Puranic encyclopaedia

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

This page describes the Story of Pippalada 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 Pippalāda

An ancient sage belonging to the tradition of preceptors. (See under Guruparamparā). It is said that this sage got that name because he was in the habit of eating Pippalī in large quantities daily. Praśnopaniṣad tells a story of how the sages Sukeśa, Śaibya, Satyakāma (Kaśyapa), Kauśalya, Bhārgava and Kabandhī went to Pippalāda seeking Ātmajñāna (spiritual knowledge) and how he gave them instructions on the same.

Padma Purāṇa gives the following information regarding Pippalāda:—"Once Kuṇḍala, a brahmin residing in Kurukṣetra, got a son named Sukarmā. Sukarmā’s parents were old and Sukarmā spent most of his time looking after his sickly aged parents. Kuṇḍala taught his son all the Vedas and Śāstras. At that time in the gotra of Kaśyapa was born a brahmin named Pippalāda. Controlling his senses and abandoning all passions he did severe penance in a forest called Daśāraṇya. The greatness of his penance made the animals of the forest leave their mutual enmity and live in perfect peace. Even the devas were astonished at the power of his penance.

Pippalāda did penance sitting as majestic and motionless as a mountain for a thousand years. Ants made a sand-heap over him like a mole-hill. The sage sat inside without any motion; poisonous black cobras circled round him and yet the sage made no movement. Three thousand years went by like that and then the devas showered flowers on him. Brahmā appeared and gave him the boon 'Sarvakāmasiddhi' (getting all that is desired) and by the blessing of Brahmā he became a very learned person also.

Pippalāda became arrogant with the boon of 'Sarvakāmasiddhi' in his possession. One day while he was sitting on a river-bank a swan appeared before him and in clear tones said:—"Pippalāda, why are you so proud of your greatness? I do not believe you have that power of universal attraction. This art is arvācīna (modern); you do not know Prācīna because you are illiterate. You take pride unnecessarily for having done penance for three thousand years. Do you know Sukarmā, the wise son of Kuṇḍala? He is the man who has acquired this power of attraction. There is no mahājñanī (one possessing spiritual knowledge) like him anywhere else in this world. Sukarmā has given no gifts, he has not practised meditation, he has not performed yāgas or yajñas nor has he ever done a pilgrimage. He has not done any of these virtuous deeds and yet he is well-versed in all the śāstras and Vedas. Even though he is a child you do not possess enough knowledge to equal his. Why? Because he is always engaged in the care and welfare of his parents. You take pride in your achievements without reason."

Hearing that Pippalāda went and met Sukarmā. Pippalāda knew that the bird was none other than Brahmā himself. They talked to each other for a long time and then Pippalāda admitted that Sukarmā was a greater man than himself. (Chapters 60-62, Padma Purāṇa).

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