Puranic encyclopaedia

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

This page describes the Story of Dushshasana 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 Duśśāsana

Another Duśśāsana, servant of the son of King Khaḍgabāhu of Saurāṣṭra is also mentioned in the Purāṇas.

Khaḍgabāhu had a famous elephant, which one night broke its chains and escaped, and all the mahouts could not chain it again. People in terror of the elephant ran helter-skelter. Now, a brahmin was going that way chanting verses of the 16th Chapter of the Gītā, and even though the mahouts warned him he did not change his path. Instead he saluted the elephant by touching its cheeks and proceeded on his way unhurt by the animal. The King felt great respect for the brahmin when he was told that he owed his miraculous powers to the 16th chapter of the Gītā, and he took the brahmin with him to his palace. The King gave him 100,000 golden coins and received from him the Gītā mantra. He began reciting daily certain verses in the 16th Chapter of the Bhagavadgītā.

Some time afterwards the King one day went to an open ground near his palace accompanied by soldiers and set the elephant free from its chain. Then, unheeding the entreaties of the frightened people he approached the elephant, saluted it by touching its cheeks and came away unhurt. He could act in this fashion because of his firm faith in the efficacy of the Bhagavadgītā. And afterwards he placed his son, on the throne and himself led a life of recluse repeating the Bhagavadgītā.

Some Purāṇas have another version of this episode. Duśśāsana was a servant of Khaḍgabāhu’s son and he attempted to catch the elephant but was killed by it. He attained salvation by hearing the 17th Chapter of the Bhagavadgītā.

Duśśāsana, an idiot, betting a huge sum of money with the junior mahouts of the elephant and unheeding the warnings of several people once mounted the elephant. Children agitated the animal and Duśśāsana fell down from its back. The angry animal stamped the fool to death, and its rage having not yet subsided it threw around his bones. Duśśāsana, who ended his life thus was reborn as an elephant and was owned by King Jayadeva of Ceylon for a long time. A great friend of King Khaḍgabāhu, Jayadeva presented the elephant to him. At the sight of its brothers and other relations memory about its previous birth dawned on the elephant. And, it lived in great grief. After some days the King presented the animal to a poet pleased at his samasyāpūraṇa (filling the three lines of a stanza in tune with the fourth line given). The poet sold the elephant to the King of Mālava as it got ill with fever. In spite of the best treatment administered to it the elephant seemed to be nearing its end. Without either eating or drinking or sleeping the animal stood motionless shedding tears day and night. One day, the Mālava King visited the elephant when, to the surprise of all assembled there, the elephant spoke to the King thus: "Oh, King: if a brahmin recites the 17th Chapter of the Bhagavadgītā I will be completely cured of my illness."

Accordingly a brahmin was brought. As soon as he chanted the Gītā and sprinkled water on its head it got rid of its animalhood, ascended the divine aeroplane and shone forth like Indra. The Mālava King also began daily reciting the Bhagavadgītā and within a short time afterwards attained salvation. (Padma Purāṇa, Chapter 8).

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