The Bhagavata Purana

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

This page describes The Story of Puranjana—Introduction which is chapter 25 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 twenty-fifth chapter of the Fourth Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 25 - The Story of Purañjana—Introduction


The story of Purañjana is an allegory on jīva and Paramātman. (Cf. the allegorical reference to the jīva and Śiva as two birds occupying the same tree, one enjoying the fruits and the other staying aloof—Muṇḍ. Up. 3.1.1 and Śvet. Up. 4.6) The commentators explain the allegory at every step in details.

It is interesting to compare the interpretation of the allegory given by the commentators with that given by the author of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa himself in chapter 29 (infra).

Maitreya said:

1. Having thus instructed Pracetasas, the sons of Barhiṣad, Lord Śiva who was devoutly worshipped by them, immediately disappeared at that very spot, while the Princes were simply looking on.

2. Repeating the hymn in praise of the venerable Lord, as sung by Rudra, all the Pracetasa princes standing in water, practised penance for ten thousand years.

3. Oh Vidura! In the meanwhile (while Pracetasas were undergoing austere penance) the compassionate Nārada who knew the reality about the Supreme Soul, (visited and) reasoned with (their father) Prācīnabarhis who was attached to and was preoccupied in ritualistic Vedic acts, (as follows):

4. “Oh King! What bliss do you attempt to secure by the performance of ritualistic acts? That which removes miseries and secures happiness is (called the real) bliss. And (according to the wise) such beatitude is not expected from the karmas.”

The King said:

5. “Oh blessed Sir! My mind is distracted by the ritualistic karmas. I do not know the supreme bliss. Please initiate me in that pure knowledge whereby I can be free from (bonds of all) karmas.

6. In the householder’s life which is characterised by deceitfulness, a person looks upon his sons, wife and wealth as the sole objectives in life. Such ignorant persons, wandering in the pathways of saṃsāra (transmigration of the Soul), never attain the Supreme Bliss.

Nārada said[1]:

7. Oh Lord of men! Have a look at those multitudes of living beings mercilessly slaughtered by you in thousands, as beasts (consecrated) for sacrifice.

8. Remembering your cruelty (to them), they are waiting for you. When you will be dead, they, with their ire aroused, will pierce you (through and through) with their steellike horns.

9. On this point, I shall narrate to you this ancient legend. Listen to the story of Purañjana as I tell you.

10. Oh King, there was a king of wide fame, by name Purañjana (i.e. Jīva). He had a friend called Avijñāta (i.e. the Supreme Soul) as his activities were unknown.

11. The king wandered over the earth[2] in search of an abode.[3] When he did not find any suitable asylum, he became rather dejected.[4]

12. Seeking after pleasures, he did not approve of any of the cities that existed on the earth as suitable for the realization of those pleasures.[5]

13.[6] Once upon a time, he saw, on the table land in the southern range of the Himālayas, a city having nine gates and possessing all the characteristics of a good city.

14.[7] It was surrounded by ramparts, gardens, watchtowers, moats, windows, arched gateways. It was crowded on all sides with houses with crests of gold, silver and iron.

15.It appeared resplendent like Bhogavatī,[8] in beauty, with floors of its mansions studded with precious stones like sapphires, crystals, cat’s eyes, pearls, emeralds and rubies.

16.It appeared beautiful with assembly halls, courtyards, main roads (highways), gambling houses, markets, resthouses, flags and fluttering banners and platforms built of coral.

17.Outside the city, there was a park full of celestial trees and creepers. There was a lake resounding with warbling sounds of birds and humming of bees.

18.The bank of the lotus pond was richly beautified with trees the foliage and branches of which were fluttering with the cool breeze laden with spray from the cascades and blowing over the flower beds.

19.It was safe and free from molestation as the multitudes of wild animals infesting it were observing ascetic vows (e.g. non-violence etc.). The traveller feels that he is invited there, by the cooing of the cuckoos.

20.[9] In that garden, he (King Purañjana) saw a young damsel of superb beauty coming there by chance. She was accompanied by ten servants each of whom was the husband of hundred ladies.

21. She was guarded on all sides by her bodyguard, a serpent with five hoods.[10] She was sixteen years of age, beautiful or capable of assuming any form she liked. She was in search of a husband.

22. The girl had a shapely nose, beautiful rows of teeth, lovely cheeks, attractive face and was wearing lustrous earrings in her symmetrical ears.

23. She put on a reddish-brown garment round her waist with a girdle of gold around it. The dark-complexioned[11] lady with well formed hips walked with her feet making a tinkling sound with the adorning anklets.

24. Out of bashfulness, she was (now and then) covering with the end of her garments, her symmetrical, closely knit, round (spherical) breasts indicating the advent of youth. She was walking (in the stately gait) like an elephant.

25. Being (as if) wounded with the arrows of her charming side-long glances, shot from the bow of her eyebrows making lively amorous movements, the hero (Purañjana) spoke in soft winsome tones to the girl who looked all the more lovely by her bashful smiles.

26. “Who are you, Oh beautiful lady with eyes like the lotus-petals? Whose (relative) are you? Whence have you come here? Oh timid lady, please tell me what you desire to do here on the outskirts of the city?

27. Who are these ten attendants commanded by the formidable warrior, forming the eleventh? Who are these beautiful damsels? Who is the serpent who goes ahead of you, Oh lady with beautiful eyebrows?

28. Are you the goddess Hrī, Pārvatī or Sarasvatī (the goddess of speech) or the goddess Lakṣmī leading the life of a sage in this secluded forest seeking a husband who must have surely got all his wishes fulfilled as your feet are desired by him?[12] If you be the goddess Lakṣmī, where has the lotus been dropped from your hand?

29. Oh lady with beautiful thighs, you are surely none of these deities as you touch the earth (with your feet). You should, therefore, adorn this city along with me (who am) an excellent warrior of great exploits, just as goddess Lakṣmī as the consort of Lord Viṣṇu (the Lord of Sacrifices) graces Vai- kuṇṭha (the highest region).

30. Please show favour to me, Oh graceful lady, as the mind-born god of love, prompted by you with the playful movement of your eyebrows and your bashful smile expressing love, is harassing me by piercing my heart with your sideglances.

31. Oh lady with bright smiles! Please raise up and show me your sweet speaking face with beautiful eyebrows and eyes of bright, charming pupils—your face which is covered with locks of long dark-blue hair—as it is not turned to me through bashfulness.”

Nārada said:

32. Oh warrior! The lady was infatuated with Purañjana, the hero[13] who was courting her so impatiently and (in response) greeted him with a smile

33. “Oh prominent man, we do not know properly who is your or my progenitor. No, do we know the family or the name (by which we are called?)

34. We know that we are here today, now. We do not know beyond that. Nor do we know who created this city which is my abode, Oh warrior.

35. Oh respectful one, these men and women, who are my friends, stay awake while I am asleep. So does this serpent guarding this city.

36. Leave aside the details about my name, family etc. Oh destroyer of enemies, I am glad that you have come. God bless you! Whatever sensual pleasures you desire, I shall secure for you with the help of my kinsmen.

37. Please occupy this city of pine gates, enjoying for hundred years all the sense-pleasures which I shall secure for you, Oh Lord.

38. For, whom else than you should I really please—him who is ignorant of erotics or pleasure, void of learning or wisdom, careless about tomorrow’s work (i.e. his life here) and heedless about his life hereafter, a sheer brute.

39. Here (in the life of a householder) one attains to puruṣārthas called dharma (righteousness), artha (wealth) and kāma (pleasures of the senses). It is here that one gets the joy of getting progeny, immortality (i.e. Liberation—Mokṣa), fame and regions which are free from sins, sorrow—which even recluses do not know.

40. They, the sages of old, say that in this world, the stage of householder’s life is the only asylum for the well-being of manes (pitṛs), gods, sages, men and all other beings and of the householder himself.

41. Oh warrior, what girl in my position (lit. like me) would not accept as a husband a famous, munificent, goodlooking, loving personage like you.

42. Oh mighty-armed hero! What woman’s heart in this world would not cling to your arms which are (tender yet powerful) like the body of a serpent?—You move about in the world in order to remove the mental anguish of the helpless by your smiling looks full of compassion.”

Nārada said:

43. Oh King (Prācīnabarhis)! In this way the couple entered into a mutual agreement there. They then entered the city and lived in happiness for a hundred years.

44. Sweetly eulogised by bards everywhere, and playing in company of women, he entered the (swimming-) pool in the hot season.

45. For (the convenience of) the movements from and to the outer regions, of whosoever (unknown) was the master of the city there were seven gateways in the upper (i.e. front-) part of the city (viz. two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and a mouth) and two in the lower part (the anus and the penis).

46. There were five doors to the east (front, viz., two eyes, two nostrils and one mouth), one to the South (the right ear), one to the North (the left ear) and two to the west (viz. the penis and the anus). I shall describe to you the names of these, Oh King.

47.[14] To the East were constructed adjacently a pair of gates called khadyotā (fire-fly) and Avirmukhī (of manifest face—bright light). Through them he (king Purañjana) accompanied by his friend Dyumat, used to visit the country called Vibhrājit.

48.[15] A pair of adjacent gates called Nalinī and Nālinī were also built to the east. Through them he (Purañjana) in company of Avadhūta, goes to the region called Saurabha (Fragrance).

49.[16] The fifth gate to the east was called Mukhyā (the main). In association with Rasajña and Vipaṇa, the king of the city goes through the gate to the countries of Āpaṇa and Bahūdana.

50.[17] On King (Barhiṣad)! Through the southern gate of the city called Pitṛhū, Purañjana, in accompaniment of Śrutadhara used to go to the country called Southern Pañcāla.

51.[18] By the northern gate of the city, known as Devahū, Purañjana along with Śrutadhara, used to go to the country called Northern Pañcāla.

52. To the west of the city was the gate called Āsurī (pertaining to asuras—people indulging in sensual pleasures). In company of Durmada, Purañjana used to go to the country called Grāmaka (low or vulgar pleasures).

53. There was another gate to the West. It was called Nvṛti. Through it Purañjana went to the country called Vaiśasa (terrible), in company of Lubdhaka (a miser).

54. Out of the citizens (there were) two viz. Nirvāk [Nirvāc?] (speechless) and Peśaskṛta (possessing no aperture). With these the lord of senses made movements of walking and doing.

55. If he goes to his harem (viz. heart) along with (his friends) Viṣūcīna (the chief of attendant in a harem), he experiences delusion, calmness and (excitement of) joy, from wife and children.

56. The unwise king (Purañjana) who was thus deeply attached to karmas (action) and whose mind was completely given up to sensual pleasures, was enraptured and whatever the queen wished to do, he acted accordingly.

57. Sometimes when she used to drink wine, he used to drink and get intoxicated. Sometimes when she took meals, he took it with her; when she chewed, he did the same.

58. Sometimes when she sang, he used to sing; sometimes he wept when she shed tears; sometimes he followed her while she laughed; sometimes when she chattered, he prattled.

59. Sometimes when she ran, he ran; he stood when she stood. When she lay in bed, he did so; sometimes when she sat up, he also sat up.

60. Occasionally, when she heard, he heard; when she saw, he also saw it; sometimes she smelt, he also smelt; when she touched, he used to touch.

61. Sometimes when the wife cried in sorrow, he wept after her like a man in distress; when she rejoiced, he rejoiced; on her being delighted, he was delighted.

62. In this way, he was deceived by the queen and lost his original nature (such as non-attachment to everything). The ignorant King though unwilling, simply imitated (the acts of his queen) helplessly like a domesticated monkey kept for amusement.

Footnotes and references:


By his Yogic powers Nārada showed to the King the huge multitudes of beasts slaughtered by him for sacrifice—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā


Pṛthivī—This indicates the universe—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā, Bhāgavata Candrikā karma-bhumīPadaratnāvalī


Śaraṇam [Śaraṇa]—Body through which the jīva gets experience in life.


Although he (the jīva) gets sensual pleasures in all births, he is not satisfied as non-attachment, which is the means of the Liberation (Mokṣa) is not possible in non-human births. Hence his dejection—Bālaprabodhini


There is no possibility of enjoying all the earthly and heavenly pleasures in non-human species. Hence his disapproval—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā Gf. tābhyo gām ānayat tā abruvan na vai no'yam alam etc.—Ait. Up., 2.2.


In Bhāratavarṣa, to the south of the Himālayas, he saw the city (human body) which was free from disabilities and handicaps like blindness, deafnessBhāvāratha Dīpikā


The limbs or sense-organs of the body are the ramparts etc. The plexuses (cakras like ādhāra etc.) are the houses. The three types of turrets or house-crests are the guṇas viz. sattva, rajas and tamasBhāvāratha Dīpikā


Bhogavatī: Literally—a place for enjoyment of pleasures, but it is generally derived from bhoga ‘serpent’s body’. It is the name of the city of snakes in the lower-regions, famous for its beauty.


The lady is the intelligence (buddhi) and the ten attendants are the conative ana cognitive sense-organs and the hundred (i.e. hundreds of) activities or vṛttis of each are the wives.—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā


This is Prāṇa of five vital functions—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā


Bhāvāratha Dīpikā quotes the following from the Chānd. Up. to explain the darkness of complexion: annamayaṃ hi somya mana itiyat kṛṣṇam tad annasya /


According to most commentators: But the alternate explanation “who must... wishes fulfilled as his feet are desired by you” is worth considering.


Bhāvāratha Dīpikā presumably reads vīkṣya and interprets dṛṣṭvā (having seen).


Description of the eyes.


Description of the nose.


Herein Āpaṇa signifies speech, and Bahūdana denotes variety of food. Vipaṇa thus stands for the organ of speech and Rasajña, for the capacity of the tongue to taste—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā


The right ear is the Southern gate leading to the region of Pitṛs by the path of ritualistic karmas. It hears the karma-kāṇḍa, the path of the karmas. Due to its association with Pitṛ-yāṇa the right ear is called Pitṛhū. Pañcāla here is the science of Pravṛtti mārga.


Devahū is the left ear. It leads to the region of gods by following the Devayāna Path.

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