The Bhagavata Purana

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

This page describes Daksha curses Narada which is chapter 5 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 fifth chapter of the Sixth Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 5 - Dakṣa curses Nārada

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śrī Śuka said:

1. Being imbued with the energy of Viṣṇu, Dakṣa became powerful and begot through that (above-mentioned) Pāñcajanī ten thousand sons called Haryaśva.

2. Oh King! All those sons of Dakṣa were of the same nature and similarly righteous in conduct. When they were commanded by the father (Dakṣa) to beget children, they went to the western direction.

3. They went to a sacred lake called Nārāyaṇasaras[1] situated in the area where the river Sindhu meets the sea—a holy place resorted to by a number of sages and Siddhas.

4. At the very touch of that (sacred water of the) lake, their hearts were cleansed of all impurities and they found their mind attracted to the righteous way of life of the Paramahaṃsas (the highest order of ascetics).

5. Being restrained by the command of their father for begetting prolific progeny, they practised severe austerities. It is then, they say, that the celestial sage Nārada saw them.

6. And he (Nārada) spoke unto them:

‘Oh Haryaśvas! How is it that without seeing the limits of the earth you want to create children. You are certainly childish (foolish). It is a pity that protectors (of the subjects) as you are, you are really childish.

7-9. Without seeing a kingdom inhabited by only one man, and without knowing the hole with (apparently) invisible outlet, the woman who can assume different forms (at will), and the man who espouses a harlot, a river flowing in both directions, a wonderful house constructed of twenty-five materials, at one place a swan telling miraculous tales, an independent, revolving (strong, sharp) disc made of adamants and razors, and without properly understanding the implication of the command of your omniscient father, how will you proceed with your job of creation?

Śrī Śuka said:

10. Having heard the enigmatic words of the divine sage (Nārada) the Haryaśvas, with their own inborn reasoning capacity, began to investigate with their intelligence.

11. The earth (bhū) is that field (or the liṅga-śarīra—the subtle body—which causes pleasure, pain, merit, demerit etc. like an agricultural farm yielding crop of cereals) designated as jīva. The subtle body is (practically) beginningless (existing from times immemorial) and it acts as a bondage to the Soul. Without seeing how it becomes extinct, what is the use of impious karmas (which do not lead to Mokṣa).

12. The only one (man in the country) stands for the Sole Almighty ruler (of the universe). He is (beyond and) witness to all mental states, viz., viśva, taijasa and prājña) and hence is called the fourth—the omnipresent. He is self-dependent supreme (the cause of everything else). Without seeing that birthless (eternally free) Lord, what purpose can be served by acts not dedicated to him?

13. Just as a person who has gone to the subterranean heaven (pātāla) does not return (to the earth in the same body), a man does not return to saṃsāra after attaining to the self-illuminating Brahman within him. To a man who has not realized (lit. is ignorant of) the Inner Light—Self-effulgent Brahman, worthless karmas (which may lead to heavenly happiness and other transitory pleasures) are of no avail.

14. Like a loose wanton woman wearing various attractive forms and gifted with (many attractive) qualities, the intellect of man assumes shapes of objects of lower type of pleasures (like form, taste and other objects of senses) and is influenced by guṇas (like rajas, tamas). To a person who has not put an end to (i.e. transcended) such a multiple-interested intellect, what can be achieved through hot pursuit of such activities?

15. What can be achieved through acts done without discernment and knowledge by a jīva (man) who does not understand the loss of his independence (and non-attachment) by his association with such (above-mentioned) intellect and is like a husband of a loose wife, follows her ways (characterised by pleasure and pain).

16. What can be gained from activities influenced by Māyā which causes both the creation and destruction (and is like a river flowing both ways). (In order to prevent people fallen in it from reaching the banks) it rushes forth with great velocity (assuming the form of anger, egotism etc.) at the ghats, and its banks (in the form of penance, learning etc.).

17. Puruṣa (the Inner Controller abiding in the body) is a wonderful basis and mirror[2] reflecting the twenty-five categories (enumerated by Sāṃkhyas). Of what use are the acts (done with a false sense of independence) by one who has not realized that he (Puruṣa) presides over the body (the aggregate of the categories—a collection of cause and effect).[3]

18. (This explains kvacid haṃsaṃ citrakatham in verse 8 above). What purpose will be served by acts oriented to the external phenomenal world if one neglects (the study of) the śāstra (philosophic teaching) which establishes the existence of the Almighty Ruler by distinguishing between the intelligent principle (the Soul) and inert matter and shows the (nature of) bondage and (Final) Liberation (like a swan drinking milk only from the mixture of milk and water)?

19. (The explanation of kṣaurapavyaṃ svayam bhramim—verse 8 above).

The wheel of Time which is relentlessly and eternally revolving is sharp like razor-blade. It is absolutely independent (and hence uncontrollable). It destroys the whole creation. To him who does not know this (nature of Time), of what use are the worthless acts (done under the false presumption that their fruits are eternal).

20. (The inner significance of verse 9 above).

How can anyone who does not understand the precept of desisting from worldly activities, given by his father, the śāstra (which gives him the second birth by the upanayana, investiture of the sacred-thread-ceremony and tenders salutary advice) and who entertains faith in the path of worldly activities (Pravṛtti-mārga) based on guṇas, go ahead with the work of creation? (As Dakṣa ceases to be a father after upanayana, you can disregard his order without incurring a sin if you follow the precept of śāstra, your father, and follow the path of renunciation—Nivṛtti-dharma).

21. (Being convinced by Nārada) Haryaśvas unanimously resolved thus, and circumambulating him (Nārada, by the right side as a mark of respect) went the way (to liberation) from which there is no return, Oh King!

22. The sage Nārada, who has concentrated (lit. entered) his undivided mind in the lotus-like feet of Lord Viṣṇu (Hṛṣīkeśa—the Master of sense-organs) as revealed in Svara- Brahman (Brahman in the form of notes of the musical scale on his lute), went about (his own way in) the world.

23. Having heard that his sons, so excellent due to their righteous character, have disappeared and are lost to their original duty (of procreating children) due to the advice of Nārada, Dakṣa was tormented with sorrow and lamented that even to have good children can be a source of grief.

24. Being much consoled by god Brahmā, Dakṣa again procreated by Pañcajanī a thousand sons called Śabalāśva.

25. Even they (Śabalāśvas) who were commanded by the father to beget progeny, took to religious vows and went to the (sacred) lake Nārāyaṇa where their elder brothers attained perfection (i.e. god-realization).

26. With their minds and hearts perfectly cleansed of all impurities (sins) at the touch of those sacred waters, they practised austere penance muttering (all the while) the sacred syllable OM (a symbol of the Supreme Brahman).

27. For several months, they subsisted on water, and for many months, on the air only. They propitiated the Lord of all Mantras (the glorious god Viṣṇu), repeating-this (following) sacred mantra:

28. “OM. Salutations to Lord Nārāyaṇa, the Indwelling Controller, the Supreme Soul, whose place of manifestation is the extremely pure sāttvic heart and who is absolutely free from all blemishes. We meditate upon him.”

29. The sage Nārada approached even those (sons of Dakṣa) who made up their minds to renew creation and spoke to them the enigmatic words similar to those addressed to their (elder) brothers, Oh King of Kings.

30. “Oh sons of Dakṣa! Listen carefully to the precept as given (lit. addressed) by me. You find out the path followed by your elder brothers (for whom you are so full of affection).

31. A brother who knows the path of righteousness, follows the great path trodden by his brothers and with merit as his friend, he enjoys (celestial) life in the company of the Marut—(wind) gods (noted for their fraternal affection).”

32. Oh noble King! having addressed this much, Nārada whose audience is never unfruitful, departed. They (Śabalāśvas) also followed the (spiritual) path of their (elder) brothers.

33. Having resorted to the exalted and agreeable path attainable to those whose senses and minds are turned within (away from the external world)—the path that leads to the realization of the Supreme Brahman—they, like the nights that have passed, never return to this day.

34. Noticing at this time, a number of evil portents, the Prājāpati Dakṣa came to know that Nārada had ruined his sons.

35. Overwhelmed with grief for his sons, he got enraged with Nārada. (To prevent Dakṣa from turning into a recluse,. Nārada approached him). Finding Nārada, he exploded (lit. spoke to him) with his lower lip quivering with rage.

Dakṣa said:

36. Oh wicked fellow donning the garb of holy man! You have done a great harm to good people like us, in showing the path of mendicants to my young (good-natured) children.

37. Oh sinful person! You have deprived (my sons) of the bliss in both the worlds (here and hereafter),as they have not repaid their debts to the sages, gods and manes and have not investigated the nature of karmas.

38. Merciless and prejudicer of the mind of children as you are, you are bringing stigma to the glory of Lord Hari, and shameless as you are, you still move among the attendants of Hari.

39. With the exception of you who are verily a traitor to friends and who sow enmity between friends, all the devotees of Hari are? really ever eager to shower grace on living beings.

40. Renunciation cannot in this way be generated in the minds of men by you who have disguised yourself as an Avaḍhūta even though you have no knowledge. Though you regard that self-control (automatically) severs the bonds of affection (it is wrong).

41. A man cannot realize how objects of sensual pleasures cause painful consequences, without personally experiencing them. Therefore, one does not get disgusted to that extent if his mind is unsettled by others (in that matter), as a person would who has undergone the experience himself.

42. We have tolerated the unbearable wrong you have done to us, householders, who have vowed to perform Vedic karmas with a wish to get heavenly bliss.

43. You are a destroyer of the continuity of my race. As you have again done a wrong to us, you will not get a resting place while wandering through the worlds (Oh fool).

Śrī Śuka said:

44. Nārada who was highly respected by the pious people accepted the curse saying, ‘Very well’. He is called really a Sādhu (pious soul) who though competent to retaliate, bears up the wrong done to him.

Footnotes and references:


A lake at the mouth of the Indus at the western extremity of the Runn of Kacch, 18 miles south-west of Lakhpat—GDAMI 138.


Bhāvāratha Dīpikā reads adbhuta-darśana ‘One who is of wonderful form’ (āscarya-rūpa).


Sāṅkhyas differ According to Īśvarakṛṣṇa, Prakṛti is uncreated (without any cause). The next seven categories from mahat to tanmātras are both cause (of the next category) and the effect (of the previous category) and the next sixteen: mind, 5 gross elements, 10 sense-organs are effects only. Puruṣa is neither the cause nor effect.—Sāṅkhyakārikā 3.

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