Hindu Mythology, Vedic and Puranic, by W.J. Wilkins, , at sacred-texts.com
Kuvera, the god of riches, does not occupy a very conspicuous position in the mythology of the Hindus. No images or pictures of him are to be had, though he is frequently referred to in the Rāmāyana as the lord of gold and wealth. "Brahmā had a mental son named Pulastya, who again had a mental son named Gaviputra Vaisravana (Kuvera). The latter deserted his father, and went to Brahmā, who as a reward made him immortal, and appointed him to be the god of riches, with Lanka for his capital, and the car Pushpaka for his vehicle. * This car was of immense size, and moved at its owner's will at a marvellous speed; Rāvana took it by force from Kuvera, at whose death it was restored by Rāma to its original possessor.
"Pulastya being incensed at this desertion (of his son Kuvera) reproduced the half of himself in the form of Vaisravas, who looked upon Vaisravana with indignation. The latter strove to pacify his father, and with this view gave him three elegant Rākshasīs to attend on him: Pushpotkatā, who had two sons, Rāvana and Kumbhakarna; Mālinī, who bore Vibhīshana; and Rākā, who bore Khara and Sūparnakha. These sons were all
valiant, skilled in the Vedas and observers of religious rites, but, perceiving the prosperity of Vaisravana, were filled with jealousy. Excepting Khara and Sūparnakha, they began to practise austerities to propitiate Brahmā, and at the end of a thousand years Rāvana cut off his own head and threw it as an oblation into the fire. Brahmā appeared to put a stop to their austerities, and to offer them boons (except that of immortality). He ordained that Rāvana should have heads and shapes at will and be invincible, except by men; that Kumbhakarna should enjoy a long sleep. Having obtained these powers, Rāvana expelled Vaisravana from Lanka. Kuvera retired to Gandamārdana. Rāvana having been installed as king, and begun to exercise his power tyrannically, the Rishis resort to Brahmā, who promises that, as Rāvana could not be killed by gods or asuras, the four-armed Vishnu, the chief of warriors, should by his (Brahmā's) appointment descend to earth for his destruction." *
The Rāmāyana (Uttara Kānda) † makes Kuvera the grandson, not the son, of Pulastya. In the Krita Yuga the pious Pulastya, being teased with the singing and dancing of different damsels, proclaimed that any one of them whom he saw near his hermitage should become a mother. This threat had not been heard by the daughter of Trinavindu, who came near the hermitage, and incurred Pulastya's threatened punishment. Her father, on learning her condition, gave her as wife to Pulastya, and she bore him a son named Visravas; who, becoming a sage, married a daughter of the Muni Bharadvaja, whose son Brahmā, named Vaisravana (Kuvera). He performed austerities for thousands of years, and received as a boon from Brahmā that he should be the
god of riches, and one of the guardians of the world. At the suggestion of his father Visravas, he took possession of Lanka for his abode, which was formerly built by Visvakarma for the Rākshasas, who through fear of Vishnu had recently forsaken it.
A Rākshas prince named Sumali, who had been driven to Pātāla, happening to visit the earth, saw Kuvera travelling in his chariot to visit his father. This leads him to devise a plan by which he might regain his former position. He sends his daughter Kaikasi to woo Visravas; she is kindly received and becomes the mother of Rāvana, Kumbhakarna, Sūparnakha and Vibhishana. When Kaikasi saw the splendour of Kuvera, she urges Rāvana to resemble him in glory; who, in order to effect this, undergoes most severe austerities for a thousand years, when Brahmā grants him as a boon invincibility against all beings more powerful than men, and other gifts. Kuvera on Rāvana's demand yields the city of Lanka.
It was noticed above that Kuvera was one of the guardians of the world; these are commonly said to be four in number. Rāma mentions their names:
[paragraph continues] When eight guardians are spoken of, the additional four are these: Agni has charge of the South-East, Surya of the South-West, Soma of the North-East, and Vāyu of the North-West.
Kuvera is called the King of the Yākshasas—savage beings who, because the moment they were born said, "Let us eat," were called Yākshasas. These beings were ever on the watch for prey, and ate those they slew in battle.
Throughout the Rāmāyana there are brief references to Kuvera as the giver of riches, and also to the beauty of his palace and gardens. Thus Bharadvāja the sage, desirous of giving Rāma and Lakshman a fitting reception, said—
His garden is a place "where the inhabitants enjoy a natural perfection, attended with complete happiness, obtained without exertion. There is there no vicissitude, nor decrepitude, nor death, nor fear; no distinction of virtue and vice, none of the inequalities denoted by the words 'best,' 'worst,' and 'intermediate,' nor any change resulting from the succession of the four Yugas. There is neither grief, weariness, anxiety, hunger, nor fear. The people live in perfect health, free from every suffering, for ten or twelve thousand years." † As Sugriva was sending forth his armies to search for Sita, he thus speaks of this garden to Satabal, the leader of the army of the North—
As Rāma and Lakshman were wandering in the forest, they were attacked by a giant named Virādha; but as they could not slay him with their weapons, they buried him alive, and as a result he regained his proper form. Formerly Kuvera had cursed him, for "loving Rambhā's charms too well," to assume the hideous form in which Rāma met with him, and the only relief Kuvera would give him was—
When Rāvana had risen to the summit of his power, he made the gods perform various offices in his house: thus Indra prepared garlands, Agni was his cook, Surya gave light by day and Chandra by night, and Kuvera became his cash-keeper.
Kuvera married Yakshi or Charvi; and two of his sons, through a curse of the sage Nārada, became trees, in which condition they remained until Krishna, when
an infant, uprooted them. Nārada met with them in a forest, bathing with their wives, in a state of intoxication. The wives, ashamed of themselves, fell at Nārada's feet and sought for pardon; but as their husbands disregarded the presence of the sage, they suffered the full effects of his curse.
388:* "Mahābhārata: "Muir, O. S. T., iv. 481.
389:* Muir, O. S. T., v. 483.
389:† Ibid., iv. 488.
390:* Griffiths's "Rāmāyana," ii. 20.
391:* Griffiths's "Rāmāyana," ii. 358.
391:† "Bhāgavata Purāna:" Muir, O. S. T., i. 492.
392:* Nymphs of Paradise.
392:† Guardians of treasures.
392:‡ Griffiths's " Rāmāyana," iv. 24.
392:§ Ibid., iii. 14.