Somaka-Jantu Upakhyana (सोमकजन्त्वोरुपाख्यानम्)
Somaka Jantu Upakhyana (Samskrit : सोमकजन्त्वोरुपाख्यानम्) is about the short sub-episode (upakhyana) involving Somaka and his son Jantu. Somaka is referred to in various places in Mahabharata, however, in Vanaparva, the 127 and 128th Adhyayas, describe their anecdote when Yudhisthira asks Lomasa about the greatness and the deeds of Raja Somaka.
वंशः ॥ Lineage and Family
Maharaja of Panchala desha, Somaka belonged to the Chandravamsha and is a descendant of Bharata.
Chandra - Budha - Pururavas - Ayus - Nahusha - Yayati - Puru (Sarmishtha's son) ----- Raudrasva - Matinara - Sindhuratha - Dushyanta - Bharata ---- Brhatkshatra - Hasthi - Ajamidha - Nila - Panchala - Mudgala - Divodasa ---- Sudaasa (Subhasa) - Sahadeva - Somaka - Jantu.
Raja Somaka had a hundred wives, but his lineage did not progress as he had no children through them. However, due to his good deeds he had one child named Jantu, in his advanced age.
Adi Parva (131.6) states that Drupada (Yajnasena or Saumaka) was the son of Somaka.
सोमकस्य वृत्तान्तम् ॥ Somaka's Story
Raja Somaka performed many activities according to dharma, gave danas generously and travelled to holy places with his rtviks. But for a long time he did not have any sons and as he neared old age he begot a son called Jantu.
कदाचित्तस्य वृद्धस्य घटमानस्य यत्नतः। जन्तुः नाम सुतस्तस्मिन्स्त्रीशते समजायत॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv 3.127.4)
kadācittasya vr̥ddhasya ghaṭamānasya yatnataḥ। jantuḥ nāma sutastasminstrīśate samajāyata॥
Soon being the only child of all the hundred mothers, Jantu became the precious doted child. Once Jantu was bitten by an ant. All the hundred mothers of Jantu became sad and started crying loudly. Hearing the tumult in the women's section of the palace, Raja Somaka, who was attending the court along with his ministers, sought inquiry and hurried to console the child. When the tumult was over the Raja Somaka began to think.
धिगस्त्विहैकपुत्रत्वमपुत्रत्वं वरं भवेत्। नित्यातुरत्वाद्भूतानां शोक एवैकपुत्रता॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv 3.127.12)
dhigastvihaikaputratvamaputratvaṁ varaṁ bhavet। nityāturatvādbhūtānāṁ śoka evaikaputratā॥
It is better to have no sons at all, than to have only one son. If there is only one son, then everyone is worried about his welfare.
The Raja thought about his hundred wives, all devoted and holding on to the life of one child Jantu. But none of them bore him another child.
At last the King summoned his family-priests and consulted them to find a way such that all his wives bore him a child and he could have a hundred sons.
क्रतुः ॥ Yajna for a Hundred Sons
The rtviks advised Raja Somaka that there is a karma that could be done in order to obtain hundred sons, which they would initiate if Somaka agreed to. The rtviks stated that Somaka should offer his only son as ahuti in the Yajna and then all his wives would become pregnant and all would give birth to valourous children, and that among the sons thus born, Jantu also would be reborn.
यजस्व जन्तुना राजंस्त्वं मया वितते क्रतौ। ततः पुत्रशतं श्रीमद्भविष्यत्यचिरेण ते॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv 3.127.19)
yajasva jantunā rājaṁstvaṁ mayā vitate kratau। tataḥ putraśataṁ śrīmadbhaviṣyatyacireṇa te॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv 3.127.19)
तस्यामेव तु ते जन्तुर्भविता पुनरात्मजः। उत्तरे चास्य सौवर्णं लक्ष्म पार्श्वे भविष्यति॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv 3.127.21)
tasyāmeva tu te janturbhavitā punarātmajaḥ। uttare cāsya sauvarṇaṁ lakṣma pārśve bhaviṣyati॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv 3.127.21)
Among the children born, again Jantu will be born of the same mother, having a golden mark on his left flank.
जन्तुर्पुनरात्मजः ॥ Jantu is Reborn
Raja Somaka agrees to the yajna and ahuti of Jantu with an intent to obtain a hundred sons. Yajna was organised but the mothers of Jantu were extremely sad and worried. The ritviks forcefully took the child and offered him as ahuti in the fire. The mothers seeing the same fell to the ground as the smoke was raising. When the yajna was finished, all the hundred wives of Somaka became pregnant.
ततो दशसु मासेषु सोमकस्य विशाम्पते। जज्ञे पुत्रशतं पूर्णं तासु सर्वासु भारत॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv 3.128.7)
tato daśasu māseṣu somakasya viśāmpate। jajñe putraśataṁ pūrṇaṁ tāsu sarvāsu bhārata॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv 3.128.7)
तच्च लक्षणमस्यासीत्सौवर्णं पार्श्व उत्तरे। तस्मिन्पुत्रशते चाग्र्यः स बभूव गुणैरपि॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv 3.128.9)
tacca lakṣaṇamasyāsītsauvarṇaṁ pārśva uttare। tasminputraśate cāgryaḥ sa babhūva guṇairapi॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv 3.128.9)
Each of them gave birth to a child after the ten month period. Jantu was born as the first child much to the delight of all the mothers and as the rtviks had predicted, there was a golden mark on the left flank of the child delivered by the mother of Jantu. Jantu soon grew up to be a virtuous and valorous child.
कर्मणः फलम्॥ Purohit's Karmaphala
In some time, both the Rtvik and Raja Somaka left their bodies. However, when Somaka saw that the purohit was in naraka being burnt in the fires, he asks him the cause of the same. The purohit replies that because of offering the child, Jantu, in the fire, he is presently ordained to fires in the naraka.
तमब्रवीद्गुरुः सोऽथ पच्यमानोऽग्निना भृशम्। त्वं मया याजितो राजंस्तस्येदं कर्मणः फलम्॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv 3.128.12)
tamabravīdguruḥ so'tha pacyamāno'gninā bhr̥śam। tvaṁ mayā yājito rājaṁstasyedaṁ karmaṇaḥ phalam॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv 3.128.12)
Raja Somaka being a man of great dharma, approaches Yama to reverse the punishment meted out to the purohit, who at the cost of Naraka advised for the good of the continuance of the lineage of Raja Somaka. So the raja tells Yama that in the place of his purohit, he will endure the punishments meted out in naraka. Yama replies saying, that Karta (one who performs an action) is responsible for the fruits of any action (phala) so the purohit cannot be exempted from reaping the fruits of the consequences of the Yajna.
नान्यः कर्तुः फलं राजन्नुपभुङ्क्ते कदाचन। इमानि तव दृश्यन्ते फलानि वदतां वर॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv 3.128.14)
nānyaḥ kartuḥ phalaṁ rājannupabhuṅkte kadācana। imāni tava dr̥śyante phalāni vadatāṁ vara॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv 3.128.14)
पुण्यान्न कामये लोकानृतेऽहं ब्रह्मवादिनम्। इच्छाम्यहमनेनैव सह वस्तुं सुरालये॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv 3.128.15)
puṇyānna kāmaye lokānr̥te'haṁ brahmavādinam। icchāmyahamanenaiva saha vastuṁ surālaye॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv 3.128.15)
Raja Somaka, remains adamant that he does not desire the Punyalokas without his Purohit. He declared that his Rajaguru had an equal share in of all his Punyakarmas and that he has an equal share in all Papakarmas. On hearing this Dharmaraja agrees to Raja Somaka's request to endure the results of papakarma in naraka for the same time as his Rajaguru, after which both will enjoy benefits of punyalokas.
लेभे कामाञ्शुभान्राजन्कर्मणा निर्जितान्स्वयम्। सह तेनैव विप्रेण गुरुणा स गुरुप्रियः॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv 3.128.19)
lebhe kāmāñśubhānrājankarmaṇā nirjitānsvayam। saha tenaiva vipreṇa guruṇā sa gurupriyaḥ॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv 3.128.19)
Thus is the great story of Raja Somaka of Chandravamsha, who endured the punishments of narakaloka for the sake of his Rajaguru who performed a kamya karma to protect the lineage of his Raja, even though he was well aware that such an act leads him to naraka.
Courtesy: Samskrit Shlokas of Mahabharata from Rashtriya Vidyapeetha, Tirupati.
- Mani, V. (1975). Puranic encyclopaedia : A comprehensive dictionary with special reference to the epic and Puranic literature. Delhi:Motilal Banasidass.
- Pt. Ramnarayan Datt Shastri. Mahabharata, Part 2 (VanaParva, Adhyaya 127 and 128) Hindi Translation. Gorakhpur: Gita Press (Pages 1304 - 1307)
- Mahabharata Project - Main Page