The Bhagavata Purana

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

This page describes Hiranyakashipu consoles his mother and kinsmen which is chapter 2 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 second chapter of the Seventh Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 2 - Hiraṇyakaśipu consoles his mother and kinsmen

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Nārada narrated:

1. When Hari, who had assumed the form of a boar, thus killed his brother Hiraṇyākṣa (out of partiality to gods), Hiraṇyakaśipu was agitated with wrath and grief, Oh King.

2. Trembling with rage, biting his lips, and with eyes fiercely blazing with anger, he looked at the sky which appeared full of smoke; he spoke thus.

3. Looking fierce with his terrible big teeth, frowning look, and terrific looking face with knit eyebrows, he raised his trident in the assembly of Dānavas and addressed them as follows.

4-5. “Oh Dānavas and Daityas, Oh Dvimūrdhan (two-headed demon), Oh three-eyed one, Śambara, hundred-armed one, horse-headed one, Namuci, Pāka, Ilvala, Vipracitti, Puloman, Śakuna and others! Listen to my words and then immediately execute them. Do not delay.

6. My beloved brother was killed by insignificant enemies through Hari who, though impartial, sided with them through their services (to Him).

7. He (Viṣṇu) was originally pure and impartial but through his assumption of the form of a boar by his Māyā, he has fallen away from his original nature. Like a child, he sides with him who serves him. His mind is unstable.

8. I shall satisfy my brother who is thirsting for blood, with the profuse blood (of Viṣṇu) with his neck cut off by my trident, and thus I shall relieve my grief.

9. When the crafty adversary (whose actions are inscrutable) is destroyed, the residents of heavens (gods) whose very life is Viṣṇu, will wither away like branches of a tree the roots of which are cut.

10. (While I am accomplishing this), you immediately repair to the earth which has been made prosperous by Brāhmaṇas and Kṣattriyas. Slaughter down those who are engaged in austere penance, sacrifice, Vedic studies, observance of religious vows and acts of charity.

11. Viṣṇu owes his existence to (lit. has for his roots in) the religious performance of Brāhmaṇas, for he Himself is the sacrifice and personified righteousness. He is the ultimate resort of gods, sages, manes and beings.

12. Repair to those regions wherein dwell the Brāhmaṇas, cows, (recitation of) Vedas, (proper observance of the duties of) Varṇas and Aśramas. Devastate that country with fire, and cut down (the trees etc. useful for sacrifice).”

13. In this way, they respectfully accepted the order of their master, bending their heads. Being innately disposed to indulge in harassment of others, they wrought havoc among subjects (on the earth).

14. They set fire to towns, villages, cow-pens, gardens, parks and fields, hermitages and mines, farmers’ settlements, villages at the foot of mountains, cow-herd settlements and even capital cities.

15. Some knocked down and dismantled with spades bridges, ramparts and towers. Some with an axe in hand cut down fruit-bearing trees (serving as food to others). Some set on fire the houses of the people with flaming torches.

16. When people were thus constantly harassed by the followers of Hiraṇyakaśipu, the king of the demons, (sacrifices could not be performed and) gods (who starved due to nonreceipt of their share in sacrificial oblations) deserted heaven, and wandered over the earth unperceived.

17-18. (Though himself deeply) aggrieved, Hiraṇyakaśipu offered oblations of water to the spirit of his deceased brother, and performed other funeral rites. He consoled the sons of his brothers, viz., Śakuni, Śambara, Dhṛṣṭa, Bhūta-Santāpana, Vṛka, Kālanābha, Mahānābha, Hariśmaśru, Utkaca.

19. Hiraṇyakaśipu who knew what was appropriate for a particular occasion and situation (lit. place and time), addressed the following in soothing words to his nephews (mentioned above) and to their mother (his sister-in-law) Ruṣābhānu and to his own mother Diti, Oh ruler of men.

Hiraṇyakaśipu said:

20.Mother dear! Oh daughter (-in law)! Oh sons! You ought not to lament (the death of) a hero. Praiseworthy and covetable is the death of the brave, while facing the enemy (on the battle-field).

21.The sojourn of beings in this world is like the get- together of travellers in a shed of water-jars (kept on the roadside for travellers to drink), Oh virtuous lady. Similarly, it is by the Providence that creatures are severally brought and are separated by their respective karmas.

22.[1] The Soul is eternal (deathless), immutable, pure, omnipresent, omniscient, the cause of everything, yet distinct from the body, (hence you should not lament for Hiraṇyākṣa thinking him to be dead, separate etc.). Through his Māyā, he creates guṇas (such as various species of bodies, pleasure, pain) and assumes various forms.

23-24. Just as even the (reflection of) trees (in water appears to) move when the waters move, or the earth appears to revolve when one’s eyes are swimming, the same way, when the mind gets agitated and conditioned by the guṇas, the Perfect Person appears similarly conditioned and invested with a material body, even though he is bodiless.

25-26. It is the perversity of the Soul to presume its identification with the material body which does not exist. By this identification and attachment, are caused one’s union with the undesirable and separation from the dear ones, and vice versa, karmas, and entrance into various species of beings, birth and death, sorrows of various kinds, lack of discernment and discrimination (between the matter and the spirit), brooding over the (objects of senses), forgetfulness about the discrimination between the Soul and the body.

27. In this context, the wise people give as an illustration, the following ancient legend, in the form of a conversation between Yama (the god of death) and the kinsmen of a dead person. Listen to that dialogue carefully.

28. In the country called Uśīnara, there lived a famous king by name Suyajña. When he was killed in the battle by his enemies his kinsmen stood around him.

29-30. He lay on the battlefield with his armour studded with jewels shattered, his ornaments and wreaths of flowers fallen away from his body. His heart was pierced with arrows and his body lay weltering in blood, the hair of the head dishevelled and scattered. His eyes were blown and lips were bitten with rage. His lotus-like face was covered with dust, and his weapons and arms were cut into pieces.

31. Observing their husband, the king of Uśinaras, reduced to that plight by Fate, the queens were deeply grieved. Screaming out ‘We are undone, Oh Lord’, they violently beat their breasts with their hands now and then, and fell at his feet.

32. Bewailing loudly and bathing the lotus-like feet of their (dead) husband with tears tinted reddish with saffron paste on their breasts, and their hair and ornaments dishevelled and scattered, they wailed so piteously and loudly as to cause heartrending grief in the hearts of the listening persons.

33. “Alas! Your majesty has been transported to a stage of existence beyond the range of our sight, by the merciless Destiny, Oh Lord. You who were once the giver of livelihood (and happiness) to the people of Uśīnara country, have now been made the cause of their increasing grief, by it.

34. Oh Lord of the earth! How can we live without you, our best friend and appreciator of merits? Permit us who are desirous of serving your feet, to follow you wherever you will go (i.e. to die after you)

35. While they were lamenting thus clasping their dead husband, and unwilling to allow him to be removed for cremation, the Sun set in the sky.

36. Having heard the wailings of the relatives of the dead (even while he was in his capital), Yama (the god of death) himself approached them, in the form of a boy, and spoke to them.

Yama said:

37. Oh! How astonishing is the folly of these elderly people who have been daily observing the course of the world (viz. the death of everyone who is born). Though themselves of the same (mortal) nature as that of the dead person, they bewail in vain the man who has returned to the (unmanifest) state from which he has come (originally).[2]

38. Oh! How blessed-most we are that though abandoned by parents in this world, we do not feel any anxiety. Weak, as we are, we are not devoured by (carnivorous animals like) wolves and others. (We feel confident that) he who protects us while (we were) in the womb, shall protect us (in this world).

39. Oh ladies! The imperishable Lord, at his sweet will, creates, protects and destroys the universe. The wise people call the mobiles and immobiles as mere toys. It is the Lord alone, who is powerful (enough) to preserve and destroy it.

40. Protected by the Lord, one survives even if abandoned by the road side. If ignored by Him, one meets death even while staying at home. A helpless creature can stay alive even in a jungle, if looked after by Him; while a person if destined by Him to die, shall never live even if protected at home (by the use of medicines, incantations etc.).

41. Bodies of all species (including those of gods, subhuman and human beings) come into existence and perish at a particular time according to the karmas depending on the subtle body. But the Soul though it inhabits the Prakṛti (the corporal body), is not affected by the attributes of the Prakṛti (body) as he is different from it.

42. This corporal body of Puruṣa (the Soul or Spirit) is caused by delusion, and being made of bhūtas, is different from the Soul, just as a house is different from its dweller. Like bubbles constituted of atoms of water, pots made of earth, gold ornaments made of (solidified) fire, this body formed (out of elements) by Time, undergoes modification and perishes.

43. Just as fire remaining latent in the pieces of wood is distinct from them, or the vital breath existing in the body remains different from it, or the sky pervading all things does not stick to anything, similarly the Soul, the supporter of all the guṇas, i.e. their product, e.g. the body, sense organs or who dwells in them, is distinct from them.[3]

44. You fools! This (body called) Suyajña whom you are lamenting, is lying here. He who heard you and then replied, could never be seen by you.

45. Not even the great vital air (mukhya-prāṇa) in the body which is called life, is the listener or the speaker. The principle, which is the master and controller of senses, is the real ātman, and it is distinct from the body and the life-breath mukhya prāṇa).

46. This all-pervasive principle ātman, though distinct, assumes different bodies (celestial, human and sub-human), consisting of five elements (bhūtas), senses and mind, and regards himself as one with them; and by dint of his power and wisdom, he casts them off (as well).

47. So long as its association with Māyā continues, the ātman identifies itself with the subtle body (liṅga-śarīra) and feels attachment for it. The bondage of karma holds sway over him. It leads to the perversion of the Soul, resulting into misery.

48. It is a false notion and attachment to look upon and speak of (products of) guṇas (such as pleasure, pain) as real. Like our fanciful desires and dreams, all sense-experience is unreal.

49. Hence, the knowers of the reality do not grieve for what is eternal (the Soul) or what is transient (e.g. body, sense-organs, objects of pleasure). But the nature of those who are given to grieving, cannot be changed (as they have not imbibed the knowledge of reality).

50. A fowler, created as the destroyer of birds (by God) spread his net in the forest, placing allurements at different places.

51. A pair of Kuliṅga birds (sparrows) was seen flying over it. Out of them, the female sparrow was soon allured by the fowler.

52. The queen-bird, being dragged by Time (Destiny), was enmeshed in the net. Seeing her in that miserable condition, the male partner was extremely afflicted. The pitiable mate, being helpless (to rescue her and to control his own grief), lamented over his miserable companion, out of affection:

53. “Oh! What that merciless yet almighty Providence is going to do with my wife, who herself is pitiable and helpless in every respect, is lamenting for me.

54. May the Deity be pleased to take me also. Of what use is to me the survival of the one (male) half leading a miserable life, after being separated from my better half?

55. How can I maintain those unfledged motherless young ones? Those unfortunate children of mine must be waiting for the arrival of their mother.”

56. While the male bird, who was grieved at the separation from his wife, was thus lamenting with his voice choked with tears, the fowler, as if impelled by fate, concealed himself close by, and hit the bird with an arrow.

57. So, you foolish ladies who do not foresee your own destruction (death) will never get back your husband, even if you bewail for hundreds of years.”

Hiraṇyakaśipu said:

58. While the child was thus admonishing, all the kinsmen (of Suyajña) became astonished, and realized that everything is transient and unreal.

59. Having exhorted them thus, Yama also disappeared at that very spot. The relatives of Suyajña performed his funeral rites.

60. Hence you need not grieve for yourself or for others. In the case of ignorant beings, the differentiation between one’s own self and another or what belongs to one’s own self and another, is due to the false notion of distinction between one’s own self from another (and the consequent attachment for one’s own body and property)

Nārada said:

61. Having heard the speech of the king of Daityas (Hiraṇyakaśipu) Diti, along with her daughter-in-law, immediately stopped sorrowing for her son and steadied her heart by fixing it on Reality.

Footnotes and references:


As usual, Bhāgavata Candrikā sets forth the Viśiṣṭādvaita theory of the Soul, viz. Ātman that is jūva pervades the whole body that he occupies (sarvaga) through his knowledge. To enjoy the fruit of his karma (whether merit or sin), he activates the guṇas (e.g. Sattva). The association of and separation from the body of each jīva is due to his karma.

But Bhāgavata Candrikā does not explain the get-together and dispersal of several jīvas as required by the text of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa

Padaratnāvalī points out that the jīva’s relation with his body etc. is temporary, but with that of the Lord is constant. It is the Lord who bestows the jīva with the mind, senses etc. Hari is the real support of the jīva.


Cf. avyaktādīni bhūtāni vyaktamadhyāni bhārata /
avyaktanidhanānyeva tatra kā paridevanā // B.G. 2.28.


According to Padaratnāvalī verses 41-43 emphasize the distinction of Paramātman from Jīva. In 43, the presence of the Paramātman in the body is not the effect of delusion, and as such he is not affected by the guṇas.

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