by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222
This page describes the Story of Divodasa 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’).
(atithigva) A king of Kāśī.
From Viṣṇu descended in the following order:—Brahmā-Atri-Candra-Budha-Purūravas-Āyus-Anenas-Pratikṣatra-Sṛñjaya-Jaya-Vijaya-Kṛti-Haryaśva-Sahadeva-Nadina-Jayatsena-Saṃkṛti-Kṣatradharmā-Śuhotra-Śala-Ārṣṭiṣeṇa-Kāśa-Dīrghatapas-Dhanvantari-Ketumān-Bhīmaratha-Divodāsa.
When Divodāsa began his rule in Vārāṇasī, there was a Rākṣasa named Kṣemaka. Divodāsa killed him and extended his kingdom. At that stage, Bhadraśreṇya, King of Hehayas invaded Divodāsa. Divodāsa killed the hundred sons of Bhadraśreṇya. At that time the sage Kuṃbhaka (Nikumbha) came to Kāśī. His practice was to live fora thousand years at any place where he reached at the time of dusk. Since he had reached Vārāṇasī at dusk, he set up an āśrama and lived there for a thousand years. At that time there was a famine in Vārāṇasī. The whole land was in the grip of a severe drought. Kumbhaka’s āśrama and its surroundings alone remained green and cool. Herdsmen used to take cattle to graze in the neighbourhood of the āśrama. Once when they returned in the evening, they took with their cows, the sacrificial cow of Kumbhaka. It was dark and the sage searched for the cow everywhere but could not trace its whereabouts At last he came to know by intuition that his cow was taken away by the herdsmen. In his rage he cursed that Vārāṇasī should be ruined and left the place with his disciples. (See under Kumbhaka).
The story of the ruin of Vārāṇasī in Harivaṃsa is different. It was the time when Śiva had married Pārvatī, the daughter of Himavān. After marriage Śiva shifted his residence to his wife’s house. Śiva whose task was to look after the affairs of the world, was never available for the purpose at Kailāsa, his own seat. The gods were in a helpless condition. They approached Pārvatī’s mother, Menā and requested her to persuade Śiva to return to his own place by any means. Menā called her daughter and ridiculed her husband as a vagabond who had no place to lay his head on. Pārvatī could not bear this insult. Her mother’s stinging remarks got circulation in Devaloka. So she urged Śiva to settle down somewhere on earth with her. Śiva agreed and promised to take up residence at Kāśī.
The ruler of Kāśī in those days was Divodāsa. It was a prosperous period in the country. As a rule, man turns to God only when faced with misfortunes. So Śiva decided to bring about a famine among the people of the country by ruining it. For that he sent sage Kumbhaka to Vārāṇasī. Kumbhaka arrived in Kāśī and appeared to the barber Karṇaka to whom he communicated Śiva’s intentions. The barber cheerfully fell in with the proposal and built a temple on the next day for the residence of Kumbhaka. Living in the temple, Kumbhaka began to participate in the spiritual matters of the people. His blessings were much sought after and people came to have deep faith in him.
Divodāsa had no children. He had made many pious offerings to gods and performed many holy rites for removing his wife’s sterility, but it was all in vain. At last, at the King’s suggestion, she began to offer pūjā to Kumbhaka praying for issue. But even after a long period of devoted worship, she received no blessing or boon from the sage. Moved by the pathetic condition of his queen, Suyaśas, Divodāsa reproached Kumbhaka very severely. He reprimanded him for denying his blessings to the queen while he was showering them on all and sundry in the country. Provoked at the King’s rebuke, Kumbhaka pronounced a curse that the country should be ruined. As a result of it the country began to decline. (Harivaṃśa, Chapter 29).
Śiva and Pārvatī came and settled down in Vārāṇasī. After some years, Pārvatī began to press her husband to leave the place and to go somewhere else. Śiva was not inclined to do so. He said the place was "Avimukta" and therefore insisted that he would not leave it. From that time the place came to be called "Avimukta."
3) Other details.
(1) Towards the end of his life Divodāsa became a Rājarṣi (Royal Saint). There are numerous references to this Rājarṣi in the Ṛgveda. Since Divodāsa was of a very hospitable nature he was known by another name, "Atithigva". In Ṛgveda, 1st Maṇḍala, 16th Anuvāka, 127th Sūkta, we read that once he hid himself under water to escape from an Asura called Śaṃbara.
(2) Divodāsa had a son named "Parucchepa", who was a Ṛṣi. Ṛgveda 1st Maṇḍala 19th Anuvāka, 127th Sūkta relates to Parucchepa.
(3) Bhīmaratha, the father of Divodāsa, had two other names, Bhīmasena, and Sudeva. Divodāsa purchased Mādhavī, the daughter of Yayāti after paying two hundred Śyāmakarṇāśvas (beautiful horses with darkcoloured ears) to Gālava, so that he might have children. After the birth of his children, he returned Mādhavī to her father. (Mahābhārata Udyoga Parva, Chapter 117).
(7) Once Divodāsa fought with the King of Hehaya for one thousand days. After having lost his army he went to the sage Bharadvāja and performed Putrakāmeṣṭi sacrifice. As a result of it a son Pratardana was born to him. (Mahābhārata Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 30).
(8) Other names for Divodāsa used in the Mahābhārata are—Bhaimaseni, Kāśīśa, Saudeva, Sudevatanaya etc.
Divodāsa decided to give his daughter Divyā in marriage to Citrasena, King of Rūpadeśa. But just before the day fixed for the marriage Citrasena died prematurely. So, as advised by the Brāhmaṇas who had come there she was married to Rūpasena. He also died soon after. She was subsequently married to 21 persons in turn, and all of them died one by one.
Everyone took pity on her for her ill-fate. At last, at the suggestion of the ministers, preparations were made for her svayaṃvara. Here also ill-luck pursued her. All the princes who arrived to take part in the svayaṃvara killed each other in mutual fight. Depressed and embittered by all this, Divyā decided torenounce all worldly pleasures and proceeded to the forest.
Once Śuka named Ujjvala came to Plakṣadvīpa. Moved to pity at the grief-stricken Divyā he taught her "Aśūnyaśayana" vrata. When she practised this vrata with devotion for about four years, Mahāviṣṇu appeared before her and took her with him to Viṣṇuloka.