The Markandeya Purana

by Frederick Eden Pargiter | 1904 | 247,181 words | ISBN-10: 8171102237

This page relates “the birth of the sparrows” which forms the 2nd chapter of the English translation of the Markandeya-purana: an ancient Sanskrit text dealing with Indian history, philosophy and traditions. It consists of 137 parts narrated by sage (rishi) Markandeya: a well-known character in the ancient Puranas. Chapter 2 is included the section known as “conversation between Markandeya and the birds”.

Canto II - The Birth of the Sparrows

The story of the Birds continuedKandhara, king of the birds killed a Rākhasa Vidyudrūpa for killing his brother, and, marrying the Rākhasa’s wife, had a daughter by her named Tārkṣī who was the Apsaras Vapu—She married Droṇa—When pregnant by him she was killed at the battle of the Kauravas and Pāṇḍavas, and there laid four eggs from which the four Birds were born—The Birds were nourished by the Muni Śamīka.

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

The king of the birds, Garuda by name, was the son of Ariṣṭanemi: Garuda’s son was renowned as Sampāti: and his son was Supārśva, heroic, mighty as Vāyu: Supārśva’s son was Kunti; Kunti’s son was Pralolupa. And he had two sons Kanka and Kandhara.

On the top of Kailāsa, Kanka saw the Rākṣasa famed as Vidyudrūpa, whose eyes were like a lotus leaf, a follower of Kuvera, who was busied in a banquet, clad with strings of bright garlands, sitting in company with his wife on a beautiful clean rocky seat. Then the Rākṣasa, immediately he was seen by Kanka, filled with anger, said, “Wherefore hast thou come hither, O vilest of the egg-bom? Why hast thou approached me when I am in company with my wife? Such is not the rule of the wise in matters that must be accomplished in secret.”

Kanka spoke:

“This mountain is common both to you and me and to other creatures also; what special ownership then canst thou Sir have here?”

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

The Rākṣasa with his sword slew Kanka, while he was thus speaking, who fell defiled with the streaming blood, quivering and senseless.

Having heard that Kanka was slain, Kandhara the king of the birds, bewildered with anger, resolved speedily to slay Vidyudrūpa. Having gone to the mountain-top, where Kanka lay slain, the king of the birds, his eyes swollen with anger and resentment, and sighing like the king of the Nāgas performed the Saṅkalana for his elder brother. Where sits the slayer of his brother, there he went, rocking the lofty mountains with the mighty wind from his wings. He, with blood-red eyes, overtopping the mountains, and forcibly hurling down masses of clouds with his wings, used to destroy his enemies suddenly. There he saw that demon, whose thoughts were intent on drinking, whose face and eyes were of a copperish colour, and who was seated on a golden couch, whose crest was.covered with strings of garlands, who was adorned with yellow sandal, whose face was very horrible with teeth that resembled the inside of the Ketakī leaf. And he saw, seated on the Rākṣasa’s left thigh his long-eyed wife, named Madanikā, whose voice was soft as the cuckoo’s.

Then Kandhara, whose mind was filled with wrath, addressed that inmate of the cave, “O thou of utterly evil soul! come forth and fight with me. Since thou hast murdered my trustful elder brother, therefore I will bring thee, while en grossed in drunkenness, down to Tama’s abode. today, slain by me, shalt thou go to all those hells that are the abodes of the murderers of those who trust in them, and of the murderers of women and children.”

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

Addressed even thus by the king of the birds in his wife’s presence, the Rākṣasa, filled with anger, then answered the bird. “If thy brother has been slain, then have I displayed my valour; thee, too, today, will I slay with this sword, O bird. Stay a moment, thou shalt not move here alive, O vilest of birds.”

Thus he spoke and seized his bright sword that resembled a mass of collyrium. Then took place a marvellous battle between the king of the birds and Kuvera’s warrior, such as between Garuḍa and Indra. Then the Rākṣasa, in anger swiftly hurling his sword, black as charcoal, flung it against the king of the birds. And then the king of the birds, slightly springing up from the ground, seized it with his beak, as Garuḍa seizes a serpent; and the egg-born one broke it with his beak and talons, and shook it. Thereupon, the sword being broken, they began to fight with their arms. Then the Rākṣasa, being attacked in the breast by the king of the birds, was speedily deprived of arms, feet, hands and head. When he was killed, his wife besought protection of the bird: somewhat fearful, she said, “I am thy wife.” That noblest of birds, taking her, returned to his abode, having obtained a recompense for his brother by the slaughter of Vidyudrūpa. And she, the daughter of Menakā, with beautiful eyebrows, capable of assuming forms at pleasure, on reaching the house of Kandhara, took a form resembling Garuḍa’s. Of her, he then begat a daughter named Tārkṣī, (namely Vapu the loveliest of the Apsarases, who was consumed by the fire of the Muni’s curse). Then the bird gave her the name Tārkṣī.

And Mandapāla had four sons of boundless intellect, Jaritārī the eldest and Droṇa the youngest, best of dvijas. The youngest of them, righteous in soul, thoroughly read in the Vedas and Vedāṅgas, married her the beauteous Tārkṣī, with the consent of Kandhara. And after a while Tārkṣī conceived; when she had gone seven fortnights in her pregnancy, she went to Kurukṣetra. The very terrible battle between the Kurus and Paṇḍavas was then being fought, and, in consequence of her action being predestined, she entered into the battle. There, then, she beheld the contest between Bhagadatta and Arjuna. The sky was thick filled with arrows, as if with locusts. Discharged from the bow of Arjuna an arrow, black as a serpent, fell with great force and pierced the skin of her belly. Her belly being pierced, four moon-like eggs fell on the ground as if on a heap of cotton, from the fact that their allotted period of life was not ended. At the same time that they fell, fell the great bell, the cord of which was cut by an arrow, from the noble elephant Snpratīka. It reached the ground evenly all around, cutting into the surface of the ground, and covering the eggs of the bird which lay upon flesh.

And after king Bhagadatta, ruler of men, was slain, the fight between the armies of the Kurus and Pāṇḍavas went on many days. At the end of the battle, when Dharma’s son Yudhiṣṭhira approached the son of Śāntanu to hear the high-souled Bhīṣma proclaiming the entire laws, a sage named Śamīka came to the spot where, O best of dvijas, lay the eggs within the bell. There he heard the voice of the little birds chirping, whose voices were inarticulate on account of their infancy, although they had transcendant knowledge. Then the Ṛṣi, accompanied by his disciples, lifted up the bell and saw with surprise the young motherless and fatherless birds. The venerable Muni Śamīka, having so seen them on the ground there, filled with astonishment, addressed his attendant dvijas.

“Well was it said by the chief of the dvijas, Uśanas himself, the regent of the planet Venus, when he saw the army of the Daityas intent on fleeing, hard-pressed by the gods. ‘Ye must not go, turn ye back; why run ye away, ye feeble ones? Abandoning valour and glory, where have ye gone? Ye shall not perish. Whether one perishes or whether one fights, one possesses life as long as God originally created, not as long as one’s mind desires. Men perish, some in their homes, some in flight; so, too, do they meet their death when eating food and drinking water. So, too, others, when sporting themselves, seated in the chariot of Love, free from sickness, their bodies unpierced by arrows, fall into the power of the King of the departed. Others, when intent on austerities, are led off by the servants of the King of the departed: and otters occupied in meditation and study have not gained immortality. Of yore, Indra hurled his thunderbolt against Śambara, yet that demon, though pierced thereby to the heart, did not perish. By that very thunderbolt, indeed, and by the same Indra, when their time was come, the Dānavas were slain, the Daityas forthwith perished. Perceiving this, ye should not fear: return ye.’ Then those Daityas, abandoning the fear of death, turned back. This speech of Uśanas is proved true by these most noble birds, which even in the superhuman battle did not meet with destruction. Whence comes the laying of the eggs, O brahmans? Whence comes the even fall of the bell? And how comes it that the ground is covered with flesh, fat, and blood? Certainly these must he some brahmans; they are not ordinary birds. The favour of destiny shows great good-fortune in the world.”

Having spoken thus he looked at them and spoke again, “Return, go to the hermitage, taking the young birds with you. Where these egg-born may have no fear of cat, or rat, of hawk or ichneumon, there let the birds be placed. O dvijas, what is the use of great care? All creatures are destroyed or preserved by their own actions, as have been these young birds. Nevertheless men must exert themselves in all matters; he who does a manly act gains commendation from us, the good.”

Thus urged by that illustrious Muni, those young Munis, taking those birds, went then to their own hermitage, delightful to ascetics, where clusters of bees settled on the boughs of the trees. And he, the noblest of dvijas, gathering wild roots, flowers, fruits, grasses, such as his mind loved, performed the various religious ceremonies ordained by the Veda to all the deities, to Viṣṇu, Rudra, and the Creator, to Indra, Tama, and Agni, to Varuṇa, to Vṛhaspati and Kuvera, and also to Vayu, to Dhātṛ and Vidhātṛ.

Let's grow together!

I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased sources, definitions and images. Your donation direclty influences the quality and quantity of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight the world is exposed to.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: