The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Story of Dhaneshvara which is chapter 29 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-ninth chapter of the Karttikamasa-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 29 - The Story of Dhaneśvara

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śrīkṛṣṇa said:

1. On hearing Nārada’s words thus, Pṛthu became surprised in his mind. Then, O beloved, he worshipped him duly and bade farewell to him.

2. Formerly there was a certain Brāhmaṇa named Dhaneśvara in the city of Avantī. He had deviated from all Brahminical rites. He was wicked-minded and sinful in activities.

3. For the purpose of buying and selling things he used to go from one country to another.

Thus once that Dhaneśvara went to the city of Māhiṣmatī.[1]

4. Formerly, this city had been built by Mahiṣa. Hence it is well-known as Māhiṣmatī. The river Narmadā, the destroyer of sins, forms a defensive ditch to this city.

5. Men who observed Kārttika Vrata had come there from different lands. He attended to them selling things (that they required). Thus he stayed there for a month.

6. For the purpose of selling things he used to move frequently on the banks of Narmadā everyday. On those occasions he saw Brāhmaṇas engaged in holy baths, Japas or worships of the Lord.

7. He saw some of them reading the Purāṇas, some engaged in listening to them, some eagerly interested in watching (religious) dances or hearing (devotional) songs and instrumental music or stories of Viṣṇu.

8. Some were engaged in the concluding rites of the Vratas; some were enthusiastic about keeping awake; engaged in the worship of the Brāhmaṇas and cows, some were ardently offering lamps.

9. Dhaneśvara saw these in different places very enthusiastically. As he moved in the region regularly he was fortunate enough to contact Vaiṣṇavas, seeing them, talking to them, touching them etc.

10-13. He listened to the names of Viṣṇu frequently uttered by them. Thus that Brāhmaṇa stayed on the banks of Narmada for a month. (One day) he was bitten by a black serpent. Afflicted much he fell down (dead). After death the servants of Yama bound him and at the bidding of Yama threw that Brāhmaṇa Dhaneśvara into the hell Kumbhīpāka. But as soon as he was thrown into that place Kumbhīpāka became very cool like the fire into which Prahlāda was thrown formerly. On seeing this wonder Yama brought him out and questioned him.

14a. Presently Nārada who came there told him:

Nārada said:

14b-16. O son of the Sun-god, this (Brāhmaṇa) does not deserve to suffer in hells, since at the end of his life there occurred certain acts (done by him) that dispel hells.

If a person were to meet, touch or speak to persons of meritorious deeds, he gets one-sixth of their merits invariably. This Dhaneśvara not only contacted them but became their friend too.

17. He had contacted the Kārttikavrata-observers for a month. Hence he must get a share of their merit.

18. Since he has acquired merits unintentionally, let him be born in Yakṣa womb (species) after surveying all the hells that show how sinners fare there.

Śrīkṛṣṇa said:

19. When Nārada went away after saying this, Yama who came to know his meritorious deeds on hearing his words, desired to show him all the hells and asked a servant to take him round.

20. Then the servant of Yama took Dhaneśvara to those hells, desirous of showing him all. Then Pretapa (Head of the departed spirits) said:

Pretapa said:

21. O Dhaneśvara, see these terrible hells that instil fear (in everyone). In these the sinners are cooked and tortured continuously by the servants of Yama.

22. A sin that is committed without any intention is called Śuṣka (dry) and what which is committed with intention is known as Ārdra (wet). On the basis of Ārdra and Śuṣka sins, the hells are divided into two groups.

23-24. They are eighty-four in number, with separate locations. It is declared that sins are of seven varieties: (1) Prakīrṇa, (2) Apāṅkteya, (3) Malinīkaraṇa, (4) Jātibhraṃśakara, (5) Upapātaka, (6) Atipāpa and (7) Mahāpāpa.

25-26a. These sinners are cooked in these seven hells in order. Since you came into contact with those who had observed Kārttika Vrata, you acquired (a share in) their merits. Due to that you have been spared suffering in these hells.

Śrīkṛṣṇa said:

26b-27. After showing the hells to him thus, Pretapa took Dhaneśvara

to the world of Yakṣas. There he became a Yakṣa and an attendant of Kubera. He became well-known as Dhana-Yakṣa.

Sūta said:

28-29. After saying this to his great beloved Satyabhāmā, Vāsudeva went to his mother’s house to perform the evening Sandhyā rites.

Brahmā said:

This Kārttika Vrata has such efficacy. It gives worldly pleasures and salvation. Even the sins of persons who witness the Vrata perish and they too attain salvation.

Footnotes and references:


Modern Maheshwar on the right bank of Narmadā, forty miles to the south of Indore (Madhya Pradesh). Relics of the Harappan period were excavated there and are kept in a museum there.

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