KANDU – Distracted Sage of Purânic Fame

Kandu appeared in the Vishnu Purâna as the archetype of sages who lose their focus. He was called chief of the devajñas (ones who know the divine). His powerful austerities (tapas) caused Indra to worry that Kandu would become more powerful than himself, the king of the gods.

So Indra sent one of heaven’s temptresses, the apsara (celestial damsel) Pramlocâ, to distract Kandu from his practice (sâdhana). He moved with her from the banks of the Gomatî River to the Mandara valley and lived with her for a century enjoying conjugal bliss.

After that century, and the next and the next, Pramlocâ asked if she could take leave, but Kandu insisted that she stay and enjoyed her more each day. One evening he noticed that the sun was setting and he prepared to do his normal Brâhmanical duty (sandhyâvandana) with a prayer (ariti) to the setting sun.

Pramlocâ asked why tonight, since he had never done it before while they were together. Kandu protested, saying that he never missed doing any of his practices—and, besides, they had only met that morning. When Pramlocâ finally convinced him that they had been together for many years, Kandu was shocked to learn the exact amount of time—nine hundred years, six months, and three days.

Kandu became very angry and shouted at his former lover. Then he sent her away forever, so that he could try to start acquiring merit (punya) and power (siddhis) anew. As she left, flying up through the trees, her perspiration was left on the leaves of the trees of the forest, and the wind (Vâyu) gathered the droplets together into a woman.

KANDU - A sage of Purânic fame

Mârishâ, “nursed by the trees,” was given the name Vârkshî and later married ten husbands (the Pracetases), according to a Mahâbhârata account. And in a Bhâgavata Purâna version Vârkshî became the mother of Daksha (ritual skill), father-in-law of S´iva. Kandu must have lost all his powers.

He got only minor roles in stories after that. Losing his sixteen-year-old son in a forest, Kandu cursed the forest to become a desert, a desert that was later found by Hanuman. And he was just one of the many sages invited by Râma to his court when Râma began his divine rule of Ayodhyâ.

Leave a Comment