Markandeya Puranam

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JAIMINI said: – “All this you have described to me in order of my questions. But I have a great curiosity as to the story of Harishchandra. (1) Alas! a great misfortune befell that high-souled one, but did he, O foremost of the twice-born one, ever attain to felicity like before?”


THE BIRDS said: – Hearing the words of Vishwamitra, the poor king, accompanied by his wife Saivya and the boy son, duly proceeded. (3)

He thought: “This city is above the enjoyment of human beings being created by the trident-handed deity (Siva).” (4) And then going to the celestial city Varanashi (Benares) he stricken with grief proceeded on foot along with his obedient wife but at the entrance of the city he saw Vishwamitra present. (5) Seeing him present he bowed down with humility, then folding his hands Harishchandra said to the great ascetic: (6) “This is my life! this is my son and this is my wife, O ascetic. Do you take one of these which you like best and require at present. You should also command me what else can we do for you?” (7-8)

VISHWAMITRA said: – “The month is complete, O royal saint; give me my Dakshina relative to Rajashuya if you remember your own words.” (9)

HARISHCHANDRA said: – O Brahman, O effulgent saint! To-day the month will be complete! Wait half a day more; you shall not have to wait long. (10)

VISHWAMITRA said: – Let it be so, O great king, I come again. If you do not give me to-day I shall curse you. (11)

THE BIRDS said: – Saying this the Brahmana went away and the king thought: – “What Dakshina shall I give him which I have promised? Where can I get substantial friends? (12) And where can I get wealth? If I do not redeem my promise I shall come by perdition? (13) Shall I give up my life? Where shall I go? If I meet with destruction by not giving what I had promised, I shall, being guilty of robbing a Brahmana of his wealth, become a worm, the vilest of vile. (14) It is better that selling myself I shall enter into servitude.” (15) (Then) his wife, with words suppressed with grief, said to the poor and anxious king thinking with his head hanging down (16): “Give up thought, O great king, and satisfy your promise: a man, who has been driven out from the range of truth, should be shunned like a cremation-ground. (17) They say there is no other duty greater for a man, than the satisfaction of one’s own promise, O foremost of men. (18) The perpetual maintenance of a sacred fire, the study of religious books, all the pious acts, charity and others become fruitless for him whose words are barren. (19) Persons, versed in religious scriptures, hold that truth greatly leads to salvation whereas untruth brings down those who have not controlled their own selves. (20) Having performed seven horse sacrifices you have celebrated the Rajashuya sacrifice, O king, for one single untruth should you be cast down from heaven? (21) O king! I have borne children.” Saying this she began to weep. Then the king having his eyes filled with tears said: (22)

HARISHCHANDRA said: – “Renounce your grief, O fair one! this boy waits here; speak out if you want to say anything more, O you endued with the gait of an elephant.” (23)

The wife said: – “O king, I have borne children; the virtuous marry for having sons: therefore selling me for money, give the Dakshina to the Brahmana.” (24)

THE BIRDS said: – Hearing this the Lord of the earth swooned away: regaining his consciousness he bewailed piteously. (25) “Mighty is my grief, O fair one, that you speak this to me, have I, a sinner as I am, forgotten your smiling conversation? (26) Alas! Alas! how could you speak this, O you of pure smiles? And how can I carry this word so hard to utter?”

(27) Saying this that foremost of men again and again exclaimed, “Oh fie on me! Fie on me!” and fell down on the earth, deprived of consciousness. (28) Seeing Harishchandra the king of

the earth, lying down on earth, the queen, greatly stricken with grief, gave vent to these piteous accents. (29) “Alas! O great king, what a circumstance, beyond conception, is present, since you, used to the coverlets of Ranku deer skin, are lying down on earth. (30) The king, my husband, who conferred upon Brahmanas ten million of precious kine, sleeps on the ground. (31) Oh, what a great misery! O God! what did this king commit by you that he, resembling Indra or Upendra, has been reduced to this strait.” (32) Having said this, that one of fair hips, assailed with the unbearable affliction of her husband, swooned away and fell down on earth. (33) Seeing his parents thus tying down on earth, the boy, greatly assailed with hunger and sorrow, said (34): “Father, father, give me food! mother, mother, give me food! my hunger is growing powerful and the top of my tongue is dried up.” (35)

THE BIRDS said: – In the interval Vishwamitra of hard austerities came there. Seeing Harishchandra lying down on earth bereft of consciousness and washing him with water, he said to the king: – “Rise! Rise! O best of kings, give me my Dakshina. The misery of a man who is in debt (always) multiplies.” (36-37) Having been washed by ice-cold water the king regained his consciousness; but seeing Vishwamitra he again lost it and the ascetic was worked up with anger. (38) Consoling the king that foremost of the twice-born said: – “If you wish to observe piety, give me that Dakshina. (39) By truth the sun gives its rays, in truth the earth exists; truth is spoken of as the great virtue and heaven (itself) is established in truth.

(40) A thousand horse-sacrifices and truth being weighed in the same balance, truth weighs heavier than thousand horse-sacrifices. (41) What is the use of speaking these sweet words to you, who, although a powerful king, are now a dishonourable, vicious-designed, cunning and untruthful man? Hear this, what I speak candidly. (43) If, O king, you do not give me my Dakshina to-day, I shall forsooth imprecate a curse on you, on the sun going to the setting hill.” (43) Saying this the Brahmana went away and the king remained assailed with fear (thinking) “Reduced to such a degraded state, without any means and oppressed by the rich where shall I go?” (44)

His wife again said: “Act up to my words. Burnt down by the fire of his imprecation, do not meet with death.” (45) Urged on repeatedly by his wife the king said: – “I shall shorn of shame even sell you, O fair one. (46) I shall do even what the heartless cannot, provided that I can utter such a word which it is so hard to speak out.” (47) Having said this to his wife with his throat and eyes obstructed with tears and going to the city, the grief-stricken king said (48): “O ye citizens, hear ye all my words. Why do you ask me? I am a merciless one, not even a man. (49) I am a veritable demon, hard-hearted or even viler than it, for I am ready to sell my beloved wife and not renounce my own life. (50) If any one of you would require her as a maid-servant who is dearer than my life itself, let him speak out quickly before I put an end to my life.” (51)

THE BIRDS said: – Thereupon advancing a little an aged Brahmana said to the king: – “Give me this maid-servant I shall buy her giving the price. (52) I have profuse wealth and highly tender is my beloved wife; she cannot do the work of household, so you give her to me. (53) Your wife is one of those that are active, young, fair, and good-natured: give me the woman and take this fair price.” (54) Being addressed by the Brahmana the mind of the king Harishchandra was sundered by grief and he could not speak any thing. (55) Then having tied fast the money with the corner of the king’s bark the Brahmana began to drag the queen holding her by the hair. (56) Seeing his mother thus drawn the boy Rohitashwa, having locks on his head, began to cry pulling the cloth by his hands. (57)

The queen said: “Leave me, leave me, till I have seen the child. O my boy, it will be very difficult, for you to see me again. (58) Behold, behold your mother, O boy, who have become a slave. But do not touch me, O prince, I am unworthy of being touched by you.” (59) Then seeing all on a sudden his mother thus drawn, the boy, with eyes overflowing with tears, followed her crying “mother!” (60) The twice-born one in anger kicked him with foot who was then coming but still he kept up crying “mother” and did not let his mother go. (61)

The queen said: – “O master, show me this favour, do you also buy up this boy; although bought, I shall be of no use to you without him. (62) Unfortunate as I am, be you kind to me. Link me with him as a cow is united with its calf.” (63)

The Brahmana said: – “Take this money and give me your boy. Persons, conversant with scriptures, have settled the value of both a man and a woman at a hundred, a thousand, a ten thousand and a ten million coin.” (64) Then tying the money in his cloth (the Brahmana) took the boy along with his mother and bound them together. (65) Seeing them, his wife and boy, thus taken away, the king, greatly stricken with grief, began to lament sighing hot again and again. (66) “That my wife, whom even the wind, the sun and the moon or any man whatever did not see before, has now come by the condition of a slave. (67) Descended from the solar race, this my boy, having tender fingers, has been sold. Oh! fie on me! Fie on my perverted sense! (68) Oh dear! O my child! through my unfair conduct, who am a dishonourable man it is, that you have come by this state under the influence of destiny; still I do not die; Oh! fie on me.” (69) While the king was thus bewailing, the Brahmana, taking those two, quickly disappeared in the midst of trees and houses. (70) Immediately after Vishwamitra came there to the king and asked for the money; and accordingly Harishchandra handed over to him the money. (71) Finding the money that came from the sale of his wife, to be small, Kousika, enraged, said to the king who was overwhelmed with sorrow: (72) “O wretch of a Kshatrya, if you consider this to be fit for my sacrificial gift, then behold to-day the great strength of my hard austerities, unalloyed Brahma energy, terrific prowess and pure studies.”


Harishchandra said: – “I shall confer upon you other gifts, O reverend Sir, tarry for a moment. At present I have nothing, I have sold my wife and son.” (75)

Vishwamitra said: “O king, a fourth of the day remains; I shall wait till then, but you should not give any other reply.” (76)

THE BIRDS continued: – Having thus addressed that best of kings with cruel and merciless words, the son of Kusika, taking the money, speedily went away. (77) Vishwamitra having departed, the king, drowned in the middle of the ocean of fear and sorrow, determining every thing, cried aloud with his face bent downwards. (78) “Let him, that would buy me as his slave for money, declare his intention speedily before the sun sets.” (79) Then came there quickly the Deity of virtue under the guise of a Chandala smelling bad, deformed, rough, bearded, large-toothed, of a dreadful look, black with a huge abdomen, of tawny dreadful eyes, harsh-speeched, carrying a number of birds, adorned with a garland of dead bodies, with a skull in hand, huge-faced, terrific, always speaking, surrounded by a pack of dogs, of a fearful look, with a rod in his hand and appearing to have no form. (80-82)

He said: – “I want you, tell me quickly how much do you want for your service, small or great, by which I may buy you up.” (83)

The birds said: – Beholding him in that form, of terrible looks, highly ruthless words and of dreadfully bad ways, the king asked: “who are you?”. (84)

The Chandala replied: – “I am a Chandala, known in this most excellent city as Pravira – I am the executioner of those that are sentenced to death and take the blankets from the corpses.” (85)

Harishchandra said: – “I will not be a servant of a Chandala so highly degraded. Rather I would be consumed by the fire of imprecation than be a slave of a Chandala.” (86)

The birds said: – While he was thus giving out, the great ascetic Vishwamitra, his eyes rolling in anger and indignation, came there and said to the king: (87) “This Chandala has come here to give you plenty of money. Why do you not give me in full the sacrificial gift? (88)

Harishchandra said: “O reverend Sir, O son of Kusika, I know me as descended from the solar race. Desirous of money, how can I enter into the service of a Chandala?” (89)

Vishwamitra replied: – “If you do not give me the Chandala’s money that you will get by selling yourself, forsooth shall I, when the time comes, imprecate a curse on you.” (90)

THE BIRDS said: – Thereupon the king Harishchandra, bewildered by anxiety and sorrow, held the ascetic’s feet saying “Favour me”. (91)

Harishchandra said: – “I shall be your slave, I am afflicted, I am affrighted; I am particularly your devoted votary. Favour me, O Brahmana saint; to serve a Chandala is a misery. (92) With all my wealth gone I shall serve you, performing every sort of work. O foremost of ascetics, I shall be your servant satisfying every desire of yours.” (93)

Vishwamitra said: – “If you are my servant, I make you over to this Chandala for the consideration of a hundred million coin.” (94)

THE BIRDS said: – When he had said this the Swapaka1 delightedly giving the money to Vishwamitra and finding the king who was greatly trembling on being beaten by the rod, whose senses were agitated, who was disconsolated, for being divorced from all that was dear to him and his friends, took him to his own house. (95-96) Living in the house of the Chandala, the king Harishchandra, every morning, noon, and evening, sang. (97) “Seeing her boy poorly before her, the damsel, seated with an woe-begone countenance, remembers me (thinking) ‘the king shall liberate us both, by earning wealth and giving it profusely to the Brahmana.” (98) That one, having the eyes of a young deer, does not know that I have fallen into worse misfortune. (99) Alas! a series of misfortune has (befallen me) – the loss of kingdom, the renunciation of friends, the selling off of the wife and child and my coming by the state of a Chandala!” (100) Thus living there, deprived of all and stricken with grief he used to remember daily his beloved son and his wife devoted to him. (101) After a length of time, the king Harishchandra, brought under this (Chandala’s) control, was engaged in stripping the corpses of clothes at the cremation ground. (102) He was instructed by the Chandala, engaged in robbing the dead of clothes: ‘Wait here day and night watching the arrival of dead bodies. (103) For every corpse a sixth of the proceeds is to be given to the king, three are mine and two are your wages.’ (104) Thus advised he went to the house of the dead, then situated to the south of Varanashi – to the cremation ground, filled with terrible sounds, a pack of jackals, scattered with the skulls of the corpses, giving out a detestable smell, filled with profuse smoke, abounding in malevolent spirits, ghosts, goblins, female imps and Yakshas, swarming with vultures and jackals, strewn with bones smelling horribly and filled with heart-rending cries of the relatives of the dead: “O son, O friend, O kinsman, O brother, O child, O my dear husband, O sister, O mother’s father, O father, O grandson, O relative, where are you gone? Come here!”, there a number of men were crying in this way; (105-110) there it was filled with the cracking sounds of burning flesh, fat and marrow; there half-burnt and darkened corpses, showing their rows of teeth, seemed to laugh in the midst of fires as if to say: ‘This is the end of the body’; (111) there were heard the cracking sounds of flames accompanied by the cries of birds in the midst of the collection of bones, the bewailings of friends and the cheering sounds of the Pukkasas (Chandalas); and were heard the hideous songs of ghosts, goblins, malignant spirits and demons resembling the roars of the universal dissolution; there the collection of the dung of cows and buffaloes, surrounded by heaps of bones mixed with flames and diverse presents of garlands and lights (to the dead) and offerings to the crows, made the cremation ground, filled with various noises, resemble the hell. (112-116) Filled with the loud cries of the ominous jackals of burning mouths and as well as with those of others living in caves, the fearful cremation ground, full of lamentations, seemed to strike terror even into the heart of Fear. (117) The king, going there, filled with grief, began to mourn: “O god, where are those servants, councillors, Brahmanas and the kingdom gone? (118) O Saivya, O my boy, forsaking me, who am wretched where have you gone through Vishwamitras imprecation?” (119) Thus did he think again and again by the Chandalas. Pale, with his body rough all over, with (profuse) hair, smelling (bad) with a braid of hair as well as a staff, looking like the very destroyers he rushed about crying: “Here is the corpse, this is the price that I have received. This is mine. This is the king’s. This is the ignorant Chandala’s.” Thus going about hither and thither, the king seemed to have undergone a change of existence. (120-122) He was clad in blanket made of rags stitched

1 Man of a degraded or outcaste type, son of a Ugra woman by a Kshatrya Father and classed with the Chandala with whom he is to live outside the town, to feed from broken vessels, to wear the clothes of the dead, to possess no other property than asses and dogs and to be excluded from all intercourse with other tribes. He can only be employed as a public executioner or in carrying the bodies of those who die without kindred.

together; his face, arms and chest were covered with the ashes of the funeral pyres; and his fingers were besmeared with fat, marrow and ashes. Sighing he lived upon the food offered to the numberless dead and was contented therewith. (122-124) He adorned his head with their garlands. He did not sleep in the night or in the day but always cried “Alas! Alas!”. (125) Thus did the twelve months appear like a hundred years. Once on a time that foremost of kings, separated from his friends and having a rough body, was fatigued and possessed by sleep. He slept motionless. Sleeping there he saw a highly wonderful dream in consequence of his habit of living in a cremation ground or through the influence of powerful destiny. Having conferred on his preceptor his Dakshina in another body and undergone miseries extending over twelve years he has been liberated. He saw himself born of the womb of a Pukkashi (a female Chandala). Remaining there the king thought “Having come out of it I shall practise virtues and charities.” (126-130) Afterwards when he was born as the son of a Pukkasa he was always engaged in the performance of purifactory rites of the dead in the cremation ground.

(131) When he became seven years old he saw the dead body of a poor but accomplished Brahmana brought to the cremation ground by his friends. (132) Being chastised by him demanding the fee, the Brahmanas said: “This is Vishwamitra’s action. (133) Do this unrighteous act, O sinful wretch. Formerly the king Harishchandra, you, having your piety destroyed by your not giving to a Brahmana what you promised, have been reduced to a Pukkasa by Vishwamitra.” (134) Because he did not show them any consideration he was imprecated by them in anger “O wretch of a man, go you immediately to a dreadful hell.” (135) As soon as this had been said the dreaming king beheld the messengers of Yama with nooses in their hands. (136) He then saw himself carried forcibly by them. Greatly pained he exclaimed “O father, O mother? Where are you to-day?” (137) As soon as he said this, he was thrown into a hell of boiling oil. (138) Severed with a saw, sharp as a razor on the lower part of his body, he, tormented, began to feed on pus and blood in darkness. (139) Born as a Pukkasa, in the seventh year, he found himself, when dead, burnt and boiled every day in hell. (140) Here was he depressed and there penitent and elsewhere beaten and tortured; plunged in waters and burnt and assailed by severe cold and winds. (141) In the hell one day appeared like a hundred years. Then from the guards in the hell he heard that a hundred years had passed away. (142) Then he was thrown on earth and was born as a dog living on excretion. Feeding on refuses, he assailed by cold, died within a month. (143) He then saw himself in the body of an ass, an elephant, a monkey, a beast, a goat, a cat, a heron, a cow, a ram, a bird, a worm, a fish, a tortoise, a boar, a deer, a cock, a male parrot, a female parrot, a serpent and other immobile objects. Daily born in the species of various creatures and assailed by sorrow, he considered a day to be a hundred years. (144-146) After hundred years had passed away in his being born as those cursed animals, the king saw himself one day in his own race. (147) While he was living there he was deprived of his kingdom through gambling; then losing wife and son he alone went to woods. (148) He saw there a dreadful lion with his mouth wide open coming forward along with a Sarabha (A gigantic fabulous animal with eight legs.) to devour him. (149) Devoured by him he lamented for his wife (crying) “O Saivya! where do you go now leaving me here in danger?” Again he saw his wife along with his son (crying) “Save us, O Harishchandra, no more with gambling. (150-151) Your son, with your wife Saivya, has been reduced to a miserable plight.” – He ran about hither and thither but could not see them. (152) Then stationed in the sky the king again saw her, distressed and naked with dishevelled hair, carried away forcibly and exclaiming “Alas! alas! save me.” He then saw some persons stationed in the sky at the command of the king of righteousness exclaiming “Come, O king, Yama has been commanded for you by Vishwamitra.” (153-155) Having been thus accosted the king was forcibly carried away with a noose of serpents being informed that this was the doing of Vishwamitra. (156) Still no pious thoughts did arise in his mind. All these miseries, which he had seen in dream, he suffered for twelve years. After the expiry of twelve years he was taken away by the emissaries (of Yama). (157-158) He saw there Yama in his own form who said to the lord of men: “This is the irrepressible wrath of the high-souled Vishwamitra. (159) Kausika will even bring about the death of your son. Go you to the world of men and go through the remaining sufferings. Going there, O king, you shall meet with your well-being. (160) After the expiration of the twelfth year there will be an end of your miseries, O king.” Then pushed by Yama’s emissaries he fell down from the sky. (161) Then

dropping down from the region of Yama he awoke from an excess of terror and thought – “Alas! what a misery, it is sprinkling salt over a sore. (162) In a dream I have seen a great misery, the end of which I do not get at; but have twelve years passed away while I was seeing this in dream” – in great fear he asked the Pukkasas who were waiting there. Of them some said ‘no’ others ‘yes’. (163-164) Hearing this, the king, stricken with grief, sought refuge with the gods, saying “O deities, grant me, Saivya and my boy, good fortune. (165) Salutation unto the Great Dharma, salutation unto Krishna, the Disposer, salutation unto the Prime of prime, the holy, the ancient and undecaying. (166) Salutation unto thee, O Vrihaspati and unto Vasava.” Having said this the king engaged in the work of a Pukkasa and the settlement of funeral fees, like one who had lost recollection of all things. The king became dirty and dusky; his hairs became matted, he had a staff and his senses were bewildered. (167-168) Then neither his son nor his wife came within the range of recollection; and dispirited on account of his having lost his kingdom he lived in the cremation-ground. (169) One day taking her own dead son, bitten by a serpent, came there bewailing the wife of that king. (170)

She repeatedly exclaimed: – “O my son! O my child!” She was lean, discoloured, absent-minded and had her hairs covered with ashes. (171)

The king’s wife said: – ” See, O king, to-day, a moon on earth, your son, whom you saw before playing, bitten by a mighty serpent and dead.” (172) Hearing her lamentations, the king, thinking “I shall get the blanket of the dead” speedily went there. (173) The king could not recognise his bewailing wife stricken with sorrow consequent upon living long in a foreign country and seeming to have been born again. (174) And the princess too could not recognise the king formerly wearing beautiful ringlets but now with matted locks looking like a withered tree. (175) Beholding that boy beaten by a deadly serpent covered in black and endued with the marks of royalty the king thought: – “Oh what misfortune! born in the race of what king, this infant has been reduced to such a condition by the wicked-minded Destroyer. (176-177) Seeing this boy lying on the lap of his mother I remember my boy the lotus-eyed Rohitashwa.. (178) If he had not been brought to its control by the Dreadful Death he must have also come at this age.” (879)

The queen said: – “O my boy, by the malignant desire of what sinful man, this dreadful misfortune has overtaken us the end of which I do not get at? (180) O Lord, O king, without solacing me who am assailed by grief how and where do you remain in security? (181) O Destiny, what have you not done to the royal saint, Harishchandra, the destruction of kingdom, the renunciation of friends and the selling off of the wife and son.” (182) Hearing those her words the king, recognising his beloved wife and dead son, dropped down from his place. (183) “Oh! painful! this is Saivya, this is my boy” cried he; thus stricken with grief he wept and swooned away. (184) Recognising him and seeing him in that plight she fell into a trance, and stricken with grief dropped down on earth motionless. (185) Then regaining consciousness both the king and the queen began to lament, being greatly stricken with sorrow and laden with the weight of sorrow. (186)

The king said: – “Oh my boy, seeing your pale face, tender and having beautiful eyes, eye-brows and a nose why does not my heart rend? (187) Clasping whom, coming of himself to me with sweet “Papa! Papa!” shall I call “O my child!” out of love? (188) With the tawny dust of whose thighs shall my scarf, lap and limbs be covered? (189) Descended from my loins, you, the delight of my mind and heart, were sold like a cattle, O my child, by this worthless father of yours? (190) Having robbed me of my vast territories, possessions and wealth, the ruthless serpent of destiny has bitten my child. (191) Casting my looks upon the lotus face of my son bitten by the serpent of Destiny I have been blinded by the dreadful venom.” (192) Having said this he, with his voice choked with the vapour of grief, embraced his son, swooned away and dropped down motionless. (193)

THE QUEEN said: – “Forsooth, from his voice he appears to be that best of men Harishchandra, the moon of the minds of the learned. (194) Like his nose it is high and curved downward at the top. Like those of the illustrious high-souled one his teeth resemble the buds. (195) But why has that lord of men come to the cremation ground?” Then casting off the grief consequent upon the death of his son she looked upon her fallen husband. (196) The

exalted (queen), pale, filled with surprise and assailed by the grief of her son and husband, casting her looks, saw the hateful rod of her husband. (197) (Crying out) “I am Swapaka” that one of expansive eyes fell into a swoon. And regaining consciousness within a short time she said with a heavy voice. (198) “Fie on you, O Destiny, who are greatly hard, hateful and devoid of dignity, by whom this king, resembling an immortal, has been reduced to the state of a Swapaka. (199) Having brought about the destruction of his kingdom, the renunciation of friends, the sale of wife and son, you have not released him; this king has been made a Chandala. (200) Why do you not, raising me from the earth who am burning in grief, say, O king, ‘get upon this bed!’. (201) I do not see to-day your umbrella or your Bhringara1 or chowrie or fan. What is the change brought about by Destiny. (202) That best of kings, before whom, formerly while going out, the kings used to do the work of menials and make the earth freed from dust with their scarps, that one, under the influence of misfortune, is now living in the cremation-ground filled with earthen water-pots and vessels coming in contact with human skulls, dreadful with profuse hairs sticking to the threads of the wreaths of the dead, covered with greese and dry faggots, terrific with a mixture of ashes, charcoal, half-burnt bones, and marrow; from which small birds, terrified by vultures and jackals, have fled away; darkened all over by the flames of the funeral phyres; and where the night-rangers are brimful with delight by eating the flesh.” (203-207) Having said this and clapsed the neck of the kings the princess, the object of numberless miseries and afflictions, began to lament in piteous accents. (208)

THE QUEEN said: – “O king, is this a dream or a reality, tell me what you think, O great one; my mind is stupefied. (209) If this be so, O you conversant with morality, virtue is of no avail; and there is no merit in worshipping the Brahmanas, the deities and in protecting the earth.

(310) There is then no truth, sincerity or kindness, since you, so pious, have been deprived of your kingdom.” (211) Hearing her words, heavy and accompanied by hot sighs (he) described to that damsel of slender make how he had become a Swapaka. (212) Weeping long, sighing hot, that timid lady, stricken with grief, described duly to him the death of her son. (213)

THE KING said: – “O dear, I do not like to undergo this misery for a long time. O slender-made lady, behold my misfortune that I am not (even) a master of own self. (214) If without obtaining permission from the Chandala I enter into fire, I shall, in another birth, become the slave of one (such). (215) Or I shall fall into a hell as an insect feeding on earth-worms; or I shall fall into Vaitarini filled with profuse pus, fat, blood and muscle. (316) Or going to a forest of sword-blades I shall be sorely cut; or going to Raurava or Maha Rauvara, I shall suffer misery. (217) If a man is drowned in a sea of miseries he can come to an end by giving up his life. The only boy, a son on whom depended the perpetuation of the race, even he is drowned by the powerful tide of destiny. A wretched slave as I am, how can I relinquish my life? (218-219) But a distressed and troubled person does not care for sin. Not even in being born as a beast, nor in the forest of sword blades or in Vaitarini is that misery which comes from the loss of a son. (220) O slender-made lady, I shall throw myself into the fire blazing with the body of my son; you should pardon me for this iniquity. (211) Permitted by me, go you to the house of the Brahmana, O you of fair smiles, and consider my words with a concentrated mind. (222) If I have practised charities, if I have performed sacrifice, if I have pleased my spiritual guide, I shall again, in another world, be united with you and my son. (223) What is the possibility of my object being secured in this world? I should therefore, with you, wend the way of my son. (224) If, O you of fair smiles, I have said anything indecent in private (even) by way of jest, you should pardon me, who am begging. (225) Out of haughtiness that you are a queen, you should not disregard the twice born one; but O fair one, you should please him even like a husband or a deity.” (226)

The queen said: – “O royal saint, even this very day I shall enter into this burning fire with the load of grief in your company.” (227)

THE BIRDS said: – Then making a funeral phyre and placing his son thereon, the king, with his wife, began to meditate upon the supreme spirit, the Lord Narayana, Hari, living in the

1 A golden vessel used on the occasion of royal ceremonials

cave of heart, Vasudeva, the lord of the celestials, without beginning and end, Brahma, or the holy deity clad in yellow raiment (Krishna). (228-229) While he was thus thinking, all the deities with Vasava, taking Dharma before them, came there speedily. (230)

They, all coming there, said: – “Hear, hear, O king, O lord, here is the grand-father (Brahma), here is the reverend Dharma and these are the Sadhyas, the Vishwas, the Maruts, and the Lokapalas with their respective conveyances, Nagas, Siddhas, with the Gandharvas, Rudras, as well as Aswinis; these and others as well as Vishwamitra, of whom the three worlds could not make a friend, are anxious, for their behoof, to have you as their friend.” Then Sakra, Dharma and Gadhi’s son came before him. (231-334)

Dharma said: – “Be not rash, O king; I am Dharma who have come to you having been pleased with your qualities of forgiveness, self-control, truthfulness and others.” (235)

Indra said: – “O great Harishchandra, I am Sakra and have come to you. You have along with your wife and son gained the eternal region. (436) Go to the celestial region, O king, accompanied by your wife and son which is hard to be got at by other people but you have acquired it by your acts.” (337)

THE BIRDS said: – The Lord Indra, who had come there, at the funeral phyre, created a nectarine shower from the sky capable of destroying violent deaths. (238) He caused a great shower of blossoms and huge celestial drums to be sounded. Then in that assembly of celestials, assembled in parties, the son of the high-souled king rose up, with a tender body, healthy and with sprightly senses and mien. (239-240) Then immediately embracing his son, the king Harishchandra, along with his wife, was covered with grace and adorned with celestial garlands and raiments. (241) He then became comforted with his mind entirely filled with great felicity. Immediately Indra again said: (242) “You shall with your wife and son attain to great bliss. O great one, rise up in consequence of your own acts.” (343)

Harishchandra said: – “O king of the celestials, without being permitted by my master Swapaka and obtaining a release from him I cannot go to the region at the celestials.” (244)

Dharma said: – Coming to know of your future sufferings by my own power I had brought myself to the state of a Swapaka and displayed that fickleness. (243)

Indra said: – “Harishchandra, ascend the region of the pious men, the most exalted station, which all men on earth seek. (246)

Harishchandra said: – “Salutation unto you, O lord of the celestials, hear these my words, which favoured by you, I shall speak to you with a delighted countenance on account of your having been pleased. (247) People are living in the city of Kosala with their minds sunk in my grief. Leaving them (behind) now can I go to the celestial region? (248) The renunciation of a devoted follower is equally as mighty a sin as that of the destruction of a Brahmana, a preceptor, a cow and a woman. (249) There is no happiness, either here or thereafter for him who renounces a devoted and innocent follower. Therefore, O Sakra, go you to heaven. (250) If, O lord of the celestials, they go to heaven with me, I shall go there or I shall go to hell along with them.” (251)

Indra said: – “Various and diversified are their virtues and iniquities. How can you go to heaven along with so many?” (252)

Harishchandra said: – “O Sakra, it is through the energy of his dependents that a king enjoys his kingdom and celebrates great sacrifices and Purtta1 acts. (253) I shall never forsake them through the desire of getting heaven, them, my benefactors, by whose help I have performed everything. (254) O lord of the celestials, let whatever small merit, therefore, I may have acquired by gifts, performance of sacrifices and recitation of religious formula, be in common with them. (255) And through your favour let me, with them, in one day, enjoy the fruit of my acts which is to last for a long time. (256)

1 Acts of pious liberality such as digging a well or tank.

THE BIRDS said: – Then saying “so it shall be” Sakra, the king of the three worlds, with a delighted heart, Dharma, and Gadhi’s son, Vishwamitra came down from heaven to earth abounding in million of cars and said to the people of Ayodhya, “Do you come up to heaven”. (257-258) Hearing Indra’s words and pleased with the king, Vishwamitra, of hard austerities, brought Rohitashwa and sprinkled the prince in the charming city of Ayodhya. And the celestial, with the ascetics and Siddhas sprinkled that lord of men. (259-260) Then in the company of the king, all those fat and contented people, together with their wives and sons, went to the celestial region. (261) And men began to move from one car to another with an accession of delight. The king Harishchandra, the lord of men, (going to heaven) in a car, obtained immense wealth and lived in a city fortified by walls and battlements. (262-263) Seeing his prosperity, the great preceptor Ushana, versed in all branches of learning, hymned the following verses. (264)

SUKRA said: – There, has never been, nor will be, a king like Harishchandra. Whoever, assailed by grief, listens to it, shall attain to great felicity. (265) One, aspiring after heaven, obtains heaven; one, desirous of children, obtains children; one, desirous of a wife, gets wife; and one, longing for kingdom, gets kingdom. (266) Oh the force of patience, Oh the mighty result of charity, for Harishchandra has attained heaven and the dignity of Indra. (267)

THE BIRDS said: – We have thus described to you in detail all the actions of Harishchandra; hear the remaining, O leading ascetics; (268) the disturbance of the Rajashuya sacrifice, which led to the destruction of the earth as well as the great battle between Ari and (the heron) that originated from that disturbance. (269)