The Padma Purana

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

This page describes the story of somasharman’s previous birth which is chapter 17 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 seventeenth chapter of the Bhumi-khanda (section on the earth) of the Padma Purana, which contains six books total consisting of at least 50,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.

Disclaimer: These are translations of Sanskrit texts and are not necessarily approved by everyone associated with the traditions connected to these texts. Consult the source and original scripture in case of doubt.

Chapter 17 - The Story of Somaśarman’s Previous Birth

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Somaśaman said:

1-2. O respectable lady, you have told (me) the excellent form of Dharma. O you noble one, O you of a good vow, tell me if you know how I would get a son endowed with all virtues. There is no doubt that good acts like charity (are fruitful) in this and the next world.

Sumanā said:

3. Go to Vasiṣṭha who knows (what) virtue (is). Request that great sage. From him you will (learn how to) obtain a son knowing piety and loving it.

Sūta said:

4. When she had said these words, Somaśarman, the best brāhmaṇa (said to her:) “O auspicious lady, I shall follow your words (i.e. advice). There is no doubt about it.”

5-6. Speaking thus, the best brāhmaṇa, Somaśarman, quickly went to the omniscient, divine Vasiṣṭha, who was the best among those who practised penance, who lived on the bank of the Ganges in a hermitage, who was the best among the brāhmaṇas, who was full of the flames of lustre and was as it were another sun.

7. He repeatedly, devoutly, saluted the shining, noble, best brāhmaṇa, well-versed in the Vedas, in the manner of a staff (i.e. by prostrating himself before Vasiṣṭha).

8. The very lustrous, sinless son of Brahmā (i.e. Vasiṣṭha), said to him: “O you highly intelligent one, (please) sit comfortably on the auspicious seat.”

9-10. Saying so, the best of the yogins again said to him, who was rich in penance: “O noble one, O dear one, is there all well in your house, with your sons, wife, servants, and fires used for sacred rites? Are you alright, and do you always practise virtue?”

11. Speaking thus, the very wise one (i.e. Vasiṣṭha) again said to Suśarman (i.e. Somaśarman): “O best brāhmaṇa, what work dear to you should I do for you?”

12a. Speaking thus to the brāhmaṇa, Vasiṣṭha ceased (to speak).

12b-13. When that best, noble sage Vasiṣṭha spoke (like that), he (i.e. Somaśarman), spoke to noble Vasiṣṭha, the best among those who practise penance: “O revered sir, (please) listen to my words with a very much pleased mind.

14. O best among the sages, O best brāhmaṇa, if you want to do what I like, (then) remove the doubt expressed by my question.

15-17. O dear one, due to what sin (does) poverty (come to one) and how is it that one does not get happiness? This is my doubt. Tell me due to what sin (this happens). O brāhmaṇa, I am confused with great delusion. I was advised by my dear wife. I, who was eager, was sent to you by her. Then tell me all that which would remove all my doubts. (Please) relieve me from the bondage of the worldly existence.”

Vasiṣṭha said:

18. Sons, friends, brother, and kinsmen and relatives are the five kinds of men, according to the difference (depending upon the relation).

19. (About) all of them Sumanā has already told you. O best brāhmaṇa, all those are bad sons, connected on account of debt.

20-24. I shall (now) tell you the auspicious characteristics of a son. That son whose mind is attached to merit, who is always engaged in religious conduct, who is endowed with purity and knowledge, who practises penance, who is best among speakers, who is very steady in all his acts, who is devoted to Vedic studies, who knows (i.e. has studied) all sacred books, who honours gods and brāhmaṇas, who performs all (kinds of) sacrifices, who is a donor, who gives away (in charity without expecting any reward in return), who speaks agreeable words, who is always intent upon meditation on Viṣṇu, is tranquil, restrained and friendly, who is always devoted to his father and mother and affectionate to his kinsmen, who is a saviour of his family, who is learned, who supports his family—a son endowed with such virtues gives happiness.

25-26. Others connected by relation (as a son) cause grief and tormentation. What is the use of such a useless son? All such (sons) come into the worldly existence as sons and go out of it after causing great tormentation, O you best brāhmaṇa.

27. Again listen to all the wonderful account which I shall tell you about the religious merit which you did and (the practices) you maintained in the previous birth.

Vasiṣṭha continued:

28-31. O you very intelligent one, in the former birth you were a Śūdra, and none else. You were a farmer; you were ignorant; you had great greed; you had one wife; you always hated (others). You had many sons; you never gave away (anything in charity); you did not know religious conduct at all; you had never heard (what) truth (is). You had never given a gift; you had never listened to sacred texts; O you highly intelligent one, you had never undertaken a pilgrimage to a sacred place.

32. Thus, O brāhmaṇa, you practised agriculture repeatedly. O best brāhmaṇa, you again and again guarded animals, all cows, buffaloes and also horses. O best of brāhmaṇas, such deed (s) you did formerly (i.e. in your previous birth).

33. Similarly, through greed you collected much wealth; but you never spent it in a good way.

34. You never gave any present to a worthy person, or seeing a weak person you never showed him any compassion and never gave him money.

35. You also collected beasts like cows and buffaloes, and having sold them you hoarded ample wealth.

36a. (And also you hoarded ample wealth) by selling butter-milk, ghee, milk and curd.

36b-38. Being deluded by Viṣṇu’s Māyā, O brāhmaṇa, you, thinking of (i.e. taking advantage of) bad times, made food more costly here (only), O best brāhmaṇa. You, who were cruel, never made any present (to anyone). O brāhmaṇa, you never worshipped deities. When the parvan-days arrived, you never gave money to the brāhmaṇas.

39-40a. When the time for Śrāddha came, you never performed it with faith. Your virtuous wife (used to) say: “O you very intelligent one, the day has come. It is time for offering Śrāddha to (my) father-in-law, and to (my) mother-in-law also.”

40b-42a. Hearing those words of (i.e. uttered by) her, you (used to) abandon and run away from your house. You never saw (i.e. cared for) the path of righteousness nor did you ever hear about it. Greed (was) your father, your brother. Greed (was) your kinsmen and relatives. Always forsaking religious conduct, you cherished greed alone.

42b. Therefore, being extremely oppressed by poverty, you became unhappy.

43-48. Everyday great greed increased in your mind, whenever in your house wealth increased. Being burnt by the fire of anxiety, you definitely used to think of wealth even when you used to sleep at night. When the day dawned, you were always pervaded by great delusions: ‘When will there be a thousand, a lakh, a crore or one hundred millions or one thousand crores or a billion (coins) in my house?’ Thus a thousand, a lakh, a crore, a hundred millions, a thousand crores, a bilion (coins) were (collected by you); but (your) greed never went away leaving (i.e. from your) body. (On the contrary) it always increased. You never gave (in charity); you never offered oblations to fire, you never enjoyed (wealth); you dug the earth and deposited (the coins in it) without the knowledge of your sons. O brāhmaṇa, you also always adopted other means to get wealth.

49-51. Being intelligent you also asked people about other means of getting wealth. Asking (people) about spades, collyrium[1], explanation (of secret formulae) and minerology, and being fully deluded by greed, you wandered all alone. You always thought of sexual union, and about procedures giving superhuman powers. Always thinking about entering into fissures you asked (people about them).

52-54a. Due to the blazing of fire of greed, you were (reduced to a pitiable plight, always) saying ‘Alas, Alas’, and had become senseless. O best brāhmaṇa, you were thus infatuated; and had been subdued by destiny. When your wife and sons asked you about that wealth, you never told them (any) account of it, and abandoning life, you went to Yama.

54b-57. Thus I have told you all your former account. O brāhmaṇa, due to this deed (i.e. these deeds) you became indigent and poor. Viṣṇu is pleased with him in whose house, in his worldly existence, the sons are of good character, endowed with knowledge and always interested in truthfulness and in good conduct. He with whom Viṣṇu is pleased, endlessly enjoys in the world of mortals wealth, grains, wife, sons and grandsons. O brāhmaṇa, without Viṣṇu’s favour he cannot obtain a wife, sons or a good birth or a good family. That is the highest position of Viṣṇu.

Footnotes and references:


Añjana—seems to refer to the practice of putting a particular kind of collyrium into the eyes and then to see where wealth may be found. Vāda—seems to be a reference to the exposition of certain secret spells helping to obtain wealth.

Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: