Kamadhenu (कामधेनुः)

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While churning the Milk Sea like this, the first object that rose to the surface was Kamadhenu. Both Devas and Asuras were strongly attracted towards Kamadhenu While all were standing spellbound, Varunidevi with her enchanting dreamy eyes next appeared on the surface. Parijatam was the third to appear. Fourth, a group of Apsara women of marvellous beauty floated up. The Moon appeared as the fifth. Siva received the Moon. The venom which came out of the Milk Sea as the sixth item, was absorbed by Nagas. After that arose Bhagavan Dhanvantari, dressed in pure white robes and carrying a Kamandalu in his hand filled with Amrtam. All were delighted at this sight. Next Mahalaksmi made her appearance in all her glory with a lotus in her hand and seated in an open lotus flower. Gandharvas sang celestial songs in her presence ; Apsara women danced. For her bath, the Gariga river arrived there with her tributaries. The Milk Sea itself took on physical form and offered her a garland of everfresh lotus flowers. Brahma bedecked her with ornaments. After that Laksmidevi, fully adorned in all her magnificent jewels, in the presence of all Devas, joined the bosom of Mahavisnu. The Asuras were displeased at it. They snatched the pot of Amrtam from Dhanvantari and fled away. (Page 31-32, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

Once Karttaviryarjuna pleased the hermit-sage Dattatreya the son of Atri, by doing penance and got the boon of one thousand hands. One day he went to the forest for hunting and entered the bank of Narmada. The hermit Jamadagni had been living there with his wife Renuka and sons ParaSurama and others. The King being tired of hunting got into the hermitage. Parasurama was not there. The hermit called his divine cow Kamadhenu, which provided the King and his followers with a very good supper. When the King departed he asked for the wonderful cow. The hermit did not consent. The King caught hold of the cow by force and went to his city. ParaSurama went to Mahismatinagar the capital of Karttaviryarjuna, killed the King and took Kamadhenu back. From that day onwards the sons of Karttavirya were waiting for an opportunity to take revenge. (Page 82, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

The Puranas declare that Candra was one of the invaluable things got at the churning of Ksirabdhi (ocean of milk) Candra, Mahalaksmi, Sura, Uccaihsravas, Kaustubha, Parijata, Kamadhenu, Dhanvantari, Amrtam and Kalakuta were the things thus got from the Ocean of Milk. (M.B. Adi Parva, Chapter 18 and Visnu Purana, Part 1, Chapter 9). Also, the evil devata called Jyestha, Airavata, the gem named Cintamani and fair damsels like Tara and Ruma were got from the Ksirabdhi, (Kampa Ramayana, Yuddhakanda ).

To test Jamadagni, Dharma went to his asrama taking the form of Anger. Jamadagni had just milked Kamadhenu and kept the milk in a pot. Dharma as Anger crept into the milk. Jamadagni drank it and yet remained calm. Seeing this Dharma appeared before him in the form of a Brahmin and blessed him assuring Jamadagni that in future he would be obedient to Dharma (Chapter 91. Asvamedha Parva).

Dilipa is counted as one of the noblest kings. His reign was extremely popular. But even after a long period of married life, he had no issue. His queen was Sudaksina, the princess of Magadha. In order to get Vasi Sana's advice, Dilipa and Sudaksina went to the sage's aSrama. After hearing about their grievance, Vasistha meditated for a little while and described why the royal couple were not blessed with children: "Long ago, Dilipa had paid a visit to Indra. While returning after the visit, he passed by Kamadhenu who was lying under the shade of Kalpavrksa. He paid no heed to her, as he did not see her. The divine cow (Kamadhenu) took this as a personal slight to her and cursed the King that he would not have children until he served and propitiated her daughter, Nandini. Neither the King nor his charioteer was aware of the curse. Kamadhenu has now gone to Patala (underworld) to attend a sacrifice of Varuna. Therefore Dilipa and his queen should attend on and propitiate her daughter, Nandini." (Page 241, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

Once Indra saw Surabhi, the Kamadhenu, crying in the Indraloka. He asked her why she was crying. Surabhi answered: "My Lord, the cattle, who are my children are groaning in the world under the yoke of the farmer. I was overwhelmed with grief at the sight of their sufferings" Indra's heart melted due to Kamadhenu's tears. He caused very heavy showers in the world when ploughing the fields became impossible. In this way as a result of Surabhi's tears Indra caused heavy rainfall which gave rest to the cattle in the world. (M.B. Aranya Parva, Chapter 9).

It could be understood from Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, Chapter 83 that Kamadhenu performed penance on the Kailasa, once.

Kamadhenu is the first mother of cattle. She is a goddess with marvellous powers and attainments who gives milk whenever needed by gods and sages. The Puranas declare that all the cattle in the world today are descended from Kamadhenu. This sacred cow is sometimes called "Kamadhenu", at other times, "Surabhi" and also "Nandini". They are not three different cows, as some people suppose. See Bhasa Bharata, Aranya Parva Chapter 9, Verses 7 and 17. There Surabhi and Kamadhenu are names used for referring to the same cow. Again, in the Bhasa Bharata, Adi Parva, Chapter 99, Verse 14, we find the name Nandini applied to Kamadhenu. Thus we may conclude that Kamadhenu had two other names, viz. Surabhi and Nandini. But since the term "Surabhirgavi" occurs in Amarakosa, it follows that even ordinary cows may be called "Surabhi". (Page 379, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

There are references to several Kamadhenus in the Puranas. There is one Kamadhenu in Vasistha's Asrama. At Varuna's yaga we see another Kamadhenu. There is no ground for believing that there is only one Kamadhenu and that it was borrowed by each Deva in turn for some particular occasion. It is possible that there were many Kamadhenus in the family of Kamadhenu and they were owned by different Devas. Moreover it is stated that several Kamadhenus take their origin from sources other than the family of Kasyapa. One of them is from the ocean of milk. In Mahabharata, Adi Parva, Chapter 18, we find that when the Devas and Asuras churned the ocean of milk, along with many other precious things, Kamadhenu also came up to the surface. There is a reference to another Kamadhenu in Bhasa Bharata, Udyoga Parva, Chapter 102, There, it is said, Brahma who got Amrta swallowed it beyond limit in his avidity and when he vomited, a Kamadhenu came out from his mouth. That Kamadhenu is said to be living in the world known as Rasatala. The above mentioned passage also says that there are four other Kamadhenus living on the four sides of the Kamadhenu which lives in Rasatala. They are Saurabhi in the east Harhsika in the south, Subhadra in the west and Dhenu in the north. The next Kamadhenu is the one which was born from the side of Sri Krsna. Once Sri Krsna and his consort Radha were amusing themselves by amorous pleasures in a remote and secluded place. When they were tired they wished to drink some milk. At that time, Sri Krsna created by his will power, the cow Surabhi and the calf Manoratha, from the left side of his body. Sridaman milked that cow into a new earthen pot and when Sri Krsna was drinking it, the pot fell down and the milk was spilt all over the floor. The milk which spread over an area of 100 yojanas, became a lake called "Ksirasagara" for Radha and her maids to bathe and enjoy water-sports. Numerous cows were born from the pores of Surabhi and they were presented to the Gopas by Sri Krsna. (Devi Bhagavata, 9th Skandha). Like this, several Kamadhenus are seen in the Puranas. Therefore there is no discrepancy or contradiction in statements declaring that there were many Kamadhenus in different As"ramas. But since Kamadhenu had achieved divine powers by Brahma's grace, it is but reasonable to believe that the different Kamadhenus are really the different forms of the original Kamadhenu, the daughter of Kasyapa. (Page 380, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

Satyavrata (Trisanku) was the son of Aruna, a King of the Iksvaku dynasty. He was a vicious and immoral fellow. Once he abducted a Brahmana girl just at the time of her marriage in her bridal dress. Enraged at this his father drove him away from his palace. Satyavrata wandered about aimlessly in the country arid in the forests. Soon after this there was a famine in the land. Human beings and animals began to die of starvation. At that time Visvamitra was performing penance in the forest after leaving behind his wife and children in the country. When he saw that the whole family was in danger of death by starvation, he decided to make some money by selling one of the sons, in order to save the lives of the rest of the family. Satyavrata who came to know of this, met Visvamitra and dissuaded him from selling his son. He promised to supply some flesh every day to the family by hunting animals in the forest and keeping the flesh suspended from the branch of a nearby tree. Accordingly, he began leaving the flesh regularly hanging from the branch of the tree. One day he could not get any flesh by hunting. That night he went to Vasistha's asrama and stole Kamadhenu. He killed the cow and ate some of its flesh. The rest he gave to Visvamitra's family. The next morning when Vasistha woke up, he did not see his cow. But he came to know of the whole affair by his intuition. In his fury he cursed Satyavrata and said that the world would brand him with the name "TriSanku" because he had committed three heinous papas (पापम्) viz. killing of cows, abducting another man's wife and incurring his father's displeasure. After that Vasistha restored Kamadhenu to life. (Devi Bhagavata, 7th Skandha).

Once while Visvamitra was a ruling King, he went into a forest to hunt. In the course of his rambles through the forest, he happened to arrive at Vasistha's Asrama with his retinue. Vasistha called Kamadhenu and ordered her to provide food for Visvamitra and his party. Kamadhenu, by her divine powers, prepared food within a short time and gave them a sumptuous meal; Visvamitra was greatly pleased with this amazing feat of Kamadhenu and he asked Vasisdia to give her to him. He even offered to give crores of cows in return for her. But Vasistha refused to comply with his request. Then Visvamitra tried to seize and take her away by force. At once Kamadhenu assumed the form of a terrible monster of destruction. From the different parts of her body emerged fierce warriors who clashed with Visvamitra's followers. All the arrows shot by Visvamitra were caught by Vasistha with his hand. In the end Visvamitra admitted that the might of a Brahmana is superior to the might of a Ksatriya. (Vasistha was a Brahmana and Visvamitra a Ksatriya). Visvamitra, soon gave up his kingly duties and began penance, thus turning himself into a "Rajarsi" (Royal saint). (Valmiki Ramayana, Bfila Kanda, 52nd Sarga ; M.B. Salya Parva, Chapter 40 ; M.B. Adi Parva, Chapter 175).

Kamadhenu gave birth to Ajasa, Ekapat, Ahirbudhnya, Tvasta and Rudra. Visvarupa was the son of Tvasta. (Agni Purana, Chapter 18).

Kamadhenu said that she had no part in the theft of Agastya's lotus. (M.B. Anusasana Parva, Chapter 94)

Sri Krsna turned Govardhana mountain into an umbrella and defeated Indra when Kamadhenu came to Gokula and bathed Sri Krsna with her milk according to Bhagavata, 10th Skandha.

Once the sage Jamadagni went to Goloka and propitiated Kamadhenu by his tapas. Kamadhenu gave her sister Susila to Jamadagni. The sage presented that cow to his wife Renuka. (Brahmanda Purana. Chapter 61).

On Himavan mountain is the marriage-dais of Parvati and Paramesvara and you will find places where Paramesvara had sat for practising penances. On the northern side under a big Kuvala tree lies Kamadhenu. This cow gives milk to the sages and tourists who go there. (Page 505, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

As soon as news about the defeat of his brother was reported to him, Sumbha, with the remaining Danavas hurried to Devaloka. In the battle that ensued the Devas were routed. Sumbha assumed Indra-hood by force and the standard (flag) of the daityas was hoisted on the flag-staff of Sudharma, the palace of Indra. Sumbha captured Kamadhenu, Airavata, UccaiSsravas etc.  (Page 542, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

Kartaviryarjuna went for hunting in the forests and feeling exhausted after some time went to the asrama of Jamadagni with his retinue. Jamadagni received them well and with the help of the Kamadhenu (wish-yielding cow) named Suslla, Jamadagni gave a sumptuous feast to the King and his followers. When after the meals were over they started to take leave of the sage, Candragupta, a minister of Kartaviryarjuna brought to the notice of the king the superior powers of the Kamadhenu, SuIla. The king wanted to get the cow and asked Candragupta to tell the sage about it. Though the minister told Jamadagni about the royal desire the sage refused to part with the cow. Then the minister with the help of the other royal servants took the cow by force and the sage followed the cow weeping. On the way Candragupta beat Jamadagni to death and brought the cow to the presence of the king. The king was pleased and the royal hunting party returned to the palace happy. Jamadagni's wife Renuka went in search of her husband and to her grief found him lying dead. Renuka wept beating her breast twentyone times and by that time her son Parasurama came there and he declared that he would travel round the world twentyone times, the number of times his mother beat her breast, to kill and exterminate the Ksatriyas from this world. Then the dead body of Jamadagni was placed on a pyre and they were singing Visnugita before placing fire on the pyre when Sukramuni appeared there and brought Jamadagni to life by invoking the art of Mrtasanjivani. By that time Susila somehow escaped from the custody of the King and came there without the calf. Then Parasurama vowed that he would bring the calf soon and taking with him his disciple Akrtavrana he left for the city of Mahismati the abode of Kartaviryarjuna. There they fought a grim battle and after killing Kartaviryarjuna and many of his followers brought back the calf. To atone for the papa of this massacre Jamadagni advised his son to go and perform penance in Mahendragiri. Taking advantage of the absence of ParaSurama from the asrama, Surasena son of Kartaviryarjuna, with his followers went to the aSrama of Jamadagni and chopped off his head. Parasurama returned from Mahendragiri at once and cremated the dead body of his father. Renuka, his mother, jumped into the funeral pyre and abandoned her life. From that moment onwards started Parasurama's fierce programme of mass massacre of the Ksatriyas. (Page 570, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

RTAMBHARA. An ancient King. He worshipped Kamadhenu and obtained a son who was a devotee of Visnu. The son's name was Satyavan. In connection with Sri Rama's Asvamedhayaga, Satrughna who was leading the horse, arrived in Satyavan's city during his tour of the eastern lands. (Padma Purana, Patala Khanda, Chapter 30).

VisVamitra was a King who cared much for the welfare of his subjects. Once he went with his army to hunt. He became tired by the hunt and reached the hermitage of Vasistha who welcomed them with hospitality. He told them that food would be ready when they returned after a bath. The King and his men bathed quickly and when they returned, a grand feast was ready for so many thousands. The King was in great perplexity. After the meals Visvamitra approached the hermit Vasistha and asked him how he got such a grand feast ready. He replied that the cow Kamadhenu in his hermitage was capable of granting any wish. The king desired to have the cow. He asked the hermit to exchange the cow for a crore of ordinary cows. Vasistha did not agree to this. Visvamitra said that the noble and superior things of the country belonged to the King. The hermit did not agree to that also. Finally Visvamitra was about to take away the cow by force. Thus the quarrel began. Understanding the wish of Vasistha Kamadhenu held her horns and tail up and stood as a fierce and cruel figure. From the various limbs of the cow so many thousands of warriors jumped out and a fierce battle ensued in which the hundred sons and the huge army of Visvamitra met with defeat. At last VisVamitra tried to launch a direct attack against Vasistha. But the arrows of Visvamitra were changed to flowers when they touched the body of Vasistha. At last the King admitted that the power of the penance of a Brahmin hermit was the real power and he admitted defeat from Vasistha. From that day onwards a deep-rooted, hatred against Vasistha arose in the heart of Visvamitra. He left the administration of his Kingdom in the hands of his relatives and went to the south where he erected a hermitage and began to do severe penance. He acquired great powers of penance and became a royal hermit of immense attainments and the quarrel between the two great hermits Vasistha and Visvamitra began. (Valmiki Ramayana, Bala Kanda, 5 sargas from 51 ).