The Brahma Purana

by G. P. Bhatt | 1955 | 243,464 words

This is the Brahma Purana in English (translation from Sanskrit), which is one of the eighteen Maha Puranas. The contents of this ancient Indian encyclopedic treatise include cosmology, genealogy (solar dynasty etc.), mythology, geology and Dharma (universal law of nature). The Brahma Purana is notable for its extenstive geological survey includin...

Chapter 32 - Penance of Umā

Brahmā said:

1-3. The omnipresent lord Rudra who was famous as the enemy of the three cities[1] the three-eyed, beloved of Umā, and moon-crested drove out all Devas, Siddhas, Vidyādharas, Gandharvas, Yakṣas, Nāgas and sages who had assembled at Dakṣa’s sacrifice. The lord destroyed sacrifice which was in progress, which had all the requisite materials fully stocked, including precious gems (as gifts to the priests).

4. O brahmins, Indra, and other gods were frightened by his valorous exploits. They could not desire peace and tranquility. They sought refuge in heart.

5-6. O excellent sages, it is this lord who is present in the holy centre, Ekāmraka in the land of Utkala. He is the tridentbearing full-bannered lord who bestows boons. He is the Pināka-armed lord who destroyed the sacrifice of Dakṣa. He is clad in the hide of Elephant and bestows all desires.

The sages said:

7. Why did lord Siva who is interested in the welfare of all living beings, destroy Dakṣa’s sacrifice adorned by Devas, Yakṣas, Gandharvas and others?

8. O lord, we think that the reason thereof cannot be insignificant. We wish to hear this account. Our eagerness is inordinate.

Brahmā said:

9. Dakṣa had eight daughters who were living with their husbands. The father once invited them at house and honoured them.

10-13. O brahmins, honoured well by him, they stayed on in the house of their father. The eldest of them was Satī, the wife of lord Śiva. Dakṣa had not invited her because lord Śiva never bowed to Dakṣa. As he stood in natural brilliance he never offered obeisance to his father-in-law. Satī came to know that her sisters had arrived at their father’s house. Although she was not invited she too went to her father’s abode. The father accorded her a welcome less ardent than that extended to others because she was not liked by him. The gentle lady who was infuriated on this count said to her father in anger.

Satī said:

14. O Lord, indeed, I am more excellent than my younger sisters. Why don’t you honour me? Considering my position, you have totally neglected me and I stand despised. Being the eldest and the most excellent I deserve welcome from you.

Brahmā said:

15-19. Addressed thus, Dakṣa spoke to her with his eyes turned red.

Dakṣa said:

My younger daughters are more excellent, greater and more worthy of welcome than you. O Satī, their husbands are honoured and respected by me. They are far greater than the three-eyed lord. They have realized Brahman. They perform holy rites. They are great Yogins and righteous. They are superior to Śiva and more worthy of praise. My excellent sons-in-law are—Vasiṣṭha, Atri, Pulastya, Aṅgiras, Pulaha, Kratu, Bhṛgu and Marīci. Śiva contends with them always and they too vie with him. Śiva indeed is antagonistic to me. Hence, I do not encourage you.”

20. So said Dakṣa with a deluded mind which provoked her curse on him and the sages. Thus addressed, the infuriated Satī spoke to her father:

Satī said:

21. Since you rebuke and disrespect him who is undefiled verbally, mentally and physically I eschew this body, O father, that has originated from you.

Brahmā said:

22. Due to that insult Satī was infuriated. She felt miserable. After bowing to the self-born lord Satī uttered these words:

Satī said:

23. Where I am going to be reborn, may I be born righteous and undeluded with a refulgent physical body. I should attain the status of the virtuous wife of the intelligent threeeyed lord.

Brahmā said:

24-25. The infuriated gentle lady seated herself there alone and entered into self-meditation. She performed the rite of Āgneyī Dhāraṇā[2] within her soul. The soul being raised from all limbs, went out of the body. Urged by the wind, fire emerged from all limbs and reduced her body to ashes.

26. On hearing about the death of Satī and the factual cause thereof, the trident-bearing lord Śiva was very angry and prompted to destroy Dakṣa.

Śiva said:

27-28. Since Satī who had come suddenly was insulted and since the other daughters were praised along with their husbands, these great sages, O Dakṣa, will be born in the Vaivasvata Manvantara in your second sacrifice as persons not born of a womb.

29-32. After pronouncing the curse on the seven sages he cursed Dakṣa:

You will become a human king in the Cākṣuṣa Manvantara as the grandson of Prācīnabarhis and the son of pracetas.

You will be born of Māriṣā the daughter of the trees when Cākṣuṣa Manvantara arrives. You will be known as Dakṣa. O Suvrata, I shall frequently put obstacles in your way at that time also

33-35. Dakṣa who was thus cursed, cursed Rudra in return.

Dakṣa said:

O ruthless one, since you have cursed even the sages on account of my activities, the brahmins will not worship you in any sacrifice along with Devas. After pouring ghee for you in the holy rites, O cruel deity, they shall touch water. Abandoning heaven, you will stay here alone in the world till that age comes to a close. Thereafter, you will never be worshipped on the Earth together with Devas.

Rudra said:

36-38. Devas and others who partake of shares in sacrifice will be bound by the discipline of four castes. Hence, I shall not take food with them. I shall take food separately. The world of the Earth is the first among the worlds. Alone and single-handed I sustain it at my will and not at your behest. When it is supported the other worlds abide perpetually. Hence I stay here always out of my own accord and not at your bidding.

Brahmā said:

39. Thereafter, Dakṣa who was cursed by Rudra of unmeasured splendour left off his body as the son of the self born lord and was reborn among human beings.

40. At that time, lord Dakṣa, the lord of sacrifices performed all sacrifices along with the gods. He worshipped them by means of sacrifices as a householder.

41. The king of mountains begot of Menā, a daughter called Umā, in the Vaivasvata Manvantara. She had previously been Satī.

42. That girl had been Satī formerly. Later on, she was born as Umā. She became the wife of Rudra.

43-49. Rudra is never left off by her as long as he wishes for an abode in the course of Manvantaras.

The following gentle ladies never forsake their husbands:—Goddess Aditi always follows Kaśyapa, son of Marīci. Śrī is always with Nārāyaṇa. Śacī follows Indra, Kīrti follows Viṣṇu, Uṣā follows Sun. Arundhatī follows Vasiṣṭha.

Similarly, in the Cākṣuṣa Manvantara Dakṣa was born as the son of Pracetas and grandson of Prācīnabarhiṣ. He was born as a king. He was born of Māriṣā and Pracetas. It is heard by us that he took his second birth due to the curse of Rudra. The great sages, Bhṛgu and others were born at first in the Tretā Yuga in the Vaivasvata Manvantara in the course of sacrifice of the great lord who had assumed the body of Varuṇa. They repented remorsefully in the course of their subsequent birth as a result of the mutual curse of Dakṣa and lord Śiva.

50. Never can a creature gain glory by enmity. It is never conducive to prosperity even if he takes another birth because he is always affected by both auspicious and inauspicious things. No enmity should be pursued by one who knows this.

The sages said:

51-54. How did Satī the daughter of Dakṣa come to be born in the abode of the lord of the mountains after casting off her body in anger? How did she have a body in the later life? How was she united with Rudra? How did they converse together? How did the Syayaṃvara marriage happen in that hoary past? O lord of the universe, how was that marriage full of wonderful incidents, celebrated? O Brahmā, it behoves you to narrate all this in detail. We wish to hear that meritorious story which is extremely delightful to the mind.

55. O leading sages, listen to the story that is destructive of sins. Listen to the story of Umā and Śiva. It is a story that bestows desirable benefits.

56. Once Himavān asked Kaśyapa the most excellent of human beings who had arrived at his abode, about the various happenings in the world, conducive to welfare and glory.

57. “By what means are the ever-lasting worlds and great glory obtained? How is the state of being worthy of worship by good men attained? Mention it to me, O sage.”

Kaśyapa said:

58. O mighty one, all this is obtained through a child. My all-round glory is due to my children. So also in regard to Brahmā and the sages.

59. Don’t you see this yourself, O lord of mountains, wherefore do you ask me? O lord of mountains I shall recount what happened previously in the manner it was seen by me.

60. While I was once going to Vārāṇasī I saw a brand new and divine aerial chariot stationed in the sky. It was unparalleled and magnificent.

61. Beneath it in a hollow spot I heard the shout of agony. I knew it by my power of penance. I stood there hiding myself.

62. Then, O leading lord of mountains, a brahmin who was pure and who observed virtuous rites came there. He was purified by ablution in the holy waters. He was in the midst of a great penance.

63. As he was going along, the brahmin was extremely frightened by a tiger. O lord of mountains, he entered the spot where there was a hollow pit.

64. That distressed brahmin then saw his departed ancestors hanging by a Vīraṇa reed beneath the pit. He asked them who seemed to be highly dispirited.

The Brahmin said:

65. O sinless ones, pray, who are you? You are hanging down suspended upside down in the Vīraṇa reed. You are dispirited. By what means, is your liberation possible?

The Pitṛs said:

66. We are your forefathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers. You had performed meritorious deeds. But we are afflicted by your wicked action.

67. O highly blessed one, this is a hell stationed here in the form of this hollow pit. You are the Vīraṇa reed, we hang on to you.

68. O brahmin, we can stay, only as long as you live. When you are dead we will be falling into the hell; we are sinful.

69. If you many and beget a virtuous son, we will be liberated from this sin thereby.

70. O son, it cannot be by any other means whether penance or the fruit of pilgrimage to holy centres. O highly intelligent one, do this and redeem us, your forefathers, from our fear.

Kaśyapa said:

71-73. He promised, saying—“So be it.” He propitiated the bull-bannered lord, redeemed his forefathers from their fear and became the lord’s attendant. By the name of Suveśa he became a favourite of Rudra. He became the chief of Gaṇas of Rudra, approved of by all and devoid of dirt.

Hence, O lord of mountains, perform a severe penance and beget a virtuous child, a fair-complexioned daughter.

Brahmā said:

74. Thus advised by the sage, the lord of mountains took up holy observances and performed an unparalleled penance. I was pleased thereby.

75. I rushed to him and said:—“I am the bestower of boons. O lord of mountains, of good holy rites, I am delighted at this penance. Tell me what you want.

The Himavān said:

76. O lord, if you are pleased with me grant me this boon. I wish for a son adorned by all good qualities.

Brahmā said:

77. O brahmins, on hearing those words of the king of mountains, I granted him the boon the object of his wish.

Brahmā said:

78-81. O lord of mountains of good holy rites, a daughter will be born to you as a result of this penance. By virtue of your favour you will obtain splendid fame. You will be worshipped by all Devas. You will be surrounded by crores of holy centres and sacred rivers. She will be your eldest daughter. Two other splendid daughters shall follow her.

Brahmā said:

After saying this I vanished there itself. In due course of time the lord of the mountains begot of Mena three daughters Aparṇā, Ekaparṇā and Ekapāṭalā.

82-86. These daughters performed great penance. Ekaparṇā ate a leaf of the holy fig tree in the course of a thousand years. Ekapāṭalā ate one leaf of the Pāṭala tree in the course of a thousand years. Their penance continued for a hundred thousand years. It was such a penance as could not be performed by either Devas or Dānavas.

Aparṇā completely abstained from food. Her mother said to her forbidding such a course. She was distressed due to her motherly affection. She said “U mā” (O, not). The gentle lady who performed such a difficult penance was thus addressed by her mother. Hence, she became known by that name. She was honoured by Devas.

87. Thus the universe of mobile and immobile beings had this noble set of the three virgins. The story of the austerities of these virgins will be told as long as the Earth lasts.

88. All those three maidens adopted Yogic means. Penance itself sustained their bodies. All of them were highly blessed. All of them had perpetual youth.

89. They are the mothers of worlds and celibate ladies. By means of penance they bless the worlds.

90. The fair-complexioned Umā was the eldest and the most excellent among them. She was endowed with great Yogic power. She went over to Great Lord as his spouse.

91. (?) Dattaka was the son of Uśanas. His son was a scion of family of Bhṛgu. Ekaparṇā bore a son Devala to him.

92. The third of those girls Ekapāṭalā approached Jaigīṣavya, son of Alarka as his spouse.

93-94. Śaṅkha and Likhita are known as her two sons not born of the womb.

Umā the fair-complexioned lady performed penance. Observing that all the three worlds were fumigated by her penance and Yogic practice I spoke to her:

95. “O goddess, O splendid lady, why do you scorch all worlds by austerities? This entire visible world has been created by you. Once you have made it do not destroy it.

96. Indeed, you sustain these worlds by your own splendour. O mother of the universe, be pleased with us. Tell me what is it that is sought by you?

The goddess said:

97. O Sire, you know what for I am engaged in the performance of this penance. Then why do you ask?

Brahmā said:

98. Then I spoke to her—O splendid lady, he for whom you perform this penance, will approach you here itself and will woo you.

99. O splendid lady, Śiva the most excellent of the lords of all worlds is your husband. All of us are his servants the most submissive ones.

100-101. O goddess, that lord of Devas himself will approach you. He is the self-born lord of elegant form. His external features may seem deformed but there is no one equal in handsome features to him. My lord is a resident of the world of mountains. He is the primordial lord of mobile and immobile beings. He is incomprehensible and immeasurable. Without the crescent moon whose lustre is like that of Indra he appears to have assumed a terrifying form.

Footnotes and references:


Tripurāri.—Śiva who destroyed three cities of gold, silver and iron in the sky, air and earth built for Asuras by Maya.


Āgneyī Dhāraṇā.—A yogi could reduce his body to ashes by the process of Yoga. Compare Kālidāsa. “Yogenānte tanūtyajām”. The kings of Raghu dynasty used to burn up their bodies by taking recourse to Yoga. In this process, the yogī feels no pain while his body is aflame with fire. It is said that the fire becomes as cool as the moon till his whole body Is reduced to ashes.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: