The Markandeya Purana

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

This page relates “aviksita’s exploits (continued)” which forms the 125th 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 125 is included the section known as “conversation between Markandeya and Kraustuki”.

Canto CXXV - Avīkṣita’s exploits (continued)


Avīkṣita’s mother induced him to engage in the ‘What-want-ye?’ penance, in which he declared he would bestow on any one who asked whatever he wanted—His father Karandhama, being entreated by his ministers, pressed Avīkṣita to forgo his religious continence and beget a son—Avīkṣita though very loth was obliged to promise compliance.

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

Now Avīkṣita’s mother Vīrā, mother of a hero, called her son Avīkṣita on a sacred day and said

My son, permitted by thy high-souled father, I will engage in a fast; it is this difficult penance, the ‘What-want-ye?’[2] And it depends[3] on thy father, and must he achieved by thee and by me also. When thou hast consented, my son, I will then give my endeavours thereto. I will give thee half the riches from thy father’s great treasury; thy riches depend on thy father, and I have his permission. To be achieved through affliction is the part of the penance that depends upon me; it will indeed be a noble thing. If, on the other hand, any part of it may he achievable by thee through strength and prowess, that will indeed he unachievable by thee otherwise, or will he achievable with difficulty. If then thou givest me a promise, my son, I also will pledge thee here the very same thing. Tell me what thou thinkest.”

Avīkṣita spoke:

Riches depend on my father; I indeed have no ownership therein.[4] I will perform what can be accomplished by my body, as thou hast said, even the ‘What-want-ye?’ penance, O mother—cease then from anxiety and distress[5]—if it has been approved for me by the king, my father, the master of the riches.

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

Then the queen applied herself wholly to that penance. She performed the worship of the king of kings[6] as directed, with self subdued, and the worship of all the Nidhis[7] and of the band of Nidhi-guardians and of Lakṣmī, with profound faith, with voice, body and mind restrained.

Now this king Karandhama dwelt in his house in a sequestered part. As he sat there, his ministers, learned in the hooks of Good Policy, addressed him.

The ministers spoke:

O king, this thy time of life has reached its decline, while thou art ruling the earth. Thy only son Avīkṣit has forsworn possession of his wives; and he has no son. When he shall reach thy condition,[8] O king, thy territory will assuredly pass to thy enemies then. There will he ruin to thy family, and ruin to the cakes and water offered to the pitṛs; thou wilt have this great dread of enemies[9] with loss of sacrifices. Contrive therefore, O king, so that thy son shall again steadfastly apply his mind so as to benefit the pitṛs!

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

At this moment the king heard the sound of Vīrā’s family priest speaking to some petitioner;—

“‘Who wishes for what, that is hard to he achieved? Who must achieve what?’—this ‘What-want-ye?’ penance Karandhama’s queen is intent upon!”

Now prince Avīkṣit also heard the priest’s speech and replied to all the petitioners who were assembled at the king’s gate;—“Let him speak out, for whom I must accomplish anything with my body; my illustrious mother is intent upon the ‘What-want-ye?’ penance. Let all petitioners hear me. I have promised then; what want ye.? here I give it, while the ‘What-want-ye?’ penance is being performed!”

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

Thereupon the king, on hearing this speech that fell from his son’s mouth, springing up said to his son,—“I have a petition; grant it me!”

Avīkṣit spoke:

Tell me, dear father, what I must give to your highness; I must do it for thee, whether it he difficult, or readily accomplishable, or truly hard to be accomplished!

The king spoke:

If thou art true to thy word, and thou grantest the ‘What--want-ye?’ boon, show me then the face of a grandson lying upon my lap!

Avīkṣit spoke:

I am thy only son, and religious continence is my lot, O king; no son have I, how can I show thee a grandson’s face?

The king spoke:

Thy religious continence tends to sin, if thou holdest to this. Therefore deliver thou thy own self and show me a grandson!

Avīkṣit spoke:

Any other thing that may he arduous,[10] O great king, command me that. Intercourse with women has been eschewed by me, with passionlessness—let it be so still!

The king spoke:

Thou in sooth hast seen victory over enemies who were fighting against thee with numbers; yet, there if thou hast recourse to passionlessness, then thou art unwise. Yet what need have we of more talking? Abandon thy religious continence. At thy mother’s desire show thou me a grandson’s face!

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

When the king, though accosted by the son in many words, makes no other request, the son then spoke again;—“By granting thee the ‘What-want-ye?’ boon, I am in a strait, dear father. 1 will therefore without shame wed a wife again. He, who in a woman’s sight has been vanquished and has fallen to the face of the earth, shall further be that woman’s husband—this is exceedingly hard, dear father. Nevertheless what am I to do here, who have passed under the power of Truth’s fetters? I will do as thou hast said; do thou enjoy thy prevailing in this matter!

Footnotes and references:


Canto cxxvi, in the Calcutta edition.


Kim-icchakaḥ, “Whatever one wants I will give.” A penance in which one binds one’s self to satisfy the wish of any applicant (commentary)




For mām asi tvaṃ read matsvāmitvaṃ as in the Bombay edition


Or “cease then, mother, from anxiety and distress with regard to the ‘What-want-ye’ penance.” (comment.)


Kuvera (comment.)


See canto lxviii.


I.e., the decline of life; niṣṭhām = antam (comment.)


Te’ri-bhayam; this is the Bombay reading. The Calcutta edition reads teviravaṃ, which is incorrect; virava is masc., and a Vedic Word. The Poona edition reads tevivaraṃ, “thou wilt have this great breach with loss of sacrifices.”


For viṣam asmān read viṣamam syān as in the Bombay edition.

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