The Markandeya Purana

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

This page relates “the recovery of madalasa” which forms the 24th 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 24 is included the section known as “conversation between Sumati (Jada) and his father”.

Canto XXIV - The story of Kuvalayāśva (continued): The Recovery of Madālasā

The Nāga king Aśvatara asks Kuvalayāśva what gift he can confer on him—Kuvalayāśva replies he needs nothing, and is sufficiently gratified by the king’s favour—The king urges him and at his sons’ suggestion the prince asks to see Madālasā even in illusion—The king brings her in as an illusion, and afterwards restores her to Kuvalayāśva.

Jaḍa spoke:

His two sons and the king’s son respectfully attended the high souled king of the Nāgas, after he had banquetted. The high-souled Nāga manifested kindly regard towards his sons’ friend with suitable conversation, and said, “Declare, Sir, what pleasure I must do thee who hast entered my house: cast away hesitation towards me as a son would towards his father. Whether silver or gold, raiment, carriages, or seats, or whatever thou dost highly appreciate that is hard to he got—ask that of me.”

Kuvalayāśva spoke:

“Through thy favour, illustrious Sir! gold and other wealth are in my father’s house; I have no need of any such thing at all now. While my father rules this earth for thousands of years and thou also rulest Pātāla, my mind is not expectant in solicitation. They are both possessed of Svarga and are very rich in merit, who from their youth possess, in their father’s lifetime, a mere particle[1] of wealth amidst his krores of wealth, friends equally-educated, and a body free from sickness. My father[2] holds the wealth; have I not youth? When wealth is wanting, men’s minds become prone to petitions. When I have it in full measure, how shall my tongue make petition? Those who need not think whether they have any riches at home or not, happy are they, sheltered in the shadow of the tree of their father’s arm. But those, who even from childhood losing their father have had the care of a family, they have in my opinion, through the ruin of their taste for happiness, been tricked by the Creator. We therefore through thy favour always give willingly to supplicants the hoards of money, gems and other wealth left by our fathers. I have everything then here, since I have touched thy feet with my crest-jewel, since I have touched thy body.”

Jaḍa spoke:

Being answered thus in a modest speech, the noble Nāga replied kindly to the young prince, the benefactor of his sons.

The Nāga spoke:

“If it be not thy mind to receive of me gems, gold or other gift; whatever else may please thy mind, mention thou it. I will give it thee.”

Kuvalayāśva spoke:

“My lord, through thy favour, I whom thou dost ask have everything at home: it has been gained especially through sight of thee. And herein I am successful, and my life has been rewarded, that I a mortal have embraced thy body who art divine; that the dust of thy feet has found a seat on my head. What indeed have I not gained thereby, O Nāga king? But if thou needs must give me the boon that I desire, then let not the faculty of working righteousness depart from my heart. Gold, gems, jewels and such like, carriages, houses, seats, women, food and drink, and children, and tasteful garlands and ointments,—both these various objects of desire, and also vocal and instrumental music and whatever other music there be —all this I hold to be the fruit of the tree of good works. Therefore a man must start from the root thereof; he must exert himself, while ruling his spirit; nothing in the world is hard of attainment to those who adhere to good works.”

Aśvatara spoke:

“So shall thy mind be, O wise man, relying on righteousness; and truly all this is the fruit of righteousness as thou hast said. Nevertheless thou must certainly take, now that thou hast entered my house, what thou thinkest hard to be gained in the human world.”

Jaḍa spoke:

Having heard this his speech, the young prince then looked at the faces of the Nāga king’s sons. Thereupon both those heroes prostrating themselves told their father clearly all the young prince’s thoughts.

The sons spoke:

“When this prince's beloved wife heard that he was slain, she forsook her dear life, being deceived by a certain cruel, bad-minded Dānava, who shewed his enmity. She was the daughter of the Gandharva king; she was named Madālasā. Then he, mindful of the past, made this vow, dear father, ‘No other shall be my wife save Madālasā.’ This hero Ṛtadhvaja longs, dear father, to behold her, lovely-limbed: if this may be done, let it be done.”

Aśvatara spoke:

“Such magical power as that belongs to one who is exempt from such gross elements. How can this be except as a dream or as an illusion proceeding from Śambara?”[3]

Jaḍa spoke:

Then Śatrujit’s son prostrated himself before the high-souled Nāga king and replied, being touched with affection and modesty. “If thou show[4] me now, dear father, Madālasā even in illusion, I hold that thou hast done me the greatest favour.”

Aśvatara spoke:

“Look thou here then, my son, if thou wouldest see the illusion. I must show thee favour; a visitor at one’s house, though a child, is master.”

Jaḍa spoke:

The Nāga king led in Madālasā who was concealed in the house, and next he uttered some gibbeṛṣ distinctly in order to bewilder them. And then he showed the young prince the beauteous lady, saying, “Is she or is she not, O prince, thy wife Mādalasā?”

Jaḍa spoke:

Then, seeing the slender one, he lost his reticence that very moment; he moved towards her, uttering the word “Beloved!” And the Nāga Aśvatara hasting held him off.

Aśvatara spoke:

“It is illusion, my son! touch her not! I told thee so at first. The illusion quickly vanishes when touched or otherwise meddled with.”

Thereupon he fell to the ground, overwhelmed by a faint; and exclaiming “Ah Beloved!” he thought of his noble wife. “Alas for the love of this king towards my steadfast mind, whereby I have been thus overthrown without the weapons of foes. She was shown as an illusion, though it was clearly no illusion at all by reason of the action of air, water and fire, earth and ether.”

Jaḍa spoke:

Then the Nāga reviving Kuvalayāśva, related to him the whole story of her recovery from death and all else that had happened. Thereat rejoicing he took again his loved one, and after doing obeisance to the Nāga departed in great splendour, mounted on the horse, to his own city, having attained[5] the object of his thoughts.

Footnotes and references:


Wealth as small as the point of a blade of grass.


Read jamitrā for janitā.


A Daitya.


Read darśayase for darśaya te?


Read abhyupetaḥ for abhyupetam?

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