The Padma Purana

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

This page describes matali’s discourse on old age which is chapter 64 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 sixty-fourth 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 64 - Mātali’s Discourse on Old Age

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Pippala said:

1-2. Tell me in detail, how, by the grace of his father, Yadu obtained happiness and enjoyed well. O son of Kuṇḍala, tell me also in detail how Ruru suffered as a result of his sin, O best brāhmaṇa.

Sukarman said:

3-11a. Listen, I shall tell you the account of the very meritorious Nahuṣa, and the noble Yayāti, (the account) which destroys sin. Nahuṣa, the lord of the earth sprang from (i.e. was born in) the Soma dynasty. He made many matchless gifts. He performed an excellent century of the horse-sacrifices (i.e. performed a hundred excellent horse-sacrifices). He also performed a hundred Vājapeya sacrifices and many kinds of (other) sacrifices. By the power of his religious merit he obtained (i.e. went to) Indra’s world. He made his very intelligent son Yayāti, endowed with truthfulness, having piety as his valour, the protector of his subjects (i.e. the king). The king (Nahuṣa) went to (i.e. obtained) Indra’s position. His son Yayāti, endowed with truthfulness, who (occupied) his place (i.e. the throne), would protect (i.e. protected) the subjects religiously. He himself would look (i.e. looked) after his subjects and the respective duties. Having learnt about excellent duty, he, who knew righteousness got sacrifices performed. He did everything like performing sacrifices, (visiting) holy places, giving gifts (giving) religious merit. The intelligent son of the king (Nahuṣa) ruled truthfully for eighty thousand years in those days. The glorious Yayāti passed that much time (in truthfully ruling his subjects).

11b-15. He had four sons who were powerful and valorous like him. I shall tell (you) their names. Listen with a concentrated (i.e. attentive) mind. His eldest son was Ruru by name, who was very powerful. The second son was named Puru; the third one was Kuru; the fourth son of the king was Yadu by name, who was religious-minded. Thus the noble Yayāti had four sons. By means of their lustre and manliness, they resembled their father in valour. Thus Yayāti ruled his kingdom righteously. Great were his fame and glory in the three worlds.

Viṣṇu said:

16-18. Once the greatest brāhmaṇa, Nārada, the son of Brahmā, went to Indra’s world to see Indra, O king. The thousand-eyed god (i.e. Indra) saw the brāhmaṇa (i.e. Nārada) who was omniscient, who was proficient in (all kinds of) knowledge, whose lustre was like fire, (when) he came there. With his neck bent in devotion (i.e. bowing in devotion), he seated the best sage, who was honoured with a respectful offering,[1] on an auspicious seat, and asked him:

Indra said:

19. Where have you come from today? For what purpose have you come here? O brāhmaṇa, O great sage, what very dear to you should I do today?

Nārada said:

20-21. O king of gods, O very intelligent one, I am pleased with all that you did devoutly and with what you said. I shall answer your questions. I have now safely come to your house from the earth. After having seen (Yayāti), the son of Nahuṣa, I have come to seek you.

Indra said:

22-23. Which king, being learned, wise, virtuous, and full of righteousness, always protects his subjects truthfully? On the earth, which is the king, who knows the Vedas, to whom the brāhmaṇas are dear, who is pious, who is conversant with the Vedas, who is a sacrificer, who is a donor, and who is a great devotee?

Nārada said:

24-30. With these qualities was endowed the powerful son of Nahuṣa, due to whose truthfulness and valour all people were well-settled. Yayāti, the son of Nahuṣa, is like you on the earth. As you are in the heaven, enhancing the prosperity (of your subjects), so he is on the earth enhancing the prosperity (of his subjects). O great king, that king Yayāti, superior to his father, performed a hundred horse-sacrifices, and also a hundred Vājapeya sacrifices. Devoutly. he gave gifts in many forms like thousands of lakhs and hundreds of crores of cows. In the same way, he performed a crore of sacrifices, so also lakhs of sacrifices. He also gave gifts like grants of land to brāhmaṇas. He has protected Dharma in its full form. As you are ruling here in the heaven, so Yayāti, Nahuṣa’s son, the best king, who was endowed with these qualities, truthfully ruled for eighty thousand years.

The intelligent Sukarman said:

31-47. The lord of gods, having heard like this from the best of sages, reflected, and was afraid of (his) protecting the Dharma. (He thought:) ‘Formerly, by the power of hundred sacrifices, the brave Nahuṣa went to (i.e. obtained) my position of Indra, and became the king of gods. He fell from that as a result of Śacī’s intelligence. This great king who is like his father in valour, will undoubtedly reach Indra’s position. There is no doubt about it. With this or that means (i.e. by hook or crook) I shall bring the king to heaven.’ The lord of gods, who was afraid of him, thought like this. Then the king of gods, O best king, due to the great fear of that king Yayāti, sent his messenger to bring him to heaven. (He sent) Nahuṣa’s aeroplane endowed with all pleasures, and his charioteer Mātali with the aeroplane. Mātali, who was sent by the lord of gods to bring the very intelligent (Yayāti) went there where (Yayāti), Nahuṣa’s son, stayed. As Indra, shines in his assembly, in the same way Yayāti, the religious-minded (king), shone in his own assembly. The charioteer of the king of gods said to that magnanimous king, whose ornament was truth: “O king, listen to my words. I have now been sent to you by the king of gods. Do, with a good (i.e. devoted) mind, all that the king of gods tells. O lord, you should come to Indra’s world; (do) not (do) otherwise (i.e. do come), after having entrusted your kingdom to your son, and after having performed the best and the last sacrifice (in your life). O son of Nahuṣa, the very lustrous king lives there. Purūravas, of a great power, the noble-minded Vipracitti (also live there). Śibi lives there, Manu, king Ikṣvāku, the intelligent (king) named Sagara, and your father Nahuṣa (live there). The grateful Ṛtavīrya, and the noble Śantanu, and Bharata, Yuvanāśva, also king Kārtavīrya,—(all these) kings, after having offered various sacrifices are rejoicing in heaven. Many other kings also, very much devoted to the performance of sacrifices, are all rejoicing as a result of their meritorious acts in heaven with Indra; and you again know all the Dharma and are well established in Dharma. (Therefore,) O king, rejoice with Śakra (i.e. Indra) in heaven.”

Yayāti said:

48. What deeds have I done due to which this request is made to me by you and by Indra, the lord of gods? Tell me all that.

Mātali said:

49-52. Since, O king, you performed meritorious acts like giving gifts, and performed sacrifices for eighty thousand years, (therefore) due to (i.e. as a result of) your deeds, go to heaven, O lord of the earth. Make friendship with the lord of gods. Go to the abode of gods (i.e. heaven). O you highly intelligent one, leave your body having the five (elements) as its constituents, on the earth; and taking up a divine form, enjoy pleasures after your heart (i.e. as you like). O lord of men, pleasures in heaven solicit (i.e. wait for) you in accordance with the sacrifices which are performed by you, or gifts which are given by you or penance which is practised by you, on the earth.

Yayāti said:

53. O Mātali, how should one go to the world obtained (according to one’s deeds) by leaving the body with which good or bad deeds would be (i.e. are) accomplished on the earth?

Mātali said:

54-55. O king, men go to him due to divine (deeds) after leaving the body there (i.e. on the earth) only, where they have obtained this body of the nature of the five (elements). All other men also, who obtain merit or demerit, go down (i.e. to the hell) or up (i.e. to the heaven) after leaving the body (here).

Yayāti said:

56-60. O Mātali, having produced merit or demerit with the body of the nature of the five (elements), all other men do go up or down. What is the difference due to which one would leave (i.e. leaves) the body on the earth, O you who know moral virtue? (How do you say that) the body would fall (i.e. falls) as a result of (one’s) sin or religious merit? In the mortal sphere, O charioteer, an example is directly seen. I, (therefore), do not see a greater difference between sinful or meritorious deeds. Why does a man, a mortal, leave the body with which he performs deeds like truthful behaviour? The soul and the body are both friends (of each other). The well-determined soul goes after leaving his friend viz. the body.

Mātali said:

61-65. O king, you have said the truth. He goes after leaving the body. There is (then) no connection of the soul with that body. Since this (body) of the nature of the five (elements) is always worn out in the joints, is troubled by old age, and always damaged by diseases, he (i.e. the soul) does not desire to stay here (i.e. in it). Being agitated and troubled, the soul leaving it (i.e. the body) departs. Due to truthfulness, acts of religious merit, gifts, religious observance and restraints, sacrifices like the horse-sacrifice, (visits to) holy places, and self-control, and also due to good deeds of great religious merit old age is not at all undergone. (On the other hand,) O great king, it attacks the body by means of sins.

Yajāti said:

66. O best one, please tell me in detail, from what old age has sprung up and why it troubles the body.

Mātali said:

67-95. I shall describe to you the cause of old age; and why it has sprung up in the body, O you best king. The body of the nature of the five elements, is resorted to by the five objects of sense. O king, when the soul leaves the body, it (i.e. the body) is burnt. O king, when blazing with fire the body burns along with the fluids. From it smoke is produced, and from smoke clouds are produced. Water proceeds from the clouds; the earth becomes ready for water as a chaste woman in her menses implores water. From that odour is produced, and fluid is produced from odour, O best king. From the fluid food is produced, and semen is produced from food. There is no doubt about this. From semen body is produced; and body is surely ugly. As the earth (element) would produce odour and it moves on the earth through fluids, similarly the body would always move. It is everywhere the substratum of fluids. From it odour is produced and again fluid would be (produced) from odour. From it is produced great fire; O king, mark the analogy. As fire is produced from wood, and would illumine wood, in the same way in the body fire is produced from fluid. It moves there (in the body) and, O king, it always nourishes the body. As long as there is preponderence of fluid (in the body) the soul is tranquil. Fire moving (in the body) like that remains in the form of hunger. Being sharp it desires food with water; O king, it receives the gift—food and water also. The fire consumes blood and semen also like that; there is no doubt about it. Due to that there would be consumption destroying the entire body. O king, when there would be preponderence of fluid, the fire is put down. Being troubled by the fluid, it is produced in the form of fever. The fire having arrested the neck, the back, the waist, the anus remains in all the joints. (Thus) the fire moves on in the body. Its preponderence always continues to exist, and nourishes the body on all sides. (When) the fluid is restrained it then becomes powerful. Being excessive due to power, it would move the vital parts of the body through the semen. Due to that lust is produced; and O king, it would become (i.e. becomes) of the nature of a dart. O king, it is called the fire of lust, which destroys strength. Due to addiction to coitus destruction (takes place) in the body. A being oppressed by the fire of lust would resort to a female. Due to addiction to sexual intercourse, the body which is made violent and emaciated by lust, would become void of lustre, and there is a loss of strength (in the body). The (already) weak body becomes (more) weak when urged on by fire. That fire would consume blood and semen in the body. Due to the consumption of semen and blood, the body becomes dispirited. A violent wind of a terrible form is produced; and then he would be pale, tormented with grief and of a vacant mind. He moves, having in his mind that woman whom he has seen or about whom he has heard. When the course of the mind (i.e. the mind) is greedy, there is no satisfaction in (i.e. of) the body. When the lustful man, ugly or handsome, becomes weak due to brooding and the loss of flesh and blood, there appears old age in the body (being) consumed by the fire of lust. Due to that, he being (more) lustful, becomes older and older day by day. As a usurer thinks of money, so he thinks of a woman in (i.e. for) coitus; so also, O lord of men, there is a loss of his lustre. From that a body is produced, and he perishes. Then undoubtedly fire in the form of old age is again produced; and then there is a terrible fever in the form of (i.e. of the nature of) consumption in the beings. All the immobile and the mobile ones being tormented by fever and by many other troubles, perish. All this I have told you; what else should I tell?

Footnotes and references:


Madhuparka—a respectful offering made to a guest. Its usual ingredients are: Curds, ghee, water, honey and sugar.

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