The Padma Purana

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

This page describes the kalaha episode which is chapter 106 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 one hundred sixth chapter of the Uttara-Khanda (Concluding Section) of the Padma Purana, which contains six books total consisting of at least 50,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.

Chapter 106 - The Kalahā Episode

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Pṛthu said:

1-2. O brāhmaṇa, you told me properly the greatness of Tulasī along with its history. I have listened to this great, very wonderful (account). Tell (me) what great fruit a man gets, who observes the Kārtika vow; (tell) its greatness again. (Tell) also who observed it? and in what manner (did he observe it)?

Nārada said:

3-10. Formerly in the region of Sahyādri in the city of Karavīra there lived a brāhmaṇa known as Dharmadatta, a knower of Dharma. He always observed Viṣṇu’s vow and was always engaged in worshipping Viṣṇu. He was fond of muttering the hymn of the twelve syllables and guests were dear to him. Once in the month of Kārtika he went to Viṣṇu’s temple for keeping awake (in honour) of Viṣṇu, when the fourth part of the night had remained. When he was taking the materials for Viṣṇu’s worship, he saw a demoness of a terrible voice, that had come there. Her fangs and face were crooked; her tongue had gone down; her eyes were red; she was naked; the flesh (in her body) was dry (i.e. she was emaciated); her lips were long (i.e. protruding); her voice was purring. Seeing her, he, afflicted with fear and with limbs trembling, quickly struck her with the materials of worship and water. She was (thus) struck (by him) after remembering Viṣṇu’s name and with Tulasī-water. Therefore, all her sin perished. Then she, remembering her former existence due to the maturity of her acts, told him her entire condition, after saluting him (by prostrating before him) like a staff.

Kalahā said:

11. I have been reduced to this condition as a result of my deeds in the former (existence). O brāhmaṇa, how shall I again attain excellent and auspicious condition?

Nārada said:

12. Seeing her bowing down before (him) and narrating those acts of her, the brāhmaṇa, extremely amazed, then said (these) words:

Dharmadatta said:

13. As a result of which act are you reduced to such a condition? Wherefrom (do you come)? Who are you? What is your disposition? Tell all that to me.

Kalahā said:

14-18a. O brāhmaṇa, in a city in Saurāṣṭra there was a brāhmaṇa named Bhikṣu. I was first his very cruel wife named Kalahā. I never did good to him even by words; I who broke his command and who always liked to quarrel, never gave sweet food to my husband. Then the brāhmaṇa was dejected through grief; that my husband thought of marrying another woman. Then, O brāhmaṇa, taking poison, I cast off my life. Then Yama’s followers bound me and took me away. And Yama seeing me then, asked Citragupta.

Yama said:

18b-19. O Citragupta, see what act she has done. Let her obtain good or bad fruit of her act.

Then Citragupta, censuring her, said (these) words:

Citragupta said:

20-25. She has not done any good act at all. She (herself) ate savoury food, (but) did not give it to her husband. Therefore, let her be (born) in her own feces in the stock of a cockroach. Then, O Hari, she, who hated her husband and always quarrelled, will be (born) in the stock of a female pig eating feces. Since she always ate from the pot in which the food is cooked, (let her be born) among female-cats eating her own young ones. Since she killed herself with reference to her husband, therefore, let this extremely censured one live among ghosts and goblins. Then with the demons she should be taken to the Maru country. Let her, having a ghosts’ body, stay there for a longtime. Thus having undergone (i.e. passed through) three stocks (i.e. existences) (she will be) doing auspicious acts.

Kalahā said:

26-31. That I (i.e. like that I) remained for five hundred years in a ghost’s body. Everyday I was oppressed by hunger and thirst and was afflicted due to my own act(s). Then I, oppressed by hunger everyday, (resorted to) a merchant’s body and came to the confluence of Kṛṣṇā and Veṇī in the southern country. When I resorted to that bank, I was forcibly thrown away from that body(?) by the attendants of Śiva and Viṣṇu. Then, O brāhmaṇa, I who was emaciated with hunger, who was wandering, and whose sin had gone away due to the contact of the Tulasī-water thrown (by you), saw you. Therefore, O best brāhmaṇa, have pity on me. How shall I be free from the three very fearful existences, and from this ghost’s body?

Hearing like this the words of Kalahā, the brāhmaṇa, full of affliction and amazement due to the maturity of her acts, and with his mind restless due to having seen her misery thought for a long time, and sorrowfully spoke (these) words:

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