Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Bhushunda included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Bhuśuṇḍa

A dispassionate and large-hearted crow. The residence of this crow was a Kalpavṛkṣa standing on a beautiful peak surrounded by luxuriant vegetation in the north-eastern corner of Mahāmeru. There were numerous bird-nests on the southern branch of that Kalpavṛkṣa. In one of them lived this centuries-old bird.

Once when the sage Vasiṣṭha went to Devaloka, he happened to hear about this crow. He went to see Bhuśuṇḍa in its nest. The crow recognised Vasiṣṭha at once. They exchanged greetings. The sage opened the conversation as follows:—"Oh, King of birds! when were you born? How did you become a great soul? How old are you? Have you recollections of the past? Who was the prophet who suggested this residence for you?"

The bird calmly replied as follows:—"If you are interested in hearing my past history I shall tell you. Lord Śaṅkara the Almighty lives in this world. He has numerous attendant spirits. Besides these spirits who have hoofs on their head, hands in the hoofs, teeth in the hands and stomach in the face, and who have faces resembling those of monkeys, camels, and elephants, he has also hordes of Mātṛs in his retinue. The Mātṛs, attended by spirits continue their dance in the presence of the Lord. Mountain peaks, the sky, the different worlds, deep pits, cremation grounds, etc. are their haunts. Chief among these Mātṛs are eight sisters named, Jayā, Vijayā, Jayantī, Aparāhitā, Siddhā, Raktā, Alambuṣā and Ulpalā. They have other followers also. Alambuṣā’s vehicle is the crow named Caṇḍa. All these Mātṛs assembled together on one occasion to celebrate a festival in the sky. There was a display of many kinds of entertainments at that time. Disputations in spiritual matters, music, dancing, drinking and other forms of hilarious activities were freely indulged in. In another part of the sky, their vehicles were also enjoying themselves with similar celebrations of drinking, dancing, and merry-making. The swans who were the vehicles of Brāhmīdevī were dancing in one place, intoxicated by drink. Caṇḍa, the crow, who was Alambuṣā’s vehicle, also joined their company. Completely absorbed in their delirious raptures, the intoxicated swans indulged so freely in their amorous pleasures with Caṇḍa that they became pregnant. At last when the merry-makings ended and all of them dispersed, the swans became aware of their plight and informed Brāhmī about it. The gracious goddess (Brāhmī) told them that in their present state they were unable to discharge their duties in drawing her chariot and so they were allowed to go and enjoy themselves wherever they liked. After this she entered into a trance. The swans in the fullness of time, gave birth to twentyone sons. We, the twentyone brothers, are those children. We and our mothers went to Brāhmīdevī and offered worship to her for a long time. As a result, the Devī woke up from her trance and pleased with us, gave us her blessing. After that, we went to our father (Caṇḍa) and off red our devoted services to him and prostrated before him and Alambuṣādevī. They blessed us. We asked our father to suggest a most suitable place for a secluded life. This Kalpa Vṛkṣa is the secluded place recommended by him. We paid obeisance to our father and Alambuṣādevī and came to settle down here. Many ages have passed since then. Now your visit and holy presence here, have liberated me from all worldly bonds and ennobled my life. My twenty brothers lived for many Kalpas and yugas at the end of which, convinced of the meaninglessness of worldly life, renounced their bodies and attained Śivaloka.

On hearing this, Vasiṣṭha asked Bhuśuṇḍa to tell him more about his past life. Bhuśuṇḍa resumed his story:—"Long long ago, the whole earth was full of big rocks, without trees, forests or mountains. After a great flood the surface of the earth was covered with ashes. In one caturyuga (a period equal to the length of the four yugas, Kṛta, tretā, dvāpara and Kali) the earth was filled with forest trees and in another Caturyuga, mountain ranges appeared. I have seen an age in which Brāhmaṇas were drunkards, Śūdras were virtuous and women of noble families committed adultery. You have now been born in the eightieth "Janma" as the son of Brahmā. You were born once from the sky, at another time from water, then from the mountain and again from fire. I can remember this earth sinking into the ocean five times and Lord Viṣṇu taking the form of a tortoise, lifting it up, above the water. I have seen the ocean of milk being churned twelve times. I know that Hiraṇyākṣa had taken the earth three times to Pātāla (underworld). The Lord has incarnated six times as Bhārgava Rāma. Incarnation of Buddha has taken place in six Kaliyugas. Tripuradahana (burning of the Tripurāsuras) has taken place thirty times. Dakṣa yāga was broken up twice. Lord Śiva has slain ten Indras. He fought seven times with Śrī Kṛṣṇa for the sake of Bāṇa. I also remember another epic entitled "Rāmāyaṇa", containing one lakh of verses and dealing with metaphysical problems. I have seen the customs of Kṛtayuga being followed in Kaliyuga and the customs of Kaliyuga being followed in Kṛtayuga."

Having heard the whole story, Vasiṣṭha gave his blessing to Bhuśuṇḍa and left the place. (Jñāna Vāsiṣṭha, Bhu uṇḍopākhyāna).

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