The Markandeya Purana

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

This page relates “the story of kuvalayasva” which forms the 20th 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 20 is included the section known as “conversation between Sumati (Jada) and his father”.

Canto XX - The Story of Kuvalayāśva

King Śatrujit’s son Ṛtadhvaja receives into intimate friendship two Nāga princes in the guise of brahmans—They live with him by day, and spend the nights in Rasātala—They extol him to their father, and relate his story as followsṚtadhvaja sets out to succour the brāhman, Gālava against a Daitya Pātālahetu, with the aid of a wondrous horse named Kuvalaya.

Jaḍa spoke:

There was formerly a valorous king named Śatrujit, in whose sacrifices Indra was pleased by receiving the soma juice. His son was a valiant destroyer of his foes; the peer of Vṛhaspati, Indra and the Aśvins in intellect, prowess and beauty. The king’s son was continually surrounded by young princes, who were his equals in age, intellect, virtue, prowess and behaviour. He was sometimes resolved on investigating the whole Śāstra literature; at other times engrossed[1] with poetry, dialogue, singing and the drama. Moreover he enjoyed himself both with gambling pastimes, and in the discipline of all kinds of weapons: he was intent on the study of elephants, horses, and chariots suitable for war.[2] The king’s son enjoyed himself in company with the young princes, being absorbed in pleasure by day and night alike. But while they sported there, numbers of young brāhmans, young princes and young vaiśyas of the same age came to enjoy themselves affectionately.

Now after a time two young Nāgas, the sons of Aśvatara,[3] visited the surface of the earth from the Naga-world. Disguised in form as brāhmans, youthful, handsome, those two, in company with the young princes and the other dvijas, remained there linked in friendship, occupied with various amusements. And all those young princes and the young brāhmans and vaiśyas, and those two young Nāga princes engaged in bathing, kneading the limbs &c., adorned themselves with garments and perfumes, and occupied themselves with the business of kings.[4] As day after day went by, the two young Nāgas enjoyed themselves, being bound by affection for the king’s son. And the king’s son received the highest pleasure from those two, by various amusements, and by jests, conversation, &c. Apart from those two he neither ate, nor bathed, nor drank sweet drinks; he did not disport himself, nor take up his weapons to improve his accomplishments. And those two, spending the night in Rasātala,[5] mainly occupied in sighing in the absence of that high-souled prince, visited him day after day.

“With whom do ye both, my sons, find supreme affection in the mortal-world?” thus inquired their father of both those young Nāgas. “Whilst I have seen you both many days here in Pātāla, I ever behold you both with kindly countenances by day and night.”

Jaḍa spoke:

Thus questioned by their father himself, the two illustrious sons of the Nāga king falling prostrate, with hands reverently joined, replied.

The sons spoke:

It is the son of Śatrujit, dear father, famed by name as Ṛtadhvaja, shapely, upright in conduct, a hero, proud, kind of speech, no sneaking tale-bearer,[6] eloquent, learned, friendly, a mine of excellencies, an honourer of the honour-worthy, intelligent, modest, adorned with courtesy. Our mind, being ravished by attendance on him, affection for him and pleasure with him, finds no delight in the Naga-world or the air-world.[7] By separation from him chill Pātāla does not tend to warm us, dear father; through union with him the sun by day tends to gladden us.”

The father spoke:

“He is the happy son of a holy father, whose excellencies such accomplished persons as ye are thus celebrate even in his absence. There are evil-dispositioned men learned in the Śāstras; there are good-dispositioned men who are fools: but I esteem him, my sons, the happier who equally possesses knowledge of Śāstras and a good disposition. A father has indeed a son in that son, whose friends always declare his friendly qualities, and whose enemies his valour, among the good. Perchance ye have preferred a request to him as a benefactor: he has done something to satisfy your mind, my children. Happy is he! The life of each high-born one has been well lived, when petitioners to him turn not away, and the petition of his friends is not powerless. In my house whatever gold and other metals, jewels, animals for riding, and seats there are, and whatever else imparts delight; that should be given him without hesitation. Fie on the life of that man, who, while failing to make a return to beneficent friends, believes that he really lives! The wise man who, cloud-like, showers benefits on his circle of friends and injury on his foes ,—men wish him prosperity.”

The sons spoke:

“What might any one do for that successful man, whose petitioners are all always honoured in his house with the grant of all their desires. The jewels that are in his house, whence can we have them in Pātāla? And whence his animals for riding, his seats, and carriages, ornaments and clothing? The knowledge that he has, is found nowhere else. Even for the wise he is, dear father, the ablest remover of all doubts. One thing he has done, and that in our opinion was impossible of accomplishment, except by Brahmā, Viṣṇu,[8] Śiva, and the other lords.”[9]

The father spoke:

“Nevertheless I wish to hear what was his highest deed, whether it he impossible or possible of accomplishment. Is anything impossible to the wise? Men who have determination attain to the position of the gods, lordship over the immortals, and the position of being worshipped by them, or any other coveted arduous thing. There is nothing unknown, or inaccessible, or unobtainable, either in heaven or here, to strenuous men who have brought their mind, organs and soul under control. An ant by walking travels thousands of yojanas; even Garuḍa, if he does not move, does not move a single foot. Where is the surface of the earth, and where is the site of the polar star? Yet Dhruva the son of king Uttānapāda, a denizen of the earth, reached it. Relate then how the good young prince did his feat, that ye may discharge your indebtednees, my sons!”

The sons spoke:

“The high-souled prince has told us this feat he did before, dear father; that he spent his youth, being noted for his good conduct.

“But formerly, dear father, a certain brāhman, the wise Gālava, bringing a magnificent steed, approached Śatrujit; and replied to the king—‘A certain vile Daitya, an evil-doer, O king, springing up, is destroying my hermitage without cause day and night, assuming the several forms of a lion, an elephant, and forest-roving beasts, and of other small-bodied animals. When I am absorbed in profound meditation and deep contemplation, and intent on vows of silence, he raises obstacles so that my mind wavers. Thou art able instantly to burn him with the fire of thy anger, but not we. Do I desire that austerities arduously acquired should be squandered , O king? But one day O king, having perceived the demon, I heaved a sigh, being distressed by him, and excedingly depressed in mind. Thereupon this horse fell forthwith from the sky itself, and a voice from no corporeal being exclaimed—hearken to it, O lord of men!—“Unwearied the noble steed can traverse the whole circle of the earth with the sun. He has been produced for thee. Nor is his course stayed in Pātāla, in the sky or in water; nor does he succumb when moving in every direction, or even among the mountains. Since he will traverse the whole circle of the earth unwearied, he will become famed in the world under the name Kuvalaya. And the base sinful Dānava, who day and night torments thee, him shall slay, O brāhman, the king named Śatrujit mounted on this horse; and his son Ṛtadhvaja getting this jewel of a steed shall attain to fame by means of him.” I now have met with thee: do thou, O king, ward off that obstructer of my austerities, for a king is interested therein. Therefore I have told thee, O king, of this gem of a horse: do thou command thy son, so that righteousness may not perish.’

“At his word the king, righteous in soul, mounting his son Ṛtadhvaja, who had performed a solemn ceremony, on that gem of a horse, sent him away then with Gālava. And the Muni, taking him, departed to his own hermitage-home.”

Footnotes and references:


For -sambhavaiḥ read -sambhavaḥ?


The text appears corrupt; for yogyāni yuddha- read yuddha-niyogya-?


A Nāga prince.


The text seems incorrect. For -samyuktāṃś read -samyuktāś?


The lower world.


For anāpṛṣṭa-katho read anāpṛṣṭha-katho.


For bhuvo lolce read bhuvarloke?




The text seems incorrect. For tasyāsti kartavyam read tasya kṛtaṃ kāryam? And for īśvarād read īśvarān?

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: