The Ganesha Purana (abridged)

Gaṇeśa Purāṇa

by Gregory Baily | 11,149 words

The Ganesha Purana is a Hindu religious text dedicated to the Hindu deity Ganesha (Gaṇeśa). It is an upapurāṇa that includes many stories and ritualistic elements relating to Ganesha. Ganesha Purana – Translated by Prof. Gregory Baily and Edited by C. Devadas...

Chapter 5 - Conversation between Sudharma and Cyavana

Suta Gosvami said, “Speaking to his mother, Hemakanta said to her eagerly with a mixture of affection and embarrassment, ‘Mother, why abandon me? I am faultless’.”

Hemakanta said, “You should tell my father that his son must go with you also! If you command me to go, he will take me with him and I will serve you both. I don’t desire to be king. How will this kingdom give me happiness when I am without you and father?”

Sudharma said, “Although he is plagued with so much grief and misery, the King will not issue this command to me. Therefore, my great-armed son, depart with my permission! Son, I am obedient to the oath of loyalty to my husband. For a wife there is no hero other than her husband, so he alone must be regarded”.

Suta said, “After he heard these orders, their kind-hearted son Hemakanta offered obeisance to his mother, obtained her consent, circumambulated her, and then returned to the city. Like Indra’s kingdom, the city’s moistened roads were opulent with fragrant scents and were adorned with blossoms, flags and banners. After Hemakanta had distributed betel nut and various clothing to his subjects, he sent them away to their homes. The joyous, but grieving King, entered his own splendid home. He ruled the kingdom by dharma, protecting his subjects as he would his own sons. Consistent with the teachings of the Sastras, he contemplated the four aims of human life, which are religious duty, economic development, sense gratification and liberation”.

The Sages said, “What happened to Somakanta? Did he reach the forest? Did he make any friends or engage in some type of activity? Please tell us everything!”

Suta said, “Yes immaculate sages, listen carefully and I will tell you the story of King Somakanta after he had gone to the forest. With his wife Sudharma and two of his ministers, Subala and Jnanagamya, he entered the forest which was difficult to access. In front went the two ministers, in the middle was the King, and his wife Sudharma followed, like Sita behind Rama. The four were of one mind concerning eating, and choosing dwelling and resting places. They went from forest to forest, indifferent to happiness and distress. Then, terribly beset by fatigue, hunger and thirst from climbing hills which were without paths, they finally took shelter of a shady spot and settled down, not knowing where they were. Then, after traveling further into the forest they saw a large lake where dwelt tortoises and crocodiles, and where there were beautiful trees including palmyra, khadira, pine, priyala, bakula, bread-fruit, rose-apple, neem, and fig. These trees were laden with multitudes and varieties of creepers. The darkness of this forest seemed dense like the inside of a mountain cave, but the pleasant breeze carried the aroma of the lotus and kadamba flowers. There were geese in the lake where the sages gathered their lotuses and fruit. There were also swans, herons, hawks, parrots, crows, cuckoos, sarikas and cranes, all making different cries. Those who lived within the many arbors of creepers and flowers did not notice too much light or darkness, nor heat or cold. Only those who possess great merit reside where there is no hunger, thirst or death, as in the spiritual realm.

When the King’s party had reached the lake, they all drank some cool water to dispel their fatigue. After bathing and performing obligatory rituals, they also enjoyed some fruit. The two ministers, with the King’s permission, left to gather tubers, roots, flowers and lotus shoots. For a while, the King slept on a pleasant sandy bank while his wife stayed and massaged his feet.

Then Sudharma noticed a boy of brilliant appearance who was intense, powerful, and radiating with splendor. Because of his striking appearance she thought, ‘this boy was previously born as Cupid’. After she had seen him, Sudharma rejoiced, and believed that he must be the bearer of good fortune. She then felt some uneasiness in her heart because now she was unsure if the boy meant them harm or could actually be of some assistance. She then asked him, ‘Who are you and why have you settled in this place? Whose son are you and who is your mother? Friend, please speak pleasantly and delight my ears with your ambrosial words’! The boy then addressed the King’s wife with his pleasant words”.

Cyavana said, “ Forest woman, Bhrgu is my father and Puloma is my mother. I have come here from my house to collect some water. Beautiful lady, I am called Cyavana and I am carrying out my father’s instructions. Who are you, and is this man your husband? Why has he come to this forest? Why are his limbs streaming blood like a mountain in the rainy season? What bad karma has caused this revolting smell? Tell me! Being so charming yourself with your beautiful eyes, your impressive elegance, your clear face, and lovely, enchanting, splendid form, why are you waiting upon him who is completely covered with worms? A person as eminent as your husband could not appear like this to your father, friends, brothers and brahmins, yet he is a leper overburdened with this dilemma. Why were you chosen as his bride, and why have you come to this practically inaccessible forest?”

Suta said, “When the intelligent son of Bhrgu had questioned Sudharma, who was filled with grief and joy, she explained everything to him”.

Sudharma said, “In the region of Surastra there is a great and famous city called Devata. My husband, Somakanta, lived there and ruled the kingdom. He was very proud, munificent, courageous, mighty and heroic, possessed innumerable troop,s and was a destroyer of the kingdom’s enemies. He performed sacrifices, was most handsome, of regal splendor, and made his friends very happy. The King was discriminating in all his duties and proficient in the treatises on political conduct. For a long time, excellent Brahmin, the King enjoyed his own domain, a position attained due to the ripening of earlier good karmas. Accompanied by his two ministers, he has come to this forest. Since he has presented the kingdom to our son, I have been wandering here and following him. I have come here with two ministers named Subala and Jnanagamya. Having received the King’s permission, those two went into the forest in search of food. I understand that cooked food is ample nourishment for the poor and for a prosperous king also, although there is not so much nourishment in cooked food alone. When he was in the company of the Brahmins, he did not find pleasure in oily, sweet, acidic, salty or bitter food, so now the King verily enjoys foods like fruits, roots and tubers of sour and harsh flavors.

Raksasas, spirits, ghosts, birds and beasts of various kinds terrify us here. I don’t know why they haven’t killed us. I can not bear to feel the King’s misery, yet I am standing here before him. Nor can I see an end to his unhappiness or to his bad karma. He used to sleep in a soft bed which was heavenly, but now you can see on his body the dilapidation caused by time. His many kinds of lovely perfumes used to fragrance all the directions, but now he smells bad and is smeared with purulent blood. Surrounded by Brahmins, the King was immersed in an ocean of bliss, but now he is covered by worms and is sunk in an ocean of misery. I don’t know how we will cross over this ocean, son of Bhrgu. Like a boat on the deep sea rescues those who are drowning, you must be that boat and help save my husband.”

Thus ends the fifth chapter of Upasana Khanda of the glorious Ganesha Purana
called “Conversation between Sudharma and Cyavana”.

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