The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Story of Dantila and Kohala which is chapter 17 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 seventeenth chapter of the Vaishakhamasa-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 17 - Story of Dantila and Kohala

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śrutakīrti said:

1. O bestower of honour, I am not fully satisfied on hearing about all holy rites of Vaiśākha that yield benefit both here and hereafter.

2. There is no satiety in listening to that sacred text that contains truthful instructions about Dharma and splendid and auspicious stories of Viṣṇu.

3. The meritorious deeds done (by me) in the previous births have fortunately matured, because you have come to my abode in the guise of a guest.

4. After having heard the exceedingly wonderful nectarine words issuing from your lotus-like mouth, I am fully contented. I do not desire the position of Brahmā or even salvation.

5. Hence recount in their fullest detail those holy rites that bestow worldly pleasures and liberation, rites that are exceedingly good and cause delight to Viṣṇu.

6. On being told thus formerly by the king, Śrutadeva of great renown, became delighted in his mind and began to recount the auspicious holy rites once again.

Śrutadeva said:

7. Listen, O king, I shall narrate the story that is destructive of sins. It has the Vaiśākha rites for its the me, which have been discussed frequently by sages.

8. On the banks of Paṃpā there was a certain Brāhmaṇa of great reputation named Śaṅkha. When Jupiter entered the Zodiac Leo, he came to the auspicious river Godāvarī.[1]

9-13. After crossing the holy Bhīmarathī he reached the forest Kaṇṭakācala. It was a place devoid of people and water. In the terrible month of Vaiśākha he became oppressed with the heat. At midday that Brāhmaṇa sat at the foot of a tree.

Then a certain roguish hunter of evil conduct came there holding a bow (in his hand). He was devoid of mercy for all living beings. He was like another Kāla, the annihilator.

The Brāhmaṇa who was initiated in holy rites wore rings in his ears. He was resplendent like the sun. On seeing the Brāhmaṇa, the hunter of fierce temperament bound him down and seized the ear-rings. He snatched off his sandals, umbrella, rosary of beads and waterpot. Afterwards he released the Brāhmaṇa saying, “Go away”. Such was the hunter of deluded intellect.

14. He went along the path full of pebbles, scorched by the sun, rough and ragged and devoid of water. His feet were oppressed by the heat. That Brāhmaṇa of sublimated sexual instinct walked slowly resting in places where grass grew and covered the ground.

15-19. At times he ran quickly; in some places he was relieved and happy and in some places sadly exclaimed, Hā! Hā! Thus he moved hurriedly.

On seeing the sage suffering ṃus when the sun was in the middle of the sky, the hunter who was averse to piety and evil in intention usually, pitied him to a certain extent. He thought thus, ‘I shall give him the comfortable footwear which I had taken away in the other forest. This has been righteously agreed by hunters that everything belongs to him alone who snatches by force and robs it. Therefore, I shall give away the sandals for the sake of lessening his suffering. If any merit comes from the act, let it be mine, of this sinner. These are two worn-out sandals on my feet. I have nothing to do with them. Therefore I shall give them away.’ He decided like this in his mind, went to him immediately and gave them to the excellent Brāhmaṇa whose feet had been scorched by the heated pebbles and who was much distressed.

20-25. By taking those sandals, the Brāhmaṇa attained great pleasure. “Be happy”, said he to the hunter and blessed him, “Indeed this (hunter) is one whose merit has become mature, because he made this gift in the monṃ of Vaiśākha. Viṣṇu becomes delighted even with a hunter of wicked nature. The happiness that I have now is as though that of having obtained everything.”

On hearing these words, the hunter became surprised. He spoke again to the Brāhmaṇa, the learned, pious expounder of Brahman, “What is yours has been given to you. How can it be meritorious unto me? You praise Vaiśākha and say, Hari becomes delighted. O Brāhmaṇa, tell me what is this Vaiśākha? Who is Hari? What is meant by Dharma? What is the benefit to one who is desirous of hearing, O storehouse of mercy?” On hearing these words of the hunter, Śaṅkha became delighted in his mind.

26-31. Surprised in his mind he praised Vaiśākha again. “Now this roguish hunter has given me the footwear and has acted contrarily to his usual evil-mindedness. It is surprising. All holy rites yield their fruit in the succeeding births, but holy rites of Vaiśākha yield benefit unto men immediately, in a moment.

The hunter is wicked in mind and evil in conduct. Fortunately by making the gift of the sandals he has attained purity of nature.

The rite that is pleasing to Viṣṇu, the rite that is devoid of impurities, the rite that gives satisfaction, that alone, according to Manu and others conversant with Dharma, is Dharma. Those holy rites of the Vaiśākha month are exceedingly pleasing to Viṣṇu.

Keśava is not satisfied with all kinds of gifts, austerities and great sacrifices as much as (he is) with the holy rites of the Vaiśākha month.

32-36. There is no other Dharma like this among all the Dharmas. People need not go to Gayā or to Gaṅgā, Prayāga or Puṣkara. They need not go to the holy spot of Kedāra, Prabhāsa or Syamantaka (Samantapañcaka[2]) at Kurukṣetra.

Do (i.e. you need) not go to Godāvarī or Kṛṣṇā or Setu (Rāmeśvara) or Marudvṛdha[3]. The holy river of (i.e. in the form of) the divine story, praising the greatness of Vaiśākha-Dharma, is very sacred. Viṣṇu is immediately held within the heart of one who takes his holy baṃ there.

In the month of Vaiśākha much is gained through (doing or offering) very little, that cannot be achieved through charitable gifts, sacrifices or other holy rites involving great expenses (at other times).

O hunter, this month named Mādhava (Vaiśākha) is conducive to the increase of merit. In ṃis month these sandals that destroy the distress resulting from heat (of the sun) have been given to me by you.

37-38a. Thereby your merit of the old times has become ripe. Generally, O hunter, the delighted Lord will cause welfare. Otherwise how can you have a splendid inclination of this type?”

38b-43a. Even as the sage was saying thus, a powerful lion urged by god of Death furiously rushed at a tiger to kill it.[4] But seeing an elephant brought there by fate, he attempted to kill him. The lion attacked him with his paw and stood ready (for fighting). O king, a battle ensued between the lion and the elephant in the forest. Having become tired, they stopped fighting and stood staring at each other.

Fortunately they heard what was said by the noble-souled sage to the hunter. It was destructive of all sins. By listening to the greatness of the month they became pure in heart. They were liberated from their sins. Leaving off their bodies, they went to heaven immediately.

43b-47. They had assumed divine forms. They were smeared with divine unguents. They were seated in a divine aerial chariot. They were served by divine damsels. Suddenly they stood with palms joined in reverence and head bowed down before the hunter. The great sage, the expounder of the holy rites, was surprised on seeing them. He stood motionless and said, “Who may you be? How did it happen that you were born in the lower species of animals? How did it happen that both of you died together? With no apparent cause you were engaged in the attempt to kill each other. Describe in detail all these things, O sinless ones.”

On being requested thus by that sage they replied as follows:

48-53. “We are sons of Sage Mataṅga[5] called Dantila and Kohala. It was on account of a curse that Dantila and Kohala were reborn (as lion etc.).

We were endowed with handsome features and prime of youth. We were experts in all lores. Our father, the Brāhmaṇa-sage named Mataṅga, an expert in the affairs of Dharma, the most excellent one among those conversant with all holy rites, spoke to us: ‘O my sons, in the month of Vaiśākha which is a great favourite of Madhusūdana, erect (free) water-booths on the way, fan the people for a while, make shades on the way, give abundant food and cool water, take holy bath in the morning and worship the Lord. Listen to the story (of the Lord) too regularly, whereby the bondage (of Saṃsāra) will cease.’

Thus we were advised by means of various words of advice like these. Still we were vicious. I, Dantila, became angry. This one named Kohala became more furious than I and also haughty.

54-58. Our father who was very devoted to Dharma became angry and cursed us.

He followed this dictum: One should abandon immediately the son who is averse to righteousness, the wife who speaks displeasingly and the king who is averse to Vedic learning and Brāhmaṇas; otherwise he will fall.[6] Out of courteousness or of covetousness for money, those who associate with them fall into hell and remain there for a period of fourteen Indras (a Manvantara). Therefore he cursed us who were overwhelmed with haughtiness and anger.

He said: ‘This Dantila who has become angry and is carried away by fury shall be born as a lion. The haughty Kohala shall be a big elephant in rut.’ We repented afterwards and requested for liberation. On being entreated by us, our father granted us redemption from the curse.

59-65. ‘You will be born in the lower species. After a lapse of some time you will meet together and want to kill each oṃer. At that very time conversation between a hunter and (sage) Śaṅkha will reach your ears. Within a moment you will be liberated. After your redemption, after having assumed your previous forms, O my sons, come back to me and stay with me. My words will not be otherwise.’

Thus we, those two wicked ones, were cursed by our father. We were reborn as lower animals, met together fortunately, became desirous of slaying each other and heard your conversation that was excellent and auspicious. Thereby we were immediately liberated.”

Thus they recounted everything, bowed down to the great sage and took leave of him. On being permitted by him, they went to their father. Pointing this out, the sage, the storehouse of mercy, said to the hunter:

66. “See the great benefit of listening to the greatness of Vaiśākha. By listening to it for a short while, liberation came within their reach.”

67. While the sage was speaking thus, the hunter laid down his arms before the sage who was a storehouse of mercy, of excellent intellect, devoid of desires, of very pure nature and the sole receptacle of merit.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Hindus believe that when Jupiter enters Zodiac Leo, Gaṅgā visits Godāvarī and pilgrims flock to Godāvarī to have a bath therein, as it is a bath in Gaṅgā itself.

[2]:

The pools of Kṣatriya blood collected by Paraśurāma for the Tarpaṇa of his Pitṛs (Mbh, Ādi 2.4-5; Vana 117.9-10). It became a holy Tīrtha by the blessing of Paraśurāma’s Pitṛs (Mbh, Ādi 2.8-11). This is al Kurukṣetra. According to Mbh, Ādi 2.13-15, it came to be called Samanta-Pañcaka, as “it marked the end of all (Kṣatriyas) who assembled there (for war): sametānām anto yasmin tat samantam.

[3]:

This river of the Nadi-Sūkta (RV X.HI.75.5) is probably modern Maruwardwan, a small rivulet in Kashmir flowing from North to South and joining Chenab near Kashtwar (A. Stein).

[4]:

The following story illustrates the beneficial effect of hearing the description of Vaiśākha-dharmas.

[5]:

This Sage Mataṅga is different from that mentioned in VR, the guru of Śabarī or the ones mentioned in Mbh, Vana 84.101 or Anuśāsana, Ch. 27.

[6]:

A traditional Subhāṣita. A number of Subhāṣitas were orally handed down and are found in all Purāṇas. The sources of these stray verses are not traceable.

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