Puranic encyclopaedia

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

This page describes the Story of Ritadhvaja 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 Ṛtadhvaja

(KUVALĀŚVADHUNDHUMĀRA). A famous King of the Ikṣvāku dynasty.


From Viṣṇu were descended in the following order—BrahmāMarīciKaśyapaVivasvān -Vaivasvata Manu—Ikṣvāku—VikukṣiŚaśādaKākutsthaAnenasPṛthulāśvaViṣvagaśva—Adri—Kuvalāsva (Dhundhumāra).

How he got the name Dhundhumāra.

The most heroic exploit of Kuvalāśva or Kuvalayāśva was his killing of the Asura Dhundhu.

Madhu and Kaiṭabha were two Asuras born from the ears of Mahāviṣṇu. The Asura Dhundhu was their son. After his birth, Mahāviṣṇu killed Madhu and Kaiṭabha. Dhundhu was furious over the death of his fathers. He worshipped Brahmā who granted him unconquerable strength. After defeating the gods he went to the desert called Ujjālaka and lay beneath the sands. Whenever he heaved a sigh clouds of dust rose up to the sky and the earth shook for seven days. It caused great damage to life and property in the world, like a storm. Uttaṅka, a sage who lived in the neighbourhood of Ujjālaka was the person who suffered most from Dhundhu’s misdeeds.

Bṛhadaśva, of Ikṣvāku dynasty and father of Kuvalāśva in his old age entrusted the rule of the country to his son and prepared to go to the forest. At that time, sage Uttaṅka came there and advised the King to go to the forest only after killing Dhundhu. Bṛhadaśva called his son Kuvalāśva and after giving him the task of killing Dhundhu, proceeded to the forest.

Kuvalāśva had 21,000 sons. Leading them, he went to the desert Ujjālaka to kill Dhundhu. Uttaṅka declared that anyone who killed Dhundhu would get part of Mahāviṣṇu’s strength. Kuvalāśva’s sons surrounded Dhundhu. The Asura awoke with anger. In the fire from his eyes, all the 21,000 sons of Kuvalāśva were burnt to ashes. Next Kuvalāśva came into conflict with Dhundḥu. In that fight Dhundhu was killed. The gods gave Kuvalāśva many boons. From that day, Kuvalā va got the name, "Dhundhumāra" (one who killed Dhundhu). (Mahābhārata Vana Parva, 4 Chapters from 201).

His sons.

Kuvalāśva had three more sons named Dṛḍhāśva, Kapilāśva and Candrāśva, or Bhadrāśva besides the 21,000 sons. (Mahābhārata Vana Parva, Chapter 204, Verse 40).

4) Vāmana Purāṇa, Chapter 59 gives the following account of how Kuvalāśva won the favour of sage Gālava.

Long ago while sage Gālava was performing tapas in his āśrama, an Asura called Pātālaketu used to disturb his meditations regularly. One day, the sage looked up to Heaven and heaved a sigh. At once a horse dropped down from the sky. A mysterious voice was heard saying—"This mighty horse will travel thousands of yojanas in a day." The sage received that horse and presented it to Ṛtadhvaja, King of the lunar dynasty. Ṛtadhvaja mounted the horse and killed Pātālaketu.

It was Viśvāvasu who dropped this horse from Heaven. Pātālaketu had once fallen in love with Viśvāvasu’s daughter, Madālasā. It was in revenge that Viśvāvasu had done like this.

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