Kubera (Samskrit: कुबेरः) is revered as the devata for wealth and riches. He is the brother of Ravana and the ruler of semi-celestial beings such as Yakhsas, Gandharvas, Kinneras, Kimpurushas among others. His world is called Alakapuri, which lies to the north near Kailasha mountain, which is the abode of Shiva and Parvati.
परिचयः ॥ Introduction
Vaishravana or Kubera is known for his wealth and riches among the devatas. Even in the present day, Kubera is worshiped during Deepavali festival time. He is famous for his other aspects as follows, mostly as boons granted to him by his grandfather Brahma.
- धनेश्वरः ॥ Dhaneshvara: Brahma granted him the rulership over wealth. (Mahabharata Vana Parva)
- लोकपालकः ॥ Lokapalaka: One of the rulers of the lokas.
- दिक्पालकः ॥ Dikpalaka: One of the Ashtadikpalakas (eight regions), he is the ruler of the north region.
- लङ्काधिपतिः ॥ Lankadhipati: Ruler of Lanka, the capital of land of rakshasas, Kubera was defeated and driven out of Lanka by Ravana.
- यक्षाधिपः ॥ Yakshadhipa: Rulership over the Yaksha ganas and others like Vidhyadharas, Kinneras and Kimpurusharas (different groups of semi-celestial beings) was granted by Brahma as a boon.
तथा यक्षाधिपः श्रीमान्न वै वैश्रवणः प्रभुः। (Maha. Vana. Parv. 65.23)
tathā yakṣādhipaḥ śrīmānna vai vaiśravaṇaḥ prabhuḥ। (Maha. Vana. Parv. 65.23)
Interestingly Yakshadhipati is mentioned by Mahakavi Kalidasa in his Meghadoota kavya.
Family and Lineage
Lineage of Kubera:
Mahavishnu ---- Brahma ---- Pulastya ---- Vaishravana (Kubera)
According to Mahabharata Vanaparva (Adhyaya 274), Brahma, the Creator, himself is the grandfather of Kubera and Ravana. Brahma had a manasaputra called Pulastya. To Pulastya was born Vaishravana through his wife Gau.
पुलस्त्यो नाम तस्यासीन्मानसो दयितः सुतः। तस्य वैश्रवणो नाम गवि पुत्रोऽभवत्प्रभुः॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv. 274.12)
pulastyō nāma tasyāsīnmānasō dayitaḥ sutaḥ। tasya vaiśravaṇō nāma gavi putrō'bhavatprabhuḥ॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv. 274.12)
Vaishravana's wife was Bhadra (Adi Parva, Adhyaya 198) and he had two sons Nalakubara and Manigreeva.
कुबेरस्योत्पत्तिः ॥ Origin of Kubera
Mahabharata details that Vaishravana, leaving his father Pulastya, was always in service of his grandfather Brahma. Angered by this action, Pulastya created another form of his from half his body, called as Vishravas.
स जज्ञे विश्रवा नाम तस्यात्मार्धेन वै द्विजः। प्रतीकाराय सक्रोधस्ततो वैश्रवणस्य वै॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv. 274.14)
sa jajñē viśravā nāma tasyātmārdhēna vai dvijaḥ। pratīkārāya sakrōdhastatō vaiśravaṇasya vai॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv. 274.14)
Vishravas held a deep resentment for Vaishravana and was always looking for an opportunity to attack him. Brahma was highly pleased with the services of Vaishravana or Kubera (कुबेरः) and bestowed Amaratva (अमरत्वम्) or immortality apart from all the other boons.
पितामहस्तु प्रीतात्मा ददौ वैश्रवणस्य ह। अमरत्वं धनेशत्वं लोकपालत्वमेव च॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv. 274.15)
pitāmahastu prītātmā dadau vaiśravaṇasya ha। amaratvaṁ dhanēśatvaṁ lōkapālatvamēva ca॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv. 274.15)
Brahma encouraged Vaishravana to seek support of Mahadeva and granted him a son, named Nalakubara. He also gave Vaishravana the title of "Rajaraja" and granted Pushpakavimana to travel anywhere as per his wish via the aerial route.
Vaishravana or Rajaraja Kubera always lived in Lanka, enjoying all the wealth, he engaged people to carry him on their shoulders in a vehicle, hence called Naravahana (नरवाहनः).
Kubera is called Pingalaksha (पिङ्गलाक्षः) as he looked at Parvati, who was seated on the left thigh of Shiva, with jealousy. She cursed him to become blind in one eye. Later she turned that eye of Kubera into yellow color, thus he came to be called as Ekapingala.
Puranic Encyclopedia mentions that Pulastya wedded Manini, also called Havirbhu, and a son called Vishravas was born to them. Vishravas married Ilabila, called as Daivavarnini, the daughter of Bharadvaja maharshi.
रावणस्योत्पत्तिः ॥ Origin of Ravana
Vaishravana who was granted many boons by his grandfather, Brahma, was always viewed with resentment and anger by his father's form Vishravas (विश्रवस्). He made many attempts to please him. To please his father Vishravas, he engaged the services of three rakshasis (परिचारिकाः) named Pushpotkata (पुष्पोत्कटा) Malini (मालिनी) and Raaka (राका) well versed in song and dance and who served him competitively to gain his good graces. Pleased with their service, Vishravas granted them each of them sons according to their wish, who are as mighty with immense strength equal to that of lokapalakas.
पुष्पोत्कटायां जज्ञाते द्वौ पुत्रौ राक्षसेश्वरौ। कुम्भकर्णदशग्रीवौ बलेनाप्रतिमौ भुवि॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv. 275.7)
puṣpōtkaṭāyāṁ jajñātē dvau putrau rākṣasēśvarau। kumbhakarṇadaśagrīvau balēnāpratimau bhuvi॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv. 275.7)
मालिनी जनयामास पुत्रमेकं विभीषणम्। राकायां मिथुनं जज्ञे खरः शूर्पणखा तथा॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv. 275.8)
mālinī janayāmāsa putramēkaṁ vibhīṣaṇam। rākāyāṁ mithunaṁ jajñē kharaḥ śūrpaṇakhā tathā॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv. 275.8)
Ravana and Kumbhakarna of Pushpotkata who were mighty rakshasas. Malini gave birth to one son named Vibhishana. Raaka gave birth to a male child named Khara and a female child named Surpanakha.
Pushpotkata was also called as Kaikasi.
लङ्काधिपतिः ॥ Lankadhipati
Once when Kubera, in his pomp and splendour was in the company of Vishravas. At that time Ravana and others were moved by jealousy over his wealth and grandeur. In their heart of hearts they all decided to do severe tapas (penance) to please Brahma. Ravana did penance for thousand years standing on one foot, living only on air and in deep meditation with Panchaagnis around him. Kumbhakarna similarly limited his food and slept only on the ground. Vibhishana sustained himself only on dry leaves during his penance. Clever and generous hearted Vibhishana also continued his penance for years along with his brothers. Khara and Surpanakha engaged themselves in protecting and serving their brothers who were doing penance. After a thousand years of penance, Ravana cut off one of his ten heads and offered it into Agni as ahuti.
ब्रह्मवरदानम् ॥ Brahma's Boons
Brahmadeva highly pleased with with their tapas asked them to wish for any boons other than Amaratva (immortality). Brahma granted Ravana that he can take any form as per his wish and will be victorious in wars with his enemies. It is then that Ravana makes his extraordinary request that he should never be defeated by Gandharvas, devatas, asuras, yakshas, nagas, kinnaras, bhutas which is granted by Brahma. Kumbhakarna, whose mind was controlled by tamas, asked to be granted sleep for a long time. Vibhishana requested that inspite of big distress befalling on him, he should remain undisturbed or a dharmic. Also he asked for the Brahmastra to be granted to him, with the knowledge of application (prahara) and retraction (upasamhara). Pleased Brahma along with these two boons grants Amaratva (immortality) to Vibhishana.
राक्षसस्तु वरं लब्ध्वा दशग्रीवो विशाम्पते। लङ्कायाश्च्यावयामास युधि जित्वा धनेश्वरम्॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv. 275.32)
rākṣasastu varaṁ labdhvā daśagrīvō viśāmpatē। laṅkāyāścyāvayāmāsa yudhi jitvā dhanēśvaram॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv. 275.32)
हित्वा स भगवाँल्लङ्कामाविशद्गन्धमादनम्। गन्धर्वयक्षानुगतो रक्षःकिम्पुरुषैः सह॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv. 275.33)
hitvā sa bhagavām̐llaṅkāmāviśadgandhamādanam। gandharvayakṣānugatō rakṣaḥkimpuruṣaiḥ saha॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv. 275.33)
Ravana after having obtained the mighty boons, from Brahma which made him invincible, came to Lanka and defeated Dhaneshvara (Kubera) in a war against him. Having no choice Kubera had to leave Lanka to live on Gandhamadhana mountain along with Gandharvas, Yakhsas, Rakshasas and Kimpurushas.
रावणं शशाप ॥ Curse on Ravana
विमानं पुष्पकं तस्य जहाराक्रम्य रावणः। शशाप तं वैश्रवणो न त्वामेतद्वहिष्यति॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv. 275.34)
vimānaṁ puṣpakaṁ tasya jahārākramya rāvaṇaḥ। śaśāpa taṁ vaiśravaṇō na tvāmētadvahiṣyati॥ (Maha. Vana. Parv. 275.34)
Ravana forcefully took away Kubera's Pushpaka vimana which deeply angered Kubera. Kubera curses Ravana saying "because of this disrespectful behaviour towards your elder brother, Pushpaka will not be of any use to you but will carry the person who kills you in a war." Thus was laid the foundation of elimination of Ravana for his misdeeds even prior to his abducting Sita.
विराधस्य वृत्तान्तम्॥ Viradha's Story
Valmiki Ramayana describes the important episode of Viradha, a demon killed by ShriRama and Lakshmana, in the Aranyakanda. Viradha takes away Sitadevi with his huge arms, seeing thus, Rama and Lakshmana cut his arms. Later he carries Rama and Lakshmana far away and eventually gets killed by them. Viradha, desirous to die in the hands of ShriRama briefly describes who he is and how he came to live in the Dandakaaranya. This episode occurs in Adhyatma Ramayana, Brahmanda Purana (Adhyaya 61) and Skanda Purana which describes it in detail.
Once Tumburu, a Gandharva, interested in the apsara named Rambha, neglected his services to Kubera and invited his wrath. Kubera angrily cursed him to become a rakshasa named Viradha. He later told him that when Rama kills him in a fight, he would regain his previous celestial body and then go to swarga.
तुंबुरुः नाम गन्धर्वः शप्तो वैश्रवणेन हि || ३-४-१६
tuṁburuḥ nāma gandharvaḥ śaptō vaiśravaṇēna hi || 3-4-16
प्रसाद्यमानः च मया सोऽब्रवीत् माम् महायशाः | यदा दाशरथी रमः त्वाम् वधिष्यति संयुगे || ३-४-१७
prasādyamānaḥ ca mayā sō'bravīt mām mahāyaśāḥ | yadā dāśarathī ramaḥ tvām vadhiṣyati saṁyugē || 3-4-17
तदा प्रकृतिम् आपन्नो भवान् स्वर्गम् गमिष्यति |अनुपस्थीयमानो माम् स क्रुद्धो व्याजहार ह || ३-४-१८
tadā prakr̥tim āpannō bhavān svargam gamiṣyati |anupasthīyamānō mām sa kruddhō vyājahāra ha || 3-4-18
इति वैश्रवणो राजा रंभ आसक्तम् उवाच ह | तव प्रसादान् मुक्तो अहम् अभिशापात् सु दारुणात् || ३-४-१९ (Valm. Rama. Aran. 4.3.16-19)
iti vaiśravaṇō rājā raṁbha āsaktam uvāca ha | tava prasādān muktō aham abhiśāpāt su dāruṇāt || 3-4-19
Courtesy: Samskrit Shlokas of Mahabharata from Rashtriya Vidyapeetha, Tirupati Site.
- Mani, Vettam. (1975). Puranic encyclopaedia : A comprehensive dictionary with special reference to the epic and Puranic literature. Delhi:Motilal Banasidass. (Page 434 to 436)
- Valmiki Ramayana (Aranya Kanda Sarga 4)
- Mahabharata Project - Main Page