The Story of Anaraṇya and his daughter – Shiva Purana
In the chapter 34 & 35 of Parvati Khanda in Shiva Purana, the story of Anaranya and his daughter is narrated. The story revolves around Padma, a chaste woman.
The king Anaraṇya hailed from the race of the fourteenth Manu Indrasavarṇi. The great king Anaraṇya, born of Maṅgalaraṇya was very strong. He was a special devotee of Shiva and ruled over the seven continents. Having Bhṛgu as his priest, he performed a hundred sacrifices. He did not accept the position of Indra even when offered by the gods. Hundred sons were born to him and a beautiful daughter Padma who was equal to Lakshmi.
He was fonder of his daughter than of his hundred sons. He had five queens who were endowed with great qualities and fortunes and were loved by him over and above his life. The girl entered the prime of her youth in her father’s palace. The king issued letters of invitation for the requisition of good bridegrooms.
In the meantime, the sage Pippalada eagerly hastening back to his hermitage saw a certain Gandharva in an isolated place in the penance-grove. The Gandharva was an expert in the science of erotic. He was in the company of a woman. He was therefore completely submerged in the ocean of pleasure, sexual dalliance and was lusty. On seeing him the great sage became very lustful. He lost interest in penance and began to think of acquiring a wife. Thus, the good sage spent a long time with his mind utterly agitated by pangs of love.
Once while the good sage was on his way to the river Puṣpabhadra for taking his bath he happened to see the young maiden Padma who was as charming as goddess Lakshmi. The sage asked the persons standing by — “Who is this girl?” The people, afraid of the curse bowed to the sage and replied.
The people said: --
“This excellent lady, the repository of all good qualities, is the daughter of Anaraṇya and is called Padma. She is another Lakshmi (goddess of fortune). She is being wooed by great kings.”
On hearing the words of the people who spoke the truth, the sage became much agitated in the mind and was eager to possess her.
The sage took bath and worshipped his favourite deity Shiva duly. The lustful sage went to the council-chamber of Anaraṇya for the sake of alms. Immediately after seeing the sage, the king was struck with awe and bowed to him. He offered him homage (Madhuparka) and devoutly worshipped him. Out of love, the sage accepted everything and ultimately requested for the hand of his daughter. The king kept quiet, being unable to give any decisive reply. The sage repeated his request saying— “O great king, give me your daughter. Otherwise in a trice I will reduce everything to ashes”.
The king and his attendants were overwhelmed by the splendour of the sage. Staring at the old emaciated brahmin, they began to cry. The queens, knowing not what shall be done, lamented. The chief queen, the mother of the girl, fell unconscious in the excess of her grief. The brothers of the girl were agitated with sorrow. Everything and everyone connected with the king was overwhelmed with grief. In the meantime, the wise brahmin, the excellent preceptor of the king, as well as his intelligent priest came there.
The king bowed to them and paid homage. He cried before them. He explained to them everything and asked them what the proper step was to be taken immediately. The brahmin, the preceptor of the king and the scholarly priest were experts in sacred lore and polity. They advised the king in that matter. The preceptor and the priest said: --
“O wise king, listen to our beneficial words. Do not be anxious. In the company of your kinsmen turn your good attention to the sacred texts. O king, whether today or after a year, the princess is to be given to a deserving person, a brahmin or anyone else. In the three worlds we do not see more deserving person than this brahmin. Give your daughter to this sage and save your riches. O king, if all riches face the danger of destruction due to one object or person, the wise man saves everything by abandoning that object or person unless it be that who has sought refuge.”
On hearing the words of the wise, the king lamented again and again but ultimately offered his daughter fully bedecked in ornaments to the excellent sage. Accepting and marrying the beautiful maiden Padma, on a par with goddess Lakshmi, in accordance with holy laws, the delighted sage returned to his abode.
After giving his daughter to an old man, the king was much dejected in mind. Abandoning everything he went to the forest for performing penance. When the king went to the forest, the queen, passed away, due to the pangs of separation from her husband and daughter. Without the king, the respectable sons and officers of the king became unconscious. The other people thinking that the king was dead lamented much. Anaraṇya went to the forest, performed great penance, and worshipped Shiva with devotion. In the end, he attained Shivaloka free from all ailments.
The eldest son of the king, Kirtiman, virtuously ruled over the kingdom and tended the subjects like his own children. Thus, Anaraṇya saved his race and his wealth by offering his daughter to the sage.
After hearing the story of Anaraṇya including the anecdote of the offer of his daughter, the lord of mountains again asked Vasishta to narrate the story of his daughter. Vasishta narrated the story of Padma after the marriage with Pippalada.
The very old and venerable sage Pippalada returned to his hermitage along with his wife Padma and passed time in pleasure. He was not too much sensuous. He continued to perform his penance and holy rites in the forest and on the mountain. The daughter of Anaraṇya served the sage devoutly physically, mentally and verbally like Lakshmi serving Vishnu.
Once Dharma (Virtue) assumed the guise of a king by his magical power and seated in a beautiful chariot, happened to see on the way that lady of gentle smiles going to the celestial river for her holy dip. He was in the prime of fresh youth, glorious and lustrous like the cupid. On seeing Padma, he spoke thus, in order to know the innermost feelings of the sage’s wife. Dharma said: --
“O beautiful woman, you are Lakshmi herself; you are charming, you are worthy of a king; you are in the very prime of youth; you will be ever young; you are a lovely, sweet lady. You lack lustre and colour in the presence of the sage Pippalada who is old and weak. Cast off that ruthless old brahmin always engaged in penances. Look up to me a great king, heroic in sexual dalliance and agitated by Kama. A beautiful woman acquires beauty because of the merit of a previous birth. The beauty becomes completely fruitful only after embracing a man of aesthetic taste. I am the lover of a thousand beautiful women. I am an expert in the erotic science and literature. Abandon that husband and make me your slave.”
Saying this, he got down and was eager to catch her hands. Padma, the chaste lady then said: --
“Go away you sinful king. If you cast your lustful ogles at me, you will be doomed in a moment. How can I resort to you, lecherous and mad after women, after forsaking the excellent sage Pippalada whose body is sanctified by austerities? By the very touch of a person under the influence of women all merits are destroyed. He is a great sinner. His very sight promotes sins. Even if he performs holy rites, a person succumbing to the viles of women is always impure. The manes, the gods and all men despise him. Of what avail is knowledge, penance, repetition of sacred mantras, sacrifice, adoration, learning and charitable gift to him who is henpecked? Since you spoke to me viewing me with the feelings that I am your wife although I ought to have been viewed as your mother, you will have a gradual decline because of my curse.”
On hearing the curse of the chaste woman, Dharma cast off the guise of a king and assumed his real form. Dharma said: --
“O mother, know me as Dharma elderly and venerable to men of wisdom and preceptors. O chaste lady, I always consider other’s wives as mothers. It was to know your innermost feelings that I approached you. I knew your mind, still I was urged by fate. Only proper suppression, not the contrary, is carried out by you. Obeisance to Shiva who distributes happiness, misery, boons, prosperity, or adversity on all. Obeisance to Shiva who can make people enemies or friends, create affection or quarrel, to generate or destroy things. Obeisance to Shiva, by whom the primordial nature, the principles Mahat etc, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and others are created.”
After saying thus Dharma, the most venerable god in the universe stood in front of her, stunned but delighted at her chastity. But he did not say anything. Princess Padma was surprised on realising that it was Dharma and said: -
“O Dharma, you are the ever-present witness of all activities. O lord, why did you deign to deceive me to know my mind? What has been done already does not amount to any guilt on my part. You have been cursed in vain by me, but it was due to my ignorance and innate nature of woman. This sky, these quarters and the winds may get destroyed but the curse of a chaste lady will never be destroyed. In the Satya yuga you shine with all the legs. In the Treta yuga, one leg shall be defunct, O excellent god. Another leg too shall be defunct in Dvapara and the third one in the Kali age, O lord. In the latter half of Kali, all the legs will be chopped off. Again, in the Satya Yuga you will attain perfection. In the Satya Yuga you will be all-pervasive and in the other Yugas partially so. Let these words of mine be true and pleasing to you. I am now going to serve my husband. “
On hearing her words Dharma became delighted. Then Dharma, the son of Brahma, spoke to the chaste lady who had been speaking to him. Dharma said: --
“O chaste lady, you are blessed, you are devotedly attached to your husband. Take this boon. Your husband is the cause of your great protection. Let him be a young man with sexual vigour and righteousness. He shall be comely in appearance, good in conduct, eloquent in speech and perpetually stable in youth. Let him enjoy more longevity than Markaṇḍeya. Let him be richer than Kubera. Let him enjoy more prosperity and power than Indra. Let him be a devotee of Shiva on a par with Vishnu. Let him be a greater Siddha than Kapila. Let him vie with Brihaspati in intelligence and with Brahma in equanimity. You will be blessed with all the fortunes of your master as long as you live. Also, you will be perpetually young. Undoubtedly you will become the mother of ten sons who will be greater than your husband, they will have all good qualities and live long. Let your abode be endowed with all riches, brightly illuminated always and superior to even the abode of Kubera.”
Bestowing blessings upon her, Dharma returned to his abode. She sported about in secret with her husband who became a young man. She gave birth to sons who surpassed her husband in their good qualities. All kinds of riches were granted to the couple increasing their happiness. They were conducive to the prosperity here and hereafter.
A chaste woman brings prosperity, power and well-being.