The Shiva Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1950 | 616,585 words

This page relates “story of gunanidhi” as found in the Shiva-purana, which, in Hinduism, represents one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. This work eulogizes Lord Shiva as the supreme deity, besides topics such as cosmology and philosophy. It is written in Sanskrit and claims to be a redaction of an original text consisting of 100,000 metrical verses.

Disclaimer: These are translations of Sanskrit texts and are not necessarily approved by everyone associated with the traditions connected to these texts. Consult the source and original scripture in case of doubt.

Chapter 17 - The Story of Guṇanidhi

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Sūta said:—

1. O great sages, after hearing these words of Brahmā, Nārada once again bowed to him and asked humbly.

Nārada said:—

2-3. When did Śiva favourably disposed to His devotees go to Kailāsa? Where did he have the intimate acquaintance with Kubera[1] of great and noble soul? What did Śiva of auspicious form do there? Please narrate all these things to me. I am deeply interested in it.

Brahmā said:—

4. O Nārada, listen. I shall tell you the story of the moon-crested lord, how he went to Kailāsa and how he contracted friendship of Kubera.

5. In the city of Kāmpilya[2] there was a sacrificer named Yajñadatta. Born of Somayāji family he was an adept in the performance of sacrifice.

6. He knew Vedas and Vedāṅgas. He was a great scholar of Vedānta etc. He was honoured by the king. He was a liberal-minded donor and as such his fame had spread far and wide.

7-8. He assiduously maintained the sacrificial fire and was devoted to the study of the Vedas. His son (Guṇanidhi) was of a very handsome complexion and shone like the moon’s disc. After the investiture with the sacred thread he learned all the eight lores[3] over and over again. Yet, unknown to his father he indulged in gambling.

9. Ever and anon he took plenty of sums from his mother and gave them over to other gamblers with whom he contracted great intimacy.

10. He eschewed all brahminical ways and conduct of life. He was averse to the performance of Sandhyā prayers and ceremonial ablutions. He began to speak ill of the Vedas, sacred texts, devas and brahmins.

11. He did not follow the conventions and injunctions of the Smṛti code, He indulged in singing and playing. Actors, heretics etc. were his beloved friends.

12-15. Although his mother wanted him to meet his father now and then, he never went near his father. Engaged in extra-domestic activities Yajñadatta used to ask his wife “Dear good woman, what is our son Guṇanidhi doing? He is not at home.” Then the woman used to say, “He has gone out just now. So long he had been taking his bath and worshipping the deities. He has finished his Vedic studies and has just gone out in the company of two or three friends for the purpose of learning somewhere”. The poor woman in view of the fact that she had only one son deceived her husband thus.

16. The simple husband did not know anything about the nefarious activities of his son or his bad conduct. All sacred rites ending with Keśa Karma[4] were performed in the sixteenth year of the son.

17. Thereafter Yajñadatta performed the marriage rite of the son in accordance with the rules prescribed in the Gṛhya Sūtras.

18. O Nārada, every day the woman with her heart melting with motherly affection used to make her son sit up and gently upbraid him.

19. “Dear son, your father is surely a great man, but he is of rash temperament. If he comes to know of your activities he will beat you and will not spare me too.

20. I conceal your nefarious activities from your father every day. Due to his good conduct and his affluent circumstances he is honoured by all the people.

21. Dear child, a good learning and association with men of saintly character constitute a great asset for brahmins. How is it that you do not gladly take interest in such things?

22. Your ancestors and grandfathers had all earned the reputation of being good Vedic scholars, well learned in Śāstras, and performers of sacrifices, especially Somayāgas.

23. Shun the company of the wicked people, associate with good men, turn your attention to good learning and strictly adhere to brahminical conventions.

24. Emulate your father in form, fame and traditional activity. Why don’t you feel ashamed? Cast off your wickedness.

25. You are nineteen now. This girl is sixteen years old. She is a good girl. Take her. Protect her. Above all be devoted to your father.

26. You shall respect your father-in-law also, in view of his good qualities and conduct. How is it that you do not feel ashamed of wickedness?

27. Dear son, your maternal uncles too are matchless in learning, conduct and pedigree and other things. You are not afraid even of them. Your paternal and maternal lineages are equally pure.

28. See the brahmin boys of your neighbourhood. Even in our house see the disciples of your father. How humbly do they behave?

29. Dear son, if the king hears of your evil propensities, he will cease to respect your father and may even suspend the regular maintenance allowance.

30. Till now people used to call your activities the foolish blunders of an ignorant boy. Hereafter they may take away the traditional title of Dīkṣita.

31. People will curse and cavil at your father and me saying such evil words as “The son has adopted the wickedness of the mother.”

32. Your father has never been a sinner. He strictly follows the path of the Vedas and Smṛtis. Lord Śiva is my witness for the purity of my mind that is riveted to his feet.

33. I have not seen the face of any wicked man after my menstrual bath. Powerful indeed is Fate whence a boy like you is born of my womb!”

34. Although constantly advised thus by his mother, the wicked boy did not abandon his evil ways. For, an idiot indulging in vice is beyond redemption.

35. Who is he that is not broken up by the evil influences of hunting, wine, slander, untruth, theft, gambling and prostitutes?

36. The wicked fellow (Guṇanidhi) used to lay his hands on whatever he could see in the house, a cloth, a base metal etc. and take it to the gambling den, there to lose the same to his brother gamblers.

37. Once he stole a very valuable ring of his father set with precious stones and gave it to one the of gamblers.

38. It chanced that one day the Dīkṣita saw it in the hand of the gambler. He asked the fellow—“Where did you get this ring from?”

39-40. First the gambler did not say anything. When repeatedly asked he said—“O brahmin, you are unnecessarily accusing me of theft. It was your son who gave it to me. On the previous day I had won his mother’s upper garment.

41. Do not think that I alone was the winner of this ring. He has lost many costly things to other gamblers as well.

42. He has thus given gems, metals, silk garments, vessels, golden vases, and different sorts of copper and bell metal pots.

43. Everyday he is being bound stark naked by the gamblers. In the whole world you cannot see such a useless poor gambler as he (your son).

44. How is it that till now, O brahmin, you have not realised that your son is a ring leader of base gamblers, very clever in misdemeanour and unfair means?

45. On hearing these words, the poor Dīkṣita’s head bent down with shame. He covered his face and head with a cloth and quietly slipped back into his house.

46. Yajñadatta, the sacrificer, well versed in Vedic rites spoke thus to his wife who was a very chaste lady.

Yajñadatta said:—

47-48. O mistress! where is that gambling rogue of a son, Guṇanidhi? Or let it be. Why should I ask for him? Where is that auspicious ring which you took off at the time of applying unguents on my body? Bring it quickly and give it to me.

49-51. The mistress was frightened at these words. While she was engaged in arranging for bath and midday sacred rites she replied—“O lord, I am busy arranging the various articles of offerings for worship. O lord, fond of guests, the guests may be unnecessarily detained. While I was busy cooking the pudding I kept the ring somewhere in some vessel just now. What a pity! I have forgotten it. I do not know where it has been kept.

Dīkṣita said:—

52-53. O truthful lady who has given birth to a base boy, whenever I asked “Where has the son gone?” you used to say, “Dear lord, just now he has gone out after finishing his lesson of the Vedas, in the company of two or three friends for revision of the lesson”.

54. Where is your silk saree red like madder which I had presented to you and which used to hang down here in the house always? Tell me the truth. Do not be afraid.

55. That gem-set golden vase which I had given you is also missing. That tripod with a velvet cushion which I had given you is nowhere to be seen.

56. Where is that bell metal pot made in the South? Where is that copper pot made in Bengal? Where is that ivory casket intended for curios and trinkets?

57. Where is that wonderfully fine statuette of a lady lighting a lamp, shining like the moon, and brought from the hilly province?

58. Why should I unnecessarily speak much? O lady of a noble family, it is futile to be angry with you. I shall take food -only after I marry again!

59. I am childless now since that wicked fellow has defiled the whole family. Get up and fetch me some water. Let me offer libations to him with gingelly seeds.[5]

60. Better to be issueless than have a wicked son who defiles the entire family. It is the traditional policy to abandon one to save the family.

61. The Brāhmaṇa took his bath, performed his daily rites and married the daughter of a Vedic scholar the same day.

Footnotes and references:


Kubera is the son of “viśravas” by “iḍaviḍā” He is the chief of the Yakṣas and a friend of Rudra. He is mythologised as having three legs and eight teeth.


The country known to Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā (xxiii, 18) and Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa (xiii. 2.8.3) can be identified with the city of Kāmpīla in the Furrukhabad district, Uttara Pradeśa. It was the Southern Capital of Pāñcāladeśa in ancient India. Dr. Awasthi (Studies in Sk. P. P. 85) however, places it in the Ānarta Deśa, a region of the Western India.


The eight sciences included (1) the triple Veda (trayī) (2) logic and metaphysics (ānvīkṣikī), (3) the science of Government (daṇḍanīti), (4) practical arts such as agriculture, commerce, medicine etc. (vārtā), (5) ancient historical and mythological tradition (6) science of rituals (7) Logic and (8) Dharma or Law.


The religious ceremony Keśānta in which the hair were cut off was performed upon Brāhmins at 16 years of age, Kṣattriyas at 22 and Vaiśyas at 24. Cf. Manu. U. 65, Yājñavalkya 1.36.


It is customary among the orthodox Hindu families in India to offer libations of water mixed with gingelly seeds to the manes on particular days.

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