The Markandeya Purana

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

This page relates “khanitra’s exploits” which forms the 117th 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 117 is included the section known as “conversation between Markandeya and Kraustuki”.

Canto CXVII - Khanitra’s exploits


Vatsaprī was succeeded by his son Prāṃśu, and Prāṃśu by his son Prajāti.—Prajāti had five sons, of whom Khanitra succeeded him—Khanitra’s special prayer is given—He made his four brothers subordinate kings—The minister of one of them subdued the other brothers and tried to gain the supreme power for his master through magic performed by the family priests of all four brothers—The magic produced a female deity which destroyed the four priests and the minister.

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

To him, Vatsaprī, were born of Sunandā twelve sons, Prāṃśu, Pracīra and Śūra, Sucakra, Vikrama, Krama, Balin, Balāka, and Caṇḍa and Pracaṇḍa, Suvikrama and Svarūpa— all princes of great parts, most victorious in battle. The eldest of them, Prāṃśu, who was great in valour, was king; these others were subordinate to his authority like dependants. At his sacrifice the earth[2] justified her name by reason of the many multitudes of things, which she gave away to the twice-born and which she parted with to the inferior castes. While he duly protected his people as if his own begotten children, the sacrifices then, which he performed with the accumulation of wealth that lay in his treasury, were hundreds of thousands; their number is not reckoned by ten thousand or such a, figure, nor by ten millions, nor by a thousand billion or such a figure, O muni.

Prajāti[3] was his son; at whose sacrifice Indra, gaining unparalled gratification along with the gods who partake of shares of sacrifices, the chiefest of the mighty,[4] smote nine nineties[5] of valiant Dānavas and Bala and Jambha noblest of Asuras, and smote other very valiant foes of the gods.

Prajāti had five sons, of whom Khanitra was chief, O muni. Of them Khanitra became king; he was celebrated for his personal feats of prowess. He was a pacific, truth-speaking hero; he delighted in doing good to all living creatures; he took delight in hi s own sphere of righteousness constantly; he waited upon the aged, he was well versed in the Vedas, he was eloquent, endowed with modesty, yet skilled in weapons and no boaster. He was the beloved of all people continually; he uttered this prayer day and night;—

‘Let all created things rejoice, let them be affectionate even in solitary places! May there be welfare for all created things, and may they be free from affliction! May created things experience no bodily sickness nor any mental diseases! May all created things cheṛṣ friendliness to every living being! May there be bliss for all the twice-born; may they have mutual lovingkindness! May all castes have full prosperity, and may all deeds attain perfect accomplishment! May the worlds he propitious to all. created things! May your mind always be propitious! Desire ye at all times what is good for your son even as for yourselves! Similarly be ye benevolent in mind to all created tilings! This is unbounded good for yon. Moreover who sins against whom, that lie causes any harm to any one besotted in mind? To him assuredly[6] comes that result, that which accrues to the doer thereof. So thinking, ho! let the people be informed of their duties[7] to all,[8] lest ye wise people shall undergo secular sin.[9] May there ever be bliss on the earth for him, who loves me now; and may even he, who hates me, see good things in this world!’

Such was that king’s son Khanitra in disposition; he was endowed with every good quality; he possessed good fortune, his eyes were like a lotus-leaf. He appointed those his four brothers to separate kingdoms out of affection, and he himself enjoyed this earth bounded by the seas; thus he placed Śauri over the east region, Mudāvasu[10] over the south, Sunaya over the western region, and Mahāratha over the northern. They and that king had separate families of brāhmans as purohitas, and also munis, who descended in a regular lineage of ministers. Śauri’s purohita was a brāhman[11] Suhotra by name who sprang from the family of Atri; Udāvasu’s was Kusāvartta, who was born of the lineage of Gautama; a Kāśyapa by name Pramati was Sunaya’s purohita; Vāsiṣṭha was purohita to king Mahāratha. Those four kings indeed enjoyed their own kingdoms, and Khanitra was their over-lord, being over-lord of all the earth. King Khanitra was always kindly to those his four brothers and to all his people as to his own sons.

One day Śauri was addressed by his minister Viśvavedin—“O king, we have somewhat to say unto thee in private. He, who possesses all this earth, to whom all kings are in subjection, is the king, and so will be his son and his grandsons and thereafter his descendants. These others, his brothers, are kings of very small[12] territories; and his son is smaller than he;[13] and his grandsons will be of smaller make. Degenerating in time from individual to individual, his descendants will become dependant on agriculture for their living, O king. Thy brother,bestowing affection and poweron his brothers, yet makes no division of the patrimony.[14] What affection will he have, O king, for the two more distant, his brothers’ sons[15]? His mind will be more distant with regard to their two sons, O king. By what thing that is to be done will his son he endowed with affection? Or if a king is satisfied by anything whatsoever, yet to what end then do kings entertain ministers?[16] The whole kingdom is enjoyed by me while I remain thy minister. Dost thou retain that to no purpose,[17] if it gives[18] satisfaction? Sovereignty accomplishes what should be done; an instrument is desired by one who operates. And the acquirement of sovereignty[19] is what thou must accomplish; thou art the worker, we are the instrument. Do thou, being such, rule the kingdom that belonged to thy father and grandfather by means of us, the instruments. We shall not bestow benefits on thee in another world.

The king spoke:

Inasmuch as the eldest brother is king (O monarch), and we are his younger brothers, he therefore enjoys the earth and we enjoy small portions of the earth. How we are five brothers, and there is hut one earth, O high-minded sir, hence how can there be entire sovereignty over it separately for us?

Viśvavedin spoke:

Be this so here![20] If there is but one earth, O king, do thou thyself take possession of it; do thou Sir, as eldest brother, rule the earth. Be thou the absolute ruler, exercising entire sovereignty, unto all. And the ministers whom they have entertained strive for them[21] as I strive for thee.

The king spoke:

Since the eldest, the king, esteems us affectionately like sons, how shall I display against him a selfishness that relates to the world?

Viśvavedin spoke:

When seated in the kingdom, thou mayest do worship as the eldest with new kingly honours. What is this position of youngest and eldest? Sovereignty is for men who want it.

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

And on the king’s assenting, “So be it,” O best of men, Viśvavedin the minister brought his brothers into subjection to him then, and brought their purohitas into subjection to himself in ceremonies performed for the removal of obstacles and other rites. Next he employed them in spells directed against Khanitra, and severed his faithful adherents by conciliation, gifts and other means; and he exerted the utmost efforts in repelling punishment from his own folk. And while the four purohitas were performing an exceedingly arduous magical incantation day by day, there was produced a four-fold female deity[22] which, was very formidable, had a large mouth, was exceedingly terrible to behold, held a large pike raised aloft, was lofty and was exceedingly pitiless. It came to the place then where king Khanitra was, and it was cast out by that unblemished king's store of merit. The four-fold female deity fell on those evil-sonled purohitas of his brother kings, and on Viśvavedin indeed. Then were burnt up by that female deity, who assailed them, those purohitas and Viśvavedin the minister who gave evil counsel to Śauri.

Footnotes and references:


The Calcutta edition makes a mistake in the numbering. It omits cxvii calls this Canto cxviii, and continues the mistaken numbering to the end.


Vasun-dharā, “container of wealth,”


He is called Prajāni in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa (IV. i.) and Pramati in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. He seems to be the same as Prasandhi in the genealogy in MahāBhārata, Āśvam.-p. iii. 65.


That is, Indra.


Daśādhikāṣṭaśatīm, comment.


For nyūnaṃ read nūnaṃ as in the Poona edition.


The Poona edition reads hita-buddhayaḥ, and the meaning would thou be “be friendly-minded.”


Or, ‘in all things.’




Or better Udāvasu, as in the Poona edition and in verse 25.


Family priest. For dvijāḥ read dvijaḥ, as in the Poona edition.


For kalpa-viṣayādhipāḥ, read svalpa-viṣaydāhipāḥ, as in the Poona edition.


Tat-putraś cālpakas tasmāt, referring to each of the brothers; but a plural reading would be preferable, “their sons are smaller than they.”


Uddhāram. The Poona edition reads bhrātuḥ sneha-balārpiṇaḥ, and the meaning would then be, “Thy brother makes no division of the patrimony for a brother who bestows affection and power though arpa and arpin are not in the dictionary.


For snehakaḥ the Poona edition reads better snehaḥ kaḥ.


For mantra-parigrahaḥ, the Poona edition roads better mantri-parigrahaḥ.


For sukhādhārayase read mudhā dharayase as in the Poona edition,


For kurute the Poona edition reads kuruṣe.


For rājya-lubdhaś read rājya.-lambhaś as in the Poona edition.


Per bhavāṃs tatra read bhavatv atra as in the Bombay edition.


Teṣām; the commentator explains thus, bhrātṛṇām kārya-viṣaye.



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