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...

Keshidhvaja and Khandikya

Many years ago there was a king named Dharmadhvaja. He had two sons, Mitadhvaja and Kritadhvaja. Kritadhvaja was interested in acquiring knowledge and his son Keshidhvaja also became interested in acquiring spiritual knowledge. Mitadhvaja’s son Khandikya was a king, interested in karma yoga, that is, union with God through action.

Both Khandikya and Keshidhvaja tried to outdo each other. Khandikya eventually lost his kingdom to Keshidhvaja and went off to the forest with his priests and minsiters. Although he became a king, Keshidhvaja used to perform yajnas. Once the cow intended for the yajna was eaten up by a tiger. This was a sin and Keshidhvaja had to atone for it. He asked several sages what the form of penance (prayashchiita) should be, but none of the sages knew. They all said that the right person to ask was Khandikya, who was now living in the forest.

Keshidhavaja dressed himself up in deerskin and went to meet Khandikya. Thinking that Keshidhvaja might have come to kill him, Khandikya took up his bow and arrow. But Keshidhvaja told him that he had merely come to ask Khandikya a question. Khandikya told him what the right penance was and Keshidhvaja successfully completed the yajna.

But he then realized that he had not given Khandikya the dakshina or fee that was due to a guru. As dakshina, Khandikya desired that Keshidhvaja instruct him on the path to spiritual knowledge.

Keshidhvaja told Khandikya about the true nature of the atman, which was different from the mere physical body. True knowledge was that which taught that the atman was part of the paramatman and that one should therefore not get attached to material possessions. This realization came about through the practise or yoga.

How The Puranas Came Down to us

At the end, the Vishnu Purana narrates how the Puranas came to be handed down to us through generationsof disciples.

The Puranas tell men of the ways to attain moksha (salvation). Ages ago, Brahma himself had told the sage Ribhu the story of the Puranas. From Ribhu the knowledge had passed to Priyavrata and from Priyavrata to Bhaguri. Bhaguri gave the knowledge to Stavamitra and Stavamitra to Dadhichi. From Dadhichi it passed to Sarasvata, from Sarasvata to “Bhrigu, from Bhrigu to Purukutsa, from Purukutsa to Narmada, from Narmada to Dhritarashtra and Purana. Dhritarsashtra and Purana gave the knowedge to Vasuki, Vasuki to Vatsa and Vatsa to Ashvatara. Ashvatara passed it on to Kambala and Kambala to Elapatra.

The sage Vedashira acquired the knowledge of the Puranas from the underworld and gave it to Pramati, Pramati gave it to Jatukarna and Jatukarna passed it on to many sages.

Parashara had learnt of the Puranas from Vashishtha and he had now passed on the knowledge to Maitreya. Maitreya would eventually teach it to Shamika.

So ends the sixth and final section of the Vishu Purana.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: