The Markandeya Purana

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

This page relates “nabhaga’s exploits” which forms the 113th 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 113 is included the section known as “conversation between Markandeya and Kraustuki”.

Canto CXIII - Nābhāga’s exploits

Kuruṣās descendants were the KāruṣasDiṣṭās son was Nābhāga; Nābhāga wanted to marry a vaiśya maiden—Her father referred the matter to the king Diṣṭa, and the king consulted the ṛṣisThey declared the prince might marry her, provided he first married a kṣatriya maiden—He spurned that and took herThe king tried to vanquish him by force, but was caused by a brahman to desist, on the ground that the prince had degenerated into a vaiśya.

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

Karuṣa’s sons were the Kāruṣas,[1] who were kṣatriyas and warriors. Now they were seven hundred valiant men; and from them descended others in thousands.

Now Diṣṭa’s[2] son was Nābhāga;[3] he continued in the bloom of youthfulness. He saw a most surpassingly charming vaiśya maiden. As soon as he beheld her, the prince was stricken in mind with love; he became absorbed in sighs and reproaches. He went to her father and asked for the vaiśya maiden in marriage; and then to the prince, whose mental feelings were under the dominion of the god of love, spoke her father—to the king’s son spoke he, joining his hands respectfully, being afraid of the prince's father, this speech as he bowed with deference, O brahman—“Nobles of thy class are the enjoyers of the earth; dependants are we, paying tax to you. Why dost thou earnestly desire connexion with us who are not thy equals?”

The prince spoke:

Equality of the human body is wrought by love, folly and other feelings. So indeed the human body is endowed with those very feelings at the appropriate time,[4] and thus in truth those feelings also come into existence for its benefit. And different feelings, different persons exist when folk exist of separate castes. Moreover, other feelings also[5] that are inappropriate become proper according to season, and likewise appropriate feelings become inappropriate; for propriety depends upon season. As the body is fattened by food and other things that are longed for, so that same body when used[6] with due regard to season is well regulated.[7] Do thou accordingly bestow this thy highly esteemed daughter on me; otherwise calamity will be beheld in my body.

The vaiśya spoke:

We are under another’s authority, and thou art under another’s authority, namely the king’s. When he thy father permits thee, take thou her; I will give her.

The prince spoke:

Those who treat gurus[8] with respect should consult their gurus[9] in all things that must be done; but not in such things as this, things which are not to be done,[10] do the words of gurus have scope. What has Love’s conversation to do with listening to gurus? This is incompatible. In other things men should consult their gurus.

The vaiśya spoke:

Such, even this, is Love’s talk! I, I here, will ask the guru, thine, the suitor’s. My talk is not based on the speech of love.

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

When addressed thus the prince became silent. And he, the vaiśya,, related to that prince's father all that the prince thought. Thereupon his father summoned, before him the chief dvijas, Ṛcīka[11] and the other brāhmans, and the prince; and he made known the matter as it had been announced to him; and after making it known he, being so situated in the matter, said to the munis,—“The best of dvijas deign[12] to declare what ought to be done.”

The ṛṣis spoke:

O prince, if thou hast love for this vaiśya’s child, then let this ordinance of righteousness[13] verily be observed, but let it be observed in the order enjoined bylaw. Marriage was enjoined for princes in the first place with the daughter of one who had been royally anointed. Be it so now first in thy case; and immediately afterwards this maiden also shall become thy wife. In this way no wickedness will attach[14] to thee when thou en-joyest her thus; otherwise it does accrue: thy high rank comes from marriage with exalted maidens.[15]

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

When admonished thus, he flung aside altogether that speech of those high-souled munis; and going outside he seized her, and raising his sword aloft exclaimed,—“I have carried off the vaiśya’s daughter by the Rākṣasa form of marriage; let him who has power here rescue her!”

Then the vaiśya seeing his daughter seized, O brāhman, hastened to that prince's father for help, exclaiming “Save her!” His father enraged thereat gave command to his great army—“Let him be slain; let wicked Nābhāga who violates righteousness be slain!” Thereon that army fought indeed with the king’s son; it was laid low then in great numbers by him, who was skilled in weapons, with his weapon. The king, on hearing that the army was slain by the prince, went forth himself indeed to fight, surrounded by his army. In the battle then which took place between the king and his son, the father excelled the prince in weapons and arms.

Thereupon a wandering Muni suddenly approached from out the air and spoke back to the king;—

“Cease from combat. O illustrious sir, thy high-souled son is in the right here; moreover fighting between thee and a vaiśya[16] is not according to righteousness, O king. A brahman who marries wives among all the castes, provided that he marries first a brāhman woman, incurs no injury in his brāhman-hood. Likewise a kṣatriya who marries first a kṣatriya’s daughter, incurs no harm if he marries wives from loiver castes; and therefore, O king, these other wives[17] fall not from their own righteousness. Thus a vaiśya, who marries first a vaiśya woman and afterwards a girl born from a śūdra family, is not excluded from the vaiśya family. The law is thus declared in order. Brāhmans, kṣatriyas, vaiāyas, who do not first marry women of the same caste,[18] fall by marrying women of other castes, O king. Whatever excluded woman a man marries after neglecting union in his own caste, of that woman’s caste let him indeed[19] become a participator. This thy son, who is such, has fallen to vaiśya-hood; he is of wretched understanding. He has no right to combat with thee a kṣatriya. We do not acknowledge this to be a reason for combat, O royal scion; and since this shall be so, desist thou from the business of battle!”

Footnotes and references:


See note † to canto lvii, verse 53, p. 341 ante.


This Diṣṭa mast be the Riṣṭa mentioned in canto cxii, verse 4. The name is given variously as Nediṣṭha, Diṣṭa, and Ariṣṭa. The Harivaṃśa says two of his sons though vaiśyas became brāhmans (xi. 658); and the Bhāgavata Purāṇa says two of his sons, though kṣatriyas obtained brāhman-hood (IX. it. 17).


Nābhāga and his descendants are named in Viṣṇu Purāṇa IV. i. The Purāṇas agree generally that he was degraded to be a vaiśya. His descendants and their exploits form the remainder of this Purāṇa. There were other kings afterwards of the same name.


Or, “season.”


For anyān api read anyāny api, as in the Poona edition.


Bhuktam. The Poona edition reads bhūtam; and the meaning would be “that same body when so constituted with due regard to season is well regulated.’’


Pariśiṣyate. I take this as the passive of pari-śās; but pari-śās is not in the dictionary.


Venerable persons, parents or spiritual preceptors.


For guruvo read guravo here and in the next verse.


For the text īdṛśeṣv a-kāryeṣu it seems īdṛśeṣu kāryeṣu would be better—“but not in such businesses as this do the words of gurus have scope.”


A famous ṛṣi, son of Bhṛgu and father by Satya-vatī of Jamadagni; see MahāBhārata, Śānti-p. xlix. 1716-21 ; Hari.-V., xxvii. 1423-63, and xxxii. 1761-76 ; and Viṣṇu Purāṇa IV. vii. He married Satya-vatī, daughter of Gādhi king of Kānya-kubja, by giving a present of a thousand horses for her (Mahā-Bh., Vana-p. cxv. 10144-153, and Udyoga-p. cxviii. 4005-7). Though Satya-vatī is connected with the R. Kauśikī (the R. Kosi, see canto lvii, verse 18, note **) in the passages cited above from the Harivaṃśa. and Viṣṇu Purāṇa, yet Ṛcīka is generally connected with the west coast around the Gulf of Cambay (see MahāBhārata, Vana-p. cxviii. 10221-27 and the two other passages last cited above), and Dyuti-mat king of Śālva (see canto lviii, verse 6, note §) gave his kingdom to Ṛcīka (Mahā-Bhārata, Śānti-p. ccxxxiv. 8607, and Anuśās-p. cxxxvii. 6267).


For arhanti read arhantu ? “Let the best of dvijas deign, &c.”


I.e., marriage.


Bhavitā in the Poona edition is better than bhavati.


The Calcutta edition reads utkṛṣṭābālikāṃ haran; the Poona leading is utkṛṣṭābāla sarvadā, and the Bombay reading utkṛṣṭābālakā-nayāt. From these readings it would seem the correct reading should be utkṛṣṭa-bālikā-nayāt, and I have adopted this.


Explained in verses 35 and 36 below.


I.e., daughter of vaiśyas and śūdras, as the commentator explains.


For sa-varṇā- read sva-varṇā-? but the meaning would be the same.


For no ’pi tad-vastu-bhāg read so ’pi tad-varṇa-bhāg as in the Poona edition.

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