‘Pippalada Katha’ is the story of Pippalada (Atharva Veda Guru and Maharashi Dadhichi’s son).
Many years ago, there used to be a sage named Dadhici. His wife was Lopamudra. Dadhichi’s hermitage was right next to the holy river Ganga. Lopamudra’s sister Gabhastini also used to live in the hermitage. Such was the sage Dadhichi’s powers that daityas and danavas dared not set foot inside the hermitage.
The gods once fought with the demons and managed to defeat them. After the war was over, they came to pay their respects to Dadhichi. Dadhichi welcomed his guests and wanted to know how they were faring.
“Thanks to your blessings, we are fine,” replied the gods. “We have just defeated the demons in a war. In fact, we have a slight problem. We no longer need our weapons now that the demons have run away. We don’t know of a safe place where we can store all these weapons. We were wondering if we might keep the weapons in your ashrama. This is one of the safest places that can be found.”
Dadhichi consented to this proposal. The gods left their weapons in the hermitage and went back to heaven.
When Lopamudra heard what Dadhichi had done, she was not at all pleased. “You have done something that is mot improper,” she told her husband. “one should never accept responsibility for someone else’s property, especially if one is an ascetic and has not material possessions of one’s own. Moreover, you have agreed to store the weapons of the gods. Dose this not mean that those who are the god’s enemies will look upon you too as an enemy? And what are you going to do if something should happen to the weapons? Will the gods not blame you then?”
“Your points are well taken,” said Dadhichi. “But I had not thought of them and I have given the gods my word. I can’t very well go back on my word now.”
A hundred years passed. The gods did not return to collect their weapons. The weapons began to lose their luster, Dadhichi did not know how the energy of the weapons might be preserved. He washed them with holy water and the energy of the weapons got dissolve in the water. Dadhichi then drank up the water. As for the weapons themselves, they faded away once their energy was gone.
Finally the gods came to claim their weapons. “Can we have our weapons back? They asked.
“Our enemies have become powerful again. We need our weapons.”
“That may be,” said Dadhichi. “But the weapons are no longer there. I have swallowed up their energy. Let me tell you what can be done. I will use the powers of meditation (yoga) to give up my life. Then excellent weapons can be made out of my bones.
The gods were reluctant, but thee was no other solution. Dadhichi died and the gods requested Vishvakarma to make weapons for them out of Dadhichi’s bones. Vishvakarma complied and the weapon name vajra that he made was truly remarkable.
Lopamudra was away when this incident took place. She returned and found that her husband had died. She was afflicted with sorrow and wished to immolate herself in a fire. But she happened to be pregnant at the time, so that this could not immediately be done. Once the baby was born, she killed herself after having handed over the baby to a pippala (fig) tree for rearing.
Since the pippala tree brought up the boy, he came to be known as Pippalada. Chandra was the lord over all trees. The trees asked Chandra for some amrita for Pippalada and Chandra obliged. The amrita gave Pippalada a lot of strength.
When Pippalada grew up, he wanted to know who his parents were and the trees told him the story. Pippalada blamed the gods for his parents death and decided to seek revenge. The trees brought Pippalada to Chandra.
“You are still too young,” said Chandra. “First you must become learned and well-versed in the use of weapons. Go to the forest of dandakaranya. The river Goutami Ganga flows through that forest. Pray to Shiva there and I am sure that your wishes will be fulfilled.”
Pippalada pleased Shiva through his prayers.
“What boon do you desire?” asked Shiva.
I want the boon that I may be able to destroy the gods,” replied Pippalada.
“I have a third eye in the middle of my forehead,” said Shiva. “The day you can see my third eye, your wish will be granted.”
“I have a third eye in the middle of my forehead,” said Shiva. “the day you can see my third eye, your wish will be granted.”
Try as he might, Pippalada could not see Shiva’s third eye. Pippalada therefore performed even more difficult tapasya for even more years. Eventually he managed to see Shiva’s third eye. From Shiva’s third eye was born a demon that looked like a mare.
“What is your desire?” asked the demon of Pippalada.
“Kill my enemies, the gods,” was the reply.
The demon immediately attacked Pippalada.
“What are you doing?” asked Pippalada. “Why are you trying to kill me? I asked you to kill the gods.”
“But your body has bee created by the gods,” replied the demon. “I will therefore kill you also.”
Pippalada ran to Shiva for deliverance. Shiva earmarked a region inside the forest for Pippalada. There the demon was not permitted to enter. Pippalada lived there, protected from the ravages of the demon. Meanwhile, the gods requested Shiva to save them as well. Shiva persuaded Pippalada to control his anger. He convinced Pippalada that nothing was to be gained by killing the gods. That would not bring his parents back.
Pippalada agreed. But he wished to see his parents once. Accordingly, Vimana descended from heaven on which Dadhichi and Lopamudra were seated. They blessed Pippalada and asked him to marry and have children.
As for the demon, it became a river and merged with the holy Ganga.