SHRIMAD DEVI BHAGAVATAM | BOOK 7 CHAPTER 23

THE SEVENTH BOOK

Chapter XXIII

On the King Hariśchandra’s acknowledging of the slavery of the Chāṇḍāla

1-5. Vyāsa said:

O King! Speaking these harsh and cruel words to the King, the Muni took that money and went away.

When Viśvāmitra went away, the King Hariśchandra became very much perplexed with sorrows and sighed frequently. He then began to say with his face bent downwards:

 “Suffering from constant pain and troubles, I am now turned into a Preta; if anybody finds me serviceable, he may purchase me with value in gold as proper; but he should do this quickly before the sun sets.”

Dharma, then, assuming the form of a heartless Chāṇḍāla, came there quickly to test Hariśchandra.

The body of that low mean person was of a black colour, his hair looking ferocious, his belly elongated, body emitting stench odours, teeth very long, and his face, covered with beards.

He had one bamboo in his hand; in his neck, the bones of the dead were hanging and his chest was very distorted.

6. The Chāṇḍāla said:

“I am in urgent need of a servant; I will keep you as my slave; say, then, quickly what is your price?”

7. Vyāsa said:

O King! When the cruel, extremely ferocious and heartless Chāṇḍāla said thus, the King Hariśchandra was surprised to see his appearance and said:

“Who are you?”

8-12. The Chāṇḍāla said:

“O King! I am the famous Chāṇḍāla Pravīra; you will have to remain always subject to me and to collect the clothes of the dead persons.”

Hearing his word, the King said:

“I want to be purchased by a Brāhmin or a Kṣattriya.

See! The sages say, that the Dharma of good people is excellent; the Dharma of the persons intermediate is middling; and the Dharma of the mean is depressing. You belong to the low and mean class. So my Dharma cannot be observed if I remain in your house.”

The Chāṇḍāla said:

“O King! This is the Dharma of yours now mentioned by you; then why did you mention that anybody can purchase you; without any previous consideration, you spoke before me.

He who speaks with pre-consideration attains his desired object; but, O Sinless One! You did not consider and you spoke that ordinarily.

However, if I take your words what you spoke first to be true, then you are no doubt, purchased by me.”

13. Hariśchandra said:

The villain that speaks untruth, goes downright to a terrible hell; so to become a Chāṇḍāla is far better for me than to use an untrue word.

14-15. Vyāsa said:

O King! When the King was speaking thus, the ascetic Viśvāmitra arrived there out of anger and impatience; he rolled his eyes and said:

This Chāṇḍāla did come to give you your desired money; why, then, are you not giving me the remnant of my Dakṣiṇā!

16. Hariśchandra said:

“O Kauśika! Nothing is unknown to you. My this body is born for the Solar Line; how then can I accept this slavery of a Chāṇḍāla!”

17-20. Viśvāmitra said:

If you do not sell yourself to a Chāṇḍāla, be certain that I will just now put you under my curse.

Give me immediately my Dakṣiṇā, be it whether from a Chāṇḍāla or from a Brāhmaṇa. There is no other purchaser at present than this Chāṇḍāla. But know this as certain that I won’t go back until I get my money.

O King! If you do not give me money just now, then when half the Ghatikā of the day is remaining, I will burn you up by my fire of anger.

21. Vyāsa said:

O King! Hearing these words of Viśvāmitra, the King became almost dead; bewildered with fear, then he clasped the feet of the Ṛiṣi and said:

“Be friendly, please.”

22-23. Hariśchandra said:

“O Viprarṣi! I am now very humiliated and have become very afflicted and distressed. Especially I am your Bhakta, I am your servant; so be graciously pleased and free me from this painful companion of a Chāṇḍāla.

O Muni! Instead of my remnant Dakṣiṇā, I will be your obedient slave; I will do your work and follow your commands. ”

24. Viśvāmitra said:

“O King! You are then my slave and you always will obey my commands.”

25-26. Vyāsa said:

O King! When Viśvāmitra said so, the King, out of joy, thought that he regained his life and said to Kauśika:

Always I will obey your words; now order me what work I will have to do.

27-28. Viśvāmitra, then addressed the Chāṇḍāla and said:

“O Chāṇḍāla! Come to me and give me the price for this slave. I am now handing this slave over to you; give me the price and take him. I want money; I have no need for a servant.”

29. Vyāsa said:

O King! When Viśvāmitra spoke thus, the Chāṇḍāla, overflowed with joy, came immediately to the Ṛiṣi Viśvāmitra and said:

30. O Dvīja! The relief that you have given me by selling this servant, for that I will give you the ten Yojanas wide land of Prayāga Maṇḍalam, covered over with jewels.

31-36. Vyāsa said:

O King! The Chāṇḍāla then gave one thousand gems, one thousand jewels, one thousand pearls and one thousand gold Mohurs and Viśvāmitra took them.

No signs of distraction nor unpleasantness were visible on the face of the King Hariśchandra. Rather he laid hold of his patience and thought within himself:

“Viśvāmitra is now my master; I will do any work that he puts me in.”

At this time, the incorporeal voice, the voice of the fourth dimensional space, sounded from the Heavens:

“O Fortunate One! You are freed from the Dakṣiṇā, the debt before that you promised to give me.”

A shower of flowers fell on the head of the King from the Heavens. At this time the powerful Indra and the other hosts of the Devas praised the King, saying:

“Sādhu! Sādhu! Well-done, Well-done.”

The heart of the King was then filled with intense joy and the King then said to Kauśika:

37-38. O Intelligent One! You are a greater benefactor to me than my father, mother and friend as you have freed me in a moment from my debts.

So, O mighty armed one! Your words are beneficial to me. Now order what I have to do.

39. When the King said so, Viśvāmitra then said:

Go and observe from today the words of the Chāṇḍāla. Let good befall on you!

Thus saying, the Mahāṛṣi Viśvāmitra took the money given by the Chāṇḍāla and went away to his own place.

Here ends the Twenty-third Chapter of the Seventh Book on the King Hariśchandra’s acknowledging of the slavery of the Chāṇḍāla in the Mahāpurāṇam Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam, of 18,000 verses, by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.