Markandeya Puranam

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THE FATHER said: – My son, you have described to me truly the most hateful order of the world, going on perpetually like a clock; I have fully learnt all this. Such being the case, tell me what I should do. (1-2)

THE SON said: – If you, O father, unhesitatingly rely on my words, then renouncing the condition of a house-holder enter into woods. (3) Duly entering upon this life, giving up sacrificial fire, severing all ties and being freed from dissension concentrate your mind upon self. (4) Taking your food every alternate day, controlling your mind, become a mendicant shaking off inaction. And there when becoming intent upon Yoga you shall be above the external influence you will then obtain that Yoga which is the remedy of the miseries of existence, the means of liberation, incomparable, and indescribable, and which is not acquired in company and obtaining which you will no more be related to matter. (5-6)

THE FATHER said: -Describe to me, O my son, Yoga which is the best means to emancipation, by which I shall not attain to misery for my again being united with matter. (7) Explain to me that Yoga, which is unattached and by which my soul, greatly attached, may not be fettered by worldly bonds. (8) Do you sprinkle the cool water of speech regarding the knowledge of Brahma on my body and mind assailed and bewildered by the heat of the sun of a world. (9) By making me drink your nectarine words do you revive me who am dead again by being beaten by the black serpent of ignorance and possessed by its venom. (10) By opening speedily the gate of love and knowledge do you release me who am fettered by the chains of son, wife, house and field. (11)

The son said: – Listen properly, O father, to Yoga which was described fully by the intelligent Dattatreya to Alarka when formerly questioned by him (12)

The father said: – Whose son was Dattatreya? Why did he explain Yoga? Who was the great Alarka who questioned (him) about Yoga? (13)

The son said: – There was a certain Brahmana, Kausika, in the city of Prathisthana, who, in consequence of his pristine sins, was assailed by leprosy. (14) His wife served her diseased husband as if he was a deity, by shampooing his feet and limbs, bathing him, clothing him, feeding him, washing off his phlegm, urine, feces and blood, by serving him in solitude and treating him with sweet words. (15-16) Although always served by her with humility that highly irascible and cruel (Brahmana) used to rebuke her angrily. (17) Still the humble wife considered him as a deity and regarded that horrible one as the best of men. (18) Although incapable of moving about that foremost of the twice-born one day said to his wife: – “Take me to the house of the courtesan living by the road; she lives in my heart, O you conversant with virtue. (19-20) I saw that girl at sun-rise and it is now night – from the time of seeing her she does not disappear from my heart. (21) If that one of a slender make, perfectly beautiful with plump hips and breasts, does not embrace me you will see me dead. (22) Kama, (the god of love) is hostile to men and she is solicited by many; I am incapable of moving about; it appears hopeless to me.” (23) Hearing these words of her husband, stricken with lust, his high-minded and devoted wife, born in a noble-family, making a firm resolution, taking profuse money and carrying her husband on her shoulders, proceeded slowly. (24-25) It was night; the sky was covered with clouds. That Brahmana’s wife, wishing to encompass the pleasure of her husband, went along the highway discovered by the flash of lightning. (26) On the way in darkness that twice-born one of the race of Kausika, mounted on his wife’s shoulders, pushed Mandavya who was greatly suffering from agony having been placed on a dart for being suspected as a thief although he was not so. Being enraged for having been pushed with feet Mandavya said to him: (27-28) “That sinful wretch of a man, by whom, I sorely afflicted and reduced to a miserable plight, have been pushed with feet, shall forsooth be deprived of his life at the sun rise. As soon as he will see the rays of the sun he will meet with destruction.” (29—30) Thereupon hearing that dreadful curse, his wife, greatly afflicted, said “The sun shall not rise”. (31) Therefore the sun not rising there was a continuous night extending over many days and accordingly the celestials were terrified. (32) They thought “How can this entire universe, shorn of Vedic recitations and those of Vashat, Swaha and Swadha, be saved from being utterly ruined? (33) Without the division of day and night that of months and seasons will cease and from its being destroyed the summer and the winter solstice cannot be known. (34) Without a knowledge of solstice how can the time be measured by a year? And without year no knowledge of time can be had. (35) At the words of that faithful wife the sun will not rise and without the rising of the sun bathing, gifts and such other acts cannot take place. (36) There is no lighting of the sacrificial fire and the want of sacrifices is observed. And no gratification of ours can accrue but from oblations to fire. (37) Being duly gratified by the mortals with our due share in the sacrifices we favour men with rain for the growth of corn. (38) On oshadhis having been procured the mortals worship us with sacrifices; and being adored by sacrifices and others we grant them their desires. (39) We shower down and the mortals shower up – we with water and men with clarified butter. (40) The wicked and the greedy do not perform the daily rites for us but they devour the sacrificial shares themselves. (41) For the destruction of these sinful and wicked men we vitiate water, the sun, fire, air and earth. (42) By their partaking of the vitiated water many highly dreadful symptoms appear for the destruction of those sinful men. (43) But we confer holy regions upon those high-souled men, who, satisfying us all first, feed themselves upon the remnant. (44) But nothing of this exists now; how can creation be preserved? How can day appear again?” Thus did the celestials confer with one another. (45) Hearing the words of the celestials assembled there and afraid at the stoppage of sacrifices the god Prajapati (Brahma) said: ¬

(46) “Energy is pacified by energy and asceticism by asceticism; hear, O ye immortals, my words. (47) For the glorification of the chaste wife the sun will not rice; and for his not rising, you and the mortals (are so anxious). (48) If you wish that the sun should rise you should propitiate Atri’s wife, the ascetic and devotedly chaste Anusua.” (49)

The son said: – Being propitiated by them she said “Tell me what do you wish to have.” The deities then begged of her that there might be day as formerly. (50)

Anusua said: – “The glory of a chaste woman never suffers decrease. Honouring this pious lady, therefore, I shall create day, O celestials. (51) So that there may be again day and night and that the husband of that righteous lady may not meet with destruction.” (52)

The son said: – Having said this to the celestials that auspicious lady repaired to her house and enquired of the welfare and virtue of herself and her husband. (53)

Anusua said: – “O auspicious lady, do you find delight from seeing the face of your husband? Do you regard your husband more than all the deities taken together? (54) It is by serving my husband that I have attained this great fruit; and for my having obtained the fruit of every desire all impediments have disappeared. (55) O chaste lady, a man should always pay live kinds of debts and should amass riches in consonance with the duties of his own order. (56) He should then duly give away his accumulated wealth to proper recipients. He should always practise truth, sincerity, asceticism and kindness. (57) Being shorn of anger and malice he should always perform acts laid down by scriptures with reverence and accompanied by gifts as much as lies in his power. (58) O chaste lady, it is by very great toil that a man attains to regions appointed for his own order and then gradually to that of Brahma and others. (59) But by serving her husband a woman obtains a moiety of the religious merit acquired by a man with hardships. (60) A woman has not separate sacrifices, Sraddhas or fasts; by serving their husbands they attain to wished for regions. (61) As the husband is the most excellent course for women, you should, O chaste and noble lady, always set your heart upon serving your husband. (62) Being whole-mindedly intent upon serving her husband a woman reaps the religions merit earned by a man by worshipping deities, his ancestral manes and guests and by the performance of pious rites.” (63)

The son said: – Hearing her words and honouring them duly, she spoke to Atri’s wife Anusua:

(64) “Blessed and favoured I am, O you auspicious by nature, since the celestials have looked upon me and you (have endeavoured) to increase my reverence again. (65) I know full well that there is no better refuge to women than their husbands – devotion to them leads to their benefit both, in this world and in the next. (66) The husband being pleased with her, a woman becomes glorious both in this world and in the region of the dead and attains to felicity; the husband is like a deity to women. (67) Tell me, O fair one, what shall myself and my worshipful husband do for you, worthy of reverence, who have come to our house.” (68)

Anusua said: – “The distinction of day and night and pious acts having ceased at your words, all the deities with Indra, stricken with grief, have come to me and solicit the favour of your so ordering that the day and night may be same as before. It is for this that I have come to you. Listen to my words. (69-70) For the want of day there is a stoppage of all sacrifices. O female ascetic, for want of them, the celestials do not receive any nourishment. (71) From the disappearance of day there is the extinction of all pious observances; from the draught that arises from this extinction the universe will be annihilated. (72) If you wish to deliver the universe from this calamity, be you pleased with people, O chaste lady, and let the sun rise as before.” (73)

The wife of the Brahmana said: – My lord, my husband, has been coursed by the great Mandavya, in anger saying “you will meet with destruction at the sun rise.” (74)

Anasuya said: – “If you wish, O gentle one, at your words I shall make your husband youthful having a body as before. (75) O fair one, I always regard the power of the chastity of women and therefore honour you.” (76)

The son said: – Thereat she agreeing to it, the ascetic Anusua, taking up the Arghya, began to invoke the sun. It was then night for ten nights together. (77) Then the divine Vivaswan (sun) resembling a full blown lotus and having a big disc rose on the rising hill. (78) In the interval her husband, divorced from life, dropped on the ground and while falling was taken up by her. (70)

ANUSUA said: – “You should not grieve, O gentle lady, and behold now without delay my ascetic power acquired by my serving my husband. (80) In beauty, character, intelligence, speech and grace and other accomplishments I have not seen any other person equal to my

husband – by that truth let this Vipra, freed from disease, regain his live and be again a help to his wife for hundred years. (81-82) As I have not considered even a deity equal to my husband by that truth let this Brahmana revive without hindrances. (83) I have always been intent upon adoring my husband with my deeds, mind and words, by that let the twice-born one revive.” (84)

The son said: – Thereupon the Brahmana rose up freed from disease and regaining his youth, and lighting up the room with his native effulgence like a celestial never touched by decrepitude. (85) Then fell showers of blossoms and celestial instruments were sounded; the deities then delightedly said to Anusua: (86) “Pray for a boon, O auspicious lady, you have done a great work for the deities, and they are ready, O anchorite, to confer a boon.” (87)

Anusuya said: – “If the celestials headed by Brahma are propitiated with me and are prepared to give me a boon and If am deemed by you worthy of it, then let Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara be born as my sons; and may I with my husband acquire Yoga leading to the liberation from miseries.” (88-89) Thereupon, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, and other gods said “so be it”. Then honouring that female ascetic they repaired to their respective habitations. (90)