The Markandeya Purana

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

This page relates “conversation between the father and son (continued)” which forms the 13th 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 13 is included the section known as “conversation between Sumati (Jada) and his father”.

Canto XIII - Conversation between the father and son (continued)

Sumati relates an incident in one of the periods he spent in hell—King Vipaścit comes there and asks why, in spite of a righteous life, he was condemned there.

The son spoke:

Now I was born in a Vaiśya’s family in the seventh life that preceded my present one. Once upon a time I obstructed the cattle at their drinking. In consequence of that act I was consigned to a very terrible hell, fearful with flames of fire, infested with birds with iron beaks, muddy by reason of the streams of blood that flowed from limbs crushed by machines, pervaded with the sound of blood pouring down from sinners who are being cut asunder. When cast down there I spent a hundred years and more, scorched by the intense heat, and burning with thirst.

On a sudden a wind blew on me there, bringing gladness, deliciously cool, issuing from out of a pitcher of meal and sand.[1] Through contact with it all the men were relieved of their torments, and I too gained a bliss supreme, such as the celestial beings enjoy in Svarga. And with eyes fixed in a wide gaze of joy, in wonder at what this was, we saw at hand a peerless perfect man; and Yama’s dire servant, staff in hand, like Indra’s thunderbolt, was showing the path in front, and a voice came saying “come hither!” Then that man seeing the hell filled with hundreds of tortures, moved with compassion, addressed that servant of Yama.

The man spoke:

“Ho! servant of Yama! say, what sin have I committed, for which I have incurred this deepest hell, frightful for its torments? Known as Vipaścit, I was born in the family of the Janakas, in the country of Videha, in very truth a guardian of men. I sacrificed with many sacrifices; I protected the earth with uprightness; nor did I let fighting rage; no guest departed with averted countenance; nor did I offend the pitṛs, the gods, the ṛṣis or my servants; nor did I covet other men’s wives, or wealth, or aught else belonging to them. At the moon’s changes the pitṛs, on other lunar days the gods, voluntarily approached mankind[2] as cows a pool. The two religious duties, both sacrifice and meritorious work, perish inasmuch as the performers of domestic sacrifices depart sighing with averted faces. The merit amassed in seven lives is dissipated by the sighing of the pitṛs; the sighing assuredly destroys the destiny that springs from three lives. Hence I was ever indeed kindly disposed to what concerned the gods and the pitṛs; being such, how have I incurred this very terrible hell?”

Footnotes and references:


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