The Bhagavata Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 780,972 words | ISBN-10: 8120838203 | ISBN-13: 9788120838208

This page describes Birth of Parikshit which is chapter 12 of the English translation of the Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas containing roughly 18,000 metrical verses. Topics include ancient Indian history, religion, philosophy, geography, mythology, etc. The text has been interpreted by various schools of philosophy. This is the twelfth chapter of the First Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 12 - Birth of Parīkṣit

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

[Note: In Bhāgavata Purāṇa 1.7.12 Sūta has promised to describe the life and career of Parīkṣit. After describing how Kṛṣṇa returned to Dvārakā after restoring the Pāṇḍavas to their ancestral kingdom, this topic is now taken up.]

Śaunaka said:

1. The foetus in the womb of Uttarā which was killed by the missile Brahmaśiras of immense heat, fired (lit. flung, hurled) by Aśvatthāman, was restored to life by the Lord.

2-3. If you be so pleased[1] to speak, I desire to hear the birth, actions (life), the way he met ḍeath and the state after death of that highly intelligent and great-souled Parīkṣit. Narrate to us reverentials (about him whom) Śuka imparted knowledge.

Sūta said:

4. Dharmarāja who, due to his service to the lotus-like feet of Kṛṣṇa, became unattached to all objects of enjoyment, protected the subjects keeping them contented, with paternal care.

5. Riches, sacrifices, subjects,[2] the queen-consort, brothers, the earth and sovereignty over the isle of Jambū,[3] and glory reaching as far as the heaven.

6. Oh Brāhmaṇas! Did those objects of enjoyments covetable even to gods, yield joy to the king whose mind was concentrated on Kṛṣṇa as (objects) other (than food do) to the hungry? [No].

7-8. Oh son of Bhṛgu! while being scorched by the flames of the missile (Brahmāstra) in the womb of the mother, the hero (Parīkṣit) saw a certain Being, of the size of a thumb, pure, wearing a crown of shining gold, of beautiful appearance, dark complexion, with garments (shining) like the lightning and Imperishable—

9. Of beautiful long four arms, (with) ear-rings of bright (heated) gold, (with) eyes red like blood, with a mace in hand, going around him in all directions, waving (around) constantly the meteor-liked bright mace—

10. (Parīkṣit) examined carefully who was this (Being) near him extinguishing the flames of the missile by his mace like the Sun dispersing the mist.

11. Having warded off (the Brahmāstra), the omnipresent Lord, Hari, of infinite nature and the protector of religion,[4] disappeared then and there, while the foetus of ten months was looking on.

12. Then, (at the auspicious time) when the favourable planets were in the ascendance, (indicating progressive) increase of all qualities the scion to the dynasty of Pāṇḍu was born, with the prowess like Pāṇḍu reborn.

13. Having got the ceremonial repetition regarding the auspiciousness of the day[5], the king, with a happy heart, got the ceremony of birth[6] (or astrological calculation of the nativity of a child) performed by Brāhmaṇas like Dhaumya, Kṛpa and others.

14. The king, the knower of the sacred places (and of the proper time, person etc. for donating gifts) gave gold, cows, lands, excellent villages, elephants, horses and sweet food (dishes) to Brāhmaṇas at the auspicious time of the birth of his progeny[7].

15-16. Brāhmaṇas, pleased (as they were) with the modest king, spoke, “Oh chief among the descendants of Puru! When this pure scion of the Puru race was nearly brought to death by the unavoidable Fate, he was given to you by the mighty Viṣṇu out of his grace.”

17. He, therefore, will be widely known in the world as ‘Viṣṇurāta’. (There is) no doubt that he will be the most famous and the greatest devotee”.

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

18. Oh, the best amongst the venerable ones! Will he emulate his great-souled forefathers of holy reputation, the royal sages, in fame and good will (lit. expression of approbation)?

Brāhmaṇas said:

19. Oh son of Pṛthā (Yudhiṣṭhira), this (Viṣṇurāta alias Parīkṣit) will be the protector of subjects like Ikṣvāku, the son of Manu incarnate, friendly to Brāhmaṇas and true of word like Rāma, the son of Daśaratha.

20. This (Parīkṣit) will be munificent and protector (of the seekers of shelter) like Śibi[8], the king of Uśīnara, and a contributer to the glory of his relatives, the performers of sacrifices like Bharata[9], the son of Duṣyanta.

21. This (Viṣṇurāta will be) the foremost among the archers like both the Arjunas (viz. Arjuna, the Pāṇḍava and Arjuna son of Kṛtavīrya of Haihaya dynasty), unassailable like fire, unsurpassable (of unfathomable mind) like the sea.

22. He will be brave like the lion (lit. king of beasts), worthy of taking shelter just as the Himālayas (are worth inhabiting), forbearing like the earth[10] and tolerant like parents.

23. (He would be) like the God Brahmā (or his grandfather Yudhiṣṭhira) in impartiality (or absence of hatred), like lord Śiva (the Lord of the Mountains) in graciousness, like the god Viṣṇu (the shelter of the goddess of wealth) in being the refuge of all beings.

24. This (Prince would be) equal to lord Kṛṣṇa in the eminence of virtues, generous like Rantideva[11] and righteous like Yayāti.[12]

25. (He will be) like Bali[13] in courage; of (sincere) devotion like Prahlāda, performer of (many) horse-sacrifices, a worshipper of scholars[14].

26. This (prince will be) the father of royal sages, the dispenser of punishment to persons going astray (taking to the wrong path), the controller of Kali for the (preservation of) religion on the earth.

27. Having heard of his (prospective) death from Takṣaka commissioned by (the curse of) the sage’s son, (Śṛṅgin, the son of Śamīka), he, freeing himself from worldly attachments, will resort to the feet of Hari (in the holy assembly on the bank of the Ganges).[15]

28. This (prince) who after having enquired (and subsequently realized) the true nature of the Soul[16] from the sage (Śuka), the son of Vyāsa, will certainly attain to the place, free from fear from any quarter (i.e. liberation).

29. After predicting to the king (the details of Parīkṣit’s future life), all the Brāhmaṇas, expert in astrological calculations of nativity, getting (their due) worship (and offerings), returned to their respective homes.

30. As the king, meditating him (supreme lord) whom he saw in the embryo, (will) examine (look for him) (for discovering him) in the men here, he will come to be known as Parīkṣit in this world.

31. The (well-known) prince who was daily being fed by his grand-fathers (on 64 objects of enjoyment) quickly thrived like the moon which grows in size by its digits, during the bright half of the month.

32. The king, wishing to expiate the sin for injury to (and killing of his) relatives, by performing a horse-sacrifice, and being short of funds for the same, pondered over the ways (to procure money) by means other than levying (new tax and inflicting fines).

33. Guessing his (Yudhiṣṭhira’s) desire, and being directed by Lord Kṛṣṇa, the four brothers brought immense riches left (buried) in the northern quarters[17].

34. Having procured the requirements of sacrifice, Yudhiṣṭhira, the son of Dharma, afraid of sin, worshipped Hari by performing three horse-sacrifices.

35. The Lord who was invited by the king (Yudhiṣṭhira) made him (the king) to perform the sacrifice by the Brāhmaṇas and stayed for some months with a desire to render services to his friends.

36. Oh Brāhmaṇa (Śaunaka), then, after taking leave of king (Yudhiṣṭhira), his brothers and Draupadī (Kṛṣṇa) surrounded by Yādavas and accompanied by Arjuna went to Dvāravatī (Dvārakā).

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Bhāvāratha Dīpikā states that this expresses prayer or a request and not a command.

[2]:

Lokāḥ—attainment of heavens as a result of the sacrifices—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā

[3]:

Jambūdvīpa—One of the seven island-continents surrounding Meru. It is so named on account of the abundance of Jambū (Engenia jambolana) trees, India forms the major part of this island.

[4]:

Dharma-gup: (1) The protector of religion or righteousness (Bhāvāratha Dīpikā) (2) The protector of kings—the protector of religion (Bhāvārtha-dīpikā-prakāśa) (3) The Performer of his duty of protecting ḥis devotees (Bhāgavata Candrikā) (4) The observer of religion (Padaratnāvalī)

[5]:

Puṇyāha-vācana—Repetition of the words ‘This is an auspicious day’ three times at the commencement of most of religious ceremonies.—ASDP (V.S. Apte: the Practical Sanskrit-English Dictionary, 1065).

[6]:

This is technically known as Jātakarman.

[7]:

Bhāvāratha Dīpikā quotes here a smṛti text which states, “gifts given at the time of a male child and at the time called ‘Vyatipāt’ fruition in eternal good”. It further states that gods and Manes (Pitṛs) remain present at the time of the birth of a male child to twice-born, declaring that as an auspicious day (puṇyāha). Bhāvāratha Dīpikā quotes another text which explains that there is no impurity on account of the birth of a child until the umbilical cord is cut. Bhāvārtha-dīpikā-prakāśa endorses the above views by quoting from the Viṣṇudharma and Varāha. Subodhinī, Bālaprabodhini and others follow ŚṚ.

[8]:

Śibi—He is said to have saved Agni (the god of fire) in the form of a dove from Indra in the form of a hawk, by offering his own flesh equal to the weight of the dove to be so released. When the dove went on increasing weight in the balance, Śibi offered his own body completely.

[9]:

Bharata—a son of Duṣyanta and Śakuntalā; brought up in his childhood by Kaṇva; became a cakravarti after his father; performed 55 horse sacrifices on the banks of the Gaṅgā and the Yamunā; he subjugated Kirātas, Hūṇas, Yavanas, Andhras and all other Mlecchas. He was such a reputed emperor that India was named after him.

[10]:

VC. adds that Parīkṣit was more forbearing than the earth, as the earth has not to suffer sharp, scathing words of the enemies, as he would have to do.

[11]:

Rantideva—A pious and benevolent king of the Lunar race, sixth in descent from Bharata. He was enormously rich, very religious, charitable and performer of grand sacrifices. So many animals were sacrificed at his sacrifices and in his kitchen that a river of blood had issued from hides and was afterwards appropriately called Carmaṇvatī (Chambal in Malwa region). (DHM. 263, ASDP. 795.)

[12]:

Yayāti—Son of Nahuṣa of the Lunar race; had two wives, Devayānī, the daughter of Śukra the preceptor of the Asuras, and Śarmiṣṭhā, the Asura Princess daughter of Vṛṣaparva. From Devayānī was born Yadu and he founded the Yādava dynasty. Puru was his son from Śarmiṣṭhā. He bore the curse of Śukra and exchanged his youth to his father’s decrepitude. Yayātī afterwards felt ashamed, returned the youth to Puru; made him a king and retired to forest. Puru was the founder of the Paurava dynasty. (DHM. 376-77.)

[13]:

Bali—A good and virtuous Daitya king, son of Virocana anḍ grandson of Prahlāda. Through his devotion and penance, he defeated gods and extended his authority over three worlds. Viṣṇu had to incarnate as a dwarf and beg from Ball a piece of land measuring three steps. When the boon was granted, Viṣṇu manifested his real form anḍ stepped over heaven and earth in two strides. Bali was made to live in Pātāla, the lowest region of the world. (DHM. 43.)

[14]:

vṛddhānāṃ jñāna-vṛddhānām paryupāsakaḥ sevakaḥ. The usual meaning is ‘servant of the old people’.

[15]:

Hareḥ padamgaṅgā-tīra-sat-sabhām, tatra hi bhagavat-padam abhivyaktam / Subodhinī

Bālaprabodhini endorses the same in different words.

[16]:

jijñāsita-ātma-yāthātmya

To understand the different interpretations of the commentators it is important to note that different schools of Vedānta hold different views regarding the relations between individual Soul (jīva) and God. Thus Maḍhva regards jīvas as parts of God but they are distinct from him, and the identity of the Brahman and the jīvas is only in a remote sense. According to Nimbārka, individual Souls (jīvas) are different from God and yet are similar to him: He regards jīvas as God’s parts, but emphasizes the distinctness of the jīvas as well as their similarity to him. Rāmānuja thinks that God holds the jīvas within himself and by his will dominates all their functions, by expanding or contracting the nature of jīva’s knowledge. Vallabha holds that the jīvas, being parts of God, are one with Him. They appear as jīvas through ḥis function as āvirbhāva and tirobhāva, by which certain powers and qualities that exist in God are obscured or manifested in the jīva.

Like Bhāvāratha Dīpikā given above, VC states:

jijñāsitaṃ vicāritam ātmano yāthārthyam vāstavaṃ tattvam yena /

(ii) who has enquired of and got the decisive (accurate) knowledge about the real nature of the individual Sou 1 and the Supreme Soul—Bhāgavata Candrikā

(iii) One who has enquired of and got a clear decision by ‘This- thus-ness’ (idamitthatayā) of the real nature of the identity of the individual Spirit (jīva) and God—Subodhinī

[17]:

This refers to the treasures of king Marutta left over by him, after performing His sacrifices. This Marutta was the son of Āvikṣit and father of Dama. His sacrifices were of high order. He was a great friend of Indra. (Purāṇa Index. I.649)

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