The Markandeya Purana

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

This page relates “the story of pusadhra” which forms the 112th 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 112 is included the section known as “conversation between Markandeya and Kraustuki”.

Canto CXII - The Story of Pūṣadhra

Manu’s son Pūṣadhra while hunting accidentally killed a brahman’s cow—The brahmans son fell into a rage and cursed him—The brahman reproved his son for his passionate conduct, but the curse could not be altered and Pūṣadhra became a śūdra.

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

Manu’s son who was named Pūṣadhra[1] went a-hunting to a forest. While walking about in that dense lonely forest he lighted upon no deer at all, he was scorched by the sun’s rays, and his body was seized with hunger, thirst and heat as he walked hither and thither. Then he saw there a beautiful cow which yielded milk for sacrifice, belonging to a brahman who maintained the sacrificial fire, half the body of which was hidden among creepers.[2] Thinking she was a gayāl, he shot her with an arrow, and she fell to the earth, pierced to the heart with the arrow. Thereupon the sacrificial priest’s son Taporati,[3] who was a religious student, on seeing his father’s sacrificial cow stricken down cursed him; and sent forward his son named Vabhravya[4] who tended the cow. Then, O muni, his mental feelings were overcome by wrath and resentment, and he fell into a rage, while his eyes rolled and were blurred with drops of perspiration that trickled down. The king Pūṣadhra seeing that muni’s son enraged said,—“Be gracious, wherefore dost thou give way to anger like a śūdra. No kṣatriya, no vaiśya[5] in truth indulges so in wrath as thou dost like a śūdra, thou who art born in the noble family of a brahman.”

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

When that son of a pre-eminent brāhman[6] was upbraided thus by the king, he cursed the evil-souled king, saying: “Thou shalt become[7] a śūdra indeed! Whatever sacred lore thou hast learnt from thy guru’s mouth shall waste away, because thou hast hurt this my guru’s sacrificial cow.”

When cursed thus the king became angry, yet he was tormented greatly by that curse. He took water up in his hand, intent on cursing the other in retaliation, O brahman. That brāhman also gave way to wrath in order to destroy the king. His father approached him hastily and forbad him in sooth, saying

“My son, enough, more than enough, of wrath which does not counteract hostility![8] Verily calmness is beneficial to the twice-born in things of this world and of the next world. Anger destroys austerities; and the angry man falls away from long life; the angry man’s knowledge melts away, and the angry man fails of his object also. There is no righteousness in the man of angry disposition; and the passionate man obtains not his object; nor among those whose minds are possessed by wrath is the obtaining of their wishes enough for happiness. If the king has killed this cow with his full knowledge, it is right for one, who perceives what is for his own benefit, to extend pardon here. Or if he has slain this my cow in ignorance, how then is he worthy of a curse, since his mind was not evil? Whatever man, while seeking his own good, harasses another—merciful men should shew pardon to that man in the knowledge that he is benighted.[9] If wise men inflict punishment for what is done by a man in ignorance, I esteem him more than the wise men; better are the men who are ignorant.[10] Invoke thou no curse now on this king, my son; by her own action indeed this cow has fallen in a painful death.”

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

Pūṣadhra also, prostrating himself with bowed neck before the muni’s son, exclaimed aloud, “Be gracious!” and“She was slain by me in ignorance, for I thought she was a gayāl; a cow must not be killed; through ignorance, O muni, I slew thy sacrificial cow. Be thou also gracious to me, O muni!”

The ṛṣi’s son spoke:

Since my birth, O king, I have uttered nothing in vain, and my anger this day can never be altered, illustrious sir. Therefore I cannot make this curse otherwise, O king; but the second curse which was prepared for thee is averted.

The father then took the son who had spoken thus and went to his own hermitage. And Pūṣadhra in sooth became a śūdra.

Footnotes and references:


This name is generally written Pṛṣadhra, which is the correct form.


This is the reading of the Poona edition, latāntar-deha.channārdhām ; the text of the Calcutta edition is erroneous. The Bombay edition reads less properly latāntar-deha-chinnārdhām.


I have not found this name elsewhere.


This is a patronymic from Vabhru or Babhru Viśvāmitra had a son Vabhru from whom was descended the family of the Vabhrus (Mahā-Bhārata, Anuśās.-p., iv. 249-259; Harivaṃśa, xxvii. 1463-67; but see Aitar. Brāh. VII. iii. 18); and Śaunaka had a pupil named Vabhru (Wilson’s Viṣṇu-P.—edit. P. Hall—III. vi.); but the name Vābhravya soon after Mann’s time seems out of place.


The Poona edition gives the right reading, na kṣatriyo na vā vaiśya; the Calcutta edition wrongly puts the accusatives.


Maulinaḥ,; =śreṣṭhasya according to the commentator. This meaning is not in the dictionary.


For bhaviṣyati read bhaviṣyasi.


For kopenāyāti-vairiṇā read konenāprativairiṇā as in the Poona edition.


Or, “to that man whose understanding is foolish.”


Tam appears to be the right reading; but read tad instead of tam ? “then better than the wise are, in my opinion, the men who are ignorant.”

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