Puranic encyclopaedia

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

This page describes the Story of Dharma 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 Dharma

A deva who is the abode of all luxuries in life.


This deva broke the right nipple of Brahmā and came out in the form of a human being. Three sons were born to him: Śama, Kāma and Harṣa. Kāma married Rati, Śama, Prāpti and Harṣa, Nandā.*

Marriage and family life.

The Bhāgavata states that Dharma married the thirteen daughters of Daksaprajāpati named Śraddhā, Maitrī, Dayā, Śānti, Puṣṭi, Tuṣṭi, Kriyā, Unnati, Buddhi, Medhā, Titikṣā, Hṛī and Mūrti. Besides them he married ten other girls named Bhānu, Lambā, Kukubh, Jāmi, Viśvā, Sādhyā, Marutvatī, Vasu, Muhūrtā and Saṅkalpā and also a woman named Sunṛtā. According to Mahābhārata Dharma married the following daughters of Dakṣa: Kīrti, Lakṣmī, Dhṛti, Medhā, Puṣṭi, Śraddhā, Kriyā, Buddhi and Lajjā.

From each of his wives there originated a family. The son born to each is given below Śraddhā—Śubha; Maitrī—Prasāda; Dayā—Abhaya; Śānti—Sukha; Tuṣṭi—Moda; Unnati—Darpa; Buddhi—Artha; Medhā—Sukṛti; Titikṣā—Śama; Hrī—Praśraya. Mūrti gave birth to the virtuous Naranārāyaṇas. Sunṛtā became the mother of the devas, Satyavrata and Satyasena. Satyasena became famous by slaying many cruel and evil-natured Yakṣas, demons and spirits. Lambā gave birth to Ṛṣabha and Vidyotana. Ṛṣabha got a son, Indrasena. Vidyotana became the father of stanayitnu. Kukubh delivered Saṅkaṭa and Saṅkaṭa became the father of Kīkaṭa and Durgadeva. Jāmi got a son Svarga and of him was born Nandī. Viśvā gave birth to Viśvadevas and Sādhyā to Sādhyas. These Sādhyas are different from those born of Brahmā. Sādhyas became the father of Arthasiddhi. Marutvatī gave birth to Marutvat and Jayanta. Vasu gave birth to eight sons and they were known as Aṣṭavasus. Droṇa, the first of the Aṣṭavasus, married Abhimati. Abhimati is known as Dharā also. It was Droṇa and Dharā who were born as Nandagopa and Yaśodā later. Prāṇa, second of the Aṣṭavasus, married Ūrjasvatī, daughter of Priyavrata. (Navama Skandha, Bhāgavata).

Prominent sons.

Four sons of Dharma, Hari, Kṛṣṇa, Nara and Nārāyaṇa became prominent. Hari and Kṛṣṇa were great yogis while Nara and Nārāyaṇa were great ascetics. (See under Naranārāyaṇa).

The daughter named Dharmavratā.

Dharmadeva got a daughter named Dharmavratā of his wife Dharmavatī. Dharmavratā was an ascetic and she was married to Marīci, son of Brahmā. One day Marīci came back from the forest after getting darbha and flowers extremely tired and so after food lay down to rest. His wife sitting by his side massaged his legs. The sage fell asleep. Then Brahmā came there and Dharmavratā attended on him and worshipped him. Marīci, when he woke up, finding Dharmavratā attending on another man cursed her and made her into stone. Dharmavratā pleaded not guilty and standing inside a fire-pit did penance for ten thousand years. Brahmā and other devas appeared before her and consoled her by assuring that though she would be a stone devas would take their abode in it and that she would be worshipped by all. From that day onwards that stone was known as Devaśilā and even now it is believed that Brahmā and other devas live therein. (Chapter 114, Agni Purāṇa).

Dharma was cursed and made Vidura by Aṇimāṇḍavya.

(See Aṇimāṇḍavyā).

Other details.

(1) A portion of Dharma took life as Yudhiṣṭhira in Kuntī. (See Dharmaputra).

(2) Dharma did penance in Dharmatīrtha for a very long time. (Śloka 1, Chapter 84, Vana Parva).

(3) The abode of Dharma was Dharmaprastha. (Śloka 1, Chapter 84, Vana Parva).

(4) Dharma did penance on the banks of the river Vaitaraṇī for a long time. (Śloka 4, Chapter 114, Vana Parva).

(5) While the Pānḍavas were in exile in the forest Dharma in the form of a deer came to the hut of a Brahmin and carried away by its horns the Araṇi stick which the Brahmin owned for making fire by attrition. (Chapter 311, Vana Parva).

(6) Dharma appeared in the form of a Yakṣa and made all the Pāṇḍavas swoon except Yudhiṣṭhira, on the shores of a pond in the forest and later got them back to normal. (See under Dharmaputra).

(7) Dharmadeva went to Viśvāmitra in the guise of Vasiṣṭha to test him. (See para 3 of Gālava).

(8) Following a directive from Brahmā, Dharmadeva once brought before Varuṇa all the daityadānavas bound by ropes. (Chapter 128, Udyoga Parva).

(9) Mahāviṣṇu was born as a son of Dharmadeva. (See under Naranārāyaṇa).

(10) Dharma worshipped a brahmin named Satya taking the form of a deer. (Śloka 17, Chapter 272, Śānti Parva).

(11) Dharma tested Sudarśana taking the form of a brahmin. (Śloka 79, Chapter 2, Anuśāsana Parva).

(12) Dharma saved a sage named Vatsanābha from a great downpour taking the shape of a buffalo. (Chapter 12, Anuśāsana Parva).

(13) Dharma disguised as a brahmin, went and imparted advice to Janaka, father of Sītā. (Chapter 32, Aśvamedha Parva).

(14) To test Jamadagni, Dharma went to his āśrama taking the form of Anger. Jamadagni had just milked Kāmadhenu and kept the milk in a pot. Dharma as Anger crept into the milk. Jamadagni drank it and yet remained calm. Seeing this Dharma appeared before him in the form of a Brahmin and blessed him assuring Jamadagni that in future he would be obedient to Dharma (Chapter 91, Aśvamedha Parva).

(15) When at the fag end of their life the Pāṇḍavas started on their Mahāprasthāna, Dharma as a dog accompanied them up to the gates of heaven. (Śloka 22, Chapter 5, Svargārohaṇa Parva).

Dharma and Kāla.

There is a misunderstanding found even in some Purāṇas that Kāla, the chief of Kālapurī, and Dharma are one and the same person. But if the stories around each are examined it is easy to deduce that they are two different devas. The father and mother of Dharmadeva is Brahmā. The father of Kāla is Sūrya and mother Saṃjñā, daughter of Viśvakarmā. This itself is a sufficient evidence to show that the two are different persons. Further, Kāla or Yama is the sixth descendant of Viṣṇu.

But scholars are misled to think that the two are identical. There is a reason for it.

"dharmarājaḥ pitṛpatiḥ samavarttī paretarāṭ / kṛtānto yamunābhrātā śamano yamarāḍ yamaḥ // kālo daṇḍadharaḥ srāddha-devo vaivasvatontakaḥ. / (amara)."

The above are the synonyms of Kāla. Vyāsa has used as synonyms for Dharmadeva in the Mahābhārata the words Dharmarāja, Vṛṣa and Yama. Now among the synonyms for the two there are two words in common-Dharmarāja and Yama. This has led to this misunderstanding. Because Kāla weighs the evil and good in man he got the name Dharmarāja. Dharmadeva got that name because he is the incarnation of Dharma. The real name of Kāla is Yama. Dharmadeva got the name Yama because he possesses 'Yama' (control of the self for moral conduct). Kāla has no sons; Vidura and Yudhiṣṭhira are the sons of Dharmadeva.

*) "sthānaṃ tu dakṣiṇaṃ bhitvā brahmaṇo naravigrahaḥ / niḥsṛṭo bhagavān dharmaḥ sarvalokasukhāvahaḥ // trayastasyavarāḥ putrāḥ sarvabhūtamanoharāḥ / śamaḥ kāmaśca harṣaśca tejasā lokadhāriṇaḥ //" (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 65).

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