The Brihaddharma Purana (abridged)

by Syama Charan Banerji | 1915 | 50,976 words

The English translation of the Brihaddharma Purana, one of the several minor or Upa Puranas, and represents an epitome of several important (Major) Puranas. In this book one can observe the attempts made to reconcile the three main forms of Hindu worship, viz. the Shaiva Vaishnava and Tantrika (worship of God in the form of Kali, Durga, Ganga, and ...

Chapter 16 - The history of Rama (1)

Dasaratha was a mighty and powerful king of Kosalarajya. He was descended from the solar dynasty, and his dominion extended over all the seven Dvipas[1] (islands).

This king had seven hundred and fifty wives, among whom Kausalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra were the principal ones. He had not, however, been blessed with a son, and he, therefore, had a Putreshti sacrifice performed by the great sage, Rishyasringa, the son of Vibhandaka Muni.

While this sacrifice was being performed, the god Brahma, accompanied by other gods, paid a visit to Narayana in Vaikunthaloka, and said

Kesava, you know Ravana, the Rakshasa king of Lanka. We pray you to incarnate yourself as man in order to kill him. He once obtained a boon from me by virtue of which he has secured exemption from being killed by all other beings except man whom he thought it beneath his dignity to seek exemption from. Now, here is an opportunity for you to remove this scourge of gods and man. King Dasaratha is performing a sacrifice with the object of being blessed with issue, and as he is your devout worshipper, deign to please him by being born as his son.”

Narayana said,

“Brahma, I feel the necessity of complying with your request. I shall descend to the earth as Dasaratha’s son, but let all these gods also go there and be born as monkeys and bears to help me in killing the great demon.”

Thereupon all the gods went home to make necessary preparations, and Narayana and Brahma went together to Kailasa, the abode of Siva. Siva, after giving them a fitting reception, took them to his wife whom they found seated on a golden throne surrounded by eight other goddesses.

Vishnu addressing her said,

“Mother, Brahma has persuaded me to descend to the earth in the form of a man in order to kill Ravana, and I have asked the gods to become incarnate as bears and monkeys to help me in the accomplishment of this great object. There is, however, one insuperable obstacle in our way. This mighty demon has been worshipping you and your husband, Siva, all his life, and in doing so, has pleased me also, because whosoever worships you both, worships me as well. How am I, therefore, to kill him? Moreover, you both have augmented his strength and prowess, and you, as the patron goddess of Lanka,[1] are always guarding its lord’s interests. We have, therefore, come to you to ask how this pest should be got rid of.”

The Devi smiled and said,

“True it is, Kesava, that Ravana worships my husband and myself with unprecedented zeal and devotion, and has, therefore, gained such ascendency over all the worlds, but as he is tyrannizing over them beyond measure, I quite agree with you all that it is time that he should die. Brahma’s proposal that you should incarnate yourself as man to kill him is an excellent one, but you will not be able to accomplish your aim until I leave Lanka, and I shall tell you how I shall do so. When you are born as man let your wife, Lakshmi Devi, be also born as woman in order to be your partner on the earth. Ravana will in due course of time kidnap her and bring her forcibly to Lanka; and, directly this is done, I shall leave the place with the permission of Sankara. The ill-treatment which my friend Lakshmi, will receive at his hands shall be the cause of his ruin and death. I shall always come to your assistance whenever you remember me. Now, propitiate Sambhu and invoke his help.”

Thereupon Vishnu cast an imploring and enquiring look on Siva who in consultation with his wife said,

“I shall be born as the most powerful monkey, and shall faithfully obey your orders. I shall perform such feats of strength as no one else in all the three worlds shall be able to perform. I shall enter Lanka as a monkey, and on my doing so, Parvati will leave it. Now, let Brahma tell us how he proposes to help us, in this undertaking.”

Brahma said,

“I shall be born as a mighty and far-sighted bear and be your minister. Dharmadeva has already become incarnated in Lanka as Vibhishana.”

In due time Vishnu descended on the earth with the object of entering into the wombs of the three principal queens of Dasaratha. Although he was one he divided himself into four parts because the sacrificial Charu[2] was divided in to four parts.

Footnotes and references:


According to the ancient Hindus the terrestrial world was divided into seven islands, all situated round the mountain Meru like the petals of a lotus flower, and each separated from the other by a distinct ocean. The central one was the Jambu dvipa in which was included Bharatakhanda or India.


Ceylon, the kingdom of Ravana.


An oblation of rice or barley often boiled in milk and sprinkled over with butter or ghi. The story as given in the Ramayana is that on the completion of the sacrifice, a divine being arose from the sacrificial fire and gave a cup of Charu to Dasaratha for distribution among the queens who, he wished, should bear him children. This Charu was divided by Dasaratha into two parts and given to Kausalya and Kaikeyi, but each of those queens gave half her share to Sumitra. The result was that Kausalya and Kaikeyi bore one son each viz; Rama and Bharata, but Sumitra, who had eaten two shares, bore two sons, Lakshmana and Satrughna. The son born in consequence of the share she received from Kausalya was Lakshmana who became attached to Rama and that born from the share she received from Kaikeyi was Satrughna who was attached to Bharata.

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