The Bhagavata Purana

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

This page describes Puranjana’s Hunting Expedition and His Queen‘s Wrath Pacified which is chapter 26 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-sixth chapter of the Fourth Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 26 - Purañjana’s Hunting Expedition and His Queen‘s Wrath Pacified

Nārada said:

1-3.[1] One day, Purañjana, clad in the armour of gold and equipped with a mighty bow and an inexhaustible quiver (of arrows) and accompanied by his eleventh general, mounted his chariot fit for speedy marches. It was yoked with five horses; had a pair of shafts, two wheels, one axle, three flagstaffs, five cords, only one rein, one charioteer, one seat, two central poles to which yoke is fixed, five covered litters and sevenfold protection, capable of five kinds of movements and provided with instruments of gold. He set out for the forest called Pañca Prastha (Forest of five hills).

4.[2] Being earned away by the passion for game, the proud king left behind his wife who did not deserve that treatment. Taking a bow and arrows, he started a-hunting there.

5. Taking to Asura (demonic) way of life, he became hard-hearted and merciless. He killed (all) the wild animals in the jungle with his sharp arrows.

6.[3] Even if a king is extremely fond (of hunting), it is restricted by the śāstras, that (it is only) on religious occasions like special Śrāddhas as specified in the Śāstras and not for routine Śrāddhas that the king may kill just the required number of sacrificial animals in the jungle (and not more).

7.[4] Oh Chief of Kings! A learned person who does his acts as prescribed by the Śāstras is not thereby affected due to the knowledge arising from the performance of that act.

8. Otherwise a person who does acts (in violation of the restrictions of Śāstras), becomes full of egotism and falls in the stream of guṇas (i.e. saṃsāra). Losing his faculty of discrimination and judgment, he goes down[5] (to lower grades of existence).

9. In the forest, there took place destruction of the afflicted animals whose bodies were shattered by arrows with variegated feathers—a sight unbearable to those whose hearts were full of compassion.

10.[6] After hunting down hares, hogs, buffaloes, bisons, deer, porcupines and many other (animals) irrespective of their fitness for being offered for sacrifice, he got exhausted.

11.[7] Then being exhausted with hunger and thirst, he retired from hunting and returned to his palace. Having taken bath and proper (sumptuous) meal, he lay on bed and was relieved of fatigue.

12.[8] He got himself beautified with scents, cosmetics, flower garlands etc. Having got his person well adorned, he set his heart on the queen (his intelligence of sāttvic type).

13.[9] In his youthful pride, the King who was satisfied and in a gay mood, got his mind overcome with the passion of love, he missed his (charming) wife who helped him discharging his duties as a householder.

14. Oh King Prācīnabarhis! Being rather frustrated, he asked the ladies in the harem, “Oh beautiful ladies, are all of you and your mistress, the queen, well as before?

15. The splendour and wealth of the house do not appear as brilliant as before (because) if the house is bereft of the mother or the wife who treats her husband as a god, it is like a broken chariot (without wheels etc.). What wise man will stay in it, like a miserable wretch?

16. Where is that charming lady who, at every step, illuminated my intelligence and lifted me up (by cheering me), while I was being drowned in the sea of miseries?”

The ladies replied:

17. “Oh King (Lord of men), we do not know what your beloved intends to do. You see (for yourself) that she is lying on the bare ground, Oh destroyer of enemies.”

Nārada said:

18. Purañjana who had lost all his knowledge (power of discretion and judgment) through his fondness for his wife, became highly agitated and distressed to see her lying stretched (that way) on the ground.

19. With an aching heart, he tried to soothe her with soft, pleasing words. But he did not get any indication (in her behaviour) that it was a feigned anger of his beloved queen towards him (due to love).

20. Being expert in the art of conciliation, the hero gradually cajolled her, touched her feet and seating her on his lap he caressed her.

Purañjana said:

21. Really unfortunate are those servants on whom, though they have committed an offence, their masters do not inflict any corrective punishment, thinking that they (servants) are after all under their control, Oh beautiful damsel.

22. Punishment is a supreme grace shown by the master to his servants. Oh slim lady, it is only an intolerant fool who does not understand this as a friendly act.

23. Oh high-Souled lady with beautiful teeth and charming eyebrows! Please show to us who are your own, your face with prominently shapely nose and soft, sweet accented speech—face bright with smiling looks, bent down with the weight of love and bashfulness, adorned with bee-like dark locks of hair.

24. Oh queen of a warrior (like me)! I shall instantly inflict punishment on him who has committed any offence against you unless he be an earth-god (Brāhmaṇa) or a devotee of Lord Viṣṇu. Verily I shall see to it that he is not free from fear, much less joyous either in the three worlds or (even) beyond (wherever he may go, he shall die out of fear from me).

25. Never have I seen (before) your face without its tilaka mark (on the forehead) or your countenance so dull, cheerless, terrific with anger, unwashed and gloomy. Nor have I ever noticed your lovely breasts soiled with (tears of) grief and your lips red like Bimba-fruit, bereft of their saffron- colour.

26. Therefore be gracious unto me, who, being mad with the passion for hunting, have committed the offence of going out to hunt as per dictates of his whim (without taking your permission). What woman wishing to have a union would not accept for the proper duties her lover who has always been under her control and who has lost his patience by the vehemence of passion of love.

Footnotes and references:


Bhāvāratha Dīpikā, Bhāgavata Candrikā Siddhāntapradīpa, Bālaprabodhini, Anvitārthaprakāśikā., Bhaktamanorañjanī regard verses 1-10 as the description of Purañjana in the state of dream. Only Padaratnāvalī thinks this as a state of wakefulness (jāgrad-avasthā-praveśa).

According to Bhāvāratha Dīpikā, the allegory becomes clear when we understand the following:

The chariot=His body in the dream.
Five horses = five cognitive senses.
Two shafts=The notions of I-ness and Mine-ness.
Two wheels= merits and sins.
One axle=Pradhāna (Primordial Nature).
Three flagstaffs=sattva, rajas and tamas.
Five cords= Five vital breaths (Prāṇa. apāna etc.).
One rein = the mind.
One charioteer=The intellect.
One seat=the heart.
Two poles=grief and delusion (Śoka-mohau)
Five recesses=Five objects of senses.
Seven-fold protection = Seven constituents of the body.
Five kinds of movements = Five conative organs.
Gold armour=Rajoguṇa.
The big bow=Attachment.
The inexhaustible quiver = Infinite tendencies associated with ego (ahaṃkāra).
One general=The Mind.
The Pañca-prastha forest = Five objects of the senses (e.g. sound, smell etc.)

Padaratnāvalī explains differently (only differences are noted here):

While coming to the state of wakefulness, Purañjana entered the stage through the five senses for the purpose of possessing various objects. His bow is the sacred syllable OM. The inexhaustible quivers are Pravṛtti and Nivṛtti. Purañjana is the leader of the army of eleven (10 sense-organs, mind). One axle is the Vāyu—the common ‘thread’ or force impelling all activities. Five recesses or knots are the nāḍīs or ‘tubes’ through which five vital breaths (prāṇas) circulate through the body.


Purañjana ignored his reasoning faculty altogether and with a mad attachment to sensual pleasures, indulged in them indiscriminately—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā


The allegory being thus clear, its application to each and every verse is not given here as it is unnecessary. Commentators, however, emphasize the inner meaning minutely rather than the story element.


These show how one should do one’s duties without being bound down by their effects and how an ignorant person impelled by passions gets involved in saṃsāra.


adho—to hell—Bhāgavata Candrikā, Bālaprabodhini


The hunted animals are the permitted and prohibited pleasures enjoyed by the jīva.


According to Bhāvāratha Dīpikā, Bhāgavata Candrikā and others, after describing the state of dream in verses 1-10, the author describes the happy life of a man with sāttvikī buddhi to the end of the chapter.

Padaratnāvalī regards the remaining chapter as the description of the state of sleep thus: Being thoroughly tired of gross and violent mental activities, he retired from the state of wakefulness to his asylum viz. hṛdaya-nāḍī. Removing the dust of enjoyments in the stage of wakefulness and eaten his meals (his own blissful nature), the jīva sleeps fully relieved of fatigue.


Padaratnāvalī: This describes the preparation before going to sleep. Materials of decoration are for the worship of the Lord (the antaryāmin) to whose presence the jīva goes in deep sleep. His thought of the queen is the change from deep sleep to the dream-state.


When the jīva is under the influence of rājasī buddhi, he will not find this sāttvikī buddhiBhāvāratha Dīpikā

(ii) In the dream-state the jīva does not find the conclusive understanding about Hari (niścaya-jñānaṃ no'paiti)—Padaratnāvalī

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