The Padma Purana

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

This page describes sukala’s sickening description of the body which is chapter 53 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 fifty-third 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 53 - Sukalā’s Sickening Description of the Body

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Sukalā said:

1-2a. Formerly, at that time I thus heard (about) the Dharma from the Purāṇas. How shall I, of a sinful resolve, enjoy pleasures without my husband? I cannot sustain my life with (i.e. in) my body without that husband.

Viṣṇu said:

2b-9. She thus narrated the excellent, great Dharma of the chastity of a wife; and those friends, excellent women, having heard the very meritorious Dharma for women, giving a great position (i.e. salvation) to women, praised that glorious Sukalā devoted to virtue. O king, all brāhmaṇas, gods and all virtuous women call her to mind due to her prowess caused by love for her husband. Indra, the lord of gods, having given a great (i.e. serious) thought to the firmness of Sukalā, and he, the lord of gods, having well pondered over her great devotion (thought): ‘I shall certainly shake her fortitude and her love for her husband.’ The lord of gods hurriedly recalled to mind god Cupid. He, the fish-bannered (god), holding his flowery bow came there. The very powerful one was seen to be accompanied by his beloved Rati. Joining the palms of his hands, he said to the thousandeyed (Indra): “O you lord, O you eminent one, O you who cut off the pride (of your enemies), why have you remembered me now? With all your heart give me an order today.”

Indra said:

10-11a. This illustrious Sukalā is greatly devoted to her husband. O god of love, listen, give me an excellent help. Move away (swerve) this glorious Sukalā, auspicious due to religious merit, (from her devotion).

11b-20. Having heard those words of Indra, he said to him: “Let it be so, O thousand-eyed god; there is no doubt that I shall gladly help you.” Cupid, of great lustre, and difficult to be conquered (even) by sages, having said so (spoke again:) “O god, I am capable of conquering gods, ascetics and best sages; then what to say of this woman, who has no strength in her body (i.e. who is weak)? O god, I always live in the limbs of women. (I live) in the foreheads, eyes, on the tips of their breasts, in their navels, waists, backs, buttocks, vaginal area, lips, teeth, middle parts (of their bodies); there is no doubt about this. I live everywhere; in their limbs and minor limbs. O god, a woman is my abode. I always live there. Living there, I slay all men; there is no doubt about this. A woman, weak by nature (and) tormented by my arrows, on seeing a handsome and virtuous (person like her) father, mother, or other kinsman or relative, and being struck with my arrows, is disturbed; there is no doubt about it. She does not even think of the consequence. O lord of gods, the vulva, and also the tips of the breasts of women, throb. They do not have patience. O lord of gods, I shall undoubtedly ruin Sukalā.”

Indra said:

21-23. O mind-born (god), I shall become (i.e. turn myself into) a handsome, virtuous, wealthy man; and through curiosity I shall disturb this woman. O you dear to Rati, (I shall disturb her only through curiosity; and) not through longing for her, nor for frightening her, nor through cupidity, nor through infatuation, nor again through anger. (I am telling) the truth (and) the truth (only). How can I see her true devotion to her husband? Going from here I shall turn her (away from her vow). The cause for that would be the infatuation (caused) by you.

24-29. Having thus ordered the god of love, the king of gods brought about a change in himself (i.e. took up a different form), became handsome and virtuous, made his body graceful by ornaments, was endowed with all possessions and all pleasures and amusements, and possessed all generosity. He would show (i.e. he showed) his sportive movements, handsomeness, virtues and sincerity at the place where, O king, that respectable woman, the dear (wife) of Kṛkala, stayed. But she did not at all look at the man possessing the wealth of handsomeness. O king, Indra would (follow her to) see her wherever she went. The thousandeyed god looked at her only with a longing mind and with all expressions of lustful acts. Wherever the woman went—into a crossway, along a path or to a holy place, the thousand-eyed (god) saw her.

30-32. The female messenger sent by Indra went to Sukalā; and having smiled she said to the glorious Sukalā: “O (great are) your truthfulness, courage, charm and forbearance. In the world there is no other beautiful woman resembling a form like that of this one. O auspicious one, who are you? Whose wife are you? He, whose virtuous wife you are, is blessed and meritorious on the earth.”

33-37. Hearing her words the high-minded lady said (to her:) “(Kṛkala) the religious-minded one, lover of truth, was born in the vaiśya caste. I am telling you the truth: I am the dear wife of that intelligent and veracious Kṛkala. That my very intelligent, righteous-minded husband has gone on a pilgrimage. O glorious one, listen; three years have passed since he, my lord, left (for the pilgrimage). Since then I have been afflicted without (i.e. due to separation from) the magnanimous one. Thus I have told you all this my account. Tell me who, that ask me (‘who I am’), you are.”

38-51a. Hearing the words of Sukalā, the messenger spoke again: “O good one, you are asking me like this. I shall tell you everything. O you of an excellent complexion, I have come to you for (i.e. on) some mission. Listen (as) I shall tell you; and having heard, know it accurately. O you of a beautiful face, your merciless husband has gone after abandoning you. What will you do with him, the sinful one, who does harm to his beloved, endowed with a good conduct? What, O you young lady, have you to do with him, who has gone (away) and is alive or dead? What will you do with him? You are thus grieving in vain. Why do you destroy your divine body, lustrous like gold? O you auspicious one, O you glorious one, a man does not get any pleasure except children’s sports, when childhood is attained by him. In old age, unhappiness comes (to him), and old age completely destroys his body. O you beautiful lady, he gladly enjoys all pleasures in youth. As long as youth lasts, men enjoy all pleasures and enjoyments. A man enjoys as he likes. He enjoys pleasures as long as youth lasts. What will you do, O good lady, when youth has. gone? O respectable lady, no occupation succeeds when old age comes (to him). An old man constantly thinks, (but) does not (i.e. cannot) easily do any job. O young lady, bridge is constructed after water has gone (i.e. flowed). In the same way, O auspicious lady, the body would be (useless) when youth has passed. Therefore, enjoy happily; and drink sweet wine. O you of charming eyes, these arrows of Cupid are burning your body. This handsome and virtuous man has come. O you of an excellent complexion, this best man, who knows everything, who is virtuous and wealthy, is ever full of love for you.”

Sukalā said:

51b-60. The soul does not have childhood; in life there is no youth. He (i.e. the soul) does not have old age. He (has) accomplished (everything); he grants good divine attainments. He is immortal, unaging, pervading (everything), (has) well accomplished (everything), and is best among the omniscient ones. Himself being desireless,[1] he fulfils desires, and lives in the world in the form of the soul. The formation of the body is seen to be like that of a house. As the. body is (weak) due to old age, so is a house with a thread. One should effect it with the heaps of many sticks and collections of pieces of wood, with clay and water also. Besmeared with variegated (objects) by plasterers, a (piece of wood) becomes agreeable. A house first bound by a thread gets a form; and they themselves everyday maintain it by smearing it. The house constantly rocked by wind gets dirty. This is said to be the middle period of the house. It would lose its form, and the master of the house would smear it. The lord of the house, by his own desire, would make the house beautiful. O messenger, the youth of the house is said (to be like this). After a long time due to the heaps of sticks it becomes old. They lose their positions, and move to the tips of the roots. It does not (i.e. is not able to) stand the burden of the smearing, and stands (only) with a prop.

61-70a. O messenger, listen, this is said to be the old age of the house. The lord of the house, seeing the house falling, would leave it. To enter another house he goes away quickly. Like that are the childhood, youth and old age of men. In childhood, he, being of the form of a child, would. act senselessly. He would even decorate his body with garments, ornaments and jewels, and also with smearings with sandal (-pastes), and others produced from tāmbūla etc. The body becomes young, and he becomes very handsome. He would nourish his exterior and interior with all juices. Being nourished like that he becomes strong. Due to the juices, fresh and excellent, increase in flesh takes place. O king, the limbs also become extended and corpulent. The minor limbs also take their own form due to the intake of juices also. The teeth, lips, breasts, arms, waist, back, both the hands and the soles of the feet (also) similarly develop. Due to these two (i.e. juices and flesh) the limbs develop. They become beautiful due to the juices and flesh. O messenger, due to these forms, a mortal becomes one dependent on juices. A mortal is called handsome in the world. Due to what would he be liked?

70b-78. O messenger, this body is the store of feces and urine. The impure, shameless body always exudes (sweat). O you auspicious one, what is (the use of) describing its beauty? It is like a bubble on water. Till he is fifty years old, he remains strong. Then after that, day by day, he loses (his strength). His teeth become loose, and his mouth has a flow of saliva. He would not (i.e. is unable to) see with his eyes, and does not (i.e. cannot) hear with his ears. O messenger, he is not able to make any movement with his hands and feet. Being afflicted with old age, the body becomes unfit. The juice, dried up with the fire of old age, withers. O messenger, he becomes unfit. Who desires handsomeness? As an old house perishes—there is no doubt about it, in the same way the body becomes weak in old age. Everyday you are describing that beauty has come to me (i.e. I am beautiful). Due to what am I endowed with beauty? Who desires my beauty? Due to what (i.e. in what way) is the man for whom, O messenger, you have come to me—as one goes to an old house—powerful? On account of what are you praising (me)?

79-97. O messenger, now tell me, what did you see in my body? There is nothing here (i.e. in my body) which is short or extra as compared to his body. There is no doubt that as he is, so you are, so also I am. Who would not have beauty? On the earth there is no one (who is really) handsome. All heights end in a fall; O auspicious one, trees and mountains are devastated by time. Beings are like them (only), not otherwise. O messenger, the divine, pure soul, formless (and yet) having a form, is present everywhere, in all immobile and mobile objects. The pure one lives (everywhere) as one (and the same) water remains in (many) pots. On the destruction of the pots, it becomes one. You do not know (this). This soul also becomes just one on the destruction of bodies. I have always seen this form (only) of those who live in the world. Speak like this, after knowing him for whom you have come here. (Tell him:) you should show me something new about the body that is afflicted by a disease, and covered with cough, if you desire to enjoy me here. Blood drops from the body, and he is removed from his position. There is unsteadiness in all the joints of the body and remaining within he singly perishes and would give up his own form. Quickly the condition of feces takes place (i.e. food quickly turns into feces) and (the body) would be (i.e. is full of) insects. He would then give up his own form painful like that. Listen, it later becomes full of bad odour due to insects. Then lice or worms are produced there; there is no doubt about this. The worm causes boils and terrible itch. The louse would produce disease, and would disturb the entire body. The itch scratched with the nail-tips is abated. Similarly hear about copulation (enjoyed) by them. There is no doubt that a mortal enjoys drinks and feasts on abundant supply of food. It is taken to the place of digestion by the breath (called) Prāṇa. O messenger, ail that food taken to the place of digestion is covered there, and the wind (called Apāna) would make the fece fall (out of the body). The liquid which has become vigorous there, becomes red (blood). Being free from dirt and of a pure vigour it goes to Brahmā’s place. Being dragged by the wind (called) Samāna, and taken by that very wind, he does not obtain a place. The semen remains unsteady. In the skulls of beings five (kinds of) insects live. Two of them live at the root of the ears, and (two) at the place of the eyes. Having the size of the small finger, they have red tails, O messenger. Having the (white) colour of butter, they have black tails. There is no doubt about this.

98-109. O good one, listen to their names being narrated by me: The two, named Piṅgalī and Śṛṅkhalī, remain at the root of the ears. The two Capala and Pippala remain on the tip of the nose. The two others, Śṛṅgalī and Jaṅgalī remain inside the eyes. There is no doubt that there are one hundred and fifty (varieties) of insects like that. All they remain at the border of the forehead and have the size of a mustard. All (these) carrying diseases deform (the body); there is no doubt about it. O messenger, listen, a pair of hair remains in his mouth. Know that the destruction of beings takes place just at that moment. There is no doubt about it. The vigour falls in the form of a fluid. There is no doubt about it. He drinks the vigour with his mouth, and by that becomes inebriated. It remains unsteady in the middle part of the palate. There remain (the two vessels of the body called) Iḍā and Piṅgalā and the artery called Suṣumnā. Due to the great power of it only, there is indeed the itch for sex in the cage formed by the net of arteries, in the case of all beings. O messenger, the organs of generation of the male and also of the female throb. Then the male and the female, being inflamed with passion, unite. The body (of the male) is rubbed with the body (of the female). Due to coitus a momentary pleasure is produced. Then again a similar itch is (produced). Such a condition is indeed observed everywhere, O messenger. Go to your own place. There is nothing new about it. I have nothing new, nor do I do anything new. This is certain.

Footnotes and references:


The analogy occurring in verses 53, 54, 55, 57 etc. is not sufficiently clear; also the description in vv. 94, 95, 101b etc. is not clear (Tr.).

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