The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes The Story of Emperor Tondaman which is chapter 10 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the tenth chapter of the Venkatacala-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 10 - The Story of Emperor Toṇḍamān

[Toṇḍamān Inherits the Kingdom from His Father]:—

Śrī Śuka said:

1. O king, this lake named Padmasaras is destructive of sins. Through glorification, recollection and holy dips it bestows fortune and prosperity on men on the earth. You too take your bath in this and then go to your father.

Śrī Varāha said:

2-5. On hearing these words of Śuka king Toṇḍamān toot his bath in the excellent lake Padmasaras, bowed to him, mounted his horse and returned to his city.

The father installed him as a crown-prince for three years. He noted the various good qualities of his son, such as the ability of pleasing aṇḍ reconciling (turbulent ones), capacity for work, heroism, courage, courteous good conduct aṇḍ devotion to Brāhmaṇas. So the king consecrated him (by sprinkling water) in accordance with the injunctions and crowned him king in his own place. After consoling his son the king went to the forest along with his wife.

[Vasu Sees Śrī Varāha in the Anthill[1]]:—

6-9. After inheriting the empire Toṇḍamān ruled over the kingdom.

In the forest of that Niṣāda the Lord assumed the form of a boar and grazed in the field of Śyāmāka grains every night. During the day time the forester used to see the imprints of the feet of the boar and followed them but failed to see him. One night with a bow (in his hand) he lay in wait. Then he saw the boar of magnificent features, having the lustre similar to that of a crore of moons. He was grazing in the middle of the Śyāmāka field. On seeing him he took up his bow and roared like a lion.

10. On hearing that roaring sound the boar came out of that Śyāmāka field hurriedly and went away. The king of Niṣādas followed the boar.

11. During the whole of the remaining part of the night the leader of the foresters pursued the boar of lunar lustre. (Ultimately) he saw it entering an anthill.

12. When the boar vanished within the anthill, it appeared as though the full moon had set behind a mountain. He became surprised as well as furious. The leader of the hunters dug up the anthill.

13-14. The boar was seen but the hunter swooned and fell down. On seeing his father fallen unconscious the son who was very devout, eulogized Lord Varāha (Boar). Thereby Hari became pleased. Possessing his father the Slayer of Madhu said:

Śrī Bhagavān said:

15. I am Varāha, the Lord of Devas. I permanently reside here. Tell the king to install me here and worship me.

16-17. The anthill should be washed with the milk of a black cow. The idol of Varāha should be taken out, placed on the ground and then installed on the rocky slab rising from the anthill by Brāhmaṇas and anchorites. Toṇḍamān, the excellent king, should worship me by means of various kinds of food offerings and other articles of enjoyment.

18-19. After saying this the Lord left him (Vasu). He became normal. The son of the hunter bowed down to his father who was comfortably seated. He intimated to his father everything as said by the Lord. On hearing the whole of the splendid statement of his son he became surprised.

[Vasu Recounts to King Toṇḍamān the Story of Varāha]:—

20. The hunter hastened (to the city) along with his followers to report this to the king. Vasu, the lord of the hunters, approached the entrance to the royal palace.

21-22. Knowing that the king of hunters had come, the excellent king called him in through the gatekeepers. The king honoured Vasu and his son along with their followers and attendants in the Assembly together with his ministers. The delighted king asked Vasu, the forester, “O forester, what is the purpose of your visit? Tell me.”

Vasu said:

23-25. O king, a mysterious thing has been witnessed (by me) in my forest. Listen, O king. A certain white boar grazed the Śyāmāka rice at night. With a bow in my hand I pursued that boar, O king. On being chased that boar ran with the speed of wind and entered an anthill on the banks of Svāmipuṣkariṇī even as I was watching, O king.

26-27. I furiously dug up the anthill, but fell unconscious oṇ the ground. This, my son, came and saw me lying on the ground unconscious. Purifying himself he eulogized the Lord of Devas, the Slayer of Madhu. Thereupon Lord Varāha possessing me spoke to my son:

28-33. “O lord of hunters, immediately intimate to the king all my account. Let the king wash the anthill with the milk of a black cow sprinkled on it. A splendid rocky slab will be seen within the anthill. The king should prepare through a sculptor an idol of mine in sitting posture with the face of a Boar with Goddess Earth seated on my left lap. It shall be installed by prominent sages and anchorites. Toṇḍamān should worship the same along with the excellent sages. He should slowly wash and bathe (the idol of) Śrīnivāsa whose pair of feet are covered by the anthill. He should do so (wash) with the milk of a dark tawny-coloured cow. Everyday it should be bathed as far as the foot-pedestal. He should get built ramparts (walls) on both the northern and southern sides.”

After saying this the Lord left me. O king, I became normal. It is to communicate this act of the Lord of Devas to you that I have come.

[The King’s Journey to Śeṣācala Through the Sub-terranean Path as Per Instructions of the Niṣāda and those Received in His Dream]:—

Śrī Varāha said:

34-37. On hearing it Toṇḍamān became surprised and delighted very much. After consultation with Puṣkara and other ministers he came to a decision on the issue. He became desirous of going to Veṅkaṭādri. He called together all the cowherds and ordered: “Bring all my tawny-coloured and black-coloured cows along with their calves near Veṅkaṭādri.”

After commanding the cowherds thus he bade farewell to the Ministers saying, “The journey shall take place tomorrow.” After dismissing all the officers of administration the king of perfect self-control entered the inner apartment. After telling that story to his wives at night the king went to sleep.

38-41. In his dream Śrīnivāsa pointed out the path of the cave to the king (who saw that) Hari had strewn sprouts and tender shoots from the city to the entrance to the cave.

After seeing such a dream that king hurriedly got up in the morning. He called together all the Ministers, the officers of the government and the Brāhmaṇas and told them about the dream in the manner it had occurred. He saw the sprouts at the entrance.[2]

At the proper auspicious hour Toṇḍamān mounted his horse and proceeded slowly following the sprouts and shoots with great delight. Then he reached the cave. On seeing it the king was surprised. He built a city there.

[The King Performs the Rite of Abhiṣeka and Builds a Rampart Wall at the Instance of the Lord]:—

42-43. After making the cave come within the (precincts of the) city he got a rampart wall built. The king stayed there and conquered the whole of the earth. He performed the rite of washing (the Varāha’s anthill) with milk as instructed by the Lord of Devas and then made arrangements to build the rampart wall.

44-47. At that time the king was commanded by the Lord, of Devas himself: “Guard these two excellent trees of Tintiṇī (Tamarind) and Caṃpaka. The Tamarind tree is my abode while the Caṃpaka is the abode of Lakṣmī. They are always to be bowed to by kings, sages, Devas and human beings. After retaining these two, O excellent king, cut off all the other big trees. Build the rampart wall alone for me with an ornamented gateway and doors. A king of your lineage, Nārāyaṇa by name, a great devotee of mine, will make the Vimāna (Temple). He will adorn it with gold.”

Śrī Varāha said:

48-50. After saying this to King Toṇḍamān the Lord of Śri became silent.

On hearing the words of the Lord and after building the rampart wall he worshipped the Lord along with the sages born in the families (beloṅging to the group) of Vaikhānasas (anchorites). Everyday the king came by the sub-terranean path and bowed down to the Lord. The excellent king ruled the kingdom virtuously, enjoying excellent pleasures.

[The Story of the Brāhmaṇa Vīraśarman who had Returned from the Pilgrimage to Gaṅgā]:—

51-54. At that very same time an excellent Brāhmaṇa of the southern region was on his way (to Kāśī) for taking a holy bath in Gaṅgā. He had started from his city along with his wife. The Brāhmaṇa lady became pregnant on the way. On seeing that his pregnant wife would not be (physically) capable enough to follow him the Brāhmaṇa wanted to see the king. He came to the entrance to the royal palace. Informed by the gatekeeper, the king called the excellent Brāhmaṇa, honoured him duly and enquired about his health and happiness.

The king asked:

55-58. What is the purpose of your visit, O Brāhmaṇa? What shall I do for you?

The Brāhmaṇa said:

O excellent king, I am Vīraśarman belonging to Vasiṣṭha Gotra. I am a Sāmavedin. Eager to have a holy bath in Gaṅgā, I started from my place along with my wife. On the way this meritorious lady of the family of Kuśika, well-known by the name Lakṣmī, has become pregnant. She is a chaste lady of very good conduct. I wish to keep her here in your abode and proceed with (my pilgrimage and) holy observances. Hence, O king, give her food and regular cash allowance as much as she wishes for. Let Lakṣmī be looked after till my return.

Śrī Varāha said:

59-61. On hearing his words the king sanctioned food grains and cash allowance to her for six months and gave her residence in the inner apartments.

After keeping her there the Brāhmaṇa became pleased and set out for the holy bath in Gaṅgā. He went to Gaṅgā Bhāgīrathī at the excellent holy place Prayāga. After bath he proceeded to Kāśī where he stayed for three days. After that he arrived at Gayā and the excellent Brāhmaṇa performed the Śrāddha ritual uṇto his (paternal) ancestors.[3]

62. After going to the city of Ayodhyā he went to Badarīvana. From there he went to Śālagrāma[4] and then started back towards his own native place.

63-66. After a lapse of two years on an auspicious day in the month of Caitra the excellent Brāhmaṇa returned. After proceeding ahead slowly he went to the king once again on the eleventh day in the bright half of Mādhava (Vaiśākha) month.

The king had forgotten about the Brāhmaṇa lady. As the king did not remember (to sanction the allowances) the proud Brāhmaṇa lady died in the house. Her dead body became very dry.

Vīraśarman opened his box of sealed pots of Gaṅgā water and handed one of the splendid pots to the king and asked him, “Is my wife happy and well?”

67-70. The king now remembered everything. He said to the Brāhmaṇa, “Be pleased to wait.” He went into the inner apartment and found her dead.

Without telling the Brāhmaṇa anything he entered the excellent cave. He bowed down to Śrī Nṛsiṃha and then again came back to the excellent cave. He went to visit the great Lord Śrīnivāsa accompanied by Śrī and Bhūmi. On seeing him come suddenly Dharā and Ramā hid themselves. As he was bowing down, the Lord said to him, “O king, why have you come at this odd hour?”After bowing down to the Lord the frightened king told him that the lady had died.

[The Greatness of the Excellent Lake Asthisarovara]:—

71-73. On hearing that the Lord of Devas said: “O king, do not be afraid of the excellent Brāhmaṇa. Place the dead lady in a palanquin accompanied by your own womenfolk. To the east of my shrine, O king, there is a lake named Asthisaras which prevents premature death. Bathe the dead body in that lake on the Dvādaśī (twelfth) day. She will be resuscitated. She will become united with the Brāhmaṇa as well as with the other ladies. Go quickly, O excellent king. Carry out the instruction given.”

74-80. On hearing these words of the Lord the king went back to his city. He placed that lady and other womenfolk in beautiful palanquins. Keeping the Brāhmaṇa at the head, the king went to visit the Lord. After reaching the Asthikūṭasaras he made the womenfolk take their bath. That (Brāhmaṇa lady) in the form of skin and bones was thrown by them into the excellent lake. She regained her life and all her limbs became fully developed as before. That lady of great auspiciousness rose up from the lake along with the womenfolk and queens after their bath. She rejoined the Brāhmaṇa, her husband, who had returned (from the pilgrimage) and became pleased.

After worshipping Had the king gave money to the Brāhmaṇa to the tune of a thousand gold coins as well as different kinds of garments. He then bade farewell to him and allowed him to go back to his own land, showing him due respect. The Brāhmaṇa heard about the incidents that had occurred in the life of his wife as well as the power of Veṅkaṭeśa. He showered blessings on the king and went back to his native land.

After the Brāhmaṇa had gone Śrīnivāsa spoke to the king once again:

81-83. “Everyday at midday, O king, after the food offering, come here and worship me with golden lotuses as you please. Then go back to the city, O lord of men, and rule over the kingdom as required by your duty (as a king). Whatever is desired by you, O king, will undoubtedly happen. You should not come at odd time, O king, on any occasion. After regularly performing the timely worship return to your capital and stay there.”

The king said:

84-85. O Lord of Devas, I shall do so. I shall perform worship at midday too.

Thus at the behest of the Lord he performed worship everyday with golden lotuses.

[The Story of the Devotee Named Bhīma Born in a Potter’s Family in the Village Kurvagrāma]:—

Once he saw a Tulasī (Basil) flower made of clay above his golden lotuses.

86-88. On being struck with wonder the excellent king asked the Lord of the Chiefs of Devas:

The king enquired:

By whom are you worshipped with lotuses and leaves of Tulasī made of clay?

On being asked by the king the Lord of Devas recollected and said to the kiṅg: “A certain potter, a great devotee of mine, resides in Kurvagrāma.[5] He worships me in his house, O king, and that (worship) is accepted by me.”

On hearing the words of the Lord thus the king went to meet him (the potter).

89. He went to the city of Kurvapura and called at the abode of the potter. On seeing the king come he stood there in front of him bowing down.

90. The excellent king asked (the potter) named Bhīma who stood thus:

Toṇḍamān asked:

O Bhīma of excellent family, how do you worship the Lord? Tell me.

Śrī Varāha said:

91. On being asked the potter said: “I have never known any worship. By whom has this been said, O excellent king, that the potter worships?”

Toṇḍamān said:

92-94. Your worship has been mentioned to me by Lord Śrīnivāsa.

On hearing the words of the king he remembered the boon granted to him formerly by the Lord.

Bhīma said:

“When the worship (that you perform) is revealed, when king Toṇḍamān comes, when you have a conversation with him, you will attain salvation”—formerly Veṅkaṭeśvara, the Lord, had granted this boon.

[The Devotee Named Bhīma, Resident of Kurvagrāma Attains Vaikuṇṭha along with His Wife]:—

95-99. After saying thus the potter along with Ms wife (got ready for their salvation).

On seeing that the heavenly chariot had come they saw Lord Janārdana. Bowing down to the Lord along with his wife the excellent devotee cast off his life.

Even as the king of kings was watching he assumed a divine form and got into the heavenly chariot. He then went to Viṣṇu’s region along with (his wife turned into a) goddess.

On seeing this wonderful event the king became delighted. He returned to his own city. He crowned his son named Śrīnivāsa in accordance with the injunctions. He directed his son thus: “Protect the earth and the people virtuously.” After giving him directives the intelligent king performed a great penance. As he performed the penance, Lord Hari appeared before him directly.

[King Toṇḍamān Attains Sārūpya Through the Grace of Viṣṇu]:—

100-103. Lord Hari became visible to him as seated on Garuḍa in the company of Ramā and Bhūmi.

Śrī Bhagavān asked:

O excellent king, what shall I do for you? I have been propitiated by your penance.

On being told thus by the Lord of Devas Toṇḍamān, the king of kings, became delighted. With palms joined in reverence he said in faltering words:

“I wish to reside in your world that is devoid of death and old age. Grant me this boon alone, O Mādhava. This is what is desired by me.”

Śrī Varāha said:

104-106. After saying this he prostrated on the ground before the Lord with eight limbs touching the ground. He cast off the body and climbed into a heavenly chariot. He attained Sārūpya (‘similarity of form’) with the Śārṅga-wielding Lord and was eulogized by Gandharvas. He attained that region of Viṣṇu which is devoid of grief and delusion, which is free from death and old age and from which there is no return (to worldly existence).

[The Benefit Accruing from Listening to, Reading and Reciting the Greatness of This (Episode)]:—

107-109. O goddess of Devas of excellent complexion, he who recounts or listens to this future event recounted by me, goes to the world of Viṣṇu.

Śrī Sūta said:

He who listens to or reads with devotion this narrative of the future events and the sequel, the meritorious traditional story, enjoys all desirable things (in the world) and on death goes to the region of Viṣṇu.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

As stated in the note on pp. 48-49, Toṇḍamān here means the king of Toṇḍamaṇḍala. The disappearance and stay of the divine Boar Viṣṇu into an anthill has its counterpart in the pastoral god Viṭṭhala—Bīradeva (of Maharashtra and Karnatak) who is supposed to have stayed in an anthill. There is a close similarity between catapulting of a primitive god into Viṭṭhala (of Pandharpur) and Veṅkaṭeśa, the veritable Viṣṇu from. Vaikuṇṭha—Tr.

[2]:

The author hereby suggests that “Pallava” is the name of the dynasty that ruled over Toṇḍamaṇḍala (Kāñcī).

[3]:

This is the proper order in Tristhalī Yātrā.

[4]:

A place near the source of Gandak where Bharata and sage Pulaha performed penance (De 174).

[5]:

The village of Kurvas, probably a Sanskritization of ‘Kurava’, a hill-tribe living in and around the Tirupati hill.

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