Puranic encyclopaedia

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

This page describes the Story of Dushyanta 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 Duṣyanta

A reputed King of the Lunar dynasty. 2) Genealogy. Descended from Viṣṇu thus:—BrahmāAtriCandraBudhaPurūravasĀyusNahuṣaYayātiPūruJanamejayaPracinvānNamasyu—Vītabhaya—Śuṇḍu—BahugavaSaṃyāti—Rahovādī RaudrāśvaMatināra—Santurodha—Duṣyanta.

Matināra had two sons: Santurodha and Pratiratha, and Santurodha had three sons: Duṣyanta* Pravīra and Sumanta. Pratiratha begot Kaṇva and he, Medhātithi.

His reign.

Within a short period of time Duṣyanta bacame the emperor of India. (Ādi Parva, Chapter 68, Verse 3). His empire extended up to the sea, and he became an object of envy for other rulers. Under his rule the four castes flourished in affluence. None was threatened with illness or by thieves. The seasons marched in due order, the clouds raining at the proper time etc. "Like the ocean not getting agitated, and putting up with everything with unique patience like the earth, Duṣyanta ruled the country" (Ādi Parva, Chapter 68).

Marriage and birth of son.

Once Duṣyanta set out to a forest to hunt. Seated in his chariot, which moved with the speed of Garuḍa he came to a beautiful forest. Weary with hunger and thirst the King, leaving the attendants behind walked into the hermitage of the sage Kaṇva. Proceeding along the sand on the banks of Mālinī river and drinking with his eyes the beauties of the hermitage he reached Kaṇva’s āśrama. 'Who is there in the āśrama?' queried the King, whereupon Śakuntalā, the foster daughter of Kaṇva came out, and in the absence of her father welcomed the guest. Enchanted by the beauty of Śakuntalā, the King questioned her about her lineage and she told him the story about Viśvāmitra’s love for Menakā, and Kaṇva bringing up their daughter. Duṣyanta felt deep love for her, and in accordance with rules prescribed in Dharma śāstras married her in the Gāndharva way. He also accepted her stipulation that the son born to her should become the next monarch. Śakuntalā got pregnant, and after promising that she would duly be conducted to the palace Duṣyanta returned.

No sooner had Duṣyanta left the āśrama than Kaṇva, who had been out returned to the āśrama. With his divine eyes he understood what had happened in his absence. Kaṇva blessed Śakuntalā that she would have an excellent son, who would become an excellent ruler of the world surrounded by the sea.

In due course of time Śakuntalā delivered a son. Kaṇva did the rites pertaining to the birth of the child, and named the child Sarvadamana. The child grew up to become six years old, and Kaṇva realising that the further stay of Śakuntalā and her son at the āśrama would stand in the way of the child’s welfare and progress sent the mother and the child to Hastināpura, the capital of Duṣyanta, attended by his disciples. When they reached Duṣyanta’s palace and sent word to him about their arrival he, pleading ignorance about his marriage with Śakuntalā, refused to receive her and the child. Duṣyanta and Śakuntalā hotly argued the question. At last, when Śakuntalā, with swelling emotions was about to leave the palace, a celestial voice announced that Duṣyanta had, in fact, married Śakuntalā, that Sarvadamana was his son and that he (Sarvadamana) would become a great ruler under the name Bharata. (Ādi Parva, Chapters 69-74).

Other information.

(1) Duṣyanta did not eat flesh. (Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 115, Verse 64).

(2) After his death Duṣyanta stayed in Yama’s assembly worshipping him. (Sabhā Parva, Chapter 8, Verse 15).

*) The genealogy given above has been taken jointly from Agnipurāṇa, Bhāgavata and Viṣṇupurāṇa. But the Mahābhārata (Ādi Parva, Chapter 94, Verse 17) gives Ilin as the name of Duṣyanta’s father and Rathantī as that of his mother. It may be surmised that Santurodha and Ilin were one and the same individual.

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