The Markandeya Purana

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

This page relates “madalasa’s death” which forms the 22nd 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 22 is included the section known as “conversation between Sumati (Jada) and his father”.

Canto XXII - The story of Kuvalayāśva (continued): Madālasā’s death

Pātālaketu’s brother Tālaketu, in the guise of a Muni dwelling on the bank of the Yamunā, induces Kuvalayāśva to guard his hermitage, on the pretext that he had certain ceremonies to perform in the water—Disappearing within the water he goes to the palace and reports that Kuvalayāśva had died in battle with the Daityas—Madālasā dies through grief, and the king and queen utter their lamentations, and perform the prince’s obsequiesTālaketu then returns to the hermitage and releases the prince.

The sons spoke:

“Many days afterwards the king again addressed his son, ‘Mounting this horse go quickly to rescue the brāhmans, and patrol the earth, morning hy morning, day by day, for the brāhmans’ freedom from molestation must always be sought after. There are evil-behaved Dānavas in hundreds, born in wickedness; do thou so act that the Munis may experience no obstacle from them.’ Then the king’s son did as he was directed by his father. After traversing the whole earth, the king’s son did obeisance to his father’s feet in the forenoon, as each day came round; and then during the rest of the day he enjoyed himself with her, the slender-waisted one.

“One day, however, while moving about, he saw Pātālaketu’s younger brother Tālaketu, who had fixed his hermitage on the bank of the Yamunā. The wily Dānava had assumed a Muni’s shape. Bearing the previous enmity in mind, he accosted the king’s son—‘O royal prince! I accost thee, do thou then accomplish my request if thou art willing: nor must thou refuse my petition, thou that art true to thy promise! I will offer a sacrifice to Dharma, and the oblations also must be made. The funeral piles must be put up there, since they have not yet ascended into the air. Hence give me, O hero! this thy own ornament that is about thy neck for gold, and guard thou my hermitage, until I praise within the water the god Varuna, the lord of marine animals, with the mantras prescribed by the Vedas for Varuna’s worship, which cause creatures to thrive, and in haste return.’ To him as he spoke thus the prince did obeisance and then gave his neck-ornament, and replied to him, ‘Go sir! with a mind at ease; I will stay in this very spot near thy hermitage according to thy command, Sir! until thy coming again. No man shall cause thee molestation here while I stay. And do thou in perfect confidence, without hurry, O brāhman, accomplish thy purpose.’

“Being thus addressed by him, he then plunged into the water in the river, while the prince guarded the other’s magic-raised hermitage. And Tālaketu went from that river to the prince’s town, and spoke thus in the presence of Madālasā and other persons.

“Tālaketu spoke:

‘The hero, Kuvalayāśva, while guarding the ascetics close to my hermitage, fighting with a certain wicked Daitya and striking down the brāhmans’ foes in the conflict with all his might, was pierced in the breast with a spear by the wicked Daitya who resorted to magic. While dying he gave me this neck-ornament; and śūdra ascetics gave him to the fire in the wood. And the frightened horse which uttered distressed neighings, with tearful eyes, was led off by that cruel Dānava. This beheld I, malicious, evil-doer. Whatever should forthwith be done in this matter, let it be done without delay. And take this neck-ornament as a consolation to your hearts, for we ascetics may not have anything to do with gold.’

The sons spoke:

“Having so spoken, he left it on the ground and departed as he had come. And those people afflicted with grief, fell down, ill with fainting. Immediately recovering consciousness all those royal handmaids, and the queens and the king lamented sorely distressed. But Madālasā seeing that his neck-omament, and hearing that her husband was slain, quickly yielded up her dear life.

“Thereon a great cry arose in the houses of the citizens, even as there was in the king’s own house. And the king beholding Madālasā bereft of her husband and dead, made answer to all the people, having recovered his composure after due reflection. ‘Ye should not weep, nor I, I perceive, when one considers the fleetingness of even all relations. Why do I bewail my son? Why do I bewail my daughter-in-law? I think after due reflection, that neither should be bewailed, since events happen as they are fated. Why should my son, who in obedience to me has met death when engaged in guarding the dvijas according to my command, be bewailed by the intelligent? Assuredly if my son has quitted his body on account of those dvijas, will not that body, to which he resorts, cause him to rise higher? And how is it possible that this high-born lady, thus faithful to her husband, should be bewailed? For women have no deity besides a husband. For she would have to be thus bewailed by us, and her relatives, and other compassionate persons, if she were separated from her husband. But this noble lady, who on hearing of the death of her husband has immediately followed her husband, should not for this reason be bewailed by the wise. Those women should he bewailed, who are separated from their husbands; those should not be bewailed who have died with them: hut this grateful wife has not experienced separation from her husband. Verily what woman in both the worlds would think her husband human, who gives her all happinesses both in this world and the next? Neither should he be bewailed, nor yet this lady, nor I, nor his mother. We were all rescued by him who resigns his life for the sake of the brāhmans. For my high-souled son, by relinquishing his body which was half consumed, has freed himself from his debt to the brāhmans, to me, to religion. Though losing his life in war, he did not surrender his mother’s honour, the spotless fame of my family, or his Own heroism.’

“Then Kuvalayāśva’s mother, having heard of her son’s death, looked upon her husband and, immediately after her husband, spoke similarly.

“The mother spoke:

‘Not such gratification did my mother or my sister get, O king! as I have felt in hearing that my son has been slain while protecting the Muni. Those who die, sighing, in great distress, afflicted with illness, while their relatives lament,—their mother has brought forth children in vain. Those who, while fearlessly fighting in battle to guard cattle and dvijas, perish crushed with arrows, they indeed are really men in the world. He who turns not his back on suppliants, friends, and enemies, in him his father has a real son, and in him his mother has given birth to a hero. A woman’s pain of conception reaches, I think, its success at the time when her son either vanquishes his foes or is slain in battle.’

The sons spoke:

“Then the king bestowed the funeral obsequies on his son and daughter: and having gone forth bathed and offered the water to his son.

“And Tālaketu also, having issued from the Yamunā’s water, spoke this honied speech respectfully to the king’s son. ‘Depart, O prince; thou hast caused me to he successful. While thou hast remained stationary here, the long wished-for business, and the sacrificial acts to Varuṇa the high-souled lord of the ocean, all that I have completed, as I had desired.’

“The king’s son did him reverence and departed to his father’s city, mounting on that steed which sped along like Graruḍa and the wind.”

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