The story of Dilīpa Mahārāja

The story of the great Raghuvamśa rāja Dilīpa is well known. As other Raghuvamśa kings, Dilīpa was a firm follower of Dharma, a Satya vādi, a mitabhāṣhi, a Vidvān and ruled his praja, loving them as their own father. However, he had only one cinta. He and his wife Sudakṣhiṇā did not have santānam.

Once he, along with Sudakṣhiṇā devi, went to the āśramam of their kulaguru Vasiṣhṭha mahaṛṣhi. He did yathāvidhi namaskārās to his Guru and told him about his cinta. Vasiṣhṭha mahaṛṣhi with his divya dṛṣhṭi saw the reason for Dilīpa not having santānam. He told Dilīpa "Once you went to Devalokam. While returning from there, knowing the Dharmaśāstra that a bharta needs to be in the company of his patni who is ṛtusnāta, you were in a hurry to come to Ayodhya to follow that Dharma. And in that hurry you did not notice the presence of the great Kāmadhenu, who was sitting under the shade of the Kalpavṛkṣham. The uttamās, especially the Gomāta, are always pūjanīyam. Pūjya pūjāvyatikramam was done by you. Shreya will stop if such a mistake is committed. Hence, Kāmadhenu told you that you will get santānam only after you do yathāvidhi pūja to Her or Her santānam. However, you did not hear Her words because of the noise from the running of aśvas and ratham". Dilīpa asked his Guru to bless him with a chance to do Goseva to Kāmadhenu and thus do prayascittam for his mistake. Vasiṣhṭha mahaṛṣhi then told Dilīpa "Do not worry. At present Kāmadhenu went to pātālalokam to help the ṛṣhis in their yajñam. Till She returns do seva to her daughter Nandini. Kāmadhenu will then surely save you from the doṣham and bless you with the great Raghu mahārāja, who will equal you in his good character."

Dilīpa and Sudakṣhiṇā devi followed the instructions of Vasiṣhṭha mahaṛṣhi and with very great care did seva to Nandini. They followed it like a shadow wherever it goes. They continued this Dhenuvratam for 21 days. On the 22nd day, impressed by the seva of Dilīpa, Nandini wanted to test his character. It went into a cave in the Himālayas and Dilīpa as usual followed it. Seeing Nandini, the lion in the cave started to pounce on Her. Dilīpa immediately tried to take his dhanurbāṇas in order to protect Nandini. But the simhabhīkara, Dilīpa, could not raise his hand, he stood like a picture, unable to move! Seeing him, the lion said:

"O Dilīpa! You cannot stop me; I am a Śiva kinkara. I am living here with Śivājña. I am Kumbhodara, the friend of Nikumbha. Everyday Lord Śiva uses me as a pādapīṭham while mounting Nandīśvara. Do you see this Devadāru vṛkṣham — it is like a son, equal to Subrahmaṇya, for Pārvatī mātā. Once an elephant rubbed against it and a piece of its bark fell and caused pain to it. Seeing this Pārvatī devī asked Parameśvara to give her a means of always protecting it. Paramaśiva ordered me to protect it and gave the adhikār to eat any creature that enters and spoils the sanctity of this forest". Dilīpa was worried why all his valour, dhanurvidya did not help him protect the dhenu and got pacified once he came to know that the lion was Lord Śiva's kinkara. Because he knows before Bhagavat-śakti his śakti is ati-alpam. He said "O great Kumbhodara! Lord Śiva's ājña must be followed by me too. But Nandini is my Guru's property. I must return Her to Him safely. Please understand and I will suggest one thing which is ubhayaśreyodāyakam. Please kill me and lower your hunger and leave Nandini." Kumbhodara laughed and said "O mūḍha. You are the eka chatrādhipati of this chatussamudravelāvalayita medinīchakram. You resemble Manmatha in beauty and you are very young. Why are you paying adhikamūlyam for such an alpa-prayojanam? You are offering your life for one cow. If you loose it, you can give crores of cows to Vasiṣhṭha mahaṛṣhi. If you really have bhūtadaya, what about the crores of people who live happily under your rule? Will you make them anāthas? Leave this idea. I will make sure u will not get apakīrti and Guru droham." Dilīpa answered "One who gives rakṣha from kṣhatam is a kṣhatriya. A kṣhatriya who cannot be an āpadāt- praharta, how can he be a king? Before my eyes this Nandini dhenu is getting an āpada. How can I stand seeing it? Then what will be the use of such nindā-mālinya jīvanam? O great Kumbhodara I cannot fight a Śiva kinkara please help me."

Finally Kumbhodara accepted and Dilīpa was able to move. He happily bent down and waited for being eaten by him. To his surprise puṣhpa-varṣham started and Nandini took Her divyākṛti. She told Dilīpa "O great Dilīpa! Not only this lion, nothing can harm me because of the tapobalam of Vasiṣhṭha mahaṛṣhi. I just wanted to test your character. I am impressed with you. Please take my divya kṣhīram. Eat it with your wife and you will get sat-santānam". Dilīpa, who was a vidvān in all Dharmaśātras replied like this "O Gomātā! I am dhanya to have your anugraham. I will take your kṣhīram, once your hungry calf and the ṛṣhis, who need it for their pūjas and yajñas take it. After they take I will take a share of 1/6 of your kṣhīram" (Since a king can take at the maximum 1/6 of the property of his people as tax!).

Cow is the most sacred animal for Bhārateeyas. Devatas, Trimūrtis, many punya tīrthas reside in different parts of Gomāta.

Morals in the story:

  1. The uttamas must always be given due respect. Especially sarva-Devatā-swarūpa like Gomāta, must always be worshipped with Bhakti. (Dilīpa, even though he did it unknowingly, had to face the consequences.)
  2. The importance of a Guru is shown well in the story. It is a Guru who guides what to do and not. Without Vasiṣhṭha mahaṛṣhi's help Dilīpa would not even know the reason for not having santānam.
  3. Though Dilīpa was a great śūra, he had no ahankār. He thought before Bhagavat-śakti his śakti is ati-alpam.
  4. When he offered his life to save Nandini, Dilīpa showed his Guru-bhakti and respect on Gomāta.
  5. The knowledge of Śātras helped Dilīpa decide what to do and what not, when advised by Kumbhodara.
  6. The mahonnata vyaktitvam of Dilīpa is shown when he said he will take kṣhīram after the calf and the ṛṣhis take.
  7. The Rājaneeti of Dilīpa is displayed when he said he will take 1/6 of kṣhīram.

Search Terms: Dileepa, Dilipa, Vasishtha, Sudakshina

Published in: on June 8, 2006 at 5:42 pm  Comments (12)  


  1. Story par excellence with great moral teachings. Thank you very much for this blog.

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