The Linga Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1951 | 265,005 words | ISBN-10: 812080340X | ISBN-13: 9788120803404

This page describes The anecdote of Shrimati which is chapter 5 of the English translation of the Linga Purana, traditionally authored by Vyasa in roughly 11,000 Sanskrit verses. It deals with Shaiva pilosophy, the Linga (symbol of Shiva), Cosmology, Yugas, Manvantaras, Creation theories, mythology, Astronomy, Yoga, Geography, Sacred pilgrimage guides (i.e., Tirthas) and Ethics. The Lingapurana is an important text in Shaivism but also contains stories on Vishnu and Brahma.

Chapter 5 - The anecdote of Śrīmatī

The sages said:

1. Ambarīṣa, a descendant of Ikṣvāku, ruled over the earth. He was extremely devoted to Vāsudeva and he always followed the behests of Viṣṇu.

2-4. O Sūta of great intelligence, we have heard this much in brief but it behoves you now to recount all this in detail. It is well known in the world that the discus of Viṣṇu perpetually warded off fear from enemies and ailments of that great soul of righteous conduct. O excellent one, recount the story of Ambarīṣa wholly. O Sūta, we wish to know precisely his greatness, majestic dignity and excellent devotion. It behoves you to narrate it.

Sūta said:

5. O leading sages, may the story of the intelligent Ambarīṣa be heard. The glory of Ambarīṣa is extremely destructive of all sins.

6. The beloved wife of Triśaṅku,[1] the mother of Ambarīṣa was resplendent with all characteristic attributes. She was perpetually endowed with purity.

7-13a. Her name was Padmāvatī. She worshipped Nārāyaṇa, the great Atman who was in his yogic slumber, who lay on the couch of śeṣa, who was the source of origin of the lotus of the Cosmic Egg, who is called Kālarudra in view of his tamas quality, who is Kanakāṇḍaja (i.e. born of the golden Egg i.e. Brahmā) in view of his rajas quality and who is Viṣṇu the omnipresent lord bowed to by all Devas in his Sattva quality.[2] She worshipped the lord for ever mentally, physically and verbally. She wreathed the garland herself and offered them to the lord. She ground the scents, etc. into paste; offered incense and other articles; scrubbed and smeared the ground and cooked Havis all by herself. She was zealous and eager in doing all these things. The chaste lady continuously uttered the names Nārāyaṇa, Ananta, etc. With her innermost conscience devoted to him the pure queen worshipped Viṣṇu for ten thousand years with scents, flowers, etc.

13b-15. She always propitiated highly blessed devotees of Viṣṇu, devoid of all sins, by giving charitable gifts, and honouring them with riches and jewels. Once that blessed lady had concluded her fast on the Dvadaśī day and was lying asleep in front of lord Viṣṇu along with her husband. Then lord Nārāyaṇa, Puruṣottama spoke to her.

16-17. O gentle lady, O lustrous lady, tell me. What boon do you wish from me? On seeing the lord thus generous she said—“May my son be a Vaiṣṇava. May he be an Emperor of great refulgence, pure and engrossed in his duties.”

Viṣṇu said, “So be it,” and gave her a fruit.

18. On waking up she saw the fruit and mentioned everything to her husband. In great delight and with her mind directed towards the lord she ate the fruit.

19-20. Then, in due course of time, she gave birth to a son destined to make the family flourish. He was devoted to Vāsudeva. He maintained a good conduct. He was richly endowed with auspicious characteristics, and had curly hairs that resembled small wheels. On seeing the son born the father performed all holy rites.

21-22. The lord became well known in the world as Ambarīṣa. The glorious lord was crowned king when his father passed away. He entrusted the kingdom to the care of his ministers and became a sage. He performed a severe penance repeating the names of lord Nārāyaṇa for a thousand years.

23-27a. He meditated on lord Puruṣottama as follows:—He is stationed in the middle of the lotus of the cavity of his heart, coming there from the middle of the solar sphere. He has four arms holding the. conch, discus, iron club and the lotus. He is as resplendent as pure gold. He is identical with Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva. The lord is endowed with all ornaments and wears yellow robes. The lord has the scar Śrīvatsa on his chest. Thereupon, lord Viṣṇu, the soul of the universe, eulogised by all Devas, bowed to by the worlds, made Garuḍa resemble Airāvata of unimaginable splendour and rode on it. He came to the place of penance seated on it in the guise of Indra. He then spoke thus to the excellent king.

27b-30. “Welfare unto you. I am Indra. What boon shall I grant you? I am the lord of all the worlds. I have come down to help you.”

Ambarīṣa said:

I have not meditated upon you while performing penance. Nor do I wish for anything given by you. O Indra, you will comfortably go back. My lord is Nārāyaṇa. I bow down to that lord of the universe. O Indra, go away. Do not do anything to distract my mind.”

Thereupon, Lord Viṣṇu laughed and resumed his own form.

31-32. Viṣṇu the soul of everyone shone like another blue mountain, on Guruḍa. He had the sword, the bow Śārṅga, the iron club and the discus in his arms. He was eulogised by Devas and Gandharvas all round. The delighted king bowed to and eulogised the Guruḍa-bannered lord.

33-38. “O lord, O lord of the worlds, O my lord, be pleased. O Kṛṣṇa, O Viṣṇu, O lord of the Universe, bowed to by the worlds, you are the primordial lord; you have no beginning. You are the eternal Puruṣa; you are lord Viṣṇu the incomprehensible lord. You are Govinda, the lotus-eyed lord. You are born of the body of Maheśvara. A lotus is grown up from your umbilicus. You sojourn the skies.[3] You stride over the firmament; you are the Kapālin carrying the kavya[4] offerings. You are the wind-god conveying the havya offerings. You are the primordial lord delighted in holy rites. You are the great Ātman stationed, within the Ātman. O Govinda, I have resorted to you. O son of Devaki, be victorious. O lord, be victorious, O lord of the Universe, O lotus-eyed one, save me. I have no other goal but you. You alone are my refuge.”

Sūta said:

Lord Viṣṇu then spoke to him:—“O king of good holy rites what is it that you have resolved to do? I shall give you everything. You are my devotee. I am always fond of devotion. Hence, I have come here to give you whatever you seek”

Ambarīṣa said:

39-42. O lord of the worlds, O excessively blissful one. There is this perpetual idea in my mind. Just as you are devoted to Bhava the great Ātman, the lord of Devas so also may I be perpetually devoted to you mentally, verbally and physically. O lord Viṣṇu, I shall be yours. I shall make the universe devoted to you and protect the earth. I shall propitiate the excellent Devas by performing sacrifices and worships. I shall protect the devotees of Viṣṇu and extirpate the enemies. I am afraid due to the distressful danger from worldly affairs. Hence, my mind dwells in you.

The lord said:

43-44. May it be as you please. This rare discus Sudarśana has been acquired by me through the grace of Rudra. It will continuously dispel the evil effects of curses of the sages and similar calamities. It will also destroy all enemies and ailments. After saying this the lord vanished.

Sūta said:

45-50. Then the king bowed down to the direction the lord had gone. He was extremely delighted. He entered his city Ayodhyā[5] and ruled from there. He employed brahmins and other castes in their respective duties. He was devoted to Visṇu. Delighted in his heart he protected the pious devotees of Viṣṇu. He performed hundreds of horse-sacrifices and Vājapeyas[6] and protected this earth surrounded by the seas. Viṣṇu stayed in every house. The chanting of the Vedas rose up from every house. So also the sound of names of Viṣṇu and the sound of sacrifices. While that leading king was ruling over the kingdom, the earth was free from famine; grass and plants grew in plenty. The subjects were devoid of ailments for ever. They were rid of all harassments.

51-52. Ambarīṣa of great refulgence protected the earth. As he remained thus, he had a lotus-eyed daughter renowned as Śrīmatī and endowed with all good attributes. She was as splendid as the divine Māyā. She attained the age when she should be given in marriage.

53. At that time the glorious sage Nārada and the highly intelligent Parvata[7] came to the kingdom of Ambarīṣa.

54. On seeing the two sages come Ambarīṣa of great refulgence bowed down and worshipped them.

55-56. On seeing that girl playing about like the lightning streak amidst clouds the saintly lord Narada smilingly asked—“O king, who is this highly blessed girl comparable to the daughters of Devas. She is resplendent with auspicious signs. Tell me, O king, the most excellent one among virtuous persons.

The king said:

57. “O lord, this is my daughter Śrīmatī. The splendid girl has attained the age when she should be given in marriage. I am in search of a bridegroom.

58. On being told thus, O brahmins, the leading sage Nārada desired her. O excellent sages, the sage Parvata too loved her.

59. Nārada the righteous soul called the king secretly and said, “Give your daughter unto me.”

60-64. The saintly lord Parvata too made the same request. Thereupon, the righteous king was frightened. He bowed down to both of them and said, “O Sirs, both of you woo my daughter. How can I do this? O Nārada of great intellect, O saintly lord Parvata, listen to what I say. If this splendid daughter of mine chooses one of you, I shall give him my daughter. Otherwise I am helpless.” After saying “So be it” they said—“We shall come again tomorrow.” The leading sages, who were devoted to Viṣṇu and who were the wisest of the wise went away delighted in their minds.

65. After going to the world of Viṣṇu Nārada the most excellent among sages bowed down to Viṣṇu and said:—

66. O lord, hear me. I shall tell you in secret. O lord of the worlds, obeisance to you.

67. Then lord Viṣṇu the soul of the universe smilingly said to the sage, “Say”. The sage then said to him.

68. King Ambarīṣa is a glorious king who follows you. His daughter is a beautiful girl with large eyes and her name is Śrīmatī.

69-72. Desirous of marrying her I went to him. Now listen to my words. This glorious sage Parvata is your devotee of great austerities. He too desires her. O lord, the king Ambarīṣa of great refulgence said thus to us—“If this girl chooses one of you, endowed with handsome features I shall give her unto him.”

As the king said thus I too said “So be it. O king, I will come to your abode tomorrow morning.” So saying I came away. O lord of the universe, I have come to you and it behoves you to do what is pleasing to me.

73. O lord of the Universe, if you wish to do what is pleasing to me kindly manage it in such a way as to make Parvata’s face appear like that of a monkey.

74. “So be it” said Viṣṇu the slayer of Madhu,[8] smilingly—“O gentle one, I shall do what is desired by you. Go back now.”

75. When, he was assured thus, the delighted sage bowed to Viṣṇu. Considering himself blessed he went to Ayodhyā.

76. When that excellent sage had gone Parvata the great sage was delighted. He bowed down to Viṣṇu and told him secretly.

77. After submitting his mission he said—O lord of the universe, please make the face of Nārada appear like that of the dark-coloured monkey Golāṅgūla.

78-80. On hearing that, lord Viṣṇu said—“I shall do what is desired by you. Hurry down to Ayodhyā. Let not Nārada know my understanding with you.” Saying “Let it be so,” he too went away.

On knowing that the two excellent sages had come, the king decorated Ayodhyā with flags and festoons. He embellished it with flowers and fried grains scattered about.

81. The portals of the houses were sprinkled with water. The bazaars and the highways were watered well. The city was fumigated with fragrant essences.

82. After decorating the city the king embellished the Assembly hall with splendid scents, incenses and jewels of diverse kinds.

83. It was rendered splendid by means of garlands and festoons. It was decorated with jewel-studded columns. Elegant cushioned seats with exquisite coverings were placed all round.

84. After making these arrangements the leading king took the girl with him and entered the hall. She was richly bedecked in all ornaments. She appeared like Śrī with her large beautiful eyes.

85. Her waist was so slender that it could be measured with a single hand. She was smooth and glossy in five[9] of her limbs. Her face was remarkably splendid. Divinely resplendent like that Śrīmatī came into the hall surrounded by ladies.

86. The assembly hall of the king was richly elegant with choicest jewels and excellent gems of diverse kinds. The seats were arranged decently. Garlands and festoons were neatly tied. The elite of the society entered it and shone brilliantly.

87. The noble son of Brahma, the saintly lord of great soul, the most excellent among the knowers of Brahman, the great sage Nārada well-versed in the threefold lore came there accompanied by Parvata.

88. On seeing that they had come, the king was in a great flutter of the mind. Offering them illustrious seats he worshipped both.

89. Both of them were great Siddhas and celestial sages. Both of them were excellent among those who were endowed with perfect knowledge. The noble souls, the excellent sages seated themselves and waited for the girl.

90. At the outset the king bowed down to both and then he addressed his splendid daughter, the renowned lady with eyes resembling the petals of a lotus.

91. O gentle lady, offer this garland to one of these two after bowing down to him duly, whosoever it may be, whom you mentally choose as your bridegroom.

92-96a. On being urged thus, the splendid-eyed bride took up the divine golden garland in her arms. Surrounded by the ladies in attendance she came to the place where those noble sages were sitting. On glancing at the excellent sages, Parvata and Nārada she saw that they had the faces of monkeys. Seeing the face of Golāṅgūla monkey the girl was a bit frightened and excited in her mind. She stood trembling like a plantain tree in a storm. The king then said to her—“O dear one, what are you going to do? O splendid lady, offer the garland to any one of these two.”

96b-103. The frightened girl said to her father—“These two are human apes. I do not see the excellent sages, either Nārada or Parvata. But in between them I see a handsome youngman less than sixteen years in age. He is richly bedecked in all ornaments. He resembles the Atasi[10] flower. He is elegant with long arms, large eyes and moon-like lustre.[11] His hips and neck are marked with lines. His eyes are large and reddish. He shines brilliantly with two remarkable eyebrows that by and large resemble a bent bow. Clear-cut threefold curly hairs are manifest in his umbilical region. The belly is splendidly manifest. He is clad in gold-coloured robes. His nails are raised up and resemble gems. The hands are shaped like lotuses. His face and eyes resemble lotuses. His nose is splendid. He is lotus-hearted and lotus-navelled. He is perfectly enveloped in glorious splendour. Looking at me he is smiling broadly with the rows of teeth resembling the buds of Kunda flowers. He is standing stretching his right hand towards me. The hairs on his head are splendid. It is him that I see. The king then spoke to her as she stood there trembling like the tender stem of the plantain tree with her mind all in a flutter “O dear one, what are you going to do?”

104. When this was spoken, sage Nārada who began to doubt, asked, “O girl, how many hands has he? Tell me precisely.”

105-110. The bride with pure smiles said—“I see a pair of arms.”

Parvata then asked her—“O splendid lady, what do you see on his chest? Tell me. What do you see in his hands?”

The bride then spoke to him, “I see a garland exquisite in its five-fold forms on his chest. In his hand I see the bow and the arrows.”

On being replied to thus, the excellent sages looked at each other. They thought thus in their minds. “This is a deception of some one. The wielder of Māyā and the culprit is Viṣṇu himself. How can a newcomer make our face like this in the manner of that of a Golāṅgūla monkey?” So thought Nārada. Parvata too began to worry thus mentally:—“How is it that I have attained the form of a monkey?”

111-116. Then the king bowed down to Narada and Parvata and said—“What is this intellectual confusion that has been brought abo ut by both of you? Both of you, please be quiet as befitting those who seek the hand of a bride.”

On being told thus, the excellent sages spoke to the king furiously. “It is you who cause this delusion, not we, by any means. Let this girl choose one of us. Let there be no delay.”

Thereupon the young lady again bowed down to her favourite deity. On looking up she saw, as before, the handsome young man standing between them honourably attentive. He was bedecked in all ornaments and resembled the Atasī flower. His hands were long; his limbs supple and well-developed, his eyes extended as far as his ears. On seeing him she offered the garland unto him. Thereafter, the girl was never again seen by anybody.

117-119. A tumult arose: “What is this?” said everyone in surprise: Viṣṇu has taken her away to his abode. This excellent lady Śrīmatī was born as a result of penances performed formerly for attaining him. She has now gone to Viṣṇu.”

The two leading sages who had thus been hoodwinked[12] became extremely dejected. They hastened to the abode of Viṣṇu.

120. On seeing that they had come, lord Viṣṇu said to Śrīmatī:—“The excellent sages have come. Hide yourself here.”

121. Saying “So be it”, the gentle lady smilingly did so. Narada bowed down in front of Viṣṇu and said to him.

122. “Indeed you have done what is pleasing to me and Parvata! Certainly, O Viṣṇu, it is you who have abducted the bride.

123. With your intellect you have deluded us and cheated us, O excellent lord.” On being told thus, lord Viṣṇu closed his ears with his hands and said:—“What is this being uttered by you two?

124-126. Oh! is this emotion of love a course of conduct for sages?”

On being told thus, the sage Nārada replied, whispering into his ear:—“How is it that my face resembled that of a Golāṅgūla monkey?” The lord whispered back into his ear:—“O learned one, I have turned Parvata too into a monkey. It is for your own pleasure that your face was made to resemble that of a Golāṅgūla and not otherwise.

127. Parvata two spoke similarly and the lord replied to him in the same manner. Then Viṣṇu spoke within the hearing of both.

128-135. “I have done what is pleasing to you both. I can truthfully say so.” Nārada, the righteous soul then said—A person armed with a bow stood between us. Who was it? Did not he abduct her?”

On hearing it, Viṣṇu spoke to the excellent sages:—“There are many excellent noble men wielding Māyā. I am always armed with my discus. I remain for ever with my four arms. O excellent sages, to be sure not having seen Śrīmatī there 1 have not desired her. Indeed, this is known to you both.”

On being told thus, the sages became mentally delighted. They bowed down to the lord and said:—“O lord of the universe,what is your fault in this matter? It is the wickedness of that king alone. He has wielded Māyā.”

Having said this, Nārada and Parvata left that place. They went to Ambarīṣa and cursed him. Nārada and Parvata said, “Wherefore have we come here? After inviting us why have you given your daughter to another person? Why had you a recourse to deception? Hence, darkness, sorrow will attack you.

136-137. For the same reason you will not know your ownself precisely.”

When the curse was uttered thus, a mass of darkness rose up. Thereupon, the discus of Viṣṇu appeared instantly on behalf of the king. Frightened of the discus the terrible darkness rushed against the two sages.

138-144. Thereupon, the frightened great sages began to run with fear creeping up all their limbs. On seeing the discus and the inaccessibly terrible tamas closely behind them they hastened their steps saying “Alas! We have acquired the bride!” Distressed in their fright they ran as far as the Lokāloka[13] mountain. They shouted in their excess of fear—“Save us, Save us” to Viṣṇu. They went to the world of Viṣṇu and said:—“O Nārāyaṇa O lord of the universe, O Vāsudeva, O Hṛṣīkeśa, O Padmanābha, O Janārdana, save us, O lotus-eyed one. O Puruṣottama, you are our lord.” Thereupon, the glorious lord Nārāyaṇa who cannot be properly thought of, the lord with the mark of Śrīvatsa scar,[14] stopped the discus as well as the Darkness with the desire to bless his devotees.

“Ambarīṣa is my devotee. So also are these excellent sages. I must do what is wholesome and beneficial to him as well as to them both now.”

The excellent lord, the glorious lord Viṣṇu called them. Delighting them with his words lord Viṣṇu said—“Both of you listen to these words of mine.

145-149. The curse of the sages shall not be otherwise. Nor should the boon granted by me to the king for his protection. A glorious and virtuous king Daśaratha will be born.[15] as the famous son of the great-grandson of the son of Ambarīṣa. I will be born as his eldest son Rāma. There my right hand will be Bharata. Śatrughna will be my left hand. This Śeṣa will be born as Lakṣmaṇa. There you come to me. Now you leave the king alone: you leave off the excellent sages also”, so said Viṣṇu.

Tamas (darkness) who was addressed thus was destroyed instantaneously.

150-152. The discus that was warded off remained as before. The two excellent sages who were rid of their fear bowed down to Viṣṇu and came out with great dejection. They said to each other, “From now onwards till our death we shall never woo a girl.” After taking this vow the sages became purely devoted to yoga and meditation. They remained celibates for ever.

153-159. After ruling over the earth king Ambarīṣa went to the world of Viṣṇu along with his attendants and kinsmen. In order to know Ambarīṣa and the two leading sages Rāma became an īśvara unaware of his own Ātman after being born as the son of Daśaratha. Looking at Viṣṇu, the excellent sages Bhṛgu and others said:—“Māyā should not be practised against scholars. After a long time, Nārada and Parvata realised the activity of Viṣṇu and became devotees of Rudra.

Thus, everything has been mentioned to you, viz. the greatness of Ambarīṣa as well as the deceptive practice of Māyā of Viṣṇu.

The man who reads, listens to or narrates this tale shall eschew Māyā and attain the world of Rudra. This is holy and highly sacred. It has been recounted by the Vedas. One who reads this in the morning and evening will attain identity with Viṣṇu.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

For detail, See H.M. pp. 288, 289.

[2]:

The verse occurs in 1.1.22, 1.6.30. The same idea is expressed in the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa (Prakriyā Pāda. 4.6).—[sattvaṃ viṣṇū rajo brahmā tamo rudraḥ prajāpatiḥ |]

[3]:

khagama [khagamaḥ]—khe hṛdayākāśe'gamyate yogibhiḥ prāpyate iti khagamaḥ Śivatoṣiṇī. one who is realized by the yogins in their hearts.

[4]:

kavya and havya are the offerings made to the manes and Devas. The sacrificial fire wherein, these offerings are made is called kavyavāha because it carries offerings to the manes as well as gods.

[5]:

Ayodhyā—It is situated on the Sarayu river in Avadha near Faizabad, U.P.

[6]:

Vājapeya—one of the seven forms of the Soma-sacrifice offered by kings or Brahmins aspiring to the highest position, and preceding the Rājasūya and the Bṛhaspati-sava.

[7]:

Parvata—a sage, often associated with Nārada.

[8]:

Madhusūdana—the destroyer of Madhu, an Asura, brother to Kaiṭabha. For the story, see Mārkaṇḍeya.

[9]:

pañcasnigdha [pañca-snigdhām]—delicate in five limbs.

[10]:

atasī—flax, saṇa, Bengala ‘sun’ used as hemp, crotolaria juncea.

[11]:

Defective reading.

[12]:

dhikkṛta [dhikkṛtau]—tiraskṛtau, i.e., rejected (by Śrīmatī).

[13]:

Lokāloka—it is a fabulous belt of mountains bounding the outermost of the seven seas and dividing the visible world from the regions of darkness.

[14]:

Śrīvatsa-lāñchana [lāñchanaḥ]—Viṣṇu having curls of hair or a peculiar mark on his breast.

[15]:

bhavati—bhaviṣyati. The present tense is used for the past tense to denote a near future. Cf—[vartamānasāmīpye vartamānavadvā]—PāṇiniAṣṭādhyāyī.

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