The Padma Purana

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

This page describes the story of sukala which is chapter 41 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 forty-first 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 41 - The Story of Sukalā

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Vena said:

1. Tell me how the son (or) the wife (or) the father (or) the mother is a holy place. Tell me also in detail how one’s preceptor is a holy place.

Śrī Viṣṇu said:

2-8. There was a great city (named) Vārāṇasī along with (i.e. on the bank of) Gaṅgā. In it lived a vaiśya by name Kṛkala. His wife, named Sukalā, was very chaste, devoted to her husband, always engaged in religious practices, and loyal to her husband. Her limbs were auspicious. She had a good son and she was charming and auspicious. She spoke the truth, she was always pure, she had a lovable form, and was dear to her husband. She, endowed with these qualities, was fortunate, and performed good deeds. The vaiśya (i.e. Kṛkala) was an excellent man; he knew various religious practices, was wise and virtuous. He was always intent upon listening to the Purāṇas and religious practices as told by the scriptures. With faith he set out, with the caravan of brāhmaṇas on a pilgrimage, meritorious and auspicious. He proceeded on the religious path (of the pilgrimage). The chaste wife (i.e. Sukalā), being stupefied by her love for her husband, said (these) words to her husband.

Sukalā said:

9-19a. O dear, I am your religiously wedded wife, and practise merit with you. Waiting (i.e. looking) for the path of (i.e. followed by) my husband, I propitiate the god i.e. my husband. O best brāhmaṇa, I shall never give up your proximity. Resorting to your shadow, I shall practise the excellent mode of behaviour called loyalty to my husband, which destroys the sins of women and gives them a good position. The woman, who would be solely devoted to her husband, is called meritorious. Except the husband, no other holy place befits young women, and no other holy place gives them heaven or salvation. O best one, a woman should look upon the right foot of her husband as Prayāga, and the left one as Puṣkara. Merit is produced by taking bath with the water (falling) from his feet. It is like taking a bath at Prayāga or Puṣkara. There is no doubt about it. The husband is full of all holy places. The husband is full of all religious merit. All that fruit—the religious merit, which an initiated man gets after the performance of sacrifices, is obtained by a wife through serving her husband. She obtains, through serving her husband that fruit which would accrue to one by having had pilgrimage to excellent holy places like Gayā. I am telling it in brief. Listen to me who am telling it. For them (i.e. for women) there is no other duty than serving the husband. Therefore, O dear one, I, helping you and giving you pleasure, shall, by resorting to your shadow (i.e. by following you), come (with you). This will not be otherwise.

Viṣṇu said:

19b-29a. Kṛkala, having considered her beauty, character, virtue and devotion and having again and again given a thought to her delicacy (thought): ‘If like this (i.e. as she says) I shall take her (with me) along the difficult path causing great grief, her beauty will wither due to being shaken by cold and heat. Her body, of an excellent complexion, is like the interior of a lotus. It will be dark due to the cold stormy gale. The path is rough and has (i.e. is full of) stones. Her feet are very delicate. She will meet with severe pain; therefore she is unable to go (i.e. I cannot take her). What will be her plight, when her body would be encompassed by hunger and thirst? This woman of a beautiful body is my support. (This) woman of a beautiful face is the abode of my pleasure. She is always dear to my life. She is always the abode of religious merit. When this young woman will perish, I shall (also certainly) perish in this world. This one is always my livelihood. She is the ruler of my life. I shall not take her to the forest (and) to the holy place. I shall (just) go all alone.’ The glorious Kṛkala thought (like this) for a moment. O best king, she knew (i.e. read) the thought in his mind. The glorious one again said to her husband who had started: “O best one, listen, men should not leave (back) their innocent wives. O you highly intelligent one, this is the root of Dharma (duty, righteousness) of a man. Realising this, O illustrious one, now take me (with you)”.

Viṣṇu said:

29b-32a. Having heard all those many words uttered by his beloved (wife), Kṛkala laughed and again said to her: “O dear one, the wife who is religiously obtained is not to be abandoned. O you of a beautiful face, he, who has abandoned his well-behaved and religious wife, has even given up the Dharma of ten constituents.[1] Therefore, well-being to you, O dear one, I shall never abandon you”.

Viṣṇu said:

32b-50a. Having thus spoken to her, and having repeatedly advised his wife, he went with the caravan without her knowledge. When thus that glorious Kṛkala had left, the lady of an auspicious face did not at all see her husband Kṛkala, of meritorious deeds, at the auspicious time of the worship of deities and at (other) auspicious time. Weeping, and very much afflicted, oppressed by grief and sorrow for her husband, she quickly got up and asked her friends. (She said to them:) “O you illustrious ones, have you seen that Kṛkala, the lord of my life? He has gone somewhere. You are my relatives. O you glorious ones, if you have seen that magnanimous, very intelligent, meritorious, omniscient, truthful and wise Kṛkala of me (i.e. my husband), (then) tell me.” Hearing those words of (i.e. uttered by) her, they said to the very intelligent one: “O you auspicious one of a good vow, your husband Kṛkala has, on the occasion of a pilgrimage, visited a sacred place. Why do you weep? Having visited a great sacred place, he will come (back), O you beautiful one.” That Sukalā of a charming speech, thus addressed by the intimate persons, again went home, O king. That devout Sukalā wept piteously in agony. (She said:) “Till my husband comes, I shall sleep on a bed on the ground. I shall not eat ghee, oil, curd and milk.” She gave up (eating) salt, and also (chewing) tāmbūla. O king, she also gave up (eating) sweet (things) like jaggery etc. (She said:) “Till my husband returns I shall eat once a day or will not eat anything at all. There is no doubt about this.” Thus she was full of grief; she wore a single braid of hair; she put on one bodice (only), and was unclean. She also remained with only one garment (on her person). She gave out sounds like ‘hā hā’, sighed, and was extremely afflicted. She was parched up by the fire of separation; her body (had become) black; and she became unclean. Thus being unhappy, very much emaciated, and perturbed, and weeping day and night, she did not get sleep at night. O king, broken (down) by grief, she (even) did not feel hungry. Then (her) friends came there, and asked Sukalā. (They said:) “O Sukalā, beautiful in all limbs, why are you weeping now? O you of a beautiful face, tell (us) the cause of your grief.”

Sukalā said:

50b-56a. That my righteous husband has gone for (obtaining) religious merit. He is roaming over the earth for pilgrimage. That my lord has gone after leaving me who am faultless and sinless. I am a chaste woman of good behaviour, always meritorious and loyal to my husband. That (my) husband intent on getting (i.e. visiting) a sacred place, has left me and gone. Therefore, O friends, being extremely afflicted by separation (from him) I am grieving. When a very cruel husband (like mine) leaves his dear wife and goes (away), it is better (for the wife like me) to destroy my life (i.e. to commit suicide); it is better to eat poison; it is better to enter fire; it is better to destroy (my) body. O friends, It is better to end my life; but forsaking the husband is not better. I am unable to put up with the ever-terrible separation from him. O friends, I am always afflicted by that separation.

The friends said:

56b-60. Your lord, your husband, who has gone on a pilgrimage, will come (back). You are unnecessarily drying up your body, you are grieving in vain. O young lady, you are tormenting yourself to no purpose; you are uselessly giving up pleasures. Drink drinks, enjoy (the fruit of) what you yourself have given before. Whose is the husband? (i.e. to whom does the husband belong?) To whom do the sons, relatives and kinsmen belong? In this mundane existence nobody belongs to anybody else. One has connection with none else. (People) eat, enjoy. O young lady, that is (just) the fruit of the worldly existence. When a being is dead, who would enjoy or see its fruit? O young lady, what (people) drink, enjoy is the fruit (that is got) from the worldly existence.

Sukalā said:

61-83. Whatever you have said is not approved by the Vedas; but that woman, who, separated from her husband, always lives all alone, would be a sinful one. Good people do not honour her. In the Vedas she is always said to be with her husband. A relation is produced due to the power of religious merit. In the scriptures the husband is always described as the sacred place for women. She should always invoke him by means of speech, body and deeds. Intent upon truthful thoughts, she should always mentally worship him. The side of the husband—(especially) his right side—is always a great holy place. When a woman, having resorted to him, lives in the house, she gets the fruit of the gifts which he gives and the merit (he collects) when he performs a sacrifice, and the fruit that he gets (by bathing) at Vārāṇasi in Gaṅgā, or at Puṣkara, or at Dvārakā or at Avanti, or Kedāra at (the temple of) Śiva; (and) not that woman who always performs sacrifices. O friends, such a fruit she never obtains. (By resorting to her husband) the woman of an excellent complexion always obtains a beautiful face, good fortune in the form of a son, bath, gifts, decorations, garments, ornaments, good fortune (in the form of her husband being alive), form, lustre, glory, fame and merit. There is no doubt that she gets all (this) through the grace of her husband. When a woman, when her husband is alive, practises another mode of life (than the one that is prescribed), (all that) becomes fruitless, and she is called an unchaste woman. On the globe (i.e. the earth) the youth, beauty and form of women is certainly said to be for the husband alone. A wife is said to be one who has good sons and good reputation. There is no doubt that when the husband is pleased in the existence, the wife is pleasing to the sight. If on the globe there would be a wife without (i.e. segregated from) her husband, how can she have happiness, beauty, glory, fame and sons on the earth? She experiences great misfortune and unhappiness in the worldly existence. She would always be sinful and would behave unpleasantly. When her husband is pleased with her, all the deities are pleased. When her husband is pleased, sages, gods and men are pleased (with her). The husband is the lord, the husband is the preceptor, the husband is the deity along with other deities. O prince, the husband is a holy place, and (is) sacred for the wives (i.e. the wife). He is also her sentiment of love, ornament, form, complexion and fragrance. She puts on an elegant dress, ornaments (etc.) except on the auspicious parvan days; she shines with elegant dresses and ornaments when her husband is (with her). Without the husband she is like milk in the mouth of a serpent. The glorious, charming and auspicious wife practises good vow for her husband (only). If a woman puts on an elegant dress (etc.) when her husband is dead, all her beauty, complexion (etc.) is reduced to the form of a dead body. People call her a prostitute on the earth. Therefore, listen, that woman who desires great happiness on the earth, should never remain without her husband. The husband is described in the scriptures to be the highest Dharma of the wife. Therefore, a wife should not abandon that eternal Dharma. This, I know, to be the Dharma. How would (my) husband forsake (me)? In this connection, O friends, an ancient account is heard. It is the meritorious account of Sudevā, that (i.e. listening to which) destroys sins.

Footnotes and references:


Daśāṅga Dharma—The ten constituents of Dharma as mentioned in the Vāmana Purāṇa (14.1-2) are: harmlessness, truthfulness, non-stealing, charity, forbearance, restraint, quiescence, not demeaning oneself, purity and penance.

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