The Shiva Purana (English translation)

by J. L. Shastri | 1970 | 616,585 words

This page relates “narrative of sudeha and sudharma” 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.

Chapter 32 - The narrative of Sudehā and Sudharmā

Sūta said:—

1. O excellent sages, the next Jyotirliṅga to be mentioned is Ghuśmeśa. May its greatness be listened to.

2. There is the excellent mountain in the Southern region named Deva.[1] It shines with great splendour and is very wonderful to view.

3. A certain brahmin Sudharmā who was the most excellent among the knowers of Brahman and who was born of Bhāradvāja Family lived near it.

4. His beloved wife Sudehā was interested in Śaiva cult and sacred rites. She was skilful in all household activities and she devoutly served her husband.

5. The excellent brahmin Sudharmā worshipped gods and guests. He was devotedly attached to the Vedic path and scrupulously maintained the sacrificial fires.

6. He had the brilliance of the Sun. He performed Sandhyā prayers thrice a day. He taught disciples and was an expert in the Vedas and Śāstras both.

7. He was affluent and had also the qualities of gentlemanliness. He was a liberal donor, a devotee of Śiva, a favourite of his followers and he engaged himself in the sacred rites of Śiva-cult.

8. A long period in his life thus passed when he continued his religious rites but no son was born to him. His wife’s menstrual periods were fruitless. She did not conceive.

9. He did not grieve over this because he realised the reality of different things. He knew that the soul is the uplifter of the soul and the soul is the sanctifier of the soul.

10. Thinking thus he did not feel aggrieved even mentally. But Sudehā was distressed for not having a son.

11. Everyday she implored her learned husband to strive for the acquisition of a son.

12-15. He used to reproach her saying, “O gentle lady, there is no son, no mother, no father, no lover. Every one is selfishly inclined in the world, there is no doubt about this. Know this particularly with a keen intellect. Do not be aggrieved. O gentle lady, misery shall be eschewed by you, certainly. O one of auspicious rites, you shall not pester me like this everyday.” After enlightening her, he became interested in the worship of the lord. He was perfectly contented. He did not feel the misery or joy of mutually contrary interests.

16. Once Sudehā went to the neighbour’s house for a friendly chat but a quarrel arose there.

17. She was reproached by the neighbour’s wife as natural to women. Sudehā was aggrieved with her harsh words.

The neighbourly woman said:—

18. O sonless woman, why are you arrogant? I have i son who will inherit my wealth. But there is none to inherit your property.

19. Undoubtedly the king will confiscate your estate. O barren woman, fie upon you, upon your wealth, upon your honour and prestige.

Sūta said:—

20. Thus reproached by her she returned home depressed. She narrated to her husband all what her neighbour had said to her.

21. The intelligent brahmin was not grieved by hearing it. He said “Let her say what she wishes, O beloved, what is destined to happen will happen.”

22. Thus pacified and consoled again and again by her husband she did not stop worrying. She again pleaded.

Sudehā said:—

23. You are my husband. Somehow you shall beget a son. O excellent among men, otherwise I shall cast off this body.

Sūta said:—

24. On hearing what she said, Sudharmā the excellent brahmin, harassed by her importunities, mentally remembered Śiva.

25. The alert brahmin offered two flowers to the sacrificial fire. He thought in his mind that the right side flower would yield a son.

26. Making this as a condition the brahmin told his wife. “You shall take one of these two flowers to decide about the acquisition of a son”

27-28. She thought “I will surely have a son. Let the insignia flower come to me.” Then she bowed to Śiva and the sacrificial fire. After praying again she picked up one of the flowers.

29. The insignia flower was missed by her due to delusion caused by Śiva’s desire.

30. On seeing it the husband sighed deeply. Remembering the lotus-like feet of Śiva he spoke to his beloved.

Sudharmā said:—

31. O beloved, how can what is ordained by the lord be otherwise. Cast off your vain hopes. Render service to the lord.

32. After saying so and giving up hope himself, the brahmin became engaged in sacred rites and meditation on Śiva.

33. Yearning for a son Sudehā did not leave off her pleadings. With palms joined in reverence and bending her head she lovingly said to her husband.

Sudehā said:—

34. Let there be no son born of me. With my consent you shall take another wife. Undoubtedly she will bear you a son.

Sūta said:—

35. Requested thus by his beloved wife, that brahmin the most excellent of the devotees of Śiva and fond of sacred rites spoke to her.

Sudharmā said:—

36. Our miseries have gone off, O beloved, do not put obstacles in our holy rites now.

Sūta said:—

37. Although prevented thus, she brought her mother’s younger daughter to her house and said to her husband “Take her.”

Sudharmā said:—

38. Now you say that she must be my beloved wife. But should she give birth to a son you will begin to be jealous of her.

Sūta said:—

39. O brahmins, when thus warned by her husband, Sudehā joined her palms in reverence and spoke to him,

40. “O excellent brahmin, I will not be jealous of my own sister. Please marry her and beget a son. I urge upon you.”

41. Thus implored by her, Sudharmā married that lady Ghuśmā with due ceremonies.

42. After marrying her he requested Sudehā, “O my pious beloved, this is your younger sister. You must bring her up.”

43. After saying this, Sudharmā, the most excellent devotee of Śiva, pursued hīs sacred rites to the utmost with his mind leaning towards virtue.

44. Sudehā served her sister like a hired wench eschewing all opposition and lovingly nurtured her.

45. The junior wife with the consent of her sister, made hundred and one earthen idols every day.

46. According to the sacred rules Ghuśmā rendered devotional services to these images and threw them in the neighbouring lake.

47. Thus she performed the wish-yielding worship of Śiva every day leaving them off and invoking them again in accordance with the rules of devotional service.

48. Performing the worship of Śiva thus regularly she completed a hundred-thousand images and their worship which would yield the benefits of all desires.

49. By the mercy of Śiva a son was born to her. He was beautiful, fortunate and endowed with all auspicious qualities.

50. On seeing him the brahmin was much delighted. Being the most excellent of all who knew virtue and engrossed in the virtues of knowledge he enjoyed the pleasure with due detachment.

51. Then Sudehā grew fiercely jealous of her. Her heart which was cool and quiet before began to blaze like fire now.

52. O great sages, may the despicable event that followed, causing misery, be heard with attention.

Footnotes and references:


Devagiri mod. Daulatabad is placed in the Aurangabad District the former Hyderabad State GAMI. P. 104.