Puranic encyclopaedia

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

This page describes the Story of Jimutavahana 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 Jīmūtavāhana

A Vidyādhara. (demi-god). He was the son of Jīmūtaketu, who was the ruler of a city named Kāñcanapura in a valley of the Himālayas. Being childless he had been sad for a long time. At last he approached the divine tree Kalpaka (a heavenly tree that yields every wish) that stood in his garden and requested it to bless him with a child. Thus a son was born to him. The famous Jīmūtavāhana was that son. When Jīmūtavāhana came to know of the divine powers of the Kalpaka tree, from the ministers, with the permission of his father he went to the Kalpaka tree, bowed before it and said to it, "Oh noble tree! You have granted all the wishes of my forefathers. But I have one wish. No body should be miserable in the world. So I wish to give you to the world with that purpose in view". Instantly an ethereal voice said from the tree. "If you are forsaking me I am going away. But I will fulfil your wish." Thus according to the wish of Jīmūtavāhana the Kalpaka tree shed gold everywhere in the world and then went to heaven and disappeared. The earth became wealthy and prosperous. The fame of Jīmūtavāhana spread throughout the three worlds, and all the Vidyādharas grew jealous of him. As the heavenly tree Kalpaka, which yielded all the wishes, had returned to heaven, they thought it the most propitious time and arrayed their army against Jīmūtavāhana. His father Jīmūtaketu had completed all preparations to meet the enemy. But Jīmūtavāhana approached his father and said, "Father ! I am perfectly sure that no body could defeat you in battle. But see how mean it is to destroy so many lives and win the country merely for the pleasures of this fragile body. So let us go away from here. Leave the kingdom to them."

Jīmūtaketu, who was pleased at this generous nature of his son, respected his wish and went with his family to the Malaya mountain and lived there. Mitrāvasu, the son of Viśvāvasu, the King of the Siddhas and Jīmūtavāhana became close friends. One day Jīmūtavāhana was wandering about in the forest when he saw in the middle of a garden a temple dedicated to Devī and a young woman of exquisite beauty, surrounded by her maids, singing hymns and worshipping Devī. Jīmūtavāhana was attracted by her extra-ordinary beauty. Love budded in her heart also. On enquiry it was understood that she was Malayavatī, the sister of Mitrāvasu. After that both of them engaged in a little talk of love-making. Hearing her mother calling, Malayavatī instantly went home. Being fallen head-long in love, Jīmūtavāhana spent the night somehow or other and at dawn reached the temple with a hermit boy. While the hermit boy was consoling Jīmūtavāhana Malayavatī also came there. Jīmūtavāhana and his friend hid behind a tree. She was alone, and since she could not bear separation from her lover she decided to commit suicide and standing at the steps, she said "Devi ! If it is impossible to get that Jīmūtavāhana as my husband in this birth, let it be so. But bless me that I may have my wish granted in the next birth at least". Saying this she tied one end of her upper garment on the tree and tried to commit suicide. Instantly there was an ethereal voice which said, "Daughter, don't do such rash things. Jīmūtavāhana will become your husband. He will become the emperor of the Vidyādharas also." Jīmūtavāhana-came and untied the knot of the upper garment with his own hands and saved her from death. Her maid appeared and said with delight. "Friend! you are very lucky. Today I heard what prince Mitrāvasu said to his father Viśvāvasu. Thus he said 'Father! Jīmūtavāhana who gave away his own Kalpaka tree for the welfare of others has come to this place. It will bring prosperity to us, if we show our hospitality to this noble guest by giving our Malayavatī to him. It is very difficult to get such a noble man for my sister anywhere else." The father consented. The prince instantly went to the abode of this gentleman. I think the marriage will take place today. So come, let us go home."

With his heart overflowing with joy, Jīmūtavāhana went to his house. Mitrāvasu was there. He revealed the purpose of his coming. Jīmūtavāhana, who had the remembrance of his previous births told Mitrāvasu that in the previous birth also they had been friends and that Malayavatī had been his wife. Thus their marriage took place. Delightful days of the married life passed one by one. One day Jīmūtavāhana and Mitrāvasu went for a walk. They reached a forest on the seashore. Seeing some bones there Jīmūtavāhana asked Mitrāvasu about them. Mitrāvasu said: "In ancient days Kadrū, the mother of Nāgas (serpents) made Vinatā, the mother of Garuḍa, her slave by some trick. Garuḍa liberated his mother from slavery. But the hatred increased day by day and Garuḍa began to eat serpents, the children of Kadrū. Seeing this, Vāsuki the King of Nāgas entered into a contract with Garuḍa, so as to prevent the nāgas from being destroyed altogether. The arrangement was that Vāsuki would send a serpent everyday to Garuḍa. Garuḍa ate all those serpents sent by Vāsuki in this place. These are the bones of those poor snakes."

When Jīmūtavāhana heard this story his heart was filled with pity. He decided to save the life of at least one serpent by giving his body instead. But the presence of Mitrāvasu was an obstacle to carry out his wish. At that particular moment a minister of Viśvāvasu appeared there and took away Mitrāvasu saying that he was wanted by his father. Left alone, Jīmūtavāhana stood there when he saw a young man coming with an old woman who was crying bitterly. On enquiry Jtmūtavāhana learned that in accordance with the agreement with Garuḍa, the old woman was bringing her only son Śaṅkhacūḍa to give him as food to Garuḍa. Jīmūtavāhana told them that he would take the place of Śaṅkhacūḍa that day. The mother and the son reluctantly agreed to his desire. The old woman went away crying and Śaṅkhacūḍa went to the temple.

Hearing the sound of Garuḍa’s wings Jīmūtavāhana laid himself on a stone and Garuḍa taking him in his beaks flew to the top of the Malaya Mountain. On the way the jewel of Jīmūtavāhana known as 'Cūḍāratna', which was soaked in blood fell down, in front of Malayavatī. Knowing that it was the jewel of her husband, with a terrible cry she ran to her father. Because of his knowledge of arts and sciences, Jīmūtaketu also knew everything and with his wife and daughter he went to the top of the Malaya mountain.

In the meanwhile, Śaṅkhacūḍa, having done obeisance to 'Gokarṇanātha' (God), came back to the stone where he had left Jīmūtavāhana and seeing a pool of fresh blood, became sad and silent. Then determining that he would save Jīmūtavāhana at any cost, he went up the mountain following the track of the blood drops.

Garuḍa took Jīmūtavāhana to the peak of the mountain and began to peck at him. Jīmūtavāhana grew more and more delightful as the pecking became harder. Garuḍa looked at him with wonder and thought, "Surely, this is not a nāga. It must be a Gandharva or somebody else." Not knowing what to do he sat looking at his prey, who invited him to finish off his meal. By this time Śaṅkhacūḍa had reached the spot. Soon Jīmūtaketu with his wife and Malayavatī also arrived. They all cried aloud. Garuḍa was in great confusion. When he knew that he was about to eat the famous Jīmūtavāhana, who had given away even the Kalpaka tree for the good of others, Garuḍa was filled with remorse. Instantly Jīmūtavāhana died. The parents and Śaṅkhacūḍa cried beating their breasts. Malayavatī fell on the ground and cried. Then looking up she called out with tears. "Ha ! Devi ! Jagadambikā ! you have told me that my husband would become the emperor of the Vidyādharas. Has your boon become futile because of my misfortune?" Devī appeared and said "Daughter ! My words will not become futile." Then Devī sprinkled Amṛta (ambrosia) on Jīmūtavāhana and brought him to life. He sprang up more radiant than before, and was anointed as emperor of the Vidyādharas by Devī. When Devī disappeared Garuḍa who was much pleased, told Jīmūtavāhana to ask for any boon.

Jīmūtavāhana requested for the boon that Garuḍa should stop eating the Nāgas and that all the serpents who had been reduced to bones should be brought to life again. Garuḍa granted him that boon. All the serpents which had been killed by Garuḍa came to life again. All the gods and hermits came there with joy. After all had gone, Jīmūtavāhana went with his relatives to the Himālayas as the emperor of Vidyādharas.* (Kathāsaritsāgara, Saśāṅkavatī Lambaka, Taraṅga 23).

*) This story is told to the king Trivikramasena by Vetāla. See under Trivikramasena.

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