Pancaratra and the Ahirbudhnya Samhita, Pt. 11


The Naga Clan of Kashyap and Kadru: Anantha, Takshak, and Vasuki

Apr 07, 2012 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation the Pancaratra and the Ahirbudhnya Samhita.

Contents of the Ahirbudhnya Samhita (Continued)

Story of Kasiraja (sl. 35 fll.). Kasiraja, a worshipper of Mahadeva, calls into existence, with the help of his god, a krtya or magical formation, which he sends out to destroy Dvaraka and Krsna. The latter (Bhagavat), seeing the krtya approaching, emits the Sudarshana against it, whereupon the "frightened" krtya hurries back to its master and perishes with him and his town by the Sudarshana which, after having done its work, returns to the Lord.

Story of Srutakirti (sl. 40 fll.). Srutakirti, king of the Saurastras, reigning in Bhadrasala, "devoted to the great Sudarshana Mantra, highly virtuous", was not satisfied with ruling the seven continents but wished to conquer also "another world". He, consequently, having worshipped the Sudarshana, entered his gorgeous aerial chariot, and, "accompanied by his army", set out to conquer Svastika, the capital of the Gandharvas, ruled by king Vinavinodana. The latter, amused, sends out his army of Siddhas and Gandharvas, but they are beaten. The Gandharva king then appears himself in the battle, but Shrutakirti defeats him in a ferocious single combat, and the Gandharva army is completely beaten a second time.

Then the Gandharva king, in his despair, employs the Gandharva Astra (being the thirty-fourth of the Pravartaka Astras) which spreads confusion among the enemy, though it cannot reach Shrutakirti himself who is protected by the Sudarshana. The battle having thus come to a standstill, Shrutakirti is instructed by his priest in the meditation on the great Wheel having sixty-four spokes and in its centre the God, sixty-two armed and carrying the Samhara Astras ; and he learns from him also the Mantras for all the Astras of the two classes. He then returns to the battle, and meditating, with his eyes fixed on his army, in the manner indicated and muttering at the same time the appropriate Mantras, he easily achieves, through the divine weapons now at his disposal, a definite victory.

The chapter ends by describing how the king, in order to secure his Liberation, constructs a magnificent temple (vimana) containing "in the midst of a beautiful wheel the sixty-two-armed [God] with the Nivartaka Astras", and how he appoints for the temple, and loads with presents, one hundred and twenty Brahmins.

Chapter 45 relates the story of Kusadhvaja, intended to show that through the power of the Sudarshana even a parabdaha-karman can be annihilated. Kusadhvaja, the high-souled king of the Janakas, feels possessed by a devil (maha-moha) causing failure of memory and other ills. His Guru tells him that this is due to his having once, in a former life, murdered a righteous king, and recommends him to build a sumptuous temple in order to obtain the grace of the Sudarshana. The king follows the advice, and the Guru performs in the temple a propitiatory ceremony lasting ten days, after which the king is cured.

Chapters 48 to 50 contain five stories intended to show that for those who cannot perform these great ceremonies, the following five talismans, each of which bears the Sudarshana Mahayantra inscribed on it, may on particular occasions become useful, to wit: (1) the "seat", (2) the "finger-ring", (3) the "mirror", (4) the "banner", and (5) the "awning".

(1) Story of Muktapida or Harapida, son of Susravas. He is so much addicted to sensual pleasures that, owing to them, he neglects his empire which is, consequently, harassed by the Dasyus. The Purohita, asked by the ministers for his advice, constructs a seat (vistara asana) furnished with a Yantra, and causes the "amorous king" to sit down on it. Then he induces him to arrange for Veda recitation, music, and dance, and to go himself, for the time of one month, through certain meditations and ceremonies, eating only food that is seven times consecrated. The final effect of this is that all the enemies of the country die through disease or the sword, and the king has again a "thornless" empire. Incidentally are mentioned various methods for producing rain.

(2) Story of Visala, a righteous king reigning at Visala (Vaisali). His wife receives the news, through a voice from heaven, that her son will die within four days. The king, having gone to the hermitage of the sage Pulaha, is advised by the latter to wear a finger-ring (anguliya) bearing the Sudarshana, which would ward off death. He does so; the servants of Yama arrive and take to flight, frightened by the divine Astras coming forth from the felly of the Wheel. Great astonishment of the gods at the death-conquering power of the Sudarshana.

(3) Story of Sunanda (48.64 fli). There reigned, at Srngarapura, a king called Sunanda who had a son called Sumati. Once the latter, having gone out hunting, meets in a forest a very beautiful Naga girl who enchants him and takes him with her to the Naga world. There she delivers him to Anangamanjari, the daughter of the Naga king Vasuki, who makes him her husband. Happy beyond measure owing to his intercourse with the princess he forgets his whole past. King Sunanda, after having had a vain search made for him everywhere, ceases, out of grief, to take food. Then his Purohita goes to the hermitage of his teacher Kanva on the bank of the Tamasa and reports to him what has happened. Kanva, having entered into a trance, "sees" the "story of the boy" which is as follows:

After futile attempts at finding in the Naga world a husband worthy of the beautiful Anangamanjari, the Naga girls began to look out for one on earth, and so discovered Sumati in the forest in which he was hunting. One of the girls, called Rama, specially proficient in witchcraft (maya-visarada), succeeded in enticing him to the Naga world, where he was now living unaware of his past, as the husband of the charming daughter of king Vasuki. There was one means of bringing him back, namely the great Sudarshana diagram inscribed with golden letters on a mirror (darpana).

With this message the Purohita returns to his king. The latter, delighted, has the magical mirror at once constructed and, with its help, enters the nether regions and arrives at Bhogavati, the capital of the Nagas. He finds his son and abducts him together with his wife and female servants; he is, however, overtaken by Vasuki and his army of Nagas. In the ensuing battle the Nagas are conquered by the Prasvapana and Agneya Astras (the sixty-first and twenty-first of the Pravartaka Astras) coming forth from the magical mirror, the former causing the Nagas to sleep, and the latter setting fire to their town. Now Vasuki asks for peace, offering precious jewels and a thousand Naga girls, whereupon Sunanda withdraws the Astras and returns to his capital.


Introduction to the Pancaratra and the Ahirbudhnya Samhita by F. Otto Schrader, Madras, 1916


The Sun News Editorials Features Sun Blogs Classifieds Events Recipes PodCasts

About Submit an Article Contact Us Advertise

Copyright 2005, 2012, All rights reserved.