The Previous Births of the Tortoise ||11||

1-2The Tortoise narrated: Formerly I was a Brihmana well-known as Sandilya. During my childhood, O king, even as I was playing, a lofty shrine of Siva was made by me. It was made of wet sand and dust particles during the rainy season. It was rendered splendid by a lofty rampart-wall.
3-4It was highly charming due to the five Ayatanas (i.e. separate abodes of the deities), O king. It contained the idols of Vimiyaka, Siva (i.e. the goddess Parvati), Sun-god and the Slayer of Madhu (i.e. Vishnu). Yellow clay was used to make a replica of the Kalasa (i.e. rounded pinnacle on the top of a temple). It was beautified with clusters of banners and festoons. The arched gateway was made of wood. It was adorned with a swing.
5It was rendered brilliant with a series of steps made very firm. It was sufficiently high. It was full of many wonderful features and very divine. I did all these things in the company of my friends.
6Due to my childishness, a pebble that had been rendered clean by means of rainwater, was made into Jagesvara Linga and established within (the shrine).
7-11Bakapuspas (‘Agati Grandiflora’) and other flowers were fetched from the fields. Other tender flowers plucked from creepers such as Kushmandas (a variety of pumpkin gourd) etc., many thousands of flowers from the thorn-apple plants having excellent colours, Mandaras, Bilvapatras, Durva grasses and fresh sprouts were used by me to wonhip Siva. A beautiful worship was arranged by me. Thereafter the Tandava dance was started wherein no particular holy rite had to be performed. Due to my childishness, I sang too in front of Siva but the tone was devoid of musical charm. I did this worship only once in the course of my childhood, surrounded by groups of other children. Then I died, O king. I was reborn as a Brahmana with the power of recollecting (incidents of) the previous birth. I was born in the city of Vidisa where I performed a special worship of Siva.
12-15I had due initiation in the worship of Siva and was blessed by the Sivagamas (i.e. sacred literature of the cult of Siva). He who constructs a temple of Siva and instals with great faith, the Linga, in the palace of Siva, shall live in heaven for a crore of Kalpas. A maker ofa temple of Siva stays in the abode of Siva for as many years as there are atoms of earth, O king, in the shrine of Siva. These statements of the Puranas were remembered by me, and l made a beautiful temple of Siva by means of rocky slabs in accordance with the injunctions of Visvakarman.
16-17The abode of Siva can be made of clay, wood, burnt bricks or rocky slabs. The merit accrued in each case is ten times greater than that in the previous case. (I practised all the rituals , viz.) I lay on ash; l took bath three times everyday; I had my meal of food received as alms while begging; I wore matted hair and performed penance eagerly devoted to the propitiation of Siva. Even as I was practising all these rites, O king, I had my death once again.
18-19In my third birth I was born as an Emperor of all the earth ruling in the excellent city of Pratisthana . I could then remember (the incidents of) the previous birth. Born in the Solar race, I was well-known by the name Jayadatta. Then, O king, many kinds of palaces were built by me.
20-22In that birth I was eagerJy absorbed in propitiating Sambhu. Flowers, of which Bakapuspa (‘Agati Grandiflora’) was prominent, were simply selected. I performed the worship with the flowers made of gold, silver and precious stones, O king. Charitable gift of cooked food etc., O excellent king, I made in such (dishes) (i.e. made of gold, silver etc). The worship of Sivalingas only I performed with (genuine, real) flowers. Thereupon Lord Sarhbhu was pleased with me and granted boons.
23-25aSiva granted me, O king, the boon of immortality and freedom from old age with the same physical body. Having acquired such an extra-ordinary boon, I wandered over the whole of this earth like an elephant (as if) blinded with intoxication. I, the king, abandoned devotion to Siva. Being affected with lust, I began to molest women (who were) the wives of others.
25b-30Molestation of other men’s wives is the main cause of destruction of longevity, penance, fame, splendour, renown and glory. Though he (such a person) has ears, i.e. the power of audition, he becomes (behaves) as if bereft of that (power). Though he has eyes, he becomes dull ( or senseless) like a (really) blind person. Though he is endowed with consciousness, he behaves as if he is lacking in it. Though be appears to be learned, he clearly becomes a fool. O king, a man becomes like this within a moment when he becomes the object of the gaze of fawn-eyed women. If he dies he has to stay in hell; if he is alive he has to be afraid of the ruler. Thus molestation of other men’s wives ruins both the worlds. Since I had the firm know ledge that I was free from death and old age, I gave up fear of this world or of hereafter and so, O king, I began to molest and outrage the women of others.
31Having come to know that I was transgressing all bounds of decorum and propriety, due to the fact that lta had bestowed some boons on me, Yama approached Sambhu and he informed him about my transgression of piety and virtue.
32-36aYama said: O lord, I am unable to curb and restrain this sinner, because he is well protected by your might and greatness. Direct someone else for my job. O Isha, O lord, the following have been mentioned by you as
the basis and support of the universe: chaste women, cows, Brihmao. as learned in Vedas, liberal-minded people who are not greedy and those who abide by truth. The most important among them are chaste women. Chaste women have been outraged by him. My rule of virtue has been violated by Jayadatta, the resident of Prati$thina, who has become mad and proud due to boons granted by you, O lord of Devas. He has vanquished and humiliated me.
36bOn hearing these words of Dharma, the lord became infuriated. He brought me to his presence even as I was trembling with palms joined in reverence. He cursed me.
37-39Isvara said: O (fellow) of wicked conduct, chaste women have been outraged by you who are mad with lust. So you are cursed by me to become a tortoise instantaneously. Thereupon after humbly bowing down to him, the lord, the dispeller of the grief of the curse, was entreated by me. He said, “In the sixtieth Kalpa you shall become free from the curse. You shall become a Gana of mine.” After saying this, Siva vanished.
40Then I became a tortoise extending to ten Yojanas. I was taken to the waters of the sea by you for the performance of Yajna.
41You were a great performer of Yajnas and you took me ahead. Even as I remember it, I am afraid. My back has been burnt by you. See these wounds on any back.
42At that time, O Indradyumna, many Cayanas (i.e. keeping the sacred fires) were conducted by you on my back in accordance with the injunctions of the Kalpasutras (i.e. liturgical treatises in the form of aphorisms).
43O lord of the earth, on being scorched by the Yajnas, the earth exuded the essence of all the Ttrthas and that became the river Mahi.
44-46One is liberated from all sins by taking bath in it. Once, during a certain Naimittika Pralaya (‘periodical deluge’), O king, I came to this Minasa lake that was being flooded to the extent of a hundred Yojanas. Fifty-six Kalpas have elapsed. Four more remain. Thereafter, I will have liberation. Thus I obtained long life and due to a curse of lsvara, O king, I, the outrager of the modesty of chaste women, became a tortoise.
47-49Tell me what shalJ be done unto you who happen to be my enemy and now a guest in my house. My back was scorched by you for a long time by fire formerly. Even now I perceive the back burning as it were due to the fire. (Hence due to the continuance of the memory of your reputation, you have been eligible for Svarga.) Why was that aerial chariot attended by messengers of gods that had come here rejected by you? Enjoy the pleasures earned and acquired by you.
50Indradyumna said: I have been banished from heaven by the Four-faced Lord himself. Ashamed that I am, I will not go back (to heaven) which is defiled due to the great dangers of downfall etc.
51-52Hence I will practise discrimination and detachment which destroys ignorance and sin. I shall endeavour to obtain enlightenment for the sake of liberation (from Samsara). Just as you receive me with hospitality because I have come to your abode, in the same manner, kindly advise me as to who will be my preceptor and take me across the ocean (of worldly existence) that is boundless.
53The Tortoise said: There is a great sage named Lomasa who has lived longer than I, O king. He has been seen by me in the village of Kalapa formerly somewhere.
54-55Indradyumna said: So come. We, all of us together, shall go to him (i.e. Lomasa) only. Learned men say that association with good people is more sacred than visits to Tirthas. On hearing these words of the king, all those six persons thought about that prominent sage and were delighted. Desirous of knowing the cause of his great longevity, they started immediately to meet that eminent Brahmana.