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MARKANDEYA PURANA

Bhagwan Shiv

Pravarakhya and Varudhini - Swarochi and Manorama- Swarochisha Manu

Having given the gist of the Foremost Manu Swayambhu, his illustrious descendant Privavrata who ruled Sapta Dwipas, especially Jambu Dwipa of which Bharata Varsha was an important component, Markandeya narrated the memorable sequence of events leading to the birth of Swarochisha Manu. A learned Brahmana youth  called Paravarakhya lived in a township named Arunaspada on the banks of River Varuna who observed Rituals regularly and worshipped ‘Atithis’ or guests, especially those who were learned too.

Once, a ‘Siddha’ who had enormous knowledge of Mantras and Tantras and an expert of medicinal herbs and plants arrived at Pravara’s place; in fact, Pravara always had a longing to visit far off places and evinced keen interest in the experiences of the Siddha; he requested the Siddha to afford an opportunity to visit Himalayas somehow. Siddha gave him a tree root and said that the ‘lepana’ or the essence of the exotic root would enable Pravara to visit far off places of his volition. He said that if Pravara desired to visit Himalayas he could close his eyes and straight away he would be there! As Pravara did so, he was transferred to Himalayas instantly and was lost in witnessing the unparalelled vision of the ice mountains, the abundant glory of the natural gardens, the enchanting beauty of Nature’s gifts like the mountain peaks, the fantastic valley views, the gushing streams of waterbodies and deep waterfalls, the rich variety of flowers and luscious fruits and so on. As he was wandering with blissful abandon, he discovered that the coat of the essence from the miracle root disappeared on his feet vanished and realised that he travelled a lot and far for long time. As the afternoon was almost nearing the evening, he was concerned as to how could he return home since the essence of the miracle root was dried and disappeared from his feet. He was rather concerned that he lost his way in the Himalayas. Fortunately for him, he found a beautiful damsel on his way and asked her as to why was she moving around all alone in this lonely place and could she please direct him to a place known as Arunapuram. Coquettishly, she replied that she was Varudhini the daughter of Menaka the Apsara; but was this a habit of young men to start conversation with lonely girls? Pravarakhya replied in the defensive that she was mistaken and genuinely he desired to know as to how he could go back home and that out of sheer temptation he accepted the offer of a Sidhhi who provided a miracle-root essence to transfer him to distant places instantly and the essence that he applied got vanished and thus lost his way. Varudhini said that it was not necessary to prolong the conversation and that she fell in love with him passionately at the moment that she saw him and would be delighted to get him in her embrace straightaway. Pravara replied that he was a traditional and married Brahmana youth with a vow to possess only one wife, performing regular ‘Agni Karmas’ and ‘Vratas’ (Sacred Rituals) and he had to somehow return back home by the evening as the Evening Rituals would be affected and more over his wife and children as also aged parents would be awaiting his return with great concern. So saying, Pravara prayed to Agni Deva and the latter appeared in the form of a Brahmana and by lifting Pravara on his shoulders took Pravara safe instantly to his home. Meanwhile a Gandharva youth, who rejected several offers to Varudhini for several years now assumed the form of Maya Pravarakhya and showed up while Varudhini said in desperation that if Pravara would not change his mind, she would as well end up her life! Maya Pravarakhya replied that ‘Srutis’ (Vedas) affirmed on the one hand that a woman in distress ought to be rescued at any cost and on the other hand they also averred that there should not be a break in the regular Rituals; however, he had decided that he should save a woman in misery and hence decided to accept her offer, but on one condition that she should not open her eyes during their union and she readily agreed to the condition. The couple enjoyed happiness for some time together, but aftersome time Varudhini discovered the reality about the Maya Pravarakhya and gave the Gandharva a curse to be born as a miserable human being. Meanwhile, Varudhini got pregnant, gave birth to a son called Swarochi with radiant features and mental faculty and trained him as a Brahmana boy who eventually got turned out to be a handsome and disciplined youth in Brahmana dharmas.Swarochi was moving around in a forest aimlessly once, when a desperate voice of a woman was heard in great anguish. As she came nearby to Swarochi she was frightened since a demon was followng her; she conveyed that some ‘Astras’ (mantrik arrows) were known to her from his dead father and would be useful in destroying the Danava following her. With the help of the Astras, Swarochi killed the Danava, from whom emerged a figure who was actually the father of the crying woman, called Manorama. Manorama and her friends Vibhavari and Kalavati wandered in a forest once and unfortunately offended a Sage performing ‘Tapas’; the Sage cursed Manorama’s friends to become as Lepers and that she would become a woman on Earth. When all the girls requested the Sage, he agreed that a brave male would kill a Danava with the help of Astras of her father and that brave man would also marry her and her companions too. The person who emerged from the Danava killed by Swarochi was the father of Manorama. Eventually Swarochi and Manorama were married happily. But, she was not fully satisfied as her companions, Vibhavari and Kalavati still remained as lepers. As Swarochi collected specified ‘Auoshadhis’ (plant roots) and cured Vibhavari’s leprosy, she conveyed her gratitude and told her that she too was a Ganharva Virgin like her companion Manorama and that she would teach him the language of animals if he could consent to marry her also. Swarochi agreed and wedded her. Kalavati said that she also could please wed her, as her father, who was a Sage, married an Apsara called Punjakasthali, died of a thunderbolt and that as she herself decided to commit suicide after learning her background, Devi Parvati appeared and prevented her self-immolation saying that a person named Swarochi would save and marry her; by way of gratitude she taught Swarochi the Padmini Vidya that Devi Parvati taught her. Swarochi thus secured three Celestial Damsels as his wives, learnt Mantrik powers from Manorama which helped to kill a Davava, the art of animal language from Vibhavari, the Padmini Vidya from Kalavati and the blessings of Devi Parvati too. Having enjoyed life with happiness for six hundred years, Swarochi became a proud father of Vajaya from Manorama, Merunandana from Vibhavari and Prabhasa from Kalavati. With the help of the ‘Padmini Vidya’ which he learnt from Kalavati, Swarochi made his sons the Kings of their own Territories. He went on a hunting spree once and found a female deer being chased by a boar; the King decided to kill the boar but the deer requested him to kill her instead. The King declined to kill the deer as she was defenceless, but she entreated him for mercy killing as she could not secure a virtuous husband in life; when the King asked her to divulge whom would she desired to marry, she replied coyly that she yearned for the King! Swarochi said that it was not possible to do so, then she asked him to embrace her once and he would then see the miracle because the ‘Vanadevata’ or the Deity of the Forest requested it to do so. The King embraced the deer and the deer got pregnant and instatnly delivered the memorable Swarochisha Manu, - the second in the Series, when celestial drums were sounded, a heavy fall of scented flowers rained, Gandharvas sang mellifluously and played musical extravaganzas and ‘Apsaras’ danced with ecstacy.

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