Puranic encyclopaedia

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

This page describes the Story of Cirayus 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 Cirāyus

An ancient King of the country Cirāyu. Nāgārjuna was a minister of this King. Nāgārjuna knew the secret of 'Rasāyanasiddhi'. Once Nāgārjuna prepared a medicine for himself and the King which if taken would keep them eternally young. They took medicine accordingly.

After some days a child of the minister died. Griefstricken Nāgārjuna decided to prepare Amṛta which would eradicate death from this world. He had prepared it but there remained one more medicine to be added to this. The auspicious moment to add the same was to come only after five days and Nāgārjuna waited. The devas were frightened. If Amṛta was made available on earth men would become Devas. Devas could not bear this and so they sent the Aśvinīkumāras to the earth to persuade Nāgārjuna to desist from his work of preparing Amṛta. Further they informed him that his dead child was living happily in heaven. He agreed to stop his work.

After some time Cirāyus crowned his son Jīvahara as the heir-apparent. Overjoyed Jīvahara ran to his mother Dhanaparā to give her the glad tidings. Dhanaparā told her son thus: "My child, why should you be so happy to think that you have become the heir-apparent. Several sons of your father had already become yuvarājas and died before becoming King. Your father has taken a medicine from Nāgārjuna and that will keep him eternally young. None of his sons can aspire to be the King. Your father is now eight hundred years old and will live long. Many of you will become yuvarājas but not the King. I will therefore suggest a way to tide over this difficulty. Everyday in the afternoon Nāgārjuna would come outside the palace and enquire whether anybody is in need of anything. At that time he would give whatever was asked for. It is an opportunity when you can ask for his head. When Nāgārjuna is dead your father would either die of grief or go to the forests. Then you can become the King."

Jīvahara was pleased to hear this suggestion and he went that after-noon to the palace of Nāgārjuna and when Nāgārjuna as usual came out with his query Jīvahara asked for his head. Most willingly Nāgārjuna offered his head to be chopped off. But the effect of the medicine made even the strongest cut by the sword ineffective. Jīvahara lost many swords without Nāgārjuna getting even a small scratch on his neck. The hubbub brought the King to the scene and he immediately asked Nāgārjuna to withdraw his head but Nāgārjuna refused saying, "Oh, King, in my ninetynine previous births I have offered my head like this and please do not ask me to desist from making this offer for the hundredth time". So saying he embraced the King and taking a powder from his body smeared it on the sword and asked Jīvahara to strike again. This time very easily Jīvahara severed the head from the body of Nāgārjuna. The King was greatly aggrieved and he renounced all and went to the forest and led a pious life.

Cirāyus' son Jīvahara became King. But Nāgārjuna’s sons killed him and his mother died of grief. (Taraṅga, Ratnaprabhā Lambaka, Kathāsaritsāgara).

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