The Skanda Purana
by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes Dialogue between King Cola and Vishnudasa which is chapter 26 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 twenty-sixth chapter of the Karttikamasa-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
Chapter 26 - Dialogue between King Cola and Viṣṇudāsa
[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]
Note: Vide PdP VI (Uttara Khaṇḍa, Pūrvārdha, Chs. 108, 109).
1. On hearing their words thus with great wonder Dharmadatta prostrated flat on the ground and spoke these words:
2-3. All people worship Viṣṇu, the destroyer of the distress of devotees, by means of Yajñas, charitable gifts, Vratas, Tīrthas and penances in accordance with the injunctions. Is there anything which causes pleasure to Viṣṇu, which takes (the devotees) to his presence and by performing which all the (other) holy rites would have been performed?
The Attendants replied:
4. Well asked by you, O Brāhmaṇa. Listen with concentration of mind to the meritorious story that happened formerly.
5. Formerly Emperor Cola ruled over his kingdom in the city of Kāñcī. The land also was famous by the name Colas after the name of the king.
6. While he was ruling over the earth no man was poor, miserable, sick or wicked in his mind.
7. He performed many big Yajñas on the banks of Tāmraparṇī where golden sacrificial posts were fixed. This heightened the beauty of the banks and made them resemble the garden Caitraratha (of Kubera).
8. Once, O Brāhmaṇa, that king went to Anantaśayana (modern Trivandrum, capital of Kerala) where the Lord of the worlds has resorted to Yogic slumber.
9. There the king duly worshipped the Lord Śrīramaṇa (Lord of Śrī) with jewels and pearls of divine (lustre) and splendid golden flowers.
10. After prostrating before the Lord he sat on the ground. By then he saw that a Brāhmaṇa had also come to the presence of the Lord.
11. For the purpose of the worship of the Lord he held in his hand Tulasī leaves and water. He was a Brāhmaṇa named Viṣṇudāsa, a resident of his own city.
12. That saintly Brāhmaṇa approached the Lord of Devas, bathed him with water mixed with bunches of Tulasī and worshipped repeating Viṣṇusūkta.
13. On seeing that his worship performed with jewels earlier, had been covered by the worship with Tulasī leaves, the king became furious and spoke thus:
14. The worship that I had performed with rubies and gold was splendid. O Viṣṇudāsa, how is it that it has been covered up by Tulasī leaves?
15. You do not know (real) devotion unto Viṣṇu. You are, I think, very poor. Alas! You have covered up my excessively refulgent worship.
16. On hearing the king’s words thus, the excellent Brāhmaṇa also became furious. Violating the majesty of the king he then spoke these words:
17. O king, you do not know what is devotion. You are proud of your royal glory. How many Viṣṇuvratas have been performed by you earlier? Tell me.
The Attendants said:
18. On hearing the words of that Brāhmaṇa the excellent king laughed and haughtily spoke these words to Viṣṇudāsa, the Brāhmaṇa:
The king said:
19. If you say thus, O Brāhmaṇa, because you are too proud on account of your devotion to Viṣṇu, how much can your devotion be? You are an indigent fellow without wealth.
20. Yajñas, charitable gifts etc. which give satisfaction to Viṣṇu have not been performed by you. Nor has any temple been built by you anywhere, O Brāhmaṇa.
21. In spite of being like this you are proud on account of your devotion. Therefore, let all the Brāhmaṇas listen to my words now.
22. Who will directly perceive Viṣṇu first, this fellow or I? May all of you see. Thereupon you will come to know about our devotion.
The Attendants said:
23. After saying ṃus the king went back to his palace. He began a Vaiṣṇava Satra (sacrifice) after inviting Mudgala to be his preceptor.
24. It was the same Satra as was formerly performed elaborately by Brahmā at Gayākṣetra. It was graced with their presence by groups of sages. Much food was distributed and many monetary gifts were given.
25. Viṣṇudāsa continued to stay in the temple performing the Vratas. He performed all the austerities as laid down—those which cause satisfaction to Viṣṇu.
26. He observed the Māgha Vrata and Kārttika Vrata. He planted Tulasī groves and nourished them. On Ekādaśī (eleventh) days he performed the Japa of Hari repeating the twelve-syllabled Mantra.
27. All the sixteen services [see notes below] were performed by him. There were auspicious songs and dances. He performed the worship of Viṣṇu regularly. He observed these Vratas.
28. Even as he walked about he remembered Viṣṇu. He used to sleep on the ground. He viewed all impartially. He saw Viṣṇu dwelling in all living beings.
29. During the months of Māgha and Kārttika he performed all special austerities for the propitiation of Viṣṇu and also the respective concluding rites.
30. Thus King Cola and Viṣṇudāsa propitiated the Lord of Śrī. Even as they performed their Vratas with all their activities and sense-organs dedicated to him (Viṣṇu), a long time elapsed.
Notes regarding Upacāras:
Upacāras are ways of service (unto the Deity). They are:
- Āvāhana (invitation),
- Āsana (offering of seat),
- Pādya (offering water to wash feet),
- Arghya (water etc. offered at the respectful reception of a guest),
- Ācamanīya (water formally offered for sipping),
- Snāna (bath),
- Vastra (offering of clothes after bath),
- Yajñopavīta (offering of a sacred thread),
- Anulepana or Gandha (unguents and fragrant paste of sandal etc.),
- Puṣpa (flowers),
- Dhūpa (sweet smelling incense),
- Dīpa (waving of lamp),
- Naivedya or Upahāra (food, sweetmeats for eating),
- Namaskāra (bowing, prostration before the Deity),
- Pradakṣiṇā (circumambulation around the Deity),
- Visarjana or Udvāsana (bidddng adieu to the Deity).
For other varieties and additions vide HD II, ii, 729-730.
Footnotes and references:
The author’s information about the Cola country is approximately correct but he includes Kerala in it. Inclusion of Anantaśayana (mod. Trivendrum) and the Kerala custom of matriarchy in Cola Royal Dynasty shows that the author’s information is vague (and probably hearsay).