The Markandeya Purana

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

This page relates “baladeva’s brahmanicide” which forms the 6th 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 6 is included the section known as “conversation between Markandeya and the birds”.

Canto VI - Baladeva’s brahmanicide

The Birds explain the third questionBaladeva, in order to avoid siding with the Pāṇḍavas and Kauravas, went to the Raivata forest—Overcome by intoxication, love, and the influences of the place, he killed Sūta for not saluting him—To expiate that sin he undertook the pilgrimage.

The birds spoke:

The plough-armed Rāma, knowing the perfect affection of Kṛṣṇa for Arjuna, deliberated much—“Can what has been done be better done? Without Kṛṣṇa, assuredly, I will not go near Duryodhana; or how, siding with the Pāṇḍavas, shall I slay king Duryodhana, my royal son-in-law and disciple? Therefore I will go neither to Arjuna nor to king Duryodhana. I will myself bathe myself at holy bathing places, so long as it conduces to the ending of the Kurus and Pāṇḍavas.”

Having thus taken leave of Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna and Duryodhana, the descendant of Śūra, surrounded by his army, went to Dvārakā. Arriving at Dvāravatī, which was thronged with glad and well-fed citizens, Rāma Halāyudha drank a draught at the holy bathing places, which are to be visited in future. Having drank his draught, he then marched to the flourishing park of Raivata,[1] taking with him the intoxicated Apsaras-like Revatī. Encircled by a bevy of maidens, the hero went on, intoxicated, stumbling in his walk. And he saw a forest, fascinating, beyond compare, loaded with the fruits and flowers of every season, thronged with troops of monkeys, sacred, dotted with clumps of lotus-flowers, a great forest abounding in pools. Listening to the copious, pleasure-inspiring, love-soft, beautiful, ear-delighting, melodious songs poured forth from the mouths of the birds, he saw the trees there, loaded with the weight of the fruits of every season, bright with the blossoms of every season, rendered resonant by the birds;—mango trees, hog-plums,[2] kāmaraṅgas,[3] cocoanuts, and tindaka trees,[4] and little bel trees,[5] cumin,[6] pomegranates,[7] citrons,[8] jack trees,[9] monkey-jack trees,[10] plantain trees, and very charming kadam trees,[11] and pārāvata trees,[12] kankola trees,[13] nalina trees,[14] docks,[15] marking-nut trees,[16] emblic myrobalans,[17] and gāb trees[18] bearing large fruits, almond trees,[19] karamcha trees,[20] yellow myrobalans,[21] Beleric myrobalans.[22] He, Yadu’s descendant, saw these and other trees, and also aśokas,[23] punnāgas,[24] screw-pines,[25] and vakulas,[26] campakas,[27] saptaparṇas,[28] karṇikāras,[29] and Spanish jasmines,[30] pārijāta trees,[31] kovidāras,[32] mandāras,[33] and jujube trees,[34] delightsome Bignonia trees[35] in blossom, and devdār trees,[36] sāl trees,[37] palmyra palms,[38] and tamālas,[39] kiṃśukas,[40] and fine vañjula trees[41]:—inhabited by cbakors,[42] and woodpeckers, shrikes,[43] and parrots, koīls,[44] and sparrows, green pigeons,[45] and jīvajīvaka pheasants,[46] by priya-putras,[47] and pied-crested cuckoos,[48] and by various other birds, warbling pleasingly and very melodiously:—and the lakes, beautiful and placid, crowded on all sides with the lotus water-lilies,[49] and lotuses,[50] and the brilliant blue water-lilies,[51] with water-lilies,[52] and lotuses;[53] and thronged with kādamba geese,[54] and ruddy shieldrakes[55] and water-fowl,[56] with kāraṇḍava ducks,[57] pelicans,[58] geese,[59] tortoises, and divers;[60] thronged with these and other birds swimming in the water all around.

So gazing on the delightful forest, Śauri accompanied by the maidens gradually proceeded onwards to an incomparable bower of creepers. There he saw brahmans, deeply read in the Vedas and Vedāṅgas, belonging to the families of Kuśika, and Bhṛgu, Bharadvāja, and Grotama, and brahmans sprung from various families, all eagerly listening to the tales, seated on large outer garments made of the hide of the black antelope, and on the kuśa grass and on kuśa-grass seats; and Sūta (their bard) in the midst, reciting glorious tales of the olden times, based on the deeds of the first Surarṣiss. Seeing Rāma, whose eyes were red with drinking, all the brahmans, perceiving he was intoxicated, rose up in haste, saluting the plough-bearer, except that scion of the bards. Then filled with rage, the mighty plough-bearer, who caused all the Dānavas to quake, rolling his eye, smote Sūta.

When that bard was slain while repeating the words of the Veda, all those brahmans, clad in black antelope skins, departed from the wood. And the plough-armed hero, perceiving himself disregarded, thought, “This is a very grievous sin that I have committed; for since I have come here to a brahmans’ abode and have slain Sūta, these dvijas perceiving me have all departed. And my body has a disgusting odour, as it were of blood, and I perceive that I am contemned as a brahmanicide. Fie on my rage, and the wine, my arrogance, my cruelty! Possessed by them, I have committed this most grievous sin. To expiate it I will perform a twelve-year vow, making the confession of my deed the uttermost penance. This then is the pilgrimage which I have now undertaken; I will go to the Pratilomā Sarasvatī itself.” Hence he, Rāma, went to the Pratilomā Sarasvatī.

Next listen to this reference to the story of the Pāṇḍaveyas.

Footnotes and references:


A mountain near Dvārakā in Gñjarat. The woodland scene described seems to be a fanciful one, compounded from the author’s observations everywhere.


Amrataka, the Hog-plum, Spondias mangifera; the modern amra. It is both wild and cultivated. I give the botanical names, from Hooker’s Flora of British India, of all except the most common, as many of the trees have no English names, and are better known by those names: but there can be no doubt that the various species in a genus are not always distinguished, and that the Sanskrit names are sometimes as much generic as specific. The descriptions are taken from Roxburgh’s Flora Indica, Edn. Clarke, 1874, from Oliver’s Indian Botany, 1869, and from Firminger’s Manual of Gardening for India.


Bhavya, Averrhoa carambola, the modern kāmraṅga. A garden tree.


I do not find tindaka in Prof. Monier-Williams’ Dictionary: tinduka occurs in verse 14. The late Rev. Dr. Banerjea, in a translation he began, translates it Ebony, which is Diospyros melanoxylon, the modern tindu. It is a large tree, growing in most woody mountainous parts of India.


Ābilvaka. I do not find this in the Dictionary. Bilva, the Bel or Bengal Quince, Ægle marmelos; the modem bel-phul and śrī-phal. Both wild and cultivated. It bears panicles of large white flowers, which are used in worship.


Jīra, Cumin, Cuminum cyminum; the modern jīra; this is a slender cultivated annual. Jīra also means Panicum miliaceum, Roxb., the modern cheena, which is a cultivated cereal from 2 to 4 feet high. (Roxb., p. 104.) Neither seems appropriate.


Dāḍima, the Pomegranate, Punica granatum; the modern dāṛm or dālim. A cultivated tree in India.


Vīja-pūraka, Citron, Citrus medica, the modern nebu. A cultivated tree in India.


Panasa, the Jack or Jack-fruit tree, Artocarpus integrifolia; the modern kānthāl. A cultivated tree. (Roxb., p. 633: Oliver, p. 272: not in Hooker).


Lakuca, the Monkey-jack, Ārtocarpus lacucha; the modern dephul. A garden tree. (Roxb., p. 634; Firminger, p. 188; not in Hooker).


Nīpa, Anthocephalus cadamba (Nauclea cadamba, Roxb.); also kadamba, the modern kadam. A garden tree, highly ornamental with its large, globular, beautiful, orange-coloured heads of flowers, and very useful from its extensive close shade (see Roxb., p. 172).


Pārāvata: the Dictionary says this is Diospyros embryopteris (glutinosa, Roxb.), which is the modern gāb: but this tree is also tinduka, which occurs in the next verse, and tindaka has occurred in verse 12. Pārāvata means also a dove or pigeon, and has been corrupted into the Bengali pāyrā; might not pārāvata, the tree, be corrupted into the Bengali peyārā, which means the Guava, Psidium guyava?


Kaṅkola. I do not find this in the Dictionary. Read Kaṅkellān for kaṅkolān? Kaṅkella is given as the Asok, Scuraca indica (Jonesia asoka, Roxb.), but this occurs in verse 15.


Nalina. Dr. Banerjea translates this as the Indigo plant, but Prof. Monier-Williams says nalina, neut., is the Indigo shrub, Indigofera tinctoria; while nalina, masc. as here, is the Carissa carandas; but the latter occurs in the next verse.


Amla-vetasa, the Dock or Sorrel, as Prof. Monier-Williams gives it. The Dock is Rumex vesicarius, Roxb. The Sorrel is Oxalis corniculata, Hooker (see Oliver, pp. 181 and 269).


Bhallātaka, the Marking-nut tree, Semecarpus anacardium, the Bengali bhela. A tree, growing in all the mountainous parts of India, with large panicles of small greenish yellow flowers. (Roxb., p. 268.)


Āmalaka, the Emblic Myrobalan, Phyllanthus emblica, the modern amla (Roxb., p. 684 and Oliver, p. 279). I do not find it in Hooker. Emblica officinalis is an earlier name.


Tinduka, Diospyros embryopteris (glutinosa, Roxb.), the modern gāb. It is a tree common in Bengal, and among the mountains in the Circars. Its fruit is as large as a medium-sized apple.


Iṅguda, the Almond tree, Terminalia catappa, the modem badām. A beautiful large tree, growing everywhere.


Karamarda, Carissa carandas, the modern karamcha. A common small tree, with beautiful, white, jasmine-like flowers.


Harītaka, the Yellow or Chebulic Myrobalan, Terminalia chebula; a large forest tree.


Vibhītaka, the Beleric Myrobalan, Terminalia belerica, the modem baheṛa; a large forest tree.


Āsoka, the Asok, Saraca indica (Jonesia asoka, Roxb.). A middling-sized, very handsome, garden tree, with large, globular bunches of rather large flowers. The flowers are of a beautiful orange colour when they first expand, and gradually change to red, forming a variety of beautiful shades: they are fragrant during the night. (Roxb., p. 312).


Punnāga, Rottlera tinctoria, (Roxb. and Oliver): it is still called punnāg. I do not find it in Hooker. A tree, a native of Coromandel.


Ketakī, the Screw-Pine, Pandanus odoratissimus, (Roxb. and Oliver), the modem keorā. A large shrub, with panicles of large white, sheath-like leaves, enclosing bundles of closely-packed minute flowers. “It is the tender white leaves of the flowers, chiefly those of the male, that yield that most delightful fragrance, for which they are so universally and deservedly esteemed; for of all the perfumes in the world it must be the richest and most powerful.” (Roxb., p. 707.)


Vakula, Mimusops elenghi, the modem bakul. A tree, commonly cultivated, with flowers middle-sized drooping, white and fragant; but Firminger says they are small, pale-green. (Roxb., p. 318; Hooker, p. 458; Firm., p. 490).


Campaka, Michelia champaca, the modern champak or chāmpā. A garden tree with large yellow delightful fragrant flowers.


Sapta-parṇa, Alstonia scholaris. An eyer-green tree growing in the drier forests of India.


Karṇikāra, Pterospermum acerifolium, the Bengali kanak-champa. A Himalayan tree, but also grown in gardens. It has very large, pure white, fragrant flowers.


Mālati, the Catalonian or Spanish Jasmine, Jasminum grandiflorum, the Bengali jātī or chamelī, Hindustani chambelī. It is a spreading garden shrub with graceful pinnate foliage and middling-sized white fragrant flowers, which retain their odour when dried and are much used for perfume. (Firm., p. 518). Mālati also means the Clove-scented Echites, Aganosma caryophyllata (Echites caryophyllata, Roxb.), now called mālati, which is a climbing shrub, with bay-like leaves and sprays of middling-sized fragrant white flowers. (Roxb., p. 245; Firm., p. 518.)


Pārijāta, Erythrina indica. A large tree growing all over India, with racemes of numerous large bright scarlet flowers. This tree is generally called mandār now.


Kovidāra, Bauhinia variegata, the Bengali rakta-kañcan. A garden tree with large reddish-purple flowers.


Mandāra. Prof. Monier-Williams says this is Erythrina fulgens, but I do not find it in Hooker or Roxburgh. May it be E. stricta, which grows in- the Western Peninsular and much resembles E. indica? In Bengal E. indica is now generally called mandār.


Badara, Zizyphus ænoplia (jujuba or scandens, Roxb.), the Bengali kul, the Hindustani ber. A small tree with fruit of the size of a large cherry.


Pāṭala, Bignonia svaveolens, Roxb., the modern pārul. I do not find it in Hooker. A tree, with large, exquisitely fragrant, dark dull crimson flowers. It blossoms during the hot season. Prof. Monier-Williams calls it the Trumpet-flower tree, but I do not find this name in any of the Botanical books I have consulted.


Deva-dāru, Pinus devdara, Roxb., the modern devdār. I do not find it in Hooker. A great tree, native of the mountains north of Rohilkhand. No species of pine is native in the Peninsula (Oliver, p. 294); this tree therefore is quite out of place in this Gujarat scene.


Sāla, the Sāl tree, Shorea robust a, the modern sāl. An immense timber tree.


Tāla, the Palmyra Palm, Borassus flabelliformis, Roxb., the modern tāl. Not in Hooker. Fans are made from the large fan-like leaves.


Tamāla. Prof. Monier-Williams says this is Garcinia xanthochymus (Xanthochymus pictorius, Roxb.); this is a tree, a native of the mountainous districts in India. But Roxburgh says the Tamāla is Diospyros cordifolia, which Hooker unites with D. montana; this is a common tree.


Kiṃśuka, Butea frondosa, the Bengali palash. Oliver calls this tree the Dhak, (p. 195), but I do not find this name anywhere else. It is a common tree, with handsome, irregular, orange-red flowers in racemes which are covered with a soft greenish-purple down. (Roxb., p. 540.)


Vañjula, Ougeinia dalbergioides (Dalbergia oojeinensis, Roxb.). A tree with racemes of numerous, rather small, very pale rose-coloured flowers, somewhat fragrant.


Cakora, Caccabis chukor. The Chakor is said in Prof. Monier-Williams’ Dictionary to be the Greek partridge, Perdix rufa or Tetrao rufus, but the Greek partridge, Caccabis saxatilis, is a different species, inhabiting Europe, from the chakor the Asiatic species. The chakor is found in the Himalayas and the other northern ranges. It is always a bird of the hills, and does not occur in Gujarat, where this scene is laid (Jerdon’s Birds of India, Edn. Godwin-Austen, Vol. II, p. 564; Hume and Marshall’s Game Birds of India, Vol. II, p. 33). Tetrao rufus is the name Linnæus gave the European bird. Perdix rufa seems, from the edition of his works in the Bengal Asiatic Society’s Library, to be an earlier name. There are other partridges in the plains of India, Ortygornis gularis, &c., but I do not think the reference can be to them, for the writer seems to be mentioning birds inhabiting the Himalayas; see the note on the Jīvajīvaka pheasant, below.


Bhṛṅga-rāja. Prof. Monier-Williams translates this, Malabar shrike, Lanius malabaricus. This bird stands in Jerdon as Edolius malabaricus, and is, I am informed by Dr. J. Soully, a king-crow. Another bird may be meant, the Malabar Wood-shrike, Tephrodornis sylvicola, but, as the writer seems to be referring to birds found near the Himalayas, bhṛṅga-rāja may mean any kind of shrike, almost every kind of which is common throughout the greater part of India. (Jerdon, Vol. I, p. 400).


Kokila, the Koīl, Eudynamys orientalis (Jerdon, Vol. I, p. 342).


Hārīta, the Green Pigeon, probably the Bengal green pigeon, Crocopus phænicopterus, or the Orange-breasted green pigeon, Osmotreron bicincta. The Sonthern green pigeon, Crocopus chlorigaster, and the Green imperial pigeon, Carpophaga sylvatica, are not found near the Himalayas.


Jīvajīvaka. Prof. Monier-Williams gives the synonyms jīva-jīva and jīvañjīva, and explains the word as a kind of bird supposed to be a pheasant, or the chakor. As the chakor is mentioned already, it must have the first meaning. Taking it to he a kind of pheasant, I would suggest that it is the Cheer Pheasant, Phasianus Wallichi. The Sanskrit name looks like an onomatopœous one, and the cry of this bird is “something like the words chir a pir, chir a pir, chir chir, chirwa chirwa.” Cheer is the native name. The bird is found in Garhwal and Kumaon and the neighbouring country, and inhabits the middle slope of the Himalayas (Hume and Marshall, Vol. I, p. 169: Jerdon, Vol. II, p. 527). If this bird be a pheasant, it is clear the writer is mentioning, not the fauna of Gujarat, but of the country near the Himalayas, for it appears from Hume and Marshall, and Jerdon, that no pheasants are found in India except in the Himalayan and Indo-Burmese mountains and forests.


Priya-putra. I do not know what this bird is. The name affords no indication.


Cātaka, the Pied-crested Cuckoo. Prof. Monier-Williams says the bird is Cuculus melanoleucus, but I find no such name mentioned in Jerdon. It is the Coccystes melanoleucos of Jerdon (Vol. I, p. 339), which he says is called chatak. It is found all over India.


Kumud, the Lotus water-lily, Nymphæa lotus (Oliver, p. 155). There seems to be some confusion in distinguishing between the Sanskrit names for the lotus and the water-lilies, and I would attempt a solution in this and the following notes.

Of the water-lilies, Nymphæa, large water-herbs with leaves and flowers floating on the surface, there are 2 species common in India, viz., N. lotus, the Lotus water-lily, and N. stellata, the Blue water-lily.

N. lotus has leaves 6—12 inches broad, and flowers 2—10 inches broad, white, rose, or red. This species combines Roxburgh’s N. rubra and N. edulis (esculenta). Its Sanskrit name is kumud, and probably ambu-ja; the red variety is raktotpala. It closes during the day and opens at night.

The latter species, N. stellata, has flowers 1—10 inches broad, slightly odorous. It comprises 3 varieties, (1) cyanea (N. cyanea, Roxb.), flowers medium-sized, blue; (2) parviflora, flowers usually smaller, blue; (3) versicolor (N. versicolor, Roxbḍ, flowers larger, white, bine, purple, or flesh-coloured. The bine-flowered N. stellata is called indīvara, utpala, kuvalaya and nīlotpala. (Hooker, Vol. I, p. 114: Roxburgh, p. 427.)


Puṇḍarīka, the Lotus or Sacred Lotus, Nelumbium speciosum. This is the only species of Nelumbium in India. It is a large erect water-herb with its leaves and flowers raised high above the water. Its leaves are peltate, cupped, 2—3 feet in diameter. The flowers are 4—10 inches broad, white or rose-red. Its Sanskrit names are kamala, nalinī, padminī, puṇḍarīka, sarasi-ja, and sahasra-patra. The flower is padma and panka-ja. The red variety is kokanada and tāmarasa. Roxburgh says the white variety is called in Sanskrit sitāmbu-ja, and the red variety raktotpala; but these names more properly designate the white and red varieties of the water-lily (Nymphæa), and Prof. Monier-Williams translates them so. The Lotus opens during the day and closes at night (Hooker, Vol. I, p. 116; Oliver’s Indian Botany, p. 156; Roxburgh, p. 450.)


Nīlotpala, the Bine water-lily, Nymphæa stellata, See note ‡ on kumud, supra p. 29.


Kahlāra. Prof. Monier-Williams says this is the White esculent water-lily, Nymphæa lotus, but Roxburgh assigns it to his N. cyanea. Can it mean the rose-coloured variety of the N. lotus or stellata? See note ‡ on kumud, supra p. 29.


Kamala, the Lotas, Nelumbium speciosum; see note § on Puṇḍarīka, supra p. 29. But there must be some difference between the two.


Kādamba, a kind of goose with dark-grey wings (kala-haṃsa), so Prof. Monier-Williams. It seems to be the Grey Lag-Goose, Anser cinereuse, which is called kar-hāns in Behar. (Hume and Marshall, Vol. Ill, p. 55; Jerdon, Vol. II, p. 779.)


Cakravāka, the Ruddy Shieldrake or Brahminy Duck, Casarca rutila. Anas casarca is the Linnæan name. (Hume and Marshall, Vol. Ill, p. 125; Jerdon, Vol. II, p. 791.)


Jala-kukkuṭa. This is probably the Water-hen, Gallimula chloropus, commonly called the jal-murghi, which means the same. (Jerdon, Vol. II, p. 718.)


Kāraṇḍava, a kind of duck; also called karaṇḍa. I would suggest that this is the Common Teal, Querquedula crecca, which is now called kerra in the N. W. Provinces, and kardo in Sindh. (Hume and Marshall, Vol. III, p, 205; Jerdon, Vol. II, p, 806.)


Plava. Prof. Monier-Williams translates this as pelican, Pelicanus fusicollis; but I do not find any such species in Jerdon. It may be the Grey pelican, Pelecanus Philippensis, which is the most abundant species in India. (Jerdon, Vol. II, p. 858.)


Haṃsa. This is of course general, and means any kind of goose or duck.


Madgu, a kind of diving bird. It is probably the Little Grebe, Podiceps Philippensis, commonly called dub-dubi from its inveterate diving. (Jerdon, Vol. II, p. 822.) But it may be the Bald Coot, Fulica atra, which is also a ready diver (id., p. 715.)

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: