Puranic encyclopaedia

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

This page describes the Story of Thinthakarala 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 Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla

A prodigal person who lived in Ujjayinī. He used to defeat all in the game of dice. With the money so received from defeated persons he would buy wheat and go to the burial ground and after making bread with it would eat it dipped in ghee sitting before an oil light placed before an idol of Mahākāla (lord of the burial ground). He would then lie there itself and sleep.

One night he saw the idols in the Mahākāla temple twinkling. He jumped up and challenged the idols for a game of dice. The idols stood mute and Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla taking their silence to be consent according to the rules of gambling fixed a wager and played. He won and then he said addressing the idols "I have defeated you. Give me the money due to me." The idols stood silent and he, therefore, wrestled with them. Still the idols stood dumb. Then Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla took his sword. Instantly the devas gave him the money due to him. Early morning he went away from there and spent the money lavishly. At night he came back again and challenged the idols for gambling as before. This became a daily routine and the devas felt themselves harassed. They, therefore, approached the goddess Cāmuṇḍī and she advised them to refrain from playing as there was no loss of honour if one refused to take a challenge to gamble.

That night also as usual Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla came and challenged the idols for a game of dice. Then the idols said "We are not prepared to play." Then he challenged Mahākāla himself to play. Mahākāla also refused to play. Then suddenly the mind of Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla changed and he did penance to please Mahākāla. Mahākāla was pleased with him, appeared before him and blessed him.

Once a few nymphs came to bathe in the Mahākālī pond and as per the instructions of Mahākāla, Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla took away their robes while they were bathing. He demanded a nymph named Kalāvatī in return for their robes and finding no other way they gave him Kalāvatī.

Kalāvatī thus became the wife of a Man due to a curse of Indra. Once she praised sexual enjoyment with men on earth and decried the same with Devas. Indra heard it and he cursed her "Then let her become the wife of a man on earth and enjoy the pleasures there." All this story Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla learned from Kalāvatī. She added she wanted to go to Devaloka the next day for a dance with Rambhā. Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla consented and he also went to Devaloka and saw the dance, sitting along with the Devas.

When Rambhā’s dance was over, there was the dance of a goat. Seeing that Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla said to himself: "Why, this is a goat I used to see daily in Ujjayinī. How did it come here to dance?" When the dances were over and the people dispersed, Kalāvatī took Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla to the Mahākālī temple. Next day he met the same goat in Ujjayinī and then he enquired "Hi, do that dance which you did yesterday before Indra in devaloka. Let me see" The goat stood dumb thinking of how this man on earth came to know of the dances in Devaloka. Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla once again compelled the goat to show its dance but when the goat still refused to dance, he thrashed it with a stick on its head and the goat immediately went to Devaloka and informed Indra about the incident. Indra felt sad when he saw blood oozing from the wound on its head. Indra by his divine powers then understood that Kalāvatī was at the bottom of all this trouble and cursed her to remain as a doll on a pillar in the temple belonging to King Narasiṃha of Nāgapura. Alambuṣā, mother of Kalāvatī, who heard the curse begged for relief and Indra said she would get freed from the curse when the king himself demolished the temple and razed the place to the ground.

True to the curse, Kalāvatī after giving all her ornaments to Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla bid him good bye and went and remained as a doll on the temple-pillar at Nāgapura. Deeply distressed at this mishap of his wife, Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla dressed himself as an ascetic and went to Nāgapura. There he purchased five earthen pots and filled them with the ornaments of Kalāvatī. He buried four of the pots in the forests and the fifth in the bazaar near the temple. Then he built a hermitage on the shores of a near-by river and started living there. News soon spread that a great yogī had come to the city and the King went to see him. They talked for a while on religious and spiritual matters and the King was about to leave when they heard the howl of a jackal. The yogī smiled and the King asked him why he smiled. He refused to answer but the King insisted and then the yogī said "Oh King, the jackal says that in a forest to the east of the city under a silver plant is a treasure." The King immediately ordered his men to go and dig at the place and when they did they got the treasure. The King offered the treasure to the yogī but he refused to accept it. Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla then on three different occasions pointed out to the King the three other pots in the forests and the King got great confidence in the powers of the yogī. One day he went to the temple with the King and while they were walking around a crow crow and the yogī smiled. The King again asked him the reason and the yogī said that there was a treasure pot in the bazaar near-by. When they searched at the spot directed by the yogī the treasure was found.

On another day the King and the yogī went to the temple and as they walked about they saw the doll on one of the pillars crying. The King asked the yogī the reason for the doll crying thus. The yogī replied "Oh, King this temple is not located in a proper place. Further the deity here was not installed at an auspicious time. If this continues the King will come to ruin. That was why the doll cried." On hearing this the King ordered the temple to be completely demolished and the place made a plain ground. The order was carried out and Kalāvatī got release from the curse. She went to heaven and told Indra all that had happened. Indra immediately sent Kalāvatī to fetch Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla to heaven and then both of them lived happily in heaven. (Taraṅga 2, Viṣamaśīlalambaka, Kathāsaritsāgara).

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