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

The hero of a story told by Viṣṇuśarman.

Viṣṇuśarman, the intelligent preceptor, told five stories based on five tactics to educate the five dull sons of emperor Sudarśana. The fifth tactics is called asaṃprekṣyakāritva. He told two important stories to illustrate the dangers, which would happen to those who act in haste and in anger, without patiently attempting to find out the truth. Devaśarman is the hero of one of the stories.

Story one.

Once upon a time there lived in Gauḍadeśa a brahmin called Devaśarman with his wife Yajñasenā. When his wife got pregnant Devaśarman told her that a good and lucky son would be born to them to which she replied as follows:—"On no account build castles in the air and brood over things. I shall tell you a story about a danger which happened to one who built castles in the air. A brahmacārī was carrying home in a pot on his head some rice flour. On the way he thought thus: "I will purchase a she-goat with the money I get out of the sale of this rice powder, and it will deliver two kids every year. I will sell all the kids and with the sale proceeds purchase a cow and when it multiplies I will have the wherewithals for cultivation and then I will do cultivation in a good field and produce much paddy. And when I have thus money in hand I will renovate my house and marry. We will then have a good son whom I will name Somaśarman, and if my wife, without caring for the boy, goes to milk the cow I will go to the cow shed and give her a good beating. "When his imagination reached this point the pot on his head received, without his knowing, a blow with the stick in his hand and it fell down on the ground and was broken to pieces."

Five or six days after telling the above story to her husband Yajñasenā gave birth to a child. One day she went to the river to take her bath leaving the child to the care of her husband. Soon after a messenger came from the palace to invite Devaśarman for food, the day being Amāvasī when Brahmins were fed well and also given dakṣiṇā, (presents of money). He could not wait till his wife arrived; the child became a problem to him.

The brahmin had a beloved Mongoose. After entrusting the child to the care of it the Brahmin went to the palace. Within a short time a serpent was seen crawling towards the child and the Mongoose attacked it and bit it into pieces. Naturally the Mongoose got itself smeared all over with the blood of the serpent, and the brahmin on returning home finding the Mongoose bathed in blood thought it might have eaten the child and in a rage he killed the poor Mongoose. But, when he entered the room and found pieces of the killed serpent strayed all over there truth and light dawned on him. Yajñasenā, who had returned after bath by now also found fault with him.

The second story.

Once there was a Brahmin in very indigent circumstances. He was an orphan from his very childhood. One day while he was asleep quite weary and tired as he had no food that day some one appeared and told him in a dream that three sannyāsins would come to his house that noon and that if beaten to death they would turn into three pot-fulls of treasure with which he could live comfortably well.

His dream came true, and he locked up the treasure in his room after sending away a barber who had witnessed the incident with a piece of gold. The barber returned home cherishing in his mind the false belief that sannyāsins beaten to death would turn into pot-fulls of treasure. And, one day some sannyāsins came to his house and he began beating them and they ran out crying aloud. Their cries attracted the attention of the servants of the King. The barber’s limbs were cut off and he was killed on Śūla (a three-pronged weapon).

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