The Markandeya Purana

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

This page relates “the slaying of vapusmat” which forms the 136th 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 136 is included the section known as “conversation between Markandeya and Kraustuki”.

Canto CXXXVI - Dama’s exploits (continued): The slaying of Vapuṣmat


Duma consudted his ministers and resolved to hill Vapuṣmat—He and Vapuṣmat met with their armies, and he killed Vapuṣmat in fight—He celebrated his father’s obsequies with Vapuṣmat’s flesh and blood.

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

When Nariṣyanta’s son Dama uttered this vow, his eyes rolled with anger and passion, while he covered his beard with his hand. Exclaiming “Alas! I am stricken!” he kept his father in mind and reproached Fate; and he addressed all those ministers; he brought the family priest there.

Dama spoke:

Tell me wliat should be done in this matter, now that my dear father has reached the gods’ abode. Ye, sirs, have heard what that sudra ascetic has said. That king was aged, an ascetic, engaged in the vānaprastha’s vow, observing the rule of silence, unarmed and dwelling with my mother Indrasenā. She who was associated with him told the exact account to Vapuṣmat. Thereupon the evil-souled foe, drawing his scymitar and seizing my father s matted locks with his left hand, killed the world's master as if he were a masterless churl. And my mother, having actually commissioned me, was uttering the word “Shame!” and, calling me feeble in lot and void of good fortune, has entered the fire. Embracing him, Nariṣyanta, she has departed to the abode of the thirty gods. I being such will now do what my mother has said. And let my army composed of elephants, horses, chariots, and infantry be arranged. If I drive not away the enmity against my father, if I kill not my father’s murderer and comply not with my mother’s word, how can I endure to live here?

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

The ministers hearing his speech exclaimed “Alas! Alas!” and did accordingly therefore, while distraught in mind. Accompanied by his dependants, army, and chariots, and by his retinue, they, placing king Dama at their head and taking the blessings of the brahman family priest who knew the three divisions of time, went forth. Breathing hard like the Serpent king, ‘Dama advanced against Vapuṣmat, while slaying the wardens on his boundaries and other neighbouring princes, and hastening[2] towards the southern region.

Seeing him approaching, Vapuṣmat was filled with patience;[3] and Saṅkrandana’s son Vapuṣmat recognized Dama, Who had arrived attended by his retinue, by his ministers, and by his dependants. With unwavering mind he directed his armies; and issuing from his city he despatched a messenger to announce,—“Come thou on more quickly! Nariṣyanta with his wife awaits thee! O thou of kṣatriya caste, approach near me! These sharp arrows discharged by my arm, which are thirsting, shall pierce thy body in battle and drink thy blood.”

But Dama, on hearing all that speech from the messenger, went on hastily, remembering his previously uttered vow, breathing hard like a serpent. And the man who boasted of his army[4] was summoned to battle. And then there was an exceedingly fierce combat between Dama and Vapuṣmat. And the armies fought, both chariot-rider against chariot-rider, elephant-rider against elephant-rider,[5] horseman against horseman, O brahman ṛṣi. That battle was tumultuous, while all the gods, Siddhas, Gandharvas, and Rākṣasas looked on. The earth quaked, O brāhman, as Dama fought in that battle. There was no elephant, no chariot-rider, no horse which could endure his arrows. Next Vapuṣmat’s general fought with Dama, and Dama pierced him deeply in the heart with an arrow at close-quarters. When he fell, his army verily was seized with a panic to flee.

Then spoke Dama, tamer of his foes, to their master thus,—“Where goest thou, wicked one, after having slaughtered my father, who was an ascetic and weapon-less and practising austerities? Thou art a kṣatriya; stay thou!” Then staying back he, Vapuṣmat, attended by his yonnger brother fought with Dama. Mounted in his chariot he fought in company with his sons, relations, and kinsmen. With the arrows discharged from his bow the regions of the sky were then pervaded,[6] and he filled Dama and his chariot with multitudes of arrows quickly. And thereupon Dama in wrath excited by his father’s murder split the arrows discharged by them[7] and pierced them also with other arrows. In that way be brought down to Tama’s abode the seven sons, the relations and kinsmen and friends,[8] each with a single arrow, O dvija.

And Vapuṣmat after his sons and kinsmen had been killed, mounted in a chariot fought wrathfully with him in battle with serpent-like arrows.[9] And Dama split those his arrows, O great muni.[10] And those two fought together, being exasperated, wishing to conquer each other, each one’s bow being quickly split by the impetus of the other’s arrows. They both, great in strength, grasping their swords, made play.[11] Dama, reflecting for a moment on the king his father who had been killed in the forest,[12] seized Vapuṣmat by the hair and attacked him and felled him to the earth; and with his foot on his neck, raising his arm he exclaimed,—“Let all the gods, men, Serpents and birds see the heart also of Vapuṣmat, who is of kṣatriya caste, split open!” And so saying Dama tore open his heart also, and desirous of drinking[13] was forbidden by the gods from tasting the blood.

Then he offered the water-oblation to his dear father with the very blood. Having discharged his debt to his father he returned to his own house. And with Vapuṣmat’s flesh he offered the cakes to his father, he feasted the brāhmans who were sprung from families of Rākṣasas.[14]

Such verily were the kings born of the Solar Race. Others also were of fine intellect, heroic, sacrificers, learned in righteousness, deeply versed in the Vedānta. And I am not able to mention them fully.[15] By listening to their exploits a man is delivered from sins.

Footnotes and references:


This and the next cantos are the ending given in the Bombay and Poona editions. The Calcutta edition gives a short ending, quite different, which is printed at the end. This ending is printed as an Appendix to the latter edition, but the text there is very incorrect; and I have followed the text in the former editions, noting only such variations as appear worthy of notice.


Tvaran of the Calcutta Appendix is better than tvarā.


Marṣa-pūritaḥ. This is hardly appropriate, unless it means “was filled with caution.”


Pumān senā-vikatthanaḥ ; but Vapuṣmān sainya-katīhanaḥ is suggested as better, “And Vapuṣmat who boasted of his army was summoned to battle.”


Nāginā; this meaning is not in the Dictionary.


For the first tataḥ, tasya would be better.


Cicchedāstāṃś charāṃs or ciccheda tāṃś charāṃs; both readings are admissible.


Mitrān; the masculine with this meaning is unusual.


The Calcutta Appendix reads sa rathī vibudhopamaḥ, “He, riding in his chariot, resembled a god”—which probably would refer to Dama.


Ca mahā-mune, a mere expletive. The Calcutta Appendix reads pratyu-vāca ha.


Or “made feints.” The Calcutta Appendix reads gṛhīta-khaḍgam udyamya cikrīḍati Vapuṣmuti, “While Vapuṣmat raising the sword in his grasp was making play,” or “making a feint,” Dama, &c.


The Calcutta Appendix reads jñātvā pitaraṃ ca sthitaṃ vane.


The Calcutta Appendix reads svātta-kāmaś for pātu-kāmaś.


An extraordinary statement.


Dama’s descendants are given in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa IV. i. His son was Rājyavardhana, who is the subject of cantos cix and cx, above.

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