The Vishnu Purana (abridged)

27,616 words

The Vishnu Purana (Viṣṇu Purāṇa) is a religious Hindu text and one of the (most important) eighteen Mahapuranas. It is also known as Puranaratna ("gem of Puranas"). Presented as a dialogue between Parashara and his disciple Maitreya, the major topics discussed include creation, stories of battles fought between asuras and devas, the Avat...

Shatadhanu and Shaivya

Many years ago there used to be a king known as Shatadhanu. His wife Shaivya was a religious woman. Together, they used to pray to Vishnu, on the banks of the river Bhagirathi. They were not interested in other things. One day a fraudulent teacher came to them. Shatadhanu spoke to this person, but Shaivya did not. Some years later, Shatadhanu died and Shaivya also died with him on the funeral pyre.

Because he had spoken to the false teacher, Shatadhanu was born as a dog in his next life. And Shaivya was born as a jatismara daughter to the king of Kashi. When the king of Kashi wished to get his daughter married off, Shaivya refused. She had learnt that her husband had been born as a dog and was living in the city of Visisha. So she went there and met the dog. She gave it good food to eat. The dog merely wagged its tail. At this, Shaivya felt ashamed and tried to remind the dog of its earlier life.

Finally the dog did remember its earlier life and this made it very sad. It left the city and climbed a mountain peak. From there it threw itself down on the desert and died. This time it was born as a jackal and again Shaivya met the jackal in the mountain named Kolahal. She reminded the jackal of its earlier life. Thus reminded, the jackal died in the forest and was born as a wolf. Shaivya met the wolf and and reminded it of its earlier life. When the wolf died, it was born as a vulture. Shaivya went to meet it. This time, after the death of the vulture, Shatadhanu was born as a crow. The crow was next born as a peacock. Shaivya made friends with the peacock.

King Janaka was performing an ashvamedha sacrifice. The peacock had a bath at the time of the sacrifice. When Shaivya reminded the peacock of its earlier life, it died. It was now born as the son of Janaka and Shaivya agreed to marry him. After Janaka died, his son became the ruler of the kingdom of Videha. In this life Shatadhanu performed many sacrifices and gave many alms. He had several sons and ruled the kingdom and the earth well. When he died, Shaivya again died on the funeral pyre with him. Husband and wife went to heaven.

The story illustrates the evils of speaking to fraudulent people who have given up the Vedas. One goes straight to naraka if one mixes with such people.

This is the end of the third section of the Vishnu Purana.

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