck flowers,” replied Pramlocha. “I am your servant. I will do whatever you wish me to.”
Kandu had fallen in love with Pramlocha and he married her. He forgot all about his tapasya and Indra heaved a sigh of relief. Years passed. Pramlocha wished to return to heaven, but Kandu would not let her.
After years and years had passed, Kandu came out of his hut, looking rather distracted. It was then evening and Kandu was obviously going somewhere.
“Where are you going?” Pramlocha asked.
“What a stupid question!” exclaimed Kandu. “Can’t you see that it is now evening? I have got to go and observe the evening rites. The day has passed.”
“What day?” asked Pramlocha. “Several days have passed and several evenings have come and gone.”
“No, you came here this morning,” said Kandu. “I brought you to my hut and it is now evening, I don’t understand what you are trying to say. Explain yourself.”
“It is true that I came here in the morning,” answered Pramlocha. “But that was a morning which dawned many years ago. Hundreds of years have passed since that day.”
“How many years?” asked Kandu. “When did you come here?”
“Sixteen hundred years, six months and three days ago,” replied Pramlocha.
“Are you sure?” asked Kandu. “It seems like a single day to me.”
“I am sure,” said Pramlocha. “I dare not lie to you.”
“You have dislodged me from my tapasya,” responded Kandu. “But I will not curse you, since you have been my wife. Go back to heaven. I have to atone for my sins.”
The sage Kandu went to Purshottama kshetra and performed penance for his sins. He was blessed by Vishnu.
Kandu and Pramlocha had a daughter named Marisha.
The Brahma Purana also describes several other tirthas. Most of these are on the banks of the river Goutami Ganga. This is now identified as the river Godavari.
After describing these several tirthas, the text describes incidents in Krishna’s life. These we will skip, since they are described in much greater detail in the other Puranas.
There are four varnas (classes). Their names are brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya and shudra.
The duties of a brahmana are to donate alms, perform tapasya, worship the gods, perform yajnas and study the Vedas. To earn a living, brahmanas are authorized to teach and act as priests at sacrifices. The duties of kshatriya are to beat arms and protect the earth, donate alms and perform sacrifices. A kshatriya is also permitted to study the shastras. The duties of a vaishya are agriculture, animal husbandry and trade. That apart, vaishyas should donate alms, perform sacrifices and study the shastras. The duties of a shudra are to serve brahmanas. Shudras can also be shopkeepers and artisans.
In times of emergency, a brahmana is allowed to adopt the livelihoods of kshatriyas or vaishyas to earn a living. In similar fashion, a kshatriya is permitted to adopt the livelihoods of vaishyas or shudras and a vaishya is permitted to adopt the livelihoods of shudras.
There are four ashramas (stages of life) as well. The first of these is known as brahmacharya (celibate studenthood). During this period, the individual spends his days with his guru and studies the Vedas well. He has to serve his guru in proper fashion and live on alms. The next ashrama is that of garhasthya (householder stage). The individual now gets married and has children. He serves the gods, the sages, the ancestors and guests. It is householders who provide alms for sages and hermits. That is the reason why the householder stage is so very important. The third ashrama is known as vanaprastha (forest-dwelling stage). The individual now retires to the forest and withdraws his mind from the earthly life. He can leave his wife in the care of his sons or take her with him. He lives on roots, fruits and leaves and makes a bed for himself under the trees. He is not permitted to shave or cut his hair and his clothes have to be made out of bark or skins. The final ashrama is that of sannyasa (hermithood). A hermit gives up all association with the world and lives alone. He grows completely detached. He lives alone. He gets his food through begging. He is not permitted to spend more than one night in a village, or more than five nights at a time in a city.
9.35 The Chandala and the Brahma-Rakshasa
A chandala is an outcast. On the outskirts of the city named Avanti lived a chandala. There was a temple of Vishnu in Avanti and the chandala was devoted to Vishnu. He was also a good singer. Ekadashi tithi is the eleventh lunar day. Every month, on ekadashi tithi, the chandala would fast during the day. At night he would go to Vishnu’s temple and sing praises of Vishnu. He never failed to observe this ritual.
9.35 The Chandala and the Brahma-Rakshasa
A chandala is an outcast. On the outskirts of the city named Avanti lived a chandala. There was a temple of Vishnu in Avanti and the chandala was devoted to Vishnu. He was also a good singer. Ekadashi tithi is the eleventh lunar day. Every month, on ekadashi tithi, the chandala would fast during the day. At night he would go to Vishnu’s temple and sing praises of Vishnu. He never failed to observe this ritual.
The river Kshipra (Shipra) flowed by the city of Avanti. On one particular night, on ekadashi tithi, the chandala went to the banks of the river to collect some flowers for worshipping Vishnu. On the banks of the river there was a tree and on that tree there lived a brahmarakshasa (demon). As soon as the demon saw the chandala, it wished to devour him.
“Please not tonight,” said the chandala. “I have to worship Vishnu throughout the night. Let me go now.”
“Not on you life,” replied the demon. “I have not eaten for ten days and I am famished. I can’t let you go.”
“Please,” said the chandala, “let me go. I promise that I will come back once the prayers are over. You will then be free to do with me as you will.”
The demon let the chandala go. The chandala went to the temple. He worshipped Vishnu and spent the night in singing Vishnu’s praises. Next day, he returned to the demon.
“I am indeed surprised,” said the demon. “You are very truthful. You can’t be a chandala. You must be a brahmana. Answer my questions. What did you do all night?”
“I stood outside Vishnu’s temple and sang his praise,” replied the chandala.
“For how long have you been doing this?” asked the demon.
“For twenty years,” was the chandala’s reply.
“You have acquired a lot of punya (store of merit) through this,” said the demon. “Please grant me one night’s punya, I am sinner.”
“No,” replied the chandala. “I will not part with my punya. I have given you my body, eat me if you will. But the punya is mine own.”
“Very well then,” said the demon. “Give me two hours” worth of punya. I am a sinner.”
“I have told you I will not give you any of my punya,” replied the chandala. “But what is your sin?”
The brahmarakshasa related his story.
His name was Somasharma and he was the son of Devasharma. Devasharma was a righteous brahmana. But Somasharma fell into evil ways. A brahmana is not authorised to act as a priest in a sacrifice before he has had his sacred-thread ceremony (upanayana). But Somasharma became a priest at a yajna even though his upanayana had not been held. As a result of this sin, when he died, he became a demon. The chandala was stirred to pity at this sad story and parted with some of his punya. The demon was delighted and expressed his gratitude. He went to a tirtha and performed penance. Thus it was that the demon was freed.
What about the chandala? He returned home and then left for a tour of all the sacred places of pilgrimage. At one such tirtha. He remembered the story of his earlier life.
He used to be a hermit well-versed in the Vedas and the shastras. He used to beg alms for a living. Once he had obtained some alms. But some thieves were then in the process of stealing cows, and the hooves of the cows raised a cloud of dust. The dust fell onto the food and the hermit threw away the alms in disgust. Since he had thrown away alms, he was born as a chandala.
After performing penance for this sin, the chandala was pardoned.
end of The Brahma Vaivarta Purana
It is the eighteenth Purana. It has 1200 verses. Presently available in separate parts. We do not have the full text. Hence we have given the three important ones which we have:
1. About the Mokshada Ekadasi.
2. The Lalitopakhyanam about Devi Lalita Tripura Sundari. This also contains the Lalita Sahasranama Stotra and the Lalita Trishati Stotra, both of which are in our Stotras section.
3. Also included is the The Sons of Sagara section – an interesting story by Rishi Jaimini according to which they dug into the earth to find a horse in Patala loka. A lot of people site this as an example to support the “hollow earth theory”.
This Purana has four parts- Prakriya, Anushanga, Upotaghat and Upasamhar. This Purana is said to be narrated by Sutaji on the bank of the river Drishdvati in Yaksh kshetra (identified with Sutlej in modern Himachal Pradesh). From his narration, it is clear that Sutaji had heard the Purana from Veda Vyasa who, in his turn, received it from Vayudev.
Creation of the universe, determination of Kalpa, differentiation of Yugas, description of Manvantaras, description of Jambudweep and Bharatvarsh, description of Kimpurush. Anudweep, Ketumaal varsh etc. and description of Bharat vansha, Prithu vansha, Dev vansh, Rishi vansh, Agni vansh and preceptors are the main topics of Brahmand Purana. Sages, the dynasties of rulers and the legends of Pitas and their propitiation, the conflict between Karttikeya, King of Hihayas and Bhargava Parasurama.. Subsidiary episodes as that of Sagara, the lineage of Vaivasvata Manu and the dissolution of universe, the ultimate annihilation.
Described in the Purana, Adhyatma Ramayana has seven parts. First part describes the Brahmaswarup (cosmic appearance) of Shri Rama. Incarnation of Lord Rama to relieve the earth from the atrocities of the demons. Baal-leela (childhood plays). Emancipation of Ahilya. Removal of Bhargava’s (Parashuram’s) ego. Second part contains: Lord Rama going into exile. Demise of Dashrath. Aranyakanda describes killing of the illusionary deer and abduction of Sita. Kishkindha khand describes the killing of Baali. Search of Sita. Sundar Khand has the tales of Hanuman’s entry into Lanka. Lanka kanda contains the description of killing of Ravana and coronation of Lord Rama upon his return to Ayodhya. In Uttar Khand reasons for Ravana’s birth have been described. It also contains the description of Sita?s desertion by Rama. Desertion of Lakshmana. Coronation of Luv and Kush and departure of Rama to his original Vaikunth loka.
It is the most important section of this Purana. The narration is written in the form of conversation between Hayagreeva and the sage Agastya. Hayagreeva in this context is a seer. There is a celestial of the same name. Who are they? We get the reply for this also in the text.There is a detailed description in the book establishing the harmonious synthesis of the aspects of the three deities Shiva, Vishnu and the Divine Mother. In the past several devotees used to daily recite Lalitopakhyana, the detailed story of Lalita. This pious story contains the inner meanings of the several technical terms of the spiritual science and the finer aspects of the Mantra Shastra (the science of holy chants). Let us enjoy the feast of nectar by listening to this pious story with deep devotion.
Penance of Agastya. Long ago, the mountain Vindhya (central India) started growing upward in gigantic proportion due to egoism. The sage Agastya decided to subdue the pride of Vindhya. For this purpose, he came from Varanasi (Uttara Pradesh, India) and settled in South India. By the divine presence of the sage Agastya, the entire SouthIndia gradually became prosperous and pious. Eventually the Kali Yuga started (As per the tradition of India, Kali Yuga is the fourth Age, the others being Kruta, Treta and Dvapara). In spite of the severe inspection ofthe sage Agastya, the evil traits of the Kali Yuga started sprouting slowly. Noting this trend, the sage felt sad and proceeded on a pilgrimage. The strange and unrighteous ways of the people made him quite unhappy. There was rampant selfishness and sensuousness prevalent everywhere. “How can thesepeople attain liberation?” – This was his nagging grief. After reaching Kanchi (Tamil Nadu – South India) he was unable to bear the burden of the grief, and performed severe penance meditating on Varadaraja (The Best of the boon givers – a synonym of Vishnu). God’s ways are mysterious! His power of illusion is incomprehensible! Vishnu appeared to the sage in the form of Hayagreeva.
Agastya asked Hayagreeva “OhLord! What is the path of salvation to these ignorant people”?
Hayagreeva replied “There are two paths for this. They are:
a) After renouncing everything, one can attain the knowledge of the, attributeless aspect of God. This is a very difficult way.
b) The second method is to worship the Divine Mother who is the form of Vishnu with attributes. Even a sinner can do the worship. There is another advantage in this type. The devotee can simultaneously get enjoyment and salvation by following this path”. Further, Vishnu ordered to the sage Agastya “You have to propagate this divine secret in the entire world”.
The sage asked, “Lord Vishnu! Kindly narrate the story of Para Shakti (The UltimatePower, the Divine Mother) who is your aspect with attributes ”.
At this stage, Vishnu asked sage Hayagreeva (born with the Lord’s aspects) to tell the detailed story to Agastya.
“The Divine Mother emanated from meditation of Brahma (the Creator). Her name then was Prakruti (The nature). Mohini Avatara. For the second time, the Divine Mother manifested as Mohini at the time of the churning the ocean by the celestials and the demons (to obtain Amruta-nectar). Let us see how it happened.
Once upon a time, Indra (the Lord of the Heaven was overpowered by the pride of his prosperity. His reverence to even Shiva gradually diminished. Observing this, Shiva asked the sage Durvasa to meet Indra in the Heaven. The sage started taking the path of Gandharvas (the celestial singers), which was very beautiful. The sage appeared uglier than a beggar. Anyway he proceeded ahead pompously. On the way the sage saw a celestial lady holding a fragrant garland of divine flowers. The ugly looking sage asked the beautiful lady, “Where did you get this garland”?
She observed him keenly and realised that he was a sage. She prostrated to him and replied humbly “Sir! I am just now returning after doing the worship of the Divine Mother, who manifested and gave me this garland as Prasadam”. Jumping joyously, the sage asked her to give the garland to him. She happily handed it over to the sage and, prostrated to him. The sage blessed her “May your devotion to the Divine mother be firm”. Taking leave of the sage, she went away. By this incident, the sage realised that it was not difficult to others to recognise him, even if he was in any ugly appearance. He was satisfied with this thought and proceeded further.
After a while, he saw Indra riding the elephant Iravata. The sage approached Indra, who did not appear to recognise and prostrate to the sage. However, the sage did not get angry and said, “Indra! This is the garland given by the Divine Mother Herself. Take it. Saying so, the sage presented the garland to Indra. Indra didn’t refuse. He received the garland with disgust and threw the same on the head of the elephant, which proceeded ahead. A little latter, the elephant threw down the garland with its trunk and trampled over it. Looking at this, the sage Durvasa became very furious and cursed Indra, “Oh! Egoistic fellow! You have not recognised me. Not only that. You have not even respected the Prasadam of the Divine mother. Due to this, May your prosperity vanish!” With these words, Indra’s pride was humbled. He got down the elephant and prostrated to the feet of the angry sage Durvasa. However, the sage went away silently.
Then Indra’s troubles started one by one. He saw bad omens in the Heaven. Afraid of them, Indra asked the sage Bruhaspati (the Spiritual Master of the celestials) to reveal the cause of the bad omens. The sage replied, “The effect of your sins follows you as a shadow. Saying so, the sage narrated a fine story.
Long long ago, there was a thief by name Vajra in Kanchipuram (Tamil Nadu, South India). He used to steal small things and gradually amassed large quantum of money. As the wealth accumulated considerably, he wanted to hide it safely and went to the nearby forest to do so. In a dense part of the forest, he dug a deep pit and secured the money there in. However, a hunter by name Veeradanta, sitting on a tall tree observed all this, quite unexpectedly. After the thief has left the place, the hunter dug out the pit and after taking only one tenth of the money, he covered the pit, without causing any doubt to anyone. The hunter’s wife saw the money and knowing how her husband got it, she said, “It is customary that many Brahmanas visit the home of my parents. Whenever they saw me, they used to forecast “You will get rich quite suddenly. Their prediction came true now”. The hunter Veeradanta planned to purchase meat and wine with the money. However his wife said, “The Brahmana visitors of my parents’ home used to tell something more. They cautioned that hard-earned money only will give durable enjoyment and that the easy money was sinful. Hence let us use this unexpected and unearned money for charities. After prolonged discussions, the wife’s opinion won. Then Veeradanta selected a place of water scarcity and arranged the digging a big water tank for public use. While the work was in progress, further plans were made and accordingly, he started the construction of temples for Vishnu and Shiva by the side of the tank. When the projects were half way, the money was exhausted. Hence Veeradanta started spying to find out the several places at which the thief Vajra was hiding the stolen wealth. Without causing any doubt to the thief, the hunter used to take out money little by little from the pits and continued the construction without interruptions. Along with this, he started to donate the money. However the hunter did not use the money for himself or his family. Thus, constantly encouraged by his wife, his charities developed. The Brahmanas of Kanchi were glad and gave the titles “Dvijavarma” and “Shilavati” to the hunter and his wife.
These titles eventually became their names in vogue. Some time later, the hunter planned and constructed a city. Instead of giving it his own name, the hunter named it as “Devaratapura”, as a mark of respect to his guru “Devarata”. After a few years, the hunter and his wife died at the same time. The messengers of Yama (The God of death and the Lord of Hell), and Shiva and Vishnu arrived to takeaway the Jivas (the subtle form of life of the dead). Their debate as to who can take the Jivas could not be settled. At that time, the sage Narada arrived there. He asked the three groups of messengers to stop the arguments and revealed another aspect of the code of righteousness thus, “The hunter has performed the deeds of merit (Punya) like charities, with the money stolen by him. Hence as per the rules of righteousness, he must move about in the form of a ghost until the death of all the owners of the stolen wealth. Hence none of you have the right to take away the Jiva. “Next, his wife was great. She didn’t commit any sin. As she was a devotee of Shiva, the messengers of the Lord can take away her Jiva. ”Listening to this ruling, Shilavati’s Jiva sat down obstinately, saying “I won’t go to Kailasha, the abode of Shiva, leaving my husband in the form of a ghost”. She prayed to the sage Narada, “Sir! Kindly direct me what I have to do to unburden my husband’s sins”.
Narada was very much pleased with her chastity and fidelity and gave initiation of Shiva mantra (chant) to her. By her penance, the husband and wife attained the grace of Shiva and were accepted to stay in Kailasha (Shiva’s abode). Sometime later, the thief Vajra and the persons from whom he stole the money died. All the Jivas reached the Hell, the abode of Yama, the god of death, He asked all of them to assemble and said, “Though you did not intend to do the acts of Punya (merit), they were performed with your money. Hence you are eligible to stay in Kailasha (abode of Shiva) for sometime. Hence I ask you whether you choose to experience either the effect of Punya (merit) or Papa (sin) in the first instance. They replied in chorus “we opt to experience the effect of merit first. By doing so, we will have a chance of association with the pious which in turn will wipe out past sins”. Yama felt glad by their choice and sent them all as the attendants of Dvijavarma at Kailasha. By his good association, all their sins were washed off and they settled in Kailasha happily.
Preaching of Bruhaspati. After narrating the story, Bruhaspati said, “Indra! Now you think of your sins”. Indra once again prostrated to the sage and requested. “Sir! I am unable to realise my sins. Kindly give me details”.
Bruhaspati replied “In the distant past, ‘Diti’, the second wife of Kashyapa gave birth to a son by name Danu and a daughter named Rupavati. Danu is the predecessor of the race of Danavas (demons). Rupavati was married to Brahma (the Creator). Her son was Vishwarupa. He did severe penance. He had many divine aspects. However he was a nephew of the demons. He was affectionate towards both the races – the celestials and the demons. After a while, Indra chose Vishwarupa as his Guru (at that time, Bruhaspati was not the Guru of the celestials). Indra expected that Vishwarupa would be partial towards the celestials and that he would destroy the demons. However Vishwarupa was friendly towards all. Observing this, Indra suspected that being a friend of the demons, Vishwarupa was harming the celestials. One day, Indra suddenly went to Vishwarupa and cut off all his three heads. By doing so, Indra was afflicted by the sin of Brahmahatya (killing Brahmana). Not only that. Aggrieved by the death of His son, Brahma (the Creator) cursed Indra.
Terrified by these two (Brahmahatya and curse of Brahma), Indra accompanied by all the celestials, sought refuge at the feet of Vishnu, who contemplated deeply and allocated the effect of Indra’s sins to the earth, the trees and the women. As compensation, Vishnu gave the power that the pits of earth could be filled up, the power that even the trees once cut off could revive and the power of women to beget children. Thus Indra was relieved of the effect of the sin of Brahmahatya (killing a Brahmin).
However, the curse of Brahma (the Creator) still persisted. Vishnu called for Brahma and requested Him on behalf of Indra for relief from the curse. Brahma thought over the same and said, “OK. For the present my curse won’t take effect”. Vishnu said nothing. Again Indra became prosperous. However, very soon his pride increased. This time, Indra was affected by the anger of Shiva and so he was cursed by the sage Durvasa”.
Listening to all this, Indra recollected the past events and sadly asked Bruhaspati “Master! What have I to do now”?
When the guru was about to reply, a demon named Malaka invaded the Heaven with a huge army and seized the kingdom. Indra had to escape in a great hurry. He went straight to Brahma and prayed to Him for mercy, who also pitied Indra. However even the Creator could not decide what to do and approached Vishnu along with Indra and the celestials.
Vishnu thought of the problem deeply and advised them, “You churn the ocean to get the Goddess of prosperity”.
For this purpose, Indra made reconciliation with the demons and taking their help, he and the celestials churned the ocean. During the churning, very valuable things emanated from the ocean. At last, Dhanvantari (the God of Healing) came out holding the pot of Amruta (nectar). Looking at him, the demons grabbed the pot and started running away with it. A bitter battle started between the celestials and the demons. There was utter confusion. Even Brahma and Shiva escaped and reached their abodes. Observing all this, Vishnu went to a secluded spot and started meditation of Sri Lalita Devi, who dwells within Him as the aspect of power. Due to this meditation he manifested as a form of Lalita Devi. Taking this incarnation as an embodiment of eroticism, Vishnu approached the celestials and demons. The celestials could realise the form as divine and auspicious.
However, due to their predominating trait of Tamas (ignorance), the demons were enchanted by the beauty of the form and stopped fighting. She mesmerised them and took the pot of Amruta (nectar) from them, taking their consent to her to serve the nectar to all. She asked the celestials and the demons to sit in separate rows. She started to give the nectar to the celestials only first. Allured by her, the demons sat still stupefied. By the time the nectar was given to the celestials, the stock exhausted. She disappeared suddenly. The demons again started to fight with the celestials. However as the celestials have already drunk the nectar by then, the demons were defeated.
Thus, the Divine Mother who manifested and enchanted the demons was called MOHINI (the divine enchantress). Shiva, staying in Kailasha came to know of these events and wanted to note the specialty of the new form of Vishnu. Along with his consort Parvati, Shiva went to Vaikuntha, the abode of Vishnu and pressed Him tos how the form of Mohini. Vishnu suddenly disappeared without saying yes or no. While Shiva was searching for Vishnu, he happened to reach a new place where he continued to search. There he heard the music of Veena. He saw a beautiful young lady. Unable to resist this infatuation, Shiva embraced her. At once a son was born. He was named SASTA (one who rules). He became a commander in Shiva’s army. At once the lady disappeared. Shiva realised that she was none else than Mohini, a form of Vishnu. He applauded her beauty and returned to Kailasha along with Parvati. Thus the Divine Mother incarnated as Mohini and granted success of the activities of the celestials.
Agastya heard the story and said, “Hayagreeva! Kindly let me know in detail which form of Para Shakti (The Divine Mother, the Supreme Power) will bestow both food and salvation to the devotees in the Kali Yuga”.
Hayagreeva replied, “Lalita Devi isthe only Goddess who has the power to do so. Listen to her story”.In the distant past, Sati Devi, a daughter of Daksha was married to Shiva. However gradually, Daksha developed hatred towards Shiva. Due to this ill will, Daksha intended to perform a Yaga (fire sacrifice) without making any offering to Shiva. He didn’t invite even his daughter Sati Devi to the Yaga. She came to know of the forth-coming great Yaga to be done by her father. She didn’t know other details. However, overjoyed by the news of the ritual her father was going to perform, he went to the Yaga, in spite of Shiva’s disapproval of her visit. Sati Deha Tyaga (Self-immolation of Sati) Ignoring the natural affection to his daughter, Daksha insulted her and repeatedly abused Shiva. Unable to bear the insult to Shiva, Sati Devi burnt her body in the fire created by her power of yoga. Knowing about this calamity, Shiva became furious. Creating the terrific Veerabhadra out of the locks of hair of His head, Shiva sent him to attack Daksha. Veerabhadra destroyed the hall of Yaga, swallowed even the Chakra (the circular weapon of Vishnu) and beheaded Daksha. The wives of Daksh aprayed to Veerabhadra who was pacified and revived Daksha back to life by joining he head of a goat to the trunk. Daksha repented and prayed to Shiva for pardon. Sati Devi was born as the daughter of Himavanta (Himalaya Mountain) and Menaka, as the couple did penance for 150 million years with the intention to beget her as their child. The newborn was named Parvati (daughter of Parvata-mountain) and brought Her up with love and affection.
One day, the sage Narada visited Himavanta and said, “You are very fortunate. The Divine Mother is born as your daughter; Shiva is doing penance in your mountain range in his “Sthanu Ashrama” (abode of stones). After the departure of Sati Devi, He has become an ascetic. It will benefit you considerably if you send your daughter o serve Him”. Himavanta’s joy knew no bounds on hearing Narada’s words. He went to the abode of Shiva along with his daughter. After taking Nandi’s (the Ox which is the vehicle of Shiva) permission, he approached Shiva, worshipped Him and prayed to Him to allow Parvati to serve him. Shiva said, “OK. She may do so”. Then onwards, Parvati used to render services to Shiva for hours together. However, Shiva used to be in a state of ecstasy of yoga continuously. Kama Dahana (Burning of Cupid)
This being so, a demon by name Taraka invaded and occupied the Heaven along with his army and started to hurt and pester the celestials. All of them approached Brahma for relief, who said, “The son born to Shiva and Parvati only can kill the demon. Hence you make such efforts that the marriage will be performed”. Indra, the Lord of the celestials called for Manmatha (Cupid – the God of love). He praised Cupid and asked him to see that Shiva’s ascetic attitude was lessened and that He would start to love Parvati.
Manmatha was exuberated by praises and agreed to do as directed. Rati devi, the spouse of Manmatha came to know of this new assignment and tried her best to dissuade cupid from embarking on the hazardous venture. In spite of it, Cupid proceeded to Shiva’s abode “Sthanu Ashrama”. There he suddenly created the alluring atmosphere of the spring season. The Pramathaganas (the armies of Shiva) were very much disturbed in their minds with the erotic feelings. Observing this, Nandi (Ox-the vehicle of Shiva) disciplined them. In the meantime, Cupid entered the abode of Shiva stealthily and saw Shiva seated in the state of ecstasy of meditation. The very sight of Shiva in the posture suddenly unnerved Cupid.
At the same moment, Parvati came there. Looking at Her, Cupid recovered his courage. While Parvati was getting up after bending low to prostrate to Shiva, Her uppergarment slipped a bit. Exactly at that moment, Manmatha aimed an arrow (of lust) on Shiva, whose mind was affected a bit. Observing this, Parvati feet a gush of joy inwardly. However Shiva analysed His feeling immediately and looked around to know why it happened so. Shiva saw Cupid hiding behind the bushes. At once, Shiva’s third eye (in between the eyebrows) opened and the fire rushing there from reduced Cupid to ashes. Parvati closed her eyes out of fear. By the time She opened Her eyes in a moment, Shiva disappeared with all His attendants. Himavanta came there, consoled Her and took Her home. Rati devi wept bitterly due to the death of her husband Manmatha. Vasanta, the god of spring approached Rati devi, consoled her and reminded her of the curse of Brahma to Manmatha. Curse of Brahma to Manmatha.
Once upon a time, there were two demons by name Sunda and Upasunda,who were brothers. They did penance meditating on Brahma and obtained a strange boon that their death could not be caused by anyone else except by themselves only. They were very much fond of one another. Hence they expected that no mutual harm would be possible. Thereafter they created havoc by their terrific acts in the three worlds. All the celestials prayed to Brahma who thought of a strategy to destroy the demons. He accumulated the essence of beauty of all the fine things in the world and created a woman of exquisite beauty. As she was created with a gingelly aspect of beauty in everything, she was called Tilottama (Tila-gingelly; Uttama-Best) Her beauty enchanted even the celestials. Brahma checked up keenly whether her beauty was superb in all aspects. Manmatha, who happened to be there at that time, wanted to play a practical joke. Hence he aimed an arrow (of lust) at Brahma. Due to this, Brahma forgetting that she was His daughter chased her lustily. As a last resort, Tilottama started running taking the form of a deer. Brahma also followed her in the form of a deer. The celestials were highly agitated by this untoward event. Observing this impending danger, Shiva manifested as a hunter and holding a bow and arrows came near Brahma who was in the form of a deer. Looking at the fierce form of Shiva, Brahma came to senses. He prostrated to His feet and prayed for pardon. By then, the celestials and Tilottama arrived there. Everyone was pacified. After taking Shiva’s permission, the celestials sent Tilottamato meet Sunda and Upasunda looking at Tilottama going about in a garden, both Sunda and Upasunda competed to enjoy with her and at last the demons killed one another. Tilottama returned to Brahma, who felt happy and sent her to the Heaven with a permanent status as one of the Apsaras(celestial dancers).
After the entire affair was over, Brahma recollected what all had happened and sent for Manmatha and said “You fellow! Blinded by the power bestowed to you, how dare you aim your arrows (of lust) at one and all, disregarding their age? Do you intend to destroy the code of righteousness? I am saved of grievous sin due to the timely arrival and protection of Shiva. Hence, one day you will be burnt to ashes by the fire of Shiva’s third eye. Beware!
After the entire affair was over, Brahma recollected what all had happened and sent for Manmatha and said “You fellow! Blinded by the power bestowed to you, how dare you aim your arrows (of lust) at one and all, disregarding their age? Do you intend to destroy the code of righteousness? I am saved of grievous sin due to the timely arrival and protection of Shiva. Hence, one day you will be burnt to ashes by the fire of Shiva’s third eye. Beware!
”Hearing the curse, Rati and Manmatha were frightened and prayed to Brahma for relief of the curse. Brahma regained His composure and said, “The Divine Mother will manifest as Lalita devi. She will marry Shiva. After the marriage, She will revive Manmatha to life”
After narrating the story, Vasanta (the god of spring season) consoled Rati devi, saying, “Sister-in-law! It is a must for everyone, however great he is, to undergo the suffering of a curse. However as predicted by Brahma, my brother Manmatha will be revived to life soon. Until then, be bold and continue to pray to Lalita devi. Rati devi left the place and followed the advice.
Birth of Bhandasura. At this point of time, Chitrakarma, the commander of one of the Rudra Ganas (Gana = troupe) one day started toying with the ash of the burnt Manmatha and prepared a doll out of it. He took this doll to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva’s intentions are indeed unfathomable. As soon as the doll neared Lord Shiva, it sprang to life and the boy thus born prostrated before Lord Shiva and Chitrakarma. Chitrakarma was overwhelmed with joy. He gave the boy the Upadesha of Shata-Rudreeya Mantra and asked him to undertake penance. When the penance reached the stage of fruition, Lord Shiva appeared before him. He asked Lord Shiva to grant him a special boon “Anyone who fights against me should immediately lose half of his strength and that strength should be added to my strength. None of the weapons of my opponents should be able to bind me” was his request. Immediately Lord Shiva granted the boon and added, “I am also bestowing on you the boon of ruling the kingdom for sixty thousand years”. After giving these boons, Lord Shiva disappeared. He became surprised and a bit apprehensive by the words of Lord Shiva. But soon he forgot it.
Lord Brahma, who was witnessing all this, grew frustrated and swore “Bhand” “Bhand” (meaning shame, shame). From then on, he got the name “Bhanda”. Because of his qualities he became an Asura (demon) and entered the domain of Asuras. This is how he got the name ‘Bhandasura’.
In the mean time, from the remnants of the ash of Manmatha were born two demons – Vishukra and Vishanga. These two became the main brothers of Bhandasura. In addition, thousands of Rakshasas (demons) were born out of the ash of Manmatha. All of them became followers of Bhandasura. They formed a strong army of 300 Akshouhinis (one Akshouhini consists of 21870 elephants, 65610 horses and109350 soldiers). Having come to know about the birth of thousands of Rakshasas, Shukracharya (the guru of Rakshasas) came there and assumed the role of the Guru for all those Rakshasas and initiated them to undertake regular Anushthanas (daily rituals). He also summoned Maya, the architect-builder of demons and asked him to create a new city in the province of Mahendra Mountains. He named the city as ‘Shoonyaka Pattana’
Shukracharya asked all the demons to move to the new city. He crowned Bhandasura as the king of the newly formed kingdom and made Vishukra and Vishanga the Yuvarajas (princes) of that kingdom. Bhandasura had four wives.
Under the guidance of Shukracharya, activities like fire sacrifices, Vedic education and penance went on uninterruptedly in every house.
Tormenting of the three worlds:
When the kingdom was well established, Bhandasura called for a meeting of his brothers and ministers and said:
A) Devatas (Gods) are our enemies. As long as Manmatha was alive, their lineage continued without any problems. They also enjoyed many pleasures.
B) Now, because of our luck, we have taken birth from the ashes of Manmatha. The gods are trying to see that Manmatha is born again. We should not allow that to happen. Before they try anything like that, we should kill the Devatas.
C) But, if we go in our present form, we can not win. Let us therefore assume the form of air and enter their bodies. D) After having so entered their bodies, let us dry up their body fluids, especially the semen.
E) If semen dries up, the strength of other tissues and organs will automatically diminish. Then they will automatically be annihilated.
F) Let us torment the beings of all the three worlds by entering their bodies in the form of air and by drying up their body fluids.
Hearing this, the entire army of the demons cheered with joy. Without wasting much time, Bhandasura and his army of 1000 Akshouhinis assumed the invisible form of air and entered the heaven. First of all, they entered the minds of the angels and dried up their mental faculties. Subsequently they entered the face of the angels, robbed them of their beauty and made them ugly looking. All the women and men in the heaven became impotent and sterile. Not only that, their love for one another was also lost. They lost enthusiasm to do anything. Even the plants and animals suffered the same fate.
Vishukra, along with his troupes entered Bhooloka (earth) and meted out the same treatment to the beings there. People on the planet earth stopped smiling. They lost all happiness. No one had any respect for another. No one thought of helping the other. They lost interest in their activities. The situation was stone-like, devoid of any life and feelings.
Vishanga, along with his troupes entered Rasaatala (one of the seven netherworlds). He created similar havoc there also. In the Naga Loka (land of serpents) everyone became afflicted with grief for no apparent reason. Everyone started hating everyone else. Everyone became drained of energy and potency. Rasa, the fluid principle is the basis for the accomplishment of the four-fold aims of life (Purusharthas). Let us see how.
A. Rasa itself is the form of Paramatma, the Almighty.
B. From Rasa are created Shukla (sperm) and Shonita (ovum). These two are collectively called as Veerya.
C. From Veerya comes Kanti (radiance), Utsaaha (enthusiasm), Ullasa(happiness), Dharma (righteousness), Daya (compassion), Preeti (love),Buddhi (intellectual capabilities), Vikasa (development), Parakrama (valour)Shastra Vijnana (scientific knowledge), Kala Asakti (interest in arts), Soundarya Drishti (proper concept of beauty) etc.
D. In plants, the Rasa enhances the fire energy, which is hidden in them. Only when the fire energy is harnessed, the plants can branch out and bear flowers and fruits. Because of this fire principle, the dried logs catch fire easily and burn.
E. The Vedas have declared that beings can experience happiness only if Rasais present. F. Rasa is nothing but Prana (vital energy). G. Having known all these secrets, Bhandasura devised the plan of entering the bodies of all beings in the form of air and drying them up.
Vasanta, the close friend and associate of Manmatha observed this immediately and consoled Rati (Manmatha’s wife). He said “Even the sun, the moon and the stars have lost their brilliance. Even Goddess Parvati seems to have become dull and has engaged in Tapas. Therefore, the day when your dead husband will come to life again is not very far. That day will come very soon. So, stop grieving.” On hearing this, Rati Devi prepared to undertake penance.
In the heaven, all the Devatas including Brahma, could not comprehend what was going on and what had caused the situation. Not knowing the remedy for their hardship, they approached Lord Sri Hari. When they finally reached the abode of Lord Sri Hari, they saw that even He was sitting still with his eyes closed. It appeared as though He was merged in the bliss of Sushupti.
After the angels praised His glory for a long time, Lord Sri Hari slowly opened His eyes. “What is this? Why are you all looking drained of your energies?” asked Lord Sri Hari. He called everyone by their names and said:
A. Your present condition is due to the invisible foul play of Bhandasura.
B. Even I have lost the affinity for Goddess Lakshmi. What to say about other lesser beings?
C. Myself, Brahma and Rudra are Karana Purushas (causal beings for the manifest creation). Even then, because we are also inhabiting this creation, even we can not escape the torture of Bhandasura. D. There is however one Almighty God who is beyond this manifest Brahmanda. He is called Maha Shambhu. Parashakti is constantly in His Company.
E. He is devoid of form. He is not dependent on anything. He has nomodifications. He is greater than the greatest. He is the ultimate.
F. He is not influenced by the foul play of Bhandasura, who is born from the ashes of Manmatha. G. He can rescue us from our difficulties. Therefore, let us all take refuge in Him and praise Him. Follow me.
So saying, Sri Hari led all the angels to the brim of the Brahmanda (Universe). There was a huge wall like fence there. The angels summoned the celestial elephants to break the wall. After toiling continuously for one year, a breach was formed in the wall. After passing through the breach, they saw Chinmaya Akasha, which was Niralamba (independent), Nirajnana (untainted) and which was devoid of the five elements. They all stood in that Chinmaya Akasha and sang the glory of Maha Shambhu, who was of the form of Chidakasha. Then Maha Shambhu appeared before them. He was dark like clouds. He had two hands. He was holding a Shoola (spear) in one hand and a Kapala (skull) in the other. He had three eyes. Parashakti also appeared before them. She was holding Aksha Mala (rosary of beads) and Pustaka (book) in Her hands. She was bright and cool like the moon.
The great Maha Shambhu smiled and said
A. I am aware why you have all come here.
B. Pralaya (destruction) is of three types. (i) Avaantara Pralaya (ii) Maha Pralaya and (iii) Kama Pralaya.
C. I am the one who is responsible to rescue the world from Maha Pralaya. Vishnu is the one who rescues from Aavantara Pralaya. It is Lalita Parameshwari who rescues from Kama Pralaya.
D. These three kinds of Pralaya take place in a cyclic pattern in every Kalpa. Now, Kaamika Pralaya has taken place because of the destruction of Kama and subsequently due to the actions of Bhandasura.
E. Only Lalita Devi can rescue from this situation. Parashakti alone can create another Lalita Devi. Therefore, take shelter in her. Beg her to help you.
Hearing this, the Devatas did not know what to do. They again prayed to Maha Shambhu to teach them the method of appeasing Parashakti.
Maha Shambhu explained:
A. This is called as Maha Yaga. (great fire sacrifice)
B. I am (assuming the form of Vayu) the Hota (the priest who makes the offerings in a Homa) in this Yaga (fire sacrifice).
C. My Chidagni itself is the fire in this Yaga.
D. The last of the seven seas, i.e., Jala Samudra (Water Sea) has now dried up. The huge pit so formed itself is the Homa Kunda (fire pit where Homa is performed)
E. The remaining six great oceans constitute the six drops of ghee which is used as offering.
F. Srishti (creation) is of five types (i) Manasa Srishti (ii) Jarayavee Srishti (creation-taking place through the womb.
G. Human beings), (iii) Anda Srishti (creation taking place through eggs) (iv) Swedaja Srishti (creation taking place through sweat) and (v) Udbhijja Srishti (creation taking place by sprouting). These five Srishtis (creations) are the sacrifice animals in this Maya Yaga.G. Bhoomi (land), Parvata (mountains), Jala (water), Vayu (air) and Akasha (space) these five are the substances used in this fire sacrifice. Agni element (one of the five elements) being a part of my Chidagni can not be a substance to be offered.
H. At the end of this great fire sacrifice, all of you (the performers of the Yaga) should jump in to the Homa Kunda (fire pit). While doing so, you must possess absolute devotion.
I. Then, Lalita Parameshwari will manifest.
J. She will be seated in a chariot called Chakra Raja Ratha.
K. She will create Parabrahma in the name of Kameshwara and will have Him as Her consort.
L. This couple will re-create the entire universe, which will turn out to be more beautiful than the previous creation.
M. Lalita Parameshwari will bring Manmatha back to life.
N. She will create four weapons, namely (i) Ikshu Dhanus – a bow of sugarcane (Mano roopekshu kodanda – is one of the 1000 names of Goddess Lalita) (ii) five Pushpa Banas – flower arrows (Pancha tanmatrasaayaka is one of the 1000 names), (iii) Paasha – noose (Raaga svaroopapaashaadhyaa – is one of the 1000 names of Lalita) and (iv) Ankusha (a hook, especially an elephant driver’s hook) (Krodha-akaaran kushojjvala is one of the descriptions of Lalita)
O. With the help of these weapons, she will destroy Bhandasura.
P. She will bring Manmatha back to life.
Q. She will give you fresh bodies.
R. If you all agree, I will begin this great sacrifice myself.
The angels became very pleased and begged Maha Shambhu to be the Hota and carry on the sacrifice. Parashakti and Maha Shambhu disappeared. The angels also returned to their abode.
After some time, Maha Shambhunatha, accompanied by Parashakti started chanting the Lalita Maha Mantra and entered the Universe in the form of the seven-layered Vayu (air). Parashakti assumed the form of His Kriya Shakti (energy of action). With the help of Kriya Shakti, Vayu blew the Jala Samudra with all his energy. The Jala Samudra (water ocean) became totally dry. In the pit thus formed He kindled the Chidagni with the help of fire emanating from the third eye. This Agni raged from the Patala (a region in the nether-world) to the Brahma Loka. He decorated the periphery of the Homa Kunda with the stars just as one decorates a sacrificial fire pit with flowers. After this, he performed the Yaga as ordained by the Vedas. He used the Pralaya Meghas (clouds appearing during Pralaya), namely Pushkala and Aavartakaas Srik and Sruva (the two spoons which are used to offer ghee in fire worship). As the Homa progressed, the Chidagni emanating from it spread to vast area. He then offered the first six oceans and then the five-fold creations to this Agni. In the end, the gods too decorated themselves and sat on the Srik and Sruva, ready to be offered to Agni. Maha Shambhunatha offered them to Agni. After this, Maha Shambhunatha discarded his Vayu form and assumed his real form. He then chanted 8 special mantras and performed 8 Homas.
Manifestation of Lalita Devi
At the end of the Homa, Lalita Devi came out of the Chidagni Homa Kunda, seated on a special chariot called “Chakra Raja Ratha”. Therefore, we find the descriptions such as “Chidagnikunda sambhoota” “Deva kaarya samudyataa” and “Chakra Raja Rathaa Roodha Sarvaayudha Parishkritaa” in Lalita Sahasranama.
The Sri Chakra Raja Ratha had the following dimensions:
A. Width 4 Yojanas (1 Yojana is approximately 9 miles)
B. Height 10 Yojanas
C. Parvas (landings)9 in number
D. Chakras (wheels) – the four Vedas.
E. Horses – the four-fold aims (Purusharthas)
F. Flag absolute bliss.
G. The seat at the topmost landing is the Bindu Peetha.
H. Form – of the form of Meru Prastara.
I. The material that was used to make this was ‘Tejas’.
The Lalita Parameshwari so manifested, created a male form from within Herself. His name was Kameshwara. By her power of will, she created 4 different weapons. They were,
(i) Ikshu Dhanus
(ii) Five arrows
(iii) Pasha (noose)
(iv) Ankusha (a special hook).
She held all these weapons in her hands. We see the description – “Chaturbahu samanvitaa” in the Lalita Sahasranama. She was shining like the morning sun, with crimson color. (Udyad bhanusahasraabhaa is a description found in Lalita Sahasranama). Her beauty was full in all aspects. (Sarvarunaanavadyangee sarvaabharanabhooshitaa – Lalita Sahasranama). She always appears as though she is 16 years of age. (Nityaa shodashikaaroopaa is a description in Lalita Sahasranama. This description has two meanings. One meaning is that she always appears as one who is sixteen years of age. The other meaning is, there are 16 Nityaa Devis. She is of the form of these 16 Nityaa Devis. Maha Shambhunatha praised Her in many ways. Order of Creation. She extended Herself in both male and female forms and continued the process of creation.
A. From the left eye, which was of the nature of Soma (moon) came Brahmaand Lakshmi Devi.
B. From the right eye, which was of the nature of Soorya (sun) came Vishnu and Parvati.
C. From the third eye, which was of the nature of Agni (fire), came Rudra and Sarasvati.
D. Lakshmi & Vishnu, Shiva & Parvati and Brahma & Sarasvati became couples.
E. Lalita Devi directed them to continue the process of Creation. She herself continued to create certain things.
(i) From her long hair she created darkness.
(ii) From her eyes, she created the sun, the moon and the fire.
(iii) From the pendent hanging in front of her forehead came the stars.
(iv) From the chain above her forehead came the nine planets.
(v) From the eyebrows, she created the penal code.
(vi) From her breath, she created the Vedas.
(vii) From her speech, she created poetry and plays.
(viii) From her chin she created the Vedangas.
(ix) From the three lines in her neck, she created various Shaastras.
(x) From her breasts, she created mountains.
(xi) From her mind, she created the power of bliss.
(xii) From her fingernails, she created the 10 incarnations of Vishnu.
(xiii) From her palms, she created the Sandhyas.
(xiv) She created other things as narrated in the Purusha Sookta.
(xv) From her heart, she created Baalaa Devi.
(xvi) From her intellect, she created Shyamala Devi.
(xvii) From her ego, she created Vaaraahi Devi.
(xviii) From her smile, she created Vighneshwara.
(xix) From the Ankusha (a special hook), she created Sampatkaree Devi.
(xx) Form the noose, she created Ashwaa Roodha Devi.
(xxi) From her cheeks, she created Nakuleshvari Devi.
(xxii) From her Kundalini Shakti, she created Gayatri.
(xxiii) From the eight wheels of the Chakra Raja chariot, she created 8 Devatas.
(xxiv) In the 9th landing, in the Bindu Peetha, she herself was seated.
(xxv) Afterwards, she created the Devatas who would protect the Chakra Rajachariot.
After having thus completed the great creation, Lalita Devi requested her consort, Shiva Kama Sundara to created the Shiva Chakra. He immediately brought out a big humming sound and from this, the Shiva Chakra Devatas numbering 23 manifested. Later, Lalita Devi crowned Shyamala Devi as the prime minister. Therefore Shyamala Devi is called Mantrini Devi. Lalita Devi handed over the finger ring to Mantrini Devi.
She made Vaartaalee Devi the chief of her army. Therefore Vaartaalee Devi is also called as Dandanaathaa Devi. She is also called as Vaaraahee Devi. Lalita Devi created a mace (a weapon) from her eye brows and gave it to Dandanathaa Devi. After this, Lalita Devi created two chariots from her chariot and gave them to Mantrini Devi and Dandanatha Devi. Mantini Devi’s chariot is called “Geya Chakra Ratha”. This chariot used to make musical sounds whenever it moved. Dandanatha Devi’s chariot is called “Kiri Chakra Ratha”. Later, Lalita Devi hummed with rage. From this hum, 64000000 Yoginis were born. Another 64000000 Bhairavas were also born. Innumerable Shakti Senas (armies) were also created by her hum.
Devi vijaya yatra (Devi’s victory procession) Later Lalita devi, making the noise emanating from the four oceans as the drums and accompanied with several other instruments proceeded for the battle against Bhandasura. From Lalitha devi’s Ankusham (=spear), ‘Sampat karidevi’, came out along with crores and crores of elephants and started following Lalita devi (sampatkarisamarudha sindhura vraja sevita). Sampatkari Devi was sitting on the elephant named ‘Ranakolahalam’ (=battlebustle, battle uproar). From Lalita devi’s Pasham (=whip) arose Ashwaroodha devi along with a big army of horses and was moving in front of Lalita devi.(ashwarudhadhishtishtaswa koti kotibhiravruta) . The horse carrying Ashwaroodha devi was named ‘Aparajitam’ (=one whichcannot be defeated). Later , commander of the army Dandanatha devi played the drums to startmarching. As the march started Dandanatha devi got down from her chariot and sat down on the lion. The lion is named ‘Vajraghosham’ (kirichakra ratha rudha damdanadhapuraskruta).
All her soldiers started praising her by twelve different names. (Panchami dandanatha cha sakjeta samayeshwaritatha samaya sakjeta varahi potrini tathavartali cha maha sena pyajna chakreshwari tathaarighni cheti samproktam nama dwadasakam yune). Later Mantrini devi played the drums of marching. Her soldiers were mainly decorated sensuously. They were playing veenas and singing. Mantrini devi was moving in her Geyachakra ratha (circle of army formed by singers) [geyachakra ratha rudha mantrini parisevita). She was being praised by sixteen names. (Sangeeta yogini shyama shyamala mantra nayikamantrini sachiveshani pradhaneshi shukapriyavina vati vainiki cha mudrini priyakapriyanipapriya kadambeshi kadamba vanavasinisadamada cha namani shodashaitaini kumbhaja) One who recites this strotra can conquer all the three worlds.
Then, from the bird in the hands of Mantrini devi, appeared god Dhanurveda with a spectacular bow in his hand and said “Mother! this bow is called chitrajeevam. This quiver is akshaya (=one which is unlimited, fills up spontaneously). Please accept them for demolishing the demons.” Now Lalita devi started moving with sugarcane, bow, arrows, spear and whip in the ‘srichakraraja’chariot. She is being praised with 25 names –
One who recites this stotra attains ashta siddhi (8 spiritual accomplishments).
Bandasura vadhodyukta shaktisena samanvita in Lalita sahasranama stotram
means one who is ready with her army (shakti sena) to annihilate Bhandasura.
Bhanda’s war preparation: While Lalita devi was proceeding for the war, many bad omens were observed in Bhanda’s ‘Shunyaka’ town. Bhandasura called upon an urgent meeting along with his brothers Vishukra and Vishanga to assess and evaluate the situation. In the meeting Vishukra spoke thus:
a.) All gods have burnt themselves by jumping into fire, out of despair.
b.) From that fire arose mother goddess, who rejuvenated all gods
c.) She is coming for a war with us, along with an army of women
d.) Those gods are trying to cut stones using tender leaves
e.) Even then we should not neglect that woman. We must send our army immediately.
a.) Any work should only be done after properly thinking about it.
b.) First we must send spies and see how powerful their army is.
c.) We must not under estimate the enemies army.
d.) In the past Hiranyakashipa was killed by an animal.
e.) Sumbha and Nishumbha were killed by a woman.
f.) So, we must get more information about her
g.) Who is she ? Who is supporting or protecting her? What does she want? All these queries should be answered.
Listening to this Bhandasura shuddered at the proposal with a sarcastic grin. “Even if all the gods are behind her, we have nothing to fear. Do not entertain such useless thoughts and spoil your mind”.
Immediately Bhandasura ordered ‘Kutilaksha’, Commander-in-chief of his army, to protect the fort. He ordered the priests and ministers to perform abhichara (black magic) homa. He ordered Lalita to be dragged to him holding her hair. Now, the demons played the war drums. Kutilaksha sent the first batch of army with demon Durmada as the commander..At Shunyapura Kutilaksha made arrangements for protection – Eastern entry _ Tala jangha, Southern entry – Tala bhuja, Western entry — Talagriva, Northern entry – Tala ketu were placed along with 10 akshohini army each. For each corner of the town another 10 akshohini was allocated for protection.
Shakti senas’s uproar. Durmada was confronted by Sampatkaridevi and her army of elephants (who arose from Lalita devi’s spear). Realising that his army was being defeated Durmada himself came for the war seated on a camel. Sampatkari devi who was seated on ‘Ranakolahala’ her elephant, faced him. In the ferocious battle Durmada was able to destroy one gem from the crown of Sampatkari devi. Angry with this, Sampatkari devi killed Durmada with her arrows which pierced his heart. With that the remaining demons fled back to their town out of fear.
Listening to this Bhandasura was very angry and sent Durmada’s elder brother Kurunda for battle. He is an expert in maya yuddha (war using mystical powers). Full of vengeance he attacked Sampatkari devi. In the meanwhile Ashwarudha devi who had taken birth from Lalita devi’s whip came forward and pleaded Sampatkari devi to give her a chance to fight with this demon. Now Ashwarudha devi along with her army pounced upon Kurunda. Ashwarudha devi mounted on ‘Aparajita’ was herself leading the army. In that battle she killed Kurunda by piercing his chest with her spear. Remaining demonsfled for their lives.
Bhanda became furious. He sent a huge army this time (100 akshohini) along with 5 commanders. They materialised serpent gods by name ‘Ranashambari’ which attacked shaktisena. The demons had previously defeated gods using these mystic powers. Crores and crores of serpents, which arose from the serpent gods, started torturing the shaktisena. They were taking birth again and again even after being killed a number of times. Then Nakuli devi mounted on garuda came to the battlefield. From her mouth came out 32 crores of mongooses. These mongooses started gobbling up all the newborn serpents immediately after birth. Then Nakuli devi killed Ranashambari with Garudastram. All the five commanders now attacked Nakuli devi. Nakuli devi’s mongoose army attacked them from the rear. In that ferocious battle Nakuli devi who was mounted on Garuda was making aerial strikes on the demons who were not able to catch her. She killed the five commanders by chopping of their heads.
Bhanda after listening to this sent Valahaka and other seven commanders along with 300 akshohini army. These seven demons are sons of demoness named Kikasa. In the past they obtained a boon from sun god that at the time of war sun would reside in theireyes. As soon as these demons entered the battlefield the shakti sena army started becoming blindfolded and incapacitated unable to face the brilliance of their eyes. Demons started becoming ferocious. Immediately the bodyguard of Dandanatha devi –named Tiraskarinika devi, entered the battle field mounted on an aeroplane named ‘Tamoliptam’.
At the order of Damdanatha devi she discharged an arrow named ‘Andhanastra’ and the seven commanders were forced to close their eyes. Now shakti sena started pouncing back. Keeping Tiraskarinika devi in the forefront, other gods killed the sevencommanders. With this blow Bhandasura lost his senses. He called upon his two brothers for a discussion.
In that meeting it was decided that Vishanga would attack devi’s army from its rear side in a treacherous way (This is called Parshti grahamu). This decision was taken because they got information from their spies that Lalita devi was having less army and protection at her rear end and it was easier for them to approach Lalita devi directly and attack her, if they approached from the rear. After the first day’s war, at dusk, Vishanga with a small army proceeded to the rear of Lalita devi’s army noiselessly without any drums. By then Lalita devi’s army was moving westward. Vishanga along with his army moved north wards and then turned to reach eastern side. He was able to see Srichakraraja chariot very near to him. Lalita devi was looking forward observing the movement of the army. She was not having much army close to her. Taking this opportunity Vishanga attacked devi’s chariot from the rear, all of asudden.
Anima and other gods who were present there were taken back at this sudden attack but quickly recovered themselves and prepared for a counter fight. Exactly at the same time Kutilaksha along with ten akshohini army attacked from the front side. Seeing attack from both ends Lalita devi was a little angry. In the mean while, struck by an arrow from Vishanga, the fan present in Lalita devi’s hand fell down andbroke. Seeing this Tithidevatas got very angry. They went and requested Lalita devithat Vahnivasini and Jwalamalini nitya devas have property and capacity of self illumination. If they glow then the demons who are in the dark will all becomevisible. With the permission of Lalita devi, Vahnivasini and Jwalamalini devis started glowing like fireballs. All the demons who were hiding in darkness now becamevisible. Now the 16 nitya devi’s became outrageous and attacked Vishanga’s army. All the commanders in the demons army died. Wounded all over the body Vishanga fled for his life shamelessly.
Even Kutilaksha who attacked from the front also fled. (In Lalita sahasranama – nityaparakrama topa nirikshana samatsuka =seeing the valour of nityadevatas, Lalita devi was very pleased). Mantrini devi and Dandanatha devi felt unhappy about this unprecedented attack in the night They felt very sorry that their arrangements of protection were not up to the mark. Agni prakara (compound wall made of fire). Both of them went to Lalita devi, expressed sorry for what had happened and made arrangements for protection. At the instance of Lalita devi, Jwalamalini devi made a compound wall of fire around the devi’s army The fire wall is 100 yojana wide and 30 yojana tall. (1 yojana is approximately 8 miles). At the southern end of fire wall is a 1 yojana long entry, to enable devi’s army to go out and fight because Shunyapuram is facing this end. (L.S.N—jwalamalinikashipta vahniprakaramadhyaga)Stambhini devi a member of Dandanatha devi family along with 20 akshohinisenas was protecting this entry point. She is also called Vighna devi. By then it was dawn.
Knowing all this news Bhandasura was in despair and started thinking what to do. This time he sent all his 30 sons for the war. After listening to this news Lalita devi’s daughter Baladevi wanted to fight these demons herself. Baladevi is the only daughter of Lalita devi .She resembles Lalita devi very much but is always only years old .She stays permanently with her mother.. Baladevi approached her mother and requested for permission to fight in thebattlefield.. At the outset Lalita devi denied but looking at the courage and will power exhibited by Bala devi she ultimately gave permission. Seeing Bala devi coming for the war Mantrini and Dandanayaka were astonished and they stood as her body guards. Now Baladevi started ferocious fighting with Bhanda’s sons. Every one was surprised at her valor. Whole of the second day Baladevi fought. That evening she shot 30 arrows at a time and killed the 30 sons of Bhanda.
Lalita devi was very happy and she embraced her daughter (Bhanda putra vadhodyukta bala vikrama nandita).
Bhanda was grief stricken. Desperately he himself started off for the war. Vishukra and Vishanga pacified Bandasura.
Vighnayentra nashnam (Destruction of the mystic symbol of obstacles). Now Bhanda sent Vishukra to the warfront. In the darkness Vishukra approached the Vahniprakara (firewall) –on a flat stone he drew a mystic symbol and performed some black magic. He then threw that mystic symbol forcefully. It fell in the firewall at some point. With the affect of that yantra (mystic symbol) laziness crept into the minds ofthe devi’s army. Some started arguing that war itself was wrong. (b.) Some said, “Why should we fight on behalf of the gods”. (c.) Some said, “Who is this Lalita devi? Who has given her superior ship over us?” (d.) Some said, “If all of us together decline not to fight what can Lalita devi do?” (e.) All of them fell into sleep of ignorance. After midnight Vishukra along with 30 akshohini sena surrounded the firebarrier. Even then none of the members of shakti sena moved under the influence of the ignorance caused by the Vighna yantra. However, Vighnayentra was not able to affect Mantrini and Dandanatha. But they were both very sad worried seeing the state of their army. Not knowing what to do they went and enquired Lalita devi. Then Lalita devi looked at the Kameshwara’s face and passed a gentle smile. From her smile Ganapathi took birth. He immediately searched in the firewall and noticed the ‘vighnayentra shila’ at one place. He broke the shila into pieces and powder with his tooth.(kameshwaramukhaloka kalpita sri ganeshwara Mahaganesha nirbhinna vighnayentra praharsita). With that shaktisena’s ignorance and sleep was dispelled, they immediately got ready for the war. Now Vighneswara along with this army came out of the fire barrier and started fighting with Vishukra.
Vishukra sent Gajasura to attack him but soon Gajasura was slayed. Seeing this Vishukra ran away.
Annihilation of Vishukra and Vishanga. After discussing with Bhandasura, Vishukra came back to war, along with his brother Vishanga and son-in-law. With this the third day war had started. Mantrini and Dandanatha both started to fight simultaneously. In the front was Dandanatha devi mounted on her kirichakra ratha with her plough weapon (halayudha) swirling it rapidly. Behind her was Mantrini devi mounted on Geyachakra ratha as an archer with bow and arrows. Dandanatha devi attacked Vishunga. Mantrini devi confronted Vishukra.. Ashwarudha, Sampatkari and others attacked the son- in-law of the demons who had come..The army of the demons started slackening. Noticing this Vishukra discharged Trushastram (weapon which produces thirst). Shaktisena’s army started to experience intense thirst. Then Dandanatha devi invited ‘Madyasamudra’(=ocean of liquor) devata from her kirichakra and quenched their thirst. Madyasamudra deva showered liquor rains. With that the army quenched their thirst and rejuvenated.. By sunset most of the demons including Bhanda’s son-in-law had died. Then Shyamala devi (Mantrini) fought with Vishukra and killed him with ‘Brahmashironamakastra’ (a powerful weapon named brahmashira). Dandanatha devi (Potrini) killed Vishanga with her plough weapon and pestle. However in Lalita sahasranama it is mentioned that Vishukra was killed by Varahiand Vishanga was killed by Mantrini-Mantrinyamba virachita vishanga vadhatoshitaVishukra prana harana varahiveryanandita. By then it was past midnight.
Only Kutilaksha the commander in chief was left over to console Bhandasura. Bhanda along with Kutilaksha started towards the battlefield. 2185 akshohini army along with 40 commanders followed him.
A). He boarded a chariot named ‘Aabhilamu’(=dreadful). It is dragged by 1000lions instead of horses.
B). His sword is named Yatana (= torture in hell).
Noticing this Lalita devi herself started moving in her Srichakra raja ratha towards the warfront. Behind her was Mantrini in the Geyachakra ratha followed by Potrini in kirichakraratha. Other shakti deities followed her in crores. In the usage of sastra’s (mystic weapons) and pratyastra (corresponding neutralising weapons), none of them were drawn aback (LSN—Bhandasurendra nirmukta shastra pratyastra varshini)
Now Bandasura by his mystical powers regenerated Madhukaitabha, Raktabija and other old demons. Then Lalita devi made a violent frenzied laughter –Durga devi and other deities described in chandi saptashati were born and slayed these demons. Now Bhanda generated Somaka and other demons. Then Lalita devi generated the 10 incarnations of Vishnu from the finger tips of her hands (LSN – Karanguli nakhotpanna narayana dasakrutih). Sun was about to set. Lalita devi decided not to delay any more. She then discharged Narayana astra and Pashupata astra and destroyed the demons and their commanders who were all turned into ashes (Mahapashupatastragni nirdagdhasura sainyaka). Now Bhandasura was the only one left. Lalita devi discharged the Mahakameshawarastra and annihilated Bhandasura. Immediately his shunyaka town got burnt down. (Kameshwarastra nirdagdhasabhandasura sunyaka.
Gods proclaimed victory of Lalita devi on the drums and they showered flowers, lighted camphor blazes and shouted victory slogans.
Kama sanjeevanam (rebirth of kama). Brahma, Vishnu, Indra and other gods praised Lalita devi’s grandeur (LSN—Brahmopendra mahendradi deva samstuta vaibhava). In that praise they proclaimed thus:
A.) Mother! Bhanda is dead but his friend Taraka is still alive to trouble us.
B.) To annihilate him Shiva must have a son
C.) We were trying for the same but in the mean while Manmadha (god of love) died and all these events happened
D.) Therefore kindly give rebirth to Manmadha and perform the marriage of Shiva and Parvathi.
Lalita devi smiled compassionately and looked at Kameshwara. From her looks Manmadha took rebirth .(Haranetragni sandagdha amasanjeevanaushadhih – meaning Lalita devi is the sacred herb sajeevini which gave rebirth to Manmadha who was destroyed by the fire from Shiva’s eye). Rati and Manmadha prostrated to the mother goddess and praised her.
The mother goddess blessed them and instructed:
A.) Manmadha! Now you need not fear
B.) Go once again and cast your magical arrow on Shiva
C.) Shiva will loose to you and will marry Parvathi
D.) With my blessings Shiva will do you no harm.
E.) From now on you can enter every ones body and cause aesthetic/ sensuous pleasures to them.
F.) Protect my devotees.
At the instructions of mother goddess Manmadha with his family went and cast his magic charm on Shiva. This time Shiva left renunciation and started searching vehemently for parvathi. Then Manmadha cast magical arrows on Parvati also. Shiva was very pleased with parvathi’s penance. He appeared before her, granted a boon and married her. Kumaraswamy was born to Shiva and Parvathi. He became the commander of Gods army and annihilated Tarakasura. He then married Devasena devi, the daughter of Indra.
After helping all the gods Manmadha left to Sripura to serve goddess Lalita devi.
Sripura varnanam (description of Sripura ) What does Sripura mean? After the annihilation of Bhandasura, Trimurtis called upon the cosmic architect Viswakarma and the architect of demons Maya , and instructed them to construct 16 palaces in 16 kshetras (sacred places) for the residence of Lalita & Shiva Kameswara. Meru and other gigantic mountains (9) Jalasamudra and other oceans (7) – total 16 Kshetras. The palatial buildings of mother goddess located in these kshetras are called Sripura. Wherever a Sripura is located , its dimensions are like this.
1.) Mount Meru has 4 peaks One on the eastern side, one on north west, one on the south west. Each is 100 yojanas tall and 100 yojanas wide these are trimurtis worlds. In the center of these is the fourth, which is 400 yojanas tall and 400 yojanas wide.
2.) Sripura is on the Middle peak. Sripura has got metallic compound walls 7 in number they are square shaped. Each wall is separated from the next one by one a distance of 7 yojanas.1. Kalayasa (iron) wall – The perimeter of this wall is 16 thousand yojanas2. Kansya (bronze) wall—Between these two is the first chamber. Several trees and gardens are located here. Mahakali and Mahakala are the gate keepers here. Kalachakra is their throne.
3. Tamra (copper) wall – Here is a forest of Kalpavruksha (wish granting tree). This is also called as Kalpavatica. This is the second chamber. Vasanta (spring) is its protector .Madhusri and Madhavasri are his consorts.
4. Seesa (lead) wall – Here is a forest of santana trees (progeny granting). This is the third chamber Grishma (summer) is the ruler . Shukrasri and Shuchisri are his consorts.
5. Aarkuta (brass) wall – This is the fourth chamber. Here is a forest of Hari chandanavruksha (yellow fragrant sandal wood). The ruler is varsharutu (rainy season. Nabhasri and Nabhasyasri are his consorts.
6. Panchaloha (five metal) wall—In this fifth chamber is a garden of mandara trees(Calotropis gigantea).Sharadrutu is the protector. Ishasri and Urjasri are his consorts.
7. Raupya (silver) wall – Sixth chamber.Parijata tree forest .Hemantarutu is the protector. Sahasri and Sahasyasri are his consorts.
8. Hema (gold) wall – Seventh chamber. Kadamba forest. Sisira (winter) s the protector. Tavasri and Tavasyasri are his consorts. This is where Mantrini devi resides in a temple. She has one more quarter very close to that of Lalita devi in Mahapadmatavi( forest of lotuses). When she is on duty she stays in that quarter. In this seventh chamber near Mantrini’s residence Matanga kanyas are constantly singing and dancing.
Matanga kanyaka charitra (story of Matanga kanya). In the olden days a sage named Matanga used to expand the creation byvirtue of the power of his penance.362. His son Matanga was a great saint and practitioner of penance. He was the friend of Himavanta. Once Himavanta started boasting saying that he was the father of Gauri devi. With that Matanga felt humiliated and started great penance for Mudrini devi(Mudrinidevi is none other than Mantrini devi who had received a ring from Lalita devi. She is also called Shyamala devi.
She was very happy with his penance and gave boon that she herself would be born as a daughter to him. A few days later Shyamala devi appeared in the dream of Siddhamati devi (consort of Matanga). Shyamala devi gave her a flower from the bunch decorating the formers ear. Very soon she had a female child who was named Laghushyama as she was born in a very short duration (Laghu = short, small). She was also called Matangi, Matanga Kanyaka. With her power she generated crores of virgins, who stay near Mantrini devi’s house and keep singing her praises all the time.
The Compounds of precious stones: Inside the golden compound, there are eleven prakaras (compounds) one inside the other and inside them there are six more compounds described hereunder. All these compounds are perfect squares. Here also, the distance between one compound and the other is Seven yojanas. (yojana is a measurement of length of about nine miles).
The Compounds of precious stones: Inside the golden compound, there are eleven prakaras (compounds) one inside the other and inside them there are six more compounds described hereunder. All these compounds are perfect squares. Here also, the distance between one compound and the other is Seven yojanas. (yojana is a measurement of length of about nine miles).
1. Pushyaraga Prakara (The compound of Topaz) The area between the golden compound and this one is called Pushyaraga area. Here male and female Siddhas reside. Those who were born earlier in the race of Siddha and who obtained attainment (Siddhi) in their spiritual practices worshipping the Divine Mother, stay here as Siddhas and gladly continue to worship Her.
2. Padmaraga Prakara (The compound of Ruby) Here celestials of the species called Caranas reside. Those who were born in Carana world and worshipped the Mother are reborn here, after attaining Her grace.
3. Gomedhika Prakara (The compound of Agate) In this arena, Kala Sankarshani devi resides. She is worshipped by the Yoginis and Bhairavas.
4. Vajra Prakara (The compound of diamonds) Apsaras and Gandharvas (divine dancers and singers) stay in this arena. They are ever engaged in the Japa (repetition) of the Divine Mother’s names and stay here happily. The river Vajranadi flows in this place. The Goddess Vajreswari stays here. When the demon Bhanda swallowed the diamond weapon (Vajra Ayudha) of Indra, he could get back his weapon by worshipping the Mother here.
5. Vaidurya Prakara (The compound of Cat’s eye) Those of the netherworld, who attained spiritual achievements by worshipping the Mother, stay in this arena. The emperor Bali also resides here.
6. Indraneela Prakara (The compound of Sapphire) Those people who were born on the earth stay in this area enjoying pleasures, after their worship of Lalita during their lifetime there. Soon after the effect of their punya (merit) is exhausted, they will be born again as human beings on the earth. By the effect of their previous pious deeds, they again worship the Mother and return once more to this pious place. Due to the blue colour of these precious stones, the dark effect of likes and dislikes persists in them. Hence they are born again and again. Those who can control their senses to merge in the ultimate state of salvation, i.e., in the Divine Mother. They do not have rebirth.
7. Mukta Prakara (The compound of pearls) Several rivers named Tamraparni, Mahaparni, Sadamukta, Sadodaka etc. flow in this area. The celestials who worshipped the Mother and chanted her Mantras stay here. The cities of the rulers of the eight sides exist here. (The eight sides are East, West, North, South, North-East, South-East, North-West and South-West).
8. Marakata Prakara (The compound of Emerald) The abode of the Goddess Dandanatha also called Varahi exists in this area. There is a garden of golden palm-trees here. The Goddess Unmattabhairavi, Svapnesvari, Tiraskarinidevi, Kirapadadevi reside in this area. When Goddess Dandanatha is on duty, she stays in a separate palace in the forest of Mahapadma (Big lotuses).
9. Vidruma Prakara (The compound of Coral) In this area, Brahma along with sages like Marica stays and worship the DivineMother.
10.Manikya Prakara (The compound of Gem) This area is also called the hall of gems i.e. Manikya Mantapa. Her Vishnu worships the Mother.
11. Navaratna Prakara (The compound of nine precious stones) In this area exists a huge hall with thousands of pillars. Here Siva along with his attendants constantly supervises the activities being done as per the orders of Lalita Devi.
12. Manomaya Prakara (The compound of mind) The entire area is a big well of Amruta (nectar). The Goddess Tara resides here. Along with her attendants, she rows a big boat and takes her devotees inside along with Her.
13. Buddhi Prakara (The compound of the intellect) The entire area is a big well of Bliss. The captain of the ship in this arena is the Goddess Varuni. She is also called as Sudha malini and Amruteswari.
14. Ahankara Prakara (The compound of Egoism) The entire area is a big well of criticism and nectar; The water of this well is nothing else than the nectar in the nerve Sushumna (The central nerve between Ida and Pingala nerves of one’s backbone). The captain of the ship in this area is the Goddess Kurukulla.
15. Suryabimba Prakara (The compound of the Sun) Here brilliance comparable to the light of the rising Sun exists always. Plenty of flowers called Kuruvinda are abundant here. The Sun performed penance here and obtained brilliance. Martanda Bhairava stays here. He has a very luminous form. His three wives are Mahaprakasa Sakti, Cakshusmati Sakti and Chayada Sakti (The powers of great brilliance, eyesight and shade).
16. Candrabimba Prakasa (The compound of the Moon) Moonshine ever exists here. The Moon performed penance here and attained illumination. Somanatha, the Lord of the stars is the chief deity of this area.
17. Srungara Prakara (The compound of eroticism) This area is full of waters of eroticism. Here Manmatha, (Cupid-the god of love) does Japa of the Mother’s sacred names, rowing in a boat. Only those who are of pure mind by nature can cross this area.
18. Cintamani Gruha (The abode of Gems) This is the great palace of Sri-chakra. It is called Mahapadmatavi also. Around the mansion, hundreds of thousands of lotus like palaces exist. To the east of this place, there is a large vessel with a diameter of one Yojana. This is called Arghya Patra (the vessel used to wash hands) b) At the south-east corner exists Cidagnikunda (The fire pit of knowledge). At the south-west exists Sricakra Ratha, the vehicle of Sricakra. At the north-west exists the Geya Cakra Ratha of the Goddess Mantrini. At the north-east exists the Kiri Cakra Ratha of the Goddess Dandini. In between the East and the south-east exists Mantrini gruha – the abode of the Goddess Mantrini. In between the East and the north-east exists Dandini gruha – the abode of the Goddess Dandini.
The description of the Palace of Cintamani
1. This palace is centrally located in Sripattana – The City of Sri (Wealth).
2. The walls of the palace are built with Cintamani gems.
3. The roof also is made of the same stones of Cintamani.
4. The palace has three towers by names Iccha Sikhara, Kriya Sikhara and Jnana Sikhara i.e. the towers of desire, action and knowledge.
5. The palace has four doors. They are called Amnaya devas. They are Purva, Dakshina, Pascima and Uttara – Amnaya devas (on the East, South, West and North sides). Amnaya means Veda.
6. Bindu Peetha (central seat of power) is centrally located in the palace.
7. This seat of power (peetha) has steps on four sides.
8. The entire structure described above is of the design of Sricakra.
9. All the male and female deities of Sricakra reside here.
10. The Bindu Peetha is called Sri Peetha, Maha Peetha, Vidya Peetha andAnanda Peetha also (The seat of prosperity, greatness, knowledge andbliss).
11. On the pedastal exists the cot of the five brahmas.
12. The cot has four legs namely Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesana and Iswara. These four deities have attained female form by worshipping Mother.
13. The plank resting on these legs is Sadasiva.
14. To the east of this cot, there are 36 steps, representing the 36 aspects of spiritualism.
15. There is a foot-rest in front of the cot.
16. There is swan like bed on the cot.
17. On the cot, there are two pillows for the head and one pillow for the legs.
18. A light red blanket is spread on the bed.
19. The Lord Kameswara sits on the cot facing the East. He is ever in the form of a sixteen year old boy. He has four hands and three eyes. He wears erotic costumes.
20. On His lap sits Lalita Devi. She is ever in the form of a sixteen year old girl. Her complexion is rosy. She wears erotic costumes. She has four hands. Her decoration is the moon.
21. As she pleases Sadasiva, she is called Lalita (Lalana – to please) Siva Kameswarankastha Siva Svadheena Vallabha Sumeru madhya srungastha Srimannagara nayika. Cintamani gruhantastha Panca Brahmasana sthita. Maha Padmatavi samstha Kadamba vana vasini Sudha sagara madhyastha Kamakshi Kamadayini The above names in the Lalita Sahasra nama indicate the Srinaara, the Cintamani gruha (the palace of the Mother) and her other divine aspects described above. The Mother incarnated to kill the demon Bhanda. She is the Supreme Mother as per these divine names, will achieve everything auspicious
Yudhishthira Maharaj said, “O Vishnu, master of all, O delight of the three worlds, O Lord of the entire Universe, O creator of the world, O oldest personality, O best of all beings, I offer my most respectful obeisances unto You.
“O Lord of lords, for the benefit of all living entities, kindly answer some questions that I have. What is the name of the Ekadasi that occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Margashirsha (November-December) and removes all sins? How does one observe it properly, and which Deity is worshipped on that holiest of days? O my Lord please explain this to me in full.”
Lord Sri Krishna replied, “O dear Yudhishthira, your enquiry is very auspicious in itself and will bring you fame. Just as I previously explained to you about the dearest Utpannaa Maha-Dwadasi – which occurs during the dark part of the month of Margashirsha, which is the day when Ekadasi-devi appeared from My body to kill the demon Mura, and which benefits everything animate and inanimate in the three worlds – so I shall now relate to you regarding this Ekadasi that occurs during the light part of the month of Margashirsha. This Ekadasi is famous as Mokshadaa because it purifies the faithful devotee of all sinful reactions and bestows liberation upon him. The worshippable Deity of this all auspicious day is Lord Damodara. With full attention one should worship Him with incense, a ghee lamp, fragrant flowers, and Tulasi manjaris (buds).
“O best of saintly kings, please listen as I narrate to you the ancient and auspicious history of this wonderful Ekadasi. Simply by hearing this history one can attain the merit earned by performing a horse sacrifice. By the influence of this merit, one’s forefathers, mothers, sons, and other relatives who have gone to hell can turn around and go to the heavenly kingdom. For this reason alone, O king, you should listen with rapt attention to this narration. “There once was a beautiful city named Champaka-nagar, which was decorated with devoted Vaishnavas. There the best of saintly kings Maharaj Vaikhaanasa, ruled over his subjects as if they were his very own dear sons and daughters. The brahmins in that capital city were all expert in four kinds of Vedik knowledge. The king, while ruling properly, had a dream one night in which his father was seen to be suffering the pangs of hellish torture in one of the hellish planets ruled over by the Yamaraj. The king was overwhelmed with compassion for his father and shed tears. The next morning, Maharaj Vaikhaanasa described what he had seen in his dream to his council of twice born learned brahmins.
” ‘ O brahmanas,’ the king addressed them, ‘in a dream last night I saw my father suffering on a hellish planet. He was crying out in anguish, “O son, please deliver me from this torment of this hellish condition !” Now I have no peace in my mind, and even this beautiful kingdom has become unbearable to me. Not even my horses, elephants, and chariots and my vast wealth in my treasury that formerly brought so much pleasure, gives me no pleasure at all.
” ‘Everything, O best of the brahmins, even my own wife and sons, have become a source of unhappiness since I beheld my father suffering the tortures of that hellish condition so. Where can I go, and what can I do, O brahmins, to alleviate this misery? My body is burning with fear and sorrow ! Please tell me what kind of charity, what mode of fasting, what austerity, or what deep meditation, and in service upon which Deity I may have to perform to deliver my father from that agony and bestow upon liberation upon my forefathers. O best among the brahmins, what is the use of one’s being a powerful son if one’s father must suffer on a hellish planet? Truly, such a son’s life is utterly useless, to him and to his forefathers.
” The twice born brahmins replied, ‘O king, in the mountainous forest not far from here is the ashram where a great saint Parvata Muni resides. Please go to him, for he is tri-kala-jnan (he knows the past, the present, and the future of everything) and can surely help you in your gaining relief from your misery.’
“Upon hearing this advise, the distressed king immediately set out on a journey to the ashram of the famous sage Parvata Muni. The ashram was indeed very big and housed many learned sages expert in chanting the sacred hymns of the four Vedas (Rg, Yajur, Sama, and Arthava). Approaching the holy ashram, the king beheld Parvata Muni seated among the assembly of sages adorned with hundreds of tilaks (from all the authorised sampradayas) like another Brahmaa or Vyaas.
“Maharaj Vaikhaanasa offered his humble obeisances to the muni, bowing his head and then prostrating his entire body before him. After the king had seated himself among the assembly Parvata Muni asked him about the welfare of the seven limbs of his extensive kingdom (his ministers, his treasury, his military forces, his allies, the brahmins, the sacrificial offerings performed, and the needs of his subjects). The muni also asked him if his kingdom was free of troubles and whether everyone was peaceful, happy and satisfied. To these enquiries the king replied, ‘By your mercy O glorious and great sage, all seven limbs of my kingdom are doing very well. Yet there is a problem that has recently arisen, and to solve it I have come to you, O brahmana for your expert help and guidance’.
“Then Parvata Muni, the best of all sages, closed his eyes and meditated on the king’s past, present and future. After a few moments he opened his eyes and said, ‘Your father is suffering the results of committing a great sin, and I have discovered what it is. In his previous life he quarrelled with his wife and forcibly enjoyed her sexually during her menstrual period. She tried to protest and resist his advances and even yelled out, “Someone please save me! Please, O husband, do not interrupt my monthly period in this way!” Still he did not stop or leave her alone. It is on account of this grievous sin that your father now has fallen into such a hellish condition of suffering.’
“King Vaikhaanasa then said, ‘O greatest among sages, by what process of fasting or charity may I liberate my dear father from such a condition? Please tell me how I can relieve and remove the burden of his sinful reactions, which are a great obstacle to his progress toward ultimate release (salvation – liberation – going back home).’
“Parvata Muni replied, ‘During the light fortnight of the month of Margashirsha there occurs an Ekadasi called Mokshadaa. If you observe this sacred Ekadasi strictly, with a full fast, and give directly to your suffering father the merit you thus attain/obtain, he will be freed from his pain and instantly liberated’.
“Hearing this, Maharaj Vaikhaanasa profusely thanked the great sage and then returned to his palace to perform his vrata (austere rite). O Yudhishthira, when the light part of the month of Margashirsha at last arrived, Maharaj Vaikhaanasa faithfully waited for the Ekadasi tithi to arrive. He then perfectly and with full faith observed the Ekadasi fast with his wife, children, and other relatives. He dutifully gave the merit from this fast to his father, and as he made the offering, beautiful flower petals showered down from the devas who peered out from behind the clouds in the sky. The king’s father was then praised by the messengers of the demigods (devas) and escorted to the celestial region. As he passed his son, as he traversed the lower to middle to higher planets, the father said to the king, ‘My dear son, all auspiciousness unto you!’
At last he reached the heavenly realm from where he can again with his newly acquired merit perform devotional service to Krishna or Vishnu and in due course return back to home back to Godhead.
“O son of Pandu, who so ever strictly observes the sacred Moksha Ekadasi, following the established rules and regulations, achieves full and perfect liberation after death. There is no better fasting day than this Ekadasi of the light fortnight of the month of Margashirsha, O Yudhishthira, for it is a crystal-clear and sinless day. Whoever faithfully observes this Ekadasi fast, which is like chintaa-mani (a gem that yields all desires), obtains special merit that is very hard to calculate, for this day can elevate one from hellish life to the heavenly planets, and for one who observes Ekadasi for his own spiritual benefit, this elevates one to go back to Godhead, never to return to this material world.”
Thus end the narration of the glories of Margashirsha-shukla Ekadasi or Mokshada Ekadasi, from the Brahmanda Purana.
The Sons of Sagara
The Sacrificial Horse is let loose
1. ” After banishing his son, the virtuous-souled Lord Sagara transferred his love for him to the child Amsumam whose conduct was righteous.
2. At the very same time, O king, the sons of’ Sumati grew up collectively. All of them were amiable, devoted and faithful to one another.
3. They had adamantine bodies. They were cruel, merciless and shameless. They were habitually evil in their activities. They had the same nature and characteristics.
4. They cooperated in doing simultaneously the same work. They were deluded in their minds. They were easily irritable. They could not be easily assailed by any living being. They regularly harassed the people.
5. They had no concern for humility, good conduct or the path of virtue. They harassed the entire world around as they pleased, like Asuras.
6. Attacked and tormented by them, the whole world became distressed and unhappy in particular with Yajñas and paths of virtue destroyed. The people could not have their regular selfstudy of the Vedas nor could they perform holy rites by uttering the Vasatkara mantra.
7. When everything was being completely destroyed by the sons of Sagara who were haughty on account of’ the boons they had been granted, the Devas, Asuras and the grreat serpents became extremely agitated.
8. The Earth, overwhelmed by the ocean, began to quake though its name is Acala ( immovable ). There was a break and hindrance in the penance and abstract iiwditation of the ascetics.
9. Depraved of the Havya and Kayva offerings, the Devas and the Pitris became oppressed by great sorrow. They went to the abode of Brahma.
10. After going there, the Devas with Sharva* ( probably Shakra ) at their head, duly reported to him the entire activities of the sons of Sagara.
11. On hearing their words, Brahma, the grandfather of the worlds, became engrossed in thought for a short while. The most excellent one among the Suras then said:
12. 0 Devas, listen, attentively to my words. Welfare unto you. There is no doubt that the sons of Sagara will be destroyed ere long.
13. Wait for a short time. Everything is being controlled by time. Everything else is but an instrumental. That time alone is the master of all.
14. Hence, O excellent Suras, what I am going to say for your welfare should now be carried out by all of you without any slackness.
15. The holy lord Kapila, the most excellent among victorious ones, the roost exalted among the leading Yogins, is born on the earth with a partial power of Visnu, for the welfare of the universe.
16. He is now sitting, meditating in a lonely place somewhere in the ocean, the water of which had been sucked up by Agastya. This meditation has been going on for the last hundred years according to the reckoning of heaven dwellers.
17. At my behest, all of you go to the leading sage Kapila. Stand near him wishing for the conclusion of his meditation.
18. At the close of his abstract meditation, you will bow down to him and tell him your purpose in full. He will do what is conducive to your welfare.
19. O excellent Devas, do something whereby a break in the abstract meditation of the sage can be caused through the sons of Sagara”. Jaimini said:
20. On being told thus by him, the Devas bowed down to Brahma and went to Kapila, the most excellent among the brahmanas; with palms joined in reverence, they spoke to him. The Devas said:
21. Be pleased with us, oh excellent sage. We have sought refuge in you. The whole of the universe, harassed by the sons of Sagara, is perishing.
22. It is well known that you are the cause of the sustenance and annihilation of the worlds. With the partial power of Vishnu, you have incarnated on the earth and you stay here as the leading Yogin.
23. A physical body has been voluntarily assumed by you, only for the destruction of the great distress of men afflicted by the three types of agony. Indeed, you are the most excellent among those who perform austerities.
24. Undoubtedly, O Brahmana, you are capable, at your will, to mentally, create the entire universe, sustain it and annihilate it.
25. You are our creator and dispenser of our destiny. You are our preceptor. You are our greatest resort. You are our protector. Put an end to our adversity.
26. O leading Brahmana, be the resort and refuge of the leading Brahmanas in particular, who reside in the three worlds and who are being persecuted by the sons of Sagara.
27. Indeed, the activities of people like you will be of Satva ( very good ) nature. Hence, O sage of good holy rites, it behooves you to save us and all the world.
28-31a. If not, O holy saint, the entire universe will be destroyed prematurely.” Jaimini Said: ” On being told thus by all the Devas, Kapila slowly opened his eyes. Glancing at there, he spoke these pleasing words ‘ Utterly burned by their own actions, the sons of Sagara will surely perish when the proper time arrives. Let that time be awaited by you all. For the achievement of your purpose, O excellent Suras, I shall become the cause of destruction of those evilminded ones.’
31-33. Ere long, the sons of Sagara, whose minds are inclined towards sinful activities and whose intellects have been adversely affected by Kala ( Time, God of Death ) will be burned by the fire of my anger. Hence, 0 Devas, all the worlds shall be rid of distress. They will have fear from nowhere. Let them ( sons of Sagara ) be wicked in their actions. They will quickly meet with their annihilation. So be free from fear and go back to your own city. Wait for some time. Thereafter, you will realise what you desire.”
34-38. On being told thus by Kapila, all those Devas including Indra, became delighted. After bowing down to him they went towards heaven. In the meantime, king Sagara, the Lord of the Earth desired to perform Vajimedha (HorseSacrifice), the great Yajna. With the permission of Vasistha, he gathered together all the necessary requisites. Accompanied by Aurva and other Brahmanas he duly took the initiation for the performance of sacrifice. For the purpose of letting the horse roam about, the king of great renown called all his sons and commanded them thus: O my sons, make the horse roam about all round the earth. It behoves you to do this immediately and bring it back to me.” Jaimini said:
39-43. ” At the behest of their father they took the horse and made it wander over the entire earth. It was only because of the directive of the Vedic injunction that the horse was made to go round the earth and not for the conquest of the quarters nor for levying taxes and tributes as the whole of the earth had already been conquered by that king. Kings had already been made payers of tributes by that king of exalted heroism in the battlefield. Then those princes reached the lower ground surface of the salt ocean wherein there was no water. With great delight they encircled the horse and entered the interior of the earth.
The Destruction of the Sons of Sagara
1. When they reached there, the wind god who had been directed by Indra, carried away the horse to the netherworlds within a moment.
2. Stealing the horse without being seen by any of them, O king, the wind god carried it away along that path to the vicinity of sage Kapila.
3-4. When the horse disappeared, all those princes became perplexed. Searching for the horse, they went ’round and ’round the earth. After searching the entire earth including the cities, mountains and forests, they attained great sorrow because they were still unable to see the sacrificial animal.
5. Then they went back to Ayodhya, surrounded by the sagas, met their father, bowed down to him and initiated to him everything.
6. ” The moment we entered the ocean after wandering over the whole of the earth, the horse was taken away by some one though it was being vigilantly guarded by us who were on the watch.”
7-8. On being told thus by them the excellent king became infuriated and told them ” Go away hence, unrighteous ones, never to return again. How was it lost by you, while you were alive. You were indeed evil minded ones. There is no question of your returning without the horse here”.
9. Then all of them together setout from that place and said to one another: ” Even now the horse is not to be seen, what shall we do ?”
10. The whole of the earth was searched by us, including the mountains, forests and parks. The horse is not seen anywhere nor its news is heard.
11. Hence, starting with the ocean and extending as far as the netherworlds, we shall split the earth and dig it. We shall enter the netherworlds and search for the horse.
12. Having decided thus, all those sons of Sagara, of cruel resolve, dug the earth everywhere beginning with the seashore.
13. Being dug by them, the earth became greatly excited and cried aloud. On seeing their activity, all living beings cried in distress.
14. After digging the Bharata subcontinent and casting it off on the ground, they united a thousand Yojanas of the earth to the ocean.
15. Digging the earth upto the netherworlds, the sons of the king saw the horse grazing in the netherworlds.
I6. Delighted very much they gathered together and laughed out of contentment. Some of them danced with great joy.
17-21. They saw the noble-souled Kapila of brilliant lustre who was very old; who was seated in the lotusposture, with his eyes fixed yet at the tip of his nose, who had kept the head and neck straight and long; who had kept the chest projecting forward, who was shining with his own splendour radiating all round in full like a lamp placed in a windless spot; whose body was full of perfect knowledge shining within himself; whose mind was engaged in abstract meditation; who appeared like the motionless ocean; who was duly engaged in the yogic exercise; whose mind was engrossed in what should be meditated upon; who was the most excellent among leading Yogins and who looked like the fire with its clusters of flames extinguished. On seeing him staying there, they consulted one another about him for a short while. For a short while, they underwent excessive agitation.
22-23. Thinking that it was he who stole the horse, the evil-minded sons of’ Sagara, induced by the God of death, surrounded Kapila, the excellent sage. Encircling him they said, ” This is the thief: There is no doubt about it. This evil-minded robber of the horse deserves to be killed by us”.
Jaimini said :
24-27a. ” All those Sagaras whose intellect had become deluded and whose death was imminent, suddenly molested the sage who was sitting like an ordinary person.
Then sage Kapila who had never been dejected in mind, was overwhelmed with wrath, because he lead been upset due to the break in his abstract meditation. He was agitated. Assailed by those evilminded ones, the unassailable sage Kapila became agitated. He assumed a huge size like the fire that increases in size at the end of the Kalpa on account of the gusts of wind.
27b-30a. The fire of anger arising out of his body as vast and majestic as the ocean, burst forth like the Samkarshana fire issuing from the poison of Sesha out to burn down the netherworlds. His anger was further kindled by the recollection of attack. The sage who had a lustre similar to that of a wheel of fire ( i.e. whirling fire ) opened his eyes. Then for a moment, O king, his eyes became extremely red and shone like the Sun and the Moon simultaneously appearing in the sky at dawn.
30b-35. He looked at the princes with rolling eyes gravely, like the God of annihilation at the close of ( Kalpa ) period. Sparks and flames of fire suddenly emerged from the eyes of that infuriated sage and spread all round in various directions continuously, like the sparks of Kalagni ( destructive fire at the time of final annihilation ). The sparks of fire of the Sage’s anger pervaded the quarters all round, with columns of smoke projecting forward and emitting floods of sparks frequently.
The sparks emanating from his eyes like the poisonous flames with the cavity of the belly of a python, shone like the flames of the Vadavafire ( submarine fire ) of the violent ocean.
The fire of anger, O great king, that pervaded the spaces in the quarters by means of its flames, enveloped the firmament and burned the sons of Sagara.
36. The world became enveloped by the clusters of flames of fire and smoke whirling round and round on account of the angry ( i.e. violent ) blasts of wind that blew with a loud report. It became filled with the dusts of the earth too, that were blown up excessively. Hence, the world became too much afflicted.
37. All round, the fire appeared to be scraping the firmament by means of its flames struck by the velocity of wind. It immediately burned down completely the sons of the king who were the enemies of the Suras.
38. Even as all the worlds were watching, the fire of Kapila’s anger reduced the Sagaras to ashes completely, sparing only the horse.
39. Thus the sons of Sagara, of sinful mind, were burned suddenly on account of that fire of anger like the dry trees that get consumed in the forest conflagration.
40. On seeing the annihilation of those evil-minded Sagaras, the Devas spoke to one another in wonder, along with the Sages.
41-42. Oh, the ultimate bad result of those persons who have committed terrible sins has not been delayed. Indeed, in this world, men of wicked souls have to meet with a bad end. These wicked and cruel minded persons, huge in size like mountains, have suddenly and forcibly perished like dry grass in fire.
43. They had caused anxiety and torture to all living beings. They were extremely censured by good men throughout their lives. Fortunately, they have met with their destruction.
44. Which man can attain happiness in this world after committing an inauspicious action that is censured by the worlds and that causes harassment to others? 45. These sinners had made all living beings cry aloud. They have now been struck dead by means of brahmadanda ( the punishing rod of a brahmana ). Hence, on account of their own evil actions, they have gone to hell where they will be spending many many years.
46. Hence, only good actions should be performed by intelligent persons. The other type of actions censured by the world should be cast off far away ( i.e. completely avoided ).
47. As long as one is alive, one should strive for the attainment of final beatitude. This should be done by one who knows what is good for him. One should not harm or injure any one, as life is transitory.
48. This body is nonpermanent. Riches are extremely fickle. The entire worldly existence is utterly worthless. How may the learned one believe ( otherwise )?” 49. Even as the leading Suras and sages were telling one another thus, the sons of Sagara perished after becoming the fuel to the fire of the anger of the sage.
50. The sons of Sagara whose bodies were burnt down suddenly, ( as if ) paralysed the earth with their ashes and instantaneously fell into hell due to their sinful deeds.
51. After burning those sons of Sagara entirely, the fire arising from his anger was on the point of burning all the worlds suddenly in a moment.
52. The Devas who became frightened gathered together and stood by in the firmament. Being desireous of suppressing the fire of anger, they eulogised the noble-souled sage.”
Recovery of the Sacrificial Horse:
Jaimini said:” It behoves you, O Leading Brahmana, to restrain immediately this Fire of anger. If not, the entire universe is likely to be burnt by it untimely. Your greatness has been seen. The whole world including the mobile and the immobile beings has been pervaded by this fire of your anger. Forbear, please restrain this anger, O leading Brahmana. Obeisance to you.”
On being eulogised thus, the saintly Kapila, immediately controlled the extremely terrible fire of anger. Thereupon, the entire universe including the mobile and the immobile beings became calm. Devas and the ascetics became free from distress.
In the meantime, the saintly Rishi Narada, O King, casually went to Ayodhya from the Devaloka ( the world of the Devas ).
On seeing that Narada had arrived, Sagara worshipped him perfectly in accordance with the injunctions of the scriptures, with Arghya, Padya and other materials of worship.
Accepting that honour and worship, Narada sat on the exalted seat and spoke these words, O King, to Sagara the tiger among kings.
Narada said : ” Your sons who had gone to take horse around the, world, O excellent king, have been struck down by the curse of a Brahmana. All of them have perished.
Your sacrificial horse, O King, that was being guarded by all of them was taken somewhere in the heaven without being noticed by anyone, as ordained by fate.
They began to search for the lost horse all over the earth. For a long time, O king, they did not get any information of its whereabouts.
Thereupon, they decided to search for the horse underneath the earth. Beginning earnestly, those Sagaras dug up the surface of the earth.
While digging the earth, O King, they saw the horse in Patala ( Netherworlds ) and near it they saw the great sage Kapila, the leading Yogin.
On seeing him, they committed a sinful deed. All of then being urged by Kala (God of death), saying “This is the robber of the horse”, they made Kapila sufficiently infuriated.
Thereupon, your sons perished with their bodies as fuel to the fire emanating from his eyes and caused by his anger, the fire that burned the quarters.
You need not grieve over them. It does not behoove you to grieve over them, O leading King, because they were cruel, of sinful conduct and were creating troubles and impediments to all people. Retain your courage as your asset .
End of Brahmanda Purana
(My humble salutations to the lotus feet of Swamyjis, Philosophic Scholars, Knowledge seekers for the collection)