The Story of King Indradyumna

Posted on July 10, 2010


The story of Gajendra Moksha, where Vishnu saved Gajendra, the King of elephants, from the clutches of a crocodile is well known. Gajendra, in his previous birth lived on the earth as King Indradyumna. The King was born in the lineage of Svayambuva Manu, and ruled the Pandya country.

Vishnu liberating Gajendra (Source: Dashavatara temple, Deogarh, UP)

(The above is not narrated in the Mahabharata, but in Bhagavatam, Canto 8).

King Indradyumna, due to his good deeds, secured a place in the heavens after his life on earth.

* * *

A time came when the King’s merits were exhausted, because of which he fell down from heaven.

The King then approached Markandeya, a Chiranjeevi (immortal) living on earth and asked, “O! I have fallen from heaven as I exhausted all my merits. Do you know who I am?”. Markandeya replied, “No, I do not know you”.

Indradyumna asked, “Do you know anyone who has lived longer than you?”. Markandeya said, “There lives in the Himalayas an owl by the name of Praavaarakarna. He was born even before me, and he may know you”.

The King assumed the form of a horse and quickly transported Markandeya to Himalayas. There the King met the owl and asked “Do you know me?”. The owl thought for a moment and said “No, I do not”. Indradyumna asked “Do you know anyone older than you who can recognize me?”. The owl replied, “There lives a crane by the name of Naadijangha, in the lake that goes by the name Indradyumna. He is older than me, and he may recognize you”.

Indradyumna, Markandeya and the owl subsequently approached the crane. The crane, failing to recognize the King, pointed to a tortoise by the name of Akupaara living in the same lake and was older than the crane.

All of them then called upon the tortoise to appear before them, and the creature obliged by emerging from the water. They  asked the tortoise “Do you know King Indradyumna?”.

The tortoise reflected for a moment, and was soon overcome by emotion. With tears filling his eyes, he said, “How can I forget him? He was the one who planted the sacrificial staff on earth a thousand times whenever the yagna fire was kindled (i.e. he conudcted a thousand yagnas). He also donated numerous cows whose hooves loosened the earth and formed this lake as they crossed this place (i.e. so large were the number of cows)”

At that point, a divine voice announced, “O Indradyumna. The report of good deeds that one commits spreads over earth and reaches heaven. As long as the deeds are remembered, one can stay in heaven. Similarly, one who commits sins suffers in the lower worlds as long as the deeds stay in the memory of others. (The stronger the deed, the longer the duration of stay in heaven/lower regions). One should hence aspire to avoid committing sins and seek shelter by engaging in virtuous acts”

A divine chariot appeared in that place to transport the King back to the heaven (As the tortoise Akupaara still remembered Indradyumna’s good deeds, the King’s merits were still not exhausted, thus enabling his extended stay in heaven)

Indradyumna bode farewell and dropped the owl and Markandeya in their respective abodes before leaving for heaven.

(Source: Mbh Vana Parva, Chapter 198; Markandeya himself narrates the above to the Pandavas)