Puranic encyclopaedia

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

This page describes the Story of Pataliputra 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 Pāṭalīputra

An ancient city of Purāṇic fame in Uttara Bhārata. The former name of this city was Pāṭalīputraka. There is a story behind the city getting this name:—

There was once a sacred pond named Kanakhala on the banks of river Gaṅgā. A brahmin from Dakṣiṇabhārata along with his wife came to this pond and started practising severe austerities there. He got three sons while living there. After some time the parents died. The three sons went to a place named Rājagṛha and studied there. The three were very poor and they went from there to perform penance to propitiate Subrahmaṇya (Kumārasvāmī). On their way they entered the house of a brahmin named Bhojika livtng on the sea-coast. Bhojika had three daughters and the brahmin after knowing all details about them gave his daughters in marriage to them along with all his wealth. The brahmin went to perform penance and the three brahmin boys with their wives lived in that house.

Once there occurred a famine and the three brahmins left their home leaving their wives alone. The second girl was pregnant at that time and she and her sisters went to the house of a friend of their father named Yajñadatta. In due course she delivered a son and all the three women looked after the child as their common son.

Śiva and Pārvatī were travelling by air once and seeing this child Śiva said thus:—"I am blessing this boy. This boy in his previous birth jointly with his wife worshipped me with great devotion. They are now born again to enjoy life. His wife in his previous birth was born as the daughter of King Mahendra. Her name was Pāṭalī and she would again be the wife of this boy in this life."

That night Paramaśiva appeared before the mother of the boy in a dream and said "You must name this boy Putraka. Everyday morning when he rises up a lakh of small gold coins will fall to the ground from his head."

They therefore, named the boy Putraka and every morning they would collect and store the gold coins falling from his head. When Putraka grew up he was immensely rich and started giving away his riches to brahmins as gifts. The news of this spread far and wide and brahmins from all sides began to flock to his house.

One day among the brahmins who flocked to his house were his father and his two brothers. The fathers felt envious of the extraordinary progress in wealth and fame of their son and they cleverly took the son to a lonely place in a temple in the heart of the Vindhya mountains to kill him. After engaging some murderers to kill him they left the place. Putraka bribed the murderers with his costly dresses and ornaments and escaped from there. There was a great storm then and Putraka walked through it. On his way he met the two sons of Mayāsura quarrelling for the three things left over to them by their father. The paternal property consisted of a stick, a pair of sandals and a pot all of which had some strange powers. If you draw on the ground with the stick you will have at that spot anything you desire. If you wear the sandals you can travel in the air. If you dip your hands into the pot you will get plenty of food.

Putraka immediately hit upon a plan and addressed the quarrelling brothers thus:—"Why do you fight like this? It is better you decide it by a competitive race. He who wins the race should have the right to get the things." The two brothers agreed to it and leaving the things with Putraka started running. When they had gone a long distance away from the spot, Putraka put on the sandals and taking the stick and pot with him rose into the air. He landed at a city far away from the spot and started living at the house of an old woman. The King of that country had a daughter named Pāṭalī. When the old lady described to him the beauty and good qualities of Pāṭalī, Putraka wanted to marry her. So at night when everybody in the palace was asleep Putraka put on his sandals and entered the room of Pāṭalī through the windows. Pāṭali woke up; she liked Putraka and they were married according to Gāndharva rites. Then they both went out of the palace by air with the help of the sandals and landed at a place on the shores of the Gaṅgā. Then at the request of Pāṭalī Putraka made a city there with the help of the stick and they named it Pāṭalīputraka. (Kathāpīṭhalambaka, Kathāsaritsāgara).

[Page 583b]

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: