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Vishnu Purana – Fifth Kandha

Chapter 27

Sambara killed by Pradyumna

1Maitreya said: —How, Muni, happened it that the hero Pradyumna was carried away by Sambara? and in what manner was the mighty Sambara killed by Pradyumna?
2-5Parāśara said: —When Pradyumna was but six days old, he was stolen from the lying-in chamber by Sambara, terrible as death; for the demon foreknew that Pradyumna, if he lived, would be his destroyer. Taking away the boy, Sambara cast him into the ocean, swarming with monsters, into a whirlpool of roaring waves, the haunt of the huge creatures of the deep. A large fish swallowed the child, but he died not, and was born anew from its belly[1]: for that fish, with others, was caught by the fishermen, and delivered by them to the great Asura Sambara.
6-10His wife Māyādevī, the mistress of his household, superintended the operations of the cooks, and saw, when the fish was cut open, a beautiful child, looking like a new shoot of the blighted tree of love. Whilst wondering who this should be, and how he could have got into the belly of the fish, Nārada came to satisfy her curiosity, and said to the graceful dame, “This is the son of him by whom the whole world is created and destroyed, the son of Viṣṇu, who was stolen by Sambara from the lying-in chamber, and tossed by him into the sea, where he was swallowed by the fish. He is now in thy power; do thou, beautiful woman, tenderly rear this jewel of mankind.”
11-13Thus counselled by Nārada, Māyādevī took charge of the boy, and carefully reared him from childhood, being fascinated by the beauty of his person. Her affection became still more impassioned when he was decorated with the bloom of adolescence. The gracefully-moving Māyāvatī then, fixing her heart and eyes upon the high-minded Pradyumna, gave him, whom she regarded as herself, all her magic (and illusive) powers.
14-16Observing these marks of passionate affection, the son of Kṛṣṇa said to the lotus-eyed Māyādevī, “Why do you indulge in feelings so unbecoming the character of a mother?” To which she replied, “Thou art not a son of mine; thou art the son of Viṣṇu, whom Kālā Sambara carried away, and threw into the sea: thou vast swallowed by a fish, but wast rescued by me from its belly. Thy fond mother, O beloved, is still weeping for thee.”
17-23When the valiant Pradyumna heard this, he was filled with wrath, and defied Sambara to battle. In the conflict that ensued, the son of Mādhava slew the whole host of Sambara. Seven times he foiled the delusions of the enchanter, and making himself master of the eighth, turned it against Sambara, and killed him. By the same faculty he ascended into the air, and proceeded to his father’s house, where he alighted, along with Māyāvatī, in the inner apartments. When the women beheld Pradyumna, they thought it was Kṛṣṇa himself. Rukminī, her eyes dimmed with tears, spoke tenderly to him, and said, “Happy is she who has a son like this, in the bloom of youth. Such would be the age of my son Pradyumna, if he was alive. Who is the fortunate mother adorned by thee? and yet from thy appearance, and from the affection I feel for thee, thou art assuredly the son of Hari.”
24-31At this moment Kṛṣṇa, accompanied by Nārada, arrived; and the latter said to the delighted Rukminī, “This is thine own son, who has come hither after killing Sambara, by whom, when an infant, he was stolen from the lying-in chamber. This is the virtuous Māyāvatī, his wife, and not the wife of Sambara. Hear the reason. When Manmatha, the deity of love, had perished[2], the goddess of beauty, desirous to secure his revival, assumed a delusive form, and by her charms fascinated the demon Sambara, and exhibited herself to him in various illusory enjoyments. This thy son is the descended Kāma; and this is the goddess Ratī, his wife[3]. There is no occasion for any uncertainty: this is thy daughter-in-law.” Then Rukminī was glad, and Keśava also; the whole city resounded with exclamations of joy, and all the people of Dvārakā were surprised at Rukminī’s recovering a son who had so long been lost.


[1] The Bhāgavata tells the story in the same manner, but the Hari Vaṃśa omits the part of the fish.
[2] When he was reduced to ashes by a fiery glance from Śiva, in resentment of his inflaming him with passion for Umā. This legend is a favourite with the Śaiva Purāṇas, and is told in the Liṅga and Kālikā, also in the Padma P. and Kāśī Khaṇḍa of the Skānda P. They do not say much about his resuscitation however; Śiva, in pity of Ratī’s grief, restoring him only to a bodiless existence as Ananga, whose place is to be in the hearts of men. The Liṅga adds, that when Viṣṇu, in consequence of the curse of Bhrigu, shall be born as the son of Vasudeva, Kāma shall be born as one of his sons.
[3] The daughter of Dakṣa, but not enumerated amongst those formerly specified (p. 54): she was born from his perspiration, according to the Kālikā P.

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