Puranic encyclopaedia

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

This page describes the Story of Jaratkaru 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 Jaratkāru

A hermit who is Purāṇically famous.


This hermit was born in a Brāhmaṇa dynasty known as Yāyāvaras. He was the only son of Yāyāvaras. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 13).

The name Jaratkāru.

The meaning of the name Jaratkāru is given in Bhāṣābhārata, Ādī Parva, Chapter 40, as follows:—

"Jarā is consumption, Kāru is dāruṇa (awful). By and by his body became hard and awful and by penance he made his body to wear out, and so he got the name 'Jaratkāru'." By means of penance he made his body lean and worn out and so got the name Jaratkāru.


The calm and abstemious Jaratkāru remained unmarried for a long time. One day he happened to meet with his Manes. They were holding on to a grass and were about to fall into hell, and a rat was cutting the root of the grass which was their only hold. The moment the root is severed all the Manes would fall into the deep ravine of hell. It was at this juncture that Jaratkāru, met his Manes. The moment they saw him they said, "See Jaratkāru, we are your Manes. We have to obtain, heaven, life, contentment and happiness by the good deeds of your son. So go and get married quickly."

At first he did not like the talk about marriage. Still, in order to procure heaven for his ancestors he agreed to get married. But he made a condition that the name of the bride also should be Jaratkāru and she should be given to him as alms. Saying these words, he walked away along the forest.

News reached the ears of Vāsuki, the King of the Nāgas (serpents) that the hermit Jaratkāru was wandering through the forests calling out that somebody should give him as alms a damsel named Jaratkāru. Vāsuki had a sister. Jaratkāru was her name. Vāsuki decided to give her to the hermit Jaratkāru. She was adorned with costly garments and ornaments and was taken to the hermit Jaratkāru. Jaratkāru said:—

"Hear my condition, I will not cherish her if she causes displeasure to me. If she does so I will send her away instantly."

On condition that if she did anything displeasing to him he would leave her at once, the hermit Jaratkāru married Jaratkāru the sister of Vāsuki. (Devī Bhāgavata, Skandha 2; Mahābhārata, Ādi Parva, Chapters 13 and 47).

Leaves his wife.

Jaratkāru lived in the hermitage with her husband looking after him with love and loyalty. One day the hermit was sleeping with his head on the lap of his wife. Though it was sunset the hermit slept on. It was time for the evening worship of the hermit. If he is aroused he will get angry. The wife was in a difficult situation. Anyhow she aroused her husband. The hermit got up full of anger and shouted, "You have hindered my sleep, you wicked woman and teased me. So from today you are not my wife. I am going away."

She begged him for pardon with tears. But without paying any heed to the entreaties of his pregnant wife, he left her.

The helpless Jaratkāru gave birth to a son named Āstīka who later stopped the famous sacrifice, Sarpa Satra meant for killing the serpents. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 47). See under Jaratkāru II.

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