The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Dasharatha’s Penance which is chapter 97 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.

Chapter 97 - Daśaratha’s Penance

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Sūta said:

1-2. Ever since then, O Brāhmaṇas, Saturn never broke the cart-like figure of Rohiṇī due to the deference for the words of King Daśaratha.

on getting the news of the incident, Śakra became delighted. Approaching that king, he spoke to him respectfully:

3-4. “O king, a wonderful act has been done by you. It is what cannot be even mentally conceived by any other man. For this reason, I am highly pleased with you. Receive from me the desired boon, cherished in your heart.”

The king said:

5. O most excellent one among Suras, I solicit absolute and permanent friendship with you in respect of all tasks to be accomplished in the world.

Indra said:

6. O leading king, let it be so, A friendship, permanent like that of Vasu will always be maintained with you.

7. You must always come to the presence of the Devas and remain at my side, so that the friendship can flourish.

8. After saying thus, the Thousand-eyed One went to heaven. The king too joyously went to his own palace.

9. He had saved the entire universe from the fear of Saturn. He earned excellent glory not usually obtained by others. He was eulogized by bards.

10. Ever since then everyday he concluded his evening rites when the time of dusk arrived and then went to the palace of Śakra.

11-12. He used to stay there for a long time listening to the sweet songs of Gandharvas, seeing the charming dances of splendid quality, hearing the stories of diverse import and themes uttered by divine sages and glorifying them himself. He then used to return to his abode.

13. While proceeding to and fro, he used to ride in an excellent chariot reverberating with the sounds of swans and peacocks and well-adorned with charming banners.

14. Whenever he left the place of Śakra for his own abode, his seat was regularly sprinkled with water.

15. It was at the bidding of Śakra and the king was not at all made aware of it. On another day, Nārada, the excellent sage, told him about this sprinkling of his seat.

16. The matter was communicated to the saintly king by the sage who had come to his abode in the course of his pilgrimage. The sage had the ulterior motive of provoking hatred of the king.

17. On hearing the words of Nārada, the king did not take them to heart although the utterance of the sage was considered trustworthy. The king thought that it was unrighteous of him to do so.

18-19. But he was moved by curiosity. On another day he went of Śakra’s abode as usual, stayed there for a long time and then rose to leave. In his curiosity he went to another building and observed his seat from afar. He took care in particular that this was not directly perceived by anyone else.

20. As usual, at the bidding of Śakra, the celestial attendant stood up and sprinkled the seat occupied by the king, with water.

21. On seeing it the king got angry. Approaching Vāsava he said: O Śakra, why is my seat sprinkled with water?

22. Were Brāhmaṇas killed by me? Were they censured by me? Was any charter or document connected with any Brāhmaṇa annulled by me?

23. Did I run away from a battlefield on seeing the enemies arrive? Did I cry wretchedly and piteously before them with great fright in my mind?

24. Or, O Śakra, is any weak subject in my kingdom oppressed by more powerful persons. Is anyone robbed by thieves and others, or defrauded by cheats?

25. Does a rape take place in my kingdom? Is there any mixture of castes and utter disorderliness due to the abandonment of holy rites?

26. Or, O Lord of Devas, is any innocent person abused at the instance of wicked persons? Is he punished by anyone in my kingdom?

27. Or, is any thief, sinner or criminal who has been caught, or anyone else of contemptible conduct released (by a responsible officer) due to greed for money?

28. Or, O Lord of Devas, was anyone afraid for his very life, who had sought refuge in me abandoned by me, because I too was frightened for my very life?

29. O Lord of Devas, was the flesh of anyone's back eaten by me? (Was anyone slandered and calumniated by me behind his back.) Did I act as a backbiter of any Brāhmaṇa?

30. Did I regret at any time after making any gift to a noble-souled Brāhmaṇa? Did I neglect any of my good duties.

31. Do the tears of wretched people in great distress continuously fall in my kingdom whether at night or during the day?

32. O Devendra, does any rite pertaining to the Devas or the Pitṛs suffer from omission or negligence in my abode? Is any rite performed disregarding the injunctions thereof?

33. Tell me quickly whether any sin has been committed by me for which my seat is being sprinkled with water on every occasion.

Indra said:

34. O great king, there is no sin (at all) in your physical form, abode, family, group of attendants or in the kingdom.

35. But listen, I shall explain. A sin is likely to occur, for which your seat is always sprinkled.

36-41. One without a son has no salvation. He does hot go to Svarga. O king, a man who has not paid off the debt due to the Pitṛs becomes reprehensible to Devas and Pitrs in particular.

When a man sees the face of a son, O king, he certainly becomes free from the indebtedness to the Pitṛs.

O king, you have never been free from the indebtedness I refer to. You are not free from the indebtedness to the Pitrs. Hence the seat is always being sprinkled.

If you wish for salvation, make efforts to get a son in order to save yourself from the Naraka named Put, O king.

On being told thus by Śakra, King Daśaratha became overwhelmed with excess of shame. He stood facing down.

He took leave of the Thousand-eyed One and went to his city of Ayodhyā. Immediately he handed over his kingdom to the ministers.

42-43. Then he spoke to them all: “Penance has to be performed by me now. Undoubtedly the penance has to be continued until I get a son. At my bidding this kingdom has to be duly guarded by you all assiduously till I come back.”

The ministers said:

46. O great king, this endeavour for the sake of a son is proper indeed. Of what avail is the kingdom or wealth for a man without a son?

45-46. We shall protect your kingdom. Be free from worry and perform the penance for the sake of a son. It shall be more or less in the same manner as in the case of your father who went to Kārttikeyapura formerly, performed a penance and attained the Siddhi desired by him mentally.

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