The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Uparicara Vasu, a Pious King which is chapter 5 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 fifth chapter of the Vasudeva-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 5 - Uparicara Vasu, a Pious King

Note:Uparicara Vasu was a pious king of Cedi, a great devotee of Viṣṇu. Indra was so intimate with him that he shared his seat and bed with him (Mbh, Śānti 335.17-26). Indra gave him his unfading Vaijayantī garland and a heavenly car and so he always moved in the sky and hence came to be known as Upari-cara (Mbh, Ādi 63.13-17). Other details of his life are given in this and the subsequent chapters.

Skanda said:

1. O sage, formerly there was a king called Uparicara Vasu (lit. ‘Vasu who always moved in higher regions’). He was the son of King Āyu[1] and was well-known as Amāvasu. He was a friend of Indra. He got (interested in) devotion unto Lord Nārāyaṇa.

2. He was religious, devoted to his father and propitiated gods and manes. He was engaged in pious conduct, alert and diligent. He was tolerant and envious of none.

3. He rendered assistance to all. He was quiescent, interested in the study of the Vedas (or celibacy), pure, not irascible, moderate in his meals, gentle, free from bad habits, an ascetic.

4. He was unaffacted by pleasure-pain etc., free from passion, bereft of pride, resolute (and self-possessed), and knower of the Self. He was devoid of hypocrisy, gave respect to others. (He was) a Yogī, a performer of penance. He had completely subdued his sense-organs.

5. He was unattached to wealth, sons, wife and other relatives. The king everyday performed devoutly the Japa of Nārāyaṇa.

6. Being pleased with him, Lord Vāsudeva offered him an empire,[2] but he was not interested in it, but propitiated him (Vāsudeva) only respectfully.

7-8. With due attention he used to perform five times the worship of the Lord, according to procedure prescribed in the (Vaiṣṇava) Tantra (prob. Pāñcarātra Āgama). He worshipped gods and manes. He shared what remained (of the previous worship) with Brāhmaṇas and his dependents. And he subsisted on the remaining food. He was devoted to truth and was non-violent towards all living beings.

9. The king knew that consuming flesh of animals was a great sin, and declared so to his subjects.

10. He resorted with all heart to Janārdana, god of goḍs, who has no beginning, middle and end, the imperishable creator of the world.

11-15. The king always concentrated his mind at the feet of Śrī Vāsudeva,[3] and his ears in listening to the story of the Lord. He (devoted) his eyes to the vision of Mukunda, as well as of his devotees. The Lord of the land (king) devoted his speech in praising the qualities of Hari. The king used his nose in smelling the fragrance of Tulasī leaves and flowers, which had touched the feet of Nārāyaṇa, and not any other kind of perfume. He (concentrated) on the touch of the garments enjoyed (used) by the Lord of Śrī (Viṣṇu) to his skin (body). He used his tongue (to take in and enjoy) the food offered to Nārāyaṇa. The king used his feet to go to the sacred precincts of the temple of the Lord, and his hands for th service of Hari.

16. He used his head (the best part of the body) for paying obeisance to the feet of Viṣṇu. He formed intimate friendship with great devotees of the Lord.

17. Not a single moment of the royal sage, who observed the vow of devotion to Viṣṇu, was wasted without (performance of) devotion to the Lord of Ramā.

18. He celebrated with great preparations (and pomp), the festivals of the birth etc. of Viṣṇu. He constructed for this purpose temples, gardens and parks.

19. O excellent Brāhmaṇa, while he was carrying on with such devotion unto Nārāyaṇa, the king of gods (Indra) offered him, of his own accord, participation in his own bed and seat.

20. Indra gave him the most beautiful garland known as Vaijayantī, made of unfading lotuses. Hé also gave him precious stones and jewels in abundance.

21. Everything, his own self, kingdom, wealth, queen, vehicles, were always looked upon by him as belonging to the Lord.

22. With full concentration of mind and devoutly he resorted to the Sātvata form of procedure, and regularly performed all great sacrificial acts, both with desired objects in view, and as demanded by the occasion.

23. In the mansion of that noble soul, prominent Brāhmaṇas, experts in the Pāñcarātra doctrine, generally used to enjoy food offered to the Lord.

24. While the destroyer of enemies ruled in the righteous way, no untruth was uttered (by him), nor did (his) mind get corrupt, not did he commit the slightest sin physically.

25. For the sake of enhancing his devotion unto the Lord the king daily heard the great Tantra called Pāñcarātra from the mouth of devotees of the Lord.

26. Establishing pure religion and gratifying his subjects, the king protected the earth like Indra taking care of heaven.

27. In his kingdom there was no person of the seven varieties of flesh-eaters (Rākṣasas) nor were there any wearing the garb of atheists.

28. In his kingdom adulterous women and men seducing the wives of others, or perpetrators of promiscuous, irreligious acts (such as intercaste marriages) were not even heard of.

29. While he ruled his kingdom, nobody even smelt the fragrance of eleven kinds of madya (inebriating drinks)[4], nor three kinds of Surā (spirituous liquors)[5] (a kind of beer—MW).

30. Though he was endowed with these qualities, on a certain occasion he fell down from heaven and entered the bowels of the earth for speaking an untruth out of partiality for the heaven-dwellers (gods).

31. Even while he was within the bowels of the earth, the king, a lover of piety, remained devoted to Nārāyaṇa and was steady in performing the Japa (muttering the name) of the Lord.

32. Through His grace, he was lifted up again (elevated), from the place. After having attained heaven, he enjoyed pleasures as desired by his mind.

33. Through the curse of his manes, he became the king of Cedi (Bundelkhand and a part of Madhya Pradesh in India) on the earth. He performed devotion unto Hari delightfully and alertly in the Pāñcarātra way.

34-35. He then attained heaven. With his divine body the king increased his propitiation of the Lord and great sages and staying there for some time, he attained to the abode of the Lord which is free from all fears.

Footnotes and references:


This Vasu was Āyu’s descendant and not son. His father’s name was Kṛti. (PE, pp 808-809).


According to Mbh, Adi 63.2, Indra gave him the kingdom of Cedi and not Vāsudeva.


VV 11-18 describe how Vasu was an Ekāntin devotee of Vāsudeva. These verses explain in a way how to perform such exclusive type of devotion.


The following verse gives a list of wines of 11 kinds.

pānasaṃ drākṣa-mādhūkaṃ khārcūraṃ tālam aikṣavam |
mādhvīkaṃ ṭāṅk-mādhvīkaṃ maireyaṃ nārikelakam
samānāni vijānīyān madyānyaikādaśaiva tu |

Wine was then prepared from grapes, date-palm, palm-trees, coconuts, sugar-canes etc. and each product was regarded as a separate kind of wine.


The three kinds of Surā are those prepared from honey, gur (raw sugar) and flour (mādhvī gauḍī ca paiṣṭī ca trividhā surā)

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