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 7 - Somakanta’s Previous Life

The Sages said, “What did Somakanta do after he arrived at the hermitage? What remedy did the omniscient Bhrgu suggest? Wonderful Suta, tell us more of this tale as we carefully listen. Although we have drunk in your ambrosial words, we have not heard enough”.

Suta Gosvami said, “You have asked fitting questions, fortunate sages! You are certainly oceans of knowledge. Brahmins, it is usually difficult to finish a story if interrupted, but if a pupil does not ask a question, and when questioned, if the teacher does not reply, both may be considered to be deaf and dumb. Excellent Brahmins, please listen now because I am going to continue to recite Somakanta’s story.

When night had passed away, and the sun, lord of the day, rose, the best of the Bhrgus’, having completed his early morning bath, prayers and offerings, began to tell the King the tale of his previous life. Along with his wife and two ministers, they had also bathed and completed their prayers.

Bhrgu said, “In the enchanted city of Kolhara , which was located near the Vindhya Mountains , there was a famous Vaisya called Cidrypa who was very wealthy. His wife was called Atisubhaga, who was famous for her beautiful eyes. She was very virtuous, generous, and obedient to her husband’s wishes. In a previous life you became her son, best of kings, and as proclaimed by the Brahmins, you were named Kamanda. Eventually your parents become old. Day and night they showered excessive affection on you and over-fondled you too. Then in an auspicious ceremony and giving away a large amount of wealth, they married you to a woman known by the name of Kutumbina, who was very delicate and had eyes like a doe. She was deeply attached to you, and attentive to your guests, the demigods and Brahmins. She was very beautiful, a veritable jewel amongst women, and as lovely as Kama ‘s wife.

After a long life your father died, and your good mother, destined for heaven, entered the funeral pyre with him. After some time, a group of friends and yourself spent all of your parent’s great wealth. Whatever money that was acquired, some was lost and some spent, until all of it was gone. Your wife became very upset. She separated from you because you ignored her wishes and sold the house. After being given permission to leave you, who had become a thorn in your lineage, she went to her father’s home in order to take care of your children.

Like an arrogant and intoxicated drunkard, you acted improperly throughout the city, and behaved like a rutting elephant. You stole other’s property and had affairs with many women. You became a thief and a troublemaker. A chief amongst gamblers, your heart a torrent of deceit, you roamed the city causing harm, like a hero without real strength. Most townspeople were moderate in their sense pleasure. After you had stolen from those people, using every possible pretext – friendship, false promises, sentimentality, you became maddened by your accumulation of great wealth. You lied and used foul language, and gossiped about the town’s women. The townspeople became frightened of you, as though a highly venomous snake had come into their house. Just like a thorn in a meal made from milk, you became intolerable. After they obtained the king’s permission, you were banished from the city.

You became a murderer, killing women, children and the elderly. Just like a wolf or a deer, after seeing a lion, flees, you fled on seeing a posse of men coming after you. Fleeing to the forest, you needlessly killed fish, cranes, swans, wild roosters, wolves, deer, monkeys, cuckoos, rhinoceros, rabbits, and iguanas. In this way you viciously acquired your food. After ridding a mountain cave of lions, tigers and jackals, you formed a gang of absolutely terrifying thieves, that came from many places. With wood, lumps of earth and stones you built an extraordinary dwelling in that cave. It was broad, a kroda in length, and decorated with many oddities.

Because your wife’s father was afraid of the king and the people, he forced her to go with her children to your dwelling. The children wore a variety of clothes and adornments, and your wife shone splendidly like a goddess. When she arrived you were accompanied by your gang of thieves, having returned to the cave after killing and robbing some unfortunate people on the road. In your home with the thieves and your wife and children, you appeared like a king.

On one occasion you saw a learned Brahmin named Gujavardhana quite alone in the road at midday. After seizing his right hand, you captured him. As he was assaulted he began trembling. Realizing your intention, he became afraid for his life, so he spoke to you words of extraordinary pity and reason”.

Gujavardhana said, “You already have good fortune and wealth, so why do you wish to kill me? You are not the type to rob a Brahmin who is a peaceful husband and has injured no one. Leaving behind your evil inclinations you should do the right thing. My first wife has died, so in order to settle the debt to my father and to create a righteous lineage, I have obtained another lovely wife, who is submissive, very generous, virtuous and endowed with all good qualities. She has worked with great zeal, endeavoring to become a good wife. Our lives would be meaningless without each other. Become like my father and mother and I will become like your son, since in the Sastras it is proclaimed that the father is the protector from fear, and the sustainer of life. Even thieves will protect a Brahmin who seeks refuge, so you must release me, who seeks your protection. If not, you will descend into the hellish worlds for a thousand kalpas, while your sons, wife, friends and subjects will enjoy your wealth. Your gang of thieves will be very happy not to share in your bad luck. I don’t think you really want to experience this terrible reaction over so many births”.

Thus ends the seventh chapter of Upasana Khanda of the glorious Ganesha Purana
called “Somakanta’s Previous Life”.

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