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, ...

Many years ago, in satya yuga, there used to be a king named Sumati. He was born in the lunar dynasty. The king was handsome and righteous and he ruled over the seven regions of the worlds. Sumati never lied and he was so hspitable that he never refused even a dog as a guest.

Sumati was devoted to Vishnu and so was his wife Satyamati. The king and his wife were also jatismaras, that is, they could remember the incidents of their earlier lives. Sumati and Satyamati fed the poor, they dug poinds and faithfully observed the dhvajarohana vrata. On such occasions, satyamati used to dance in Vishnu’s temple.

There was a sage named Vibhandaka. He and his disciples once came to visit this holy couple. The king and the queen were delighted and welcomed the sage with offerings. “We are gratified that you have come to visit us,” they said. “Please tell us what can we do for you?”

Vibhandaka blessed them and replied, “Truly well spoken. Not only are you holy, but you are modest as well. Modestly is the root of all virtues. I am very happy to have met you. There is nothing that you can do for me, except provide the answers to two questions. Why do you faithfully observe the dhvajarohana vrata and why does Satyamati dance in Vishnu’s temple?”
Sumati recounted their past histories for the sage’s benefit.

In an ealier life, Sumati used to be a shudra named Matuli who was evil. Matuli would harm other people and steal offerings that were meant for the gods. Since he was a sinner, he was poor and lost all his sons. His friends also deserted him. Matuli thereupon retire dto the forest and survived on deer meat.

On one particular occasion, Matuli was very hungry and thirsty and came upon a pond that stood in the middle of the forest. There was a temple of Vishnu by the side of the pond and swans and geese sported ont he water. Mantuli satisfied his hunger with lotus stalks and also quenched his thrist. He began to live in that dilapidated temple and repaired parts of it. He built a house for himself near the temple and adopted the profession of a hunter.

Twenty years passed.

There was a woman named Kokilini who had been born as the daughter of a hunter. Kokilini was forsaken by her friends and relatives and arrived at the forest, suffering from hunger and thirst. Matuli offered her fruit and meat and water. He discovered that Kokilini hailed from the region known as the Vindhyas. She was the daughter of a hunter named Damhbika and had done all sorts of evil things in her life. But once her husband had died, her friends and relatives had forsaken her and she had nowhere to go to.

Matuli married Kokilini. They lived there and often got drunk on wine. In these drunken sprees, they were in the habit of dancing in the temple. During one of these bouts, they happened to die and Yama’s servants arrived to take Matuli and Kokilini to hell.

But Vishnu had been pleased by the dancing. Vishnu’s servants also arrived and would not permit Matuli and Kokilini to be taken to naraka. They maintained that these two were the beloved of Vishnu, and hence, all their sins had been forgiven.

Kokilini had pleased Vishnu with her dances. As for Matuli, he had erected a flag on the temple in the course of the reapir work that he had done. This amounted to an observance of dhvajarohana vrata. The two groups of servants took matuli and Kokilini to Vishnuloka, the abode of Vishnu. After enjoying themselves there for thousands of years, Matuli and Kokilini had been born as Sumati and Satyamati.

They were born as jatismaras and remembered all that had earlier transpired. Sumati therefore continued to observe the dhvajarohana’vrata and Satyamati continued to dance in Vishnu’s temple.

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