The Markandeya Purana

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

This page relates “the education of his sons” which forms the 26th 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 26 is included the section known as “conversation between Sumati (Jada) and his father”.

Canto XXVI - The story of Kuvalayāśva (continued): The Education of his Sons

Two other sons are horn, Subāhu and Śatrumardana—A fourth son is born whom Madālasā names Alarka—She criticizes these namesThe king objects to her way of educating them, and wishes them to he brought up as kṣatriyas—She prattles to Alarka.

Jaḍa spoke:

Now the queen trained up that son, as he grew day by day, to unselfish thought by talking and other means. As he regularly gained strength, as he gained his father’s intelligence, even so he acquired knowledge of himself through his mother’s talk. So the youth, instructed by her from his birth, having understanding and being unselfish, did not turn his mind towards family life.

A second son was born to her. His father named him. When he said “This is Subāhu,” Madālasā laughed. Him also when a child she spoke to with prattle and other talk the same as before, and thus he, having a good intellect, acquired knowledge from his childhood.

When the king named the third-born son Śatrumardana, she the beautiful-browed laughed again very long thereat. The slender-limbed mother similarly instructed him also from childhood. Devoid of desire he performed ceremonies, hut not anything beneficial.

Now the king, when desirous of naming the fourth son, saw Madālasā, well-behaved as she was, laughing slightly: the king, somewhat eagerly curious, spoke to her as she was laughing.

The king spoke:

“Tell me the cause of your laughter, at the very time when the name is being given. Vikrānta, Subāhu and the other Śatrumardana,—the names given by me are I think fine, suited to the kṣatriya kindred, and indicative of heroism and majesty. If these are not good, lady,—if you think this in your mind,—then do thou give a name to this my fourth son.”

Madālasā spoke:

“I must obey thy command, Mahārājā, as thou tellest me; so I will give a name to thy fourth son. ‘Alarka’! Learned in religion he shall acquire fame in the world, and this thy youngest son shall have understanding.”

On hearing that name given the son by the mother, the king, laughing at ‘Alarka’ as inappropriate, said—

The king spoke:

“This name that thou hast given to my son, beauteous lady,—why hast thou given such an inappropriate one? What is its meaning, O Madālasā?”

Madālasā spoke:

“This is my fancy, Mahārājā; I have given it as being practical. So do thou listen, O king, to the meaninglessness of the names given by thee. Since wise men speak of a pervading soul; and ‘krānti’ is described as the course which passes from one place to another place; since the soul is all-pervading in that it is ubiquitous and does not move about; therefore this appellation Vikrānta, ‘passed beyond,’ appears to me meaningless. The appellation Subāhu, ‘fine-armed,’ given to they second son, that too is meaningless because the soul is incorporeal, O king. The name that thou hast given the third son, Arimardana, ‘foe-crusher,’ I think that too is inappropriate; and listen to the reason as regards it. Since there is only one soul in all bodies, who then, O king, is regarded as its enemy in this world, or who as its friend? Creatures are crushed by creatures; how can the incorporeal be crushed? This fancy is meaningless because of the separate existence of anger and the other passions. If a bad name is fixed upon because of mutual dealing, why dost thou think there is no meaning in the name Alarka?”[1]

Jaḍa spoke:

Being thus excellently addressed by the queen, the king, haying great understanding, assented to his loved wife who spoke correctly. And the fine-browed lady spoke to that son, just as to the elder sons, what would arouse the intellect.

The king said to her. “Why dost thou deal thus, O foolish one, with the temperament of my child, by giving him a michievous education as thou didst before to my other sons. If thou shouldest do what pleases me, if my word should be accepted, then restrain this son within the path of activity. So the path of action will not lead to utter destruction, O lady; and so the piṇḍa offering to the pitṛs will not cease, O virtuous one. The pitṛs dwell in the Devaloka, they are also born as brutes, they become men likewise, and they reside within the class of elements. By offering the piṇḍa and water a man, busied in the ceremonies, ever nourishes them, O fine-browed one, both the righteous and the unrighteous, those worn out with hunger, those harassed by thirst; he nourishes the gods likewise and guests. The gods, mankind, the pitṛs, departed spirits, goblins, and guhyakas, birds, worms and insects live upon man indeed. Therefore, O slender-limbed, cause my son to acquire thoroughly the whole duty of kṣatriyas, as regards this life and life in the next world.”

The queen Madālasā, being thus admonished by her husband, apoke to her son Alarka, with prattling words. “Thrive my son! rejoice my husband’s mind with thy deeds, in order to benefit friends and destroy enemies. Happy art thou, my son, who alone, with never an enemy, wilt long protect the earth: from protecting it mayest thou have full enjoyment of happiness, and from righteousness thou shalt obtain the fruit, immortality. Mayest thou delight the brahmans at the holy festivals! Mayest thou fulfil the longing among thy kinsmen! Mayest thou think kindly in thy heart for another! Mayest thou restrain thy mind from the wives of others! Please continually the gods with numerous sacrifices, and the dvijas who resort to thee with wealth. And thou shalt long satisfy women with unparalleled affections, and thy foes with battles, O hero! As a child gladden the mind of thy kinsmen; and as a boy the mind of thy teacher by observance of his commands; as a young man gladden the mind of women who are the ornament of high families; as an old man the mind of the hermits in the forest. Exercising thy sovereignty mayest thou gladden thy friends! Guarding the good, mayest thou offer up sacrifices, darling! Destroying the wicked and thy enemies in battle, mayest thou meet thy death, my child, on behalf of cattle and brāhmans!”

Footnotes and references:


Alarka, a furious dog, or a fabulous hog with eight legs.

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