The Padma Purana

by N.A. Deshpande | 1951 | 1,261,945 words | ISBN-10: 8120838297 | ISBN-13: 9788120838291

This page describes the killing of a shudra ascetic which is chapter 35 of the English translation of the Padma Purana, one of the largest Mahapuranas, detailling ancient Indian society, traditions, geography, as well as religious pilgrimages (yatra) to sacred places (tirthas). This is the thirty-fifth chapter of the Srishti-khanda (section on creation) of the Padma Purana, which contains six books total consisting of at least 50,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.

Chapter 35 - The Killing of a Śūdra Ascetic

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Bhīṣma said:

1. The revered one has told (me) everything based on the Purāṇa; and also (has narrated to me) how (king) Śveta presented Brahmāṇḍa to his preceptor.

2. Hearing this curiosity has arisen (in me) as to how, O brāhmaṇa, he licked (his own) bones in the absence of (i.e. as a result of his non-gifting of) food.

3. I desire to hear that; I also desire to hear about other kings on the earth who reached heaven due to (i.e. as a result of) giving food; for sacrifices are based on food.

4. How is it that the great-souled Śveta lost his good sense with the result that he neither gave food to the sages nor showed it to them.

5. Ah, just see the greatness of food. The fruit of the food that is given here is enjoyed by men in heaven; and (due to it) one would have unending (residence in) heaven.

6. The prominent brāhmaṇas have declared the gift of food as great. Due to the gift of food the lord of gods enjoys the three worlds.

7. All best brāhmaṇas call him Śatakratu. Due to that (i.e. the gift of food) the lord of the gods has attained that position.

8-9a. He went to heaven because of having given food. All (this) I have heard from you. If something else has formerly taken place I desire to hear that too again; so, O highly intelligent one, now tell me about it.

Pulastya said:

9b-10a. O king, formerly this old episode was narrated to Rāma by the great-souled Agastya. I shall now tell it to you.

Bhīṣma said:

10b-11a. In which family was Rāama, the best king, to whom Agastya narrated the old episode, born?

Pulastya said:

11b-12a. The very mighty (hero) named Rāma was born in the family of Raghu. He did the mission of gods: he killed Rāvaṇa in Laṅkā.

12b-13a. (Once) sages came to the house of him who had settled (himself) as (the king) of the kingdom of the world. The great-souled (sages) arrived at Rāghava’s residence.

13b-14a. The doorkeeper, at the bidding of Agastya, immediately informed Rāma that the sages had come (to see him).

14b-16a. Seeing Rama, like the full moon that had risen (he said:) “O son of Kausalyā, well-being to you. The night (has ended and) an auspicious dawn has broken. O king, O descendant of Raghu, to see your prosperity Agastya has today come with sages. He is waiting at the door.”

16b-17. Hearing that the sages, resembling the sun in lustre, had arrived, Rāma said (these) words to the doorkeeper: “Quickly bring them in. Why have you detained the best sages at the door?”

18. At these words of Rāma the doorkeeper gladly ushered them in. Seeing the sages who had arrived, Rāma, with his hands joined in obeisance, spoke (words of greeting to them).

19-20. Rama, having humbly saluted them made them sit on (i.e. offered them) seats. The best sages sat all around on golden, variegated, well-spread, comfortable seats, covered with Kuśa-grass. The family-priest offered them water for washing their feet, for rinsing their mouths and a respectful offering.

21. Rāma enquired after the health and welfare of all the sages. The great sages, well-versed in the Vedas said these words:

22. “O you Raghu’s descendant of mighty arms, welfare to you everywhere. Luckily we are seeing you happy with your enemies killed.

23. O best of Raghus, the extremely vicious Rāvaṇa, the villain, kidnapped Sītā, your wife. He was killed by her vigour only.

24. O Rāma, you all alone killed him in a battle. No other person is (seen) who would do the deed that you did

25. We had come here to talk to you; and now, on seeing you, we all the ascetics, are purified, O lord of kings.

26. You have today wiped the tears (of the world) by killing Rāvaṇa (i.e.) by giving this auspicious gift of fearlessness to the world, O hero.

27. O Rāghava, we are glad due to this victory of yours, O you of unlimited valour. Now that we have seen and talked to you, we shall go to our respective hermitages.

28. O you tormentor of the enemies, I had given Indra’s bow and two inexhaustible quivers and an armour to you when you had (formerly) entered the forest.

29. O you descendant of Raghu, (please) visit my hermitage again.” Saying so all the sages disappeared.

30. When the chief sages had left, Rāma, the best among the supporters of righteousness, thought about the work (the sages wanted to assign to him. He said to himself:)

31. “What could be the mission (for which) the sage said to me: ‘O you descendant of Raghu, please come to my hermitage-again?’ I must certainly go to Agastya.

32a. I must hear (what the) secret (intention) of the gods is, and the mission that he would tell (me to do).”

32b-33. Rāma, of unlimited lustre, thought like this: “I shall surely perform my duty; for duty is the highest recourse.” He ruled for ten thousand years.

34. That great-souled Rāma, who gave gifts, performed sacrifices and protected his people, passed (this period just) like a year.

35. On this very day an old brāhmaṇa villager bringing with him his dead son, came to the door of (the residence of) Rāma.

36-37. He uttered many sentences with words full of affection: “O son, what wicked deed had I done in my previous existence, that I am seeing you, my only son, a child, who has not even attained youth and has just lived for five years, dead?

38. O son, you have died prematurely (only) to cause me grief. Without doing the obsequial rites you have gone to Yama’s residence.

39-40. (Indeed) Rama’s wicked deed is evident that death has come to you. When I die with my wife the sin of killing a child, a brāhmaṇa, and a woman will accrue to Rāma; there is no doubt about it.” Rāghava listened to all that accompanied by (i.e. causing) grief.

41. Rāma said (these) words to Vasiṣṭha who was sending the brāhmaṇa back: “When this is the state (of things) what should I do today?

42. I shall sacrifice my life or fall from a mountain. How shall I get purity (i.e. feel innocent) after I have heard the brāhmaṇa’s words?”

43. Nārada who was there in Vasiṣṭha’s proximity, told the dejected Rāma the words he had heard in the vicinity of (i.e. from) the sages:

44-45. “O Rāma, listen (how) at the right time the child’s death has taken place. O Rāma, formerly in Kṛtayuga, everywhere there was the superiority of brāhmaṇas. No non-brāhmaṇa, O Rāghava, even practised penance. All (men) then were immortal and long-lived.

46. Again in Tretāyuga brāhmaṇas and kṣatriyas became superior. In Dvāparayuga their sin entered vaiśyas and śūdras.

47. Thus falsehood that was continuously resorted to, again came up (i.e. became effective). Three feet (i.e. three quarters) of unrighteousness and (only) one foot (i.e. quarter) of righteousness appeared there.

48. Then there were many casteless persons led by brāhmaṇas. Then again the second foot (i.e. quarter) of righteousness came (up).

49. In that (yuga) called Dvāpara, penance entered (i.e. went to) vaiśyas. The unrighteousness of the three yugas stood [...?]

50. O best man, then when the last yuga called Kali came, (both) unrighteousness and falsehood increased.

51-52a. In (this) Kaliyuga practice of penance will be (found) in the persons born as śūdras. O king, a śūdra, the tormentor of his enemies, and of a wicked mind, is practising a very severe penance at the border of your country. He killed the child.

52b-53. O best of kings, a king, in whose kingdom or (capital-)city, a wicked person does an unrighteous thing unfit to be done, instantly goes to hell (and stays there) till deluge.

54-55a. The king takes the fourth portion of his sin. So, O best among men, you go to that (part of) your country where you will see a wicked deed (being committed). Make an effort (to stop it).

53b-56a. O best of men, by (doing) this your religious merit and might will increase, and also (the span of) this child’s life.”

56b-57a. Thus addressed by Nārada, the descendant of Raghu, who was astonished, obtained incomparable joy, and said these (words) to Lakṣmaṇa:

57b-59a. “O dear Lakṣmaṇa, go to the best brāhmaṇa and console him. Get the boy’s body placed in a trough containing oil. O dear one, using abundant perfumes and fragrant oils do that by which (the body of) the boy does not decay.

59b-60a. Do that by which the body of the boy, who has not done any deed of distress, would be preserved, and by which there would be no mishap or decomposition.”

60b-6la. Having thus ordered Sumitrā’s son Lakṣmaṇa of good marks he, of great fame, mentally thought of the Puṣpaka aeroplane and ordered it, “Come (here)”.

61b-63a. Knowing the internal thought (of Rāma) that aeroplane, decorated with gold and moving according to (the occupant’s) desire came near Rāma in a short time. He (i.e. the presidi ng deity of the aeroplane) joined the palms of his hands as a mark of humility and said: “O king, (here) I am. This servant, O you of mighty arms, stands before you.”

63b-64a. Having heard, for a long time, the words (of the presiding deity) of the plane, the king saluted those great sages, and got into it.

64b-65. He, the well-composed one, leaving the two heroes Lakṣmaṇa and Bharata in the city, and taking his bow and two quivers as well as his very powerful sword, looking for (the culprit) quickly went towards the west.

66-67. Then he went to the north which was resorted to by the Himālaya (mountain). Then the king went in all parts of the eastern direction (where people followed) good practices and which was spotless like a mirror. Then the descendant of Raghu traversed the south.

68-69a. On the northern side of a mountain he saw a very big lake. In it Rāghava saw a terrible sage hanging upside down, practising very great (i.e. severe) penance.

69b-70a. Rāghava, the descendant of Kakutstha[1], approached the ascetic practising penance, and said (these) words:“O you having lustre like a god, you are lucky.

70b-71. O you of a firm resolve, in which caste does this penance prosper (i.e. to which caste do you, performing this severe penance, belong)? I am Rama, Daśaratha’s son, (who am) asking you through curiosity. Which object do you have in mind: heaven or some other world?

72-73a. O ascetic, I desire to hear (i.e. to know) why you are practising penance. Are you a brāhmaṇa? Well-being to you. Or are you an invincible kṣatriya? Or are you a vaiśya i.e. belonging to the third caste? Or are you a śūdra? Tell (me) the truth.

73b-74. Penance is full of truth (and) is always (useful) in obtaining heaven. Penance is Sāttvika and Rājasa and it (i.e. Sāttvika) is of the nature of truth. It is the cause of (i.e. leads to) helping the world, and is created by Viriñci.

75. The Raudra (i.e. terrible) penance springs from kṣatriya’s lustre, and is called Rājasa. That which is (used) for the destruction of others is called Āsura.

76. He who conceals one by one the parts of his body smeared with blood, or he who practises penance to conquer the five fires[2] or (tries to) accomplish perfection or conquer death (belongs to the Āsura category).

77. This your disposition is Āsura; and I do not think you are a brāhmaṇa. If you speak the truth you will accomplish perfection; if yon tell a lie you will not live.”

78. Having heard those words of Rāma, who ha[?] never done any harmful deed, the ascetic remained hung upside down like that (i.e. before) and said:

79. “O best king, welcome to you. O Rāghava, you are seen after a long time. O innocent one, I am your son, and you are my father.

80-82. Or this is not so; for the king is the father of all (his subjects). O king, such as you are, you deserve to be honoured. We are practising penance in your country. In it (you have) a share which is formerly produced (i.e. fixed) by the self-born. O Rāma, we are not lucky. You are lucky, O king, in whose country the ascetics desire perfection like this. O Rāghava, obtain prosperity with (i.e. as the the fruit of) my penance.

83-84. As to what you said (as to the question that you asked, viz.) ‘in which caste (are you born and) are practising your penance’ (I would say:) I am born in a śūdra family; and have resorted to a severe penance. O Rāma, of a good vow, I desire to have godhood with my body (i.e. I want to be a god, without casting off this body). O king, I am not telling a lie with a desire to conquer (i.e. go to) the world of gods.

85-86a. O descendant of Kakutstha, know me to be a śūdra, Śambūka, by name.” When he was thus talking, Rāma, the descendant of Kakutstha, took out from the sheath, a spotless sword, and cut off his head.

86b-88a. When the Śūdra was killed, gods with Indra, led by Agni, repeatedly praised Rāma (saying), ‘Well (done, well done)’; and a very fragrant shower of flowers discharged by the gods from the sky, scattered all around Rāghava.

88b. The gods, very much pleased, said these words to Rama, the best among those who knew (the meaning of) sentence.

89-90a. “O you descendant of Raghu, O you good one, you have done this mission of the gods. O Rāma of a great vow, take (i.e. choose) whichever boon you like. By your deed this śūdra has physically gone to heaven.”

90b-9la. Hearing (these) words of the gods, Rāghava who was well-composed, and who had joined his palms in obeisance, said these words to Indra, the thousand-eyed (god):

91b-92. “If gods are pleased with me, if I deserve a (grant of) boon, if they are happy with my deed, then let this brāhmaṇa-boy come to life (again). This is the best boon desired by me from you.

93-94. Due to my fault this boy, the son of a brāhmaṇa, has met with an untimely death. He has been taken by Death to Yama’s abode. Revive him, well-being to you, I should not prove to be a liar to my preceptor. I have given a promise to the brāhmaṇa: I shall bring back your son to life.

95. O gods, let this boy live by having the full span of my life, or half a portion or a quarter portion of (the span of) my life”.

96. Hearing those words of Rāghava, the best gods who were pleased and were full of affection, said to the great-souled one:

97-98. “O descendant of Kakutstha, give up your anxiety; the only son of the brāhmaṇa has regained his life and is united with his relatives. O descendant of Kakutstha, the boy suddenly became united with (i.e. regained his) life, (just) at the moment when this śūdra was destroyed by you.

99-100. Obtain welfare; well-being to you; O you tormentor of your enemies, we (now) go (back). We shall see the great sage (viz. Agastya) in Agastya’s hermitage”. Having promised the gods with the words ‘All right’, the descendant of Raghu got into the Puṣpaka aeroplane decorated with gold.

Footnotes and references:


Kakutstha—See note on 1.33.183.


Pañcāgni-sādhana—A form of self-mortification in which the ascetic sits with four fires burning in the four quarters around him with the sun, the fifth fire, overhead.

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