Puranic encyclopaedia

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

This page describes the Story of Kubera 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 Kubera


Descended from Viṣṇu thus: BrahmāPulastyaViśravasKubera.


Pulastya Prajāpati wedded Māninī alias Havirbhū, daughter of sage Tṛṇabindu, and a son called Viśravas was born to them, Viśravas married Ilibilā alias Daivavarṇinī, daughter of Bharadvāja. Rāvaṇa Kumbhakarṇa and Vibhīṣaṇa were the sons of Viśravas by another wife. (Refer to the genealogy of Rāvaṇa). Viśravas was childless for long, and the above mentioned four sons were the fruits of the boon granted him by Brahmā, whom he pleased by austerities. (For details see under Viśravas, Para 1).

Kubera’s attainment of eminence.

Once during Kṛtayuga the Devas went to Varuṇa, and after performing a Yajña for Kubera they told him thus: "In future you live in the ocean itself as deva of all rivers, and let the ocean and the rivers obey you. As in the case of the moon you too will experience waxing and waning." From that day onwards Kubera became the lord of oceans, rivers, streams etc. and all of them together gave him immense wealth. Śiva became a particular friend of Kubera. (Śalya Parva, Chapter 47).

Kubera in Laṅkā.

Afterwards Kubera performed penance for ten thousand years in water with head submerged, to please Brahmā. Yet, Brahmā did not appear. Then he performed penance standing on one foot in the centre of Pañcāgni. Brahmā appeared and asked him to choose any boon. Kubera requested that he might be made a lokapālaka (protector of the universe) and the custodian of wealth, and Brahmā responded by supplying Kubera the treasures Śaṅkha nidhi and Padmanidhi and also the Puṣpaka Vimāna as vehicle. He was also appointed one of the Aṣṭadikpālakas. (Indra, Agni, Yama, Nirṛti, Varuṇa, Vāyu, Kubera and Īśa are the eight protectors of the eight regions). Kubera’s city is called Mahodaya.

Kubera felt really happy and told his father Viśravas about his new status and dignity. The father also blessed the son. Kubera requested his father to get a city built for him to live in, and his father asked him to settle down in Laṅkā built by Maya on top of the mountain Trikūṭa in the middle of the south sea. From that day onwards Kubera took his abode in Laṅkā. (It was originally built for Indra).

Old history of Laṅkā.

Once upon a time when Brahmā was repeating the Vedas he felt hungry. He was annoyed that at that untimely hour he should have felt hungry, and from his angry face emerged the Rākṣasa called Heti. From his hunger emerged the Yakṣa called Praheti. The Rākṣasa turned out to be an unrighteous being, and the Yakṣa a righteous person. Heti married Bhayā, daugher of Kāla, and a son Vidyutkeśa was born to them, who wedded Sālakaṭaṅkā, daughter of Sandhyā. To them were born a child, whom they forsook in the valley of mountain Manthara and went their own. way. Śiva and Pārvatī came that way just then, saw the forsaken child and blessed it. At once the child became a youth. Śiva named him Sukeśa, and he married Devavatī, the daughter of a Gandharva called Maṇimaya. To them were born three sons called Mālyavān, Sumālī. and Mālī. Thanks to the blessings of Śiva all of them became youths as soon as they were born. By means of penances they secured from Brahmā the boon to conquer the three worlds.

They then returned to their father. They did not relish the advice of their father to lead a righteous life. They went round the three worlds harassing people. Maya built for them the city called Laṅkā on the top of the Mountain Trikūṭa.

There is a story about the origin of Trikūṭa. Once a controversy arose between Vāsuki and Vāyubhagavān as to who was the greater of the two. To prove that he was greater than Vāyu, Vāsuki enveloped with his body mountain Mahāmeru so that Vāyu (wind) could not enter it, and Vāyu tried to blow off the mountain with the result that a dust storm concealed the whole world from view. The Devas took refuge in Viṣṇu, who pacified Vāsuki, and he then unwound one coil round the mountain. Vāyu took advantage of the opportunity and swept off one peak of the mountain to the South into the sea, and that peak is Trikūṭa.

Mālyavān, Sumālī and Mālī settled down in Laṅkā, and they married Sundarī, Ketumatī and Vasudhā, the three daughters of Narmadā, a Gandharva woman. Seven sons called Vajramuṣṭi, Virūpākṣa, Durmukha, Suptaghna Yajñakośa, Matta and Unmatta and a daughter called Nalā were born to Mālyavān and Sundarī. Ten sons called Prahasta, Akampa, Vikaṭa, Kālakāmukha, Dhūmrākṣa, Daṇḍa, Supārśva, Saṃhrāda, Prakvāta and Bhāsakarṇa and four daughters called Vekā, Puṣpotkaṭā, Kaikasī and Kumbhīnasī were born to Sumālī and Ketumatī. Four sons called Anala, Anila, Aha and Sampāti (these four were the ministers of Vibhīṣaṇa) were born to Mālī and Vasudhā.

When the harassments of the Rākṣasas became unbearable the Devas sought protection from Śiva, and Indra detailed to him about the unrighteous actions of Mālyavān, Sumālī and Mālī. Śiva directed the Devas to Viṣṇu, who set out, to fight against the Rākṣasas. Mālī cut at Garuḍa, and Viṣṇu killed him (Mālī) with his Sudarśana Cakra. The other Rākṣasas retreated to Laṅkā. As their presence in Laṅkā was dangerous to the Devas, Viṣṇu directed the Sudarśana Cakra to go to Laṅkā every day and kill the Rākṣasas in groups. The Cakra began its work, and the remaining Rākṣasas escaped to Pātāla. Laṅkā became thus deserted and Kubera took his abode there. The Yakṣas, born from the hunger of Brahmā roamed about without a leader and ultimately settled down in Laṅkā under the leadership of Kubera. (Uttara Rāmāyaṇa).

Kubera left Laṅkā.

The other sons of Viśravas like Rāvaṇa returned with boons from Brahmā for the conquest of the earth, and the first thing Rāvaṇa did was to drive away his brother Kubera from Laṅkā. He also took by force the Puṣpaka Vimāna of Kubera, who cursed Rāvaṇa thus: "This will never be your vehicle, but will become that of his, who kills you."

Kubera, with the Yakṣas, Kinnaras etc. went north and settled on mount Gandhamādana. (Vana Parva, Chapter 275).

Kubera’s sabhā.

The assembly hall of Kubera is 100 yojanas in length and 100 yojanas wide. High walls surround the city. In the centre of the city is a beautiful mansion studded with gems where Kubera sits surrounded by thousands of women. Māruta Deva carrying fragrance from Kalpavṛkṣa worships him. Gandharva and Apsarā women entertain Kubera with music. Miśrakeśī, Rambhā, Menakā, Urvaśī, Citrasenā, Śucismitā, Ghṛtācī, Puñjikasthalā, Viśvācī, Sahajanyā, Pramlocā, Vargā, Saurabheyī, Samīcī, Budbudā, and Latā are the chief among them. Maṇibhadra (Māṇibhadra), Dhanada, Āśveta, Bhadra, Guhyaka, Kaśeraka, Gaṇḍakaṇḍu, Pradyota, Mahābala, Ka, Tumburu, Piśāca, Gajakarṇa, Viśāla, Varāhakarṇa, Tāmroṣṭha, Halakakṣa, Halodaka Haṃsacūḍa, Śaṅkhāvarta, Hemanetra, Vibhīṣaṇa, Puṣpānana, Piṅgalaka, Śoṇitoda, Pravālaka, Vṛkṣabāṣpaniketa, Cīravāsas and Nalakūbara are the chief members in the court of Kubera. Śiva, a good friend of Kubera, very often visits him. Gandharvas and sages like Viśvāvasu, Hāhā, Hūhū, Parvata, Tumburu and Śailūṣa live in Kubera’s assembly. Nārada told Dharmaputra that the Kuberasabhā was thus always sweet and pleasant. (Sabhā Parva, Chapter 10).

Fight between Kubera and Rāvaṇa.

Kubera got secret information that the Devas and the brahmins had decided jointly to complain to Mahāviṣṇu about their unbearable harassment by Rāvaṇa. He sent a messenger to his brother Rāvaṇa warning him to lead a more righteous life. Rāvaṇa got so much enraged at the advice of his brother that he cut the messenger into pieces and served as food to the Rākṣasas.

Rāvaṇa mobilised his army against Kubera and the Devas, and decided first to attack Kubera. At the head of a huge army led by heroes like Mahodara, Prahasta, Mārīca, Śuka, Sāraṇa, Vajradaṃṣṭra, Dhūmrākṣa, Virūpākṣa, Yūpākṣa, Mahāpārśva, Matta, Unmatta, Vikaṭa, Suptaghna, Yajñāntaka, Makarākṣa, Kumbhakarṇa, Atikāya and Akṣakumāra, Rāvaṇa marched to Alakāpurī where a fierce battle ensued between Rāvaṇa’s and Kubera’s armies. Many Yakṣas were killed by Rāvaṇa’s army, and the Yakṣa hero Maṇicara killed a large number of Rākṣasas. As a last resort Rāvaṇa thrashed Maṇicara on the head with a club and this turned the hair on his head to one side. From that day Maṇicara came to be known as Pārśvamauli (head turned to one side). In the fight that followed between Kubera and Rāvaṇa the former fell down unconscious. But, the Yakṣas brought two Vimānas and carried Kubera to the palace. Rāvaṇa plundered Kubera’s palace and carried off to Laṅkā a lot of costly gems and other wealth. (Uttara Rāmāyaṇa)

Kubera became a Chameleon.

King Marutta once performed a Maheśvara yajña to which were invited Indra, Varuṇa, Kubera and Kāla. While the yajña was progressing Rāvaṇa came that way with his army. Indra and the others, in great fear, ran away and escaped disguised in various forms, Kubera assuming the form of a chameleon. After resuming his own form Kubera gave the Chameleon the gift to change its colour. It was further blessed that to the onlookers it would seem that there was gold on its cheeks. (Uttara Rāmāyaṇa).

Kubera cursed Virūpākṣa.

Kubera had a yakṣa called Virūpākṣa as Manager, and he was in charge of Kubera’s treasures also. Virūpākṣa had employed a gigantic yakṣa to look after the treasures outside the capital. One day a brahmin called Pāśupata came in search of treasures to Alakāpurī. He knew a very peculiar art, viz. he would go about with a lamp lighted with 'the ghee of men' (oily substance extracted from human body) and the lamp would tumble down from his hands on earth exactly on spots where treasures lay hidden. Pāśupata tried to unearth Kubera’s treasures by the above means, and Virūpākṣa who got scent of the brahmin’s activities got him killed. Since a brahmin (Pāśupata) was killed the sin of brahmahatyā affected the Yakṣa community, and angered at this Kubera cursed Virūpākṣa into a man, and he was born on earth as the son of a brahmin. Virūpākṣa’s wife complained about this curse to Kubera, who told her that she would be born as a daughter of the maidservant of the brahmin as whose son her husband was born, and that he (son) would marry her. Kubera, further told her that association with her would redeem Virūpākṣa from the curse and that both of them would return to him. Accordingly she lay as a human child at the gates of a brahmin maid-servant, who took it to her master. The child and the brahmin’s son grew up together in his father’s house, and in due course they were wedded to each other. They felt so happy as though at a reunion after a long separation. First the brahmin boy and after him his wife expired, and they returned to Alakāpurī. (Kathāsaritsāgara)

Kubera and emperor Pṛthu.

While emperor Pṛthu was ruling the land in the best interests of his subjects, mountains, trees, Devas, Asuras, Saptarṣis, Rākṣasas etc. came to the earth and sang his praises, and as ordered by the emperor the earth turned itself into a cow and they milked her. It was Kubera who served as calf when the Rākṣasas began to milk the cow. (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 69, Verse 24).

The Devas crowned Pṛthu as emperor, and, on that occasion imperial symbols were presented to him. The throne was presented by Kubera; the royal umbrella by Varuṇa; the crown by Indra and the sceptre by Yama. (Bhāgavata, 4th Skandha Chapter 15, Verses 14 and 15).

Kubera cursed Tumburu.

The Yakṣa called Tumburu once displeased Kubera, who cursed him into a Rākṣasa. He was to be redeemed from the curse on his death at the hands of Śrī Rāma. Tumburu, who was born as Virādha, the Rākṣasa in Daṇḍakāraṇya attacked Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa during their stay in exile in the forest and was killed by them. He was cremated in the forest. He resumed his former form as Tumburu and returned to Kubera’s palace. (Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Araṇya Kāṇḍa, Canto 4).

Kubera became Piṅgalākṣa.

Kubera once looked with jealousy at Pārvatī seated on the left thigh of Śiva, and therefore, he became blind in one eye. When Pārvatī regained her equanimity she turned that eye of Kubera into yellow in colour so that he might always remember the incident. Henceforth Kubera came to be known as Ekapiṅgala.

Agastya cursed Kubera.

Kubera also was invited to the chanting of mantras held by the Devas at Kuśāvatī. Kubera was on his way to Kuśāvatī with Maṇimān when the latter spat on the head of Agastya, who was performing penance on the banks of river Kālindī. Agastya cursed them thus:—"Oh Kubera, your attendant Maṇimān has insulted me. Therefore, he himself and the army will be killed by a man. You will grieve over their death. But, you will be absolved from this curse at the sight of the man, who had killed Maṇimān and his army."

Bhīmasena, who went to mount Gandhamādana in search of the Saugandhika flower could kill Maṇimān and his soldiers because of this curse of Agastya. After killing Maṇimān, Bhīma saw Kubera in person, and the latter got absolved from the curse. (Vana Parva, Chapter 161).

Other information about Kubera.

(i) He comforted the Pāṇḍavas once during their life in exile in the forest. (Vana Parva, Chapter 161, Verse 41).

(ii) During the war with Rāvaṇa when Śrī Rāma fainted on the field, it was the water, purified by mantras, which Kubera sent through the Yakṣa, Guhyaka, which brought Rāma back to consciousness.

(Vana Parva, Chapter 289, Verse 9).

(iii) Kubera once cursed the Yakṣa called Sthūṇakarṇa. He went to live in forest Ambā the woman became a male by getting the penis of Sthūṇakarṇa. (See under Ambā and Sthūṇakarṇa).

(iv) Śukrācārya once gave Kubera a lot of wealth. (Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 6, Verse 23).

(v) A King called Mucukunda once fought with Kubera. (Śānti Parva, Chapter 74, Verse 4). See under Mucukunda.

(vi) Śukra once carried off all the wealth of Kubera, who complained to Śiva about it. Śiva, in anger, raised his śūla, when Śukra stood on its top and pressed it down. Śiva threw Śukra off but he fell into the palms of Śiva who threw him again. Śukra then entered the stomach of Śiva and roamed about there finding no path to get out. Śiva waited with the śula to kill Śukra the moment he came out of his (Śiva's) stomach. Śukra came out as Śiva’s son, and Pārvatī prevented Śiva from killing Śukra on the plea that it was not proper to kill one’s own son. Śukra thus escaped and Kubera lost some of his wealth. (Śānti Parva, Chapter 289).

(vii) On another occasion Kubera entertained sage Aṣṭāvakra. (Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 19, Verse 37).

(viii) Kubera should be installed in temples as seated on a goat with club in his hand. (Agni Purāṇa, Chapter 51).

(ix) The name of Kubera’s wife was Bhadrā. (Ādi Parva, Chapter 198, Verse 6).

(x) Kubera is called Naravāhana also as he rides in a vehicle drawn by men. He is also called Rājarāja, as he is King of Kings. (Ādi Parva, Chapter 275, Verses 1-3).

(xi) Viśravas got angry with Kubera, and from that day he deputed three Rākṣasa girls to serve his father. (Vana Parva, Chapter 275, Verses 1-3).

(xii) Synonyms for Kubera used in Mahābhārata. Alakādhipa, Dhanada, Dhanadeśvara, Dhanagoptā, Dhanādhipa, Dhanādhipati, Dhanādhyakṣa, Dhaneśvara, Dhanapati, Dhaneśa, Draviṇapati, Gadādhara, Guhyakādhipa, Guhyakādhipati, Kailāsanilaya, Naravāhana, Nidhipa, Paulastya, Rājarāja, Rājarāṭ, Rākṣasādhipati, Rākṣaseśvara, Vaiśravaṇa, Vittagoptā, Vittapati, Vitteśa, Yakṣādhipa, Yakṣādhipati, Yakṣapati, Yakṣapravara, Yakṣarāṭ, Yakṣarāja, Yakṣarākṣasabhartā, Yakṣarakṣodhipa.

(xiii) Kubera’s garden is called Caitraratha, his son Nalakūbara, his capital Alakā and his mountain-seat Kailāsa.

xiv) Kubera once did tapas for hundred years when Śiva appeared and granted him the boon that he would become King of the Yakṣas. (Padma Purāṇa, Ādikhaṇḍa Chapter 16).

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