The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Glory of Dhanushkoti: Dharmagupta Gets Rid of his Madness which is chapter 32 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 thirty-second chapter of the Setu-mahatmya of the Brahma-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 32 - The Glory of Dhanuṣkoṭi: Dharmagupta Gets Rid of his Madness

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śrī Sūta said:

1. I shall further recount the glory of Dhanuṣkoṭi, O residents of Naimiṣa forest, due to my respect for you.

2. There was a great king named Nanda, a descendant of the lunar race. He righteously protected ṃis earth extending up to the ocean.

3-8a. He had a son well-known by the name Dharmagupta.[1] Nanda entrusted his son with the burden of protecting the kingdom. He conquered his sense-organs and controlled his diet. He entered the penance grove.

When his father had gone to the penance grove, the king named Dharmagupta ruled the kingdom. He was fully conversant with holy rites and followed good policies and sound ethics. He worshipped Devas with Indra as their leader by means of Yajñas of many kinds. He gave wealth and many pieces of land to Brāhmaṇas. While he was administering the kingdom, all the people were engaged in their own duties. There were no harassments arising from thieves and others.

Once Dharmagupta mounted his excellent horse and entered the forest enthusiastically engaged in hunting, O prominent Brāhmaṇas.

8b-11. In that forest, all the directions were covered with tall trees of Tamāla (Indian cinnamon), Tāla (Palmyra), Hintāla (Phoenix trees), Kurava (Red Amaranth), etc. It was dreadful on account of lions and tigers. The humming sound of the inebriated swarms of bees spread everywhere in all directions. There were many lakes and tanks full of red, white and blue lotuses as well as lilies. It was (as if) adorned by ascetic-folk. While Dharmagupta, the king, was wandering through the forest, O Brāhmaṇas, night set in. The darkness thereof enveloped all the quarters.

12. After saying his Sandhyā prayers with strict observance of restraints in that forest, the king repeated the Gāyatrī Mantra, the mother of the Vedas.

13. As he was afraid of lions, tigers, etc. the king occupied a tree. Then a bear who was afraid of a lion came there.

14. The lion roaming about in the forest pursued that bear. The bear that was chased by the lion climbed on that (same) tree.

15. After climbing on the tree the bear saw that king of noble soul and great strength and valour seated on the tree.

16-18. On seeing the king the bear that had roamed about the forest spoke thus: “O great king, do not be afraid. I shall stay here for the night. A lion has come near the foot of this tree. He has great inherent strength. His body is very huge. He (i.e. his jaw) is full of great curved teeth. He is very terrible. You can sleep for half of the night protected by me first. Thereafter, O highly intelligent one, protect me when I sleep for (the remaining) half of the night.”

19. On hearing these words of his, Nanda’s son went to sleep. Then the lion spoke to the bear: “The king is asleep. Let him be pushed down.”

20-23. The bear conversant with virtue spoke thus to the lion, O excellent Brāhmaṇas: “O king of beasts, wanderer over the forest, you do not know what is holiness and piety. Great pains and miseries befall those who betray confidence. Indeed the sin of those who are inimical to their friends is not destroyed even with ten thousand Yajñas. Somehow the means of expiation for Brāhmaṇa-slaughter and other sins can be had. But the sin of those who kill persons who trust, cannot perish even in the course of crores of births. O lion, I do not consider that Meru is the heaviest on the earth. I think that the person guilty of breach of faith is the most burdensome one in the world.”

24. When this was spoken by the bear, the lion kept quiet. When Dharmagupta woke up, the bear went to sleep on that tree.

25-27. Then the lion said to the king: “Leave this bear to me.” When this was spoken by the lion, the king unhesitatingly cast off that bear down to the ground, although he was asleep with his head placed on his own lap. Though dropped down by the king, the bear who stuck to the tree with his claws did not fall from the tree on the ground due to his merit. The bear approached the king and angrily spoke these words.

28-29. “I am born of the family of Bhṛgu. I can assume any form I wish. I have now assumed the form of a bear. Since you have dropped me down though I am sinless and was sleeping, O king, wander about as a mad person immediately after this (utterance of the curse to be a mad man quickly).”

30-37. After cursing the king, the sage then spoke to the lion: “Previously you were the great Yakṣa named Nṛsiṃha, a minister of Kubera. Once, accompanied by your wife you joyously indulged in sports near the hermitage of Gautama on the mountain Himavān. You were not aware that it was in the vicinity of the hermitage of Gautama. By chance, Gautama came out of his hermitage in order to bring sacrificial twigs. On seeing you naked he cursed you thus: ‘Since you stayed naked in my hermitage, you will undoubtedly assume the form of a lion today.’

It was on account of this curse of Gautama that you became a lion previously. Formerly you were a Yakṣa and the minister of Kubera, named Bhadra. Indeed Kubera is righteous by nature. His servants too are like that. So why do you try to kill me, a sage living in the forest? O king of beasts, all this I know through meditation.”

When this was said by Dhyānakāṣṭha (the sage in disguise), he left off his form of a lion immediately and re-assumed the divine form of a Yakṣa, the minister of Kubera. With palms joined in reverence he bowed down to Sage Dhyānakāṣṭha, and spoke thus:

38-41. “Today, O great sage, all those earlier incidents have been known by me. At the time of cursing, Gautama had indicated the termination too thereof: ‘When you speak to Dhyānakāṣṭha in the form of a bear you will get rid of your leonine form.’ Thus, O Brāhmaṇa, the great sage Gautama told me. Since my form of a lion has disappeared today, O great sage, I know you as the pure sage named Dhyānakāṣṭha who can assume any form as he pleases.” After saying thus, the eminent Yakṣa bowed down to Dhyānakāṣṭha. He then got into his excellent aerial chariot and went to the city of Alakā.

42-45. When the eminent Yakṣa had gone, the great Sage Dhyānakāṣṭha went about on the earth as he pleased, because his travel as he pleased was never impeded.

After Dhyānakāṣṭha, the sage who could assume any form he desired, had gone, Dharmagupta became mad as a result of the curse of the sage and went back to the city.

On seeing the king in the form of a mad man, the ministers brought him to his father on the beautiful and charming banks of Revā. To him they intimated the mental derangement of his son.

46. After coming to know of the actual state of his son, Nanda, his father, immediately went to Jaimini, taking his son with him. To him he recounted the details about his son from the beginning:

47-54a. “O holy Lord Jaimini, my son has turned mad. Tell me the means, O great sage, of dispelling his madness.”

On being asked thus, Jaimini, the great sage, meditated for a long time. After meditating for a long time, he spoke to King Nanda: “Your son has become mad due to the curse of (Sage) Dhyānakāṣṭha. I shall now tell you the means for liberating (him) from the curse. There is a very great Tīrtha well-known as Dhanuṣkoṭi in the southern sea on the meritorious Setu that is destructive of sins. It is the holiest of all holy things, the most auspicious of all that is auspicious. It is known through the Vedas. It is highly meritorious and purificatory of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter and other sins. O king, take your son there and bathe him. His madness will disappear instantaneously. There is no doubt about it.”

On being told thus, Nanda bowed down to the great Sage Jaimini. He took his son with him and went to Dhanuṣkoṭi.

54b-60a. There he bathed his son along with the requisite observances of the rules and injunctions. Due to the holy plunge the son was immediately relieved of his madness. (Old King) Nanda too took his holy bath in Dhanuṣkoṭi with great devotion. The father stayed with his son there for a day. He adored Rāmanātha, the storehouse of mercy, the Lord with Goddess Aṃbā. Then Nanda took leave of his son and went to the forest for performing penance.

When the father had gone, O Brāhmaṇas, King Dharmagupta, the son, devoutly gave plenty of monetary gifts to Rāmanātha. He gave the Brāhmaṇas wealth, food-grains and land. Thereafter, he went to his own city along with the ministers. He righteously administered his kingdom after getting rid of all oppressions. The extremely virtuous Dharmagupta ruled his hereditary kingdom, O Brāhmaṇas.

60b-65. Those men who are seized by wicked spirits and troubled by evil Planets or by ailments such as madness, epileptic fits, etc., O eminent Brāhmaṇas, become rid of them (their ailments) by taking the holy plunge in Dhanuṣkoṭi. It is true. I speak the truth. One who leaves off Dhanuṣkoṭi and goes to some other Tīrtha, abandons the cow’s milk that he had already got and begs for the juice of Euphorbia antiquorum (Snuhīkṣīra), O Brāhmaṇas.

Men who repeat the word Dhanuṣkoṭi three limes, O Brāhmaṇas, and take their bath in any water reservoir go to the region of Brahma. Thus, O Brāhmaṇas, ihe splendid story of Dharmagupta has been recounted to you. Merely by listening to this, the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter perishes. Other masses of sins such as the sin of stealing gold, etc. also perish.

Footnotes and references:


This Dharmagupta, the son of Nanda, is different from Dharmagupta, the son of King Satyaratha of Vidarbha, mentioned in infra iii.7.80,159.

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