Puranic encyclopaedia

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

This page describes the Story of Devasharma 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 Devaśarmā

A Brahmin, an erudite scholar in the Vedas. His story was once told to Pārvatī by Śiva as follows:—

Devaśarman, the very erudite brahmin scholar in the Vedas came to be much respected by the people of the four varṇas (Castes) because of his constant and unfailing performance of the various religious duties and rites like the Agnihotra etc. He had sons, relations and cows in abundance. But, he did not observe the śuklapañcamī in Proṣṭhapada (Bhādrapada) which is one of the dvādaśacāndra māsas (the 12 solar months). That day was his father’s death anniversary (Śrāddha day) for which he would invite Brahmins on the previous evening. And, in the morning he would get cooked rice by his wife in 18 different ways for the gratification of the departed soul. Then will he feed the Brāhmins. On one such day he duly treated a Brāhmin versed in the Vedas. In the evening when he was washing his feet with water brought by his wife he heard the following conversation between a dog and an ox.

Dog :

—Please attend to my words about what my daughter-in-law did. One day, as fate would have it, I went to my son’s house, where a snake was drinking milk, and I drank the whole of the milk which was left over by it. My daughter-in-law saw me drinking it and I was absolutely crest-fallen. I don't feel any yearning even for food.

Ox :

—Now dog, please attend to my sorrow and grief. Today my son feasted the Brahmins, but he did not even think of me. Nobody gave me even a blade of grass or a drop of water. I have not tasted anything today. Moreover I am a captive also. All this must be the result of some sin committed by me in my past life; no doubt about it."

The very learned and intelligent brahmin inferred from the above talk that the dog and ox were his mother and his father respectively. He thought to himself: they have been born as animals in my house. What remedy shall I find out therefor?

On account of such painful thoughts the Brahmin could not sleep in the night. Early in the morning he went to sage Vasiṣṭha and unburdened his heart to him and requested him to find a solution to the low and mean birth which had become his parents' fate. After meditating for some time the great sage told the brahmin as follows:—

"Look here, the ox was, in its previous birth, a great brahmin in Kuṇḍinanagara. He did not observe the Śukla-pañcamī in the month of Proṣṭhapada, the day being the death anniversary of his father. His wife had menstruation on the same day, but she herself feasted the Brahmins. A woman is impure during the four days of menstruation. Because of having feasted the Brahmins on the first day of her monthly period the Brahmin’s wife was born as a dog. As for the husband, he was born an ox as he not only did not observe the Śukla-pañcamī day, but also shared the sin of his wife. Further questioned by the brahmin as to what he should do for the salvation of his parents, Vasiṣṭha advised him to observe the Ṛṣi pañcamī in the month of Proṣṭhapada (Bhādrapada). He did so and his parents blessed him and attained salvation. (Padma Purāṇa, Chapter 78).

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