The Vamana Purana, Part 17

BY: SUN STAFF - 9.11 2023

Vamana and Bali

A serial exploration of the Vamana Purana by Srila Vedya-vyasa, excerpted and categorized into various subject areas.


Ritudhwaj Injures Paatalketu

"King Ripujeet- a descendant of Raghu lived with his valiant and brave son named Ritudhwaj. Ritudhwaj being a virtuous prince thought it as his duty to protect all the sages and hermits. Under his protection, the sages performed their religious duties without any problem.

During Ripujeet's reign, a great sage- Gaalav lived in his hermitage doing penance. A demon named Paatalketu used to torment him. Although Gaalav was capable of burning Paatalketu to death yet he hesitated to do so for the fear of losing his virtuosity. One day, sage Gaalav was contemplating on the means to get rid of Paatalketu's terror tactics but was unable to find any solution and let out a deep sigh in frustration. He was amazed to see a horse falling from the sky. As he was looking towards the sky, he heard a heavenly voice- "This horse can travel thousands of Yojans in a single day. Give this horse to Ritudhwaj who will solve your problems."

As per the instructions of that heavenly voice, Gaalav presented that horse to Ritudhwaj and engaged himself in penance. This horse was sent by a Gandharva king named Vishwavasu with a special purpose. Vishwavasu had a beautiful daughter named Madalasa. Infatuated by her beauty, the demon- Paatalketu had abducted her to Paatal loka. He wanted to marry her but Madalasa rejected his advances. Vishwavasu knew that only Ritudhwaj was capable of killing Paatalketu, so he presented that horse to sage Gaalav with the instruction that it should be given to Ritudhwaj.

Ritudhwaj went to Paatal loka on that horse and fought a fierce battle in which Paatalketu was seriously injured. Ritudhwaj released Madalasa from Paatalketu's captivity and married her."


Lord Shiva Does Penance

"Lord Shiva was so deeply attached to Uma that for 1000 years, he was possessed by only her thoughts. He forgot about his duties and as a result, there was anarchy all over the world. His obsession with Uma had also decreased his radiance. He decided to do penance with the objective of regaining his radiance.

When Uma came to know about his decision, she was unhappy but Lord Shiva consoled her by relating the significance of his decision. Before leaving, he entrusted the responsibility of her security to Nandi. He started wandering in search of a suitable place for doing penance. Sometimes, he did penance under the tree, sometimes on the mountain peaks and sometimes on the banks of a river. Initially, he used to eat only kand and Moola but later on he stopped eating even that and lived only on air. This way, 900 years passed during which he travelled to all the three lokas.

Ultimately, he even stopped breathing. He inserted a small wooden block in his mouth to stop the air from entering his body. This act of Shiva resulted in the tremendous generation of energy inside his body as a result of which that wooden block blasted off through his skull and fell on the Himalaya Mountain with such force that the wooden block levelled numerous peaks of Himalaya Mountain to the ground. The famous place of pilgrimage- Kedarnath is situated at this very place.

After that, Lord Shiva did a severe penance by immersing his whole body in the waters of Saraswati river. He remained immersed in the water for one complete year and did not come out. All the seven worlds including the oceans and the mountains started shaking violently. The stars and the Nakshatras started falling down on the earth. Curious to know why this happened, the worried deities went to Lord Brahma. Even Lord Brahma could not satisfy their curiosity as he had no answer. All of them then went to Lord Vishnu but he too was not aware of the reason.

All the deities including Lord Vishnu then went to Mandaar Parvat to see Lord Shiva. But they were surprised to find out that neither Lord Shiva nor Uma were present there. Lord Vishnu was aware of Lord Shiva's penance in the Saraswati river. Due to the sin of causing Mridani's foetus to abort, the deities could not know the fact behind this strange event.

The deities then performed the most austere Taptakrichcha Vrata to atone for their sin. Lord Vishnu then gave them a glimpse of Shiva Linga, which manifested in his heart. All the deities again worshipped that Shiva Linga and made offerings. Lord Vishnu then took them to Kurukshetra where Lord Shiva was doing his penance in the waters of Saraswati. The deities eulogised Lord Shiva by saying "STHANAVE NAMAH" and Indra requested him to stop doing his penance as the whole world was in turbulence. Lord Shiva accepted their request with a smile and discontinued with his penance.

Even after Lord Shiva had stopped doing his penance, the earth continued to shake violently. Surprised, he started wandering here and there to know the truth behind this turbulence. He found sage Shukracharya doing penance on the bank of river Oghavati with the objective of learning the most secret Mritsanjeevani Vidya. Lord Shiva blessed him and his desire was fulfilled but the earth still continued to shake violently. Lord Shiva then proceeded towards Saptasaraswat where he found sage Mankanak was dancing in joy and his steps were causing the earth to shake. Sage Mankanak had acquired tremendous virtues due to his severe penance and as a result instead of blood, vegetative juice secreted from his wound. He had become arrogant and thought that it happened only because of his penance. Lord Shiva then subdued his arrogance by causing wound on his finger from which ashes poured out. Sage Mankanak was ashamed of himself and stopped dancing, and the earth became calm once again."


Lord Vishnu Kills Mura

"Mura was the Aurasputra of sage Kashyap and Danu. When he saw the demons being vanquished by the deities, he went to do penance with the objective of getting boons from Lord Brahma. When Lord Brahma appeared before him, he said- "O lord! Bless me with a boon, which enables me to kill anybody merely by the touch of my hand." Lord Brahma blessed him and said- "So be it."

Getting this boon made Mura very arrogant. He challenged the deities, Yakshas and Kinnars to fight him but nobody accepted his challenge as they were scared of his power. He then entered Amravati- Indra's capital and challenged Indra for a duel. Indra became terrified and abandoned his abode- heaven. Now, Mura became the lord of heaven and very soon, he invited the other demons to join him in heaven.

Once, Mura challenged a king named Raghu who was proficient in rituals for a duel. At that time, Raghu was busy performing his Yagya. He admonished Mura by saying- "What is the great deal in fighting with the mortals? If you are really that brave then you should defeat Yamaraj." The arrogant Mura then went to Yama loka and challenged Yama. Yama was aware of Lord Brahma's boon given to Mura. So, he went to take Lord Vishnu's help. Lord Vishnu advised him to send Mura to Vishnu loka by any means.

Yama returned to his abode where he found Mura waiting for him. He said- "I am ready to accept your authority on the condition that you protect me from the wrath of my former master." Mura curiously asked Yama as to who his former master was. Yama then told him that his former master was none other than Lord Vishnu and he lived in Ksheersagar. Mura then went to Ksheersagar to fight Lord Vishnu.

When Mura reached Ksheersagar, Lord Vishnu asked him the reason for his arrival. Mura confidently said that he had come to fight him. Lord Vishnu had worked out an excellent plan to kill Mura and the time had now arrived for its implementation. Lord Vishnu said- "If you have come to fight me then why are you trembling with fear and why is your heart beating so fast? I do not fight cowards." Furious at Lord Vishnu's words, Mura put his hand on his own chest to convince Lord Vishnu that his heartbeat was normal. The moment he put his hand on his chest, he fell down and finding the moment opportune, Lord Vishnu killed him with the chakra."