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

An ungrateful brahmin. He was born in Madhyadeśa. He left his parents and after travelling in many lands he came to a country of foresters. The foresters received him with respect and he lived in a hut of the foresters and married a lady from among them.

Gautama abandoned his brahminhood and accepted the duties of foresters. He was living like this when another brahmin boy came to that village. He searched in vain for a brahmin house to stay for the night and then knowing that a man born a brahmin but made a forester by his duties was living there he went to his house. Gautama also came there carrying the animals and birds he had hunted down that day. His body was bathed in blood. The brahmin guest felt compassion for Gautama and advised him to leave his trade and go to his house in his country.

In the morning the brahmin guest went away without taking any food. The advice of his guest kept him thinking. He decided to abandon his life as a hunter and so leaving everything behind he went to the seashore. He met some merchants on the way and while they were travelling together a wild elephant attacked them. Many were killed and Gautama escaping ran swiftly and came to the base of a big banyan tree. He was tired and slept there for a while.

A big vulture named Nāḍījaṃgha lived on the top of that banyan tree. He used to go out to worship Brahmā at dusk and when he returned to his abode that day he saw a man lying wearied down below. Gautama attempted to catch the vulture and eat it but the vulture playing a benign host placed before Gautama food for him and made enquiries about him and asked him the purpose of his travels. Gautama told him that he was very poor and that he wanted to acquire some wealth somehow.

Nāḍījaṃgha then said that he would get for him enough wealth from the demon-King Virūpākṣa who was an intimate friend of his. Gautama was pleased. The vulture fanned him and sent him to sleep. Next morning Nāḍījaṃgha sent Gautama to Virūpākṣa and the demon gave Gautama as much gold as he could carry on his shoulders.

Gautama took the gold as a head load and came back to the base of the banyan tree. Nāḍījaṃgha came to him and they talked to each other for some time. Gautama who had become a gluttonous flesh eater looked with greed at the fat body of the vulture and in an instant killed it and packed the flesh along with the load of gold and went his way.

Virūpākṣa did not see Nāḍījaṃgha for two days and he was worried. He, therefore, sent his son to the banyan tree to look for Nāḍījaṃgha. When he reached the base of the tree he found to his grief only the bones and feathers of his father’s friend. He knew what had happened and he immediately followed the ungrateful brahmin and capturing him brought him to his father bound hand and foot. Virūpākṣa without any mercy cut him into pieces and threw them for the crows to eat. But even the crows would not eat the flesh of such an ungrateful man.

Virūpākṣa burnt the remains of Nāḍījaṃgha in a funeral pyre. Devas assembled in the skies to watch the funeral. Then Surabhi sprinkled milk on the funeral pyre and brought back Nāḍījaṃgha to life. The reborn vulture felt sorry for Gautama and requested Surabhi to restore to life the wretched Gautama also. Gautama also was brought back to life and he embraced Nāḍījaṃgha. Gautama then went away with his load of gold.

Gautama returned to Śabarālaya and there married a Śūdra lady and begot evil sons. The devas were offended at this and cursing him condemned him to hell. (Chapters 168 to 173, Śānti Parva).

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