The Padma Purana

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

This page describes the story of prithu which is chapter 28 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 twenty-eighth 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.

Chapter 28 - The Story of Pṛthu

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The sages said:

1-7. O noble one, (please) tell us in detail (about) the birth of that magnanimous Pṛthu. We desire to hear it. (Tell us) how that noble king formerly milked this cow (i.e. the earth); how gods, manes, sages knowing the truth, demons, serpents, Yakṣas, trees and mountains, goblins and Gandharvas, brāhmaṇas doing auspicious acts, and how other magnanimous ones (did so). O you highly intelligent one, tell us especially how they held the pot of milk and the manner in which she was milked. O Sūta’s son, tell us why formerly the very meritorious and angry sages churned the hand even of that noble king Vena. This is a strange account which destroys all sins. We are desirous of hearing it; O noble one, (it is so interesting that) we are not at all content with (i.e. even though we hear) it.

Sūta said:

8-10a. O best brāhmaṇas, I shall tell you in detail about king Pṛthu’s—Vena’s son’s—birth, power, his wife, also about the entire life of the intelligent (king). O noble and best brāhmaṇas, desire to hear it (i.e. listen to it).

10b-11. This account should not be narrated to one who is not a devotee, to one who is faithless, to a cheat, to a great fool, to one who is greatly deluded, to a bad disciple, to one who is void of faith, to one who is untruthful; do not narrate it to one who destroys everything.

12-13. He who recites it in a different way, goes to hell. You are full of devotion, and are intent upon behaving truthfully. In front of you (i.e. to you) I shall fully narrate the whole account that removes sins. O best brāhmaṇas, (please) listen.

14-17. O excellent brāhmaṇas, I shall tell you the secret, which leads (one) to heaven, to fame, which causes longevity, which is excellent, which is accepted by the Vedas and which is told by the sages. He, who, after saluting the brāhmaṇas, always narrates in detail this (account) of Pṛthu, the son of Vena, would never lament over what he has done and not done. The sin earned by him during seven births, perishes by just hearing it. A brāhmaṇa would know (the meaning of) the Vedas, a kṣatriya would be victorious, a vaiśya would be prosperous with wealth, and a śūdra would get happiness. One thus gets the fruit by reciting or listening to it.

18-26a. The biography of Pṛthu is pure and it removes sins. Formerly there was a Prajāpati, Aṅga by name, born in Atri’s family and a lord resembling Atri. He preserved piety, was very intelligent and well-versed in the meaning of the Vedas and (other) branches of knowledge. His son was Vena, a lord of beings. Abandoning righteousness, he always proceeded (in all his acts). Mṛtyu had a highly virtuous daughter by name Sunīthā. The noble Aṅga married that Sunīthā. On her he begot Vena, the destroyer of righteousness. Due to the blemishes of his maternal grandfather, Vena the son of the daughter of Kāla, gave up his own way of righteousness and became fondly attached to wickedness. Due to (sexual) desire, greed and infatuation he practised sin only. The lord of men gave up the virtuous practices as told in the Vedas, and being deluded by pride and jealousy, behaved sinfully. People at that time lived without Vedic studies. When he was the lord of the subjects, they were without the Vedic studies and Vaṣaṭkāra (i.e. they did not study the Vedas and did not offer oblations). Deities did not drink Soma that proceeded and was offered at sacrifices.

26b-30. The wicked one always said to the brāhmaṇas: “You should not study (the Vedas); you should not make offering into the fire. You should not give gifts; you should not perform sacrifices and should not make offerings into fire.” When destruction was imminent, this was the declaration of that king. Again and again (he told): “Sacrifices are to be offered to me. I am the sacrificer as well as the sacrifice.” (He) also (told them:) “Sacrifices should be offered to me; offerings should be made to me.” Thus Vena always spoke. (He also said:) “I am the eternal Viṣṇu. I am Brahmā, I am Rudra, I am Indra. I am the wind. I am the enjoyer. I am the oblations offered to the deities and manes. There is no doubt about this.”

31. Then all the very powerful sages, who got angry, got together and said to the king of a wicked mind:

The sages said:

32. The king is surely the lord of the earth (and) he always protects the subjects. The emperor is the image of righteousness, therefore he should protect it.

33. We are entering upon an initiation for a twelve-year sacrifice. Do not play a mischief with the sacrifice. Righteousness is the way of the good.

34. O great king, practise righteousness; practise truthfulness and merit. You have made an agreement that you would protect the subjects.

35. Vena, of a wicked mind, laughed and said this nonsensical thing to the sages, who were speaking like that:

Vena said:

36. Who else (but me) is the creator of Dharma (i.e. religious practices)? Whom else should I listen to? Who, on the earth, is like me in (point of) learning, power, penance or truth?

37. I am the source of all beings and especially of religious practices. You, who are confounded and ignorant do not know me.

38. If I desire, I would burn the earth or would inundate it with water. I would block up the heaven and the earth. There should be no discussion about this matter.

39-45a. O king, when they could not dissuade Vena from his infatuation and pride, the angry great sages, forcibly seized him with rage, and churned the left thigh of his, who was trembling with anger. The magnanimous ones saw (there a being) that was possessed of (= like) a heap of black collyrium, that was very short and strange, that had a long face and deformed eyes, that was bright due to an armour, that had a protruded belly and broad ears, that was very much frightened and that was a gamester. They then said to him, “sit down”. Hearing those words of theirs, he, being distressed with fear, sat down. His race was settled in mountains and forests. (They are) the Niṣādas, the Kirātas, the Bhillas, the Nāhalakas, the Bhramaras, the Pulindas and those that belong to the other Mleccha species. From that part (i.e. left thigh) all those sinful ones were produced.

45b-52a. Then all the sages, with their minds pleased, (found) Vena, the best king, to be without a blemish. They churned the right hand of that magnanimous one only. When his hand was (thus) churned, sweat was produced. The sages again churned the right hand only. From that excellent hand a man was produced. He resembled twelve suns; the complexion of his body was like heated gold; he was covered with (i.e. he had put on) divine flowers; his body was shining due to divine ornaments; he had besmeared divine sandal on his body. He shone with a crown resembling the sun in colour (i.e. brilliance) and with a pair of ear-rings. His body was huge, his arms were large, he was matchless in form; the great lord had held a sword and arrows, a bow and had put on an armour. The highly intelligent one was endowed with all (auspicious) marks, and was decorated with all ornaments, and with a lustrous form and had a good complexion. The son of Vena was (i.e. shone) on the earth as Indra in heaven.

52b-53. When that magnanimous one was born, gods and spotless sages celebrated a festival to (i.e. in honour of) the son of Vena. With his body he was evidently bright like fire.

54-55. When, holding the first Ājagava bow (i.e. Śiva’s bow) which was excellent, and divine arrows and a very bright armour for protection, the magnanimous and noble hero Pṛthu, was born, all the beings were happy, O best brāhmaṇa.

56-59. To consecrate him (with their water), all the best brāhmaṇas proceeded to all sacred places and various auspicious (places of) water. O best brāhmaṇa, gods led by the grandsire (i.e. Brahmā), various beings, the immobile and the mobile consecrated that king, the great hero, the protector of the subjects, viz. Pṛthu. That son of Vena, noble and brave, being approached by the mobile and the immobile, by all gods and brāhmaṇas, was consecrated by them as the emperor of (all) kings.

60-63. His father had never pleased his subjects; (but) pleased by him, they were very happy. The term Rājan (i.e. king) came about (i.e. was coined) because of the hero’s pleasing (his subjects). Due to the fear of that magnanimous one, the entire water of the ocean stood still when the great hero approached the ocean. Cutting off difficult passage, the mountains offered easy passage. All those mountains never insulted his flag. Crops grew in unploughed land, and everywhere cows gave milk as desired (by those who milked them).

64. Rain (-fall) was as (much as) desired. All brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas and others performed Vedic sacrifices and celebrated great festivals.

65. When that king was ruling, all trees borefruits as desired, there was no famine, no disease and no untimely death of men.

66. When that un-assailable, noble king of kings was ruling, all people, intent on following religious practices, lived happily.

67. At this time only, (i.e. from) the auspicious sacrifice of the grandsire, on a grand, pleasing day, Sūta was born of Sūti.

68. In (i.e. from) the same sacrifice the wise Māgadha was also born. By the great sages the two were invited there for praising Pṛthu.

69. O best brāhmaṇas, I shall narrate the characteristics of Sūta: He is endowed with a lock of hair on the crown of his head and a sacred thread; he is devoted to Vedic studies.

70-73. He knows the meaning of all the sacred books; he maintains the sacred fire; he is endowed with (i.e. he gives) gifts and study; he is intent upon Brāhmaṇic practices. He is always engaged in worshipping gods and brāhmaṇas. He is a sacrificer and would perform sacrifices to the accompaniment of Vedic hymns. He was always intent upon Brāhmaṇic practices and always had friendship with brāhmaṇas. Māgadha was born like this (but was) without studies. All those bandins and cāraṇas should be known to be (i.e. were) magnanimous and were without Brāhmaṇic practices, and predominated as bards.

74-78a. Both the skilful Sūta and Māgadha were created for eulogising; all the sages said to them: “Praise this king; and also the deeds worthy of him, and (narrate) also how the king is.” The Bandin (i.e. the Sūta) and Māgadha said to all the sages: “We two shall please all the gods and sages with our deeds; but we do not know his deeds, and also his characteristics and his glory. O best brāhmaṇas, we do not know that deed of this magnanimous (king) with which (i.e. taking which into consideration) we would praise him. This best king, whose merits are not known (to us), would be praised with (i.e. with reference to) his future auspicious qualities.”

78b-86. All the sages told (them) the deeds which that very glorious Pṛthu performed, (and also) all the divine virtues of that magnanimous one. (The sages said:) “He (will be) truthful, endowed with knowledge, intelligent and of well-known valour; he (will) always (be) brave, (will) appreciate merits, (will be) meritorious, truth-speaking, and the best performer of sacrifices. He (will) speak pleasing words, (will) speak the truth, (will) have grains and wealth, (will) know and appreciate (others’) merits, (will) know what is right, and (will) love truth, (will) be omnipresent, omniscient, friendly to brāhmaṇas, knower of the Vedas, and very intelligent. He (will) be wise, (will) have a sweet voice, and (will) master the Vedas and the Vedāṅgas. He will support and protect (his) subjects; he (will) be victorious on the battle-field. The best king will perform sacrifices like the Rājasūya, and is the only one on the earth who is endowed with all virtuous practices. The magnanimous one will possess these qualities.” The two, viz. Sūta and Māgadha, were appointed by the sages to sing the praises of that magnanimous one with (reference to) the future qualities (i.e. qualities he will possess). O highly intelligent one, since then people are delighted with eulogies, and hereafter also the donors will be pleased with excellent praises.

87-93. Since then, O best brāhmaṇas, blessings are employed (i.e. included) in eulogies; and they (who sing praises) get excellent (i.e. abundant) wealth. The noble Pṛthu, out of graciousness, gave Sūta, Māgadha and Bandin, the prosperous and excellent country, viz. Tailaṅga, and also the Haihaya country. Having established a city named after himself on the bank of the Revā, he, performing sacrifices, formerly gave (gifts) to brāhmaṇas, O best brāhmaṇa. All the subjects, and also the sages of pure penance saw the best man, who was omniscient, gave all gifts, and whose strength lay in piousness. The meritorious ones said to one another: “He will give livelihood to gods and especially to us. He will protect the subjects and maintain them.” O you very wise ones, it is said that formerly this earth became stable after the seed sown (in it) was eaten by the created beings for living.

94-98. Then the subjects ran to Pṛthu. Having heard (i.e. he heard) the words of the sages, ‘Give us a good livelihood’. The Earth, having consumed all (kinds of) food, became very stable. The best king, seeing the very great fear of the subjects, and also by the word of the great sages, took his bow with an arrow, and the angry king speedily ran to the Earth. The Earth, through his fear, took up the form of an elephant, and concealing herself, moved through forests and inaccessible places. The very wise one did (i.e. could) not see (her in) the form of an elephant.

99-101. Then the king ran after her in the form of an elephant. Being struck by him with sharp arrows, she, taking up a lion’s form, became wholly occupied in running. The king, observing that (Earth in a) lion’s form, ran towards (i.e. after) her. That very wise one, who was extremely angry, and whose charming eyes were red due to anger, struck the Earth with whetted and sharp excellent arrows.

102. Struck with the arrows, she (i.e. the Earth) was afflicted and alarmed. Taking up the form of a buffalo she became intent on fleeing.

103-120. The archer (i.e. Pṛthu), with an arrow in his hand, ran fast (after her). O you best brāhmaṇas, she became (i.e. turned herself into) a cow and verily went to heaven. She sought the shelter of Brahmā and of the noble Viṣṇu also. She did (i.e. could) not secure the refuge of gods like Rudra. Not getting a great (i.e. good) protection, she regarded Vena’s son only (as her refuge). Afflicted with (the injury caused by) the stroke of the arrow, she came to his side (i.e. to him). With her hands joined in humble entreaty, she spoke (these) words to Pṛthu. She said to the king: “O king of kings, protect me, protect me. O magnanimous one, I am mother Earth, the support of all. O king, when I am killed, (all) the seven worlds are destroyed. I am always to be worshipped by the three worlds, with the palms of their hands joined in obeisance.” She also said to the king: “O king, a woman is always exempt from death (i.e. is never to be killed). The best brāhmaṇas have considered killing a woman to be a great sin. The best brāhmaṇas have also considered killing a cow to be a great sin. O great king how will you support the subjects without me? O king, when I am stable, then (only) the mobile and immobile worlds become stable. These mobile and immobile worlds will perish without me. When I perish, the beings will perish. O king, how will you support your subjects without me? The people are steady on me, the world is supported by me. There is no doubt that when I perish all the beings will perish. If you desire bliss, then (please) do not destroy me. O lord of beings, O king, listen to my words. Undertakings become highly successful through efforts, O noble one. Properly consider that effort by which you will support (your) subjects. O you very wise great king, by destroying me, i.e. without me, how will you always support, maintain, nourish and hold in your possession these subjects? Control your anger. I shall be full of food and will support these subjects. As a woman I am not to be killed; (if you kill me) you will have to atone (for having killed me). They say that a female, even of the lower species, is not to be killed. Considering in this way, you should not give up your proper conduct.” Thus the earth spoke many words to the king: “O great king, give up this terrible wrath. O king of kings, if you are pleased then (only) I shall be happy.”

121. Thus addressed by her, king Pṛthu, the lord of subjects and the son of Vena, said (these words) to the noble Earth, O best brāhmanas:

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