Puranic encyclopaedia

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

This page describes the Story of Gautama 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 Gautama

General Information

The Purāṇas record about a sage called Gautama though nothing is known about his genealogy. Yet the genealogy of his wife Ahalyā is available. See under 'Ahalyā'.

Sons of Gautama.

The eldest son of Gautama was Śatānanda. (Śloka 2, Sarga, 51, Bāla Kāṇḍa, Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa). Gautama had two sons. Śaradvān and Cirakārī. Śaradvān was born with arrows in his hand. (Śloka 2, Chapter 130, Ādi Parva). Cirakārī used to ponder over everything before he acted and so all his actions were delayed. He got his name Cirakārī. (Chapter 266, Sabhā Parva). Śaradvān was known as Gautama also. That was why Kṛpa and Kṛpī, children of Śaradvān were known as Gautama and Gautamī. (Śloka 2, Chapter 129, Ādi Parva). Besides these, Gautama had a daughter of unknown name. There is a reference to this girl in śloka 11 of Chapter 56 of Aśvamedha Parva. It is reported that this daughter wept when Utaṅga a disciple of Gautama came to the āśrama with a huge load of firewood on his head. In Chapter 4, of Vāmana Purāṇa there is a reference to a few other daughters of Gautama, namely, Jayā, Jayantī and Aparājī.

An attempt to kill Ahalyā.

Once when Gautama was away from the āśrama Indra came there as a guest. Considering it as her duty to treat a guest of her husband properly during his absence Ahalyā received him well and gave him fruit to ease his tiredness. Indra went back. Gautama on knowing this on his return suspected the chastity of his wife and calling his son Cirakārī to his side asked him to cut off her head. After giving the order Gautama went to the forests.

Cirakārī had a peculiar nature. He will ponder over things deeply before taking any action. He knew he must obey the orders of his father but killing one’s own mother was a greater sin than disobeying a father. Weighing the merits and demerits of the act Cirakārī sat thinking without doing anything.

Gautama when he reached the forest thought again about Ahalyā and her crime. After all what has she done? A guest came to the āśrama and as duty bound she welcomed him. It was indeed a great sin to have killed her by her own son. Immersed in thoughts of this kind, sad and repentant, Gautama returned to the āśrama to find Cirakārī sitting silently deeply engrossed in thoughts. On seeing his father Cirakārī was perplexed and he explained to his father about the good and bad effects of his order. Gautama was pleased at this and he blessed him with long life.

How the disciple Utaṅga was tested.

Utaṅga was the best of the disciples of Gautama. So even when all the other disciples were sent away Gautama asked Utaṅga to continue as a disciple which Utaṅga did most willingly. The disciple became old with grey hairs. Then taking pity on him Gautama received gurudakṣiṇā from Utaṅga and sent him away with blessings. (For details see under 'Utaṅga').

Curse of Ahalyā.

Indra became a lover of Ahalyā and slept with her. Gautama coming to know of that cursed both Indra and Ahalyā. (For details see under Ahalyā).

Other details regarding Gautama.

(i) Kalmāṣapāda, King of Ayodhyā. lived for twelve years as a demon following a curse of Vasiṣṭha. At last he took refuge in Gautama and following his advice went to Gokarṇa and doing penance there to propitiate Śiva attained mokṣa. (Śivarātri Māhātmya).

(ii) It was sage Nodhas, alias Gautama, who composed Sūkta 58, Maṇḍala one of Ṛgveda.

(iii) Lakṣmaṇa, brother of Śrī Rāma, constructed a palace called Vaijayanta near the āśrama of Gautama. (Uttara Rāmāyaṇa).

(iv) Gautama is one of the seven sages (saptarṣis (Śloka 50, Chapter 133, Anuśāsana Parva).

(v) Gautama sat in the court of Brahmā and worshipped Brahmā. (Mahābhārata Sabhā Parva).

(vi) Gautama once blessed Dyumatsena, father of Satyavān, and said that he would regain his eyesight. (Śloka 11. Chapter 298, Vana Parva).

(vii) When the war between the Pāṇḍavas and Kauravas broke out Gautama went to the Kurukṣetra battlefield and advised Droṇa to stop the battle. (Śloka 36, Chapter 190, Droṇa Parva).

(viii) Gautama was also one of the many sages who visited Bhīṣma while he was lying on his bed of arrows.

(ix) Once Gautama built a hermitage on the top of the mountain Pāriyātra and did penance there for sixtythousand years. Kāla, the God of time, then appeared before him and Gautama received him well and sent him away. (Śloka 10, Chapter 47, Śānti Parva).

x) Once Gautama turned the moustache of Indra green by a curse for showing disrespect to him. (Śloka 23, Chapter 352, Śānti Parva).

(xi) When Gautama was born, there was such brilliance that the surrounding darkness was removed and so the boy was named Gautama (Gau=light rays, Tamas=darkness) to mean the remover of darkness. (Śloka 94, Chapter 93, Anuśāsana Parva).

(xii) Once Gautama instructed the King Vṛṣādarbhi on the evil of accepting rewards for good deeds. (Śloka 42, Chapter 93, Anuśāsana Parva).

(xiii) Gautama was also one among the rṣis who swore that they were not involved in the theft of the lotuses of the sage Agastya. (Śloka 19, Chapter 94, Anuśāsana Parva, Mahābhārata).

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