The Narada Purana (abridged)

2010 | 18,115 words

The Narada Purana (Nārada Purāṇa) is one of the major eighteen Mahapuranas, a genre of Hindu religious texts. It deals with the places of pilgrimages and features a dialogue between the sage Narada, and Sanatkumara. During the course of the dialogue between the two, Narada explains to Sanatkumara the major places of piligrimages, their location, ...

In the solar dynasty there was a king named Vrika. Vrika’s son was Vahu and Vahu became king after his father’s death.

Vahu was a good king who followed the righteous path. He ruled the earth well. The four clases are brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaishyas and shudras. It is desirable that each of the classes should follow the duties that are prescribed for it, otherwise there is complete chaos. What are the duties prescribed for each of the four classes? The Narada Purana will detail them subsequently.

To come back to the point, Vahu ruled so well that during his reign, none of the classes deviated from its pre-assigned duties. As you have been told earlier, the earth is divided into seven regions or dvipas. In each of these dvipas, King Vahu performed an ashvamedha yajna (horse sacrifice). The king was not only wise, he also defeated all his enemies. His subjects were happy, rains came on time and there were good harvests. The sages performed their meditations free of all fear, and sin virtually vanished from earth. For ninety thousand years the king ruled happily.

But thereafter, trouble started. All this pomp and glory turned Vahu’s head and he began to think,”I rule over everyone. I am all powerful and I have performed many yajnas. Why should anyone else but me be worshipped? Do I not rule over the ends of the earth? Am I not learned in the shastras? I do not think that here is anyone superior to me.”

This inflated ego was a calamity and brought other evil traits. The possession of four objects lead to unhappiness. These four objects are youth, wealth, power over others and lack of foresight,. Unfortunately, all four were combined in King Vahu. He started to suffer from envy and jealousy and soon made enemies. It does not take very long for an envious person to make enemies.

Among the power enemies that King Vahu had to contend with, were kings known as Haihayas and the Talajanghas. And since the king had been dislodged from the righteous path, Vishnu and Lakshmi (the goddess of weath and prosperity) also deserted him. After a fierce battle that went on for a month, the Haihayas and the Talajanghas managed to defeat the king. They annexed his kingdom and drove him off into the forest.

Vahu’s wife Yadavi was expecting then. Vahu’s enemies were not content with driving him off into the forest. They feared that Vahu’s son might try to avenge his father. They therefore fed Yadavi some poison (gara). (This does not agree with the account given in some other Puranas, such as the Padma Purana. In those accounts, Vahu had a second wife. And it was this second wife who fed Yadavi poison).

Vahu was now penitent for his past misdeeds. With his wife, he intended to seek peace and solitude in the sage Ourva’s ashrama (hermitage). But the way to the hermitage was long and the king suffered from hunger and thirst. He dIscovered a pond on the way and thought that he might drink some water from the pond. Vahu and Yadavi quenched their thirst and rested under the shade of a tree that grew by the side of the pond.

On that tree lived many birds. They began to talk amongst themselves. “Hide,” they said. “The sinner Vahu has come here. It is best not to look upon him.”

King Vahu overheard this conversation and was mortified. He discovered that people were also freely criticising him. Even his subjects were not at all unhappy that he had been robbed of his kingdom. This made the king so miserable that he had no further desire to live. His health deteriorated and old age took its toll. Vahu died as soon as he reached Ourva’s ashrama.

His wife wished to immolate herself on her husband’s funeral pyre.

But the sage Ourva restrained her. “You are expecting and such an act would be tantamount to murder,” He said. “It is a crime that I cannot permit to happen. Please refrain from what you are about to do. I can foretell that you will give birth to a powerful king.”

Yadavi listened to the sage’s advice. She performed Vahu’s funeral rites and accompanies Ourva to his hermitage.

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