vishnu purana

Principle author: Krishna Vyasa

(part of the Puranic literature)

consciousness, spirituality, mind, humanity, hinduism



Translated by Horace Hayman Wilson


Member of the royal asiatic society, and of the asiatic societies of bengal and paris; of the imperial society of naturalists, moscow; of the royal academies of berlin and munich; phil. dr. in the university of breslau and boden professor of sanscrit in the university of oxford;



















OXFORD, Feb. 10, 1840.



THE literature of the Hindus has now been cultivated for many years with singular diligence, and in many of its branches with eminent success. There are some departments, however, which are yet but partially and imperfectly investigated; and we are far from being in possession of that knowledge which the authentic writings of the Hindus alone can give us of their religion, mythology, and historical traditions.

From the materials to which we have hitherto had access, it seems probable that there have been three principal forms in which the religion of the Hindus has existed, at as many different periods. The duration of those periods, the circumstances of their succession, and the precise state of the national faith at each season, it is not possible to trace with any approach to accuracy. The premises have been too imperfectly determined to authorize other than conclusions of a general and somewhat vague description, and those remain to be hereafter confirmed or corrected by more extensive and satisfactory research.

The earliest form under which the Hindu religion appears is that taught in the Vedas. The style of the language, and the purport of the composition of those works, as far as we are acquainted with them, indicate a date long anterior to that of any other class of Sanscrit writings. It is yet, however, scarcely safe to advance an opinion of the precise belief or philosophy which they inculcate. To enable us to judge of their tendency, we have only a general sketch of their arrangement and contents, with a few extracts, by Mr. Colebrooke, in the Asiatic Researches [1]; a few incidental observations by Mr. Ellis, in the same miscellany [2]; and a translation of the first book of the Sanhita, or collection of the prayers of the Rig-veda, by Dr. Rosen [3]; and some of the Upanishads, or speculative treatises, attached to, rather than part of, the Vedas, by Rammohun Roy [4]. Of the religion taught in the Vedas, Mr. Colebrooke's opinion will probably be received as that which is best entitled to deference, as certainly no Sanscrit scholar has been equally conversant with the original works. “The real doctrine of the Indian scripture is the unity of the Deity, in whom the universe is comprehended; and the seeming polytheism which it exhibits, offers the elements and the stars and planets as gods. The three principal manifestations of the divinity, with other personified attributes and energies, and most of the other gods of Hindu mythology, are indeed mentioned, or at least indicated, in the Veda. But the worship of deified heroes is no part of the system; nor are the incarnations of deities suggested in any portion of the text which I have yet seen, though such are sometimes hinted at by the commentators [5].” Some of these statements may perhaps require modification; for without a careful examination of all the prayers of the Vedas, it would be hazardous to assert that they contain no indication whatever of hero-worship; and certainly they do appear to allude occasionally to the Avataras, or incarnations, of Vishnu. Still, however, it is true that the prevailing character of the ritual of the Vedas is the worship of the personified elements; of Agni, or fire; Indra, the firmament; Vayu, the air; Varuna, the water; of Aditya, the sun; Soma, the moon; and other elementary and planetary personages. It is also true that the worship of the Vedas is for the most part domestic worship, consisting of prayers and oblations offered–in their own houses, not in temples–by individuals for individual good, and addressed to unreal presences, not to visible types. In a word, the religion of the Vedas was not idolatry.

It is not possible to conjecture when this more simple and primitive form of adoration was succeeded by the worship of images and types, representing Brahma, Vishnu, S'iva, and other imaginary beings, constituting a mythological pantheon of most ample extent; or when Rama and Krishna, who appear to have been originally real and historical characters, were elevated to the dignity of divinities. Image-worship is alluded to by Manu in several passages [6], but with an intimation that those Brahmans who subsist by ministering in temples are an inferior and degraded class. The story of the Ramayana and Mahabharata turns wholly upon the doctrine of incarnations, all the chief dramatis personae of the poems being impersonations of gods and demigods and celestial spirits. The ritual appears to be that of the Vedas, and it may be doubted if any allusion to image-worship occurs; but the doctrine of propitiation by penance and praise prevails throughout, and Vishnu and S'iva are the especial objects of panegyric and invocation. In these two works, then, we trace unequivocal indications of a departure from the elemental worship of the Vedas, and the origin or elaboration of legends, which form the great body of the mythological religion of the Hindus. How far they only improved upon the cosmogony and chronology of their predecessors, or in what degree the traditions of families and dynasties may originate with them, are questions that can only be determined when the Vedas and the two works in question shall have been more thoroughly examined.

The different works known by the name of Puranas are evidently derived from the same religious system as the Ramayana and Mahabharata, or from the mytho-heroic stage of Hindu belief. They present, however, peculiarities which designate their belonging to a later period, and to an important modification in the progress of opinion. They repeat the theoretical cosmogony of the two great poems; they expand and systematize the chronological computations; and they give a more definite and connected representation of the mythological fictions, and the historical traditions. But besides these and other particulars, which may be derivable from an old, if not from a primitive era, they offer characteristic peculiarities of a more modern description, in the paramount importance which they assign to individual divinities, in the variety and purport of the rites and observances addressed to them, and in the invention of new legends illustrative of the power and graciousness of those deities, and of the efficacy of implicit devotion to them. S'iva and Vishnu, under one or other form, are almost the sole objects that claim the homage of the Hindus in the Puranas; departing from the domestic and elemental ritual of the Vedas, and exhibiting a sectarial fervour and exclusiveness not traceable in the Ramayana, and only to a qualified extent in the Mahabharata. They are no longer authorities for Hindu belief as a whole: they are special guides for separate and sometimes conflicting branches of it, compiled for the evident purpose of promoting the preferential, or in some cases the sole, worship of Vishnu or of S'iva [7].

That the Puranas always bore the character here given of them, may admit of reasonable doubt; that it correctly applies to them as they now are met with, the following pages will irrefragably substantiate. It is possible, however, that there may have been an earlier class of Puranas, of which those we now have are but the partial and adulterated representatives. The identity of the legends in many of them, and still more the identity of the words–for in several of them long passages are literally the same–is a sufficient proof that in all such cases they must be copied either from some other similar work, or from a common and prior original. It is not unusual also for a fact to be stated upon the authority of an 'old stanza,' which is cited accordingly; shewing the existence of an earlier source of information: and in very many instances legends are alluded to, not told; evincing acquaintance with their prior narration somewhere else. The name itself, Purana, which implies 'old,' indicates the object of the compilation to be the preservation of ancient traditions, a purpose in the present condition of the Puranas very imperfectly fulfilled. Whatever weight may be attached to these considerations, there is no disputing evidence to the like effect afforded by other and unquestionable authority. The description given by Mr. Colebrooke [8] of the contents of a Purana is taken from Sanscrit writers. The Lexicon of Amara Sinha gives as a synonyme of Purana, Pancha-lakshanam, 'that which has five characteristic topics:' and there is no difference of opinion amongst the scholiasts as to what these are. They are, as Mr. Colebrooke mentions, 1. Primary creation, or cosmogony; 2. Secondary creation, or the destruction and renovation of worlds, including chronology; 3. Genealogy of gods and patriarchs; 4. Reigns of the Manus, or periods called Manwantaras; and 5. History, or such particulars as have been preserved of the princes of the solar and lunar races, and of their descendants to modern times [9]. Such, at any rate, were the constituent and characteristic portions of a Purana in the days of Amara Sinha, fifty-six years before the Christian era; and if the Puranas had undergone no change since his time, such we should expect to find them still. Do they conform to this description? Not exactly in any one instance: to some of them it is utterly inapplicable; to others it only partially applies. There is not one to which it belongs so entirely as to the Vishnu Purana, and it is one of the circumstances which gives to this work a more authentic character than most of its fellows can pretend to. Yet even in this instance we have a book upon the institutes of society and obsequial rites interposed between the Manwantaras and the genealogies of princes, and a life of Krishna separating the latter from an account of the end of the world, besides the insertion of various legends of a manifestly popular and sectarial character. No doubt many of the Puranas, as they now are, correspond with the view which Col. Vans Kennedy takes of their purport. “I cannot discover in them,” he remarks, “any other object than that of religious instruction.” The description of the earth and of the planetary system, and the lists of royal races which occur in them, he asserts to be “evidently extraneous, and not essential circumstances, as they are entirely omitted in some Puranas, and very concisely illustrated in others; while, on the contrary, in all the Puranas some or other of the leading principles, rites, and observances of the Hindu religion are fully dwelt upon, and illustrated either by suitable legends or by prescribing the ceremonies to be practised, and the prayers and invocations to be employed, in the worship of different deities [10],” Now, however accurate this description may be of the Puranas as they are, it is clear that it does not apply to what they were when they were synonymously designated as Pancha-lakshanas, or 'treatises on five topics;' not one of which five is ever specified by text or comment to be “religious instruction.” In the knowledge of Amara Sinha the lists of princes were not extraneous and unessential, and their being now so considered by a writer so well acquainted with the contents of the Puranas as Col. Vans Kennedy is a decisive proof that since the days of the lexicographer they have undergone some material alteration, and that we have not at present the same works in all respects that were current under the denomination of Puranas in the century prior to Christianity.

The inference deduced from the discrepancy between the actual form and the older definition of a Purana, unfavourable to the antiquity of the extant works generally, is converted into certainty when we come to examine them in detail; for although they have no dates attached to them, yet circumstances are sometimes mentioned or alluded to, or references to authorities are made, or legends are narrated, or places are particularized, of which the comparatively recent date is indisputable, and which enforce a corresponding reduction of the antiquity of the work in which they are discovered. At the same time they may be acquitted of subservience to any but sectarial imposture. They were pious frauds for temporary purposes: they never emanated from any impossible combination of the Brahmans to fabricate for the antiquity of the entire Hindu system any claims which it cannot fully support. A very great portion of the contents of many, some portion of the contents of all, is genuine and old. The sectarial interpolation or embellishment is always sufficiently palpable to be set aside, without injury to the more authentic and primitive material; and the Puranas, although they belong especially to that stage of the Hindu religion in which faith in some one divinity was the prevailing principle, are also a valuable record of the form of Hindu belief which came next in order to that of the Vedas; which grafted hero-worship upon the simpler ritual of the latter; and which had been adopted, and was extensively, perhaps universally established in India at the time of the Greek invasion. The Hercules of the Greek writers was indubitably the Balarama of the Hindus; and their notices of Mathura on the Jumna, and of the kingdom of the Suraseni and the Pandaean country, evidence the prior currency of the traditions which constitute the argument of the Mahabharata, and which are constantly repeated in the Puranas, relating to the Pandava and Yadava races, to Krishna and his contemporary heroes, and to the dynasties of the solar and lunar kings.

The theogony and cosmogony of the Puranas may probably be traced to the Vedas. They are not, as far as is yet known, described in detail in those works, but they are frequently alluded to in a strain more or less mystical and obscure, which indicates acquaintance with their existence, and which seems to have supplied the Puranas with the groundwork of their systems. The scheme of primary or elementary creation they borrow from the Sankhya philosophy, which is probably one of the oldest forms of speculation on man and nature amongst the Hindus. Agreeably, however, to that part of the Pauranik character which there is reason to suspect of later origin, their inculcation of the worship of a favourite deity, they combine the interposition of a creator with the independent evolution of matter in a somewhat contradictory and unintelligible style. It is evident too that their accounts of secondary creation, or the developement of the existing forms of things, and the disposition of the universe, are derived from several and different sources; and it appears very likely that they are to be accused of some of the incongruities and absurdities by which the narrative is disfigured, in consequence of having attempted to assign reality and significancy to what was merely metaphor or mysticism. There is, however, amidst the unnecessary complexity of the description, a general agreement amongst them as to the origin of things, and their final distribution; and in many of the circumstances there is a striking concurrence with the ideas which seem to have pervaded the whole of the ancient world, and which we may therefore believe to be faithfully represented in the Puranas.

The Pantheism of the Puranas is one of their invariable characteristics, although the particular divinity, who is all things, from whom all things proceed, and to whom all things return, be diversified according to their individual sectarial bias. They seem to have derived the notion from the Vedas: but in them the one universal Being is of a higher order than a personification of attributes or elements, and, however imperfectly conceived, or unworthily described, is God. In the Puranas the one only Supreme Being is supposed to be manifest in the person of S'iva or Vishnu, either in the way of illusion or in sport; and one or other of these divinities is therefore also the cause of all that is, is himself all that exists. The identity of God and nature is not a new notion; it was very general in the speculations of antiquity, but it assumed a new vigour in the early ages of Christianity, and was carried to an equal pitch of extravagance by the Platonic Christians as by the S'aiva or Vaishnava Hindus. It seems not impossible that there was some communication between them. We know that there was an active communication between India and the Red sea in the early ages of the Christian era, and that doctrines, as well as articles of merchandise, were brought to Alexandria from the former. Epiphanius [11] and Eusebius [12] accuse Scythianus of having imported from India, in the second century, books on magic, and heretical notions leading to Manichaeism; and it was at the same period that Ammonius instituted the sect of the new Platonists at Alexandria. The basis of his heresy was, that true philosophy derived its origin from the eastern nations: his doctrine of the identity of God and the universe is that of the Vedas and Puranas; and the practices he enjoined, as well as their object, were precisely those described in several of the Puranas under the name of Yoga. His disciples were taught “to extenuate by mortification and contemplation the bodily restraints upon the immortal spirit, so that in this life they might enjoy communion with the Supreme Being, and ascend after death to the universal Parent [13].” That these are Hindu tenets the following pages [14] will testify; and by the admission of their Alexandrian teacher, they originated in India. The importation was perhaps not wholly unrequited; the loan may not have been left unpaid. It is not impossible that the Hindu doctrines received fresh animation from their adoption by the successors of Ammonius, and especially by the mystics, who may have prompted, as well as employed, the expressions of the Puranas. Anquetil du Perron has given [15], in the introduction to his translation of the 'Oupnekhat,' several hymns by Synesius, a bishop of the beginning of the fifth century, which may serve as parallels to many of the hymns and prayers addressed to Vishnu in the Vishnu Purana.

But the ascription to individual and personal deities of the attributes of the one universal and spiritual Supreme Being, is an indication of a later date than the Vedas certainly, and apparently also than the Ramayana, where Rama, although an incarnation of Vishnu, commonly appears in his human character alone. There is something of the kind in the Mahabharata in respect to Krishna, especially in the philosophical episode known as the Bhagavad Gita. In other places the divine nature of Krishna is less decidedly affirmed; in some it is disputed or denied; and in most of the situations in which he is exhibited in action, it is as a prince and warrior, not as a divinity. He exercises no superhuman faculties in the defence of himself or his friends, or in the defeat and destruction of his foes. The Mahabharata, however, is evidently a work of various periods, and requires to be read throughout carefully and critically before its weight as an authority can be accurately appreciated. As it is now in type [16]–thanks to the public spirit of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, and their secretary Mr. J. Prinsep–it will not be long before the Sanscrit scholars of the continent will accurately appreciate its value.

date of the puranas

The Puranas are also works of evidently different ages, and have been compiled under different circumstances, the precise nature of which we can but imperfectly conjecture from internal evidence, and from what we know of the history of religious opinion in India. It is highly probable, that of the present popular forms of the Hindu religion, none assumed their actual state earlier than the time of S'ankara Acharya, the great S'aiva reformer, who flourished, in all likelihood, in the eighth or ninth century. Of the Vaishnava teachers, Ramanuja dates in the twelfth century, Madhwacharya in the thirteenth, and Vallabha in the sixteenth [17]; and the Puranas seem to have accompanied or followed their innovations, being obviously intended to advocate the doctrines they taught. This is to assign to some of them a very modern date, it is true; but I cannot think that a higher can with justice be ascribed to them. This, however, applies to some only out of the number, as I shall presently proceed to specify.

Another evidence of a comparatively modern date must be admitted in those chapters of the Puranas which, assuming a prophetic tone, foretell what dynasties of kings will reign in the Kali age. These chapters, it is true, are found but in four of the Puranas, but they are conclusive in bringing down the date of those four to a period considerably subsequent to Christianity. It is also to be remarked, that the Vayu, Vishnu, Bhagavata, and Matsya Puranas, in which these particulars are foretold, have in all other respects the character of as great antiquity as any works of their class [18].

form of the puranas

The invariable form of the Puranas is that of a dialogue, in which some person relates its contents in reply to the inquiries of another. This dialogue is interwoven with others, which are repeated as having been held on other occasions between different individuals, in consequence of similar questions having been asked. The immediate narrator is commonly, though not constantly, Lomaharshana or Romaharshana, the disciple of Vyasa, who is supposed to communicate what was imparted to him by his preceptor, as he had heard it from some other sage. Vyasa, as will be seen in the body of the work [19], is a generic title, meaning an 'arranger' or 'compiler.' It is in this age applied to Krishna Dwaipayana, the son of Paras'ara, who is said to have taught the Vedas and Puranas to various disciples, but who appears to have been the head of a college or school, under whom various learned men gave to the sacred literature of the Hindus the form in which it now presents itself. In this task the disciples, as they are termed, of Vyasa were rather his colleagues and coadjutors, for they were already conversant with what he is fabled to have taught them [20]; and amongst them, Lomaharshana represents the class of persons who were especially charged with the record of political and temporal events. He is called Suta, as if it was a proper name; but it is more correctly a title; and Lomaharshana was 'a Suta,' that is, a bard or panegyrist, who was created, according to our text [21], to celebrate the exploits of princes; and who, according to the Vayu and Padma Puranas, has a right by birth and profession to narrate the Puranas, in preference even to the Brahmans [22]. It is not unlikely therefore that we are to understand, by his being represented as the disciple of Vyasa, the institution of some attempt, made under the direction of the latter, to collect from the heralds and annalists of his day the scattered traditions which they had imperfectly preserved; and hence the consequent appropriation of the Puranas, in a great measure, to the genealogies of regal dynasties, and descriptions of the universe. However this may be, the machinery has been but loosely adhered to, and many of the Patinas, like the Vishnu, are referred to a different narrator.

An account is given in the following work [23] of a series of Pauranik compilations, of which in their present form no vestige appears. Lomaharshana is said to have had six disciples, three of whom composed as many fundamental Sanhitas, whilst he himself compiled a fourth. By a Sanhita is generally understood a 'collection' or 'compilation.' The Sanhitas of the Vedas are collections of hymns and prayers belonging to them, arranged according to the judgment of some individual sage, who is therefore looked upon as the originator and teacher of each. The Sanhitas of the Puranas, then, should be analogous compilations, attributed respectively to Mitrayu, S'ans'apayana, Akritavrana, and Romaharshana: no such Pauranik Sanhitas are now known, The substance of the four is said to be collected in the Vishnu Purana, which is also, in another place [24], itself called a Sanhita: but such compilations have not, as far as inquiry has yet proceeded, been discovered. The specification may be accepted as an indication of the Puranas having existed in some other form, in which they are no longer met with; although it does not appear that the arrangement was incompatible with their existence as separate works, for the Vishnu Purana, which is our authority for the four Sanhitas, gives us also the usual enumeration of the several Puranas.

classification of the puranas

There is another classification of the Puranas alluded to in the Matsya Purana, and specified by the Padma Purana, but more fully. It is not undeserving of notice, as it expresses the opinion which native writers entertain of the scope of the Puranas, and of their recognising the subservience of these works to the dissemination of sectarian principles.. Thus it is said in the Uttara Khanda of the Padma, that the Puranas, as well as other works, are divided into three classes, according to the qualities which prevail in them. Thus the Vishnu, Naradiya, Bhagavata, Garuda, Padma, and Varaha Puranas, are Satwika, or pure, from the predominance in them of the Satwa quality, or that of goodness and purity. They are, in fact, Vaishnava Puranas. The Matsya, Kurma, Linga, S'iva, Skanda, and Agni Puranas, are Tamasa, or Puranas of darkness, from the prevalence of the quality of Tamas, 'ignorance,' 'gloom.' They are indisputably S'aiva Puranas. The third series, comprising the Brahmanda, Brahma-vaivartta, Markandeya, Bhavishya, Vamana, and Brahma Puranas, are designated as Rajasa, 'passionate,' from Rajas, the property of passion, which they are supposed to represent.. The Matsya does not specify which are the Puranas that come under these designations, but remarks that those in which the Mahatmya of Hari or Vishnu prevails are Satwika; those in which the legends of Agni or S'iva predominate are Tamasa; and those which dwell most on the stories of Brahma are Rajasa. I have elsewhere stated [25], that I considered the Rajasa Puranas to lean to the Sakta division of the Hindus, the worshippers of S'akti, or the female principle; founding this opinion on the character of the legends which some of them contain, such as the Durga Mahatmya, or celebrated legend on which the worship of Durga or Kali is especially founded, which is a principal episode of the Markandeya. The Brahma-vaivartta also devotes the greatest portion of its chapters to the celebration of Radha, the mistress of Krishna, and other female divinities. Col. Vans Kennedy, however, objects to the application of the term Sakta to this last division of the Puranas, the worship of S'akti being the especial object of a different class of works, the Tantras, and no such form of worship being particularly inculcated in the Brahma Purana [26]. This last argument is of weight in regard to the particular instance specified, and the designation of S'akti may not be correctly applicable to the whole class, although it is to some of the series; for there is no incompatibility in the advocacy of a Tantrika modification of the Hindu religion by any Purana, and it has unquestionably been practised in works known as Upa-puranas. The proper appropriation of the third class of the Puranas, according to the Padma Purana, appears to be to the worship of Krishna, not in the character in which he is represented in the Vishnu and Bhagavata Puranas, in which the incidents of his boyhood are only a portion of his biography, and in which the human character largely participates, at least in his riper years, but as the infant Krishna, Govinda, Bala Gopala, the sojourner in Vrindavan, the companion of the cowherds and milkmaids, the lover of Radha, or as the juvenile master of the universe, Jagannatha. The term Rajasa, implying the animation of passion, and enjoyment of sensual delights, is applicable, not only to the character of the youthful divinity, but to those with whom his adoration in these forms seems to have originated, the Gosains of Gokul and Bengal, the followers and descendants of Vallabha and Chaitanya, the priests and proprietors of Jagannath and S'rinath-dwar, who lead a life of affluence and indulgence, and vindicate, both by precept and practice, the reasonableness of the Rajasa property, and the congruity of temporal enjoyment with the duties of religion [27].

The Puranas are uniformly stated to be eighteen in number. It is said that there are also eighteen Upa-puranas, or minor Puranas; but the names of only a few of these are specified in the least exceptionable authorities, and the greater number of the works is not procurable. With regard to the eighteen Puranas, there is a peculiarity in their specification, which is proof of an interference with the integrity of the text, in some of them at least; for each of them specifies the names of the whole eighteen. Now the list could not have been complete whilst the work that gives it was unfinished, and in one only therefore, the last of the series, have we a right to look for it. As however there are more last words than one, it is evident that the names must have been inserted in all except one after the whole were completed: which of the eighteen is the exception, and truly the last, there is no clue to discover, and the specification is probably an interpolation in most, if not in all.

The names that are specified are commonly the same, and are as follows: 1. Brahma, 2. Padma, 3. Vaishnava, 4. S'aiva, 5. Bhagavata, 6. Narada, 7. Markanda, 8. Agneya, 9. Bhavishya, 10. Brahma-vaivartta, 11. Lainga, 12. Varaha, 13. Skanda, 14. Vamana, 15. Kaurma, 16. Matsya, 17. Garuda, 18. Brahmanda [28]. This is from the twelfth book of the Bhagavata, and is the same as occurs in the Vishnu [29]. In other authorities there are a few variations. The list of the K.urma P. omits the Agni Purana, and substitutes the Vayu. The Agni leaves out the S'aiva, and inserts the Vayu. The Varaha omits the Garuda and Brahmanda, and inserts the Vayu and Narasinha: in this last it is singular. The Markandeya agrees with the Vishnu and Bhagavata in omitting the Vayu. The Matsya, like the Agni, leaves out the S'aiva.

Some of the Puranas, as the Agni, Matsya, Bhagavata, and Padma, also particularize the number of stanzas which each of the eighteen contains. In one or two instances they disagree, but in general they concur. The aggregate is stated at 400,000 slokas, or 1,600,000 lines. These are fabled to be but an abridgment, the whole amount being a krore, or ten millions of stanzas, or even a thousand millions. If all the fragmentary portions claiming in various parts of India to belong to the Puranas were admitted, their extent would much exceed the lesser, though it would not reach the larger enumeration. The former is, however, as I have elsewhere stated [30], a quantity that an individual European scholar could scarcely expect to peruse with due care and attention, unless his whole time were devoted exclusively for many years to the task. Yet without some such labour being achieved, it was clear, from the crudity and inexactness of all that had been hitherto published on the subject, with one exception [31], that sound views on the subject of Hindu mythology and tradition were not to be expected. Circumstances, which I have already explained in the paper in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society referred to above, enabled me to avail myself of competent assistance, by which I made a minute abstract of most of the Puranas. In course of time I hope to place a tolerably copious and connected analysis of the whole eighteen before Oriental scholars, and in the mean while offer a brief notice of their several contents.

In general the enumeration of the Puranas is a simple nomenclature, with the addition in some cases of the number of verses; but to these the Matsya Purana joins the mention of one or two circumstances peculiar to each, which, although scanty, are of value, as offering means of identifying the copies of the Puranas now found with those to which the Matsya refers, or of discovering a difference between the present and the past. I shall therefore prefix the passage descriptive of each Purana from the Matsya. It is necessary to remark, however, that in the comparison instituted between that description and the Purana as it exists, I necessarily refer to the copy or copies which I employed for the purpose of examination and analysis, and which were procured with some trouble and cost in Benares and Calcutta. In some instances my manuscripts have been collated with others from different parts of India, and the result has shewn, that, with regard at least to the Brahma, Vishnu, Vayu, Matsya, Padma, Bhagavata, and Kurma Puranas, the same works, in all essential respects, are generally current under the same appellations. Whether this is invariably the case may be doubted, and farther inquiry may possibly shew that I have been obliged to content myself with mutilated or unauthentic works [32]. It is with this reservation, therefore, that I must be understood to speak of the concurrence or disagreement of any Purana with the notice of it which the Matsya P. has preserved.

1 - the brahma purana

1. Brahma Purana. “That, the whole of which was formerly repeated by Brahma to Marichi, is called the Brahma Purana, and contains ten thousand stanzas [33].” In all the lists of the Puranas, the Brahma is placed at the head of the series, and is thence sometimes also entitled the Adi or 'first' Purana. It is also designated as the Saura, as it is in great part appropriated to the worship of Surya, 'the sun.' There are, however, works bearing these names which belong to the class of Upa-puranas, and which are not to be confounded with the Brahma. It is usually said, as above, to contain ten thousand slokas; but the number actually occurring is between seven and eight thousand. There is a supplementary or concluding section called the Brahmottara Purana, and which is different from a portion of the Skanda called the Brahmottara Khanda, which contains about three thousand stanzas more; but there is every reason to conclude that this is a distinct and unconnected work.

The immediate narrator of the Brahma Purana is Lomaharshana, who communicates it to the Rishis or sages assembled at Naimisharanya, as it was originally revealed by Brahma, not to Marichi, as the Matsya affirms, but to Daksha, another of the patriarchs: hence its denomination of the Brahma Purana.

The early chapters of this work give a description of the creation, an account of the Manwantaras, and the history of the solar and lunar dynasties to the time of Krishna, in a summary manner, and in words which are common to it and several other Puranas: a brief description of the universe succeeds; and then come a number of chapters relating to the holiness of Orissa, with its temples and sacred groves dedicated to the sun, to S'iva, and Jagannath, the latter especially. These chapters are characteristic of this Purana, and shew its main object to be the promotion of the worship of Krishna as Jagannath [34]. To these particulars succeeds a life of Krishna, which is word for word the same as that of the Vishnu Purana; and the compilation terminates with a particular detail of the mode in which Yoga, or contemplative devotion, the object of which is still Vishnu, is to be performed. There is little in this which corresponds with the definition of a Pancha-lakshana Purana; and the mention of the temples of Orissa, the date of the original construction of which is recorded [35], shews that it could not have been compiled earlier than the thirteenth or fourteenth century.

The Uttara Khanda of the Brahma P. bears still more entirely the character of a Mahatmya, or local legend, being intended to celebrate the sanctity of the Balaja river, conjectured to be the same as the Banas in Marwar. There is no clue to its date, but it is clearly modern, grafting personages and fictions of its own invention on a few hints from older authorities [36].

2 - the padma purana

2. Padma Purana. “That which contains an account of the period when the world was a golden lotus (padma), and of all the occurrences of that time, is therefore called the Padma by the wise: it contains fifty-five thousand stanzas [37].” The second Purana in the usual lists is always the Padma, a very voluminous work, containing, according to its own statement, as well as that of other authorities, fifty-five thousand slokas; an amount not far from the truth. These are divided amongst five books, or Khandas; 1. the Srishti Khanda, or section on creation; 2. the Bhumi Khanda, description of the earth; 3. the Swarga Khanda, chapter on heaven; 4. Patala Khanda, chapter on the regions below the earth; and 5. the Uttara Khanda, last or supplementary chapter. There is also current a sixth division, the Kriya Yoga Sara, a treatise on the practice of devotion.

The denominations of these divisions of the Padma P. convey but an imperfect and partial notion of their contents. In the first, or section which treats of creation, the narrator is Ugras'ravas the Suta, the son of Lomaharshana, who is sent by his father to the Rishis at Naimisharanya to communicate to them the Purana, which, from its containing an account of the lotus (padma), in which Brahma appeared at creation, is termed the Padma or Padma Purana. The Suta repeats what was originally communicated by Brahma to Pulastya, and by him to Bhishma. The early chapters narrate the cosmogony, and the genealogy of the patriarchal families, much in the same style, and often in the same words, as the Vishnu; and short accounts of the Manwantaras and regal dynasties: but these, which are legitimate Pauranik matters, soon make way for new and unauthentic inventions, illustrative of the virtues of the lake of Pushkara, or Pokher in Ajmir, as a place of pilgrimage.

The Bhumi Khanda, or section of the earth, defers any description of the earth until near its close, filling up one hundred and twenty-seven chapters with legends of a very mixed description, some ancient and common to other Puranas, but the greater part peculiar to itself, illustrative of Tirthas either figuratively so termed–as a wife, a parent, or a Guru, considered as a sacred object–or places to which actual pilgrimage should be performed.

The Swarga Khanda describes in the first chapters the relative positions of the Lokas or spheres above the earth, placing above all Vaikuntha, the sphere of Vishnu; an addition which is not warranted by what appears to be the oldest cosmology [38]. Miscellaneous notices of some of the most celebrated princes then succeed, conformably to the usual narratives; and these are followed by rules of conduct for the several castes, and at different stages of life. The rest of the book is occupied by legends of a diversified description, introduced without much method or contrivance; a few of which, as Daksha's sacrifice, are of ancient date, but of which the most are original and modern.

The Patala Khanda devotes a brief introduction to the description of Patala, the regions of the snake-gods; but the name of Rama having been mentioned, S'esha, who has succeeded Pulastya as spokesman, proceeds to narrate the history of Rama, his descent and his posterity; in which the compiler seems to have taken the poem of Kalidas'a, the Raghu Vans'a, for his chief authority. An originality of addition may be suspected, however, in the adventures of the horse destined by Rama for an As'wamedha, which form the subject of a great many chapters. When about to be sacrificed, the horse turns out to be a Brahman, condemned by an imprecation of Durvasas, a sage, to assume the equine nature, and who, by having been sanctified by connexion with Rama, is released from his metamorphosis, and dispatched as a spirit of light to heaven. This piece of Vaishnava fiction is followed by praises of the S'ri Bhagavata, an account of Krishna's juvenilities, and the merits of worshipping Vishnu. These accounts are communicated through a machinery borrowed from the Tantras: they are told by Sadas'iva to Parvati, the ordinary interlocutors of Tantrika compositions.

The Uttara Khanda is a most voluminous aggregation of very heterogeneous matters, but it is consistent in adopting a decidedly Vaishnava tone, and admitting no compromise with any other form of faith. The chief subjects are first discussed in a dialogue between king Dilipa and the Muni Vas'ishtha; such as the merits of bathing in the month of Magha, and the potency of the Mantra or prayer addressed to Lakshmi Narayana. But the nature of Bhakti, faith in Vishnu–the use of Vaishnava marks on the body–the legends of Vishnu's Avataras, and especially of Rama–and the construction of images of Vishnu–are too important to be left to mortal discretion: they are explained by S'iva to Parvati, and wound up by the adoration of Vishnu by those divinities. The dialogue then reverts to the king and the sage; and the latter states why Vishnu is the only one of the triad entitled to respect; S'iva being licentious, Brahma arrogant, and Vishnu alone pure. Vas'ishtha then repeats, after S'iva, the Mahatmya of the Bhagavad Gita; the merit of each book of which is illustrated by legends of the good consequences to individuals from perusing or hearing it. Other Vaishnava Mahatmyas occupy considerable portions of this Khanda, especially the Kartika Mahatmya, or holiness of the month Kartika, illustrated as usual by stories, a few of which are of an early origin, but the greater part modern, and peculiar to this Purana [39].

The Kriya Yoga Sara is repeated by Suta to the Rishis, after Vyasa's communication of it to Jaimini, in answer to an inquiry how religious merit might be secured in the Kali age, in which men have become incapable of the penances and abstraction by which final liberation was formerly to be attained. The answer is, of course, that which is intimated in the last hook of the Vishnu Purana–personal devotion to Vishnu: thinking of him, repeating his names, wearing his marks, worshipping in his temples, are a full substitute for all other acts of moral or devotional or contemplative merit.

The different portions of the Padma Purana are in all probability as many different works, neither of which approaches to the original definition of a Purana. There may be some connexion between the three first portions, at least as to time; but there is no reason to consider them as of high antiquity. They specify the Jains both by name and practices.; they talk of Mlechchhas, 'barbarians,' flourishing in India; they commend the use of the frontal and other Vaishnava marks; and they notice other subjects which, like these, are of no remote origin. The Patala Khanda dwells copiously upon the Bhagavata, and is consequently posterior to it. The Uttara Khanda is intolerantly Vaishnava, and is therefore unquestionably modern. It enjoins the veneration of the Salagram stone and Tulasi plant, the use of the Tapta-mudra, or stamping with a hot iron the name of Vishnu on the skin, and a variety of practices and observances undoubtedly no part of the original system. It speaks of the shrines of S'ri-rangam and Venkatadri in the Dekhin, temples that have no pretension to remote antiquity; and it names Haripur on the Tungabhadra, which is in all likelihood the city of Vijayanagar, founded in the middle of the fourteenth century. The Kriya Yoga Sara is equally a modern, and apparently a Bengali composition. No portion of the Padma Purana is probably older than the twelfth century, and the last parts may be as recent as the fifteenth or sixteenth [40].

3 - the vishnu purana

Vishnu Purana. “That in which Paras'ara, beginning with the events of the Varaha Kalpa, expounds all duties, is called the Vaishnava; and the learned know its extent to be twenty-three thousand stanzas [41].” The third Purana of the lists is that which has been selected for translation, the Vishnu. It is unnecessary therefore to offer any general summary of its contents, and it will be convenient to reserve any remarks upon its character and probable antiquity for a subsequent page. It may here be observed, however, that the actual number of verses contained in it falls far short of the enumeration of the Matsya, with which the Bhagavata concurs. Its actual contents are not seven thousand stanzas. All the copies, and in this instance they are not fewer than seven in number, procured both in the east and in the west of India, agree; and there is no appearance of any part being wanting. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end, in both text and comment; and the work as it stands is incontestably entire. How is the discrepancy to be explained?

4 - the vayaviya purana

4. “The Purana in which Vayu has declared the laws of duty, in connexion with the Sweta Kalpa, and which comprises the Mahatmya of Rudra, is the Vayaviya Purana: it contains twenty-four thousand verses [42].” The S'iva or S'aiva Purana is, as above remarked, omitted in some of the lists; and in general, when that is the case, it is replaced by the Vayu or Vayaviya. When the S'iva is specified, as in the Bhagavata, then the Vayu is omitted; intimating the possible identity of these two works. This indeed is confirmed by the Matsya, which describes the Vayaviya Purana as characterised by its account of the greatness of Rudra or Siva [43]; and Balambhatta mentions that the Vayaviya is also called the S'aiva, though, according to some, the latter is the name of an Upa-purana. Col. Vans Kennedy observes, that in the west of India the S'aiva is commonly considered to be an Upa or 'minor' Purana [44].

Another proof that the same work is intended by the authorities here followed, the Bhagavata and Matsya, under different appellations, is their concurrence in the extent of the work, each specifying its verses to be twenty-four thousand. A copy of the S'iva Purana, of which an index and analysis have been prepared, does not contain more than about seven thousand: it cannot therefore be the S'iva Purana of the Bhagavata; and we may safely consider that to be the same as the Vayaviya of the Matsya [45].

The Vayu Purana is narrated by Suta to the Rishis at Naimisharanya, as it was formerly told at the same place to similar persons by Vayu; a repetition of circumstances not uncharacteristic of the inartificial style of this Purana. It is divided into four Padas, termed severally Prakriya, Upodghata, Anushanga, and Upasanhara; a classification peculiar to this work. These are preceded by an index, or heads of chapters, in the manner of the Mahabharata and Ramayana; another peculiarity.

The Prakriya portion contains but a few chapters, and treats chiefly of elemental creation, and the first evolutions of beings, to the same purport as the Vishnu, but in a more obscure and unmethodical style. The Upodghata then continues the subject of creation, and describes the various Kalpas or periods during which the world has existed; a greater number of which is specified by the S'aiva than by the Vaishnava Puranas. Thirty-three are here described, the last of which is the Sweta or 'white' Kalpa, from S'iva's being born in it of a white complexion. The genealogies of the patriarchs, the description of the universe, and the incidents of the first six Manwantaras, are all treated of in this part of the work; but they are intermixed with legends and praises of S'iva, as the sacrifice of Daksha, the Mahes'wara Mahatmya, the Nilakantha Stotra, and others. The genealogies, although in the main the same as those in the Vaishnava Puranas, present some variations. A long account of the Pitris or progenitors is also peculiar to this Purana; as are stories of some of the most celebrated Rishis, who were engaged in the distribution of the Vedas.

The third division commences with an account of the seven Rishis and their descendants, and describes the origin of the different classes of creatures from the daughters of Daksha, with a profuse copiousness of nomenclature, not found in any other Purana. With exception of the greater minuteness of detail, the particulars agree with those of the Vishnu P. A chapter then occurs on the worship of the Pitris; another on Tirthas, or places sacred to them; and several on the performance of Sraddhas, constituting the Sraddha Kalpa. After this, comes a full account of the solar and lunar dynasties, forming a parallel to that in the following pages, with this difference, that it is throughout in verse, whilst that of our text, as noticed in its place, is chiefly in prose. It is extended also by the insertion of detailed accounts of various incidents, briefly noticed in the Vishnu, though derived apparently from a common original. The section terminates with similar accounts of future kings, and the same chronological calculations, that are found in the Vishnu.

The last portion, the Upasanhara, describes briefly the future Manwantaras, the measures of space and time, the end of the world, the efficacy of Yoga, and the glories of S'iva-pura, or the dwelling of S'iva, with whom the Yogi is to be united. The manuscript concludes with a different history of the successive teachers of the Vayu Purana, tracing them from Brahma to Vayu, from Vayu to Vrihaspati, and from him, through various deities and sages, to Dwaipayana and S'uta.

The account given of this Purana in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal was limited to something less than half the work, as I had not then been able to procure a larger portion. I have now a more complete one of my own, and there are several copies in the East India Company's library of the like extent. One, presented by His Highness the Guicowar, is dated Samvat 1540, or A. D. 1483, and is evidently as old as it professes to be. The examination I have made of the work confirms the view I formerly took of it; and from the internal evidence it affords, it may perhaps be regarded as one of the oldest and most authentic specimens extant of a primitive Purana.

It appears, however, that we have not yet a copy of the entire Vayu Purana. The extent of it, as mentioned above, should be twenty-four thousand verses. The Guicowar MS. has but twelve thousand, and is denominated the Purvarddha, or first portion. My copy is of the like extent. The index also spews that several subjects remain untold; as, subsequently to the description of the sphere of S'iva, and the periodical dissolution of the world, the work is said to contain an account of a succeeding creation, and of various events that occurred in it, as the birth of several celebrated Rishis, including that of Vyasa, and a description of his distribution of the Vedas; an account of the enmity between Vas'ishtha and Viswamitra; and a Naimisharanya Mahatmya. These topics are, however, of minor importance, and can scarcely carry the Purana to the whole extent of the verses which it is said to contain. If the number is accurate, the index must still omit a considerable portion of the subsequent contents.

5 - the bhagavata purana

5. S'ri Bhagavata. “That in which ample details of duty are described, and which opens with (an extract from) the Gayatri; that in which the death of the Asura Vritra is told, and in which the mortals and immortals of the Saraswata Kalpa, with the events that then happened to them in the world, are related; that, is celebrated as the Bhagavata, and consists of eighteen thousand verses [46].” The Bhagavata is a work of great celebrity in India, and exercises a more direct and powerful influence upon the opinions and feelings of the people than perhaps any other of the Puranas. It is placed the fifth in all the lists; but the Padma Purana ranks it as the eighteenth, as the extracted substance of all the rest. According to the usual specification, it consists of eighteen thousand s'lokas, distributed amongst three hundred and thirty-two chapters, divided into twelve Skandhas or books. It is named Bhagavata from its being dedicated to the glorification of Bhagavat or Vishnu.

The Bhagavata is communicated to the Rishis at Naimisharanya by Suta, as usual; but he only repeats what was narrated by S'uka, the son of Vyasa, to Parikshit, the king of Hastinapura, the grandson of Arjuna. Having incurred the imprecation of a hermit, by which he was sentenced to die of the bite of a venomous snake, at the expiration of seven days; the king, in preparation for . this event, repairs to the banks of the Ganges; whither also come the gods and sages, to witness his death. Amongst the latter is S'uka; and it is in reply to Parikshit's question, what a man should do who is about to die, that he narrates the Bhagavata, as he had heard it from Vyasa; for nothing secures final happiness so certainly, as to die whilst the thoughts are wholly engrossed by Vishnu.

The course of the narration opens with a cosmogony, which, although in most respects similar to that of other Puranas, is more largely intermixed with allegory and mysticism, and derives its tone more from the Vedanta than the Sankhya philosophy. The doctrine of active creation by the Supreme, as one with Vasudeva, is more distinctly asserted, with a more decided enunciation of the effects being resolvable into Maya, or illusion. There are also doctrinal peculiarities, highly characteristic of this Purana; amongst which is the assertion that it was originally communicated by Brahma to Narada, that all men whatsoever, Hindus of every caste, and even Mlechchhas, outcastes or barbarians, might learn to have faith in Vasudeva.

In the third book the interlocutors are changed to Maitreya and Vidura; the former of whom is the disciple in the Vishnu Purana, the latter was the half-brother of the Kuru princes. Maitreya, again, gives an account of the Srishti-lila, or sport of creation, in a strain partly common to the Puranas, partly peculiar; although he declares he learned it from his teacher Paras'ara, at the desire of Pulastya [47]; referring thus to the fabulous origin of the Vishnu Purana, and furnishing evidence of its priority. Again, however, the authority is changed, and the narrative is said to have been that which was communicated by S'esha to the Nagas. The creation of Brahma is then described, and the divisions of time are explained. A very long and peculiar account is given of the Varaha incarnation of Vishnu, which is followed by the creation of the Prajapatis and Swayambhuva, whose daughter Devahuti is married to Karddama Rishi; an incident peculiar to this work, as is that which follows of the Avatara of Vishnu as Kapila the son of Karddama and Devahuti, the author of the Sankhya philosophy, which he expounds, after a Vaishnava fashion, to his mother, in the last nine chapters of this section.

The Manwantara of Swayambhuva, and the multiplication of the patriarchal families, are next described with some peculiarities of nomenclature, which are pointed out in the notes to the parallel passages of the Vishnu Purana. The traditions of Dhruva, Vena, Prithu, and other princes of this period, are the other subjects of the fourth Skandha, and are continued in the fifth to that of the Bharata who obtained emancipation. The details generally conform to those of the Vishnu Purana, and the same words are often employed, so that it would he difficult to determine which work had the best right to them, had not the Bhagavata itself indicated its obligations to the Vishnu. The remainder of the fifth book is occupied with the description of the universe, and the same conformity with the Vishnu continues.

This is only partially the case with the sixth book, which contains a variety of legends of a miscellaneous description, intended to illustrate the merit of worshipping Vishnu: some of them belong to the early stock, but some are apparently novel. The seventh book is mostly occupied with the legend of Prahlada. In the eighth we have an account of the remaining Manwantaras; in which, as happening in the course of them, a variety of ancient legends are repeated, as the battle between the king of the elephants and an alligator, the churning of the ocean, and the dwarf and fish Avataras. The ninth book narrates the dynasties of the Vaivaswata Manwantara, or the princes of the solar and lunar races to the time of Krishna [48]. The particulars conform generally with those recorded in the Vishnu.

The tenth book is the characteristic part of this Purana, and the portion upon which its popularity is founded. It is appropriated entirely to the history of Krishna, which it narrates much in the same manner as the Vishnu, but in more detail; holding a middle place, however, between it and the extravagant prolixity with which the Hari Vans'a repeats the story. It is not necessary to particularize it farther. It has been translated into perhaps all the languages of India, and is a favourite work with all descriptions of people.

The eleventh book describes the destruction of the Yadavas, and death of Krishna. Previous to the latter event, Krishna instructs Uddhava in the performance of the Yoga; a subject consigned by the Vishnu to the concluding passages. The narrative is much the same, but something more summary than that of the Vishnu. The twelfth book continues the lines of the kings of the Kali age prophetically to a similar period as the Vishnu, and gives a like account of the deterioration of all things, and their final dissolution. Consistently with the subject of the Purana, the serpent Takshaka bites Parikshit, and he expires, and the work should terminate; or the close might be extended to the subsequent sacrifice of Janamejaya for the destruction of the whole serpent race. There is a rather awkwardly introduced description, however, of the arrangement of the Vedas and Puranas by Vyasa, and the legend of Markandeya's interview with the infant Krishna, during a period of worldly dissolution. We then come to the end of the Bhagavata, in a series of encomiastic commendations of its own sanctity, and efficacy to salvation.

Mr. Colebrooke observes of the Bhagavata Purana, “I am inclined to adopt an opinion supported by many learned Hindus, who consider the celebrated S'ri Bhagavata as the work of a grammarian (Vopadeva), supposed to have lived six hundred years ago [49].” Col. Vans Kennedy considers this an incautious admission, because “it is unquestionable that the number of the Puranas has been always held to be eighteen; but in most of the Puranas the names of the eighteen are enumerated, amongst which the Bhagavata is invariably included; and consequently if it were composed only six hundred years ago, the others must be of an equally modern date [50].” Some of them are no doubt more recent; but, as already remarked, no weight can be attached to the specification of the eighteen names, for they are always complete; each Purana enumerates all. Which is the last? which had the opportunity of naming its seventeen predecessors, and adding itself? The argument proves too much. There can be little doubt that the list has been inserted upon the authority of tradition, either by some improving transcriber, or by the compiler of a work more recent than the eighteen genuine Puranas. The objection is also rebutted by the assertion, that there was another Purana to which the name applies, and which is still to be met with, the Devi Bhagavata.

For, the authenticity of the Bhagavata is one of the few questions affecting their sacred literature which Hindu writers have ventured to discuss. The occasion is furnished by the text itself. In the fourth chapter of the first book it is said that Vyasa arranged the Vedas, and divided them into four; and that he then compiled the Itihasa and Puranas, as a fifth Veda. The Vedas he gave to Paila and the rest; the Itihasa and Puranas to Lomaharshana, the father of Suta [51]. Then reflecting that these works may not be accessible to women, S'udras, and mixed castes, he composed the Bharata, for the purpose of placing religious knowledge within their reach. Still he felt dissatisfied, and wandered in much perplexity along the banks of the Saraswati, where his hermitage was situated, when Narada paid him a visit. Having confided to him his secret and seemingly causeless dissatisfaction, Narada suggested that it arose from his not having sufficiently dwelt, in the works he had finished, upon the merit of worshipping Vasudeva. Vyasa at once admitted its truth, and found a remedy for his uneasiness in the composition of the Bhagavata, which he taught to S'uka his son [52]. Here therefore is the most positive assertion that the Bhagavata was composed subsequently to the Puranas, and given to a different pupil, and was not therefore one of the eighteen of which Romaharshana the Seta was, according to all concurrent testimonies, the depositary. Still the Bhagavata is named amongst the eighteen Puranas by the inspired authorities; and how can these incongruities be reconciled?

The principal point in dispute seems to have been started by an expression of S'ridhara Swamin, a commentator on the Bhagavata, who somewhat incautiously made the remark that there was no reason to suspect that by the term Bhagavata any other work than the subject of his labours was intended. This was therefore an admission that some suspicions had been entertained of the correctness of the nomenclature, and that an opinion had been expressed that the term belonged, not to the S'ri Bhagavata, but to the Devi Bhagavata; to a S'aiva, not a Vaishnava, composition. With whom doubts prevailed prior to S'ridhara Swamin, or by whom they were urged, does not appear; for, as far as we are aware, no works, anterior to his date, in which they are advanced have been met with. Subsequently, various tracts have been written on the subject. There are three in the library of the East India Company; the Durjana Mukha Chapetika, 'A slap of the face for the vile,' by Ramas'rama; the Durjana Mukha Maha Chapetika, 'A great slap of the face for the wicked,' by Kas'inath Bhatta; and the Durjana Mukha Padma Paduka, 'A slipper' for the same part of the same persons, by a nameless disputant. The first maintains the authenticity of the Bhagavata; the second asserts that the Devi Bhagavata is the genuine Purana; and the third replies to the arguments of the first. There is also a work by Purushottama, entitled 'Thirteen arguments for dispelling all doubts of the character of the Bhagavata' (Bhagavata swarupa vihsaya s'anka nirasa trayodasa); whilst Balambhatta, a commentator on the Mitakshara, indulging in a dissertation on the meaning of the word Purana, adduces reasons for questioning the inspired origin of this Purana.

The chief arguments in favour of the authenticity of this Purana are the absence of any reason why Vopadeva, to whom it is attributed, should not have put his own name to it; its being included in all lists of the Puranas, sometimes with circumstances that belong to no other Purana; and its being admitted to be a Purana, and cited as authority, or made the subject of comment, by writers of established reputation, of whom S'ankara Acharya is one, and he lived long before Vopadeva. The reply to the first argument is rather feeble, the controversialists being unwilling perhaps to admit the real object, the promotion of new doctrines. It is therefore said that Vyasa was an incarnation of Narayana, and the purpose was to propitiate his favour. The insertion of a Bhagavata amongst the eighteen Puranas is acknowledged; but this, it is said, can be the Devi Bhagavata alone, for the circumstances apply more correctly to it than to the Vaishnava Bhagavata. Thus a text is quoted by Kas'inath from a Purana–he does not state which–that says of the Bhagavata that it contains eighteen thousand verses, twelve books, and three hundred and thirty-two chapters. Kas'inath asserts that the chapters of the S'ri Bhagavata are three hundred and thirty-five, and that the numbers apply throughout only to the Devi Bhagavata. It is also said that the Bhagavata contains an account of the acquirement of holy knowledge by Hayagriva; the particulars of the Saraswata Kalpa; a dialogue between Ambarisha and S'uka; and that it commences with the Gayatri, or at least a citation of it. These all apply to the Devi Bhagavata alone, except the last; but it also is more true of the S'aiva than of the Vaishnava work, for the latter has only one word of the Gayatri, dhimahi, 'we meditate;' whilst the former to dhimahi adds, Ya nah prachodayat,

'who may enlighten us.' To the third argument it is in the first place objected, that the citation of the Bhagavata by modern writers is no test of its authenticity; and with regard to the more ancient commentary of S'ankara Acharya, it is asked, “Where is it?” Those who advocate the sanctity of the Bhagavata reply, “It was written in a difficult style, and became obsolete, and is lost.” “A very unsatisfactory plea,” retort their opponents, “for we still have the works of S'ankara, several of which are quite as difficult as any in the Sanscrit language.” The existence of this comment, too, rests upon the authority of Madhwa or Madhava, who in a commentary of his own asserts that he has consulted eight others. Now amongst these is one by the monkey Hanuman; and although a Hindu disputant may believe in the reality of such a composition, yet we may receive its citation as a proof that Madhwa was not very scrupulous in the verification of his authorities.

There are other topics urged in this controversy on both sides, some of which are simple enough, some are ingenious: but the statement of the text is of itself sufficient to shew that according to the received opinion of all the authorities of the priority of the eighteen Puranas to the Bharata, it is impossible that the S'ri Bhagavata, which is subsequent to the Bharata, should be of the number; and the evidence of style, the superiority of which to that of the Puranas in general is admitted by the disputants, is also proof that it is the work of a different hand. Whether the Devi Bhagavata have a better title to be considered as an original composition of Vyasa, is equally questionable; but it cannot be doubted that the S'ri Bhagavata is the product of uninspired erudition. There does not seem to be any other ground than tradition for ascribing it to Vopadeva the grammarian; but there is no reason to call the tradition in question. Vopadeva flourished at the court of Hemadri, Raja of Devagiri, Deogur or Dowlutabad, and must consequently have lived prior to the conquest of that principality by the Mohammedans in the fourteenth century. The date of the twelfth century, commonly assigned to him, is probably correct, and is that of the Bhagavata Purana.

6 - the naradiya purana

6. Narada or Naradiya Purana. “Where Narada has described the duties which were observed in the Vrihat Kalpa, that, is called the Naradiya, having twenty-five thousand stanzas [53].” If the number of verses be here correctly stated, the Purana has not fallen into my hands. The copy I have analysed contains not many more than three thousand s'lokas. There is another work, which might be expected to be of greater extent, the Vrihat Naradiya, or great Narada Purana; but this, according to the concurrence of three copies in my possession, and of five others in the Company's library, contains but about three thousand five hundred verses. It may be doubted, therefore, if the Narada Purana of the Matsya exists [54].

According to the Matsya, the Narada Purana is related by Narada, and gives an account of the Vrihat Kalpa. The Naradiya Purana is communicated by Narada to the Rishis at Naimisharanya, on the Gomati river. The Vrihannaradiya is related to the same persons, at the same place, by Suta, as it was told by Narada to Sanatkumara. Possibly the term Vrihat may have been suggested by the specification which is given in the Matsya; but there is no description in it of any particular Kalpa, or day of Brahma.

From a cursory examination of these Puranas, it is very evident that they have no conformity to the definition of a Purana, and that both are sectarial and modern compilations, intended to support the doctrine of Bhakti, or faith in Vishnu. With this view they have collected a variety of prayers addressed to one or other form of that divinity; a number of observances and holidays connected with his adoration; and different legends, some perhaps of an early, others of a more recent date, illustrative of the efficacy of devotion to Hari. Thus in the Narada we have the stories of Dhruva and Prahlada; the latter told in the words of the Vishnu: whilst the second portion of it is occupied with a legend of Mohini, the will-born daughter of a king called Rukmangada: beguiled by whom, the king offers to perform for her whatever she may desire. She calls upon him either to violate the rule of fasting on the eleventh day of the fortnight, a day sacred to Vishnu, or to put his son to death; and he kills his son, as the lesser sin of the two. This shews the spirit of the work. Its date may also be inferred from its tenor, as such monstrous extravagancies in praise of Bhakti are certainly of modern origin. One limit it furnishes itself, for it refers to S'uka and Parikshit, the interlocutors of the Bhagavata, and it is consequently subsequent to the date of that Purana: it is probably considerably later, for it affords evidence that it was written after India was in the hands of the Mohammedans. In the concluding passage it is said, “Let not this Purana be repeated in the presence of the 'killers of cows' and contemners of the gods.” It is possibly a compilation of the sixteenth or seventeenth century.

The Vrihannaradiya is a work of the same tenor and time. It contains little else than panegyrical prayers addressed to Vishnu, and injunctions to observe various rites, and keep holy certain seasons, in honour of him. The earlier legends introduced are the birth of Markandeya, the destruction of Sagara's sons, and the dwarf Avatara; but they are subservient to the design of the whole, and are rendered occasions for praising Narayana: others, illustrating the efficacy of certain Vaishnava observances, are puerile inventions, wholly foreign to the more ancient system of Pauranik fiction. There is no attempt at cosmogony, or patriarchal or regal genealogy. It is possible that these topics may be treated of in the missing stanzas; but it seems more likely that the Narada Purana of the lists has little in common with the works to which its name is applied in Bengal and Hindustan.

7 - the markandeya purana

7. Markanda or Markandeya Purana. “That Purana in which, commencing with the story of the birds that were acquainted with right and wrong, every thing is narrated fully by Markandeya, as it was explained by holy sages in reply to the question of the Muni, is called the Markandeya, containing nine thousand verses [55].” This is so called from its being in the first instance narrated by Markandeya Muni, and in the second place by certain fabulous birds; thus far agreeing with the account given of it in the Matsya. That, as well as other authorities, specify its containing nine thousand stanzas; but my copy closes with a verse affirming that the number of verses recited by the Muni was six thousand nine hundred; and a copy in the East India Company's library has a similar specification. The termination is, however, somewhat abrupt, and there is no reason why the subject with which it ends should not have been carried on farther. One copy in the Company's library, indeed, belonging to the Guicowar's collection, states at the close that it is the end of the first Khanda, or section. If the Purana was ever completed, the remaining portion of it appears to be lost.

Jaimini, the pupil of Vyasa, applies to Markandeya to be made acquainted with the nature of Vasudeva, and for an explanation of some of the incidents described in the Mahabharata; with the ambrosia of which divine poem, Vyasa he declares has watered the whole world: a reference which establishes the priority of the Bharata to the Markandeya Purana, however incompatible this may be with the tradition, that having finished the Puranas, Vyasa wrote the poem.

Markandeya excuses himself, saying he has a religious rite to perform; and he refers Jaimini to some very sapient birds, who reside in the Vindhya mountains; birds of a celestial origin, found, when just born, by the Muni S'amika, on the field of Kurukshetra, and brought up by him along with his scholars: in consequence of which, and by virtue of their heavenly descent, they became profoundly versed in the Vedas, and a knowledge of spiritual truth. This machinery is borrowed from the Mahabharata, with some embellishment. Jaimini accordingly has recourse to the birds, Pingaksha and his brethren, and puts to them the questions he had asked of the Muni. “Why was Vasudeva born as a mortal? How was it that Draupadi was the wife of the five Pandus? Why did Baladeva do penance for Brahmanicide? and why were the children of Draupadi destroyed, when they had Krishna and Arjuna to defend them?” The answers to these inquiries occupy a number of chapters, and form a sort of supplement to the Mahabharata; supplying, partly by invention, perhaps, and partly by reference to equally ancient authorities, the blanks left in some of its narrations.

Legends of Vritrasura's death, Baladeva's penance, Haris'chandra's elevation to heaven, and the quarrel between Vas'ishtha and Viswamitra, are followed by a discussion respecting birth, death, and sin; which leads to a more extended description of the different hells than is found in other Puranas. The account of creation which is contained in this work is repeated by the birds after Markandeya's account of it to Kroshtuki, and is confined to the origin of the Vedas and patriarchal families, amongst whom are new characters, as Duhsaha and his wife Marshti, and their descendants; allegorical personages, representing intolerable iniquity and its consequences. There is then a description of the world, with, as usual to this Purana, several singularities, some of which are noticed in the following pages. This being the state of the world in the Swayambhuva Manwantara, an account of the other Manwantaras succeeds, in which the births of the Manus, and a number of other particulars, are peculiar to this work. The present or Vaivaswata Manwantara is very briefly passed over; but the next, the first of the future Manwantaras, contains the long episodical narrative of the actions of the goddess Durga, which is the especial boast of this Purana, and is the text-book of the worshippers of Kali, Chandi, or Durga, in Bengal. It is the Chandi Patha, or Durga Mahatmya, in which the victories of the goddess over different evil beings, or Asuras, are detailed with considerable power and spirit. It is read daily in the temples of Durga, and furnishes the pomp and circumstance of the great festival of Bengal, the Durga puja, or public worship of that goddess [56].

After the account of the Manwantaras is completed, there follows a series of legends, some new, some old, relating to the sun and his posterity; continued to Vaivaswata Manu and his sons, and their immediate descendants; terminating with Dama, the son of Narishyanta [57]. Of most of the persons noticed, the work narrates particulars not found elsewhere.

This Purana has a character different from that of all the others. It has nothing of a sectarial spirit, little of a religious tone, rarely inserting prayers and invocations to any deity, and such as are inserted are brief and moderate. It deals little in precepts, ceremonial or moral. Its leading feature is narrative, and it presents an uninterrupted succession of legends, most of which, when ancient, are embellished with new circumstances; and when new, partake so far of the spirit of the old, that they are disinterested creations of the imagination, having no particular motive; being designed to recommend no special doctrine or observance. Whether they are derived from any other source, or whether they are original inventions, it is not possible to ascertain. They are most probably, for the greater part at least, original; and the whole has been narrated in the compiler's own manner, a manner superior to that of the Puranas in general, with exception of the Bhagavata.

It is not easy to conjecture a date for this Purana: it is subsequent to the Mahabharata, but how long subsequent is doubtful. It is unquestionably more ancient than such works as the Brahma, Padma, and Naradiya Puranas; and its freedom from sectarial bias is a reason for supposing it anterior to the Bhagavata. At the same time, its partial conformity to the definition of a Purana, and the tenor of the additions which it has made to received legends and traditions, indicate a not very remote age; and, in the absence of any guide to a more positive conclusion, it may conjecturally be placed in the ninth or tenth century.

8 - the agni purana

8. Agni Purana. “That Purana which describes the occurrences of the Is'ana Kalpa, and was related by Agni to Vas'ishtha, is called the Agneya: it consists of sixteen thousand stanzas [58].” The Agni or Agneya Purana derives its name from its having being communicated originally by Agni, the deity of fire, to the Muni Vas'ishtha, for the purpose of instructing him in the twofold knowledge of Brahma [59]. By him it was taught to Vyasa, who imparted it to Suta; and the latter is represented as repeating it to the Rising at Naimisharanya. Its contents are variously specified as sixteen thousand, fifteen thousand, or fourteen thousand stanzas. The two copies which were employed by me contain about fifteen thousand s'lokas. There are two in the Company's library, which do not extend beyond twelve thousand verses; but they are in many other respects different from mine: one of them was written at Agra, in the reign of Akbar, in A. D. 1589.

The Agni Purana, in the form in which it has been obtained in Bengal and at Benares, presents a striking contrast to the Markandeya. It may be doubted if a single line of it is original. A very great proportion of it may be traced to other sources; and a more careful collation –if the task was worth the time it would require–would probably discover the remainder.

The early chapters of this Purana [60] describe the Avataras; and in those of Rama and Krishna avowedly follow the Ramayana and Mahabharata. A considerable portion is then appropriated to instructions for the performance of religious ceremonies; many of winch belong to the Tantrika ritual, and are apparently transcribed from the principal authorities of that system. Some belong to mystical forms of S'aiva worship, little known in Hindustan, though perhaps still practised in the south. One of these is the Diksha, or initiation of a novice; by which, with numerous ceremonies and invocations, in which the mysterious monosyllables of the Tantras are constantly repeated, the disciple is transformed into a living personation of S'iva, and receives in that capacity the homage of his Guru. Interspersed with these, are chapters descriptive of the earth and of the universe, which are the same as those of the Vishnu Purana; and Mahatmyas or legends of holy places, particularly of Gaya. Chapters on the duties of kings, and on the art of war, then occur, which have the appearance of being extracted from some older work, as is undoubtedly the chapter on judicature, which follows them, and which is the same as the text of the Mitakshara. Subsequent to these, we have an account of the distribution and arrangement of the Vedas and Puranas, which is little else than an abridgment of the

Vishnu: and in a chapter on gifts we have a description of the Puranas, which is precisely the same, and in the same situation, as the similar subject in the Matsya Purana. The genealogical chapters are meagre lists, differing in a few respects from those commonly received, as hereafter noticed, but unaccompanied by any particulars, such as those recorded or invented in the Markandeya. The next subject is medicine, compiled avowedly, but injudiciously, from the Saus'ruta. A series of chapters on the mystic worship of S'iva and Devi follows; and the work winds up with treatises on rhetoric, prosody, and grammar, according to the Sutras of Pingala and Panini.

The cyclopaedical character of the Agni Purana, as it is now described, excludes it from any legitimate claims to be regarded as a Purana, and proves that its origin cannot be very remote. It is subsequent to the Itihasas; to the chief works on grammar, rhetoric, and medicine; and to the introduction of the Tantrika worship of Devi. When this latter took place is yet far from determined, but there is every probability that it dates long after the beginning of our era. The materials of the Agni, Purana are, however, no doubt of some antiquity. The medicine of Sus'ruta is considerably older than the ninth century; and the grammar of Panini probably precedes Christianity. The chapters on archery and arms, and on regal administration, are also distinguished by an entirely Hindu character, and must have been written long anterior to the Mohammedan invasion. So far the Agni Purana is valuable, as embodying and preserving relics of antiquity, although compiled at a more' recent date.

Col. Wilford [61] has made great use of a list of kings derived from an appendix to the Agni Purana, which professes to be the sixty-third or last section. As he observes, it is seldom found annexed to the Purana. I have never met with it, and doubt its ever having formed any part of the original compilation. It would appear from Col. Wilford's remarks, that this list notices Mohammed as the institutor of an era; but his account of this is not very distinct. He mentions explicitly, however, that the list speaks of Salivahana and Vikramaditya; and this is quite sufficient to establish its character. The compilers of the Puranas were not such bunglers as to bring within their chronology so well known a personage as Vikramaditya. There are in all parts of India various compilations ascribed to the Puranas, which never formed any portion of their contents, and which, although offering sometimes useful local information, and valuable as preserving popular traditions, are not in justice to be confounded with the Puranas, so as to cause them to be charged with even more serious errors and anachronisms than those of which they are guilty.

The two copies of this work in the library of the East India Company appropriate the first half to a description of the ordinary and occasional observances of the Hindus, interspersed with a few legends: the latter half treats exclusively of the history of Mina.

9 - the bhavishya purana

9. Bhavishya Purana. “The Purana in which Brahma, having described the greatness of the sun, explained to Manu the existence of the world, and the characters of all created things, in the course of the Aghora Kalpa; that, is called the Bhavishya, the stories being for the most part the events of a future period. It contains fourteen thousand five hundred stanzas [62].” This Purana, as the name implies, should be a book of prophecies, foretelling what will be (bhavishyati), as the Matsya Purana intimates. Whether such a work exists is doubtful. The copies, which appear to be entire, and of which there are three in the library of the East India Company, agreeing in their contents with two in my possession, contain about seven thousand stanzas. There is another work, entitled the Bhavishyottara, as if it was a continuation or supplement of the former, containing also about seven thousand verses; but the subjects of .both these works are but to a very imperfect degree analogous to those to which the Matsya alludes [63].

The Bhavishya Purana, as I have it, is a work in a hundred and twenty-six short chapters, repeated by Sumantu to S'atanika, a king of the Pandu family. He notices, however, its having originated with Swayambhu or Brahma; and describes it as consisting of five parts; four dedicated, it should seem, to as many deities, as they are termed, Brahma, Vaishnava, S'aiva, and Twashtra; whilst the fifth is the Pratisarga, or repeated creation. Possibly the first part only may have come into my hands, although it does not so appear by the manuscript.

Whatever it may be, the work in question is not a Purana. The first portion, indeed, treats of creation; but it is little else than a transcript of the words of the first chapter of Manu. The rest is entirely a manual of religious rites and ceremonies. It explains the ten Sanskaras, or initiatory rites; the performance of the Sandhya; the reverence to be shewn to a Guru; the duties of the different Asramas and castes; and enjoins a number of Vratas, or observances of fasting and the like, appropriate to different lunar days. A few legends enliven the series of precepts. That of the sage Chyavana is told at considerable length, taken chiefly from the Mahabharata. The Naga Panchami, or fifth lunation, sacred to the serpent-gods, gives rise to a description of different sorts of snakes. After these, which occupy about one-third of the chapters, the remainder of them conform in subject to one of the topics referred to by the Matsya. They chiefly represent conversations between Krishna, his son S'amba, who had become a leper by the curse of Durvasas, Vas'ishtha, Narada, and Vyasa, upon the power and glory of the sun, and the manner in which he is to be worshipped. There is some curious matter in the last chapters, relating to the Magas, silent worshippers of the sun, from Sakadwipa, as if the compiler had adopted the Persian term Magh, and connected the fire-worshippers of Iran with those of India. This is a subject, however, that requires farther investigation.

The Bhavishyottara is, equally with the preceding, a sort of manual of religious offices, the greater portion being appropriated to Vratas, and the remainder to the forms and circumstances with which gifts are to be presented. Many of the ceremonies are obsolete, or are observed in a different manner, as the Rath-yatra, or car festival; and the Madanotsava, or festival of spring. The descriptions of these throw some light upon the public condition of the Hindu religion at a period probably prior to the Mohammedan conquest. The different ceremonies are illustrated by legends, which are sometimes ancient, as, for instance, the destruction of the god of love by S'iva, and his thence becoming Ananga, the disembodied lord of hearts. The work is supposed to be communicated by Krishna to Yudhishthira, at a great assemblage of holy persons at the coronation of the latter, after the conclusion of the great war.

10. The Brahma-vaivartta Purana

10. Brahma-vaivartta Purana. “That Purana which is related by Savarni to Narada, and contains the account of the greatness of Krishna, with the occurrences of the Rathantara Kalpa, where also the story of Brahma-varaha is repeatedly told, is called the Brahma-vaivartta, and contains eighteen thousand stanzas [64].” The account here given of the Brahma-vaivartta Purana agrees with its present state as to its extent. The copies rather exceed than fall short of eighteen thousand stanzas. It also correctly represents its comprising a Mahatmya or legend of Krishna; but it is very doubtful, nevertheless, if the same work is intended.

The Brahma-vaivartta, as it now exists, is narrated, not by Savarni, but the Rishi Narayana to Narada, by whom it is communicated to Vyasa: he teaches it to Suta, and the latter repeats it to the Rishis at Naimisharanya. It is divided into four Khandas, or books; the Brahma, Prakriti, Ganes'a, and Krishna Janma Khandas; dedicated severally to describe the acts of Brahma, Devi, Ganes'a, and Krishna; the latter, however, throughout absorbing the interest and importance of the work. In none of these is there any account of the Varaha Avatara of Vishnu, which seems to be intended by the Matsya; nor any reference to a Rathantara Kalpa. It may also be observed, that, in describing the merit of presenting a copy of this Purana, the Matsya adds, “Whoever makes such gift, is honoured in the Brahma-loka;” a sphere which is of very inferior dignity to that to which a worshipper of Krishna is taught to aspire by this Purana. The character of the work is in truth so decidedly sectarial, and the sect to which it belongs so distinctly marked, that of the worshippers of the juvenile Krishna and Radha, a form of belief of known modern origin, that it can scarcely have found a notice in a work to which, like the Matsya, a much more remote date seems to belong. Although therefore the Matsya may be received in proof of there having been a Brahma-vaivartta Purana at the date of its compilation, dedicated especially to the honour of Krishna, yet we cannot credit the possibility of its being the same we now possess.

Although some of the legends believed to be ancient are scattered through the different portions of this Purana, yet the great mass of it is taken up with tiresome descriptions of Vrindavan and Goloka, the dwellings of Krishna on earth and in heaven; with endless repetitions of prayers and invocations addressed to him; and with insipid descriptions of his person and sports, and the love of the Gopis and of Radha towards him. There are some particulars of the origin of the artificer castes, which is of value because it is cited as authority in matters affecting them, contained in the Brahma Khanda; and in the Prakrita and Ganes'a Khandas are legends of those divinities, not wholly, perhaps, modern inventions, but of which the source has not been traced. In the life of Krishna the incidents recorded are the same as those narrated in the Vishnu and the Bhagavata; but the stories, absurd as they are, are much compressed to make room for original matter, still more puerile and tiresome. The Brahma-vaivartta has not the slightest title to be regarded as a Purana [65].

11. The Linga Purana

11. Linga Purana. “Where Mahes'wara, present in the Agni Linga, explained (the objects of life) virtue, wealth, pleasure, and final liberation at the end of the Agni Kalpa, that Purana, consisting of eleven thousand stanzas, was called the Lainga by Brahma himself [66].”

The Linga Purana conforms accurately enough to this description. The Kalpa is said to be the Is'ana, but this is the only difference. It consists of eleven thousand stanzas. It is said to have been originally composed by Brahma; and the primitive Linga is a pillar of radiance, in which Mahes'wara is present. The work is therefore the same as that referred to by the Matsya.

A short account is given, in the beginning, of elemental and secondary creation, and of the patriarchal families; in which, however, S'iva takes the place of Vishnu, as the indescribable cause of all things. Brief accounts of S'iva's incarnations and proceedings in different Kalpas next occur, offering no interest except as characteristic of sectarial notions. The appearance of the great fiery Linga takes place, in the interval of a creation, to separate Vishnu and Brahma, who not only dispute the palm of supremacy, but fight for it; when the Linga suddenly springs up, and puts them both to shame; as, after travelling upwards and downwards for a thousand years in each direction, neither can approach to its termination. Upon the Linga the sacred monosyllable Om is visible, and the Vedas proceed from it, by which Brahms and Vishnu become enlightened, and acknowledge and eulogize the superior might and glory of S'iva.

A notice of the creation in the Padma Kalpa then follows, and this leads to praises of S'iva by Vishnu and Brahma. S'iva repeats the story of his incarnations, twenty-eight in number; intended as a counterpart, no doubt, to the twenty-four Avataras of Vishnu, as described in the Bhagavata; and both being amplifications of the original ten Avataras, and of much less merit as fictions. Another instance of rivalry occurs in the legend of Dadhichi, a Muni and worshipper of S'iva. In the Bhagavata there is a story of Ambarisha being defended against Durvasas by the discus of Vishnu, against which that S'aiva sage is helpless: here Vishnu hurls his discus at Dadhichi, but it falls blunted to the ground, and a conflict ensues, in which Vishnu and his partisans are all overthrown by the Muni.

A description of the universe, and of the regal dynasties of the Vaivaswata Manwantara to the time of Krishna, runs through a number of chapters, in substance, and very commonly in words, the same as in other Puranas. After which, the work resumes its proper character, narrating legends, and enjoining rites, and reciting prayers, intending to do honour to S'iva under various forms. Although, however, the Linga holds a prominent place amongst them, the spirit of the worship is as little influenced by the character of the type as can well be imagined. There is nothing like the phallic orgies of antiquity: it is all mystical and spiritual. The Linga is twofold, external and internal. The ignorant, who need a visible sign, worship S'iva through a 'mark' or 'type'–which is the proper meaning of the word 'Linga'–of wood or stone; but the wise look upon this outward emblem as nothing, and contemplate in their minds the invisible, inscrutable type, which is S'iva himself. Whatever may have been the origin of this form of worship in India, the notions upon which it was founded, according to the impure fancies of European writers, are not to be traced in even the S'aiva Puranas.

Data for conjecturing the era of this work are defective, but it is more of a ritual than a Purana, and the Pauranik chapters which it has inserted, in order to keep up something of its character, have been evidently borrowed for the purpose. The incarnations of S'iva, and their 'pupils,' as specified in one place, and the importance attached to the practice of the Yoga, render it possible that under the former are intended those teachers of the S'aiva religion who belong to the Yoga school [67], which seems to have flourished about the eighth or ninth centuries. It is not likely that the work is earlier, it may be considerably later. It has preserved apparently some S'aiva legends of an early date, but the greater part is ritual and mysticism of comparatively recent introduction.

12. The Varaha Purana

12. Varaha Purana. “That in which the glory of the great Varaha is predominant, as it was revealed to Earth by Vishnu, in connexion, wise Munis, with the Manava Kalpa, and which contains twenty-four thousand verses, is called the Varaha Purana [68].”

It may be doubted if the Varaha Purana of the present day is here intended. It is narrated by Vishnu as Varaha, or in the boar incarnation, to the personified Earth. Its extent, however, is not half that specified, little exceeding ten thousand stanzas. It furnishes also itself evidence of the prior currency of some other work, similarly denominated; as, in the description of Mathura contained in it, Sumantu, a Muni, is made to observe, “The divine Varaha in former times expounded a Purana, for the purpose of solving the perplexity of Earth.”

Nor can the Varaha Purana be regarded as a Purana agreeably to the common definition, as it contains but a few scattered and brief allusions to the creation of the world, and the reign of kings: it has no detailed genealogies either of the patriarchal or regal families, and no account of the reigns of the Manus. Like the Linga Purana, it is a religious manual, almost wholly occupied with forms of prayer, and rules for devotional observances, addressed to Vishnu; interspersed with legendary illustrations, most of which are peculiar to itself, though some are taken from the common and ancient stock: many of them, rather incompatibly with the general scope of the compilation, relate to the history of S'iva and Durga [69]. A considerable portion of the work is devoted to descriptions of various Tirthas, places of Vaishnava pilgrimage; and one of Mathura enters into a variety of particulars relating to the shrines of that city, constituting the Mathura Mahatmyam.

In the sectarianism of the Varaha Purana there is no leaning to the particular adoration of Krishna, nor are the Rath-yatra and Janmashtami included amongst the observances enjoined. There are other indications of its belonging to an earlier stage of Vaishnava worship, and it may perhaps be referred to the age of Ramanuja, the early part of the twelfth century.

13. The Skanda Purana

13. Skanda Purana. “The Skanda Purana is that in which the six-faced deity (Skanda) has related the events of the Tatpurusha Kalpa, enlarged with many tales, and subservient to the duties taught by Mahes'wara. It is said to contain eighty-one thousand one hundred stanzas: so it is asserted amongst mankind [70].”

It is uniformly agreed that the Skanda Purana in a collective form has no existence; and the fragments in the shape of Sanhitas, Khandas, and Mahatmyas, which are affirmed in various parts of India to be portions of the Purana, present a much more formidable mass of stanzas than even the immense number of which it is said to consist. The most celebrated of these portions in Hindustan is the Kas'i Khanda, a very minute description of the temples of S'iva in or adjacent to Benares, mixed with directions for worshipping Mahes'wara, and a great variety of legends explanatory of its merits, and of the holiness of Kas'i: many of them are puerile and uninteresting, but some are of a higher character. The story of Agastya records probably, in a legendary style, the propagation of Hinduism in the south of India: and in the history of Divodasa, king of Kas'i, we have an embellished tradition of the temporary depression of the worship of S'iva, even in its metropolis, before the ascendancy of the followers of Buddha [71], There is every reason to believe the greater part of the contents of the Kas'i Khanda anterior to the first attack upon Benares by Mahmud of Ghizni. The Kas'i Khanda alone contains fifteen thousand stanzas.

Another considerable work ascribed in upper India to the Skanda Purana is the Utkala Khanda, giving an account of the holiness of Urissa, and the Kshetra of Purushottama or Jagannatha. The same vicinage is the site of temples, once of great magnificence and extent, dedicated to S'iva, as Bhuvanes'wara, which forms an excuse for attaching an account of a Vaishnava Tirtha to an eminently S'aiva Purana. There can be little doubt, however, that the Utkala Khanda is unwarrantably included amongst the progeny of the parent work. Besides these, there is a Brahmottara Khanda, a Reva Khanda, a S'iva Rahasya Khanda, a Himavat Khanda, and others. Of the Sanhitas, the chief are the Suta Sanhita, Sanatkumara Sanhita, Saura Sanhita, and Kapila Sanhita: there are several other works denominated Sanhitas. The

Mahatmyas are more numerous still [72]. According to the Suta Sanhita, as quoted by Col. Vans Kennedy [73], the Skanda Purana contains six Sanhitas, five hundred Khandas, and five hundred thousand stanzas; more than is even attributed to all the Puranas. He thinks, judging from internal evidence, that all the Khandas and Sanhitas may be admitted to be genuine, though the Mahatmyas have rather a questionable appearance. Now one kind of internal evidence is the quantity; and as no more than eighty-one thousand one hundred stanzas have ever been claimed for it, all in excess above that amount must be questionable. But many of the Khandas, the Kas'i Khanda for instance, are quite as local as the Mahatmyas, being legendary stories relating to the erection and sanctity of certain temples or groups of temples, and to certain Lingas; the interested origin of which renders them very reasonably objects of suspicion. In the present state of our acquaintance with the reputed portions of the Skanda Purana, my own views of their authenticity are so opposed to those entertained by Col. Vans Kennedy, that instead of admitting all the Sanhitas and Khandas to be genuine, I doubt if any one of them was ever a part of the Skanda Purana.

14. The Vamana Purana

14. Vamana Purana. “That in which the four-faced Brahma taught the three objects of existence, as subservient to the account of the greatness of Trivikrama, which treats also of the S'iva Kalpa, and which consists of ten thousand stanzas, is called the Vamana Purana [74].”

The Vamana Purana contains an account of the dwarf incarnation of Vishnu; but it is related by Pulastya to Narada, and extends to but about seven thousand stanzas. Its contents can scarcely establish its claim to the character of a Purana [75].

There is little or no order in the subjects which this work recapitulates, and which arise out of replies made by Pulastya to questions put abruptly and unconnectedly by Narada. The greater part of them relate to the worship of the Linga; a rather strange topic for a Vaishnava Purana, but engrossing the principal part of the compilation. They are however subservient to the object of illustrating the sanctity of certain holy places; so that the Vamana Purana is little else than a succession of Mahatmyas. Thus in the opening almost of the work occurs the story of Daksha's sacrifice, the object of which is to send S'iva to Papamochana tirtha at Benares, where he is released from the sin of Brahmanicide. Next conies the story of the burning of Kamadeva, for the purpose of illustrating the holiness of a S'iva-linga at Kedares'wara in the Himalaya, and of Badarikas'rama. The larger part of the work consists of the Saro-mahatmya, or legendary exemplifications of the holiness of Sthanu tirtha; that is, of the sanctity of various Lingas and certain pools at Thanesar and Kurukhet, the country north-west from Delhi. There are some stories also relating to the holiness of the Godavari river; but the general site of the legends is in Hindustan. In the course of these accounts we have a long narrative of the marriage of S'iva with Uma, and the birth of Kartikeya. There are a few brief allusions to creation and the Manwantaras, but they are merely incidental; and all the five characteristics of a Purana are deficient. In noticing the Swarochisha Manwantara, towards the end of the book, the elevation of Bali as monarch of the Daityas, and his subjugation of the universe, the gods included, are described; and this leads to the narration that gives its title to the Purana, the birth of Krishna as a dwarf, for the purpose of humiliating Bali by fraud, as he was invincible by force. The story is told as usual, but the scene is laid at Kurukshetra.

A more minute examination of this work than that which has been given to it might perhaps discover some hint from which to conjecture its date. It is of a more tolerant character than the Puranas, and divides its homage between S'iva and Vishnu with tolerable impartiality. It is not connected, therefore, with any sectarial principles, and may have preceded their introduction. It has not, however, the air of any antiquity, and its compilation may have amused the leisure of some Brahman of Benares three or four centuries ago.

15. The Kurma Purana

15. Kurma Purana. “That in which Janarddana, in the form of a tortoise, in the regions under the earth, explained the objects of life–duty, wealth, pleasure, and liberation–in communication with Indradyumna and the Rishis in the proximity of S'akra, which refers to the Lakshmi Kalpa, and contains seventeen thousand stanzas, is the Kurma Purana [76].”

In the first chapter of the Kurma Purana it gives an account of itself, which does not exactly agree with this description. Suta, who is repeating the narration, is made to say to the Rishis, “This most excellent Kaurma Purana is the fifteenth. Sanhitas are fourfold, from the variety of the collections. The Brahmi, Bhagavati, Sauri, and Vaishnavi, are well known as the four Sanhitas which confer virtue, wealth, pleasure, and liberation. This is the Brahmi Sanhita, conformable to the four Vedas; in which there are six thousand s'lokas, and by it the importance of the four objects of life, O great sages, holy knowledge and Parames'wara is known.” There is an irreconcilable difference in this specification of the number of stanzas and that given above. It is not very clear what is meant by a Sanhita as here used. A Sanhita, as observed above (p. xi), is something different from a Purana. It may be an assemblage of prayers and legends, extracted professedly from a Purana, but is not usually applicable to the original. The four Sanhitas here specified refer rather to their religious character than to their connexion with any specific work, and in fact the same terms are applied to what are called Sanhitas of the Skanda. In this sense a Purana might be also a Sanhita; that is, it might be an assemblage of formulae and legends belonging to a division of the Hindu system; and the work in question, like the Vishnu Purana, does adopt both titles. It says, “This is the excellent Kaurma Purana, the fifteenth (of the series):” and again, “This is the Brahmi Sanhita.” At any rate, no other work has been met with pretending to be the Kurma Purana.

With regard to the other particulars specified by the Matsya, traces of them are to be found. Although in two accounts of the traditional communication of the Purana no mention is made of Vishnu as one of the teachers, yet Suta repeats at the outset a dialogue between Vishnu, as the Kurma, and Indradyumna, at the time of the churning of the ocean; and much of the subsequent narrative is put into the mouth of the former.

The name, being that of an Avatara of Vishnu, might lead us to expect a Vaishnava work; but it is always and correctly classed with the S'aiva. Puranas, the greater portion of it inculcating the worship of S'iva and Durga. It is divided into two parts, of nearly equal length. In the first part, accounts of the creation, of the Avataras of Vishnu, of the solar and lunar dynasties of the kings to the time of Krishna, of the universe, and of the Manwantaras, are given, in general in a summary manner, but not unfrequently in the words employed in the Vishnu Purana. With these are blended hymns addressed to Mahes'wara by Brahma and others; the defeat of Andhakasura by Bhairava; the origin of four S'aktis, Mahes'wari, S'iva, S'ati, and Haimavati, from S'iva; and other S'aiva legends. One chapter gives a more distinct and connected account of the incarnations of S'iva in the present age than the Linga; and it wears still more the appearance of an attempt to identify the teachers of the Yoga school with personations of their preferential deity. Several chapters form a Kas'i Mahatmya, a legend of Benares. In the second part there are no legends. It is divided into two parts, the Is'wara Gita [77] and Vyasa Gita. In the former the knowledge of god, that is, of S'iva, through contemplative devotion, is taught. In the latter the same object is enjoined through works, or observance of the ceremonies and precepts of the Vedas.

The date of the Kurma Purana cannot be very remote, for it is avowedly posterior to the establishment of the Tantrika, the Sakta, and the Jain sects. In the twelfth chapter it is said, “The Bhairava, Vama, Arhata, and Yamala S'astras are intended for delusion.” There is no reason to believe that the Bhairava and Yamala Tantras are very ancient works, or that the practices of the left-hand S'aktas, or the doctrines of Arhat or Jina were known in the early centuries of our era.

The Matsya Purana

16. Matsya Purana. “That in which, for the sake of promulgating the Vedas, Vishnu, in the beginning of a Kalpa, related to Manu the story of Narasinha and the events of seven Kalpas, that, O sages, know to be the Matsya Purana, containing twenty thousand stanzas [78].”

We might, it is to be supposed, admit the description which the Matsya gives of itself to be correct, and yet as regards the number of verses there seems to be a mistatement. Three very good copies, one in my possession, one in the Company's library, and one in the Radcliffe library, concur in all respects, and in containing no more than between fourteen and fifteen thousand stanzas: in this case the Bhagavata is nearer the truth, when it assigns to it fourteen thousand. We may conclude, therefore, that the reading of the passage is in this respect erroneous. It is correctly said that the subjects of the Purana were communicated by Vishnu, in the form of a fish, to Manu.

The Purana, after the usual prologue of Suta and the Rishis, opens with the account of the Matsya or 'fish' Avatara of Vishnu, in which he preserves a king named Manu, with the seeds of all things, in an ark, from the waters of that inundation which in the season of a Pralaya overspreads the world. This story is told in the Mahabharata, with reference to the Matsya as its authority; from which it might be inferred that the Purana was prior to the poem. This of course is consistent with the tradition that the Puranas were first composed by Vyasa; but there can be no doubt that the greater part of the Mahabharata is much older than any extant Purana. The present instance is itself a proof; for the primitive simplicity with which the story of the fish Avatara is told in the Mahabharata is of a much more antique complexion than the mysticism and extravagance of the actual Matsya Purana. In the former, Manu collects the seeds of existing things in the ark, it is not said how: in the latter, he brings them all together by the power of Yoga.

In the latter, the great serpents come to the king, to serve as cords wherewith to fasten the ark to the horn of the fish: in the former, a cable made of ropes is more intelligibly employed for the purpose.

Whilst the ark floats, fastened to the fish, Manu enters into conversation with him; and his questions, and the replies of Vishnu, form the main substance of the compilation. The first subject is the creation, which is that of Brahma and the patriarchs. Some of the details are the usual ones; others are peculiar, especially those relating to the Pitris, or progenitors. The regal dynasties are next described; and then follow chapters on the duties of the different orders. It is in relating those of the householder, in which the duty of making gifts to Brahmans is comprehended, that we have the specification of the extent and subjects of the Puranas. It is meritorious to have copies made of them, and to give these away on particular occasions. Thus it is said of the Matsya; “Whoever gives it away at either equinox, along with a golden fish and a milch cow, gives away the whole earth;” that is, he reaps a like reward in his next migration. Special duties of the householder–Vratas, or occasional acts of piety–are then described at considerable length, with legendary illustrations. The account of the universe is given in the usual strain. S'aiva legends ensue; as, the destruction of Tripurasura; the war of the gods with Taraka and the Daityas, and the consequent birth of Kartikeya, with the various circumstances of Uma's birth and marriage, the burning of Kamadeva, and other events involved in that narrative; the destruction of the Asuras Maya and Andhaka; the origin of the Matris, and the like; interspersed with the Vaishnava legends of the Avataras. Some Mahatmyas are also introduced; one of which, the Narmada Mahatmya, contains some interesting particulars. There are various chapters on law and morals; and one which furnishes directions for building houses, and making images. We then have an account of the kings of future periods; and the Purana concludes with a chapter on gifts.

The Matsya Purana, it will be seen even from this brief sketch of its contents, is a miscellaneous compilation, but including in its contents the elements of a genuine Purana. At the same time it is of too mixed a character to be considered as a genuine work of the Pauranik class; and upon examining it carefully, it may be suspected that it is indebted to various works, not only for its matter, but for its words. The genealogical and historical chapters are much the same as those of the Vishnu; and many chapters, as those on the Pitris and Sraddhas, are precisely the same as those of the Srishti Khanda of the Padma Purana. It has drawn largely also from the Mahabharata: amongst other instances, it is sufficient to quote the story of Savitri, the devoted wife of Satyavat, which is given in the Matsya in the same manner, but considerably abridged.

Although a S'aiva work, it is not exclusively so, and it has no such sectarial absurdities as the Kurma and Linga. It is a composition of considerable interest; but if it has extracted its materials from the Padma, which it also quotes on one occasion, the specification of the Upa-puranas, it is subsequent to that work, and therefore not very ancient.

17. The Garuda Purana

17. Garuda Purana. “That which Vishnu recited in the Garuda Kalpa, relating chiefly to the birth of Garuda from Vinata, is here called the Garuda Purana; and in it there are read nineteen thousand verses [79].”

The Garuda Purana which has been the subject of my examination corresponds in no respect with this description, and is probably a different work, though entitled the Garuda Purana. It is identical, however, with two copies in the Company's library. It consists of no more than about seven thousand stanzas; it is repeated by Brahma to Indra; and it contains no account of the birth of Garuda. There is a brief notice of the creation; but the greater part is occupied with the description of Vratas, or religious observances, of holidays, of sacred places dedicated to the sun, and with prayers from the Tantrika ritual, addressed to the sun, to S'iva, and to Vishnu. It contains also treatises on astrology, palmistry, and precious stones; and one, still more extensive, on medicine. The latter portion, called the Preta Kalpa, is taken up with directions for the performance of obsequial rites. There is nothing in all this to justify the application of the name. Whether a genuine Garuda Purana exists is doubtful. The description given in the Matsya is less particular than even the brief notices of the other Puranas, and might have easily been written without any knowledge of the book itself, being, with exception of the number of stanzas, confined to circumstances that the title alone indicates.

18. The Brahmanda Purana

18. Brahmanda Purana. “That which has declared, in twelve thousand two hundred verses, the magnificence of the egg of Brahma, and in which an account of the future Kalpas is contained, is called the Brahmanda Purana, and was revealed by Brahma [80].”

The Brahmanda Purana is usually considered to be in much the same predicament as the Skanda, no longer procurable in a collective body, but represented by a variety of Khandas and Mahatmyas, professing to be derived from it. The facility with which any tract may be thus attached to the non-existent original, and the advantage that has been taken of its absence to compile a variety of unauthentic fragments, have given to the Brahmanda, Skanda, and Padma, according to Col. Wilford, the character of being the Puranas of thieves or impostors [81]. This is not applicable to the Padma, which, as above shewn, occurs entire and the same in various parts of India. The imposition of which the other two are made the vehicles can deceive no one, as the purpose of the particular legend is always too obvious to leave any doubt of its origin.

Copies of what profess to be the entire Brahmanda Purana are sometimes, though rarely, procurable. I met with one in two portions, the former containing, one hundred and twenty-four chapters, the latter seventy-eight; and the whole containing about the number of stanzas assigned to the Purana. The first and largest portion, however, proved to be the same as the Vayu Purana, with a passage occasionally slightly varied, and at the end of each chapter the common phrase 'Iti Brahmanda Purane' substituted for 'Iti Vayu Purane.' I do not think there was any intended fraud in the substitution. The last section of the first part of the Vayu Purana is termed the Brahmanda section, giving an account of the dissolution of the universe; and a careless or ignorant transcriber might have taken this for the title of the whole. The checks to the identity of the work have been honestly preserved, both in the index and the frequent specification of Vayu as the teacher or narrator of it.

The second portion of this Brahmanda is not any part of the Vayu; it is probably current in the Dakhin as a Sanhita or Khanda. Agastya is represented as going to the city Kanchi (Conjeveram), where Vishnu, as Hayagriva, appears to him, and, in answer to his inquiries, imparts to him the means of salvation, the worship of Paras'akti. In illustration of the efficacy of this form of adoration, the main subject of the work is an account of the exploits of Lalita Devi, a form of Durga, and her destruction of the demon Bhandasura. Rules for her worship are also given, which are decidedly of a S'akta or Tantrika description; and this work cannot be admitted, therefore, to be part of a genuine Purana.

The Upa-puranas

The Upa-puranas, in the few instances which are known, differ little in extent or subject from some of those to which the title of Purana is ascribed. The Matsya enumerates but four; but the Devi Bhagavata has a more complete list, and specifies eighteen. They are, 1. The Sanatkumara, 2. Narasinha, 3. Naradiya, 4. S'iva, 5. Durvasasa, g. Kapila, 7. Manava, 8. Aus'anas'a, 9. Varuna, 10. Kalika, 11. S'amba, 12. Nandi, 13. Saura, 14. Paras'ara, 15. Aditya, 16. Mahes'wara, 17. Bhagavata, 18. Vas'ishtha. The Matsya observes of the second, that it is named in the Padma Purana, and contains eighteen thousand verses. The Nandi it calls Nanda, and says that Kartikeya tells in it the story of Nanda. A rather different list is given in the Reva Khanda; or, 1. Sanatkumara, 2. Narasinha, 3. Nanda, 4. S'ivadharma, 5. Durvasasa, 6. Bhavishya, related by Narada or Naradiya, 7. Kapila, 8. Manava, 9. Aus'anas'a, 10. Brahmanda, 11. Varuna, 12. Kalika, 13. Mahes'wara, 14. S'amba, 15. Saura, 16. Paras'ara, 17. Bhagavata, 18. Kaurma. These authorities, however, are of questionable weight, having in view, no doubt, the pretensions of the Devi Bhagavata to be considered as the authentic Bhagavata.

Of these Upa-puranas few are to be procured. Those in my possession are the S'iva, considered as distinct from the Vayu; the Kalika, and perhaps one of the Naradiyas, as noticed above. I have also three of the Skandhas of the Devi Bhagavata, which most undoubtedly is not the real Bhagavata, supposing that any Purana so named preceded the work of Vopadeva. There can be no doubt that in any authentic list the name of Bhagavata does not occur amongst the Upa-puranas: it has been put there to prove that there are two works so entitled, of which the Purana is the Devi Bhagavata, the Upa-purana the S'ri Bhagavata. The true reading should be Bhargava, the Purana of Bhrigu; and the Devi Bhagavata is not even an Upa-purana. It is very questionable if the entire work, which as far as it extends is eminently a Sakta composition, ever had existence.

The S'iva Upa-purana contains about six thousand stanzas, distributed into two parts. It is related by Sanatkumara to Vyasa and the Rishis at Naimisharanya, and its character may be judged of from the questions to which it is a reply. “Teach us,” said the Rishis, “the rules of worshipping the Linga, and of the god of gods adored under that type; describe to us his various forms, the places sanctified by him, and the prayers with which he is to be addressed.” In answer, Sanatkumara repeats the S'iva Purana, containing the birth of Vishnu and Brahma; the creation and divisions of the universe; the origin of all things from the Linga; the rules of worshipping it and S'iva; the sanctity of times, places, and things, dedicated to him; the delusion of Brahma and Vishnu by the Linga; the rewards of offering flowers and the like to a Linga; rules for various observances in honour of Mahadeva; the mode of practising the Yoga; the glory of Benares and other S'aiva Tirthas; and the perfection of the objects of life by union with Mahes'wara. These subjects are illustrated in the first part with very few legends; but the second is made up almost wholly of S'aiva stories, as the defeat of Tripurasura; the sacrifice of Daksha; the births of Kartikeya and Ganes'a the sons of S'iva, and Nandi and Bhringariti his attendants and others; together with descriptions of Benares and other places of pilgrimage, and rules for observing such festivals as the S'ivaratri. This work is a S'aiva manual, not a Purana.

The Kalika Purana contains about nine thousand stanzas in ninety-eight chapters, and is the only work of the series dedicated to recommend the worship of the bride of S'iva, in one or other of her manifold forms, as Girija, Devi, Bhadrakali, Kali, Mahamaya. It belongs therefore to the Sakta modification of Hindu belief, or the worship of the female powers of the deities. The influence of this worship spews itself in the very first pages of the work, which relate the incestuous passion of Brahma for his daughter Sandhya, in a strain that has nothing analogous to it in the Vayu, Linga, or S'iva Puranas.

The marriage of S'iva and Parvati is a subject early described, with the sacrifice of Daksha, and the death of Sati: and this work is authority for S'iva's carrying the dead body about the world, and the origin of the Pithasthanas, or places where the different members of it were scattered, and where Lingas were consequently erected. A legend follows of the births of Bhairava and Vetala, whose devotion to different forms of Devi furnishes occasion to describe in great detail the rites and formulae of which her worship consists, including the chapters on sanguinary sacrifices, translated in the Asiatic Researches. Another peculiarity in this work is afforded by very prolix descriptions of a number of rivers and mountains at Kamarupa-tirtha in Asam, and rendered holy ground by the celebrated temple of Durga in that country, as Kamaks'hi or Kamakhya. It is a singular, and yet uninvestigated circumstance, that Asam, or at least the north-east of Bengal, seems to have been in a great degree the source from which the Tantrika and S'akta corruptions of the religion of the Vedas and Puranas proceeded.

The specification of the Upa-puranas, whilst it names several of which the existence is problematical, omits other works, bearing the same designation, which are sometimes met with. Thus in the collection of Col. Mackenzie [82] we have a portion of the Bhargava, and a Mudgala Purana, which is probably the same with the Ganes'a Upa-purana, cited by Col. Vans Kennedy [83]. I have also a copy of the Ganes'a Purana, which seems to agree with that of which he speaks; the second portion being entitled the Krida Khanda, in which the pastimes of Ganes'a, including a variety of legendary matters, are described. The main subject of the work is the greatness of Ganes'a, and prayers and formulae appropriate to him are abundantly detailed. It appears to be a work originating with the Ganapatya sect, or worshippers of Ganes'a. There is also a minor Purana called Adi, or 'first,' not included in the list. This is a work, however, of no great extent or importance, and is confined to a detail of the sports of the juvenile Krishna.

synopsis of the vishnu purana

From the sketch thus offered of the subjects of the Puranas, and which, although admitting of correction, is believed to be in the main a candid and accurate summary, it will be evident that in their present condition they must be received with caution as authorities for the mythological religion of the Hindus at any remote period. They preserve, no doubt, many ancient notions and traditions; but these have been so much mixed up with foreign matter, intended to favour the popularity of particular forms of worship or articles of faith, that they cannot be unreservedly recognised as genuine representations of what we have reason to believe the Puranas originally were.

The safest sources for the ancient legends of the Hindus, after the Vedas, are no doubt the two great poems, the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The first offers only a few, but they are of a primitive character. The Mahabharata is more fertile in fiction, but it is more miscellaneous, and much that it contains is of equivocal authenticity, and uncertain date. Still it affords many materials that are genuine, and it is evidently the great fountain from which most, if not all, of the Puranas have drawn; as it intimates itself, when it declares that there is no legend current in the world which has not its origin in the Mahabharata [84].

A work of some extent professing to be part of the Mahabharata may more accurately be ranked with the Pauranik compilations of least authenticity, and latest origin. The Hari Vans'a is chiefly occupied with the adventures of Krishna, but, as introductory to his era, it records particulars of the creation of the world, and of the patriarchal and regal dynasties. This is done with much carelessness and inaccuracy of compilation, as I have had occasion frequently to notice in the following pages. The work has been very industriously translated by M. Langlois.

A comparison of the subjects of the following pages with those of the other Puranas will sufficiently shew that of the whole series the Vishnu most closely conforms to the definition of a Pancha-lakshana Purana, or one which treats of five specified topics. It comprehends them all; and although it has infused a portion of extraneous and sectarial matter, it has done so with sobriety and with judgment, and has not suffered the fervour of its religious zeal to transport it into very wide deviations from the prescribed path. The legendary tales which it has inserted are few, and are conveniently arranged, so that they do not distract the attention of the compiler from objects of more permanent interest and importance.

the first book

The first book of the six, into which the work is divided, is occupied chiefly with the details of creation, primary (Sarga) and secondary (Pratisarga); the first explaining how the universe proceeds from Prakriti, or eternal crude matter; the second, in what manner the forms of things are developed from the elementary substances previously evolved, or how they reappear after their temporary destruction. Both these creations are periodical, but the termination of the first occurs only at the end of the life of Brahma, when not only all the gods and all other forms are annihilated, but the elements are again merged into primary substance, besides which one only spiritual being exists: the latter takes place at the end of every Kalpa, or day of Brahma, and affects only the forms of inferior creatures, and lower worlds, leaving the substance of the universe entire, and sages and gods unharmed. The explanation of these events involves a description of the periods of time upon which they depend. and which are accordingly detailed. Their character has been a source of very unnecessary perplexity to European writers, as they belong to a scheme of chronology wholly mythological, having no reference to any real or supposed history of the Hindus, but applicable, according to their system, to the infinite and eternal revolutions of the universe. In these notions, and in that of the coeternity of spirit and matter, the theogony and cosmogony of the Puranas, as they appear in the Vishnu Purana, belong to and illustrate systems of high antiquity, of which we have only fragmentary traces in the records of other nations.

The course of the elemental creation is in the Vishnu, as in other Puranas, taken from the Sankhya philosophy; but the agency that operates upon passive matter is confusedly exhibited, in consequence of a partial adoption of the illusory theory of the Vedanta philosophy, and the prevalence of the Pauranik doctrine of Pantheism. However incompatible with the independent existence of Pradhana or crude matter, and however incongruous with the separate condition of pure spirit or Purusha, it is declared repeatedly that Vishnu, as one with the supreme being, is not only spirit, but crude matter; and not only the latter, but all visible substance, and Time. He is Purusha, 'spirit;' Pradhana, crude matter; 'Vyakta, 'visible form;' and Kula, 'time.' This cannot but be regarded as a departure from the primitive dogmas of the Hindus, in which the distinctness of the Deity and his works was enunciated; in which upon his willing the world to be, it was; and in which his interposition in creation, held to be inconsistent with the quiescence of perfection, was explained away by the personification of attributes in action, which afterwards came to be considered as real divinities, Brahma, Vishnu, and S'iva, charged severally for a given season with the creation, preservation, and temporary annihilation of material forms. These divinities are in the following pages, consistently with the tendency of a Vaishnava work, declared to be no other than Vishnu. In S'aiva Puranas they are in like manner identified with S'iva. The Puranas thus displaying and explaining the seeming incompatibility, of which there are traces in other ancient mythologies, between three distinct hypostases of one superior deity, and the identification of one or other of those hypostases with their common and separate original.

After the world has been fitted for the reception of living creatures, it is peopled by the will-engendered sons of Brahma, the Prajapatis or patriarchs, and their posterity. It would seem as if a primitive tradition of the descent of mankind from seven holy personages had at first prevailed, but that in the course of time it had been expanded into complicated, and not always consistent, amplification, How could these Rishis or patriarchs have posterity? it was necessary to provide them with wives. In order to account for their existence, the Manu Swayambhuva and his wife Satarupa were added to the scheme, or Brahma becomes twofold, male and female, and daughters are then begotten, who are married to the Prajapatis. Upon this basis various legends of Brahma's double nature, some no doubt as old as the Vedas, have been constructed: but although they may have been derived in some degree from the authentic tradition of the origin of mankind from a single pair, yet the circumstances intended to give more interest and precision to the story are evidently of an allegorical or mystical description, and conduced, in apparently later times, to a coarseness of realization which was neither the letter nor spirit of the original legend. Swayambhuva, the son of the self-born or untreated, and his wife Satarupa, the hundred-formed or multiform, are themselves allegories; and their female descendants, who become the wives of the Rishis, are Faith, Devotion, Content, Intelligence, Tradition, and the like; whilst amongst their posterity we have the different phases of the moon, and the sacrificial fires. In another creation the chief source of creatures is the patriarch Daksha (ability), whose daughters, Virtues or Passions or Astronomical Phenomena, are the mothers of all existing things. These legends, perplexed as they appear to be, seem to admit of allowable solution, in the conjecture that the Prajapatis and Rishis were real personages, the authors of the Hindu system of social, moral, and religious obligations, and the first observers of the heavens, and teachers of astronomical science.

The regal personages of the Swayambhuva Manwantara are but few, but they are described in the outset as governing the earth in the dawn of society, and as introducing agriculture and civilisation. How much of their story rests upon a traditional remembrance of their actions, it would be useless to conjecture, although there is no extravagance in supposing that the legends relate to a period prior to the full establishment in India of the Brahmanical institutions. The legends of Dhruva and Prahlada, which are intermingled with these particulars, are in all probability ancient, but they are amplified, in a strain conformable to the Vaishnava purport of this Purana, by doctrines and prayers asserting the identity of Vishnu with the supreme. It is clear that the stories do not originate with this Purana. In that of Prahlada particularly, as hereafter pointed out, circumstances essential to the completeness of the story are only alluded to, not recounted; shewing indisputably the writer's having availed himself of some prior authority for his narration.

the second book

The second book opens with a continuation of the kings of the first Manwantara; amongst whom, Bharata is said to have given a name to India, called after him Bharata-varsha. This leads to a detail of the geographical system of the Puranas, with mount Meru, the seven circular continents, and their surrounding oceans, to the limits of the world; all of which are mythological fictions, in which there is little reason to imagine that any topographical truths are concealed. With regard to Bharata, or India, the case is different: the mountains and rivers which are named are readily verifiable, and the cities and nations that are particularized may also in many instances be proved to have had a real existence. The list is not a very long one in the Vishnu Purana, and is probably abridged from some more ample detail like that which the Mahabharata affords, and which, in the hope of supplying information' with respect to a subject yet imperfectly investigated, the ancient political condition of India, I have inserted and elucidated.

The description which this book also contains of the planetary and other spheres is equally mythological, although occasionally presenting practical details and notions in which there is an approach to accuracy. The concluding legend of Bharata–in his former life the king so named, but now a Brahman, who acquires true wisdom, and thereby attains liberation–is palpably an invention of the compiler, and is peculiar to this Purana.

the third book

The arrangement of the Vedas and other writings considered sacred by the Hindus, being in fact the authorities of their religious rites and belief, which is described in the beginning of the third book, is of much importance to the history of Hindu literature, and of the Hindu religion. The sage Vyasa is here represented, not as the author, but the arranger or compiler of the Vedas, the Itihasas, and Puranas. His name denotes his character, meaning the 'arranger' or 'distributor;' and the recurrence of many Vyasas, many individuals who new modelled the Hindu scriptures, has nothing in it that is improbable, except the fabulous intervals by which their labours are separated. The rearranging, the refashioning, of old materials, is nothing more than the progress of time would be likely to render necessary. The last recognised compilation is that of Krishna Dwaipayana, assisted by Brahmans, who were already conversant with the subjects respectively assigned to them. They were the members of a college or school, supposed by the Hindus to have flourished in a period more remote, no doubt, than the truth, but not at all unlikely to have been instituted at some time prior to the accounts of India which we owe to Greek writers, and in which we see enough of the system to justify our inferring that it was then entire. That there have been other Vyasas and other schools since that date, that Brahmans unknown to fame have remodelled some of the Hindu scriptures, and especially the Puranas, cannot reasonably be contested, after dispassionately weighing the strong internal evidence which all of them afford of the intermixture of unauthorized and comparatively modern ingredients. But the same internal testimony furnishes proof equally decisive of the anterior existence of ancient materials; and it is therefore as idle as it is irrational to dispute the antiquity or authenticity of the greater portion of the contents of the Puranas, in the face of abundant positive and circumstantial evidence of the prevalence of the doctrines which they teach, the currency of the legends which they narrate, and the integrity of the institutions which they describe, at least three centuries before the Christian era. But the origin and developement of their doctrines, traditions, and institutions, were not the work of a day; and the testimony that establishes their existence three centuries before Christianity, carries it back to a much more remote antiquity, to an antiquity that is probably not surpassed by any of the prevailing fictions, institutions, or belief, of the ancient world.

The remainder of the third book describes the leading institutions of the Hindus, the duties of castes, the obligations of different stages of life, and the celebration of obsequial rites, in a short but primitive strain, and in harmony with the laws of Manu. It is a distinguishing feature of the

Vishnu Purana, and it is characteristic of its being the work of an earlier period than most of the Puranas, that it enjoins no sectarial or other acts of supererogation; no Vratas, occasional self-imposed observances; no holidays, no birthdays of Krishna, no nights dedicated to Lakshmi; no sacrifices nor modes of worship other than those conformable to the ritual of the Vedas. It contains no Mahatmyas, or golden legends, even of the temples in which Vishnu is adored.

the fourth book

The fourth book contains all that the Hindus have of their ancient history. It is a tolerably comprehensive list of dynasties and individuals; it is a barren record of events. It can scarcely be doubted, however, that much of it is a genuine chronicle of persons, if not of occurrences. That it is discredited by palpable absurdities in regard to the longevity of the princes of the earlier dynasties must be granted, and the particulars preserved of some of them are trivial and fabulous: still there is an inartificial simplicity and consistency in the succession of persons, and a possibility and probability in some of the transactions which give to these traditions the semblance of authenticity, and render it likely that they are not altogether without foundation. At any rate, in the absence of all other sources of information, the record, such as it is, deserves not to be altogether set aside. It is not essential to its credibility or its usefulness that any exact chronological adjustment of the different reigns should be attempted. Their distribution amongst the several Yugas, undertaken by Sir Wm. Jones or his Pandits, finds no countenance from the original texts, farther than an incidental notice of the age in which a particular monarch ruled, or the general fact that the dynasties prior to Krishna precede the time of the great war, and the beginning of the Kali age; both which events we are not obliged, with the Hindus, to place five thousand years ago. To that age the solar dynasty of princes offers ninety-three descents, the lunar but forty-five, though they both commence at the same time. Some names may have been added to the former list, some omitted in the latter; and it seems most likely, that, notwithstanding their synchronous beginning, the princes of the lunar race were subsequent to those of the solar dynasty. They avowedly branched off from the solar line; and the legend of Sudyumna [85], that explains the connexion, has every appearance of having been contrived for the purpose of referring it to a period more remote than the truth. Deducting however from the larger number of princes a considerable proportion, there is nothing to shock probability in supposing that the Hindu dynasties and their ramifications were spread through an interval of about twelve centuries anterior to the war of the Mahabharata, and, conjecturing that event to have happened about fourteen centuries before Christianity, thus carrying the commencement of the regal dynasties of India to about two thousand six hundred years before that date. This may or may not be too remote [86]; but it is sufficient, in a subject where precision is impossible, to be satisfied with the general impression, that in the dynasties of kings detailed in the Puranas we have a record which, although it cannot fail to have suffered detriment from age, and may have been injured by careless or injudicious compilation, preserves an account, not wholly undeserving of confidence, of the establishment and succession of regular monarchies amongst the Hindus, from as early an era, and for as continuous a duration, as any in the credible annals of mankind.

The circumstances that are told of the first princes have evident relation to the colonization of India, and the gradual extension of the authority of new races over an uninhabited or uncivilized region. It is commonly admitted that the Brahmanical religion and civilization were brought into India from without [87]. Certainly, there are tribes on the borders, and in the heart of the country, who are still not Hindus; and passages in the Ramayana and Mahabharata and Manu, and the uniform traditions of the people themselves, point to a period when Bengal, Orissa, and the whole of the Dekhin, were inhabited by degraded or outcaste, that is, by barbarous, tribes. The traditions of the Puranas confirm these views, but they lend no assistance to the determination of the question whence the Hindus came; whether from a central Asiatic nation, as Sir Wm. Jones supposed, or from the Caucasian mountains, the plains of Babylonia, or the borders of the Caspian, as conjectured by Klaproth, Vans Kennedy, and Schlegel. The affinities of the Sanscrit language prove a common origin of the now widely scattered nations amongst whose dialects they are traceable, and render it unquestionable that they must all have spread abroad from some centrical spot in that part of the globe first inhabited by mankind, according to the inspired record. Whether any indication of such an event be discoverable in the Vedas, remains to be determined; but it would have been obviously incompatible with the Pauranik system to have referred the origin of Indian princes and principalities to other than native sources. We need not therefore expect from them any information as to the foreign derivation of the Hindus.

We have, then, wholly insufficient means for arriving at any information concerning the ante-Indian period of Hindu history, beyond the general conclusion derivable from the actual presence of barbarous and apparently aboriginal tribes–from the admitted progressive extension of Hinduism into parts of India where it did not prevail when the code of Manu was compiled–from the general use of dialects in India, more or less copious, which are different from Sanscrit–and from the affinities of that language with forms of speech current in the western world–that a people who spoke Sanscrit, and followed the religion of the Vedas, came into India, in some very distant age, from lands west of the Indus. Whether the date and circumstances of their immigration will ever be ascertained is extremely doubtful, but it is not difficult to form a plausible outline of their early site and progressive colonization.

The earliest seat of the Hindus within the confines of Hindusthan was undoubtedly the eastern confines of the Panjab. The holy land of Manu and the Puranas lies between the Drishadwati and Saraswati rivers, the Caggar and Sursooty of our barbarous maps. Various adventures of the first princes and most famous sages occur in this vicinity; and the Asramas, or religious domiciles, of several of the latter are placed on the banks of the Saraswati. According to some authorities, it was the abode of Vyasa, the compiler of the Vedas and Puranas; and agreeably to another, when on one occasion the Vedas had fallen into disuse, and been forgotten, the Brahmans were again instructed in them by Saraswata, the son of Saraswati [89]. One of the most distinguished of the tribes of the Brahmans is known as the Saraswata [90]; and the same word is employed by Mr. Colebrooke to denote that modification of Sanscrit which is termed generally Prakrit, and which in this case he supposes to have been the language of “the Saraswata nation, which occupied the banks of the river Saraswati [91].” The river itself receives its appellation from Saraswati, the goddess of learning, under whose auspices the sacred literature of the Hindus assumed shape and authority. These indications render it certain, that whatever seeds were imported from without, it was in the country adjacent to the Saraswati river that they were first planted, and cultivated and reared in Hindusthan.

The tract of land thus assigned for the first establishment of Hinduism in India is of very circumscribed extent, and could not have been the site of any numerous tribe or nation. The traditions that evidence the early settlement of the Hindus in this quarter, ascribe to the settlers more of a philosophical and religious, than of a secular character, and combine with the very narrow bounds of the holy land to render it possible that the earliest emigrants were the members, not of a political, so much as of a religious community; that they were a colony of priests, not in the restricted sense in which we use the term, but in that in which it still applies in India, to an Agrahara, a village or hamlet of Brahmans, who, although married, and having families, and engaging in tillage, in domestic duties, and in the conduct of secular interests affecting the community, are still supposed to devote their principal attention to sacred study and religious offices. A society of this description, with its artificers and servants, and perhaps with a body of martial followers, might have found a home in the Brahma-vartta of Manu, the land which thence was entitled 'the holy,' or more literally 'the Brahman, region;' and may have communicated to the rude, uncivilized, unlettered aborigines the rudiments of social organization, literature, and religion; partly, in all probability, brought along with them, and partly devised and fashioned by degrees for the growing necessities of new conditions of society. Those with whom this civilization commenced would have had ample inducements to prosecute their successful work, and in the course of time the improvement which germinated on the banks of the Saraswati was extended beyond the borders of the Jumna and the Ganges.

We have no satisfactory intimation of the stages by which the political organization of the people of Upper India traversed the space between the Saraswati and the more easterly region, where it seems to have taken a concentrated form, and whence it diverged in various directions, throughout Hindustan. The Manu of the present period, Vaivaswata, the son of the sun, is regarded as the founder of Ayodhya; and that city continued to be the capital of the most celebrated branch of his descendants, the posterity of Ikshwaku. The Vishnu Purana evidently intends to describe the radiation of conquest or colonization from this spot, in the accounts it gives of the dispersion of Vaivaswata's posterity: and although it is difficult to understand what could have led early settlers in India to such a site, it is not inconveniently situated as a commanding position, whence emigrations might proceed to the east, the west, and the south. This seems to have happened: a branch from the house of Ikshwaku spread into Tirhut, constituting the Maithila kings; and the posterity of another of Vaivaswata's sons reigned at Vaisali in southern Tirhut or Saran.

The most adventurous emigrations, however, took place through the lunar dynasty, which, as observed above, originates from the solar, making in fact but one race and source for the whole. Leaving out of consideration the legend of Sudyumna's double transformation, the first prince of Pratishthana, a city south from Ayodhya, was one of Vaivaswata's children, equally with Ikshvaku. The sons of Pururavas, the second of this branch, extended, by themselves or their posterity, in every direction: to the east to Kas'i, Magadha, Benares, and Behar; southwards to the Vindhya hills, and across them to Vidarbha or Berar; westwards along the Narmada to Kus'asthali or Dwaraka in Guzerat; and in a north-westerly direction to Mathura and Hastinapura. These movements are very distinctly discoverable amidst the circumstances narrated in the fourth book of the Vishnu Purana, and are precisely such as might be expected from a radiation of colonies from Ayodhya. Intimations also occur of settlements in Banga, Kalinga, and the Dakhin; but they are brief and indistinct, and have the appearance of additions subsequent to the comprehension of those countries within the pale of Hinduism.

Besides these traces of migration and settlement, several curious circumstances, not likely to be unauthorized inventions, are hinted in these historical traditions. The distinction of castes was not fully developed prior to the colonization. Of the sons of Vaivaswata, some, as kings, were Kshatriyas; but one, founded a tribe of Brahmans, another became a Vais'ya, and a fourth a S'udra. It is also said of other princes, that they established the four castes amongst their subjects [92]. There are also various notices of Brahmanical Gotras, or families, proceding from Kshatriya races [93]: and there are several indications of severe struggles between the two ruling castes, not for temporal, but for spiritual dominion, the right to teach the Vedas. This seems to be the especial purport of the inveterate hostility that prevailed between the Brahman Vas'ishtha and the Kshatriya Viswamitra, who, as the Ramayana relates, compelled the gods to make him a Brahman also, and whose posterity became very celebrated as the Kaus'ika Brahmans. Other legends, again, such as Daksha's sacrifice, denote sectarial strife; and the legend of Paras'urama reveals a conflict even for temporal authority between the two ruling castes. More or less weight will be attached to these conjectures, according to the temperament of different inquirers; but, even whilst fully aware of the facility with which plausible deductions may cheat the fancy, and little disposed to relax all curb upon the imagination, I find it difficult to regard these legends as wholly unsubstantial fictions, or devoid of all resemblance to the realities of the past.

After the date of the great war, the Vishnu Purana, in common with those Puranas which contain similar lists, specifies kings and dynasties with greater precision, and offers political and chronological particulars, to which on the score of probability there is nothing to object. In truth their general accuracy has been incontrovertibly established. Inscriptions on columns of stone, on rocks, on coins, decyphered only of late years, through the extraordinary ingenuity and perseverance of Mr. James Prinsep, have verified the names of races, and titles of princes–the Gupta and Andhra Rajas, mentioned in the Puranas–and have placed beyond dispute the identity of Chandragupta and Sandrocoptus: thus giving us a fixed point from which to compute the date of other persons and events. Thus the Vishnu Purana specifies the interval between Chandragupta and the great war to be eleven hundred years; and the occurrence of the latter little more than fourteen centuries B. C., as shewn in my observations on the passage [94], remarkably concurs with inferences of the like date from different premises. The historical notices that then follow are considerably confused, but they probably afford an accurate picture of the political distractions of India at the time when they were written; and much of the perplexity arises from the corrupt state of the manuscripts, the obscure brevity of the record, and our total want of the means of collateral illustration.

the fifth book

The fifth book of the Vishnu Purana is exclusively occupied with the life of Krishna. This is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Purana, and is one argument against its antiquity. It is possible, though not yet proved, that Krishna as an Avatara of Vishnu, is mentioned in an indisputably genuine text of the Vedas. He is conspicuously prominent in the Mahabharata, but very contradictorily described there. The part that he usually performs is that of a mere mortal, although the passages are numerous that attach divinity to his person. There are, however, no descriptions in the Mahabharata of his juvenile frolics, of his sports in Vrindavan, his pastimes with the cow-boys, or even his destruction of the Asuras sent to kill him. These stories have all a modern complexion: they do not harmonize with the tone of the ancient legends, which is generally grave, and sometimes majestic: they are the creations of a puerile taste, and grovelling imagination. These Chapters of the Vishnu Purana offer some difficulties as to their originality: they are the same as those on the same subject in the Brahma Purana: they are not very dissimilar to those of the Bhagavata. The latter has some incidents which the Vishnu has not, and may therefore be thought to have improved upon the prior narrative of the latter. On the other hand, abridgment is equally a proof of posteriority as amplification. The simpler style of the Vishnu Purana is however in favour of its priority; and the miscellaneous composition of the Brahma Purana renders it likely to have borrowed these chapters from the Vishnu. The life of Krishna in the Hari-vans'a and the Brahma-vaivartta are indisputably of later date.

the sixth book

The last book contains an account of the dissolution of the world, in both its major and minor cataclysms; and in the particulars of the end of all things by fire and water, as well as in the principle of their perpetual renovation, presents a faithful exhibition of opinions that were general in the ancient world [95]. The metaphysical annihilation of the universe, by the release of the spirit from bodily existence, offers, as already remarked, other analogies to doctrines and practices taught by Pythagoras and Plato, and by the Platonic Christians of later days.

date of the vishnu purana

The Vishnu Purana has kept very clear of particulars from which an approximation to its date may be conjectured. No place is described of which the sacredness has any known limit, nor any work cited of probable recent composition. The Vedas, the Puranas, other works forming the body of Sanscrit literature, are named; and so is the Mahabharata, to which therefore it is subsequent. Both Bauddhas and Jains are adverted to. It was therefore written before the former had disappeared; but they existed in some parts of India as late as the twelfth century at least; and it is probable that the Purana was compiled before that period. The Gupta kings reigned in the seventh century; the historical record of the Purana which mentions them was therefore later: and there seems little doubt that the same alludes to the first incursions of the Mohammedans, which took place in the eighth century; which brings it still lower. In describing the latter dynasties, some, if not all, of which were no doubt contemporary, they are described as reigning altogether one thousand seven hundred and ninety-six years. Why this duration should have been chosen does not appear, unless, in conjunction with the number of years which are said to have elapsed between the great war and the last of the Andhra dynasty, which preceded these different races, and which amounted to two thousand three hundred and fifty, the compiler was influenced by the actual date at which he wrote. The aggregate of the two periods would be the Kali year 4146, equivalent to A. D. 1045. There are some variety and indistinctness in the enumeration of the periods which compose this total, but the date which results from it is not unlikely to be an approximation to that of the Vishnu Purana.

It is the boast of inductive philosophy, that it draws its conclusions from the careful observation and accumulation of facts; and it is equally the business of all philosophical research to determine its facts before it ventures upon speculation. This procedure has not been observed in the investigation of the mythology and traditions of the Hindus. Impatience to generalize has availed itself greedily of whatever promised to afford materials for generalization; and the most erroneous views have been confidently advocated, because the guides to which their authors trusted were ignorant or insufficient. The information gleaned by Sir Wm. Jones was gathered in an early season of Sanscrit study, before the field was cultivated. The same may be said of the writings of

Paulinus a St. Barolomaeo [96], with the further disadvantage of his having been imperfectly acquainted with the Sanscrit language and literature, and his veiling his deficiencies under loftiness of pretension and a prodigal display of misapplied erudition. The documents to which Wilford [97] trusted proved to be in great part fabrications, and where genuine, were mixed up with so much loose and unauthenticated matter, and so overwhelmed with extravagance of speculation, that his citations need to be carefully and skilfully sifted, before they can be serviceably employed. The descriptions of Ward [98] are too deeply tinctured by his prejudices to be implicitly confided in; and they are also derived in a great measure from the oral or written communications of Bengali pandits, who are not in general very deeply read in the authorities of their mythology. The accounts of Polier [99] were in like manner collected from questionable sources, and his Mythologie des Hindous presents a heterogeneous mixture of popular and Pauranik tales, of ancient traditions, and legends apparently invented for the occasion, which renders the publication worse than useless, except in the hands of those who can distinguish the pure metal from the alloy. Such are the authorities to which Maurice, Faber, and Creuzer have exclusively trusted in their description of the Hindu mythology, and it is no marvel that there should have been an utter confounding of good and bad in their selection of materials, and an inextricable mixture of truth and error in their conclusions. Their labours accordingly are far from entitled to that confidence which their learning and industry would else have secured; and a sound and comprehensive survey of the Hindu system is still wanting to the comparative analysis of the religious opinions of the ancient world, and to a satisfactory elucidation of an important chapter in the history of the human race. It is with the hope of supplying some of the necessary means for the accomplishment of these objects, that the following pages have been translated.


The translation of the Vishnu Purana has been made from a collation of various manuscripts in my possession. I had three when I commenced the work, two in the Devanagari, and one in the Bengali character: a fourth, from the west of India, was given to me by Major Jervis, when some progress had been made: and in conducting the latter half of the translation through the press, I have compared it with three other copies in the library of the East India Company. All these copies closely agree; presenting no other differences than occasional varieties of reading, owing chiefly to the inattention or inaccuracy of the transcriber. Four of the copies were accompanied by a commentary, essentially the sane, although occasionally varying; and ascribed, in part at least, to two different scholiasts. The annotations on the first two books and the fifth are in two MSS. said to be the work of S'ridhara Yati, the disciple of Parananda, and who is therefore the same as S'ridhara Swami, the commentator on the Bhagavata. In the other three books these two MSS. concur with other two in naming the commentator Ratnagarbha Bhatta, who in those two is the author of the notes on the entire work. The introductory verses of his comment specify him to be the disciple of Vidya-vachaspati, the son of Hiranyagarbha, and grandson of Madhava, who composed his commentary by desire of Suryakara, son of Ratinath, Mis'ra, son of Chandrakara, hereditary ministers of some sovereign who is not particularized. In the illustrations which are attributed to these different writers there is so much conformity, that one or other is largely indebted to his predecessor. They both refer to earlier commentaries. S'ridhara cites the works of Chit-sukha-yoni and others, both more extensive and more concise; between which, his own, which he terms Atma- or Swa-prakasa, 'self-illuminator,' holds an intermediate character. Ratnagarbha entitles his, Vaishnavakuta chandrika, 'the moonlight of devotion to Vishnu.' The dates of these commentators are not ascertainable, as far as I am aware, from any of the particulars which they have specified.

In the notes which I have added to the translation, I have been desirous chiefly of comparing the statements of the text with those of other Puranas, and pointing out the circumstances in which they differ or agree; so as to render the present publication a sort of concordance to the whole, as it is not very probable that many of them will be published or translated. The Index that follows has been made sufficiently copious to answer the purposes of a mythological and historical dictionary, as far as the Puranas, or the greater number of them, furnish, materials.

In rendering the text into English, I have adhered to it as literally as was compatible with some regard to the usages of English composition. In general the original presents few difficulties. The style of the Puranas is very commonly humble and easy, and the narrative is plainly and unpretendingly told. In the addresses to the deities, in the expatiations upon the divine nature, in the descriptions of the universe, and in argumentative and metaphysical discussion, there occur passages in which the difficulty arising from the subject itself is enhanced by the brief and obscure manner in which it is treated. On such occasions I derived much aid from the commentary, but it is possible that I may have sometimes misapprehended and misrepresented the original; and it is also possible that I may have sometimes failed to express its purport with sufficient precision to have made it intelligible. I trust, however, that this will not often be the case, and that the translation of the Vishnu Purana will be of service and of interest to the few, who in these times of utilitarian selfishness, conflicting opinion, party virulence, and political agitation, can find a restingplace for their thoughts in the tranquil contemplation of those yet living pictures of the ancient world which are exhibited by the literature and mythology of the Hindus.

book 1


Invocation. Maitreya inquires of his teacher, Paras'ara, the origin and nature of the universe. Paras'ara performs a rite to destroy the demons: reproved by Vas'ishtha, he desists: Pulastya appears, and bestows upon him divine knowledge: he repeats the Vishnu Purana. Vishnu the origin, existence, and end of all things.

OM! GLORY TO VASUDEVA [1].–Victory be to thee, Pundarikaksha; adoration be to thee, Viswabhavana; glory be to thee, Hrishikes'a, Mahapurusha, and Purvaja [2].

May that Vishnu, who is the existent, imperishable, Brahma, who is Is'wara [3], who is spirit [4]; who with the three qualities [5] is the cause of creation, preservation, and destruction; who is the parent of nature, intellect, and the other ingredients of the universe [6]; be to us the bestower of understanding, wealth, and final emancipation.

Having adored Vishnu [7], the lord of all, and paid reverence to Brahma and the rest [8]; having also saluted the spiritual preceptor [9]; I will narrate a Purana equal in sanctity to the Vedas.

Maitreya [10], having saluted him reverentially, thus addressed Paras'ara, the excellent sage, the grandson of Vas'ishtha, who was versed in traditional history, and the Puranas; who was acquainted with the Vedas, and the branches of science dependent upon them; and skilled in law and philosophy; and who had performed the morning rites of devotion.

Maitreya said, Master! I have been instructed by you in the whole of the Vedas, and in the institutes of law and of sacred science: through your favour, other men, even though they be my foes, cannot accuse me of having been remiss in the acquirement of knowledge. I am now desirous, oh thou who art profound in piety! to hear from thee, how this world was, and how in future it will be? what is its substance, oh Brahman, and whence proceeded animate and inanimate things? into what has it been resolved, and into what will its dissolution again occur? how were the elements manifested? whence proceeded the gods and other beings? what are the situation and extent of the oceans and the mountains, the earth, the sun, and the planets? what are the families of the gods and others, the Menus, the periods called Manwantaras, those termed Kalpas, and their subdivisions, and the four ages: the events that happen at the close of a Kalpa, and the terminations of the several ages [11]: the histories, oh great Muni, of the gods, the sages, and kings; and how the Vedas were divided into branches (or schools), after they had been arranged by Vyasa: the duties of the Brahmans, and the other tribes, as well as of those who pass through the different orders of life? All these things I wish to hear from you, grandson of Vas'ishtha. Incline thy thoughts benevolently towards me, that I may, through thy favour, be informed of all I desire to know.

Paras'ara replied, Well inquired, pious Maitreya. You recall to my recollection that which was of old narrated by my father's father, Vas'ishtha. I had heard that my father had been devoured by a Rakshas employed by Viswamitra: violent anger seized me, and I commenced a sacrifice for the destruction of the Rakshasas: hundreds of them were reduced to ashes by the rite, when, as they were about to be entirely extirpated, my grandfather Vas'ishtha thus spake to me: Enough, my child; let thy wrath be appeased: the Rakshasas are not culpable: thy father's death was the work of destiny. Anger is the passion of fools; it becometh not a wise man. By whom, it may be asked, is any one killed? Every man reaps the consequences of his own acts. Anger, my son, is the destruction of all that man obtains by arduous exertions, of fame, and of devout austerities; and prevents the attainment of heaven or of emancipation. The chief sages always shun wrath: he not thou, my child, subject to its influence. Let no more of these unoffending spirits of darkness be consumed. Mercy is the might of the righteous [12].

Being thus admonished by my venerable grandsire, I immediately desisted from the rite, in obedience to his injunctions, and Vas'ishtha, the most excellent of sages, was content with me. Then arrived Pulastya, the son of Brahma [13], who was received by my grandfather with the customary marks of respect. The illustrious brother of Pulaha said to me; Since, in the violence of animosity, you have listened to the words of your progenitor, and have exercised clemency, therefore you shall become learned in every science: since you have forborne, even though incensed, to destroy my posterity, I will bestow upon you another boon, and, you shall become the author of a summary of the Puranas [14]; you shall know the true nature of the deities, as it really is; and, whether engaged in religious rites, or abstaining from their performance [15], your understanding, through my favour, shall be perfect, and exempt from). doubts. Then my grandsire Vas'ishtha added; Whatever has been said to thee by Pulastya, shall assuredly come to pass.

Now truly all that was told me formerly by Vas'ishtha, and by the wise Palastya, has been brought to my recollection by your questions, and I will relate to you the whole, even all you have asked. Listen to the complete compendium of the Pur pas, according to its tenour. The world was produced from Vishnu: it exists in him: he is the cause of its continuance and cessation: he is the world [16].


Prayer of Paras'ara to Vishnu. Successive narration of the Vishnu Purana. Explanation of Vasudeva: his existence before creation: his first manifestations. Description of Pradhana or the chief principle of things. Cosmogony. Of Prakrita, or material creation; of time; of the active cause. Developement of effects; Mahat; Ahankara; Tanmatras; elements; objects of sense; senses; of the mundane egg. Vishnu the same as Brahma the creator; Vishnu the preserver; Rudra the destroyer.

PARAS'ARA said, Glory to the unchangeable, holy, eternal, supreme Vishnu, of one universal nature, the mighty over all: to him who is Hiranygarbha, Hari, and S'ankara [1], the creator, the preserver, and destroyer of the world: to Vasudeva, the liberator of his worshippers: to him, whose essence is both single and manifold; who is both subtile and corporeal, indiscrete and discrete: to Vishnu, the cause of final emancipation [2], Glory to the supreme Vishnu, the cause of the creation, existence, and end of this world; who is the root of the world, and who consists of the world [3].

Having glorified him who is the support of all things; who is the smallest of the small [4]; who is in all created things; the unchanged, imperishable [5] Purushottama [6]; who is one with true wisdom, as truly known [7]; eternal and incorrupt; and who is known through false appearances by the nature of visible objects [8]: having bowed to Vishnu, the destroyer, and lord of creation and preservation; the ruler of the world; unborn, imperishable, undecaying: I will relate to you that which was originally imparted by the great father of all (Brahma), in answer to the questions of Daksha and other venerable sages, and repeated by them to Purukutsa, a king who reigned on the banks of the Narmada. It was next related by him to Saraswata, and by Saraswata to me [9].

Who can describe him who is not to be apprehended by the senses: who is the best of all things; the supreme soul, self-existent: who is devoid of all the distinguishing characteristics of complexion, caste, or the like; and is exempt front birth, vicissitude, death, or decay: who is always, and alone: who exists every where, and in whom all things here exist; and who is thence named Vasudeva [10]? He is Brahma [11], supreme, lord, eternal, unborn, imperishable, undecaying; of one essence; ever pure as free from defects. He, that Brahma, was all things; comprehending in his own nature the indiscrete and discrete. He then existed in the forms of Purusha and of Kala. Purusha (spirit) is the first form, of the supreme; next proceeded two other forms, the discrete and indiscrete; and Kala (time) was the last. These four–Pradhana (primary or crude matter), Purusha (spirit), Vyakta (visible substance), and Kala (time)–the wise consider to be the pure and supreme condition of Vishnu [12]. These four forms, in their due proportions, are the causes of the production of the phenomena of creation, preservation, and destruction. Vishnu being thus discrete and indiscrete substance, spirit, and time, sports like a playful boy, as you shall learn by listening to his frolics [13].

That chief principle (Pradhana), which is the indiscrete cause, is called by the sages also Prakriti (nature): it is subtile, uniform, and comprehends what is and what is not (or both causes and effects); is durable, self-sustained, illimitable, undecaying, and stable; devoid of sound or touch, and possessing neither colour nor form; endowed with the three qualities (in equilibrium); the mother of the world; without beginning; and that into which all that is produced is resolved [14]. By that principle all things were invested in the period subsequent to the last dissolution of the universe, and prior to creation [15]. For Brahmans learned in the Vedas, and teaching truly their doctrines, explain such passages as the following as intending the production of the chief principle (Pradhana). “There was neither day nor night, nor sky nor earth, nor darkness nor light, nor any other thing, save only One, unapprehensible by intellect, or That which is Brahma and Puman (spirit) and Pradhana (matter) [16].” The two forms which are other than the essence of unmodified Vishnu, are Pradhana (matter) and Purusha (spirit); and his other form, by which those two are connected or separated, is called Kala (time) [17]. When discrete substance is aggregated in crude nature, as in a foregone dissolution, that dissolution is termed elemental (Prakrita). The deity as Time is without beginning, and his end is not known; and from him the revolutions of creation, continuance, and dissolution unintermittingly succeed: for when, in the latter season, the equilibrium of the qualities (Pradhana) exists, and spirit (Puman) is detached from matter, then the form of Vishnu which is Time abides [18]. Then the supreme Brahma, the supreme soul, the substance of the world, the lord of all creatures, the universal soul, the supreme ruler, Hari, of his own will having entered into matter and spirit, agitated the mutable and immutable principles, the season of creation being arrived, in the same manner as fragrance affects the mind from its proximity merely, and not from any immediate operation upon mind itself: so the Supreme influenced the elements of creation [19]. Purushottama is both the agitator and the thing to be agitated; being present in the essence of matter, both when it is contracted and expanded [20]. Vishnu, supreme over the supreme, is of the nature of discrete forms in the atomic productions, Brahma and the rest (gods, men, &c.)

Then from that equilibrium of the qualities (Pradhana), presided over by soul [21], proceeds the unequal developement of those qualities (constituting the principle Mahat or Intellect) at the time of creation [22]. The

Chief principle then invests that Great principle, Intellect, and it becomes threefold, as affected by the quality of goodness, foulness, or darkness, and invested by the Chief principle (matter) as seed is by its skin. From the Great principle (Mahat) Intellect, threefold Egotism, (Ahankara) [23], denominated Vaikarika, 'pure;' Taijasa, 'passionate;' and Bhutadi, 'rudimental,' [24] is produced; the origin of the (subtile) elements, and of the organs of sense; invested, in consequence of its three qualities, by Intellect, as Intellect is by the Chief principle. Elementary Egotism then becoming productive, as the rudiment of sound, produced from it Ether, of which sound is the characteristic, investing it with its rudiment of sound. Ether becoming productive, engendered the rudiment of touch; whence originated strong wind, the property of which is touch; and Ether, with the rudiment of sound, enveloped the rudiment of touch. Then wind becoming productive, produced the rudiment of form (colour); whence light (or fire) proceeded, of which, form (colour) is the attribute; and the rudiment of touch enveloped the wind with the rudiment of colour. Light becoming productive, produced the rudiment of taste; whence proceed all juices in which flavour resides; and the rudiment of colour invested the juices with the rudiment of taste. The waters becoming productive, engendered the rudiment of smell; whence an aggregate (earth) originates, of which smell is the property [25]. In each several element resides its peculiar rudiment; thence the property of tanmatrata, [26] (type or rudiment) is ascribed to these elements. Rudimental elements are not endowed with qualities, and therefore they are neither soothing, nor terrific, nor stupifying [27]. This is the elemental creation, proceeding from the principle of egotism affected by the property of darkness. The organs of sense are said to be the passionate products of the same principle, affected by foulness; and the ten divinities [28] proceed from egotism affected by the principle of goodness; as does Mind, which is the eleventh. The organs of sense are ten: of the ten, five are the skin, eye, nose, tongue, and ear; the object of which, combined with Intellect, is the apprehension of sound and the rest: the organs of excretion and procreation, the hands, the feet, and the voice, form the other five; of which excretion, generation, manipulation, motion, and speaking, are the several acts.

Then, ether, air, light, water, and earth, severally united with the properties of sound and the rest, existed as distinguishable according to their qualities, as soothing, terrific, or stupifying; but possessing various energies, and being unconnected, they could not, without combination, create living beings, not having blended with each other. Having combined, therefore, with one another, they assumed, through their mutual association, the character of one mass of entire unity; and from the direction of spirit, with the acquiescence of the indiscrete Principle [29], Intellect and the rest, to the gross elements inclusive, formed an egg [30], which gradually expanded like a bubble of water. This vast egg, O sage, compounded of the elements, and resting on the waters, was the excellent natural abode of Vishnu in the form of Brahma; and there Vishnu, the lord of the universe, whose essence is inscrutable, assumed a perceptible form, and even he himself abided in it in the character of Brahma [31]. Its womb, vast as the mountain Meru, was composed of the mountains; and the mighty oceans were the waters that filled its cavity. In that egg, O Brahman, were the continents and seas and mountains, the planets and divisions of the universe, the gods, the demons, and mankind. And this egg was externally invested by seven natural envelopes, or by water, air, fire, ether, and Ahankara the origin of the elements, each tenfold the extent of that which it invested; next came the principle of Intelligence; and, finally, the whole was surrounded by the indiscrete Principle: resembling thus the cocoa-nut, filled interiorly with pulp, and exteriorly covered by husk and rind.

Affecting then the quality of activity, Hari, the lord of all, himself becoming Brahma, engaged in the creation of the universe. Vishnu with the quality of goodness, and of immeasurable power, preserves created things through successive ages, until the close of the period termed a Kalpa; when the same mighty deity, Janarddana [32], invested with the quality of darkness, assumes the awful form of Rudra, and swallows up the universe. Having thus devoured all things, and converted the world into one vast ocean, the Supreme reposes upon his mighty serpent couch amidst the deep: he awakes after a season, and again, as Brahma, becomes the author of creation.

Thus the one only god, Janarddana, takes the designation of Brahma, Vishnu, and S'iva, accordingly as he creates, preserves, or destroys [33].

Vishnu as creator, creates himself; as preserver, preserves himself; as destroyer, destroys himself at the end of all things. This world of earth, air, fire, water, ether, the senses, and the mind; all that is termed spirit [34], that also is the lord of all elements, the universal form, and imperishable: hence he is the cause of creation, preservation, and destruction; and the subject of the vicissitudes inherent in elementary nature [35]. He is the object and author of creation: he preserves, destroys, and is preserved. He, Vishnu, as Brahma, and as all other beings, is infinite form: he is the supreme, the giver of all good, the fountain of all happiness.


Measure of time. Moments or Kashthas, &c.; day and night; fortnight, month, year, divine year: Yugas, or ages: Mahayuga, or great age: day of Brahma: periods of the Manus: a Manwantara: night of Brahma, and destruction of the world: a year of Brahma: his life: a Kalpa: a Pararrdha: the past, or Padma Kalpa: the present, or Varaha.

MAITREYA.–How can creative agency be attributed to that Brahma, who is without qualities, illimitable, pure, and free from imperfection?

PARAS'ARA.–The essential properties of existent things are objects of observation, of which no foreknowledge is attainable; and creation, and hundreds of properties, belong to Brahma, as inseparable parts of his essence, as heat, oh chief of sages, is inherent in fire [1]. Hear then how the deity Narayana, in the person of Brahma, the great parent of the world, created all existent things.

Brahma is said to be born: a familiar phrase, to signify his manifestation; and, as the peculiar measure of his presence, a hundred of his years is said to constitute his life: that period is also called Param, and the half of it, Pararddham [2]. I have already declared to you, oh sinless Brahman, that Time is a form of Vishnu: hear now how it is applied to measure the duration of Brahma, and of all other sentient beings, as well as of those which are unconscious, as the mountains, oceans, and the like.

Oh best of sages, fifteen twinklings of the eye make a Kashtha; thirty Kashthas, one Kala; and thirty Kalas, one Muhurtta [3]. Thirty Muhurttas constitute a day and night of mortals: thirty such days make a month, divided into two half-months: six months form an Ayana (the period of the sun's progress north or south of the ecliptic): and two Ayanas compose a year. The southern Ayana is a night, and the northern a day of the gods. Twelve thousand divine years, each composed of (three hundred and sixty) such days, constitute the period of the four Yugas, or ages. They are thus distributed: the Krita age has four thousand divine years; the Treta three thousand; the Dwapara two thousand; and the Kali age one thousand: so those acquainted with antiquity have declared. The period that precedes a Yuga is called a Sandhya, and it is of as many hundred years as there are thousands in the Yuga: and the period that follows a Yuga, termed the Sandhyansa, is of similar duration. The interval between the Sandhya and the Sandhyansa is the Yuga, denominated Krita, Treta, &c. The Krita, Treta, Dwapara, and Kali, constitute a great age, or aggregate of four ages: a thousand such aggregates are a day of Brahma, and fourteen Menus reign within that term. Hear the division of time which they measure [4].

Seven Rishis, certain (secondary) divinities, Indra, Manu, and the kings his sons, are created and perish at one period [5]; and the interval, called a Manwantara, is equal to seventy-one times the number of years contained in the four Yugas, with some additional years: this is the duration of the Manu, the (attendant) divinities, and the rest, which is equal to 852.000 divine years, or to 306.720.000 years of mortals, independent of the additional period [6]. Fourteen times this period constitutes a Brahma day, that is, a day of Brahma; the term (Brahma) being the derivative form. At the end of this day a dissolution of the universe occurs, when all the three worlds, earth, and the regions of space, are consumed with fire. The dwellers of Maharloka (the region inhabited by the saints who survive the world), distressed by the heat, repair then to Janaloka (the region of holy men after their decease). When the-three worlds are but one mighty ocean, Brahma, who is one with Narayana, satiate with the demolition of the universe, sleeps upon his serpent-bed–contemplated, the lotus born, by the ascetic inhabitants of the Janaloka–for a night of equal duration with his day; at the close of which he creates anew. Of such days and nights is a year of Brahma composed; and a hundred such years constitute his whole life [7]. One Pararddha [8], or half his existence, has expired, terminating with the Maha Kalpa [9] called Padma. The Kalpa (or day of Brahma) termed Varaha is the first of the second period of Brahma's existence.


Narayana's appearance, in the beginning of the Kalpa, as the Varsha or boar: Prithivi (Earth) addresses him: he raises the world from beneath the waters: hymned by Sanandana and the Yogis. The earth floats on the ocean: divided into seven zones. The lower spheres of the universe restored. Creation renewed.

MAITREYA.–Tell me, mighty sage, how, in the commencement of the (present) Kalpa, Narayana, who is named Brahma, created all existent things [1].

PARAS'ARA.–In what manner the divine Brahma, who is one with Narayana, created progeny, and is thence named the lord of progeny (Prajapati), the lord god, you shall hear.

At the close of the past (or Padma) Kalpa, the divine Brahma, endowed with the quality of goodness, awoke from his night of sleep, and beheld the universe void. He, the supreme Narayana, the incomprehensible, the sovereign of all creatures, invested with the form of Brahma, the god without beginning, the creator of all things; of whom, with respect to his name Narayana, the god who has the form of Brahma, the imperishable origin of the world, this verse is repeated, “The waters are called Nara, because they were the offspring of Nara (the supreme spirit); and as in them his first (Ayana) progress (in the character of Brahma) took place, he is thence named Narayana (he whose place of moving was the waters) [2].” He, the lord, concluding that within the waters lay the earth, and being desirous to raise it up, created another form for that purpose; and as in preceding Kalpas he had assumed the shape of a fish or a tortoise, so in this he took the figure of a boar. Having adopted a form composed of the sacrifices of the Vedas [3], for the preservation of the whole earth, the eternal, supreme, and universal soul, the great progenitor of created beings, eulogized by Sanaka and the other saints who dwell in the sphere of holy men (Janaloka); he, the supporter of spiritual and material being, plunged into the ocean. The goddess Earth, beholding him thus descending to the subterrene regions, bowed in devout adoration, and thus glorified the god:–

Prithivi (Earth).–Hail to thee, who art all creatures; to thee, the holder of the mace and shell: elevate me now from this place, as thou hast upraised me in days of old. From thee have I proceeded; of thee do I consist; as do the skies, and all other existing things. Hail to thee, spirit of the supreme spirit; to thee, soul of soul; to thee, who art discrete and indiscrete matter; who art one with the elements and with time. Thou art the creator of all things, their preserver, and their destroyer, in the forms, oh lord, of Brahma, Vishnu, and Rudra, at the seasons of creation, duration, and dissolution. When thou hast devoured all things, thou reposest on the ocean that sweeps over the world, meditated upon, oh Govinda, by the wise. No one knoweth thy true nature, and the gods adore thee only in the forms it bath pleased thee to assume. They who are desirous of final liberation, worship thee as the supreme Brahma; and who that adores not Vasudeva, shall obtain emancipation? Whatever may be apprehended by the mind, whatever may be perceived by the senses, whatever may he discerned by the intellect, all is but a form of thee. I am of thee, upheld by thee; thou art my creator, and to thee I fly for refuge: hence, in this universe, Madhavi (the bride of Madhava or Vishnu) is my designation. Triumph to the essence of all wisdom, to the unchangeable, the imperishable: triumph to the eternal; to the indiscrete, to the essence of discrete things: to him who is both cause and effect; who is the universe; the sinless lord of sacrifice [4]; triumph. Thou art sacrifice; thou art the oblation; thou art the mystic Omkara; thou art the sacrificial fires; thou art the Vedas, and their dependent sciences; thou art, Hari, the object of all worship [5]. The sun, the stars, the planets, the whole world; all that is formless, or that has form; all that is visible, or invisible; all, Purushottama, that I have said, or left unsaid; all this, Supreme, thou art. Hail to thee, again and again! hail! all hail!

PARAS'ARA.–The auspicious supporter of the world, being thus hymned by the earth, emitted a low murmuring sound, like the chanting of the Sama veda; and the mighty boar, whose eyes were like the lotus, and whose body, vast as the Nila mountain, was of the dark colour of the lotus leaves [6], uplifted upon his ample tusks the earth from the lowest regions. As he reared up his head, the waters shed from his brow purified the great sages, Sanandana and others, residing in the sphere of the saints. Through the indentations made by his hoofs, the waters rushed into the lower worlds with a thundering noise. Before his breath, the pious denizens of Janaloka were scattered, and the Munis sought for shelter amongst the bristles upon the scriptural body of the boar, trembling as he rose up, supporting the earth, and dripping with moisture. Then the great sages, Sanandana and the rest, residing continually in the sphere of saints, were inspired with delight, and bowing lowly they praised the stern-eyed upholder of the earth.

The Yogis.–Triumph, lord of lords supreme; Kes'ava, sovereign of the earth, the wielder of the mace, the shell, the discus, and the sword: cause of production, destruction, and existence. THOU ART, oh god: there is no other supreme condition, but thou. Thou, lord, art the person of sacrifice: for thy feet are the Vedas; thy tusks are the stake to which the victim is bound; in thy teeth are the offerings; thy mouth is the altar; thy tongue is the fire; and the hairs of thy body are the sacrificial grass. Thine eyes, oh omnipotent, are day and night; thy head is the seat of all, the place of Brahma; thy mane is all the hymns of the Vedas; thy nostrils are all oblations: oh thou, whose snout is the ladle of oblation; whose deep voice is the chanting of the Sama veda; whose body is the hall of sacrifice; whose joints are the different ceremonies; and whose ears have the properties of both voluntary and obligatory rites [7]: do thou, who art eternal, who art in size a mountain, be propitious. We acknowledge thee, who hast traversed the world, oh universal form, to be the beginning, the continuance, and the destruction of all things: thou art the supreme god. Have pity on us, oh lord of conscious and unconscious beings. The orb of the earth is seen seated on the tip of thy tusks, as if thou hadst been sporting amidst a lake where the lotus floats, and hadst borne away the leaves covered with soil. The space between heaven and earth is occupied by thy body, oh thou of unequalled glory, resplendent with the power of pervading the universe, oh lord, for the benefit of all. Thou art the aim of all: there is none other than thee, sovereign of the world: this is thy might, by which all things, fixed or movable, are pervaded. This form, which is now beheld, is thy form, as one essentially with wisdom. Those who have not practised devotion, conceive erroneously of the nature of the world. The ignorant, who do not perceive that this universe is of the nature of wisdom, and judge of it as an object of perception only, are lost in the ocean of spiritual ignorance. But they who know true wisdom, and whose minds are pure, behold this whole world as one with divine knowledge, as one with thee, oh god. Be favourable, oh universal spirit: raise up this earth, for the habitation of created beings. Inscrutable deity, whose eyes are like lotuses, give us felicity. Oh lord, thou art endowed with the quality of goodness: raise up, Govinda, this earth, for the general good. Grant us happiness, oh lotus-eyed. May this, thy activity in creation, be beneficial to the earth. Salutation to thee. Grant us happiness, oh lotus-eyed.

PARAS'ARA.–The supreme being thus eulogized, upholding the earth, raised it quickly, and placed it on the summit of the ocean, where it floats like a mighty vessel, and from its expansive surface does not sink beneath the waters. Then, having levelled the earth, the great eternal deity divided it into portions, by mountains: he who never wills in vain, created, by his irresistible power, those mountains again upon the earth which had been consumed at the destruction of the world. Having then divided the earth into seven great portions or continents, as it was before, he constructed in like manner the four (lower) spheres, earth, sky, heaven, and the sphere of the sages (Maharloka). Thus Hari, the four-faced god, invested with the quality of activity, and taking the form of Brahma, accomplished the creation: but he (Brahma) is only the instrumental cause of things to be created; the things that are capable of being created arise from nature as a common material cause: with exception of one instrumental cause alone, there is no need of any other cause, for (imperceptible) substance becomes perceptible substance according to the powers with which it is originally imbued [8].


Vishnu as Brahma creates the world. General characteristics of creation. Brahma meditates, and gives origin to, immovable things, animals, gods, men. Specific creation of nine kinds; Mahat, Tanmatra, Aindriya, inanimate objects, animals, gods, men, Anugraha, and Kaumara. More particular account of creation. Origin of different orders of beings from Brahma's body under different conditions; and of the Vedas from his mouths. All things created again as they existed in a former Kalpa.

MAITREYA.–Now unfold to me, Brahman, how this deity created the gods, sages, progenitors, demons, men, animals, trees, and the rest, that abide on earth, in heaven, or in the waters: how Brahma at creation made the world with the qualities, the characteristics, and the forms of things [1].

PARAS'ARA.–I will explain to you, Maitreya, listen attentively, how this deity, the lord of all, created the gods and other beings.

Whilst he (Brahma) formerly, in the beginning of the Kalpas, was. meditating on creation, there appeared a creation beginning with ignorance, and consisting of darkness. From that great being appeared fivefold Ignorance, consisting of obscurity, illusion, extreme illusion, gloom, utter darkness [2]. The creation of the creator thus plunged in abstraction, was the fivefold (immovable) world, without intellect or reflection, void of perception or sensation, incapable of feeling, and destitute of motion [3]. Since immovable things were first created, this is called the first creation. Brahma, beholding that it was defective, designed another; and whilst he thus meditated, the animal creation was manifested, to the products of which the term Tiryaksrotas is applied, from their nutriment following a winding course [4]. These were called beasts, &c., and their characteristic was the quality of darkness, they being destitute of knowledge, uncontrolled in their conduct, and mistaking error for wisdom; being formed of egotism and self-esteem, labouring under the twenty-eight kinds of imperfection [5], manifesting inward sensations, and associating with each other (according to their kinds).

Beholding this creation also imperfect, Brahma again meditated, and a third creation appeared, abounding with the quality of goodness, termed Urddhasrotas [6]. The beings thus produced in the Urddhasrotas creation were endowed with pleasure and enjoyment, unencumbered internally or externally, and luminous within and without. This, termed the creation of immortals, was the third performance of Brahma, who, although well pleased with it, still found it incompetent to fulfil his end. Continuing therefore his meditations, there sprang, in consequence of his infallible purpose, the creation termed Arvaksrotas, from indiscrete nature. The products of this are termed Arvaksrotasas [7], from the downward current (of their nutriment). They abound with the light of knowledge, but the qualities of darkness and of foulness predominate. Hence they are afflicted by evil, and are repeatedly impelled to action. They have knowledge both externally and internally, and are the instruments (of accomplishing the object of creation, the liberation of soul). These creatures were mankind.

I have thus explained to you, excellent Muni, six [8] creations. The first creation was that of Mahat or Intellect, which is also called the creation of Brahma [9]. The second was that of the rudimental principles (Tanmatras), thence termed the elemental creation (Bhuta serga). The third was the modified form of egotism, termed the organic creation, or creation of the senses (Aindriyaka). These three were the Prakrita creations, the developements of indiscrete nature, preceded by the indiscrete principle [10]. The fourth or fundamental creation (of perceptible things) was that of inanimate bodies. The fifth, the Tairyag yonya creation, was that of animals. The sixth was the Urddhasrotas creation, or that of the divinities. The creation of the Arvaksrotas beings was the seventh, and was that of man. There is an eighth creation, termed Anugraha, which possesses both the qualities of goodness and darkness [11]. Of these creations, five are secondary, and three are primary [12]. But there is a ninth, the Kaumara creation, which is both primary and secondary [13]. These are the nine creations of the great progenitor of all, and, both as primary and secondary, are the radical causes of the world, proceeding from the sovereign creator. What else dost thou desire to hear?

MAITREYA. Thou hast briefly related to me, Muni, the creation of the gods and other beings: I am desirous, chief of sages, to hear from thee a more ample account of their creation.

PARAS'ARA.–Created beings, although they are destroyed (in their individual forms) at the periods of dissolution, yet, being affected by the good or evil acts of former existence, they are never exempted from their consequences; and when Brahma creates the world anew, they are the progeny of his will, in the fourfold condition of gods, men, animals, or inanimate things. Brahma then, being desirous of creating the four orders of beings, termed gods, demons, progenitors, and men, collected his mind into itself [14]. Whilst thus concentrated, the quality of darkness pervaded his body; and thence the demons (the Asuras) were first born, issuing from his thigh. Brahma then abandoned that form which was, composed of the rudiment of darkness, and which, being deserted by him, became night. Continuing to create, but assuming a different. shape, he experienced pleasure; and thence from his mouth proceeded the gods, endowed with the quality of goodness. The form abandoned by him, became day, in which the good quality predominates; and hence by day the gods are most powerful, and by night the demons. He next adopted another person, in which the rudiment of goodness also prevailed; and thinking of himself, as the father of the world, the progenitors (the Pitris) were born from his side. The body, when he abandoned, it, became the Sandhya (or evening twilight), the interval between day and night. Brahma then assumed another person, pervaded by the quality of foulness; and from this, men, in whom foulness (or passion) predominates, were produced. Quickly abandoning that body, it became morning twilight, or the dawn. At the appearance of this light of day, men feel most vigour; while the progenitors are most powerful in the evening season. In this manner, Maitreya, Jyotsna (dawn), Ratri (night), Ahar (day), and Sandhya (evening), are the four bodies of Brahma invested by the three qualities [15].

Next from Brahma, in a form composed of the quality of foulness, was produced hunger, of whom anger was born: and the god put forth in darkness beings emaciate with hunger, of hideous aspects, and with long beards. Those beings hastened to the deity. Such of them as exclaimed, Oh preserve us! were thence called Rakshasas [16]: others, who cried out, Let us eat, were denominated from that expression Yakshas [17]. Beholding them so disgusting, the hairs of Brahma were shrivelled up, and first falling from his head, were again renewed upon it: from their falling they became serpents, called Sarpa from their creeping, and Ahi because they had deserted the head [18]. The creator of the world, being incensed, then created fierce beings, who were denominated goblins, Bhutas, malignant fiends and eaters of flesh. The Gandharbas were next born, imbibing melody: drinking of the goddess of speech, they were born, and thence their appellation [19].

The divine Brahma, influenced by their material energies, having created these beings, made others of his own will. Birds he formed from his vital vigour; sheep from his breast; goats from his mouth; kine from his belly and sides; and horses, elephants, Sarabhas, Gayals, deer, camels, mules, antelopes, and other animals, from his feet: whilst from the hairs of his body sprang herbs, roots, and fruits.

Brahma having created, in the commencement of the Kalpa, various plants, employed them in sacrifices, in the beginning of the Treta age. Animals were distinguished into two classes, domestic (village) and wild (forest): the first class contained the cow, the goat, the hog, the sheep, the horse, the ass, the mule: the latter, all beasts of prey, and many animals with cloven hoofs, the elephant, and the monkey. The fifth order were the birds; the sixth, aquatic animals; and the seventh, reptiles and insects [20].

From his eastern mouth Brahma then created the Gayatri metre, the Rig veda, the collection of hymns termed Trivrit, the Rathantara portion of the Sama veda, and the Agnishtoma sacrifice: from his southern mouth he created the Yajur veda, the Trishtubh metre, the collection of hymns called Panchadas'a, the Vrihat Sama, and the portion of the Sama veda termed Uktha: from his western mouth he created the Sama veda, the Jayati metre, the collection of hymns termed Saptadas'a, the portion of the Sama called Vairupa, and the Atiratra sacrifice: and from his northern mouth he created the Ekavinsa collection of hymns, the Atharva veda, the Aptoryama rite, the Anushtubh metre, and the Vairaja portion of the Sama veda [21].

In this manner all creatures, great or small, proceeded from his limbs. The great progenitor of the world having formed the gods, demons, and Pitris, created, in the commencement of the Kalpa, the Yakshas, Pisachas (goblins), Gandharbas and the troops of Apsarasas the nymphs of heaven, Naras (centaurs, or beings with the limbs of horses and human bodies) and Kinnaras (beings with the heads of horses), Rakshasas, birds, beasts, deer, serpents, and all things permanent or transitory, movable or immovable. This did the divine Brahma, the first creator and lord of all: and these things being created, discharged the same functions as they had fulfilled in a previous creation, whether malignant or benign, gentle or cruel, good or evil, true or false; and accordingly as they are actuated by such propensities will be their conduct.

And the creator displayed infinite variety in the objects of sense, in the properties of living things, and in the forms of bodies: he determined in the beginning, by the authority of the Vedas, the names and forms and functions of all creatures, and of the gods; and the names and appropriate offices of the Rishis, as they also are read in the Vedas. In like manner as the products of the seasons designate in periodical revolution the return of the same season, so do the same circumstances indicate the recurrence of the same Yuga, or age; and thus, in the beginning of each Kalpa, does Brahma repeatedly create the world, possessing the power that is derived from the will to create, and assisted by the natural and essential faculty of the object to be created.


Origin of the four castes: their primitive state. Progress of society. Different kinds of grain. Efficacy of sacrifice. Duties of men: regions assigned them after death.

MAITREYA.–Thou hast briefly noticed, illustrious sage, the creation termed Arvaksrotas, or that of mankind: now explain to me more fully how Brahma accomplished it; how he created the four different castes; what duties he assigned to the Brahmans and the rest [1].

PARAS'ARA.–Formerly, oh best of Brahmans, when the truth-meditating Brahma was desirous of creating the world, there sprang from his mouth beings especially endowed with the quality of goodness; others from his breast, pervaded by the quality of foulness; others from his thighs, in whom foulness and darkness prevailed; and others from his feet, in whom the quality of darkness predominated. These were, in succession, beings of the several castes, Brahmans, Kshetriyas, Vaisyas, and S'udras, produced from the mouth, the breast, the thighs, and the feet of Brahma [2]. These he created for the performance of sacrifices, the four castes being the fit instruments of their celebration. By sacrifices, oh thou who knowest the truth, the gods are nourished; and by the rain which they bestow, mankind are supported [3]: and thus sacrifices, the source of happiness, are performed by pious men, attached to their duties, attentive to prescribed obligations, and walking in the paths of virtue. Men acquire (by them) heavenly fruition, or final felicity: they go, after death, to whatever sphere they aspire to, as the consequence of their human nature. The beings who were created by Brahma, of these four castes, were at first endowed with righteousness and perfect faith; they abode wherever they pleased, unchecked by any impediment; their hearts were free from guile; they were pure, made free from soil, by observance of sacred institutes. In their sanctified minds Hari dwelt; and they were filled with perfect wisdom, by which they contemplated the glory of Vishnu [4]. After a while (after the Treta age had continued for some period), that portion of Hari which has been described as one with Kala (time) infused into created beings sin, as yet feeble though formidable, or passion and the like: the impediment of soul's liberation, the seed of iniquity, sprung from darkness and desire. The innate perfectness of human nature was then no more evolved: the eight kinds of perfection, Rasollasa and the rest, were impaired [5]; and these being enfeebled, and sin gaining strength, mortals were afflicted with pain, arising from susceptibility to contrasts, as heat and cold, and the like. They therefore constructed places of refuge, protected by trees, by mountains, or by water; surrounded them by a ditch or a wall, and formed villages and cities; and in them erected appropriate dwellings, as defences against the sun and the cold [6]. Having thus provided security against the weather, men next began to employ themselves in manual labour, as a means of livelihood, (and cultivated) the seventeen kinds of useful grain–rice, barley, wheat, millet, sesamum, panic, and various sorts of lentils, beans, and pease [7]. These are the kinds cultivated for domestic use: but there are fourteen kinds which may be offered in sacrifice; they are, rice, barley, Masha, wheat, millet, and sesamum; Priyangu is the seventh, and kulattha, pulse, the eighth: the others are, Syamaka, a sort of panic; Nivara, uncultivated rice; Jarttila, wild sesamum; Gaveduka (coix); Markata, wild panic; and (a plant called) the seed or barley of the Bambu (Venu-yava). These, cultivated or wild, are the fourteen grains that were produced for purposes of offering in sacrifice; and sacrifice (the cause of rain) is their origin also: they again, with sacrifice, are the great cause of the perpetuation of the human race, as those understand who can discriminate cause and effect. Thence sacrifices were offered daily; the performance of which, oh best of Munis, is of essential service to mankind, and expiates the offences of those by whom they are observed. Those, however, in whose hearts the dross of sin derived from Time (Kala) was still more developed, assented not to sacrifices, but reviled both them and all that resulted from them, the gods, and the followers of the Vedas. Those abusers of the Vedas, of evil disposition and conduct, and seceders from the path of enjoined duties, were plunged in wickedness [8].

The means of subsistence having been provided for the beings he had created, Brahma prescribed laws suited to their station and faculties, the duties of the several castes and orders [9], and the regions of those of the different castes who were observant of their duties. The heaven of the Pitris is the region of devout Brahmans. The sphere of Indra, of

Kshetriyas who fly not from the field. The region of the winds is assigned to the Vaisyas who are diligent in their occupations and submissive. S'udras are elevated to the sphere of the Gandharbas. Those Brahmans who lead religious lives go to the world of the eighty-eight thousand saints: and that of the seven Rishis is the seat of pious anchorets and hermits. The world of ancestors is that of respectable householders: and the region of Brahma is the asylum of religious mendicants [10]. The imperishable region of the Yogis is the highest seat of Vishnu, where they perpetually meditate upon the supreme being, with minds intent on him alone: the sphere where they reside, the gods themselves cannot behold. The sun, the moon, the planets, shall repeatedly be, and cease to be; but those who internally repeat the mystic adoration of the divinity, shall never know decay. For those who neglect their duties, who revile the Vedas, and obstruct religious rites, the places assigned after death are the terrific regions of darkness, of deep gloom, of fear, and of great terror; the fearful hell of sharp swords, the hell of scourges and of a waveless sea [11].


Creation continued. Production of the mind-born sons of Brahma; of the Prajapatis; of Sanandana and others; of Rudra and the eleven Rudras; of the Manu Swayambhuva, and his wife S'atarupa; of their children. The daughters of Daksha, and their marriage to Dharma and others. The progeny of Disarms and Adharma. The perpetual succession of worlds, and different modes of mundane dissolution.

PARAS'ARA.–From Brahma, continuing to meditate, were born mind-engendered progeny, with forms and faculties derived from his corporeal nature; embodied spirits, produced from the person of that all-wise deity. All these beings, front the gods to inanimate things, appeared as I have related to you [1], being the abode of the three qualities: but as they did not multiply themselves, Brahma created other mind-born sons, like himself; namely, Bhrigu, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Angiras, Marichi, Daksha, Atri, and Vas'ishtha: these are the nine Brahmas (or Brahma rishis) celebrated in the Puranas [2]. Sanandana and the other sons of

Brahma were previously created by him, but they were without desire or passion, inspired with holy wisdom, estranged from the universe, and undesirous of progeny. This when Brahma perceived, he was filled with wrath capable of consuming the three worlds, the flame of which invested, like a garland, heaven, earth, and hell. Then from his forehead, darkened with angry frowns, sprang Rudra [3], radiant as the noon-tide sun, fierce, and of vast bulk, and of a figure which was half male, half female. Separate yourself, Brahma said to him; and having so spoken, disappeared. Obedient to which command, Rudra became twofold, disjoining his male and female natures. His male being he again divided into eleven persons, of whom some were agreeable, some hideous, some fierce, some mild; and he multiplied his female nature manifold, of complexions black or white [4].

Then Brahma [5] created himself the Manu Swayambhuva, born of, and identical with, his original self, for the protection of created beings; and the female portion of himself he constituted S'atarupa, whom austerity purified from the sin (of forbidden nuptials), and whom the divine Manu Swayambhuva took to wife. From these two were born two sons, Priyavrata and Uttanapada [6], and two daughters, named Prasuti and Akuti, graced with loveliness and exalted merit [7]. Prasuti he gave to Daksha, after giving Akuti to the patriarch Ruchi [8], who espoused her. Akuti bore to Ruchi twins, Yajna and Dakshina [9], who afterwards became husband and wife, and had twelve sons, the deities called Yamas [10], in the Manwantara of Swayambhuva.

The patriarch Daksha had by Prasuti twenty-four daughters [11]: hear from me their names: Sraddha (faith), Lakshmi (prosperity), Dhriti (steadiness), Tushti (resignation), Pushti (thriving), Medha (intelligence), Kriya (action, devotion), Buddhi (intellect), Lajja (modesty), Vapu (body), Santi (expiation), Siddhi (perfection), Kirtti (fame): these thirteen daughters of Daksha, Dharma (righteousness) took to wife. The other eleven bright-eyed and younger daughters of the patriarch were, Khyati (celebrity), Sati (truth), Sambhuti (fitness), Smriti (memory), Priti (affection), Kshama (patience), Sannati (humility), Anasuya (charity), Urjja (energy), with Swaha (offering), and Swadha (oblation). These maidens were respectively wedded to the Munis, Bhrigu, Bhava, Marichi, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Atri, and Vas'ishtha; to Fire (Vahni), and to the Pitris (progenitors) [12].

The progeny of Dharma by the daughters of Daksha were as follows: by Sraddha he had Kama (desire); by Lakshmi, Darpa (pride); by Dhriti, Niyama (precept); by Tushti, Santosha (content); by Pushti, Lobha (cupidity); by Medha, Sruta (sacred tradition); by Kriya, Danda, Naya, and Vinaya (correction, polity, and prudence); by Buddhi, Bodha (understanding); by Lajja, Vinaya (good behaviour); by Vapu, Vyavasaya (perseverance). Santi gave birth to Kshema (prosperity); Siddhi to Sukha (enjoyment); and Kirtti to Yasas (reputation [13]). These were the sons of Dharma; one of whom, Kama, had Hersha (joy) by his wife Nandi (delight).

The wife of Adharma [14] (vice) was Hinsa (violence), on whom he begot a son Anrita (falsehood), and a daughter Nikriti (immorality): they intermarried, and had two sons, Bhaya (fear) and Naraka (hell); and twins to them, two daughters, Maya (deceit) and Vedana (torture), who became their wives. The son of Bhaya and Maya was the destroyer of living creatures, or Mrityu (death); and Dukha (pain) was the offspring of Naraka and Vedana. The children of Mrityu were Vyadhi (disease), Jara (decay), Soka (sorrow), Trishna (greediness), and Krodha (wrath). These are all called the inflictors of misery, and are characterised as the progeny of Vice (Adharma). They are all without wives, without posterity, without the faculty to procreate; they are the terrific forms of Vishnu, and perpetually operate as causes of the destruction of this world. On the contrary, Daksha and the other Rishis, the elders of mankind, tend perpetually to influence its renovation: whilst the Manus and their sons, the heroes endowed with mighty power, and treading in the path of truth, as constantly contribute to its preservation.

MAITREYA.–Tell me, Brahman, what is the essential nature of these revolutions, perpetual preservation, perpetual creation, and perpetual destruction.

PARAS'ARA.–Madhusudana, whose essence is incomprehensible, in the forms of these (patriarchs and Manus), is the author of the uninterrupted vicissitudes of creation, preservation, and destruction. The dissolution of all things is of four kinds; Naimittika, 'occasional;' Prakritika, 'elemental;' Atyantika, 'absolute;' Nitya, 'perpetual [15]: The first, also termed the Brahma dissolution, occurs when the sovereign of the world reclines in sleep. In the second, the mundane egg resolves into the primary element, from whence it was derived. Absolute non-existence of the world is the absorption of the sage, through knowledge, into supreme spirit. Perpetual destruction is the constant disappearance, day and night, of all that are born. The productions of Prakriti form the creation that is termed the elemental (Prakrita). That which ensues after a (minor) dissolution is called ephemeral creation: and the daily generation of living things is termed, by those who are versed in the Puranas, constant creation. In this manner the mighty Vishnu, whose essence is the elements, abides in all bodies, and brings about production, existence, and dissolution. The faculties of Vishnu to create, to preserve, and to destroy, operate successively, Maitreya, in all corporeal beings and at all seasons; and he who frees himself from the influence of these three faculties, which are essentially composed of the three qualities (goodness, foulness, and darkness), goes to the supreme sphere, from whence he never again returns.


Origin of Rudra: his becoming eight Rudras: their wives and children. The posterity of Bhrigu. Account of S'ri in conjunction with Vishnu. Sacrifice of Daksha.

PARAS'ARA.–I have described to you, oh great Muni, the creation of Brahma, in which the quality of darkness prevailed. I will now explain to you the creation of Rudra [1].

In the beginning of the Kalpa, as Brahma purposed to create a son, who should be like himself, a youth of a purple complexion [2] appeared, crying with a low cry, and running about [3]. Brahma, when he beheld him thus afflicted, said to him, “Why dost thou weep?” “Give me a name,” replied the boy. “Rudra be thy name,” rejoined the great father of all creatures: “be composed; desist from tears.” But, thus addressed, the boy still wept seven times, and Brahma therefore gave to him seven other denominations; and to these eight persons regions and wives and posterity belong. The eight manifestations, then, are named Rudra, Bhava, S'arva, Is'ana, Pas'upati, Bhima, Ugra, and Mahadeva, which were given to them by their great progenitor. He also assigned to them their respective stations, the sun, water, earth, air, fire, ether, the ministrant Brahman, and the moon; for these are their several forms [4]. The wives of the sun and the other manifestations, termed Rudra and the rest, were respectively, Suverchala, Usha, Vikesi, Siva, Swaha, Dis'a, Diksha, and Rohini. Now hear an account of their progeny, by whose successive generations this world has been peopled. Their sons, then, were severally, Sanais'chara (Saturn), S'ukra (Venus), the fiery-bodied Mars, Manojava (Hanuman), Skanda, Swarga, Santana, and Budha (Mercury).

It was the Rudra of this description that married Sati, who abandoned her corporeal existence in consequence of the displeasure of Daksha [5]. She afterwards was the daughter of Himavan (the snowy mountains) by Mena; and in that character, as the only Uma, the mighty Bhava again married her [6]. The divinities Dhata and Vidhata were born to Bhrigu by Khyati, as was a daughter, S'ri, the wife of Narayana, the god of gods [7].

MAITREYA.–It is commonly said that the goddess S'ri was born from the sea of milk, when it was churned for ambrosia; how then can you say that she was the daughter of Bhrigu by Khyati.

PARAS'ARA.–S'ri, the bride of Vishnu, the mother of the world, is eternal, imperishable; in like manner as he is all-pervading, so also is she, oh best of Brahmans, omnipresent. Vishnu is meaning; she is speech. Hari is polity (Naya); she is prudence (Niti). Vishnu is understanding; she is intellect. He is righteousness; she is devotion. He is the creator; she is creation. S'ri is the earth; Hari the support of it. The deity is content; the eternal Lakshmi is resignation. He is desire; S'ri is wish. He is sacrifice; she is sacrificial donation (Dakshina). The goddess is the invocation which attends the oblation; Janarddana is the oblation. Lakshmi is the chamber where the females are present (at a religious ceremony); Madhusudana the apartment of the males of the family. Lakshmi is the altar; Hari the stake (to which the victim is bound). S'ri is the fuel; Hari the holy grass (Kus'a). He is the personified Sama veda; the goddess, lotus-throned, is the tone of its chanting. Lakshmi is the prayer of oblation (Swaha); Vasudeva, the lord of the world, is the sacrificial fire. Sauri (Vishnu) is S'ankara (S'iva); and S'ri is the bride of S'iva (Gauri). Kes'ava, oh Maitreya, is the sun; and his radiance is the lotus-seated goddess. Vishnu is the tribe of progenitors (Pitrigana); Padma. is their bride (Swadha), the eternal bestower of nutriment. S'ri is the heavens; Vishnu, who is one with all things, is wide extended space. The lord of S'ri is the moon; she is his unfading light. She is called the moving principle of the world; he, the wind which bloweth every where. Govinda is the ocean; Lakshmi its shore. Lakshmi is the consort of Indra (Indrani); Madhusudana is Devendra. The holder of the discus (Vishnu) is Yama (the regent of Tartarus); the lotus-throned goddess is his dusky spouse (Dhumorna). S'ri is wealth; S'ridhara (Vishnu) is himself the god of riches (Kuvera). Lakshmi, illustrious Brahman, is Gauri; and Kes'ava, is the deity of ocean (Varuna). S'ri is the host of heaven (Devasena); the deity of war, her lord, is Hari. The wielder of the mace is resistance; the power to oppose is S'ri. Lakshmi is the Kashtha and the Kala; Hari the Nimesha and the Muhurtta. Lakshmi is the light; and Hari, who is all, and lord of all, the lamp. She, the mother of the world, is the creeping vine; and Vishnu the tree round which she clings. She is the night; the god who is armed with the mace and discus is the day. He, the bestower of blessings, is the bridegroom; the lotus-throned goddess is the bride.

The god is one with all male–the goddess one with all female, rivers. The lotus-eyed deity is the standard; the goddess seated on a lotus the banner. Lakshmi is cupidity; Narayana, the master of the world, is covetousness. Oh thou who knowest what righteousness is, Govinda is love; and Lakshmi, his gentle spouse, is pleasure. But why thus diffusely enumerate their presence: it is enough to say, in a word, that of gods, animals, and men, Hari is all that is called male; Lakshmi is all that is termed female: there is nothing else than they.


(From the Vayu Purana.)

“There was formerly a peak of Meru, named Savitra, abounding with gems, radiant as the sun, and celebrated throughout the three worlds; of immense extent, and difficult of access, and an object of universal veneration. Upon that glorious eminence, rich with mineral treasures, as upon a splendid couch, the deity S'iva reclined, accompanied by the daughter of the sovereign of mountains, and attended by the mighty Adityas, the powerful Vasus, and by the heavenly physicians, the sons of Aswini; by Kuvera, surrounded by his train of Guhyakas, the lord of the Yakshas, who dwells on Kailasa. There also was the great Muni Usanas: there, were Rishis of the first order, with Sanatkumara at their head; divine Rishis, preceded by Angiras; Vis'wavasu, with his bands of heavenly choristers; the sages Narada and Parvata; and innumerable troops of celestial nymphs. The breeze blew upon the mountain, bland, pure, and fragrant; and the trees were decorated with flowers, that blossomed in every season. The Vidyadharas and Siddhas, affluent in devotion, waited upon Mahadeva, the lord of living creatures; and many other beings, of various forms, did him homage. Rakshasas of terrific semblance, and Pisachas of great strength, of different shapes and features, armed with various weapons, and blazing like fire, were delighted to be present, as the followers of the god. There stood the royal Nandi, high in the favour of his lord, armed with a fiery trident, shining with inherent lustre; and there the best of rivers, Ganga, the assemblage of all holy waters, stood adoring the mighty deity. Thus worshipped by all the most excellent of sages and of gods, abode the omnipotent and all-glorious Mahadeva.

“In former times, Daksha commenced a holy sacrifice on the side of Himavan, at the sacred spot Gangadwara, frequented by the Rishis. The gods, desirous of assisting at this solemn rite, came, with Indra at their head, to Mahadeva, and intimated their purpose; and having received his permission, departed in their splendid chariots to Gangadwara, as tradition reports [2]. They found Daksha, the best of the devout, surrounded by the singers and nymphs of heaven, and by numerous sages, beneath the shade of clustering trees and climbing plants; and all of them, whether dwellers on earth, in air, or in the regions above the skies, approached the patriarch with outward gestures of respect. The Adityas, Vasus, Rudras, Maruts, all entitled to partake of the oblations, together with Jishnu, were present. The four classes of Pitris, Ushmapas, Somapas, Ajyapas, and Dhumapas, or those who feed upon the flame, the acid juice, the butter, or the smoke of offerings, the Aswins and the progenitors, came along with Brahma. Creatures of every class, born from the womb, the egg, from vapour, or vegetation, came upon their invocation; as did all the gods, with their brides, who in their resplendent vehicles blazed like so many fires. Beholding them thus assembled, the sage Dadhicha was filled with indignation, and observed, 'The man who worships what ought not to be worshipped, or pays not reverence where veneration is due, is guilty, most assuredly, of heinous sin.' Then addressing Daksha, he said to him, 'Why do you not offer homage to the god who is the lord of life (Pas'ubhartri)?' Daksha spake; 'I have already many Rudras present, armed with tridents, wearing braided hair, and existing in eleven forms: I recognise no other Mahadeva.' Dadhicha spake; 'The invocation that is not addressed to Is'a, is, for all, but a solitary (and imperfect) summons. Inasmuch as I behold no other divinity who is superior to S'ankara, this sacrifice of Daksha will not be completed.' Daksha spake; I offer, in a golden cup, this entire oblation, which has been consecrated by many prayers, as an offering ever due to the unequalled Vishnu, the sovereign lord of all [3].'

“In the meanwhile, the virtuous daughter of the mountain king, observing the departure of the divinities, addressed her lord, the god of living beings, and said–Uma spake–'Whither, oh lord, have the gods, preceded by Indra, this day departed? Tell me truly, oh thou who knowest all truth, for a great doubt perplexes me.' Mahes'wara spake; Illustrious goddess, the excellent patriarch Daksha celebrates the sacrifice of a horse, and thither the gods repair.' Devi spake; Why then, most mighty god, dost thou also not proceed to this solemnity? by what hinderance is thy progress thither impeded?' Mahes'wara spake; 'This is the contrivance, mighty queen, of all the gods, that in all sacrifices no portion should be assigned to me. In consequence of an arrangement formerly devised, the gods allow me, of right, no participation of offerings.' Devi spake; 'The lord god lives in all bodily forms, and his might is eminent through his superior faculties; he is unsurpassable, he is unapproachable, in splendour and glory and power. That such as he should be excluded from his share of oblations, fills me with deep sorrow, and a trembling, oh sinless, seizes upon my frame. Shall I now practise bounty, restraint, or penance, so that my lord, who is inconceivable, may obtain a share, a half or a third portion, of the sacrifice [4]?'

“Then the mighty and incomprehensible deity, being pleased, said to his bride, thus agitated; and speaking; 'Slender-waisted queen of the gods, thou knowest not the purport of what thou sayest; but I know it, oh thou with large eyes, for the holy declare all things by meditation. By thy perplexity this day are all the gods, with Mahendra and all the three worlds, utterly confounded. In my sacrifice, those who worship me, repeat my praises, and chant the Rathantara song of the Sama veda; my priests worship me in the sacrifice of true wisdom, where no officiating Brahman is needed; and in this they offer me my portion.' Devi spake; 'The lord is the root of all, and assuredly, in every assemblage of the female world, praises or hides himself at will.' Mahadeva spake; 'Queen of the gods, I praise not myself: approach, and behold whom I shall create for the purpose of claiming my share of the rite.'

“Having thus spoken to his beloved spouse, the mighty Mahes'wara created from his mouth a being like the fire of fate; a divine being, with a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet; wielding a thousand clubs, a thousand shafts; holding the shell, the discus, the mace, and bearing a blazing bow and battle-axe; fierce and terrific, shining with dreadful splendour, and decorated with the crescent moon; clothed in a tiger's skin, dripping with blood; having a capacious stomach, and a vast mouth, armed with formidable tusks: his ears were erect, his lips were pendulous, his tongue was lightning; his hand brandished the thunderbolt; flames streamed from his hair; a necklace of pearls wound round his neck; a garland of flame descended on his breast: radiant with lustre, he looked like the final fire that consumes the world. Four tremendous tusks projected from a mouth which extended from ear to ear: he was of vast bulk, vast strength, a mighty male and lord, the destroyer of the universe, and like a large fig-tree in circumference; shining like a hundred moons at once; fierce as the fire of love; having four heads, sharp white teeth, and of mighty fierceness, vigour, activity, and courage; glowing with the blaze of a thousand fiery suns at the end of the world; like a thousand undimmed moons: in bulk like Himadri, Kailasa, or Meru, or Mandara, with all its gleaming herbs; bright as the sun of destruction at the end of ages; of irresistible prowess, and beautiful aspect; irascible, with lowering eyes, and a countenance burning like fire; clothed in the hide of the elephant and lion, and girt round with snakes; wearing a turban on his head, a moon on his brow; sometimes savage, sometimes mild; having a chaplet of many flowers on his head, anointed with various unguents, and adorned with different ornaments and many sorts of jewels; wearing a garland of heavenly Karnikara flowers, and rolling his eyes with rage. Sometimes he danced; sometimes he laughed aloud; sometimes he stood wrapt in meditation; sometimes he trampled upon the earth; sometimes he sang; sometimes he wept repeatedly: and he was endowed with the faculties of wisdom, dispassion, power, penance, truth, endurance, fortitude, dominion, and self-knowledge.

“This being, then, knelt down upon the ground, and raising his hands respectfully to his head, said to Mahadeva, 'Sovereign of the gods, command what it is that I must do for thee.' To which Mahes'wara replied, Spoil the sacrifice of Daksha.' Then the mighty Virabhadra, having heard the pleasure of his lord, bowed down his head to the feet of Prajapati; and starting like a lion loosed from bonds, despoiled the sacrifice of Daksha, knowing that the had been created by the displeasure of Devi. She too in her wrath, as the fearful goddess Rudrakali, accompanied him, with all her train, to witness his deeds. Virabhadra the fierce, abiding in the region of ghosts, is the minister of the anger of

Devi. And he then created, from the pores of his skin, powerful demigods, the mighty attendants upon Rudra, of equal valour and strength, who started by hundreds and thousands into existence. Then a loud and confused clamour filled all the expanse of ether, and inspired the denizens of heaven with dread. The mountains tottered, and earth shook; the winds roared, and the depths of the sea were disturbed; the fires lost their radiance, and the sun grew pale; the planets of the firmament shone not, neither did the stars give light; the Rishis ceased their hymns, and gods and demons were mute; and thick darkness eclipsed the chariots of the skies [5].

“Then from the gloom emerged fearful and numerous forms, shouting the cry of battle; who instantly broke or overturned the sacrificial columns, trampled upon the altars, and danced amidst the oblations. Running wildly hither and thither, with the speed of wind, they tossed about the implements and vessels of sacrifice, which looked like stars precipitated from the heavens. The piles of food and beverage for the gods, which had been heaped up like mountains; the rivers of milk; the banks of curds and butter; the sands of honey and butter-milk and sugar; the mounds of condiments and spices of every flavour; the undulating knolls of flesh and other viands; the celestial liquors, pastes, and confections, which had been prepared; these the spirits of wrath devoured or defiled or scattered abroad. Then falling upon the host of the gods, these vast and resistless Rudras beat or terrified them, mocked and insulted the nymphs and goddesses, and quickly put an end to the rite, although defended by all the gods; being the ministers of Rudra's wrath, and similar to himself [6]. Some then made a hideous clamour, whilst others fearfully shouted, when Yajna was decapitated. For the divine Yajna, the lord of sacrifice, then began to fly up to heaven, in the shape of a deer; and Virabhadra, of immeasurable spirit, apprehending his power, cut off his vast head, after he had mounted into the sky [7]. Daksha the patriarch, his sacrifice being destroyed, overcome with terror, and utterly broken in spirit, fell then upon the ground, where his head was spurned by the feet of the cruel Virabhadra [8]. The thirty scores of sacred divinities were all presently bound, with a band of fire, by their lion-like foe; and they all then addressed him, crying, 'Oh Rudra, have mercy upon thy servants: oh lord, dismiss thine anger.' Thus spake Brahma and the other gods, and the patriarch Daksha; and raising their hands, they said, 'Declare, mighty being, who thou art.' Virabhadra said, 'I am not a god, nor an Aditya; nor am I come hither for enjoyment, nor curious to behold the chiefs of the divinities: know that I am come to destroy the sacrifice of Daksha, and that I am called Virabhadra, the issue of the wrath of Rudra. Bhadrakali also, who has sprung from the anger of Devi, is sent here by the god of gods to destroy this rite. Take refuge, king of kings, with him who is the lord of Uma; for better is the anger of Rudra than the blessings of other gods.'

“Having heard the words of Virabhadra, the righteous Daksha propitiated the mighty god, the holder of the trident, Mahes'wara. The hearth of sacrifice, deserted by the Brahmans, had been consumed; Yajna had been metamorphosed to an antelope; the fires of Rudra's wrath had been kindled; the attendants, wounded by the tridents of the servants of the god, were groaning with pain; the pieces of the uprooted sacrificial posts were scattered here and there; and the fragments of the meat-offerings were carried off by flights of hungry vultures, and herds of howling jackals. Suppressing his vital airs, and taking up a posture of meditation, the many-sighted victor of his foes, Daksha fixed his eyes every where upon his thoughts. Then the god of gods appeared from the altar, resplendent as a thousand suns, and smiled upon him, and said, 'Daksha, thy sacrifice has been destroyed through sacred knowledge: I am well pleased with thee:' and then he smiled again, and said, 'What shall I do for thee; declare, together with the preceptor of the gods.'

“Then Daksha, frightened, alarmed, and agitated, his eyes suffused with tears, raised his hands reverentially to his brow, and said, 'If, lord, thou art pleased; if I have found favour in thy sight; if I am to be the object of thy benevolence; if thou wilt confer upon me a boon, this is the blessing I solicit, that all these provisions for the solemn sacrifice, which have been collected with much trouble and during a long time, and which have now been eaten, drunk, devoured, burnt, broken, scattered abroad, may not have been prepared in vain.' 'So let it be,' replied Hara, the subduer of Indra. And thereupon Daksha knelt down upon the earth, and praised gratefully the author of righteousness, the three-eyed god Mahadeva, repeating the eight thousand names of the deity whose emblem is a bull.”


Legend of Lakshmi. Durvasas gives a garland to Indra: he treats it disrespectfully, and is cursed by the Muni. The power of the gods impaired: they are oppressed by the Danavas, and have recourse to Vishnu. The churning of the ocean. Praises of S'ri.

PARAS'ARA.–But with respect to the question thou hast asked me, Maitreya, relating to the history of S'ri, hear from me the tale as it was told to me by Marichi.

Durvasas, a portion of S'ankara (S'iva) [1], was wandering over the earth; when be beheld, in the hands of a nymph of air [2], a garland of flowers culled from the trees of heaven, the fragrant odour of which spread throughout the forest, and enraptured all who dwelt beneath its shade. The sage, who was then possessed by religious phrensy [3], when he beheld that garland, demanded it of the graceful and full-eyed nymph, who, bowing to him reverentially, immediately presented it to him. He, as one frantic, placed the chaplet upon his brow, and thus decorated resumed his path; when he beheld (Indra) the husband of S'achi, the ruler of the three worlds, approach, seated on his infuriated elephant Airavata, and attended by the gods. The phrensied sage, taking from his head the garland of flowers, amidst which the bees collected ambrosia, threw it to the king of the gods, who caught it, and suspended it on the brow of Airavata, where it shone like the river Jahnavi, glittering on the dark summit of the mountain Kailasa. The elephant, whose eyes were dim with inebriety, and attracted by the smell, took hold of the garland with his trunk, and cast it on the earth. That chief of sages, Durvasas, was highly incensed at this disrespectful treatment of his gift, and thus angrily addressed the sovereign of the immortals: “Inflated with the intoxication of power, Vasava, vile of spirit, thou art an idiot not to respect the garland I presented to thee, which was the dwelling of Fortune (S'ri). Thou hast not acknowledged it as a largess; thou hast not bowed thyself before me; thou hast not placed the wreath upon thy head, with thy countenance expanding with delight. Now, fool, for that thou hast not infinitely prized the garland that I gave thee, thy sovereignty over the three worlds shall be subverted. Thou confoundest me, S'akra, with other Brahmans, and hence I have suffered disrespect from thy arrogance: but in like manner as thou hast cast the garland I gave thee down on the ground, so shall thy dominion over the universe be whelmed in ruin. Thou hast offended one whose wrath is dreaded by all created things, king of the gods, even me, by thine excessive pride.”

Descending hastily from his elephant, Mahendra endeavoured to appease the sinless Durvasas: but to the excuses and prostrations of the thousand-eyed, the Muni answered, “I am not of a compassionate heart, nor is forgiveness congenial to my nature. Other Munis may relent; but know me, S'akra, to be Durvasas. Thou hast in vain been rendered insolent by Gautama and others; for know me, Indra, to be Durvasas, whose nature is a stranger to remorse. Thou hast been flattered by Vas'ishtha and other tender-hearted saints, whose loud praises (lave made thee so arrogant, that thou hast insulted me. But who is there in the universe that can behold my countenance, dark with frowns, and surrounded by my blazing hair, and not tremble? What need of words? I will not forgive, whatever semblance of humility thou mayest assume.”

Having thus spoken, the Brahman went his way; and the king of the gods, remounting his elephant, returned to his capital Amaravati. Thenceforward, Maitreya, the three worlds and S'akra lost their vigour, and all vegetable products, plants, and herbs were withered and died; sacrifices were no longer offered; devout exercises no longer practised; men were no more addicted to charity, or any moral or religious obligation; all beings became devoid of steadiness [4]; all the faculties of sense were obstructed by cupidity; and men's desires were excited by frivolous objects. Where there is energy, there is prosperity; and upon prosperity energy depends. How can those abandoned by prosperity be possessed of energy; and without energy, where is excellence? Without excellence there can be no vigour nor heroism amongst men: he who has neither courage nor strength, will be spurned by all: and he who is universally treated with disgrace, must suffer abasement of his intellectual faculties.

The three regions being thus wholly divested of prosperity, and deprived of energy, the Danavas and sons of Diti, the enemies of the gods, who were incapable of steadiness, and agitated by ambition, put forth their strength against the gods. They engaged in war with the feeble and unfortunate divinities; and Indra and the rest, being overcome in fight, fled for refuge to Brahma, preceded by the god of flame (Hutas'ana). When the great father of the universe had heard all that had come to pass, he said to the deities, “Repair for protection to the god of high and low; the tamer of the demons; the causeless cause of creation, preservation, and destruction; the progenitor of the progenitors; the immortal, unconquerable Vishnu; the cause of matter and spirit, of his unengendered products; the remover of the grief of all who humble themselves before him: he will give you aid.” Having thus spoken to the deities, Brahma proceeded along with them to the northern shore of the sea of milk; and with reverential words thus prayed to the supreme Hari:–

“We glorify him who is all things; the lord supreme over all; unborn, imperishable; the protector of the mighty ones of creation; the unperceived, indivisible Narayana; the smallest of the smallest, the largest of the largest, of the elements; in whom are all things, from whom are all things; who was before existence; the god who is all beings; who is the end of ultimate objects; who is beyond final spirit, and is one with supreme soul; who is contemplated as the cause of final liberation by sages anxious to be free; in whom are not the qualities of goodness, foulness, or darkness, that belong to undeveloped nature. May that purest of all pure spirits this day be propitious to us. May that Hari be propitious to us, whose inherent might is not an object of the progressive chain of moments or of days, that make up time. May he who is called the supreme god, who is not in need of assistance, Hari, the soul of all embodied substance, be favourable unto us. May that Hari, who is both cause and effect; who is the cause of cause, the effect of effect; he who is the effect of successive effect; who is the effect of the effect of the effect himself; the product of the effect of the effect of the effect, or elemental substance; to him I bow [5]. The cause of the cause; the cause of the cause of the cause; the cause of them all; to him I bow. To him who is the enjoyer and thing to be enjoyed; the creator and thing to be created; who is the agent and the effect; to that supreme being I bow. The infinite nature of Vishnu is pure, intelligent, perpetual, unborn, undecayable, inexhaustible, inscrutable, immutable; it is neither gross nor subtile, nor capable of being defined: to that ever holy nature of Vishnu I bow. To him whose faculty to create the universe abides in but a part of but the ten-millionth part of him; to him who is one with the inexhaustible supreme spirit, I bow: and to the glorious nature of the supreme Vishnu, which nor gods, nor sages, nor I, nor S'ankara apprehend; that nature which the Yogis, after incessant effort, effacing both moral merit and demerit, behold to be contemplated in the mystical monosyllable Om: the supreme glory of Vishnu, who is the first of all; of whom, one only god, the triple energy is the same with Brahma, Vishnu, and S'iva: oh lord of all, great soul of all, asylum of all, undecayable, have pity upon thy servants; oh Vishnu, be manifest unto us.”

Paras'ara continued.–The gods, having heard this prayer uttered by Brahma, bowed down, and cried, “Be favourable to us; be present to our sight: we bow down to that glorious nature which the mighty Brahma does not know; that which is thy nature, oh imperishable, in whom the universe abides.” Then the gods having ended, Vrihaspati and the divine Rishis thus prayed: “We bow down to the being entitled to adoration; who is the first object of sacrifice; who was before the first of things; the creator of the creator of the world; the undefinable: oh lord of all that has been or is to be; imperishable type of sacrifice; have pity upon thy worshippers; appear to them, prostrate before thee. Here is Brahma; here is Trilochana (the three-eyed S'iva), with the Rudras; Pusha, (the sun), with the Adityas; and Fire, with all the mighty luminaries: here are the sons of Aswini (the two Aswini Kumaras), the Vasus and all the winds, the Sadhyas, the Vis'wadevas, and Indra the king of the gods: all of whom bow lowly before thee: all the tribes of the immortals, vanquished by the demon host, have fled to thee for succour.”

Thus prayed to, the supreme deity, the mighty holder of the conch and discus, shewed himself to them: and beholding the lord of gods, bearing a shell, a discus, and a mace, the assemblage of primeval form, and radiant with embodied light, Pitamaha and the other deities, their eyes moistened with rapture, first paid him homage, and then thus addressed him: “Repeated salutation to thee, who art indefinable: thou art Brahma; thou art the wielder of the Pinaka bow (S'iva); thou art Indra; thou art fire, air, the god of waters, the sun, the king of death (Yama), the Vasus, the Maruts (the winds), the Sadhyas, and Vis'wadevas. This assembly of divinities, that now has come before thee, thou art; for, the creator of the world, thou art every where. Thou art the sacrifice, the prayer of oblation, the mystic syllable Om, the sovereign of all creatures: thou art all that is to be known, or to be unknown: oh universal soul, the whole world consists of thee. We, discomfited by the Daityas, have fled to thee, oh Vishnu, for refuge. Spirit of all, have compassion upon us; defend us with thy mighty power. There will be affliction, desire, trouble, and grief, until thy protection is obtained: but thou art the remover of all sins. Do thou then, oh pure of spirit, shew favour unto us, who have fled to thee: oh lord of all, protect us with thy great power, in union with the goddess who is thy strength [6].” Hari, the creator of the universe, being thus prayed to by the prostrate divinities, smiled, and thus spake: “With renovated energy, oh gods, I will restore your strength. Do you act as I enjoin. Let all the gods, associated with the Asuras, cast all sorts of medicinal herbs into the sea of milk; and then taking the mountain Mandara for the churning-stick, the serpent Vasuki for the rope, churn the ocean together for ambrosia; depending upon my aid. To secure the assistance of the Daityas, you must be at peace with them, and engage to give them an equal portion of the fruit of your associated toil; promising them, that by drinking the Amrita that shall be produced from the agitated ocean, they shall become mighty and immortal. I will take care that the enemies of the gods shall not partake of the precious draught; that they shall share in the labour alone.”

Being thus instructed by the god of gods, the divinities entered into alliance with the demons, and they jointly undertook the acquirement of the beverage of immortality. They collected various kinds of medicinal herbs, and cast them into the sea of milk, the waters of which were radiant as the thin and shining clouds of autumn. They then took the mountain Mandara for the staff; the serpent Vasuki for the cord; and commenced to churn the ocean for the Amrita. The assembled gods were stationed by Krishna at the tail of the serpent; the Daityas and Danavas at its head and neck. Scorched by the flames emitted from his inflated hood, the demons were shorn of their glory; whilst the clouds driven towards his tail by the breath of his mouth, refreshed the gods with revivifying showers. In the midst of the milky sea, Hari himself, in the form of a tortoise, served as a pivot for the mountain, as it was whirled around. The holder of the mace and discus was present in other forms amongst the gods and demons, and assisted to drag the monarch of the serpent race: and in another vast body he sat upon the summit of the mountain. With one portion of his energy, unseen by gods or demons, he sustained the serpent king; and with another, infused vigour into the gods.

From the ocean, thus churned by the gods and Danavas, first uprose the cow Surabhi, the fountain of milk and curds, worshipped by the divinities, and beheld by them and their associates with minds disturbed, and eyes glistening with delight. Then, as the holy Siddhas in the sky wondered what this could be, appeared the goddess Varuni (the deity of wine), her eyes rolling with intoxication. Next, from the whirlpool of the deep, sprang the celestial Parijata tree, the delight of the nymphs of heaven, perfuming the world with its blossoms. The troop of Apsarasas, the nymphs of heaven, were then produced, of surprising loveliness, endowed with beauty and with taste. The cool-rayed moon next rose, and was seized by Mahadeva: and then poison was engendered from the sea, of which the snake gods (Nagas) took possession. Dhanwantari, robed in white, and bearing in his hand the cup of Amrita, next came forth: beholding which, the sons of Diti and of Danu, as well as the Munis, were filled with satisfaction and delight. Then, seated on a full-blown lotus, and holding a water-lily in her hand, the goddess S'ri, radiant with beauty, rose from the waves. The great sages, enraptured, hymned her with the song dedicated to her praise [7]. Vis'wavasu and other heavenly quiristers sang, and Ghritachi and other celestial nymphs danced before her. Ganga and other holy streams attended for her ablutions; and the elephants of the skies, taking up their pure waters in vases of gold, poured them over the goddess, the queen of the universal world. The sea of milk in person presented her with a wreath of never-fading flowers; and the artist of the gods (Viswakerma) decorated her person with heavenly ornaments. Thus bathed, attired, and adorned, the goddess, in the view of the celestials, cast herself upon the breast of Hari; and there reclining, turned her eyes upon the deities, who were inspired with rapture by her gaze. Not so the Daityas, who, with Viprachitti at their head, were filled with indignation, as Vishnu turned away from them, and they were abandoned by the goddess of prosperity (Lakshmi.)

The powerful and indignant Daityas then forcibly seized the Amrita-cup, that was in the hand of Dhanwantari: but Vishnu, assuming a female form, fascinated and deluded them; and recovering the Amrita from them, delivered it to the gods. S'akra and the other deities quaffed the ambrosia. The incensed demons, grasping their weapons, fell upon them; but the gods, into whom the ambrosial draught had infused new vigour, defeated and put their host to flight, and they fled through the regions of space, and plunged into the subterraneous realms of Patala. The gods thereat greatly rejoiced, did homage to the holder of the discus and mace, and resumed their reign in heaven. The sun shone with renovated splendour, and again discharged his appointed task; and the celestial luminaries again circled, oh best of Munis, in their respective orbits. Fire once more blazed aloft, beautiful in splendour; and the minds of all beings were animated by devotion. The three worlds again were rendered happy by prosperity; and Indra, the chief of the gods, was restored to power [8]. Seated upon his throne, and once more in heaven, exercising sovereignty over the gods, S'akra thus eulogized the goddess who bears a lotus in her hand:–

“I bow down to S'ri, the mother of all beings, seated on her lotus throne, with eyes like full-blown lotuses, reclining on the breast of Vishnu. Thou art Siddhi (superhuman power): thou art Swadha and Swaha: thou art ambrosia (Sudha), the purifier of the universe: thou art evening, night, and dawn: thou art power, faith, intellect: thou art the goddess of letters (Saraswati). Thou, beautiful goddess, art knowledge of devotion, great knowledge, mystic knowledge, and spiritual knowledge [9]; which confers eternal liberation. Thou art the science of reasoning, the three Vedas, the arts and sciences [10]: thou art moral and political science. The world is peopled by thee with pleasing or displeasing forms. Who else than thou, oh goddess, is seated on that person of the god of gods, the wielder of the mace, which is made up of sacrifice, and contemplated by holy ascetics? Abandoned by thee, the three worlds were on the brink of ruin; but they have been reanimated by thee. From thy propitious gaze, oh mighty goddess, men obtain wives, children, dwellings, friends, harvests, wealth. Health and strength, power, victory, happiness, are easy of attainment to those upon whom thou smilest. Thou art the mother of all beings, as the god of gods, Hari, is their father; and this world, whether animate or inanimate, is pervaded by thee and Vishnu. Oh thou who purifiest all things, forsake not our treasures, our granaries, our dwellings, our dependants, our persons, our wives: abandon not our children, our friends, our lineage, our jewels, oh thou who abidest on the bosom of the god of gods. They whom thou desertest are forsaken by truth, by purity, and goodness, by every amiable and excellent quality; whilst the base and worthless upon whom thou lookest favourably become immediately endowed with all excellent qualifications, with families, and with power. He on whom thy countenance is turned is honourable, amiable, prosperous, wise, and of exalted birth; a hero of irresistible prowess: but all his merits and his advantages are converted into worthlessness from whom, beloved of Vishnu, mother of the world, thou avertest thy face. The tongues of Brahma, are unequal to celebrate thy excellence. Be propitious to me, oh goddess, lotus-eyed, and never forsake me more.”

Being thus praised, the gratified S'ri, abiding in all creatures, and heard by all beings, replied to the god of a hundred rites (S'atakratu); “I am pleased, monarch of the gods, by thine adoration. Demand from me what thou desirest: I have come to fulfil thy wishes.” “If, goddess,” replied Indra, “thou wilt grant my prayers; if I am worthy of thy bounty; be this my first request, that the three worlds may never again be deprived of thy presence. My second supplication, daughter of ocean, is, that thou wilt not forsake him who shall celebrate thy praises in the words I have addressed to thee.” “I will not abandon,” the goddess answered, “the three worlds again: this thy first boon is granted; for I am gratified by thy praises: and further, I will never turn my face away from that mortal who morning and evening shall repeat the hymn with which thou hast addressed me.”

Paras'ara proceeded.–Thus, Maitreya, in former times the goddess S'ri conferred these boons upon the king of the gods, being pleased by his adorations; but her first birth was as the daughter of Bhrigu by Khyati: it was at a subsequent period that she was produced from the sea, at the churning of the ocean by the demons and the gods, to obtain ambrosia [11]. For in like manner as the lord of the world, the god of gods, Janarddana, descends amongst mankind (in various shapes), so does his coadjutrix S'ri. Thus when Hari was born as a dwarf, the son of Aditi, Lakshmi appeared from a lotus (as Padma, or Kamala); when he was born as Rama, of the race of Bhrigu (or Paras'urama), she was Dharani; when he was Raghava (Ramachandra), she was Sita; and when he was Krishna, she became Rukmini. In the other descents of Vishnu, she is his associate. If he takes a celestial form, she appears as divine; if a mortal, she becomes a mortal too, transforming her own person agreeably to whatever character it pleases Vishnu to put on. Whosoever hears this account of the birth of Lakshmi, whosoever reads it, shall never lose the goddess Fortune from his dwelling for three generations; and misfortune, the fountain of strife, shall never enter into those houses in which the hymns to S'ri are repeated.

Thus, Brahman, have I narrated to thee, in answer to thy question, how Lakshmi, formerly the daughter of Bhrigu, sprang from the sea of milk; and misfortune shall never visit those amongst mankind who daily recite the praises of Lakshmi uttered by Indra, which are the origin and cause of all prosperity.


The descendants of the daughters of Daksha married to the Rishis.

MAITREYA.–Thou hast narrated to me, great Muni, all that I asked of thee: now resume the account of the creation subsequently to Bhrigu.

PARAS'ARA.–Lakshmi, the bride of Vishnu, was the daughter of Bhrigu by Khyati. They had also two sons, Dhatri and Vidhatri, who married the two daughters of the illustrious Meru, Ayati and Niryati; and had by them each a son, named Prana and Mrikanda. The son of the latter was Markandeya, from whom Vedas'iras was born [1]. The son of Prana was named Dyutimat, and his son was Rajavat; after whom, the race of Bhrigu became infinitely multiplied.

Sambhuti, the wife of Marichi, gave birth to Paurnamasa, whose sons were Virajas and Sarvaga. I shall hereafter notice his other descendants, when I give a more particular account of the race of Marichi [2].

The wife of Angiras, Smriti, bore daughters named Sinivali, Kuhu,

Raka, and Anumati (phases of the moon [3]). Anasuya, the wife of Atri, was the mother of three sinless sons, Soma (the moon), Durvasas, and the ascetic Dattatreya [4]. Pulastya had, by Priti, a son called in a former birth, or in the Swayambhuva Manwantara, Dattoli, who is now known as the sage Agastya [5]. Kshama, the wife of the patriarch Pulaha, was the mother of three sons, Karmasa, Arvarivat, and Sahishnu [6]. The wife of Kratu, Sannati, brought forth the sixty thousand Balakhilyas, pigmy sages, no bigger than a joint of the thumb, chaste, pious, resplendent as the rays of the sun [7]. Vas'ishtha had seven sons by his wife Urjja, Rajas, Gatra, Urddhabahu, Savana, Anagha, Sutapas, and S'ukra, the seven pure sages [8]. The Agni named Abhimani, who is the eldest born of

Brahma, had, by Swaha, three sons of surpassing brilliancy, Pavaka, Pavamana, and S'uchi, who drinks up water: they had forty-five sons, who, with the original son of Brahma and his three descendants, constitute the forty-nine fires [9]. The progenitors (Pitris), who, as I have mentioned, were created by Brahma, were the Agnishwattas and Varhishads; the former being devoid of, and the latter possessed of, fires [10]. By them, Swadha had two daughters, Mena and Dharani, who were both acquainted with theological truth, and both addicted to religious meditation; both accomplished in perfect wisdom, and adorned with all estimable qualities [11]. Thus has been explained the progeny of the daughters of Daksha [12]. He who with faith recapitulates the account, shall never want offspring.


Legend of Dhruva, the son of Uttanapada: he is unkindly treated by his father's second wife: applies to his mother: her advice: he resolves to engage in religious exercises: sees the seven Rishis, who recommend him to propitiate Vishnu.

PARAS'ARA continued.–I mentioned to you, that the Manu Swayambhuva had two heroic and pious sons, Priyavrata and Uttanapada. Of these two, the latter had a son whom he dearly loved, Uttama, by his favourite wife Suruchi. By his queen, named Suniti, to whom he was less attached, he also had a son, called Dhruva [1]. Observing his brother Uttama on the lap of his father, as he was seated upon his throne, Dhruva was desirous of ascending to the same place; but as Suruchi was present, the Raja did not gratify the desire of his son, respectfully wishing to be taken on his father's knee. Beholding the child of her rival thus anxious to be placed on his father's lap, and her own son already seated there, Suruchi thus addressed the boy: “Why, child, do you vainly indulge in such presumptuous hopes? You are born from a different mother, and are no son of mine, that you should aspire inconsiderately to a station fit for the excellent Uttama alone. It is true you are the son of the Raja, but I have not given you birth. This regal throne, the seat of the king of kings, is suited to my son only; why should you aspire to its occupation? why idly cherish such lofty ambition, as if you were my son? do you forget that you are but the offspring of Suniti.”

The boy, having heard the speech of his step-mother, quitted his father, and repaired in a passion to the apartment of his own mother; who, beholding him vexed, took him upon her lap, and, gently smiling, asked him what was the cause of his anger, who had displeased him, and if any one, forgetting the respect due to his father, had behaved ill to him. Dhruva, in reply, repeated to her all that the arrogant Suruchi had said to him in the presence of the king. Deeply distressed by the narrative of the boy, the humble Suniti, her eyes dimmed with tears, sighed, and said, “Suruchi has rightly spoken; thine, child, is an unhappy fate: those who are born to fortune are not liable to the insults of their rivals. Yet be not afflicted, my child, for who shall efface what thou hast formerly done, or shall assign to thee what thou hast left undone. The regal throne, the umbrella of royalty, horses and elephants, are his whose virtues have deserved them: remember this, my son, and be consoled. That the king favours Suruchi is the reward of her merits in a former existence. The name of wife alone belongs to such as I, who have not equal merit. Her son is the progeny of accumulated piety, and is born as Uttama: mine has been born as Dhruva, of inferior moral worth. Therefore, my son, it is not proper for you to grieve; a wise man will be contented with that degree which appertains to him: but if you continue to feel hurt at the words of Suruchi, endeavour to augment that religious merit which bestows all good; be amiable, be pious, be friendly, be assiduous in benevolence to all living creatures; for prosperity descends upon modest worth as water flows towards low ground.”

Dhruva answered; “Mother, the words that you have addressed to me for my consolation find no place in a heart that contumely has broken. I will exert myself to obtain such elevated rank, that it shall be revered by the whole world. Though I be not born of Suruchi, the beloved of the king, you shall behold my glory, who am your son. Let Uttama my brother, her child, possess the throne given to him by my father; I wish for no other honours than such as my own actions shall acquire, such as even my father has not enjoyed.”

Having thus spoken, Dhruva went forth from his mother's dwelling: he quitted the city, and entered an adjoining thicket, where he beheld seven Munis sitting upon hides of the black antelope, which they had taken from off their persons, and spread over the holy kusa grass. Saluting them reverentially, and bowing humbly before then, the prince said, “Behold in me, venerable men, the son of Uttanapada, born of

Suniti. Dissatisfied with the world, I appear before you.” The Rishis replied; “The son of a king, and but four or five years of age, there can be no reason, child, why you should be dissatisfied with life; you cannot be in want of any thing whilst the king your father reigns; we cannot imagine that you suffer the pain of separation from the object of your affections; nor do we observe in your person any sign of disease. What is the cause of your discontent? Tell us, if it is known to yourself.”

Dhruva then repeated to the Rishis what Suruchi had spoken to him; and when they had heard his story, they said to one another, “How surprising is the vehemence of the Kshetriya nature, that resentment is cherished even by a child, and he cannot efface from his mind the harsh speeches of a step-mother. Son of a Kshetriya, tell us, if it be agreeable to thee, what thou hast proposed, through dissatisfaction with the world, to accomplish. If thou wishest our aid in what thou hast to do, declare it freely, for we perceive that thou art desirous to speak.”

Dhruva said; “Excellent sages, I wish not for riches, neither do I want dominion: I aspire to such a station as no one before me has attained. Tell me what I must do to effect this object; how I may reach an elevation superior to all other dignities.” The Rishis severally thus replied.–Marichi said; “The best of stations is not within the reach of men who fail to propitiate Govinda. Do thou, prince, worship the undecaying (Achyuta).” Atri said; “He with whom the first of spirits, Janarddana, is pleased, obtains imperishable dignity. I declare unto you the truth.” Angiras said; “If you desire an exalted station, worship that Govinda in whom, immutable and undecaying, all that is, exists.” Pulastya said; “He who adores the divine Hari, the supreme soul, supreme glory, who is the supreme Brahma, obtains what is difficult of attainment, eternal liberation.” “When that Janarddana,” observed Kratu, “who in sacrifices is the soul of sacrifice, and who in abstract contemplation is supreme spirit, is pleased, there is nothing man may not acquire.” Pulaha said; “Indra, having worshipped” the lord of the world, obtained the dignity of king of the celestials. Do thou adore, pious youth, that Vishnu, the lord of sacrifice.” “Any thing, child, that the mind covets,” exclaimed Vas'ishtha, “may be obtained by propitiating

Vishnu, even though it he the station that is the most excellent in the three worlds.”

Dhruva replied to them; “You have told me, humbly bending before you, what deity is to be propitiated: now inform me what prayer is to he meditated by me, that will offer him gratification. May the great Rishis, looking upon me with favour, instruct me how I am to propitiate the god.” The Rishis answered; “Prince, thou deservest to hear how the adoration of Vishnu has been performed by those who have been devoted to his service. The mind must first be made to forsake all external impressions, and a man must then fix it steadily on that being in whom the world is. By him whose thoughts are thus concentrated on one only object, and wholly filled by it; whose spirit is firmly under control; the prayer that we shall repeat to thee is to be inaudibly recited: 'Om! glory to Vasudeva, whose essence is divine wisdom; whose form is inscrutable, or is manifest as Brahma, Vishnu, and S'iva [2].' This prayer, which was formerly uttered by your grandsire, the Manu Swayambhuva, and propitiated by which, Vishnu conferred upon him the prosperity he desired, and which was unequalled in the three worlds, is to be recited by thee. Do thou constantly repeat this prayer, for the gratification of Govinda.”


Dhruva commences a course of religious austerities. Unsuccessful attempts of Indra and his ministers to distract Dhruva's attention: they appeal to Vishnu, who allays their fears, and appears to Dhruva. Dhruva praises Vishnu, and is raised to the skies as the pole-star.

THE prince, having received these instructions, respectfully saluted the sages, and departed from the forest, fully confiding in the accomplishment of his purposes. He repaired to the holy place, on the banks of the Yamuna, called Madhu or Madhuvana, the grove of Madhu, after the demon of that name, who formerly abided there. S'atrughna (the younger brother of Rama) having slain the Rakshas Lavana, the son of Madhu, founded a city on the spot, which was named Mathura. At this holy shrine, the purifier from all sin, which enjoyed the presence of the sanctifying god of gods, Dhruva performed penance, as enjoined by Marichi and the sages: he contemplated Vishnu, the sovereign of all the gods, seated in himself. Whilst his mind was wholly absorbed in meditation, the mighty Hari, identical with all beings and with all natures, (took possession of his heart.) Vishnu being thus present in his mind, the earth, the supporter of elemental life, could not sustain the weight of the ascetic. As he stood upon his left foot, one hemisphere bent beneath him; and when he stood upon his right, the other half of the earth sank down. When he touched the earth with his toes, it shook with all its mountains, and the rivers and the were troubled, and the gods partook of the universal agitation.

The celestials called Yamas, being excessively alarmed, then took counsel with Indra how they should interrupt the devout exercises of Dhruva; and the divine beings termed Kushmandas, in company with their king, commenced anxious efforts to distract his meditations. One, assuming the semblance of his mother Suniti, stood weeping before him, and calling in tender accents, “My son, my son, desist from destroying thy strength by this fearful penance. I have gained thee, my son, after much anxious hope: thou canst not have the cruelty to quit me, helpless, alone, and unprotected, on account of the unkindness of my rival. Thou art my only refuge; I have no hope but thou. What hast thou, a child but five years old, to do with rigorous penance? Desist from such fearful practices, that yield no beneficial fruit. First comes the season of youthful pastime; and when that is over, it is the time for study: then succeeds the period of worldly enjoyment; and lastly, that of austere devotion. This is thy season of pastime, my child. Hast thou engaged in these practices to put an end to thine existence? Thy chief duty is love for me: duties are according to time of life. Lose not thyself in bewildering error: desist from such unrighteous actions. If not, if thou wilt not desist from these austerities, I will terminate my life before thee.”

But Dhruva, being wholly intent on seeing Vishnu, beheld not his mother weeping in his presence, and calling upon him; and the illusion, crying out, “Fly, fly, my child, the hideous spirits of ill are crowding into this dreadful forest with uplifted weapons,” quickly disappeared. Then advanced frightful Rakshasas, wielding terrible arms, and with countenances emitting fiery flame; and nocturnal fiends thronged around the prince, uttering fearful noises, and whirling and tossing their threatening weapons. Hundreds of jackals, from whose mouths gushed flame [1] as they devoured their prey, were howling aloud, to appal the boy, wholly engrossed by meditation. The goblins called out, “Kill him, kill him; cut him to pieces; eat him, eat him;” and monsters, with the faces of lions and camels and crocodiles, roared and yelled with horrible cries, to terrify the prince. But all these uncouth spectres, appalling cries, and threatening weapons, made no impression upon his senses, whose mind was completely intent on Govinda. The son of the monarch of the earth, engrossed by one only idea, beheld uninterruptedly Vishnu seated in his soul, and saw no other object.

All their delusive stratagems being thus foiled, the gods were more perplexed than ever. Alarmed at their discomfiture, and afflicted by the devotions of the boy, they assembled and repaired for succour to Hari, the origin of the world, who is without beginning or end; and thus addressed him: “God of gods, sovereign of the world, god supreme, and infinite spirit, distressed by the austerities of Dhruva, we have come to thee for protection. As the moon increases in his orb day by day, so this youth advances incessantly towards superhuman power by his devotions. Terrified by the ascetic practices of the son of Uttanapada, we have come to thee for succour. Do thou allay the fervour of his meditations. We know not to what station he aspires: to the throne of Indra, the regency of the solar or lunar sphere, or to the sovereignty of riches or of the deep. Have compassion on us, lord; remove this affliction from Our breasts; divert the son of Uttanapada from persevering in his penance.” Vishnu replied to the gods; “The lad desireth neither the rank of Indra, nor the solar orb, nor the sovereignty of wealth or of the ocean: all that he solicits, I will grant. Return therefore, deities, to your mansions as ye list, and be no more alarmed: I will put an end to the penance of the boy, whose mind is immersed in deep contemplation.”

The gods, being thus pacified by the supreme, saluted him respectfully and retired, and, preceded by Indra, returned to their habitations: but Hari, who is all things, assuming a shape with four arms, proceeded to Dhruva, being pleased with his identity of nature, and thus addressed him: “Son of Uttanapada, be prosperous. Contented with thy devotions, I, the giver of boons, am present. Demand what boon thou desirest. In that thou hast wholly disregarded external objects, and fixed thy thoughts on me, I am well pleased with thee. Ask, therefore, a suitable reward.” The boy, hearing these words of the god of gods, opened his eyes, and beholding that Hari whom he had before seen in his meditations actually in his presence, bearing in his hands the shell, the discus, the mace, the bow, and scimetar, and crowned with a diadem, the bowed his head down to earth; the hair stood erect on his brow, and his heart was depressed with awe. He reflected how best he should offer thanks to the god of gods; what he could say in his adoration; what words were capable of expressing his praise: and being overwhelmed with perplexity, he had recourse for consolation to the deity. “If,” he exclaimed, “the lord is contented with my devotions, let this be my reward, that I may know how to praise him as I wish. How can I, a child, pronounce his praises, whose abode is unknown to Brahma and to others learned in the Vedas? My heart is overflowing with devotion to thee: oh lord, grant me the faculty worthily to lay mine adorations at thy feet.”

Whilst lowly bowing, with his hands uplifted to his forehead, Govinda, the lord of the world, touched the son of Uttanapada with the tip of his conch-shell, and immediately the royal youth, with a countenance sparkling with delight, praised respectfully the imperishable protector of living beings. “I venerate,” exclaimed Dhruva, “him whose forms are earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intellect, the first element (Ahankara), primeval nature, and the pure, subtile, all-pervading soul, that surpasses nature. Salutation to that spirit that is void of qualities; that is supreme over all the elements and all the objects of sense, over intellect, over nature and spirit. I have taken refuge with that pure form of thine, oh supreme, which is one with Brahma, which is spirit, which transcends all the world. Salutation to that form which, pervading and supporting all, is designated Brahma, unchangeable, and contemplated by religious sages. Thou art the male with a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet, who traversest the universe, and passest ten inches beyond its contact [2]. Whatever has been, or is to be, that, Purushottama, thou art. From thee sprang Virat, Swarat, Samrat, and Adhipurusha [3]. The lower, and upper, and middle parts of the earth are not independent of thee: from thee is all this universe, all that has been, and that shall be: and all this world is in thee, assuming this universal form [4]. From thee is sacrifice derived, and all oblations, and curds, and ghee, and animals of either class (domestic or wild). From thee the Rig-Veda, the Sama, the metres of the Vedas, and the Yajur-Veda are born. Horses, and cows having teeth in one jaw only [5], proceed from thee; and from thee come goats, sheep, deer. Brahmans sprang from thy mouth; warriors from thy arms; Vaisyas from thy thighs; and S'udras from thy feet. From thine eyes come the sun; from thine ears, the wind; and from thy mind, the moon: the vital airs from thy central vein; and fire from thy mouth: the sky from thy navel; and heaven from thy head: the regions from thine ears; the earth from thy feet. All this world was derived from thee. As the wide-spreading Nyagrodha (Indian fig) tree is compressed in a small seed [6], so, at the time of dissolution, the whole universe is comprehended in thee as its germ. As the Nyagrodha germinates from the seed, and becomes first a shoot, and then rises into loftiness, so the created world proceeds from thee, and expands into magnitude. As the bark and leaves of the Plantain tree are to be seen in its stem, so thou art the stem of the universe, and all things are visible in thee. The faculties of the intellect, that are the cause of pleasure and of pain, abide in thee as one with all existence; but the sources of pleasure and of pain, singly or blended, do not exist in thee, who art exempt from all qualities [7]. Salutation to thee, the subtile rudiment, which, being single, becomes manifold, Salutation to thee, soul of existent things, identical with the great elements. Thou, imperishable, art beheld in spiritual knowledge as perceptible objects, as nature, as spirit, as the world, as Brahma, as Manu, by internal contemplation. But thou art in all, the element of all; thou art all, assuming every form; all is from thee, and thou art from thyself. I salute thee, universal soul: glory be to thee. Thou art one with all things: oh lord of all, thou art present in all things. What can I say unto thee? thou knowest all that is in the heart, oh soul of all, sovereign lord of all creatures, origin of all things. Thou, who art all beings, knowest the desires of all creatures. The desire that I cherished has been gratified, lord, by thee: my devotions have been crowned with success, in that I have seen thee.”

Vishnu said to Dhruva; “The object of thy devotions has in truth been attained, in that thou hast seen me; for the sight of me, young prince, is never unproductive. Ask therefore of me what boon thou desirest; for men in whose sight I appear obtain all their wishes.” To this, Dhruva answered; “Lord god of all creatures, who abidest in the hearts of all, how should the wish that I cherish be unknown to thee? I will confess unto thee the hope that my presumptuous heart has entertained; a hope that it would be difficult to gratify, but that nothing is difficult when thou, creator of the world, art pleased. Through thy favour, Indra reigns over the three worlds. The sister-queen of my mother has said to me, loudly and arrogantly, 'The royal throne is not for one who is not born of me;' and I now solicit of the support of the universe an exalted station, superior to all others, and one that shall endure for ever.” Vishnu said to him; “The station that thou askest thou shalt obtain; for I was satisfied with thee of old in a prior existence. Thou wast formerly a Brahman, whose thoughts were ever devoted to me, ever dutiful to thy parents, and observant of thy duties. In course of time a prince became thy friend, who was in the period of youth, indulged in all sensual pleasures, .and was of handsome appearance and elegant form. Beholding, in consequence of associating with him, his affluence, you formed the desire that you might be subsequently born as the son of a king; and, according to your wish, you obtained a princely birth in the illustrious mansion of Uttanapada. But that which would have been thought a great boon by others, birth in the race of Swayambhuva, you have not so considered, and therefore have propitiated me. The man who worships me obtains speedy liberation from life. What is heaven to one whose mind is fixed on me? A station shall be assigned to thee, Dhruva, above the three worlds [8]; one in which thou shalt sustain the stars and the planets; a station above those of the sun, the moon, Mars, the son of Soma (Mercury), Venus, the son of Surya (Saturn), and all the other constellations; above the regions of the seven Rishis, and the divinities who traverse the atmosphere [9]. Some celestial beings endure for four ages; some for the reign of a Manu: to thee shall be granted the duration of a Kalpa. Thy mother Suniti, in the orb of a bright star, shall abide near thee for a similar term; and all those who, with minds attentive, shall glorify thee at dawn or at eventide, shall acquire exceeding religious merit.

Thus the sage Dhruva, having received a boon from Janarddana, the god of gods, and lord of the world, resides in an exalted station. Beholding his glory, Us'anas, the preceptor of the gods and demons, repeated these verses: “Wonderful is the efficacy of this penance, marvellous is its reward, that the seven Rishis should be preceded by Dhruva. This too is the pious Suniti, his parent, who is called Sunrita [10].” Who can celebrate her greatness, who, having given birth to Dhruva, has become the asylum of the three worlds, enjoying to all future time an elevated station, a station eminent above all? He who shall worthily describe the ascent into the sky of Dhruva, for ever shall be freed from all sin, and enjoy the heaven of Indra. Whatever be his dignity, whether upon earth or in heaven, he shall never fall from it, but shall long enjoy life, possessed of every blessing [11].


Posterity of Dhruva. Legend of Vena: his impiety: he is put to death by the Rishis. Anarchy ensues. The production of Nishada and Prithu: the latter the first king. The origin of Suta and Magadha: they enumerate the duties of kings. Prithu compels Earth to acknowledge his authority: he levels it: introduces cultivation: erects cities. Earth called after him Prithivi: typified as a cow.

PARAS'ARA.–The sons of Dhruva, by his wife S'ambhu, were Bhavya and Slishti. , the wife of the latter, was the mother of five virtuous sons, Ripu, Ripunjaya, Vipra, Vrikala, and Vrikatejas. The son of Ripu, by Vrihati, was the illustrious Chakshusha, who begot the Manu Chakshusha on Pushkarini, of the family of Varuna, the daughter of the venerable patriarch Anaranya. The Manu had, by his wife Navala, the daughter of the patriarch Vairaja, ten noble sons, Uru, Pura, Satadyumna, Tapaswi, Satyavak, Kavi, Agnishtoma, Atiratra, Sudyumna, and Abhimanyu. The wife of Uru, Agneyi, bore six excellent sons, Anga, Sumanas, Swati, Kratu, Angiras, and S'iva. Anga had, by his wife Sunitha, only one son, named Vena, whose right arm was rubbed by the Rishis, for the purpose of producing from it progeny. From the arm of Vena, thus rubbed, sprang a celebrated monarch, named Prithu, by whom, in olden time, the earth was milked for the advantage of mankind [1].

MAITREYA.–Best of Munis, tell me why was the right hand of Vena rubbed by the holy sages, in consequence of which the heroic Prithu was produced.

PARAS'ARA.–Sunitha was originally the daughter of Mrityu, by whom she was given to Anga to wife. She bore him Vena, who inherited the evil propensities of his maternal grandfather. When he was inaugurated by the Rishis monarch of the earth, he caused. it to be every where proclaimed, that no worship should be performed, no oblations offered, no gifts bestowed upon the Brahmans. “I, the king,” said he, “am the lord of sacrifice; for who but I am entitled to the oblations.” The Rishis, respectfully approaching the sovereign, addressed him in melodious accents, and said, “Gracious prince, we salute you; hear what we have to represent. For the preservation of your kingdom and your life, and for the benefit of all your subjects, permit us to worship Hari, the lord of all sacrifice, the god of gods, with solemn and protracted rites [2]; a portion of the fruit of which will revert to you [3]. Vishnu, the god of oblations, being propitiated with sacrifice by us, will grant you, oh king, all your desires. Those princes have all their wishes gratified, in whose realms Hari, the lord of sacrifice, is adored with sacrificial rites.” “Who,” exclaimed Vena, “is superior to me? who besides me is entitled to worship? who is this Hari, whom you style the lord of sacrifice? Brahma, Janarddana. S'ambhu, Indra, Vayu, Ravi (the sun), Hutabhuk

(fire), Varuna, Dhata, Pusha, (the sun), Bhumi (earth), the lord of night (the moon); all these, and whatever other gods there be who listen to our vows; all these are present in the person of a king: the essence of a sovereign is all that is divine. Conscious of this, I have issued my commands, and look that you obey them. You are not to sacrifice, not to offer oblations, not to give alms. As the first duty of women is obedience to their lords, so observance of my orders is incumbent, holy men, on you.” “Give command, great king,” replied the Rishis, “that piety may suffer no decrease. All this world is but a transmutation of oblations; and if devotion be suppressed, the world is at an end.” But Vena was entreated in vain; and although this request was repeated by the sages, he refused to give the order they suggested. Then those pious Munis were filled with wrath, and cried out to each other, “Let this wicked wretch be slain. The impious man who has reviled the god of sacrifice who is without beginning or end, is not fit to reign over the earth.” And they fell upon the king, and beat him with blades of holy grass, consecrated by prayer, and slew him, who had first been destroyed by his impiety towards god.

Afterwards the Munis beheld a great dust arise, and they said to the people who were nigh, “What is this?” and the people answered and said, “Now that the kingdom is without a king, the dishonest men have begun to seize the property of their neighbours. The great dust that you behold, excellent Munis, is raised by troops of clustering robbers, hastening to fall upon their prey.” The sages, hearing this, consulted, and together rubbed the thigh of the king, who had left no offspring, to produce a son. From the thigh, thus rubbed, came forth a being of the complexion of a charred stake, with flattened features (like a negro), and of dwarfish stature. “What am I to do?” cried he eagerly to the Munis. “Sit down” (Nishida), said they; and thence his name was Nishada. His descendants, the inhabitants of the Vindhya mountain, great Muni, are still called Nishadas, and are characterized by the exterior tokens of depravity [4]. By this means the wickedness of Versa was expelled; those

Nishadas being born of his sins, and carrying them away. The Brahmans then proceeded to rub the right arm of the king, from which friction was engendered the illustrious son of Vena, named Prithu, resplendent in person, as if the blazing deity of Fire bad been manifested.

There then fell from the sky the primitive bow (of Mahadeva) named Ajagava, and celestial arrows, and panoply from heaven. At the birth of Prithu all living creatures rejoiced; and Vena, delivered by his being born from the hell named Put, ascended to the realms above. The seas and rivers, bringing jewels from their depths, and water to perform the ablutions of his installation, appeared. The great parent of all, Brahma, with the gods and the descendants of Angiras (the fires), and with all things animate or inanimate, assembled and performed the ceremony of consecrating the son of Vena. Beholding in his right hand the (mark of the) discus of Vishnu, Brahma recognised a portion of that divinity in Prithu, and was much pleased; for the mark of Vishnu's discus is visible in the hand of one who is born to be a universal emperor [5], one whose power is invincible even by the gods.

The mighty Prithu, the son of Veda, being thus invested with universal dominion by those who were skilled in the rite, soon removed the grievances of the people whom his father had oppressed, and from winning their affections he derived the title of Raja, or king [6]. The waters became solid, when he traversed the ocean: the mountains opened him a path: his banner passed unbroken (through the forests): the earth needed not cultivation; and at a thought food was prepared: all kine were like the cow of plenty: honey was stored in every flower. At the sacrifice of the birth of Prithu, which was performed by Brahma, the intelligent Suta (herald or bard) was produced, in the juice of the moon-plant, on the very birth-day [7]: at that great sacrifice also was produced the accomplished Magadha: and the holy sages said to these two persons, “Praise ye the king Prithu, the illustrious son of Vena; for this is your especial function, and here is a fit subject for your praise.” But they respectfully replied to the Brahmans, “We know not the acts of the new-born king of the earth; his merits are not understood by us; his fame is not spread abroad: inform us upon what subject we may dilate in his praise.” “Praise the king,” said the Rishis, “for the acts this heroic monarch will perform; praise him for the virtues he will display.”

The king, hearing these words, was much pleased, and reflected that persons acquire commendation by virtuous actions, and that consequently his virtuous conduct would be the theme of the eulogium which the bards were about to pronounce: whatever merits, then, they should panegyrize in their encomium, he determined that he would endeavour to acquire; and if they should point out what faults ought to be avoided, he would try to shun them. He therefore listened attentively, as the sweet-voiced encomiasts celebrated the future virtues of Prithu, the enlightened son of Vena.

“The king is a speaker of truth, bounteous, an observer of his promises; he is wise, benevolent, patient, valiant, and a terror to the wicked; he knows his duties; he acknowledges services; he is compassionate and kind-spoken; he respects the venerable; he performs sacrifices; he reverences the Brahmans; he cherishes the good; and in administering justice is indifferent to friend or foe.”

The virtues thus celebrated by the Suta and the Magadha were cherished in the remembrance of the Raja, and practised by him when occasion arose. Protecting this earth, the monarch performed many great sacrificial ceremonies, accompanied by liberal donations. His subjects soon approached him, suffering from the famine by which they were afflicted, as all the edible plants had perished during the season of anarchy. In reply to his question of the cause of their coming, they told him, that in the interval in which the earth was without a king all vegetable products had been withheld, and that consequently the people had perished. “Thou,” said they, “art the bestower of subsistence to us; thou art appointed, by the creator, the protector of the people: grant us vegetables, the support of the lives of thy subjects, who are perishing with hunger.”

On hearing this, Prithu took up his divine bow Ajagava, and his celestial arrows, and in great wrath marched forth to assail the Earth. Earth, assuming the figure of a cow, fled hastily from him, and traversed, through fear of the king, the regions of Brahma and the heavenly spheres; but wherever went the supporter of living things, there she beheld Vainya with uplifted weapons: at last, trembling with terror, and anxious to escape his arrows, the Earth addressed Prithu, the hero of resistless prowess. “Know you not, king of men,” said the Earth, “the sin of killing a female, that you thus perseveringly seek to slay me.” The prince replied; “When the happiness of many is secured by. the destruction of one malignant being, the death of that being is an act of virtue.” “But,” said the Earth, “if, in order to promote the welfare of your subjects, you put an end to me, whence, best of monarchs, will thy people derive their support.” “Disobedient to my rule,” rejoined Prithu, “if I destroy thee, I will support my people by the efficacy of my own devotions.” Then the Earth, overcome with apprehension, and trembling in every limb, respectfully saluted the king, and thus spake: “All undertakings are successful, if suitable means of effecting them are employed.

I will impart to you means of success, which you can make use of if you please. All vegetable products are old, and destroyed by me; but at your command I will restore them, as developed from my milk. Do you therefore, for the benefit of mankind, most virtuous of princes, give me that calf, by which I may be able to secrete milk. Make also all places level, so that I may cause my milk, the seed of all vegetation, to flow every where around.”

Prithu accordingly uprooted the mountains, by hundreds and thousands, for myriads of leagues, and they were thenceforth piled upon one another. Before his time there were no defined boundaries of villages or towns, upon the irregular surface of the earth; there was no cultivation, no pasture, no agriculture, no highway for merchants: all these things (or all civilization) originated in the reign of Prithu. Where the ground was made level, the king induced his subjects to take up their abode. Before his time, also, the fruits and roots which constituted the food of the people were procured with great difficulty, all vegetables having been destroyed; and he therefore, having made Swayambhuva Manu the calf [8], milked the Earth, and received the milk into his own hand, for the benefit of mankind. Thence proceeded all kinds of corn and vegetables upon which people subsist now and perpetually. By granting life to the Earth, Prithu was as her father, and she thence derived the patronymic appellation Prithivi (the daughter of Prithu). Then the gods, the sages, the demons, the Rakshasas, the Gandharbhas, Yakshas, Pitris, serpents, mountains, and trees, took a milking vessel suited to their kind, and milked the earth of appropriate milk, and the milker and the calf were both peculiar to their own species [9].

This Earth, the mother, the nurse, the receptacle, and nourisher of all existent things, was produced from the sole of the foot of Vishnu. And thus was born the mighty Prithu, the heroic son of Vena, who was the lord of the earth, and who, from conciliating the affections of the people, was the first ruler to whom the title of Raja was ascribed. Whoever shall recite this story of the birth of Prithu, the son of Vena, shall never suffer any retribution for the evil he may have committed: and such is the virtue of the tale of Prithu's birth, that those who hear it repeated shall be relieved from affliction [10].


Descendants of Prithu. Legend of the Prachetasas: they are desired by their father to multiply mankind, by worshipping Vishnu: they plunge into the sea, and meditate on and praise him: he appears, and grants their wishes.

PRITHU had two valiant sons, Antarddhi and Pali [1]. The son of Antarddhana, by his wife Sikhandini, was Havirdhana, to whom Dhishana, a princess of the race of Agni, bore six sons, Prachinaverhis, S'ukra, Gaya, Krishna, Vraja, and Ajina [2]. The first of these was a mighty prince and patriarch, by whom mankind was multiplied after the death of Havirdhana. He was called Prachinaverhis from his placing upon the earth the sacred grass, pointing to the east [3]. At the termination of a rigid penance the married Savarna, the daughter of the ocean, who had been previously betrothed to him, and who had by the king ten sons, who were all styled Prachetasas, and were skilled in military science: they all observed the same duties, practised religious austerities, and remained immersed in the bed of the sea for ten thousand years.

MAITREYA.–You can inform me, great sage, why the magnanimous Prachetasas engaged in penance in the waters of the sea.

PARAS'ARA.–The sons of Prachinaverhis were originally informed by their father, who had been appointed as a patriarch, and whose mind was intent on multiplying mankind, that the had been respectfully enjoined by Brahma, the god of gods, to labour to this end, and that he had promised obedience: “now therefore,” continued he, “do you, my sons, to oblige me, diligently promote the increase of the people, for the orders of the father of all creatures are entitled to respect.” The sons of the king, having heard their father's words, replied, “So be it;” but they then inquired of him, as he could best explain it, by what means they might accomplish the augmentation of mankind. He said to them; “Whoever worships Vishnu, the bestower of good, attains undoubtedly the object of his desires: there is no other mode. What further can I tell you? Adore therefore Govinda, who is Hari, the lord of all beings, in order to effect the increase of the human race, if you wish to succeed.

The eternal Purushottama is to be propitiated by him who wishes for virtue, wealth, enjoyment, or liberation. Adore him, the imperishable, by whom, when propitiated, the world was first created, and mankind will assuredly be multiplied.”

Thus instructed by their father, the ten Prachetasas plunged into the depths of the ocean, and with minds wholly devoted to Narayana, the sovereign of the universe, who is beyond all worlds, were engrossed by religious austerity for ten thousand years: remaining there, they with fixed thoughts praised Hari, who, when propitiated, confers on those who praise him all that they desire.

MAITREYA.–The excellent praises that the Prachetasas addressed to Vishnu, whilst they stood in the deep, you, oh best of Munis, are qualified to repeat to me.

PARAS'ARA.–Hear, Maitreya, the hymn which the Prachetasas, as they stood in the waters of the sea, sang of old to Govinda, their nature being identified with him:–

“We bow to him whose glory is the perpetual theme of every speech; him first, him last; the supreme lord of the boundless world; who is primeval light; who is without his like; indivisible and infinite; the origin of all existent things, movable or stationary. To that supreme being who is one with time, whose first forms, though he be without form, are day and evening and night, be adoration. Glory to him, the life of all living things, who is the same with the moon, the receptacle of ambrosia, drunk daily by the gods and progenitors: to him who is one with the sun, the cause of heat and cold and rain, who dissipates the gloom, and illuminates the sky with his radiance: to him who is one with earth, all-pervading, and the asylum of smell and other objects of sense, supporting the whole world by its solidity. We adore that form of the deity Hari which is water, the womb of the world, the seed of all living beings. Glory to the mouth of the gods, the eater of the Havya; to the eater of the Kavya, the mouth of the progenitors; to Vishnu, who is identical with fire; to him who is one with air, the origin of ether, existing as the five vital airs in the body, causing constant vital action; to him who is identical with the atmosphere, pure, illimitable, shapeless, separating all creatures. Glory to Krishna, who is Brahma in the form of sensible objects, who is ever the direction of the faculties of sense. We offer salutation to that supreme Hari who is one with the senses, both subtle and substantial, the recipient of all impressions, the root of all knowledge: to the universal soul, who, as internal intellect, delivers the impressions received by the senses to soul: to him who has the properties of Prakriti; in whom, without end, rest all things; from whom all things proceed; and who is that into which all things resolve. We worship that Purushottoma, the god who is pure spirit, and who, without qualities, is ignorantly considered as endowed with qualities. We adore that supreme Brahma, the ultimate condition of Vishnu, unproductive, unborn, pure, void of qualities, and free from accidents; who is neither high nor low, neither bulky nor minute, has neither shape, nor colour, nor shadow, nor substance, nor affection, nor body; who is neither etherial nor susceptible of contact, smell, or taste; who has neither eyes, nor ears, nor motion, nor speech, nor breath, nor mind, nor name, nor race, nor enjoyment, nor splendour; who is without cause, without fear, without error, without fault, undecaying, immortal, free from passion, without sound, imperceptible, inactive, independent of place or time, detached from all investing properties; but (illusively) exercising irresistible might, and identified with all beings, dependent upon none. Glory to that nature of Vishnu which tongue can not tell, nor has eye beheld.”

Thus glorifying Vishnu, and intent in meditation on him, the Prachetasas passed ten thousand years of austerity in the vast ocean; on which Hari, being pleased with them, appeared to them amidst the waters, of the complexion of the full-blown lotus leaf. Beholding him mounted on the king of birds, Garuda, the Prachetasas bowed down their heads in devout homage; when Vishnu said to them, “Receive the boon you have desired; for I, the giver of good, am content with you, and am present.” The Prachetasas replied to him with reverence, and told him that the cause of their devotions was the command of their father to effect the multiplication of mankind. The god, having accordingly granted to them the object of their prayers, disappeared, and they came up from the water.


The world overrun with trees: they are destroyed by the Prachetasas. Soma pacifies them, and gives them Marisha to wife: her story: the daughter of the nymph Pramlocha. Legend of Kandu. Marisha's former history. Daksha the son of the Prachetasas: his different characters: his sons: his daughters: their marriages and progeny: allusion to Prahlada, his descendant.

WHILST the Prachetasas were thus absorbed in their devotions, the trees spread and overshadowed the unprotected earth, and the people perished: the winds could not blow; the sky was shut out by the forests; and mankind was unable to labour for ten thousand years. When the sages, coming forth from the deep, beheld this, they were angry, and, being incensed, wind and flame issued from their mouths. The strong wind tore up the trees by their roots, and left them sear and dry, and the fierce fire consumed them, and the forests were cleared away. When Soma (the moon), the sovereign of the vegetable world, beheld all except a few of the trees destroyed, he went to the patriarchs, the Prachetasas, and said, “Restrain your indignation, princes, and listen to me. I will form an alliance between you and the trees. Prescient of futurity, I have nourished with my rays this precious maiden, the daughter of the woods. She is called Marisha, and is assuredly the offspring of the trees. She shall be your bride, and the multiplier of the race of Dhruva. From a portion of your lustre and a portion of mine, oh mighty sages, the patriarch Daksha shall be born of her, who, endowed with a part of me, and composed of your vigour, shall be as resplendent as fire, and shall multiply the human race.

“There was formerly (said Soma) a sage named Kandu, eminent in holy wisdom, who practised pious austerities on the lovely borders of the Gomati river. The king of the gods sent the nymph Pramlocha to disturb his penance, and the sweet-smiling damsel diverted the sage from his devotions. They lived together, in the valley of Mandara, for a hundred and fifty years; during which, the mind of the Muni was wholly given up to enjoyment. At the expiration of this period the nymph requested his permission to return to heaven; but the Muni, still fondly attached to her, prevailed upon her to remain for some time longer; and the graceful damsel continued to reside for another hundred years, and delight the great sage by her fascinations. Then again she preferred her suit to be allowed to return to the abodes of the gods; and again the Muni desired her to remain. At the expiration of more than a century the nymph once more said to him, with a smiling countenance, 'Brahman, I depart;' but the Muni, detaining the fine-eyed damsel, replied, 'Nay, stay yet a little; you will go hence for a long period.' Afraid of incurring an imprecation, the graceful nymph continued with the sage for nearly two hundred years more, repeatedly asking his permission to go to the region of the king of the gods, but as often desired by him to remain. Dreading to be cursed by him, and excelling in amiable manners, well knowing also the pain that is inflicted by separation from an object of affection, she did not quit the Muni, whose mind, wholly subdued by love, became every day more strongly attached to her.

“On one occasion the sage was going forth from their cottage in a great hurry. The nymph asked him where he was going. 'The day,' he replied, 'is drawing fast to a close: I must perform the Sandhya worship, or a duty will be neglected.' The nymph smiled mirthfully as she rejoined, 'Why do you talk, grave sir, of this day drawing to a close: your day is a day of many years, a day that must be a marvel to all: explain what this means.' The Muni said, 'Fair damsel, you came to the river-side at dawn; I beheld you then, and you then entered my hermitage. It is now the revolution of evening, and the day is gone. What is the meaning of this laughter? Tell me the truth.' Pramlocha. answered, 'You say rightly,' venerable Brahman, 'that I came hither at morning dawn, but several hundred years have passed since the time of my arrival. This is the truth.' The Muni, on hearing this, was seized with astonishment, and asked her how long he had enjoyed her society: to which the nymph replied, that they had lived together nine hundred and seven years, six months, and three days. The Muni asked her if she spoke the truth, or if she was in jest; for it appeared to him that they had spent but one day together: to which Pramlocha replied, that she should not dare at any time to tell him who lived in the path of piety an untruth, but particularly when she had been enjoined by him to inform him what had passed.

“When the Muni, princes, had heard these words, and knew that it was the truth, he began to reproach himself bitterly, exclaiming, 'Fie, fie upon me; my penance has been interrupted; the treasure of the learned and the pious has been stolen from me; my judgment has been blinded: this woman has been created by some one to beguile me: Brahma is beyond the reach of those agitated by the waves of infirmity [1]. I had subdued my passions, and was about to attain divine knowledge. This was foreseen by him by whom this girl has been sent hither. Fie on the passion that has obstructed my devotions. All the austerities that would have led to acquisition of the wisdom of the Vedas have been rendered of no avail by passion that is the road to hell.' The pious sage, having thus reviled himself, turned to the nymph, who was sitting nigh, and said to her, 'Go, deceitful girl, whither thou wilt: thou hast performed the office assigned thee by the monarch of the gods, of disturbing my penance by thy fascinations. I will not reduce thee to ashes by the fire of my wrath. Seven paces together is sufficient for the friendship of the virtuous, but thou and I have dwelt together. And in truth what fault hast thou committed? why should I be wroth with thee? The sin is wholly mine, in that I could not subdue my passions: yet fie upon thee, who, to gain favour with Indra, hast disturbed my devotions; vile bundle of delusion.'

“Thus spoken to by the Muni, Pramlocha stood trembling, whilst big drops of perspiration started from every pore; till he angrily cried to her, 'Depart, begone.' She then, reproached by him, went forth from his dwelling, and, passing through the air, wiped the perspiration from her person with the leaves of the trees. The nymph went from tree to tree, and as with the dusky shoots that crowned their summits she dried her limbs, which were covered with moisture, the child she had conceived by the Rishi came forth from the pores of her skin in drops of perspiration. The trees received the living dews, and the winds collected them into one mass. “This,” said Soma, “I matured by my rays, and gradually it increased in size, till the exhalation that had rested on the tree tops became the lovely girl named Marisha. The trees will give her to you, Prachetasas: let your indignation be appeased. She is the progeny of Kandu, the child of Pramlocha, the nursling of the trees, the daughter of the wind and of the moon. The holy Kandu, after the interruption of his pious exercises, went, excellent princes, to the region of Vishnu, termed Purushottama, where, Maitreya [2], with his whole mind he devoted himself to the adoration of Hari; standing fixed, with uplifted arms, and repeating the prayers that comprehend the essence of divine truth [3].”

The Prachetasas said, “We are desirous to hear the transcendental prayers, by inaudibly reciting which the pious Kandu propitiated Kes'ava.” On which Soma repeated as follows: ”'Vishnu is beyond the boundary of all things: he is the infinite: he is beyond that which is boundless: he is above all that is above: he exists as finite truth: he is the object of the Veda; the limit of elemental being; unappreciable by the senses; possessed of illimitable might: he is the cause of cause; the cause of the cause of cause; the cause of finite cause; and in effects, he, both as every object and agent, preserves the universe: he is Brahma the lord; Brahma all beings; Brahma the progenitor of all beings; the imperishable: he is the eternal, undecaying, unborn Brahma, incapable of increase or diminution: Purushottama is the everlasting, untreated, immutable Brahma. May the imperfections of my nature be annihilated through his favour.' Reciting this eulogium, the essence of divine truth, and propitiating Kes'ava, Kandu obtained final emancipation.

“Who Marisha was of old I will also relate to you, as the recital of her meritorious acts will be beneficial to you. She was the widow of a prince, and left childless at her husband's death: she therefore zealously worshipped Vishnu, who, being gratified by her adoration, appeared to her, and desired her to demand a boon; on which she revealed to him the wishes of her heart. 'I have been a widow, lord,' she exclaimed, 'even from my infancy, and my birth has been in vain: unfortunate have I been, and of little use, oh sovereign of the world. Now therefore I pray thee that in succeeding births I may have honourable husbands, and a son equal to a patriarch amongst men: may I be possessed of affluence and beauty: may I he pleasing in the sight of all: and may I be born out of the ordinary course. Grant these prayers, oh thou who art propitious to the devout.' Hrishikes'a, the god of gods, the supreme giver of all blessings, thus prayed to, raised her from her prostrate attitude, and said, 'In another life you shall have ten husbands of mighty prowess, and renowned for glorious acts; and you shall have a son magnanimous and valiant, distinguished by the rank of a patriarch, from whom the various races of men shall multiply, and by whose posterity the universe shall be filled. You, virtuous lady, shall be of marvellous birth, and you shall be endowed with grace and loveliness, delighting the hearts of men.' Thus having spoken, the deity disappeared, and the princess was accordingly afterwards born as Marisha, who is given to you for a wife [4].”

Soma having concluded, the Prachetasas took Marisha, as he had enjoined them, righteously to wife, relinquishing their indignation against the trees: and upon her they begot the eminent patriarch Daksha, who had (in a former life) been born as the son of Brahma [5]. This great sage, for the furtherance of creation, and the increase of mankind, created progeny. Obeying the command of Brahma, he made movable and immovable things, bipeds and quadrupeds; and subsequently, by his will, gave birth to females, ten of whom he bestowed on Dharma, thirteen on Kas'yapa, and twenty-seven, who regulate the course of time, on the moon [6]. Of these, the gods, the Titans, the snake-gods, cattle, and birds, the singers and dancers of the courts of heaven, the spirits of evil, and other beings, were born. From that period forwards living creatures were engendered by sexual intercourse: before the time of Daksha they were variously propagated, by the will, by sight, by touch, and by the influence of religious austerities practised by devout sages and holy saints.

MAITREYA.–Daksha, as I have formerly heard, was born from the right thumb of Brahma: tell me, great Muni, how he was regenerate as the son of the Prachetasas. Considerable perplexity also arises in my mind, how he, who, as the son of Marisha, was the grandson of Soma, could be also his father-in-law.

PARAS'ARA.–Birth and death are constant in all creatures: Rishis and sages, possessing divine vision, are not perplexed by this. Daksha and the other eminent Munis are present in every age, and in the interval of destruction cease to be [7]: of this the wise man entertains no doubt. Amongst them of old there was neither senior nor junior; rigorous penance and acquired power were the sole causes of any difference of degree amongst these more than human beings.

MAITREYA.–Narrate to me, venerable Brahman, at length, the birth of the gods, Titans, Gandharbas, serpents, and goblins.

PARAS'ARA.–In what manner Daksha created living creatures, as commanded by Brahma, you shall hear. In the first place he willed into existence the deities, the Rishis, the quiristers of heaven, the Titans, and the snake-gods. Finding that his will-born progeny did not multiply themselves, he determined, in order to secure their increase, to establish sexual intercourse as the means of multiplication. For this purpose he espoused Asikni, the daughter of the patriarch Virana [8], a damsel addicted to devout practices, the eminent supportress of the world. By her the great father of mankind begot five thousand mighty sons, through whom he expected the world should be peopled. Narada, the divine Rishi, observing them desirous to multiply posterity, approached them, and addressed them in a friendly tone: “Illustrious Haryaswas, it is evident that your intention is to beget posterity; but first consider this: why should you, who, like fools, know not the middle, the height, and depth of the world [9], propagate offspring? When your intellect is no more obstructed by interval, height, or depth, then how, fools, shall ye not all behold the term of the universe?” Having heard the words of Narada, the sons of Daksha dispersed themselves through the regions, and to the present day have not returned; as rivers that lose themselves in the ocean come back no more.

The Haryaswas having disappeared, the patriarch Daksha begot by the daughter of Virana a thousand other sons. They, who were named Savalaswas, were desirous of engendering posterity, but were dissuaded by Narada in a similar manner. They said to one another, “What the Muni has observed is perfectly just. We must follow the path that our brothers have travelled, and when we have ascertained the extent of the universe, we will multiply our race.” Accordingly they scattered themselves through the regions, and, like rivers flowing into the sea, they returned not again. Henceforth brother seeking for brother disappears, through ignorance of the products of the first principle of things. Daksha the patriarch, on finding that all these his sons had vanished, was incensed, and denounced an imprecation upon Narada [10].

Then, Maitreya, the wise patriarch, it is handed down to us, being anxious to people the world, created sixty daughters of the daughter of Virana [11]; ten of whom he gave to Dharma, thirteen to Kas'yapa, and twenty-seven to Soma, four to Arishtanemi, two to Bahuputra, two to Angiras, and two to Kris'as'wa. I will tell you their names. Arundhati, Vasu, Yami, Lamba, Bhanu, Marutwati, Sankalpa, Muhurtta, Sadhya, and Vis'wa were the ten wives of Dharma [12], and bore him the following progeny. The sons of Vis'wa were the Vis'wadevas [13]; and the Sadhyas [14], those of Sadhya. The Maruts, or winds, were the children of Marutwati; the Vasus, of Vasu. The Bhanus (or suns) of Bhanu; and the deities presiding over moments, of Muhurtta. Ghosha was the son of Lamba (an arc of the heavens); Nagavithi (the milky way), the daughter of Yami (night). The divisions of the earth were born of Arundhati; and Sankalpa (pious purpose), the soul of all, was the son of Sankalpa. The deities called Vasus, because, preceded by fire, they abound in splendour and might [15], are severally named Apa, Dhruva, Soma, Dhava (fire), Anila (wind), Anala (fire), Pratyusha (day-break), and Prabhasa (light). The four sons of Apa were Vaitandya, S'rama (weariness), Sranta (fatigue), and Dhur (burthen). Kala (time), the cherisher of the world, was the son of Dhruva. The son of Soma was Varchas (light), who was the father of Varchaswi (radiance). Dhava had, by his wife Manohara (loveliness), Dravina, Hutahavyavaha, S'is'ira, Prana, and Ramana. The two sons of Anila (wind), by his wife S'iva, were Manojava (swift as thought) and Avijnatagati (untraceable motion). The son of Agni (fire), Kumara, was born in a clump of S'ara reeds: his sons were Sakha, Visakha, Naigameya, and Prishthaja. The offspring of the Krittikas was named Kartikeya. The son of Pratyusha was the Rishi named Devala, who had two philosophic and intelligent sons [16]. The sister of Vachaspati, lovely and virtuous, Yogasiddha, who pervades the wholes world without being devoted to it, was the wife of Prabhasa, the eighth of the Vasus, and bore to him the patriarch Viswakarma, the author of a thousand arts, the mechanist of the gods, the fabricator of all ornaments, the chief of artists, the constructor of the self-moving chariots of the deities, and by whose skill men obtain subsistence. Ajaikapad, Ahirvradhna, and the wise Rudra Twashtri, were born; and the self-born son of Twashtri was also the celebrated Vis'warupa. There are eleven well-known Rudras, lords of the three worlds, or Hara, Bahurupa, Tryambaka, Aparajita, Vrishakapi, Sambhu, Kaparddi, Raivata, Mrigavyadha, Sarva, and Kapali [17]; but there are a hundred appellations of the immeasurably mighty Rudras [18].

The daughters of Daksha who were married to Kas'yapa were Aditi, Diti, Danu, Arishta, Surasa, Surabhi, Vinata, Tamra, Krodhavas'a, Ida, Khasa, Kadru, and Muni [19]; whose progeny I will describe to you. There were twelve celebrated deities in a former Manwantara, called Tushitas [20], who, upon the approach of the present period, or in the reign of the last Manu, Chakshusha, assembled, and said to one another, “Come, let us quickly enter into the womb of Aditi, that we may be born in the next Manwantara, for thereby we shall again enjoy the rank of gods:” and accordingly they were born the sons of Kas'yapa, the son of Marichi, by Aditi, the daughter of Daksha; thence named the twelve Adityas; whose appellations were respectively, Vishnu, S'akra, Aryaman, Dhuti, Twashtri, Pushan, Vivaswat, Savitri, Mitra, Varuna, Ans'a, and Bhaga [21]. These, who in the Chakshusha Manwantara were the gods called Tushitas, were called the twelve Adityas in the Manwantara of Vaivas'wata.

The twenty-seven daughters of the patriarch who became the virtuous wives of the moon were all known as the nymphs of the lunar constellations, which were called by their names, and had children who were brilliant through their great splendour [22]. The wives of Arishtanemi bore him sixteen children [23]. The daughters of Bahuputra were the four lightnings [24]. The excellent Pratyangirasa Richas were the children of Angiras [25], descended from the holy sage: and the deified weapons of the gods [26] were the progeny of Kris'as'wa.

These classes of thirty-three divinities [27] are born again at the end of a thousand ages, according to their own pleasure; and their appearance and disappearance is here spoken of as birth and death: but, Maitreya, these divine personages exist age after age in the same manner as the sun sets and rises again.

It has been related to us, that Diti had two sons by Kas'yapa, named Hiranyakas'ipu and the invincible Hiranyaksha: she had also a daughter, Sinka, the wife of Viprachitti. Hiranyakas'ipu was the father of four mighty sons, Anuhlada, Hlada, the wise Prahlada, and the heroic Sanhlada, the augmentor of the Daitya race [28]. Amongst these, the illustrious Prahlada, looking on all things with indifference, devoted his whole faith to Janarddana. The flames that were lighted by the king of the Daityas consumed not him, in whose heart Vasudeva was cherished; and all the earth trembled when, bound with bonds, he moved amidst the waters of the ocean. His firm body, fortified by a mind engrossed by Achyuta, was unwounded by the weapons hurled on him by order of the Daitya monarch; and the serpents sent to destroy him breathed their venomous flames upon him in vain. Overwhelmed with rocks, he yet remained unhurt; for he never forgot Vishnu, and the recollection of the deity was his armour of proof. Hurled from on high by the king of the Daityas, residing in Swerga, earth received him unharmed. The wind sent into his body to wither him up was itself annihilated by him, in whom Madhusudana was present. The fierce elephants of the spheres broke their tusks, and vailed their pride, against the firm breast which the lord of the Daityas had ordered them to assault. The ministrant priests of the monarch were baffled in all their rites for the destruction of one so steadily attached to Govinda: and the thousand delusions of the fraudulent Samvara, counteracted by the discus of Krishna, were practised without success. The deadly poison administered by his father's officers he partook of unhesitatingly, and without its working any visible change; for he looked upon the world with mind undisturbed, and, full of benignity, regarded all things with equal affection, and as identical with himself. He was righteous; an inexhaustible mine of purity and truth; and an unfailing model for all pious men.


Inquiries of Maitreya respecting the history of Prahlada.

MAITREYA.–Venerable Muni, you have described to me the races of human beings, and the eternal Vishnu, the cause of this world; but who was this mighty Prahlada, of whom you have last spoken; whom fire could not burn; who died not, when pierced by weapons; at whose presence in the waters earth trembled, shaken by his movements, even though in bonds; and who, overwhelmed with rocks, remained unhurt. I am desirous to hear an account of the unequalled might of that sage worshipper of Vishnu, to whose marvellous history you have alluded. Why was he assailed by the weapons of the sons of Diti? why was so righteous a person thrown into the sea? wherefore was he overwhelmed with rocks? why bitten by venomous snakes? why hurled from the mountain crest? why cast into the flames? why was he made a mark for the tusks of the elephants of the spheres? wherefore was the blast of death directed against him by the enemies of the gods? why did the priests of the Daityas practise ceremonies for his destruction? why were the thousand illusions of Samvara exercised upon him? and for what purpose was deadly poison administered to him by the servants of the king, but which was innocuous as food to his sagacious son? All this I am anxious to hear: the history of the magnanimous Prahlada; a legend of great marvels. Not that it is a wonder that he should have been uninjured by the Daityas; for who can injure the man that fixes his whole heart on Vishnu? but it is strange that such inveterate hatred should have been shewn, by his own kin, to one so virtuous, so unweariedly occupied in worshipping Vishnu. You can explain to me for what reason the sons of Diti offered violence to one so pious, so illustrious, so attached to Vishnu, so free from guile. Generous enemies wage no war with such as he was, full of sanctity and every excellence; how should his own father thus behave towards him? Tell me therefore, most illustrious Muni, the whole story in detail: I wish to hear the entire narrative of the sovereign of the Daitya race.


Legend of Prahlada. Hiranyakas'ipu, the sovereign of the universe: the gods dispersed or in servitude to him: Prahlada, his son, remains devoted to Vishnu: questioned by his father, he praises Vishnu: Hiranyakas'ipu orders him to be put to death, but in vain: his repeated deliverance: he teaches his companions to adore Vishnu.?

PARAS'ARA.–Listen, Maitreya, to the story of the wise and magnanimous Prahlada, whose adventures are ever interesting and instructive. Hiranyakas'ipu, the son of Diti, had formerly brought the three worlds under his authority, confiding in a boon bestowed upon him by Brahma [1]. He had usurped the sovereignty of Indra, and exercised of himself the functions of the sun, of air, of the lord of waters, of fire, and of the moon. He himself was the god of riches; he was the judge of the dead; and he appropriated to himself, without reserve, all that was offered in sacrifice to the gods. The deities therefore, flying from their seats in heaven, wandered, through fear of the Daitya, upon the earth, disguised in mortal shapes. Having conquered the three worlds, he was inflated with pride, and, eulogized by the Gandharbas, enjoyed whatever he desired. The Gandharbas, the Siddhas, and the snake-gods all attended upon the mighty Hiranyakas'ipu, as he sat at the banquet. The Siddhas delighted stood before him, some playing on musical instruments, some singing songs in his praise, and others shouting cries of victory; whilst the nymphs of heaven danced gracefully in the crystal palace, where the Asura with pleasure quaffed the inebriating cup.

The illustrious son of the Daitya king, Prahlada, being yet a boy, resided in the dwelling of his preceptor, where he read such writings as are studied in early years. On one occasion he came, accompanied by his teacher, to the court of his father, and bowed before his feet as he was drinking. Hiranyakas'ipu desired his prostrate son to rise, and said to him, “Repeat, boy, in substance, and agreeably, what during the period of your studies you have acquired.” “Hear, sire,” replied Prahlada, “what in obedience to your commands I will repeat, the substance of all I have learned: listen attentively to that which wholly occupies my thoughts. I have learned to adore him who is without beginning, middle, or end, increase or diminution; the imperishable lord of the world, the universal cause of causes.” On hearing these words, the sovereign of the Daityas, his eyes red with wrath, and lip swollen with indignation, turned to the preceptor of his son, and said, “Vile Brahman, what is this preposterous commendation of my foe, that, in disrespect to me, you have taught this boy to utter?” “King of the Daityas,” replied the Guru, “it is not worthy of you to give way to passion: that which your son has uttered, he has not been taught by me.” “By whom then,” said Hiranyakas'ipu to the lad, “by whom has this lesson, boy, been taught you? your teacher denies that it proceeds from him.” “Vishnu, father,” answered Prahlada, “is the instructor of the whole world: what else should any one teach or learn, save him the supreme spirit?” “Blockhead,” exclaimed the king, “who is this Vishnu, whose name you thus reiterate so impertinently before me, who am the sovereign of the three worlds?” “The glory of Vishnu,” replied Prahlada, “is to be meditated upon by the devout; it cannot be described: he is the supreme lord, who is all things, and from whom all things proceed.” To this the king rejoined, “Are you desirous of death, fool, that you give the title of supreme lord to any one whilst I survive?” “Vishnu, who is Brahma,” said Prahlada, “is the creator and protector, not of me alone, but of all human beings, and even, father, of you: he is the supreme lord of all. Why should you, sire, be offended?” Hiranyakas'ipu then exclaimed, “What evil spirit has entered into the breast of this silly boy, that thus, like one possessed, he utters such profanity?” “Not into my heart alone,” said Prahlada, “has Vishnu entered, but he pervades all the regions of the universe, and by his omnipresence influences the conduct of all beings, mine, fattier, and thine [2].” “Away with the wretch!” cried the king; “take him to his preceptor's mansion. By whom could he have been instigated to repeat the lying praises of my foe?”

According to the commands of his father, Prahlada was conducted by the Daityas back to the house of his Guru; where, assiduous in attendance on his preceptor, he constantly improved in wisdom. After a considerable time had elapsed, the sovereign of the Asuras sent for him again; and on his arrival in his presence, desired him to recite some poetical composition. Prahlada immediately began, “May he from whom matter and soul originate, from whom all that moves or is unconscious proceeds, he who is the cause of all this creation, Vishnu, be favourable unto us!” On hearing which, Hiranyakas'ipu exclaimed, “Kill the wretch! he is not fit to live, who is a traitor to his friends, a burning brand to his own race!” and his attendants, obedient to his orders, snatched up their weapons, and rushed in crowds upon Prahlada, to destroy him. The prince calmly looked upon them, and said, “Daityas, as truly as Vishnu is present in your weapons and in my body, so truly shall those weapons fail to harm me:” and accordingly, although struck heavily and repeatedly by hundreds of the Daityas, the prince felt not the least pain, and his strength was ever renewed. His father then endeavoured to persuade him to refrain from glorifying his enemy, and promised him immunity if the would not be so foolish as to persevere but Prahlada replied, that he felt no fear as long as his immortal guardian against all dangers was present in his mind, the recollection of whom was alone sufficient to dissipate all the perils consequent upon birth or human infirmities.

Hiranyakas'ipu, highly exasperated, commanded the serpents to fall upon his disobedient and insane son, and bite him to death with their envenomed fangs: and thereupon the great snakes Kuhaka, Takshaka, and Andhaka, charged with fatal poison, bit the prince in every part of his body; but he, with thoughts immovably fixed on Krishna, felt no pain from their wounds, being immersed in rapturous recollections of that divinity. Then the snakes cried to the king, and said, “Our fangs are broken; our jewelled crests are burst; there is fever in our, hoods, and fear in our hearts; but the skin of the youth is still unscathed: have recourse, monarch of the Daityas, to some other expedient.” “Ho, elephants of the skies!” exclaimed the demon; “unite your tusks, and destroy this deserter from his father, and conspirer with my foes. It is thus that often our progeny are our destruction, as fire consumes the wood from which it springs.” The young prince was then assailed by the elephants of the skies, as vast as mountain peaks; cast down upon the earth, and trampled on, and gored by their tusks: but he continued to call to mind Govinda, and the tusks of the elephants were blunted against his breast. “Behold,” he said to his father, “the tusks of the elephants, as hard as adamant, are blunted; but this is not by any strength of mine: calling upon Janarddana is my defence against such fearful affliction.”

Then said the king to his attendants, “Dismiss the elephants, and let fire consume him; and do thou, deity of the winds, blow up the fire, that this wicked wretch may be consumed.” And the Danavas piled a mighty heap of wood around the prince, and kindled a fire, to burn him, as their master had commanded. But Prahlada cried, “Father, this fire, though blown up by the winds, burneth me not; and all around I behold the face of the skies, cool and fragrant, with beds of lotus flowers.”

Then the Brahmans who were the sons of Bhargava, illustrious priests, and reciters of the Sama-Veda, said to the king of the Daityas, “Sire, restrain your wrath against your own son. How should anger succeed in finding a place in heavenly mansions? As for this lad, we will be his instructors, and teach him obediently to labour for the destruction of your foes. Youth is the season, king, of many errors; and you should not therefore be relentlessly offended with a child. If he will not listen to us, and abandon the cause of Hari, we will adopt infallible measures to work his death.” The king of the Daityas, thus solicited by the priests, commanded the prince to be liberated from the midst of the flames.

Again established in the dwelling of his preceptor, Prahlada gave lessons himself to the sons of the demons, in the intervals of his leisure. “Sons of the offspring of Diti,” he was accustomed to say to them, “hear from me the supreme truth; nothing else is fit to be regarded; nothing, else here is an object to be coveted. Birth, infancy, and youth are the portion of all creatures; and then succeeds gradual and inevitable decay, terminating with all beings, children of the Daityas, in death: this is manifestly visible to all; to you as it is to me. That the dead are born again, and that it cannot be otherwise, the sacred texts are warrant: but production cannot be without a material cause; and as long as conception and parturition are the material causes of repeated birth, so long, be sure, is pain inseparable from every period of existence. The simpleton, in his inexperience, fancies that the alleviation of hunger, thirst, cold, and the like is pleasure; but of a truth it is pain; for suffering gives delight to those whose vision is darkened by delusion, as fatigue would be enjoyment to limbs that are incapable of motion [3]. This vile body is a compound of phlegm and other humours. Where are its beauty, grace, fragrance, or other estimable qualities? The fool that is fond of a body composed of flesh, blood, matter, ordure, urine, membrane, marrow, and bones, will be enamoured of hell. The agreeableness of fire is caused by cold; of water, by thirst; of food, by hunger: by other circumstances their contraries are equally agreeable [4]. The child of the Daitya who takes to himself a wife introduces only so much misery into his bosom; for as many as are the cherished affections of a living creature, so many are the thorns of anxiety implanted in his heart; and he who has large possessions in his house is haunted, wherever he goes, with the apprehension that they may be lost or burnt or stolen. Thus there is great pain in being born: for the dying man there are the tortures of the judge of the deceased, and of passing again into 'the womb. If you conclude that there is little enjoyment in the embryo state, you must then admit that the world is made up of pain. Verily I say unto you, that in this ocean of the world, this sea of many sorrows, Vishnu is your only hope. If ye say, you know nothing of this; 'we are children; embodied spirit in bodies is eternal; birth, youth, decay, are the properties of the body, not of the soul [5].' But it is in this way that we deceive ourselves. I am yet a child; but it is my purpose to exert myself when I am a youth. I am yet a youth; but when I become old I will do what is needful for the good of my soul. I am now old, and all my duties are to be fulfilled. How shall I, now that my faculties fail me, do what was left undone when my strength was unimpaired?' In this manner do men, whilst their minds are distracted by sensual pleasures, ever propose, and never attain final beatitude: they die thirsting [6]. Devoted in childhood to play, and in youth to pleasure, ignorant and impotent they find that old age is come upon them. Therefore even in childhood let the embodied soul acquire discriminative wisdom, and, independent of the conditions of infancy, youth, or age, strive incessantly to be freed. This, then, is what I declare unto you; and since you know that it is not untrue, do you, out of regard to me, call to your minds Vishnu, the liberator from all bondage. What difficulty is there in thinking upon him, who, when remembered, bestows prosperity; and by recalling whom to memory, day and night, all sin is cleansed away? Let all your thoughts and affections be fixed on him, who is present in all beings, and you shall laugh at every care. The whole world is suffering under a triple affliction [7]. 'What wise man would feel hatred towards beings who are objects of compassion? If fortune be propitious to them, and I am unable to partake of the like enjoyments, yet wherefore should I cherish malignity towards those who are more prosperous than myself: I should rather sympathise with their happiness; for the suppression of malignant feelings is of itself a reward [8]. If beings are hostile, and indulge in hatred, they are objects of pity to the wise, as encompassed by profound delusion. These are the reasons for repressing hate, which are adapted to the capacities of those who see the deity distinct from his creatures. Hear, briefly, what influences those who have approached the truth. This whole world is but a manifestation of Vishnu, who is identical with all things; and it is therefore to be regarded by the wise as not differing from, but as the same with themselves. Let us therefore lay aside the angry passions of our race, and so strive that we obtain that perfect, pure, and eternal happiness, which shall be beyond the power of the elements or their deities, of fire, of the sun, of the moon, of wind, of Indra, of the regent of the sea; which shall be unmolested by spirits of air or earth; by Yakshas, Daityas, or their chiefs; by the serpent-gods or monstrous demigods of Swerga; which shall be uninterrupted by men or beasts, or by the infirmities of human nature; by bodily sickness and disease [9], or hatred, envy, malice, passion, or desire; which nothing shall molest, and which every one who fixes his whole heart on Kes'ava shall enjoy. Verily I say unto you, that you shall have no satisfaction in various revolutions through this treacherous world, but that you will obtain placidity for ever by propitiating Vishnu, whose adoration is perfect calm. What here is difficult of attainment, when he is pleased? Wealth, pleasure, virtue, are things of little moment. Precious is the fruit that you shall gather, be assured, from the exhaustless store of the tree of true wisdom.”


Hiranyakas'ipu's reiterated attempts to destroy his son: their being always frustrated.

THE Danavas, observing the conduct of Prahlada, reported it to the king, lest they should incur his displeasure. He sent for his cooks, and said to them, “My vile and unprincipled son is now teaching others his impious doctrines: be quick, and put an end to him. Let deadly poison be mixed up with all his viands, without his knowledge. Hesitate not, but destroy the wretch without delay.” Accordingly they did so, and administered poison to the virtuous Prahlada, as his father had commanded them. Prahlada, repeating the name of the imperishable, ate and digested the food in which the deadly poison had been infused, and suffered no harm from it, either in body or mind, for it had been rendered innocuous by the name of the eternal. Beholding the strong poison digested, those who had prepared the food were filled with dismay, and hastened to the king, and fell down before him, and said, “King of the Daityas, the fearful poison given by us to your son has been digested by him along with his food, as if it were innocent. Hiranyakas'ipu, on hearing this, exclaimed, “Hasten, hasten, ministrant priests of the Daitya race! instantly perform the rites that will effect his destruction!” Then the priests went to Prahlada, and, having repeated the hymns of the Sama-Veda, said to him, as he respectfully hearkened, “Thou hast been born, prince, in the family of Brahma, celebrated in the three worlds, the son of Hiranyakas'ipu, the king of the Daityas; why shouldest thou acknowledge dependance upon the gods? why upon the eternal? Thy father is the stay of all the worlds, as thou thyself in turn shalt be. Desist, then, from celebrating the praises of an enemy; and remember, that of all venerable preceptors, a father is most venerable.” Prahlada replied to them, “Illustrious Brahmans, it is true that the family of Marichi is renowned in the three worlds; this cannot be denied: and I also admit, what is equally indisputable, that my father is mighty over the universe. There is no error, not the least, in what you have said, 'that a father is the most venerable of all holy teachers:' he is a venerable instructor, no doubt, and is ever to be devoutly reverenced. To all these things I have nothing to object; they find a ready assent in my mind: but when you say, 'Why should I depend upon the eternal?' who can give assent to this as right? the words are void of meaning.” Having said thus much, he was silent a while, being restrained by respect to their sacred functions; but he was unable to repress his smiles, and again said, “What need is there of the eternal? excellent! What need of the eternal? admirable! most worthy of you who are my venerable preceptors! Hear what need there is of the eternal, if to hearken will not give you pain. The fourfold objects of men are said to be virtue, desire, wealth, final emancipation. Is he who is the source of all these of no avail? Virtue was derived from the eternal by Daksha, Marichi, and other patriarchs; wealth has been obtained front him by others; and by others, the enjoyment of their desires: whilst those who, through true. wisdom and holy contemplation, have come to know his essence, have been released from their bondage, and have attained freedom from existence for ever. The glorification of Hari, attainable by unity, is the root of all riches, dignity, renown, wisdom, progeny, righteousness, and liberation. Virtue, wealth, desire, and even final freedom, Brahmans, are fruits bestowed by him. How then can it be said, 'What need is there of the eternal?' But enough of this: what occasion is there to say more? You are my venerable preceptors, and, speak ye good or evil, it is not for my weak judgment to decide.” The priests said to him, “We preserved you, boy, when you were about to be consumed by fire, confiding that you would no longer eulogize your father's foes: we knew not how unwise you were: but if you will not desist from this infatuation at our advice, we shall even proceed to perform the rites that will inevitably destroy you.” To this menace, Prahlada answered, “What living creature slays, or is slain? what living creature preserves, or is preserved? Each is his own destroyer or preserver, as he follows evil or good [1].”

Thus spoken to by the youth, the priests of the Daitya sovereign were incensed, and instantly had recourse to magic incantations, by which a female form, enwreathed with fiery flame, was engendered: she was of fearful aspect, and the earth was parched beneath her tread, as she approached Prahlada, and smote him with a fiery trident on the breast. In vain! for the weapon fell, broken into a hundred pieces, upon the ground. Against the breast in which the imperishable Hari resides the thunderbolt would be shivered, much more should such a weapon be split in pieces. The magic being, then directed against the virtuous prince by the wicked priest, turned upon them, and, having quickly destroyed them, disappeared. But Prahlada, beholding them perish, hastily appealed to Krishna, the eternal, for succour, and said, “Oh Janarddana! who art every where, the creator and substance of the world, preserve these Brahmans from this magical and insupportable fire. As thou art Vishnu, present in all creatures, and the protector of the world, so let these priests be restored to life. If, whilst devoted to the omnipresent Vishnu, I think no sinful resentment against my foes, let these priests be restored to life. If those who have come to slay me, those by whom poison was given me, the fire that would have burned, the elephants that would have crushed, and snakes that would have stung me, have been regarded by me as friends; if I have been unshaken in soul, and am without fault in thy sight; then, I implore thee, let these, the priests of the Asuras, be now restored to life.” Thus having prayed, the Brahmans immediately rose up, uninjured and rejoicing; and bowing respectfully to Prahlada, they blessed him, and said, “Excellent prince, may thy days be many; irresistible be thy prowess; and power and wealth and posterity be thine.” Having thus spoken, they withdrew, and went and told the king of the Daityas all that had passed.


Dialogue between Prahlada and his father: he is cast from the top of the palace unhurt: baffles the incantations of Samvara: he is thrown fettered into the sea: he praises Vishnu.

WHEN Hiranyakas'ipu heard that the powerful incantations of his priests had been defeated, he sent for his son, and demanded of him the secret of his extraordinary might. “Prahlada,” he said, “thou art possessed of marvellous powers; whence are they derived? are they the result of magic rites? or have they accompanied thee from birth?” Prahlada, thus interrogated, bowed down to his father's feet, and replied, “Whatever power I possess, father, is neither the result of magic rites, nor is it inseparable from my nature; it is no more than that which is possessed by all in whose hearts Achyuta abides. He who meditates not of wrong to others, but considers them as himself, is free from the effects of sin, inasmuch as the cause does not exist; but he who inflicts pain upon others, in act, thought, or speech, sows the seed of future birth, and the fruit that awaits him after birth is pain. I wish no evil to any, and do and speak no offence; for I behold Kes'ava in all beings, as in my own soul. Whence should corporeal or mental suffering or pain, inflicted by elements or the gods, affect me, whose heart is thoroughly purified by him? Love, then, for all creatures will be assiduously cherished by all those who are wise in the knowledge that Hari is all things.”

When he had thus spoken, the Daitya monarch, his face darkened with fury, commanded his attendants to cast his son from the summit of the palace where he was sitting, and which was many Yojanas in height, down upon the tops of the mountains, where his body should be dashed to pieces against the rocks. Accordingly the Daityas hurled the boy down, and he fell cherishing Hari in his heart, and Earth, the nurse of all creatures, received him gently on her lap, thus entirely devoted to Kes'ava, the protector of the world.

Beholding him uninjured by the fall, and sound in every bone, Hiranyakas'ipu addressed himself to Samvara, the mightiest of enchanters, and said to him, “This perverse boy is not to be destroyed by us: do you, who art potent in the arts of delusion, contrive some device for his destruction.” Samvara replied, “I will destroy him: you shall behold, king of the Daityas, the power of delusion, the thousand and the myriad artifices that it can employ.” Then the ignorant Asura Samvara practised subtile wiles for the extermination of the firm-minded Prahlada: but he, with a tranquil heart, and void of malice towards Samvara, directed his thoughts uninterruptedly to the destroyer of Madhu; by whom the excellent discus, the flaming Sudarsana, was dispatched to defend the youth; and the thousand devices of the evil-destinied Samvara were every one foiled by this defender of the prince. The king of the Daityas then commanded the withering wind to breathe its blighting blast upon his son: and, thus commanded, the wind immediately penetrated into his frame, cold, cutting, drying, and insufferable. Knowing that the wind had entered into his body, the Daitya boy applied his whole heart to the mighty upholder of the earth; and Janarddana, seated in his heart, waxed wroth, and drank up the fearful wind, which had thus hastened to its own annihilation.

When the devices of Samvara were all frustrated, and the blighting wind had perished, the prudent prince repaired to the residence of his preceptor. His teacher instructed him daily in the science of polity, as essential to the administration of government, and invented by Us'anas for the benefit of kings; and when he thought that the modest prince was well grounded in the principles of the science, he told the king that Prahlada was thoroughly conversant with the rules of government as laid down by the descendant of Bhrigu. Hiranyakas'ipu therefore summoned the prince to his presence, and desired him to repeat what he had learned; how a king should conduct himself towards friends or foes; what measures he should adopt at the three periods (of advance, retrogression, or stagnation); how he should treat his councillors, his ministers, the officers of his government and of his household, his emissaries, his subjects, those of doubtful allegiance, and his foes; with whom should he contract alliance; with whom engage in war; what sort of fortress he should construct; how forest and mountain tribes should be reduced; how internal grievances should be rooted out: all this, and what else he had studied, the youth was commanded by his father to explain. To this, Prahlada having bowed affectionately and reverentially to the feet of the king, touched his forehead, and thus replied:–

“It is true that I have been instructed in all these matters by my venerable preceptor, and I have learnt them, but I cannot in all approve them. It is said that conciliation, gifts, punishment, and sowing dissension are the means of securing friends (or overcoming foes) [1]; but I, father–be not angry–know neither friends nor foes; and where no object is to be accomplished, the means of effecting it are superfluous. It were idle to talk of friend or foe in Govinda, who is the supreme soul, lord of the world, consisting of the world, and who is identical with all beings. The divine Vishnu is in thee, father, in me, and in all every where else; and hence how can I speak of friend or foe, as distinct from myself? It is therefore waste of time to cultivate such tedious and unprofitable sciences, which are but false knowledge, and all our energies should be dedicated to the acquirement of true wisdom. The notion that ignorance is knowledge arises, father, from ignorance. Does not the child, king of the Asuras, imagine the fire-fly to be a spark of fire. That is active duty, which is not for our bondage; that is knowledge, which is for our liberation: all other duty is good only unto weariness; all other knowledge is only the cleverness of an artist. Knowing this, I look upon all such acquirement as profitless. That which is really profitable hear me, oh mighty monarch, thus prostrate before thee, proclaim. He who cares not for dominion, he who cares not for wealth, shall assuredly obtain both in a life to come. All men, illustrious prince, are toiling to be great; but the destinies of men, and not their own exertions, are the cause of greatness. Kingdoms are the gifts of fate, and are bestowed upon the stupid, the ignorant, the cowardly, and those to whom the science of government is unknown. Let him therefore who covets the goods of fortune be assiduous in the practice of virtue: let him who hopes for final liberation learn to look upon all things as equal and the same. Gods, men, animals, birds, reptiles, all are but forms of one eternal Vishnu, existing as it were detached from himself. By him who knows this, all the existing world, fixed or movable, is to be regarded as identical with himself, as proceeding alike from Vishnu, assuming a universal form. When this is known, the glorious god of all, who is without beginning or end, is pleased; and when he is pleased, there is an end of affliction.”

On hearing this, Hiranyakas'ipu started up from his throne in a fury, and spurned his son on the breast with his foot. Burning with rage, he wrung his hands, and exclaimed, “Ho Viprachitti! ho Rahu! ho Bali [2]! bind him with strong bands [3], and cast him into the ocean, or all the regions, the Daityas and Danavas, will become converts to the doctrines of this silly wretch. Repeatedly prohibited by us, he still persists in the praise of our enemies. Death is the just retribution of the disobedient.” The Daityas accordingly bound the prince with strong bands, as their lord had commanded, and threw him into the sea. As he floated on the waters, the ocean was convulsed throughout its whole extent, and rose in mighty undulations, threatening to submerge the earth. This when Hiranyakas'ipu observed, he commanded the Daityas to hurl rocks into the sea, and pile them closely on one another, burying beneath their incumbent mass him whom fire would not burn, nor weapons pierce, nor serpents bite; whom the pestilential gale could not blast, nor poison nor magic spirits nor incantations destroy; who fell from the loftiest heights unhurt; who foiled the elephants of the spheres: a son of depraved heart, whose life was a perpetual curse. “Here,” he cried, “since he cannot die, here let him live for thousands of years at the bottom of the ocean, overwhelmed by mountains. Accordingly the Daityas and Danavas hurled upon Prahlada, whilst in the great ocean, ponderous rocks, and piled them over him for many thousand miles: but he, still with mind undisturbed, thus offered daily praise to Vishnu, lying at the bottom of the sea, under the mountain heap. “Glory to thee, god of the lotus eye: glory to thee, most excellent of spiritual things: glory to thee, soul of all worlds: glory to thee, wielder of the sharp discus: glory to the best of Brahmans; to the friend of Brahmans and of kine; to Krishna, the preserver of the world: to Govinda be glory. To him who, as Brahma, creates the universe; who in its existence is its preserver; be praise. To thee, who at the end of the Kalpa takest the form of Rudra; to thee, who art triform; be adoration. Thou, Achyuta, art the gods, Yakshas, demons, saints, serpents, choristers and dancers of heaven, goblins, evil spirits, men, animals, birds, insects, reptiles, plants, and stones, earth, water, fire, sky, wind, sound, touch, taste, colour, flavour, mind, intellect, soul, time, and the qualities of nature: thou art all these, and the chief object of them all. Thou art knowledge and ignorance, truth and falsehood, poison and ambrosia. Thou art the performance and discontinuance of acts [4]: thou art the acts which the Vedas enjoin: thou art the enjoyer of the fruit of all acts, and the means by which they are accomplished. Thou, Vishnu, who art the soul of all, art the fruit of all acts of piety. Thy universal diffusion, indicating might and goodness, is in me, in others, in all creatures, in all worlds. Holy ascetics meditate on thee: pious priests sacrifice to thee. Thou alone, identical with the gods and the fathers of mankind, receivest burnt-offerings and oblations [5]. The universe is thy intellectual form [6]; whence proceeded thy subtile form, this world: thence art thou all subtile elements and elementary beings, and the subtile principle, that is called soul, within them. Hence the supreme soul of all objects, distinguished as subtile or gross, which is imperceptible, and which cannot be conceived, is even a form of thee. Glory be to thee, Purushottama; and glory to that imperishable form which, soul of all, is another manifestation [7] of thy might, the asylum of all qualities, existing in all creatures. I salute her, the supreme goddess, who is beyond the senses; whom the mind, the tongue, cannot define; who is to be distinguished alone by the wisdom of the truly wise. Om! salutation to Vasudeva: to him who is the eternal lord; he from whom nothing is distinct; he who is distinct from all. Glory be to the great spirit again and again: to him who is without name or shape; who sole is to be known by adoration; whom, in the forms manifested in his descents upon earth, the dwellers in heaven adore; for they behold not his inscrutable nature. I glorify the supreme deity Vishnu, the universal witness, who seated internally, beholds the good and ill of all. Glory to that Vishnu from whom this world is not distinct. May he, ever to be meditated upon as the beginning of the universe, have compassion upon me: may he, the supporter of all, in whom every thing is warped and woven [8], undecaying, imperishable, have compassion upon me. Glory, again and again, to that being to whom all returns, from whom all proceeds; who is all, and in whom all things are: to him whom I also am; for he is every where; and through whom all things are from me. I am all things: all things are in me, who am everlasting. I am undecayable, ever enduring, the receptacle of the spirit of the supreme. Brahma is my name; the supreme soul, that is before all things, that is after the end of all.


Vishnu appears to Prahlada. Hiranyakas'ipu relents, and is reconciled to his son: he is put to death by Vishnu as the Nrisinha. Prahlada becomes king of the Daityas: his posterity: fruit of hearing his story.

THUS meditating upon Vishnu, as identical with his own spirit, Prahlada became as one with him, and finally regarded himself as the divinity: he forgot entirely his own individuality, and was conscious of nothing else than his being the inexhaustible, eternal, supreme soul; and in consequence of the efficacy of this conviction of identity, the imperishable Vishnu, whose essence is wisdom, became present in his heart, which was wholly purified from sin. As soon as, through the force of his contemplation, Prahlada had become one with Vishnu, the bonds with which he was bound burst instantly asunder; the ocean was violently uplifted; and the monsters of the deep were alarmed; earth with all her forests and mountains trembled; and the prince, putting aside the rocks which the demons had piled Upon him, came forth from out the main. When he beheld the outer world again, and contemplated earth and heaven, he remembered who he was, and recognised himself to be Prahlada; and again he hymned Purushottama, who is without beginning or end; his mind being steadily and undeviatingly addressed to the object of his prayers, and his speech, thoughts, and acts being firmly under control. “Om! glory to the end of all: to thee, lord, who art subtile and substantial; mutable and immutable; perceptible and imperceptible; divisible and indivisible; indefinable and definable; the subject of attributes, and void of attributes; abiding in qualities, though they abide not in thee; morphous and amorphous; minute and vast; visible and invisible; hideousness and beauty; ignorance and wisdom; cause and effect; existence and non-existence; comprehending all that is good and evil; essence of perishable and imperishable elements; asylum of undeveloped rudiments. Oh thou who art both one and many, Vasudeva, first cause of all; glory be unto thee. Oh thou who art large and small, manifest and hidden; who art all beings, and art not all beings; and from whom, although distinct from universal cause, the universe proceeds: to thee, Purushottama, be all glory.”

Whilst with mind intent on Vishnu, he thus pronounced his praises, the divinity, clad in yellow robes, suddenly appeared before him. Startled at the sight, with hesitating speech Prahlada pronounced repeated salutations to Vishnu, and said, “Oh thou who removest all worldly grief, Kes'ava, be propitious unto me; again sanctify me, Achyuta, by thy sight.” The deity replied, “I am pleased with the faithful attachment thou hast shown to me: demand from me, Prahlada, whatever thou desirest.” Prahlada replied, “In all the thousand births through which I may be doomed to pass, may my faith in thee, Achyuta, never know decay; may passion, as fixed as that which the worldly-minded feel for sensual pleasures, ever animate my heart, always devoted unto thee.” Bhagavan answered, “Thou hast already devotion unto me, and ever shalt have it: now choose some boon, whatever is in thy wish.” Prahlada then said, “I have been hated, for that I assiduously proclaimed thy praise: do thou, oh lord, pardon in my father this sin that he Bath committed. Weapons have been hurled against me; I have been thrown into the flames; I have been bitten by venomous snakes; and poison has been mixed with my food; I have been bound and cast into the sea; and heavy rocks have been heaped upon me: but all this, and whatever ill beside has been wrought against me; whatever wickedness has been done to me, because I put my faith in thee; all, through thy mercy, has been suffered by me unharmed: and do thou therefore free my father from this iniquity.” To this application Vishnu replied, “All this shall be unto thee, through my favour: but I give thee another boon: demand it, son of the Asura.” Prahlada answered and said, “All my desires, oh lord, have been fulfilled by the boon that thou hast granted, that my faith in thee shall never know decay. Wealth, virtue, love, are as nothing; for even liberation is in his reach whose faith is firm in thee, root of the universal world.” Vishnu said, “Since thy heart is filled immovably with trust in me, thou shalt, through my blessing, attain freedom from existence.” Thus saying, Vishnu vanished from his sight; and Prahlada repaired to his father, and bowed down before him. His father kissed him on the forehead [1], and embraced him, and shed tears, and said, “Dost thou live, my son?” And the great Asura repented of his former cruelty, and treated him with kindness: and Prahlada, fulfilling his duties like any other youth, continued diligent in the service of his preceptor and his father. After his father had been put to death by Vishnu in the form of the man-lion [2], Prahlada became the sovereign of the Daityas; and possessing the splendours of royalty consequent upon his piety, exercised extensive sway, and was blessed with a numerous progeny. At the expiration of an authority which was the reward of his meritorious acts, he was freed from the consequences of moral merit or demerit, and obtained, through meditation on the deity, final exemption from existence.

Such, Maitreya, was the Daitya Prahlada, the wise and faithful worshipper of Vishnu, of whom you wished to hear; and such was his miraculous power. Whoever listens to the history of Prahlada is immediately cleansed from his sins: the iniquities that he commits, by night or by day, shall be expiated by once hearing, or once reading, the history of Prahlada. The perusal of this history on the day of full moon, of new moon, or on the eighth or twelfth day of the lunation [3], shall yield fruit equal to the donation of a cow [4]. As Vishnu protected Prahlada in all the calamities to which he was exposed, so shall the deity protect him who listens constantly to the tale [5].


Families of the Daityas. Descendants of Kas'yapa by Danu. Children of Kas'yapa by his other wives. Birth of the Marutas, the sons of Diti.

THE sons of Sanhrada, the son of Hiranyakas'ipu, were Ayushman, S'ivi, and Vashkala [1]. Prahlada had a son named Virochana; whose son was Bali, who had a hundred sons, of whom Bana was the eldest [2].

Hiranyaksha also had many sons, all of whom were Daityas of great prowess; Jharjhara, S'akuni, Bhutasantapana, Mahanabha, the mighty-armed and the valiant Taraka. These were the sons of Diti [3].

The children of Kas'yapa by Danu were Dwimurddha, S'ankara, Ayomukha, S'ankus'iras, Kapila, Samvara, Ekachakra, and another mighty Taraka, Swarbhanu, Vrishaparvan, Puloman, and the powerful Viprachitti; these were the renowned Danavas, or sons of Danu [4].

Swarbhanu had a daughter named Prabha [5]; and S'armishtha [6] was the daughter of Vrishaparvan, as were Upadanavi and Hayas'ira [7].

Vaiswanara [8] had two daughters, Puloma and Kalika, who were both married to Kas'yapa, and bore him sixty thousand distinguished Danavas, called Paulomas and Kalakanjas [9], who were powerful, ferocious, and cruel.

The sons of Viprachitti by Sinhika (the sister of Hiranyakas'ipu) were Vyans'a, S'alya the strong, Nabha the powerful, Vatapi, Namuchi, Ilwala, Khasrima, Anjaka, Naraka, and Kalanabha, the valiant Swarbhanu, and the mighty Vaktrayodhi [10]. These were the most eminent Danavas [11], through whom the race of Danu was multiplied by hundreds and thousands through succeeding generations.

In the family of the Daitya Prahlada, the Nivata Kavachas were born, whose spirits were purified by rigid austerity [12].

Tamra (the wife of Kas'yapa) had six illustrious daughters, named S'uki, S'yeni, Bhasi, Sugrivi, S'uchi, and Gridhrika. S'uki gave birth to parrots, owls, and crows [13]; S'yeni to hawks; Bhasi to kites; Gridhrika to vultures; S'uchi to water-fowl; Sugrivi to horses, camels, and asses. Such were the progeny of Tamra.

Vinata bore to Kas'yapa two celebrated sons, Garuda and Aruna: the former, also called Suparna, was the king of the feathered tribes, and the remorseless enemy of the serpent race [14].

The children of Surasa were a thousand mighty many-headed serpents, traversing the sky [15].

The progeny of Kadru were a thousand powerful many-headed serpents, of immeasurable might, subject to Garuda; the chief amongst whom were S'esha, Vasuki, Takshaka, S'ankha, S'weta, Mahapadma, Kambala, Aswatara, Elapatra, Naga, Karkkota, Dhananjaya, and many other fierce and venomous serpents [16].

The family of Krodhavasa were all sharp-toothed monsters [17], whether on the earth, amongst the birds, or in the waters, that were devourers of flesh.

[18]Surabhi was the mother of cows and buffaloes [19]: Ira, of trees and creeping plants and shrubs, and every kind of grass: Khasa, of the Rakshasas and Yakshas [20]: Muni, of the Apsarasas [21]: and Arishta, of the illustrious Gandharbas.

These were the children of Kas'yapa, whether movable or stationary, whose descendants multiplied infinitely through successive generations [22]. This creation, oh Brahman, took place in the second or Swarochisha Manwantara. In the present or Vaivaswata Manwantara, Brahma being engaged at the great sacrifice instituted by Varuna, the creation of progeny, as it is called, occurred; for he begot, as his sons, the seven Rishis, who were formerly mind-engendered; and was himself the grand-sire of the Gandharbas, serpents, Danavas, and gods [23].

Diti, having lost her children, propitiated Kas'yapa; and the best of ascetics, being pleased with her, promised her a boon; on which she prayed for a son of irresistible prowess and valour, who should destroy Indra. The excellent Muni granted his wife the great gift she had solicited, but with one condition: “You shall bear a son,” he said, “who shall slay Indra, if with thoughts wholly pious, and person entirely pure, you carefully carry the babe in your womb for a hundred years.” Having thus said, Kas'yapa departed; and the dame conceived, and during gestation assiduously observed the rules of mental and personal purity. When the king of the immortals, learnt that Diti bore a son destined for his destruction, he came to her, and attended upon her with the utmost humility, watching for an opportunity to disappoint her intention. At last, in the last year of the century, the opportunity occurred. Diti retired one night to rest without performing the prescribed ablution of her feet, and fell asleep; on which the thunderer divided with his thunderbolt the embryo in her womb into seven portions. The child, thus mutilated, cried bitterly; and Indra repeatedly attempted to console and silence it, but in vain: on which the god, being incensed, again divided each of the seven portions into seven, and thus formed the swift-moving deities called Marutas (winds). They derived this appellation from the words with which Indra had addressed them (Ma rodih, 'Weep not'); and they became forty-nine subordinate divinities, the associates of the wielder of the thunderbolt [24].


Dominion over different provinces of creation assigned to different beings. Universality of Vishnu. Four varieties of spiritual contemplation. Two conditions of spirit. The perceptible attributes of Vishnu types of his imperceptible properties. Vishnu every thing. Merit of hearing the first book of the Vishnu Purana.

WHEN Prithu was installed in the government of the earth, the great father of the spheres established sovereignties in other parts of the creation. Soma was appointed monarch of the stars and planets, of Brahmans and of plants, of sacrifices and of penance. Vaisravana was made king over kings; and Varuna, over the waters. Vishnu was the chief of the Adityas; Pavaka, of the Vasus; Daksha, of the patriarchs; Vasava, of the winds. To Prahlada was assigned dominion over the Daityas and Danavas; and Yama, the king of justice, was appointed the monarch of the Manes (Pitris). Airavata was made the king of elephants; Garuda, of birds; Indra, of the gods. Uchchais'ravas was the chief of horses; Vrishabha, of kine. S'esha became the snake-king; the lion, the monarch of the beasts; and the sovereign of the trees was the holy fig-tree [1]. Having thus fixed the limits of each authority, the great progenitor Brahma stationed rulers for the protection of the different quarters of the world: he made Sudhanwan, the son of the patriarch Viraja, the regent of the east; Sankhapada, the son of the patriarch Kardama, of the south; the immortal Ketumat, the son of Rajas, regent of the west; and Hiranyaroman, the son of the patriarch Parjanya, regent of the north [2]. By these the whole earth, with its seven continents and its cities, is to the present day vigilantly protected, according to their several limits.

All these monarchs, and whatever others may be invested with authority by the mighty Vishnu, as instruments for the preservation of the world; all the kings who have been, and all who shall be; are all, most worthy Brahman, but portions of the universal Vishnu. The rulers of the gods, the rulers of the Daityas, the rulers of the Danavas, and the rulers of all malignant spirits; the chief amongst beasts, amongst birds, amongst men, amongst serpents; the best of trees, of mountains, of planets; either those that now are, or that shall hereafter be, the most exalted of their kind; are but portions of the universal Vishnu. The power of protecting created things, the preservation of the world, resides with no other than Hari, the lord of all. He is the creator, who creates the world; he, the eternal, preserves it in its existence; and he, the destroyer, destroys it; invested severally with the attributes of foulness, goodness, and gloom. By a fourfold manifestation does Janarddana operate in creation, preservation, and destruction. In one portion, as Brahma, the invisible assumes a visible form; in another portion he, as Marichi and the rest, is the progenitor of all creatures; his third portion is time; his fourth is all beings: and thus he becomes quadruple in creation, invested with the quality of passion. In the preservation of the world he is, in one portion, Vishnu; in another portion he is Manu and the other patriarchs; he is time in a third; and all beings in a fourth portion: and thus, endowed with the property of goodness, Purushottama preserves the world. When he assumes the property of darkness, at the end of all things, the unborn deity becomes in one portion Rudra; in another, the destroying fire; in a third, time; and in a fourth, all beings: and thus, in a quadruple form, he is the destroyer of the world. This, Brahman, is the fourfold condition of the deity at all seasons.

Brahma, Daksha, time, and all creatures are the four energies of Hari, which are the causes of creation. Vishnu, Manu and the rest, time, and all creatures are the four energies of Vishnu, which are the causes of duration. Rudra, the destroying fire, time, and all creatures are the four energies of Janarddana that are exerted for universal dissolution. In the beginning and the duration of the world, until the period of its end, creation is the work of Brahma, the patriarchs, and living animals. Brahma creates in the beginning; then the patriarchs beget progeny; and then animals incessantly multiply their kinds: but Brahma is not the active agent in creation, independent of time; neither are the patriarchs, nor living animals. So, in the periods of creation and of dissolution, the four portions of the god of gods are equally essential. Whatever, oh Brahman, is engendered by any living being, the body of Hari is cooperative in the birth of that being; so whatever destroys any existing thing, movable or stationary, at any time, is the destroying form of Janarddana as Rudra. Thus Janarddana is the creator, the preserver, and the destroyer of the whole world–being threefold–in the several seasons of creation, preservation, and destruction, according to his assumption of the three qualities: but his highest glory [3] is detached from all qualities; for the fourfold essence of the supreme spirit is composed of true wisdom, pervades all things, is only to be appreciated by itself, and admits of no similitude.

MAITREYA.–But, Muni, describe to me fully the four varieties of the condition of Brahma, and what is the supreme condition [4].

PARAS'ARA.–That, Maitreya, which is the cause of a thing is called the means of effecting it; and that which it is the desire of the soul to accomplish is the thing to be effected. The operations of the Yogi who is desirous of liberation, as suppression of breath and the like, are his means: the end is the supreme Brahma, whence he returns to the world no more. Essentially connected with, and dependant upon, the means employed for emancipation by the Yogi, is discriminative knowledge; and this is the first variety of the condition of Brahma [5]. The second sort is the knowledge that is to be acquired by the Yogi whose end is escape from suffering, or eternal felicity. The third kind is the ascertainment of the identity of the end and the means, the rejection of the notion of duality. The last kind is the removal of whatever differences may have been conceived by the three first varieties of knowledge, and the consequent contemplation of the true essence of soul. The supreme condition of Vishnu, who is one with wisdom, is the knowledge of truth; which requires no exercise; which is not to be taught; which is internally diffused; which is unequalled; the object of which is self-illumination; which is simply existent, and is not to be defined; which is tranquil, fearless, pure; which is not the theme of reasoning; which stands in need of no support [6]. Those Yogis who, by the annihilation of ignorance, are resolved into this fourfold Brahma, lose the seminal property, and can no longer germinate in the ploughed field of worldly existence. This is the supreme condition, that is called Vishnu, perfect, perpetual, universal, undecaying, entire, and uniform: and the Yogi who attains this supreme spirit (Brahma) returns not to life again; for there he is freed from the distinction of virtue and vice, from suffering, and from soil.

There are two states of this Brahma; one with, and one without shape; one perishable, and one imperishable; which are inherent in all beings. The imperishable is the supreme being; the perishable is all the world. The blaze of fire burning on one spot diffuses light and heat around; so the world is nothing more than the manifested energy of the supreme Brahma: and inasmuch, Maitreya, as the light and heat are stronger or feebler as we are near to the fire, or far off from it, so the energy of the supreme is more or less intense in the beings that are less or more remote from him. Brahma, Vishnu, and S'iva are the most powerful energies of god; next to them are the inferior deities, then the attendant spirits, then men, then animals, birds, insects, vegetables; each becoming more and more feeble as they are farther from their primitive source. In this way, illustrious Brahman, this whole world, although in essence imperishable and eternal, appears and disappears, as if it was subject to birth and death.

The supreme condition of Brahma, which is meditated by the Yogis in the commencement of their abstraction, as invested with form, is Vishnu, composed of all the divine energies, and the essence of Brahma, with whom the mystic union that is sought, and which is accompanied by suitable elements, is effected [7] by the devotee whose whole mind is addressed to that object. This Hari, who is the most immediate of all the energies of Brahma, is his embodied shape, composed entirely of his essence; and in him therefore is the whole world interwoven; and from him, and in him, is the universe; and he, the supreme lord of all, comprising all that is perishable and imperishable, bears upon him all material and spiritual existence, identified in nature with his ornaments and weapons.

MAITREYA.–Tell me in what manner Vishnu bears the whole world, abiding in his nature, characterised by ornaments and weapons.

PARAS'ARA.–Having offered salutation to the mighty and indescribable Vishnu, I repeat to you what was formerly related to me by Vas'ishtha. The glorious Hari wears the pure soul of the world, undefiled, and void of qualities, as the Kaustubha gem. The chief principle of things (Pradhana) is seated on the eternal, as the Srivatsa mark. Intellect abides in Madhava, in the form of his mace. The lord (Is'wara) supports egotism (Ahankara) in its twofold division, into elements and organs of sense, in the emblems of his conch-shell and his bow. In his hand Vishnu holds, in the form of his discus, the mind, whose thoughts (like the weapon) fly swifter than the winds. The necklace of the deity Vaijayanti, composed of five precious gems [8], is the aggregate of the five elemental rudiments. Janarddana bears, in his numerous shafts, the faculties both of action and of perception. The bright sword of Achyuta is holy wisdom, concealed at some seasons in the scabbard of ignorance. In this manner soul, nature, intellect, egotism, the elements, the senses, mind, ignorance, and wisdom, are all assembled in the person of Hrishikes'a. Hari, in a delusive form, embodies the shapeless elements of the world, as his weapons and his ornaments, for the salvation of mankind [9]. Pundarikaksha, the lord of all, assumes nature, with all its products, soul and all the world. All that is wisdom, all that is ignorance, all that is, all that is not, all that is everlasting, is centred in the destroyer of Madhu, the lord of all creatures. The supreme, eternal Hari is time, with its divisions of seconds, minutes, days, months, seasons, and years: he is the seven worlds, the earth, the sky, heaven, the world of patriarchs, of sages, of saints, of truth: whose form is all worlds; first-born before all the first-born; the supporter of all beings, himself self-sustained: who exists in manifold forms, as gods, men, and animals; and is thence the sovereign lord of all, eternal: whose shape is all visible things; who is without shape or form: who is celebrated in the Vedanta as the Rich, Yajush, Sama, and Atharva Vedas, inspired history, and sacred science. The Vedas, and their divisions; the institutes of Manu and other lawgivers; traditional scriptures, and religious manuals [10]; poems, and all that is said or sung; are the body of the mighty Vishnu, assuming the form of sound. All kinds of substances, with or without shape, here or elsewhere, are the body of Vishnu. I am Hari. All that I behold is Janarddana; cause and effect are from none other than him. The man who knows these truths shall never again experience the afflictions of worldly existence.

Thus, Brahman, has the first portion of this Purana been duly revealed to you: listening to which, expiates all offences. The man who hears this Purana obtains the fruit of bathing in the Pushkara lake [11] for twelve years, in the month of Kartik. The gods bestow upon him who hears this work the dignity of a divine sage, of a patriarch, or of a spirit of heaven.

book 2


Descendants of Priyavrata, the eldest son of Swayambhuva Manu: his ten sons: three adopt a religious life; the others become kings of the seven Dwipas, or isles, of the earth. Agnidhra, king of Jambu-dwipa, divides it into nine portions, which he distributes amongst his sons. Nabhi, king of the south, succeeded by Rishabha; and he by Bharata: India named after him Bharata: his descendants reign during the Swayambhuva Manwantara.

MAITREYA.–You have related to me, venerable preceptor, most fully, all that I was curious to hear respecting the creation of the world; but there is a part of the subject which I am desirous again to have described. You stated that Priyavrata and Uttanapada were the sons of Swayambhuva Manu, and you repeated the story of Dhruva, the son of Uttanapada: you made no mention of the descendants of Priyavrata, and it is an account of his family that I beg you will kindly communicate to me.

PARAS'ARA.–Priyavrata married Kamya, the daughter of the patriarch Kardama [1], and had by her two daughters, Samrat and Kukshi, and ten sons, wise, valiant, modest, and dutiful, named Agnidhra, Agnibahu, Vapushmat, Dyutimat, Medha, Medhatithi, Bhavya, Savala, Putra, and the tenth was Jyotishmat [2], illustrious by nature as by name. These were the sons of Priyavrata, famous for strength and prowess. Of these, three, or Medha, Putra, and Agnibahu, adopted a religious life: remembering the occurrences of a prior existence, they did not covet dominion, but diligently practised the rites of devotion in due season, wholly disinterested, and looking for no reward.

Priyavrata having divided the earth into seven continents, gave them respectively to his other seven sons [3]. To Agnidhra he gave Jambu-dwipa; to Medhatithi he gave Plaksha-dwipa: he installed Vapushmat in the sovereignty over the Dwipa of Salmali; and made Jyotishmat king of Kus'a-dwipa: he appointed Dyutimat to rule over Krauncha-dwipa; Bhavya to reign over Saka-dwipa; and Savala he nominated the monarch of the Dwipa of Pushkara.

Agnidhra, the king of Jambu-dwipa, had nine sons, equal in splendour to the patriarchs: they were named Nabhi, Kimpurusha, Harivarsha, Ilavrita, Ramya, Hiranvat, Kuru, Bhadras'wa, and Ketumala [4], who was a prince ever active in the practice of piety.

Hear next, Maitreya, in what manner Agnidhra apportioned Jambu-dwipa amongst his nine sons. He gave to Nabhi the country called Hima, south of the Himavat, or snowy mountains. The country of Hemakuta he gave to Kimpurusha; and to Harivarsha, the country of

Nishadha. The region in the centre of which mount Meru is situated he conferred on Ilavrita; and to Ramya, the countries lying between it and the Nila mountain. To Hiranvat his father gave the country lying to the north of it, called S'weta; and, on the north of the S'weta mountains, the country bounded by the S'ringavan range he gave to Kuru. The countries on the east of Meru he assigned to Bhadras'wa; and Gandhamadana, which lay west of it, he gave to Ketumala [5].' Having installed his sons sovereigns in these several regions, the pious king Agnidhra retired to a life of penance at the holy place of pilgrimage, S'alagrama [6].

The eight Varshas, or countries, Kimpurusha and the rest, are places of perfect enjoyment, where happiness is spontaneous and uninterrupted. In them there is no vicissitude, nor the dread of decrepitude or death: there is no distinction of virtue or vice, nor difference of degree as better or worse, nor any of the effects produced in this region by the revolutions of ages.

Nabhi, who had for his portion the country of Himahwa, had by his queen Meru the magnanimous Rishabha; and he had a hundred sons, the eldest of whom was Bharata. Rishabha having ruled with equity and wisdom, and celebrated many sacrificial rites, resigned the sovereignty of the earth to the heroic Bharata, and, retiring to the hermitage of Pulastya, adopted the life of an anchoret, practising religious penance, and performing all prescribed ceremonies, until, emaciated by his austerities, so as to be but a collection of skin and fibres, he put a pebble in his mouth, and naked went the way of all flesh [7]. The country was termed Bharata from the time that it was relinquished to Bharata by his father, on his retiring to the woods [8].

Bharata, having religiously discharged the duties of his station, consigned the kingdom to his son Sumati, a most virtuous prince; and, engaging in devout practices, abandoned his life at the holy place, S'alagrama: he was afterwards born again as a Brahman, in a distinguished family of ascetics. I shall hereafter relate to you his history.

From the illustrious Sumati was born Indradyumna: his son was Parameshthin: his son was Pratihara, who had a celebrated son, named

Pratihartta: his son was Bhava, who begot Udgitha, who begot Prastara; whose son was Prithu. The son of Prithu was Nakta: his son was Gaya: his son was Nara; whose son was Virat. The valiant son of Virat was Dhimat, who begot Mahanta; whose son was Manasyu; whose son was Twashtri: his son was Viraja: his son was Raja: his son was S'atajit, who had a hundred sons, of whom Viswagjyotish was the eldest [9]. Under these princes, Bharata-varsha (India) was divided into nine portions (to be hereafter particularized); and their descendants successively held possession of the country for seventy-one periods of the aggregate of the four ages (or for the reign of a Manu).

This was the creation of Swayambhuva Manu, by which the earth was peopled, when he presided over the first Manwantara, in the Kalpa of Varaha [10]


Description of the earth. The seven Dwipas and seven seas. Jambu-dwipa. Mount Meru: its extent and boundaries. Extent of Ilavrita. Groves, lakes, and branches of Meru. Cities of the gods. Rivers. The forms of Vishnu worshipped in different Varshas.

MAITREYA.–You have related to me, Brahman, the creation of Swayambhuva; I am now desirous to hear from you a description of the earth: how many are its oceans and islands, its kingdoms and its mountains, its forests and rivers and the cities of the gods, its dimensions, its contents, its nature, and its form.

PARAS'ARA.–You shall hear, Maitreya, a brief account of the earth from me: a full detail I could not give you in a century.

The seven great insular continents are Jambu, Plaksha, Salmali, Kus'a, Krauncha, S'aka, and Pushkara: and they are surrounded severally by seven great seas; the sea of salt water (Lavana), of sugar-cane juice (Ikshu), of wine (Sura), of clarified butter (Sarpi), of curds (Dadhi), of milk (Dugdha), and of fresh water (Jala) [1].

Jambu-dwipa is in the centre of all these: and in the centre of this continent is the golden mountain Meru. The height of Meru is eighty-four thousand Yojanas; and its depth below the surface of the earth is sixteen thousand. Its diameter at the summit is thirty-two thousand Yojanas; and at its base, sixteen thousand: so that this mountain is like the seed-cup of the lotus of the earth [2].

The boundary mountains (of the earth) are Himavan, Hemakuta, and Nishadha, which lie south of Meru; and Nila, S'weta, and S'ringi, which are situated to the north of it. The two central ranges (those next to Meru, or Nishadha and Nila) extend for a hundred thousand (Yojanas, running east and west). Each of the others diminishes ten thousand Yojanas, as it lies more remote from the centre. They are two thousand Yojanas in height, and as many in breadth [3]. The Varshas or countries between these ranges are Bharata (India), south of the Himavan mountains; next Kimpurusha, between Himavan and Hemakuta; north of the latter, and south of Nishadha, is Hariversha; north of Meru is Ramyaka, extending from the Nila or blue mountains to the S'weta (or white) mountains; Hiranmaya lies between the S'weta and S'ringi ranges; and Uttarakuru is beyond the latter, following the same direction as Bharata [4]. Each of these is nine thousand Yojanas in extent. Ilavrita is of similar dimensions, but in the centre of it is the golden mountain Meru, and the country extends nine thousand Yojanas in each direction from the four sides of the mountain [5]. There are four mountains in this Varsha, formed as buttresses to Meru, each ten thousand Yojanas in elevation: that on the east is called Mandara; that on the south, Gandhamadana; that on the west, Vipula; and that on the north, Supars'wa [6]: on each of these stands severally a Kadamba-tree, a Jambu-tree, a Pipal, and a Vata [7]; each spreading over eleven hundred Yojanas, and towering aloft like banners on the mountains. From the Jambu-tree the insular continent Jambu-dwipa derives its appellations. The apples of that tree are as large as elephants: when they are rotten, they fall upon the crest of the mountain, and from their expressed juice is formed the Jambu river, the waters of which are drunk by the inhabitants; and in consequence of drinking of that stream, they pass their days in content and health, being subject neither to perspiration, to foul odours, to decrepitude, nor organic decay. The soil on the banks of the river, absorbing the Jambu juice, and being dried by gentle breezes, becomes the gold termed Jambunada, of which the ornaments of the Siddhas are fabricated.

The country of Bhadras'wa lies on the east of Meru, and Ketumala on the west; and between these two is the region of Ilavrita. On the east of the same is the forest Chaitraratha; the Gandhamadana wood is on the south; the forest of Vaibhraja is on the west; and the grove of Indra, or Nandana, is on the north. There are also four great lakes, the waters of which are partaken of by the gods, called Arunoda, Mahabhadra, S'itoda, and Manasa [8].

The principal mountain ridges which project from the base of Meru, like filaments from the root of the lotus, are, on the east, S'itanta, Mukunda, Kurari, Malyavan, and Vaikanka; on the south, Trikuta, S'is'ira, Patanga, Ruchaka, and Nishadha; on the west, S'ikhivasas, Vaidurya, Kapila, Gandhamadana, and Jarudhi; and on the north, S'ankhakuta, Rishabha, Naga, Hansa, and Kalanjara. These and others extend from between the intervals in the body, or from the heart, of Meru [9].

On the summit of Meru is the vast city of Brahma, extending fourteen thousand leagues, and renowned in heaven; and around it, in the cardinal points and the intermediate quarters, are situated the stately cities of Indra and the other regents of the spheres [10]. The capital of Brahma is enclosed by the river Ganges, which, issuing from the foot of Vishnu, and washing the lunar orb, falls here from the skies [11], and, after encircling the city, divides into four mighty rivers, flowing in opposite directions. These rivers are the S'ita, the Alakananda, the Chakshu, and the Bhadra. The first, falling upon the tops of the inferior mountains, on the east side of Meru, flows over their crests, and passes through the country of Bhadras'wa to the ocean: the Alakananda flows south, to the country of Bharata, and, dividing into seven rivers on the way, falls into the sea: the Chakshu falls into the sea, after traversing all the western mountains, and passing through the country of Ketumala: and the

Bhadra washes the country of the Uttara kurus, and empties itself into the northern ocean [12].

Meru, then, is confined between the mountains Nila and Nishadha (on the north and south), and between Malyavan and Gandhamadana (on the west and east [13]): it lies between them like the pericarp of a lotus. The countries of Bharata, Ketumala, Bhadras'wa, and Uttarakuru lie, like leaves of the lotus of the world, exterior to the boundary mountains. Jathara and Devakuta are two mountain ranges, running north and south, and connecting the two chains of Nishadha and Nila. Gandhamadana and Kailasa extend, east and west, eighty Yojanas in breadth, from sea to sea. Nishadha and Pariyatra are the limitative mountains on the west, stretching, like those on the east, between the Nila and Nishadha ranges: and the mountains Tris'ringa and Jarudhi are the northern limits of Meru, extending, east and west, between the two seas [14]. Thus I have repeated to you the mountains described by great sages as the boundary mountains, situated in pairs, on each of the four sides of Meru. Those also, which have been mentioned as the filament mountains (or spurs), S'itanta and the rest, are exceedingly delightful. The vallies embosomed amongst them are the favourite resorts of the Siddhas and Charanas: and there are situated upon them agreeable forests, and pleasant cities, embellished with the palaces of Vishnu, Lakshmi, Agni, Surya, and other deities, and peopled by celestial spirits; whilst the Yakshas, Rakshasas, Daityas, and Danavas pursue their pastimes in the vales. These, in short, are the regions of Paradise, or Swarga, the seats of the righteous, and where the wicked do not arrive even after a hundred births.

In the country of Bhadras'wa, Vishnu resides as Hayasira (the horse-headed); in Ketumala, as Varaha (the boar); in Bharata, as the tortoise (Kurma); in Kuru, as the fish (Matsya); in his universal form, every where; for Hari pervades all places: he, Maitreya, is the supporter of all things; he is all things. In the eight realms of Kimpurusha and the rest (or all exclusive of Bharata) there is no sorrow, nor weariness, nor anxiety, nor hunger, nor apprehension; their inhabitants are exempt from all infirmity and pain, and live in uninterrupted enjoyment for ten or twelve thousand years. Indra never sends rain upon them, for the earth abounds with water. In those places there is no distinction of Krita, Treta, or any succession of ages. In each of these Varshas there are respectively seven principal ranges of mountains, from which, oh best of Brahmans, hundreds of rivers take their rise [15].


Description of Bharata-varsha: extent: chief mountains: nine divisions: principal rivers and mountains of Bharata proper: principal nations: superiority over other Varshas, especially as the seat of religious acts. (Topographical lists.)

THE country that lies north of the ocean, and south of the snowy mountains, is called Bharata, for there dwelt the descendants of Bharata. It is nine thousand leagues in extent [1], and is the land of works, in consequence of which men go to heaven, or obtain emancipation.

The seven main chains of mountains in Bharata are Mahendra, Malaya, Sahya, S'uktimat, Riksha, Vindhya, and Paripatra [2].

From this region heaven is obtained, or even, in some cases, liberation from existence; or men pass from hence into the condition of brutes, or fall into hell. Heaven, emancipation, a state in mid-air, or in the subterraneous realms, succeeds to existence here, and the world of acts is not the title of any other portion of the universe.

The Varsha of Bharata is divided into nine portions, which I will name to you; they are Indra-dwipa, Kaserumat, Tamravarna, Gabhastimat, Naga-dwipa, Saumya, Gandharba, and Varuna; the last or ninth Dwipa is surrounded by the ocean, and is a thousand Yojanas from north to south [3].

On the east of Bharata dwell the Kiratas (the barbarians); on the west, the Yavanas; in the centre reside Brahmans, Kshetriyas, Vais'yas, and S'udras, occupied in their respective duties of sacrifice, arms, trade, and service [4].

The S'atadru, Chandrabhaga, and other rivers, flow from the foot of

Himalaya: the Vedasmriti and others from the Paripatra mountains: the Narmada and Surasa from the Vindhya hills: the Tapi, Payoshni, and Nirvindhya from the Riksha mountains; the Godaveri, Bhimarathi, Krishnaveni, and others, from the Sahya mountains: the Kritamala, Tamraparni, and others, from the Malaya hills: the Trisama, Rishikulya, &c. from the Mahendra: and the Rishikulya, Kumari, and others, from the S'uktimat mountains. Of such as these, and of minor rivers, there is an infinite number; and many nations inhabit the countries on their borders [5].

The principal nations of Bharata are the Kurus and Panchalas, in the middle districts: the people of Kamarupa, in the east: the Pundras,

Kalingas, Magadhas, and southern nations, are in the south: in the extreme west are the Saurashtras, S'uras, Bhiras, Arbudas: the Karushas and Malavas, dwelling along the Paripatra mountains: the Sauviras, the Saindhavas, the Hunas, the Salwas, the people of S'akala, the Madras, the Ramas, the Ambashthas, and the Parasikas, and others. These nations drink of the water of the rivers above enumerated, and inhabit their borders, happy and prosperous [6].

In the Bharata-varsha it is that the succession of four Yugas, or ages, the Krita, the Treta, the Dwapara, and Kali, takes place; that pious ascetics engage in rigorous penance; that devout men offer sacrifices; and that gifts are distributed; all for the sake of another world. In Jambu-dwipa, Vishnu, consisting of sacrifice, is worshipped, as the male of sacrificial rites, with sacrificial ceremonies: he is adored under other forms elsewhere. Bharata is therefore the best of the divisions of Jambu-dwipa, because it is the land of works: the others are places of enjoyment alone. It is only after many thousand births, and the aggregation of much merit, that living beings are sometimes born in Bharata as men. The gods themselves exclaim, “Happy are those who are born, even from the condition of gods, as men in Bharata-varsha, as that is the way to the pleasures of Paradise, or the greater blessing of final liberation. Happy are they who, consigning all the unheeded rewards of their acts to the supreme and eternal Vishnu, obtain existence in that land of works, as their path to him. We know not, when the acts that have obtained us heaven shall have been fully recompensed [7], where we shall renew corporeal confinement; but we know that those men are fortunate who are born with perfect faculties [8] in Bharata-varsha.”

I have thus briefly described to you, Maitreya, the nine divisions of Jambu-dwipa, which is a hundred thousand Yojanas in extent, and which is encircled, as if by a bracelet, by the ocean of salt water, of similar dimensions.


From the Mahabharata, Bhishma Parva, II. 342.


SANJAYA speaks to Dhritarashtra.–Hear me, monarch, in reply to your inquiries, detail to you the particulars of the country of Bharata.

Mahendra, Malaya, Sahya, S'uktimat [2], Gandhamadana, Vindhya, and Paripatra are the seven mountain ranges: as subordinate portions of them are thousands of mountains; some unheard of, though lofty, extensive, and abrupt; and others better known, though of lesser elevation, and inhabited by people of low stature [3]: there pure and degraded tribes, mixed together, drink [4] of the following streams: the stately Ganga, the Sindhu, and the Saraswati [5]; the Godavari, Narmada, and the great river

Bahuda [6]; the S'atadru, Chandrabhaga, and great river Yamuna; the Drishadwati [7], Vipas'a [8], and Vipapa, with coarse sands; the Vetravati, the deep Krishnaveni, the Iravati [9], Vitasta [10], Pavoshni [11], and

Devika [12]; the Vedasmrita, Vedavati [13], Tridiva [14], Ikshumalavi [15], Karishini, Chitrabaha, the deep Chitrasena, the Gomati, the Dhutapapa, and the great river Gandaki [16]; the Kaus'iki, Nis'chita [17], Kritya, Nichita, Lohatarini [18], Rahasya, S'atakumbha, and also the S'arayu [19], the Charmanvati, Chandrabhaga [20], Hastisoma, Dis, S'aravati [21], Payoshni, Para [22], and Bhimarathi [23], Kaveri [24], Chulaka [25], Vina [26], Satabala, Nivara, Mahita [27],

Suprayoga [28] Pavitra [29], Kundala, Sindhu [30], Rajani [31], Puramalini, Purvabhirama, Vira, Bhima [32], Oghavati, Palas'ini [33], Papahara, Mahendra, Patalavati [34], Karishini, Asikni, the great river Kus'achira [35], the Makari [36], Pravara, Mena [37], Hema, and Dhritavati [38], Puravati [39], Anushna [40], Saivya, Kapi [41], Sadanira [42], Adhrishya, the great river Kus'adhara [43], Sadakanta [44], S'iva, Viravati, Vastu, Suvastu [45], Gauri, Kampana [46], Hiranvati, Vara, Virankara, Panchami, Rathachitra, Jyotiratha, Viswamitra [47], Kapinjala, Upendra, Bahula, Kuchira [48], Madhuvahini [49], Vinadi [50], Pinjala, Vena, Tungavena [51], Vidis'a [52], Krishnavena, Tamra, Kapila, Selu, Suvama [53], Vedas'wa, Haris'rava, Mahopama [54], S'ighra, Pichchhala [55], the deep Bharadwaji, the Kaus'iki, the Sona [56], Bahuda, and Chandrama, Durga,

Amtras'ila [57], Brahmabodhya, Vrihadvati, Yavaksha [58], Rohi, Jambunadi, Sunasa [59], Tamasa [60], Dasi, Vasa, Varana, Asi [61], Nala, Dhritamati, Purnas'a [62], Tamasi [63], Vrishabha, Brahmamedhya, Vrihadvati. These and many other large streams, as the Krishna [64], whose waters are always salubrious, and the slow-flowing Mandavahini [65], the Brahmani [66], Mahagauri, Durga [67], Chitropala [68], Chitraratha, Manjula [69], Mandakini [70], Vaitarani [71], the great river Kos'a [72], the Muktimati [73], Maninga [74], Pushpaveni, Utpalavati, Lohitya [75], Karatoya [76], Vrishakahwa [77], Kumari, Rishikulya [78], Marisha, Saraswati, Mandakini, Punya [79], Sarvasanga; all these, the universal mothers, productive of abundance, besides hundreds of inferior note, are the rivers of Bharata, according to remembrance [80].


Next hear from me, descendant of Bharata, the names of the inhabitants of the different countries, They are the Kurus, Panchalas [1], S'alwas, Madreyas, and dwellers in thickets (Jangalas), S'urasenas [2], Kalingas [3], Bodhas [4], Malas [5], Matsyas [6], Sukutyas [7], Sauvalyas [8], Kuntalas [9],

Kas'ikosalas [10], Chedyas [11], Matsyas [12], Karushas [13], Bhojas [14], Sindhupulindas [15], Uttamas [16], Das'arnas [17], Mekalas [18], Utkalas [19], Panchalas [20],

Kaus'ijas [21], Naikaprishthas [22], Dhurandharas [23], Sodhas [24], Madrabhujingas [25], Kas'is [26], Aparakas'is, Jatharas, Kukuras, Dasarnas, Kuntis, Avantis [27], Aparakuntis [28], Goghnatas [29], Mandakas, Shandas [30], Vidarbhas [31], Rupavahikas [32],

As'wakas [33], Pansurashtras, Goparashtras [34], Karitis [35], the people of Adhivajya [36], Kuladya [37], Mallarashtra [38], and Kerala [39]; the Varapasis [40], Apavarhas [41], Chakras [42], Vakratapas and S'akas [43], Videhas [44], Magadhas [45], Swakshas [46], Malayas [47], and Vijayas [48]; the Angas [49], Vangas [50], Kalingas [51] and Yakrillomas, Mallas [52], Sudellas [53], Prahladas, Mahikas [54] and

S'as'ikas [55], Bahlikas [56], Vatadhanas [57], Abhiras [58] and Kalajoshakas [59], Aparantas [60], Parantas, Pahnavas [61], Charmamandalas [62], Atavis'ikharas and Merubhutas [63], Upavrittas, Anupavrittas, Swarashtras [64], Kekayas [65],

Kuttaparantas [66], Maheyas [67], Kakshas [68], dwellers on the sea-shore, and the Andhas and many tribes residing within and without the hills; the Malajas [69], Magadhas [70], Manavarjjakas [71]; those north of the Mahi (Mahyuttaras), the Pravrisheyas, Bhargavas [72], Pundras [73], Bhargas [74], Kiratas, Sudeshtas; and the people on the Yamuna (Yamunas), S'akas, Nishadas [75], Nishadhas [76], Anarttas [77]; and those in the south-west (Nairritas), the Durgalas, Pratimasyas [78], Kuntalas, Kus'alas [79], Tiragrahas,

Surasenas, Ijikas [80], Kanyakagunas, Tilabaras, Samiras, Madhumattas, Sukandakas, Kas'miras [81], Sindhusauviras [82], Gandharas [83], Dars'akas [84], Abhisaras [85], Utulas [86], S'aivalas [87], and Bahlikas [88]; the people of Darvi [89], the

Vanavas, Darvas, Vatajamarathorajas, Bahubadhas [90], Kauravyas, Sudamas [91], Sumallis, Badhnas, Karishakas, Kulindapatyakas, Vatayanas [92], Das'arnas [93], Romanas [94], Kus'avindus, Kakshas [95], Gopala-kakshas [96], Jangalas [97], Kuruvarnakas [98], Kiratas, Barbaras [99], Siddhas, Vaidehas [100] Tamraliptas [101], Audras [102], Paundras [103], dwellers in sandy tracts (S'ais'ikatas), and in mountains (Parvatiyas). Moreover, chief of the sons of Bharata, there are the nations of the south, the Draviras [104], Keralas [105], Prachyas [106], Mushikas [107], and Vanavasakas [108]; the Karnatakas [109], Mahishakas [110], Vikalyas [111] and Mushakas [112], Jillikas [113], Kuntalas [114], Sauhridas,

Nalakananas [115], Kaukuttakas [116], Cholas [117], Kaunkanas [118], Malavanas [119], Samangas, Karakas, Kukkuras, Angaras [120], Dhwajinyutsavasanketas [121], Trigarttas [122], S'alwasenis, S'akas [123], Kokarakas [124], Proshtas, Samavegavasas [125]. There are also the Vindhyachulukas [126], Pulindas and Kalkalas [127], Malavas [128], Mallavas [129], Aparavallabhas, Kulindas [130], Kalavas [131], Kunthakas [132], Karatas [133], Mushakas, Tanabalas [134], Saniyas [135], Ghatasrinjayas [136], Alindayas [137], Pas'ivatas [138], Tanayas [139], Sunayas [140], Das'ividarbhas [141], Kantikas [142], Tanganas [143], Paratanganas, northern and other fierce barbarians (Mlechchhas), Yavanas [144], Chinas [145], Kambojas [146]; ferocious and uncivilized races, S'akridgrahas [147], Kulatthas [148], Hunas, and Parasikas [149]; also Ramanas [150], Chinas, Das'amalikas [151], those living near the Kshatriyas, and Vais'yas and S'udras [152]; also

S'udras [153], Abhiras [154], Daradas [155], Kas'miras, with Pattis [156], Khasiras [157], Antacharas or borderers, Pahnavas [158], and dwellers in mountain caves

(Girigahvaras [159]), Atreyas, Bharadwajas [160], Stanayoshikas [161], Proshakas [162], Kalinga [163], and tribes of Kiratas, Tomaras, Hansamargas, and Karabhanjikas [164]. These and many other nations, dwelling in the east and in the north, can be only thus briefly noticed [165].


Account of kings, divisions, mountains, rivers, and inhabitants of the other Dwipas, viz. Plaksha, S'almala, Kus'a, Krauncha, S'aka, and Pushkara: of the oceans separating them: of the tides: of the confines of the earth: the Lokaloka mountain. Extent of the whole.

IN the same manner as Jambu-dwipa is girt round about by the ocean of salt water, so that ocean is surrounded by the insular continent of Plaksha; the extent of which is twice that of Jambu-dwipa.

Medhatithi, who was made sovereign of Plaksha, had seven sons, S'antabhaya, S'is'ira, Sukhodaya, Ananda, S'iva, Kshemaka, and Dhruva; and the Dwipa was divided amongst them, and each division was named after the prince to whom it was subject. The several kingdoms were bounded by as many ranges of mountains, named severally Gomeda, Chandra, Narada, Dundubhi, Somaka, Sumanas, and Vaibhraja. In these mountains the sinless inhabitants ever dwell along with celestial spirits and gods: in them are many holy places; and the people there live for a long period, exempt from care and pain, and enjoying uninterrupted felicity. There are also, in the seven divisions of Plaksha, seven rivers, flowing to the sea, whose names alone are sufficient to take away sin: they are the Anutapta, S'ikhi, Vipasa, Tridiva, Kramu, Amrita, and Sukrita. These are the chief rivers and mountains of Plaksha-dwipa, which I have enumerated to you; but there are thousands of others of inferior magnitude. The people who drink of the waters of those rivers are always contented and happy, and there is neither decrease nor increase amongst them [1], neither are the revolutions of the four ages known in these Varshas: the character of the time is there uniformly that of the Treta (or silver) age. In the five Dwipas, worthy Brahman, from Plaksha to S'aka, the length of life is five thousand years, and religious merit is divided amongst the several castes and orders of the people. The castes are called Aryaka, Kuru, Vivasa, and Bhavi, corresponding severally with Brahman, Kshetriya, Vais'ya, and S'udra. In this Dwipa is a large fig-tree (F. religiosa), of similar size as the Jambu-tree of Jambu-dwipa; and this Dwipa is called Plaksha, after the name of the tree. Hari, who is all, and the creator of all, is worshipped in this continent in the form of Soma (the moon). Plaksha-dwipa is surrounded, as by a disc, by the sea of molasses, of the same extent as the land. Such, Maitreya, is a brief description of Plaksha-dwipa.

The hero Vapushmat was king of the next or S'almala-dwipa, whose seven sons also gave designations to seven Varshas, or divisions. Their names were S'weta, Harita, Jimuta, Rohita, Vaidyuta, Manasa, and Suprabha. The Ikshu sea is encompassed by the continent of Salmala, which is twice its extent. There are seven principal mountain ranges, abounding in precious gems, and dividing the Varshas from each other; and there are also seven chief rivers. The mountains are called Kumuda, Unnata, Valahaka, Drona, fertile in medicinal herbs, Kanka, Mahisha, and Kakkudwat. The rivers are Yauni, Toya, Vitrishna, Chandra, S'ukla, Vimochani, and Nivritti; all whose waters cleanse away sins. The Brahmans, Kshetriyas, Vais'yas, and S'udras of this Dwipa, called severally Kapilas, Arunas, Pitas, and Rohitas (or tawny, purple, yellow, and red), worship the imperishable soul of all things, Vishnu, in the form of Vayu (wind), with pious rites, and enjoy frequent association with the gods. A large S'almali (silk-cotton) tree grows in this Dwipa, and gives it its name. The Dwipa is surrounded by the Sura sea (sea of wine), of the same extent as itself.

The Sura sea is entirely encircled by Kus'a-dwipa, which is every way twice the size of the preceding continent. The king, Jyotishmat, had seven sons, Udbhida, Venuman, Swairatha, Lavana, Dhriti, Prabhakara, and Kapila, after whom the seven portions or Varshas of the island were called Udbhida, &c. There reside mankind along with Daityas and Danavas, as well as with spirits of heaven and gods. The four castes, assiduously devoted to their respective duties, are termed Damis, S'ushmis, Snehas, and Mandehas, who, in order to be relieved of the obligations imposed upon them in the discharge of their several functions, worship Janarddana, in the form of Brahma, and thus get rid of the unpleasant duties which lead to temporal rewards. The seven principal mountains in this Dwipa are named Vidruma, Hemas'aila, Dyutiman, Pushpavan, Kus'es'aya, Hari, and Mandara; and the seven rivers are Dhutapapa, S'iva, Pavitra, Sammati, Vidyudambha, Mahhvanya, Sarvapapahara: besides these, there are numerous rivers and mountains of less importance. Kus'a-dwipa is so named from a clump of Kus'a grass (Poa) growing there. It is surrounded by the Ghrita sea (the sea of butter), of the same size as the continent.

The sea of Ghrita is encompassed by Krauncha-dwipa, which is twice as large as Kus'a-dwipa. The king of this Dwipa was Dyutiman, whose sons, and the seven Varshas named after them, were Kus'ala, Mallaga, Ushna, Pivara, Andhakaraka, Muni, and Dundubhi. The seven boundary mountains, pleasing to gods and celestial spirits, are Krauncha, Vamana, Andhakaraka, Devavrit, Pundarikavan, Dundubhi, and Mahas'aila; each of which is in succession twice as lofty as the series that precedes it, in the same manner as each Dwipa is twice as extensive as the one before it. The inhabitants reside there without apprehension, associating with the bands of divinities. The Brahmans are called Pushkaras; the Kshetriyas, Pushkalas: the Vais'yas are termed Dhanyas; and the S'udras, Tishyas. They drink of countless streams, of which the principal are denominated Gauri, Kumudwati, Sandhya, Ratri, Manojava, Kshanti, and Pundarika. The divine Vishnu, the protector of mankind, is worshipped there by the people, with holy rites, in the form of Rudra. Krauncha is surrounded by the sea of curds, of a similar extent; and that again is encompassed by S'aka-dwipa.

The sons of Bhavya, the king of S'aka-dwipa, after whom its Varshas were denominated, were Jalada, Kumara, Sukumara, Manichaka, Kusumoda, Maudaki, and Mahadruma. The seven mountains separating the countries were Udayagiri, Jaladhara, Raivataka, S'yama, Ambikeya, Ramya, and Kes'ari. There grows a large Saka (Teak) tree, frequented by the Siddhas and Gandharbas, the wind from which, as produced by its fluttering leaves, diffuses delight. The sacred lands of this continent are peopled by the four castes. Its seven holy rivers, that wash away all sin, are the Sukumari, Kumari, Nalini, Dhenuka, Ikshu, Venuka, and Gabhasti. There are also hundreds and thousands of minor streams and mountains in this Dwipa: and the inhabitants of Jalada and the other divisions drink of those waters with pleasure, after they have returned to earth from Indra's heaven. In those seven districts there is no dereliction of virtue; there is no contention; there is no deviation from rectitude. The caste of Mriga is that of the Brahman; the Magadha, of the Kshetriya; the Manasa, of the Vais'ya; and the Mandaga of the S'udra: and by these Vishnu is devoutly worshipped as the sun, with appropriate ceremonies. S'aka-dwipa is encircled by the sea of milk, as by an armlet, and the sea is of the same breadth as the continent which it embraces [2]

The Kshiroda ocean (or sea of milk) is encompassed by the seventh Dwipa, or Pushkara, which is twice the size of Saka-dwipa. Savana, who was made its sovereign, had but two sons, Mahavira and Dhataki, after whom the two Varshas of Pushkara were so named. These are divided by one mighty range of mountains, called Manasottara, which runs in a circular direction (forming an outer and an inner circle). This mountain is fifty thousand Yojanas in height, and as many in its breadth; dividing the Dwipa in the middle, as if with a bracelet, into two divisions, which are also of a circular form, like the mountain that separates them. Of these two, the Mahavira-varsha is exterior to the circumference of Manasottara, and Dhataki lies within the circle; and both are frequented by heavenly spirits and gods. There are no other mountains in Pushkara, neither are there any rivers [3]. Men in this Dwipa live a thousand years, free from sickness and sorrow, and unruffled by anger or affection.

There is neither virtue nor vice, killer nor slain: there is no jealousy, envy, fear, hatred, covetousness, nor any moral defect: neither is there truth or falsehood. Food is spontaneously produced there, and all the inhabitants feed upon viands of every flavour. Men there are indeed of the same nature with gods, and of the same form and habits. There is no distinction of caste or order; there are no fixed institutes; nor are rites performed for the sake of advantage. The three Vedas, the Puranas, ethics, and polity, and the laws of service, are unknown. Pushkara is in fact, in both its divisions, a terrestrial paradise, where time yields happiness to all its inhabitants, who are exempt from sickness and decay. A Nyagrodha-tree (Ficus indica) grows on this Dwipa, which is the especial abode of Brahma, and he resides in it, adored by the gods and demons. Pushkara is surrounded by the sea of fresh water, which is of equal extent with the continent it invests [4].

In this manner the seven island continents are encompassed successively by the seven oceans, and each ocean and continent is respectively of twice the extent of that which precedes it. In all the oceans the water remains at all times the same in quantity, and never, increases or diminishes; but like the water in a caldron, which, in consequence of its combination with heat, expands, so the waters of the ocean swell with the increase of the moon. The waters, although really neither more nor less, dilate or contract as the moon increases or wanes in the light and dark fortnights. The rise and fall of the waters of the different seas is five hundred and ten inches [5].

Beyond the sea of fresh water is a region of twice its extent, where the land is of gold, and where no living beings reside. Thence extends the Lokaloka mountain, which is ten thousand Yojanas in breadth, and as many in height; and beyond it perpetual darkness invests the mountain all around; which darkness is again encompassed by the shell of the egg [6].

Such, Maitreya, is the earth, which with its continents, mountains, oceans, and exterior shell, is fifty crores (five hundred millions) of

Yojanas in extent [7]. It is the mother and nurse of all creatures, the foundation of all worlds, and the chief of the elements.


Of the seven regions of Patala, below the earth. Narada's praises of Patala. Account of the serpent S'esha. First teacher of astronomy and astrology.

PARAS'ARA.–The extent of the surface of the earth has been thus described to you, Maitreya. Its depth below the surface is said to be seventy thousand Yojanas, each of the seven regions of Patala extending downwards ten thousand. These seven, worthy Muni, are called Atala, Vitala, Nitala, Gabhastimat, Mahatala, Sutala, and Patala [1]. Their soil is severally white, black, purple, yellow, sandy, stony, and of gold. They are embellished with magnificent palaces, in which dwell numerous Danavas, Daityas, Yakshas, and great snake-gods. The Muni Narada, after his return from those regions to the skies [2], declared amongst the celestials that Patala was much more delightful than Indra's heaven. “What,” exclaimed the sage, “can be compared to Patala, where the Nagas are decorated with brilliant and beautiful and pleasure-shedding jewels? who will not delight in Patala, where the lovely daughters of the Daityas and Danavas wander about, fascinating even the most austere; where the rays of the sun diffuse light, and not heat, by day; and where the moon shines by night for illumination, not for cold; where the sons of Danu, happy in the enjoyment of delicious viands and strong wines, know not how time passes? There are beautiful groves and streams and lakes where the lotus blows; and the skies are resonant with the Koil's song. Splendid ornaments, fragrant perfumes, rich unguents, the blended music of the lute and pipe and tabor; these and many other enjoyments are the common portion of the Danavas, Daityas, and snake-gods, who inhabit the regions of Patala [3].”

Below the seven Patalas is the form of Vishnu, proceeding from the quality of darkness, which is called S'esha [4], the excellencies of which neither Daityas nor Danavas can fully enumerate. This being is called Ananta by the spirits of heaven, and is worshipped by sages and by gods. He has a thousand heads, which are embellished with the pure and visible mystic sign [5]: and the thousand jewels in his crests give light to all the regions. For the benefit of the world he: deprives the Asuras of their strength. He rolls his eyes fiercely, as if intoxicated. He wears a single ear-ring, a diadem, and wreath upon each brow; and shines like the white mountains topped with flame. He is clothed in purple raiment, and ornamented with a white necklace, and looks like another Kailasa, with the heavenly Ganga flowing down its precipices. In one hand he holds a plough, and in the other a pestle; and he is attended by Varuni (the goddess of wine), who is his own embodied radiance. From his mouths, at the end of the Kalpa, proceeds the venomed fire that, impersonated as Rudra, who is one with Balarama, devours the three worlds.

S'esha bears the entire world, like a diadem, upon his head, and he is the foundation on which the seven Patalas rest. His power, his glory, his form, his nature, cannot be described, cannot he comprehended by the gods themselves. Who shall recount his might, who wears this whole earth, like a garland of flowers, tinged of a purple dye by the radiance of the jewels of his crests. When Ananta, his eyes rolling with intoxication, yawns, then earth, with all her woods, and mountains, and seas, and rivers, trembles. Gandharbas, Apsarasas, Siddhas, Kinnaras, Uragas, and Charanas are unequal to hymn his praises, and therefore he is called the infinite (Ananta), the imperishable. The sandal paste, that is ground by the wives of the snake-gods, is scattered abroad by his breath, and sheds perfume around the skies.

The ancient sage Garga [6], having propitiated S'esha, acquired from him a knowledge of the principles of astronomical science, of the planets, and of the good and evil denoted by the aspects of the heavens.

The earth, sustained upon the head of this sovereign serpent, supports in its turn the garland of the spheres, along with their inhabitants, men, demons, and gods.


Of the different hells or divisions of Naraka, below Patala: the crimes punished in them respectively: efficacy of expiation: meditation on Vishnu the most effective expiation.

PARAS'ARA.–I will now, great Muni, give you an account of the hells which are situated beneath the earth and beneath the waters [1], and into which sinners are finally sent.

The names of the different Narakas are as follows: Raurava, S'ukara, Rodha, Tala, Vis'asana, Mahajwala, Taptakumbha, Lavana, Vimohana, Rudhirandha, Vaitarani, Krimis'a, Krimibhojana, Asipatravana, Krishna, Lalabhaksha, Daruna, Puyavaha, Papa, Vahnijwala, Adhos'iras, Sandansa, Kalasutra, Tamas, Avichi, S'wabhojana, Apratishtha, and another Avichi [2]. These and many other fearful hells are the awful provinces of the kingdom of Yama, terrible with instruments of torture and with fire; into which are hurled all those who are addicted when alive to sinful practices [3].

The man who bears false witness through partiality, or who utters any falsehood, is condemned to the Raurava (dreadful) hell. He who causes abortion, plunders a town, kills a cow, or strangles a man, goes to the

Rodha hell (or that of obstruction). The murderer of a Brahman, stealer of gold, or drinker of wine, goes to the Sukara (swine) hell; as does any one who associates with them. The murderer of a man of the second or third castes, and one who is guilty of adultery with the wife of his spiritual teacher, is sentenced to the Tala (padlock) hell: and one who holds incestuous intercourse with a sister, or murders an ambassador, to Taptakumbha (or the hell of heated caldrons). The seller of his wife, a gaoler, a horsedealer, and one who deserts his adherents, falls into the Taptaloha (red-hot iron) hell. He who commits incest with a daughter-in-law or a daughter is cast into the Mahajwala hell (or that of great flame): and he who is disrespectful to his spiritual guide, who is abusive to his betters, who reviles the Vedas, or who sells them [4], who associates with women in a prohibited degree, into the Lavana (salt) hell. A thief and a contemner of prescribed observances falls into Vimohana (the place of bewildering). He who hates his father, the Brahmans, and the gods, or who spoils precious gems, is punished in the Krimibhaksha hell (where worms are his food): and he who practises magic rites for the harm of others, in the hell called Krimis'a (that of insects). The vile wretch who eats his meal before offering food to the gods, to the manes, or to guests, falls into the hell called Lalabhaksha (where saliva is given for food). The maker of arrows is sentenced to the Vedhaka (piercing) hell: and the maker of lances, swords, and other weapons, to the dreadful hell called Vis'asana (murderous). He who takes unlawful gifts goes to the Adhomukha (or head-inverted) hell; as does one who offers sacrifices to improper objects, and an observer of the stars (for the prediction of events). He who eats by himself sweetmeats mixed with his rice [5], and a Brahman who vends Lac, flesh, liquors, sesamum, or salt, or one who commits violence, fall into the hell (where matter flows, or) Puyavaha; as do they who rear cats, cocks, goats, dogs, hogs, or birds. Public performers [6], fishermen, the follower of one born in adultery, a poisoner, an informer, one who lives by his wife's prostitution [7], one who attends to secular affairs on the days of the Parvas (or full and new moon, &c.) [8], an incendiary, a treacherous friend, a soothsayer, one who performs religious ceremonies for rustics, and those who sell the acid Asclepias, used in sacrifices, go to the Rudhirandha hell (whose wells are of blood). He who destroys a bee-hive, or pillages a hamlet, is condemned to the Vaitarani hell. He who causes impotence, trespasses on others' lands, is impure, or who lives by fraud, is punished in the hell called (black, or) Krishna. He who wantonly cuts down trees goes to the Asipatravana hell (the leaves of whose trees are swords): and a tender on sheep, and hunter of deer, to the hell termed Vahnijwala (or fiery flame); as do those who apply fire to unbaked vessels (potters). The violator of a vow, and one who breaks the rules of his order, falls into the Sandansa (or hell of pincers): and the religious student who sleeps in the day, and is, though unconsciously, defiled; and they who, though mature, are instructed in sacred literature by their children, receive punishment in the hell called S'wabhojana (where they feed upon dogs). These hells, and hundreds and thousands of others, are the places in which sinners pay the penalty of their crimes. As numerous as are the offences that men commit, so many are the hells in which they are punished: and all who deviate from the duties imposed upon them by their caste and condition, whether in thought, word, or deed, are sentenced to punishment in the regions of the damned [9].

The gods in heaven are beheld by the inhabitants of hell, as they move with their heads inverted; whilst the god, as they cast their eyes downwards, behold the sufferings of those in hell [10]. The various stages of existence, Maitreya, are inanimate things, fish, birds, animals, men, holy men, gods, and liberated spirits; each in succession a thousand degrees superior to that which precedes it: and through these stages the beings that are either in heaven or in hell are destined to proceed, until final emancipation be obtained [11]. That sinner goes to Naraka who neglects the due expiation of his guilt.

For, Maitreya, suitable acts of expiation have been enjoined by the great sages for every kind of crime [12]. Arduous penances for great sins, trifling ones for minor offences, have been propounded by Swayambhuva and others: but reliance upon Krishna is far better than any such expiatory acts, as religious austerity, or the like. Let any one who repents of the sin of which he may have been culpable have recourse to this best of all expiations, remembrance of Hari [13]: by addressing his thoughts to Narayana at dawn, at night, at sunset, and midday, a man shall be quickly cleansed from all guilt: the whole heap of worldly sorrows is dispersed by meditating on Hari; and his worshipper, looking upon heavenly fruition as an impediment to felicity, obtains final emancipation. He whose mind is devoted to Hari in silent prayer, burnt-offering, or adoration, is impatient even of the glory of the king of the gods. Of what avail is ascent to the summit of heaven, if it is necessary to return from thence to earth. How different is the meditation on Vasudeva, which is the seed of eternal freedom. Hence, Muni, the man who thinks of Vishnu, day and night, goes not to Naraka after death, for all his sins are atoned for.

Heaven (or Swarga) is that which delights the mind; hell (or Naraka) is that which gives it pain: hence vice is called hell; virtue is called heaven [14]. The selfsame thing is applicable to the production of pleasure or pain, of malice or of anger. Whence then can it be considered as essentially the same with either? That which at one time is a source of enjoyment, becomes at another the cause of suffering; and the same thing may at different seasons excite wrath, or conciliate favour. It follows, then, that nothing is in itself either pleasurable or painful; and pleasure and pain, and the like, are merely definitions of various states of mind. That which alone is truth is wisdom; but wisdom may be the cause of confinement to existence; for all this universe is wisdom, there is nothing different from it; and consequently, Maitreya, you are to conclude that both knowledge and ignorance are comprised in wisdom [15].

I have thus described to you the orb of the earth; the regions below its surface, or Patalas; and the Narakas, or hells; and have briefly enumerated its oceans, mountains, continents, regions, and rivers: what else do you wish to hear?


  • 207:1 The Bhagavata places the Narakas above the waters. The commentator on our text endeavours to reconcile the difference, by explaining the text to imply a dark cavity in which the waters are received, not the original abysses where they were collected at first, and above which Tartarus lies.
  • 207:2 Some of these names are the same that are given by Manu, b. IV. v. 88-90. Kulluka Bhatta refers to the Markandeya P. for a description of the twenty-one divisions of hell; but the account there given is not more ample than that of our text. The Bhagavata enumerates twenty-eight, but many of the names differ from the above. In the last instance the term Avichi is either inaccurately repeated, or the adjective Apara is intended to distinguish it from the previous Avichi. In Manu, Mahavichi occurs.
  • 207:3 The Padma P. (Kriya Yoga Sara) and the S'iva Dharma, which appears to be a section of the Skanda P., contain a number of interesting circumstances previous to the infliction of punishment. It appears also from them that Yama fulfils the office of judge of the dead, as well as sovereign of the damned; all that die appearing before him, and being confronted with Chitragupta, the recorder, by whom their actions have been registered. The virtuous are thence conveyed to Swarga, or Elysium, whilst the wicked are driven to the different regions of Naraka, or Tartarus.
  • 208:4 'Who teaches the Vedas for hire.' This notion still prevails, and renders the few Pandits who are acquainted with the Vedas very unwilling to teach them for a gratuity.
  • 208:5 'Thereby,' observes the commentator, 'defrauding or disappointing children.'
  • 208:6 Rangopajivina: the commentator explains it wrestlers and boxers, but Ranga applies to any stage or arena.
  • 209:7 The term in the text is Mahishika, which might mean a feeder of buffaloes; but the commentator quotes a text from the Smriti, authorizing the sense above followed.
  • 209:8 This is the interpretation of Parvakari; it is also read Parvagami, he who cohabits with his wife on prohibited days.'
  • 209:9 An account of Naraka is found in only a few of the Puranas, and in less detail than in the text. The Bhagavata and Vayu have similar descriptions of them. The Markandeya enters into detail in some of the instances only. A short account is found in the S'iva, Garura, and Brahma Vaivartta P. and in the Kas'i Khanda of the Skanda P. The fullest descriptions, however, are those mentioned in a previous note as being in the S'iva Dharma of the Skanda, and Kriya Yoga Sara of the Padma; works of a somewhat equivocal character, and belonging rather to Tantra than Pauranik literature.
  • 210:10 The commentator observes that the sight of heavenly bliss is given to the damned in order to exacerbate their torments; whilst the inflictions of hell are exhibited to the gods to teach them disregard of even heavenly enjoyments, as they are but of temporary duration.
  • 210:11 That is, when punishment or reward in hell or heaven, proportioned to the sin or virtue of the individual, has been received, he must be born again as a stone or plant, and gradually migrate through the several inferior conditions, until he is once more born a man; his future state is then in his own power.
  • 210:12 Manu is here especially intended, as the commentator observes.
  • 210:13 This remembrance of Vishnu is the frequent reiteration of any or all of his names: hence the lower orders of Hindus procure a starling or parrot, that, in the act of teaching it to cry Rama or Krishna or Radha, they may themselves repeat these appellations; the simple recitation of which, even if accidentally, irreverently, or reluctantly performed, is meritorious. Thus according to the Vishnu Disarms Tantra: 'Let a man ever and every where repeat the names of the discus-armed (Vishnu); for its repetition, even by one who is impure, is a means of purification. Hari removes all sins, even when invoked by evil-minded persons, as fire burns one by whom it is unwillingly approached.'
  • 211:14 The object of the text, according to the commentator, is to shew that the common notions of heaven and hell are erroneous; that they are only temporal pleasure and temporal pain; and virtue and vice, being the origin of transient, and therefore unreal effects, are themselves unrealities: there is nothing real but faith in Vishnu.
  • 211:15 Text and comment are here somewhat obscure; but the purport of the former seems to be the explanation of the existence of Jnyan wisdom, both as a genus and a species: in the former case it is all that is; and in the latter, it may be either true or false wisdom: the latter being influenced by notions of self or individuality, and therefore the cause of confinement to existence; the former dissipating the belief of self, and being therefore the cause of liberation from bodily being.



Extent and situation of the seven spheres, viz. earth, sky, planets, Mahar-loka, Janaloka, Tapo-loka, and Satya-loka. Of the egg of Brahma, and its elementary envelopes. Of the influence of the energy of Vishnu.

MAITREYA.–The sphere of the whole earth has been described to me by you, excellent Brahman, and I am now desirous to hear an account of the other spheres above the world, the Bhuvar-loka and the rest, and the situation and the dimensions of the celestial luminaries.

PARAS'ARA. The sphere of the earth (or Bhur-loka), comprehending its oceans, mountains, and rivers, extends as far as it is illuminated by the rays of the sun and moon; and to the same extent, both in diameter and circumference, the sphere of the sky (Bhuvar-loka) spreads above it (as far upwards as to the planetary sphere, or Swar-loka) [1]. The solar orb is situated a hundred thousand leagues from the earth; and that of the moon an equal distance from the sun. At the same interval above the moon occurs the orbit of all the lunar constellations. The planet Budha (Mercury) is two hundred thousand leagues above the lunar mansions. S'ukra (Venus) is at the same distance from Mercury. Angaraka (Mars) is as far above Venus; and the priest of the gods (Vrihaspati, or Jupiter) as far from Mars: whilst Saturn (Sani) is two hundred and fifty thousand leagues beyond Jupiter. The sphere of the seven Rishis (Ursa Major) is a hundred thousand leagues above Saturn; and at a similar height above the seven Rishis is Dhruva (the pole-star), the pivot or axis of the whole planetary circle. Such, Maitreya, is the elevation of the three spheres (Bhur, Bhuvar, Swar) which form the region of the consequences of works. The region of works is here (or in the land of Bharata) [2].

Above Dhruva, at the distance of ton million leagues, lies the sphere of saints, or Mahar-loka, the inhabitants of which dwell in it throughout a Kalpa, or day of Brahma. At twice that distance is situated Janaloka, where Sanandana and other pure-minded sons of Brahma, reside. At four times the distance, between the two last, lies the Tapo-loka (the sphere of penance), inhabited by the deities called Vaibhrajas, who are unconsumable by fire. At six times the distance (or twelve Crores, a hundred and twenty millions of leagues) is situated Satya-loka, the sphere of truth, the inhabitants of which never again know death [3].

Wherever earthy substance exists, which may be traversed by the feet, that constitutes the sphere of the earth, the dimensions of which I have already recounted to you. The region that extends from the earth to the sun, in which the Siddhas and other celestial beings move, is the atmospheric sphere, which also I have described. The interval between the sun and Dhruva, extending fourteen hundred thousand leagues, is called by those who are acquainted with the system of the universe the heavenly sphere. These three spheres are termed transitory: the three highest, Jana, Tapa, and Satya, are styled durable [4]: Maharloka, as situated between the two, has also a mixed character; for although it is deserted at the end of the Kalpa, it is not destroyed. These seven spheres, together with the Patalas, forming the extent of the whole world, I have thus, Maitreya, explained to you.

The world is encompassed on every side and above and below by the shell of the egg of Brahma, in the same manner as the seed of the wood-apple [5] is invested by its rind. Around the outer surface of the shell flows water, for a space equal to ten times the diameter of the world. The waters, again, are encompassed exteriorly by fire; fire by air; and air by Mind; Mind by the origin of the elements (Ahankara); and that by Intellect: each of these extends ten times the breadth of that which it encloses; and the last is encircled by the chief Principle, Pradhana [6], which is infinite, and its extent cannot be enumerated: it is therefore called the boundless and illimitable cause of all existing things, supreme nature, or Prakriti; the cause of all mundane eggs, of which there are thousands and tens of thousands, and millions and thousands of millions, such as has been described [7]. Within Pradhana resides Soul, diffusive, conscious, and self-irradiating, as fire is inherent in flint [8], or sesamum oil in its seed. Nature (Pradhana) and soul (Puman) are both of the character of dependants, and are encompassed by the energy of Vishnu, which is one with the soul of the world, and which is the cause of the separation of those two (soul and nature) at the period of dissolution; of their aggregation in the continuance of things; and of their combination at the season of creation [9]. In the same manner as the wind ruffles the surface of the water in a hundred bubbles, which of themselves are inert, so the energy of Vishnu influences the world, consisting of inert nature and soul. Again, as a tree, consisting of root, stem, and branches, springs from a primitive seed, and produces other seeds, whence grow other trees analogous to the first in species, product, and origin, so from the first unexpanded germ (of nature, or Pradhana) spring Mahat (Intellect) and the other rudiments of things; from them proceed the grosser elements; and from them men and gods, who are succeeded by sons and the sons of sons. In the growth of a tree from the seed, no detriment occurs to the parent plant, neither is there any waste of beings by the generation of others. In like manner as space and time and the rest are the cause of the tree (through the materiality of the seed), so the divine Hari is the cause of all things by successive developements (through the materiality of nature) [10]. As all the parts of the future plant, existing in the seed of rice, or the root, the culm, the leaf, the shoot, the stem, the bud, the fruit, the milk, the grain, the chaff, the ear, spontaneously evolve when they are in approximation with the subsidiary means of growth (or earth and water), so gods, men, and other beings, involved in many actions (or necessarily existing in those states which are the consequences of good or evil acts), become manifested only in their full growth, through the influence of the energy of Vishnu.

This Vishnu is the supreme spirit (Brahma), from whence all this world proceeds, who is the world, by whom the world subsists, and in whom it will be resolved. That spirit (or Brahma) is the supreme state of Vishnu, which is the essence of all that is visible or invisible; with which all that is, is identical; and whence all animate and inanimate existence is derived. He is primary nature: he, in a perceptible form, is the world: and in him all finally melts; through him all things endure. He is the performer of the rites of devotion: he is the rite: he is the fruit which it bestows: he is the implements by which it is performed. There is nothing besides the illimitable Hari.


  • 212:1 Bhur-loka, the terrestrial sphere, is earth and the lower regions; from thence to the sun is the Bhuvar-loka, or atmospheric sphere; and from the sun to Dhruva is the Swar-loka, or heaven; as subsequently explained in the text, and in other Puranas.
  • 212:2 A similar account of the situations and distances of the planets occurs in the Padma, Kurma, and Vayu Puranas. The Bhagavata has one or two varieties, but they are of no great importance.
  • 213:3 An account of these Lokas is met with only in a few of the Puranas, and is not much more detailed in them than in our text. The Vayu is most circumstantial. According to that authority, Mahar, which is so called from a mystical term Maha, is the abode of the Ganadevas, the Yamas and others, who are the regents or rulers of the Kalpa, the Kalpadhikaris they are so designated also in the Kurma. The Kas'i Khanda refers the name to Mahas, 'light,' the sphere being invested with radiance. Its inhabitants are also called lords of the Kalpa: but the commentator explains this to denote Bhrigu and the other patriarchs, whose lives endure for a day of Brahma. The different accounts agree in stating, that when the three lower spheres are consumed by fire, Mahar-loka is deserted by its tenants, who repair to the next sphere, or Jana-loka. Jana-loka, according to the Vayu, is the residence of the Rishis and demigods during the night of Brahma, and is termed Jana because the patriarchs are the progenitors of mankind. The Kas'i Khanda agrees with the Vishnu in peopling it with Sanandana and the other ascetic sons of Brahma, and with Yogis like themselves. These are placed by the Vayu in the Tapo-loka, and they and the other sages, and the demigods, after repeated appearances in the world, become at last Vairajas in the Brahma or Satya loka. After many divine ages of residence there with Brahma, they are, along with him, absorbed, at the end of his existence into the indiscrete. The commentator on the Kas'i Khanda explains Vairaja to mean 'relating to, or derived from, Brahma or Viraj.' The Vairajas are there, as in the Vishnu Purana, placed in the Tapo-loka, and are explained to be ascetics, mendicants, anchorets, and penitents, who have completed a course of rigorous austerities. It maybe doubted, however, if the Pauraniks have very precise notions regarding these spheres and their inhabitants, The Puranas of a decidedly sectarial character add other and higher worlds to the series. Thus the Kurma identifies Brahma-loka with Vishnu-loka, and has a Rudra-loka above it. The S'iva places Vishnu-loka above Brahma-loka, and Rudra-loka above that. In [p. 214] the Kas'i Khanda as we have, instead of those two, Vaikuntha and Kailasa, as the lofty worlds of Vishnu and S'iva; whilst the Brahma Vaivartta has above all a Go-loka, a world or heaven of cows and Krishna. These are all evidently additions to the original system of seven worlds, in which we have probably some relation to the seven climates of the ancients, the seven stages or degrees of the earth of the Arabs, and the seven heavens of the Mohammedans, if not to the seven Amshaspends of the Parsis. Seven, suggested originally perhaps by the seven planets, seems to have been a favourite number with various nations of antiquity. Amongst the Hindus it was applied to a variety of sacred or mythological objects, which are enumerated in a verse in the Hanuman Nataka. Rama is described there as piercing seven palm-trees with an arrow, on which other groups of seven take fright, as the seven steeds of the sun, the seven spheres, Munis, seas, continents, and mothers of the gods.
  • 214:4 Kritika and Akritika; literally 'made and unmade:' the former being renewed every Kalpa, the latter perishing only at the end of Brahma's life.
  • 214:5 Of the Kapittha (Feronia Elephantum).
  • 215:6 See before the order in which the elements are evolved (<page 14>).
  • 215:7 The followers of Anaximander and Democritus taught “an apeiria kosmun 'an infinity of worlds;' and that not only successive in that space which this world of ours is conceived now to occupy, in respect of the infinity of past and future time, but also a contemporary infinity of coexistent worlds, at all times, throughout endless and unbounded space.” Intellect. System, I. 303.
  • 215:8 Literally 'in wood,' the attrition of two pieces of which does not create, but developes, their latent heat and flame.
  • 215:9 Thus in Scipio's dream the divinity is made the external limit of the universe: “Novem tibi orbibus vel potius globis connexa sunt omnia, quorum unus est caelestis externus qui reliquos omnes complectitur, summus ipse deus arcens et continens ceteros:” which Macrobius explains as to be understood of the Supreme First Cause of all things, only in respect of his supremacy over all, and from his comprehending as well as creating all things, and being regarded as the soul of the world: “Quod et virtutes omnes, quae illam primae omnipotentiam summitates sequuntur, aut ipse faciat aut ipse contineat: ipsam denique Jovem veteres vocaverunt, et apud theologos Jupiter est mundi anima.” In Somn. Scip. c. XVII.
  • 216:10 The two passages in parentheses are the additions of the commentator, intended to explain how the deity is the material cause of the world. He is not so of his own essence, not so immediately, but through the interposition of Pradhana: 'As however he is the source of Prakriti, he must be considered the material as well as immaterial cause of being.'



Description of the sun: his chariot; its two axles: his horses. The cities of the regents of the cardinal points. The sun's course: nature of his rays: his path along the ecliptic. Length of day and night. Divisions of time: equinoxes and solstices, months, years, the cyclical Yuga, or age of five years. Northern and southern declinations. Saints on the Lokaloka mountain. Celestial paths of the Pitris, gods, Vishnu. Origin of Ganga, and separation, on the top of Meru, into four great rivers.

PARAS'ARA.–Having thus described to you the system of the world in general, I will now explain to you the dimensions and situations of the sun and other luminaries.

The chariot of the sun is nine thousand leagues in length, and the pole is of twice that longitude [1]; the axle is fifteen millions and seven hundred thousand leagues long [2]; on which is fixed a wheel with three naves, five spokes, and six peripheries, consisting of the ever-during year; the whole constituting the circle or wheel of time [3]. The chariot has another axle, which is forty-five thousand five hundred leagues long [4].

The two halves of the yoke are of the same length respectively as the two axles (the longer and the shorter). The short axle, with the short yoke, are supported by the pole-star: the end of the longer axle, to which the wheel of the car is attached, moves on the Manasa mountain [5]. The seven horses of the sun's car are the metres of the Vedas, Gayatri, Vrihati, Ushnih, Jayati, Trishtubh, Anushtubh, and Pankti.

The city of Indra is situated on the eastern side of the Manasottara mountain; that of Yama on the southern face; that of Varuna on the west; and that of Soma on the north: named severally Vaswokasara, Samyamani, Mukhya, and Vibhavari [6].

The glorious sun, Maitreya, darts like an arrow on his southern course, attended by the constellations of the Zodiac. He causes the difference between day and night, and is the divine vehicle and path of the sages who have overcome the inflictions of the world. Whilst the sun, who is the discriminator of all hours, shines in one continent in midday, in the opposite Dwipas, Maitreya, it will be midnight: rising and setting are at all seasons, and are always (relatively) opposed in the different cardinal and intermediate points of the horizon. When the sun becomes visible to any people, to them he is said to rise; when he disappears from their view, that is called his setting. There is in truth neither rising nor setting of the sun, for he is always; and these terms merely imply his presence and his disappearance.

When the sun (at midday) passes over either of the cities of the gods, on the Manasottara mountain (at the cardinal points), his light extends to three cities and two intermediate points: when situated in an intermediate point, he illuminates two of the cities and three intermediate. points (in either case one hemisphere). From the period of his rise the sun moves with increasing rays until noon, when he proceeds towards his setting with rays diminishing (that is, his heat increases or diminishes in proportion as he advances to, or recedes from, the meridian of any place). The east and west quarters are so called from the sun's rising and setting there [7]. As far as the sun shines in front, so far he shines behind and on either hand, illuminating all places except the summit of Meru, the mountain of the immortals; for when his rays reach the court of Brahma, which is there situated, they are repelled and driven back by the overpowering radiance which there prevails: consequently there is always the alternation of day and night, according as the divisions of the continent lie in the northern (or southern) quarter, or inasmuch as they are situated north (or south) of Meru [8].

The radiance of the solar orb, when the sun has set, is accumulated in fire, and hence fire is visible at a greater distance by night than by day: during the latter a fourth of the rays of fire blend with those of the sun, and from their union the sun shines with greater intensity by day. Elemental light, and heat derived from the sun or from fire, blending with each other, mutually prevail in various proportions, both by day and night. When the sun is present either in the southern or the northern hemisphere, day or night retires into the waters, according as they are invaded by darkness or light: it is from this cause that the waters look dark by day, because night is within them; and they look white by night, because at the setting of the sun the light of day takes refuge in their bosom [9].

When the sun has travelled in the centre of Pushkara a thirtieth part of the circumference of the globe, his course is equal in time to one Muhurtta [10]; and whirling round like the circumference of the wheel of a potter, he distributes day and night upon the earth. In the commencement of his northern course, the sun passes to Capricornus, thence to Aquarius, thence to Pisces, going successively from one sign of the Zodiac to another. After he has passed through these, the sun attains his equinoctial movement (the vernal equinox), when he makes the day and night of equal duration. Thenceforward the length of the night decreases, and the day becomes longer, until the sun reaches the end of Gemini, when he pursues a different direction, and, entering Cancer, begins his declension to the south. As the circumference of a potter's wheel revolves most rapidly, so the sun travels rapidly on his southern journey: he flies along his path with the velocity of wind, and traverses a great distance in a short time. In twelve Muhurttas he passes through thirteen lunar asterisms and a half during the day; and during the night he passes through the same distance, only in eighteen Muhurttas. As the centre of the potter's wheel revolves more slowly than the circumference, so the sun in his northern path again revolves with less rapidity, and moves over a less space of the earth in a longer time, until, at the end of his northern route, the day is again eighteen Muhurttas, and the night twelve; the sun passing through half the lunar mansions by day and by night in those periods respectively. As the lump of clay on the centre of the potter's wheel moves most slowly, so the polar-star, which is in the centre of the zodiacal wheel, revolves very tardily, and ever remains in the centre, as the clay continues in the centre of the wheel of the potter.

The relative length of the day or night depends upon the greater or less velocity with which the sun revolves through the degrees between the two points of the horizon. In the solstitial period, in which his diurnal path is quickest, his nocturnal is slowest; and in that in which he moves quick by night, he travels slowly by day. The extent of his journey is in either case the same; for in the course of the day and night he passes through all the signs of the Zodiac, or six by night, and the same number by day: the length and shortness of the day are measured by the extent of the signs; and the duration of day and night by the period which the sun takes to pass through them [11]. In his northern declination the sun moves quickest by night, and slowest by day; in his southern declination the reverse is the case.

The night is called Usha, and the day is denominated Vyushta, and the interval between them is called Sandhya. On the occurrence of the awful Sandhya, the terrific fiends termed Mandehas attempt to devour the sun; for Brahma denounced this curse upon them, that, without the power to perish, they should die every day (and revive by night), and therefore a fierce contest occurs daily between them and the sun [12]. At this season pious Brahmans scatter water, purified by the mystical Omkara, and consecrated by the Gayatri [13]; and by this water, as by a thunderbolt, the foul fiends are consumed. When the first oblation is offered with solemn invocations in the morning rite [14], the thousand-rayed deity shines forth with unclouded splendour. Omkara is Vishnu the mighty, the substance of the three Vedas, the lord of speech; and by its enunciation those Rakshasas are destroyed. The sun is a principal part of Vishnu, and light is his immutable essence, the active manifestation of which is excited by the mystic syllable Om. Light effused by the utterance of Omkara becomes radiant, and burns up entirely the Rakshasas called Mandehas. The performance of the Sandhya (the morning) sacrifice must never therefore be delayed, for he who neglects it is guilty of the murder of the sun. Protected thus by the Brahmans and the pigmy sages called Balakhilyas, the sun goes on his course to give light to the world.

Fifteen twinklings of the eye (Nimeshas) make a Kashtha; thirty Kashthas, a Kala; thirty Kalas, a Muhurtta (forty-eight minutes); and thirty Muhurttas, a day and night: the portions of the day are longer or shorter, as has been explained; but the Sandhya is always the same in increase or decrease, being only one Muhurtta [15]. From the period that a line may be drawn across the sun (or that half his orb is visible) to the expiration of three Muhurttas (two hours and twenty-four minutes), that interval is called Pratar (morning), forming a fifth portion of the day. The next portion, or three Muhurttas from morning, is termed Sangava (forenoon): the three next Muhurttas constitute mid-day: the afternoon comprises the next three Muhurttas: the three Muhurttas following are considered as the evening: and the fifteen Muhurttas of the day are thus classed in five portions of three each. But the day consists of fifteen Muhurttas only at the equinoxes, increasing or diminishing in number in the northern and southern declinations of the sun, when the day encroaches on the night, or the night upon the day. The equinoxes occur in the seasons of spring and autumn, when the sun enters the signs of Aries and Libra. When the sun enters Capricorn (the winter solstice), his northern progress commences; and his southern when he enters Cancer (the summer solstice).

Fifteen days of thirty Muhurttas each are called a Paksha (a lunar fortnight); two of these make a month; and two months, a solar season; three seasons a northern or southern declination (Ayana); and those two compose a year. Years, made up of four kinds of months [16], are distinguished into five kinds; and an aggregate of all the varieties of time is termed a Yoga, or cycle. The years are severally called Samvatsara, Parivatsara, Idvatsara, Anuvatsara, and Vatsara. This is the time called a Yuga [17].

The mountain range that lies most to the north (in Bharata-varsha) is called S'ringavan (the horned), from its having three principal elevations (horns or peaks), one to the north, one to the south, and one in the centre; the last is called the equinoctial, for the sun arrives there in the middle of the two seasons of spring and autumn, entering the equinoctial points in the first degree of Aries and of Libra, and making day and night of equal duration, or fifteen Muhurttas each. When the sun, most excellent sage, is in the first degree of the lunar mansion, Krittika, and the moon is in the. fourth of Vis'akha, or when the sun is in the third degree of Vis'akha, and the moon is in the head of Krittika (these positions being cotemporary with the equinoxes), that equinoctial season is holy (and is styled the Mahavishubha, or the great equinox) [18]. At this time offerings are to be presented to the gods and to the manes, and gifts are to be made to the Brahmans by serious persons; for such donations are productive of happiness. Liberality at the equinoxes is always advantageous to the donor: and day and night; seconds, minutes, and hours; intercalary months; the day of full moon (Paurnamasi); the day of conjunction (Amavasya), when the moon rises invisible; the day when it is first seen (S'inivali); the day when it first disappears (Kuhu); the day when the moon is quite round (Raka); and the day when one digit is deficient (Anumati), are all seasons when gifts are meritorious.

The sun is in his northern declination in the months Tapas, Tapasya, Madhu, Madhava, S'ukra, and S'uchi; and in his southern in those of Nabhas, Nabhasya, Isha, Urja, Sahas, Sahasya [19].

On the Lokaloka mountain, which I have formerly described to you, reside the four holy protectors of the world; or Sudhaman and Sankhapad, the two sons of Kardama, and Hiranyaroman, and Ketumat [20]. Unaffected by the contrasts of existence, void of selfishness, active, and unencumbered by dependants, they take charge of the spheres, themselves abiding on the four cardinal points of the Lokaloka mountain.

On the north of Agastya, and south of the line of the Goat, exterior to the Vaiswanara path, lies the road of the Pitris [21]. There dwell the great

Rishis, the offerers of oblations with fire, reverencing the Vedas, after whose injunctions creation commenced, and who were discharging the duties of ministrant priests: for as the worlds are destroyed and renewed, they institute new rules of conduct, and reestablish the interrupted ritual of the Vedas. Mutually descending from each other, progenitor springing from descendant, and descendant from progenitor, in the alternating succession of births, they repeatedly appear in different housed and races along with their posterity, devout practices and instituted observances, residing to the south of the solar orb, as long as the moon and stars endure [22].

The path of the gods lies to the north of the solar sphere, north of the Nagavithi [23], and south of the seven Rishis. There dwell the Siddhas, of subdued senses, continent and pure, undesirous of progeny, and therefore victorious over death: eighty-eight thousand of these chaste beings tenant the regions of the sky, north of the sun, until the destruction of the universe: they enjoy immortality, for that they are holy; exempt from covetousness and concupiscence, love and hatred; taking no part in the procreation of living beings, and detecting the unreality of the properties of elementary matter. By immortality is meant existence to the end of the Kalpa: life as long as the three regions (earth, sky, and heaven) last is called exemption from (reiterated) death [24]. The consequences of acts of iniquity or piety, such as Brahmanicide or an As'wamedha, endure for a similar period, or until the end of a Kalpa [25], when all within the interval between Dhruva and the earth is destroyed.

The space between the seven Rishis and Dhruva [26], the third region of the sky, is the splendid celestial path of Vishnu (Vishnupada), and the abode of those sanctified ascetics who are cleansed from every soil, and in whom virtue and vice are annihilated. This is that excellent place of Vishnu to which those repair in whom all sources of pain are extinct, in consequence of the cessation of the consequences of piety or iniquity, and where they never sorrow more. There abide Dharma, Dhruva, and other spectators of the world, radiant with the superhuman faculties of Vishnu, acquired through religious meditation; and there are fastened and inwoven to all that is, and all that shall ever be, animate or inanimate. The seat of Vishnu is contemplated by the wisdom of the Yogis, identified with supreme light, as the radiant eye of heaven. In this portion of the heavens the splendid Dhruva is stationed, and serves for the pivot of the atmosphere. On Dhruva rest the seven great planets, and on them depend the clouds. The rains are suspended in the clouds, and from the rains come the water which is the nutriment and delight of all, the gods and the rest; and they, the gods, who are the receivers of oblations, being nourished by burnt-offerings, cause the rain to fall for the support of created beings. This sacred station of Vishnu, therefore, is the support of the three worlds, as it is the source of rain.

From that third region of the atmosphere, or seat of Vishnu, proceeds the stream that washes away all sin, the river Ganga, embrowned with the unguents of the nymphs of heaven, who have sported in her waters. Having her source in the nail of the great toe of Vishnu's left foot, Dhruva [27] receives her, and sustains her day and night devoutly on his head; and thence the seven Rishis practise the exercises of austerity in her waters, wreathing their braided locks with her waves. The orb of the moon, encompassed by her accumulated current, derives augmented lustre from her contact. Falling from on high, as she issues from the moon; she alights on the summit of Meru, and thence flows to the four quarters of the earth, for its purification. The S'ita, Alakananda, Chakshu, and Bhadra are four branches of but one river, divided according to the regions towards which it proceeds. The branch that is known as the Alakananda was borne affectionately by Mahadeva, upon his head, for more than a hundred years, and was the river which raised to heaven the sinful sons of Sagara, by washing their ashes [28]. The offences of any man who bathes in this river are immediately expiated, and unprecedented virtue is engendered. Its waters, offered by sons to their ancestors in faith for three years, yield to the latter rarely attainable gratification. Men of the twice-born orders, who offer sacrifice in this river to the lord of sacrifice, Purushottama, obtain whatever they desire, either here or in heaven. Saints who are purified from all soil by bathing in its waters, and whose minds are intent on Kes'ava, acquire thereby final liberation. This sacred stream, heard of, desired, seen, touched, bathed in, or hymned, day by day, sanctifies all beings; and those who, even at a distance of a hundred leagues, exclaim “Ganga, Ganga,” atone for the sins committed during three previous lives. The place whence this river proceeds, for the purification of the three worlds, is the third division of the celestial regions, the seat of Vishnu [29].


  • 217:1 The sun's car is 10.000 Yojanas broad, and as many deep, according to the Vayu and Matsya. The Bhagavata makes it thirty-six hundred thousand long, and one fourth that broad. The Linga agrees with the text.
  • 217:2 There is no great difference in this number in other accounts. The length of this axle, which extends from Meru to Manasa, is nearly equal to the semidiameter of the earth, which, according to the Matsya P., is 18.950.000 Yojanas.
  • 217:3 The three naves are the three divisions of the day, morning, noon, and night; the five spokes are the five cyclic years; and the six peripheries are the six seasons. The Bhagavata explains the three naves to be three periods of the year, of four months each, and gives twelves spokes as types of the twelve months. The Vayu, Matsya, and Bhavishya Puranas enter into much more detail. According to them, the parts of the wheel are the same as above described: the body of the car is the year; its upper and lower half are the two solstices; Dharma is its flag; Artha and Kama the pins of the yoke and axle; night is its fender; Nimeshas form its floor; a moment is the axle-tree; an instant the pole; minutes are its attendants; and hours its harness.
  • 217:4 This shorter axle is, according to the Bhagavata, one fourth of the longer.
  • 218:5 We are to understand here, both in the axle and yoke, two levers, one horizontal, the other perpendicular. The horizontal arm of the axle has a wheel at one end; the other extremity is connected with the perpendicular arm. To the horizontal arm of the yoke are harnessed the horses; and its inner or right extremity is secured to the perpendicular. The upper ends of both perpendiculars are supposed to be attached to Dhruva, the pole-star, by two aerial cords, which are lengthened in the sun's southern course, and shortened in his northern; and retained by which to Dhruva, as to a pivot, the wheel of the car traverses the summit of the Manasottara mountain on Pushkara-dwipa, which runs like a ring round the several continents and oceans. The contrivance is commonly compared to an oil mill, and was probably suggested by that machine as constructed in India. As the Manasottara mountain is but 50.000 leagues high, and Meru 84.000, whilst Dhruva is 1500.000, both levers are inclined at obtuse angles to the nave of the wheel and each other. In images of the sun, two equal and semicircular axles connect a central wheel with the sides of the car.
  • 218:6 In the Linga the city of Indra is called Amaravati; and in it and the Vayu that of Varuna is termed Sukha.
  • 219:7 The terms Purva and Apara mean properly 'before and behind;' but 'before' naturally denotes the east, either because men, according to a text of the Vedas, spontaneously face, as if to welcome the rising sun, or because they are enjoined by the laws so to do. When they face the rising sun, the west is of course behind them. The same circumstance determines the application of the term Dakshina, properly 'right,' dexios, or 'dexterum,' to the south. Uttara, 'other' or 'last,' necessarily implies the north.
  • 219:8 This is rather obscure, but it is made out clearly enough in the commentary, and in the parallel passages in the Vayu, Matsya, Linga, Kurma, and Bhagavata. The sun travels round the world, keeping Meru always on his right: to the spectator who fronts him therefore, as he rises, Meru must be always on the north; and as the sun's rays do not penetrate beyond the centre of the mountain, the regions beyond, or to the north of it, must be in darkness; whilst those on the south of it must be in light: north and south being relative, not absolute terms, depending upon the position of the spectator with regard to the sun and to Meru. So the commentator: ###. [p. 220] It was probably through some misapprehension of this doctrine that Major Wilford asserted, “by Meru the Pauraniks understand in general the north pole, but the context of the Puranas is against this supposition.” As. Res. VIII. 286. There is no inconsistency, however, in Meru's being absolutely in the centre of the world, and relatively north to the inhabitants of the several portions, to all of whom the east is that quarter where the sun first appears, and the other quarters are thereby regulated.
  • 220:9 Similar notions are contained in the Vayu.
  • 220:10 The sun travels at the rate of one-thirtieth of the earth's circumference in a Muhurtta, or 31.50.000 Yojanas; making the total 9 crores and 45 lakhs, or; according to the Vayu, Lingo, and Matsya Puranas.
  • 221:11 This passage, which is somewhat at variance with the general doctrine, that the length of the day depends upon the velocity of the sun's course, and which has not been noticed in any other Pauranik text, is defended by the commentator, upon the authority of the Jyotishs'astra, or astronomical writings. According to them, he asserts, the signs of the Zodiac are of different extent. Aquarius, Pisces, and Aries are the shortest; Taurus, Capricornus, and Gemini are something longer; Leo and Scorpio longer still; and the remaining four the longest of all. According to the six which the sun traverses, the day or night will be the longer or shorter. The text is, ###. The apparent contradiction may however be reconciled by understanding the sun's slow motion, and the length of a sign, to be equivalent terms.
  • 222:12 The same story occurs in the Vayu, with the addition that the Mandehas are three crores in number. It seems to be an ancient legend, imperfectly preserved in some of the Puranas.
  • 222:13 The sacred syllable Om has been already described (p. <page 1>. n. ). The Gayatri, or holiest verse of the Vedas, not to be uttered to ears profane, is a short prayer to the sun, identified as the supreme, and occurs in the tenth hymn of the fourth section of the third Ashtaka of the Sanhita of the Rig-veda: 'We meditate on that excellent light of the divine sun: may he illuminate our minds.' Such is the fear entertained of profaning this text, that copyists of the Vedas not unfrequently refrain from transcribing it, both in the Sanhita and Bhashya.
  • 222:14 Or, in the text, with the prayer that commences with the words Surya jyotir, 'That which is in the sun (or light) is adorable,' &c. The whole prayer is given in Colebrooke's account of the religious ceremonies of the Hindus. As. Res. V. 355.
  • 223:15 But this comprehends the two Sandhyas, 'morning and evening twilight.' Two Naris, or half a Muhurtta before sunrise, constitute the morning Sandhya; and the same interval after sunset the evening. Sandhya, meaning 'junction,' is so termed as it is the juncture or interval between darkness and light; as in the Vayu and Matsya: ###.
  • 223:16 The four months are named in the Vayu, and are, 1. the Saura, or solar-sydereal, consisting of the sun's passage through a sign of the Zodiac: 2. the Saumya or Chandra or lunar month, comprehending thirty lunations or Tithis, and reckoned most usually from new moon to new moon, though sometimes from full moon to full moon: 3. the Savana or solar month, containing thirty days of sunrise and sunset: and 4. the Nakshatra or lunar [p. 224] asterismal month, which is the moon's revolution through the twenty-eight lunar mansions.
  • 224:17 The five years forming this Yuga, or cycle, differ only in denomination, being composed of the months above described, with such Malamasas, or intercalary months, as may be necessary to complete the period, according to Vriddha Garga. The cycle comprehends, therefore, sixty solar- sydereal months of 1800 days; sixty-one solar months, or 1830 days; sixty-two lunar months, or 1860 lunations; and sixty-seven lunar-asterismal months, or 1809 such days. Col. Warren, in his Kala Sankalita, considers these years to be severally cycles. “In the cycle of sixty,” he observes, “are contained five cycles of twelve years, each supposed equal to one year of the planet (Jupiter). I only mention this cycle because I found it mentioned in some books; but I know of no nation nor tribe that reckons time after that account. The names of the five cycles, or Yugs, are, 1. Samvatsara, 2. Parivatsara, 3. Idvatsara, 4. Anuvatsara, 5. Udravatsara. The name of each year is determined from the Nakshatra, in which Vrihaspati sets and rises heliacally, and they follow in the order of the lunar months.” K. S. 212. It may be reasonably doubted, however, if this view be correct; and the only connexion between the cycle of five years and that of Vrihaspati may be the multiplication of the former by the latter (5 x 12), so as to form the cycle of sixty years: a cycle based, the commentator remarks, upon the conjunction (Yuga) of the sun and moon in every sixtieth year. The original and properly Indian cycle, however, is that of five years, as Bentley remarks. “The astronomers of this period (1181 B. C.) framed a cycle of five years for civil and religious ceremonies.” Ancient and modern Hindu Astronomy. It is in fact, as Mr. Colebrooke states, the cycle of the Vedas, described in the Jyotish, or astronomical sections, and specified in the institutes of Paras'ara as the basis of calculation for larger cycles. As. Res. VIII. 470.
  • 225:18 Reference is here made apparently, though indistinctly, to those positions of the planets which indicate, according to Bentley, the formation of the lunar mansions by Hindu astronomers, about 1424 B. C. Hindu Astronomy, p. 3 and 4. The Vayu and Linga Puranas specify the positions of the other planets at the same time, or the end, according to the former, of the Chakshusha Manwantara. At that time the sun was in Vis'akha, the moon in Krittika, Venus in Pushya, Jupiter in Purvaphalguni, Mars in Ashadha, Budha in Dhanishtha, S'ani in Revati, Ketu in Aslesha, and Rahu in Bharani. There are differences between some of these and the positions cited by Bentley, but most of them are the same. He considers them to have been observations of the occultations of the moon by the planets, in the respective lunar mansions, 1424-5 B. C. According to the Vayu, these positions or origins of the planets are from the Vedas: ###. The Linga, less accurately perhaps, reads ### referring it to the works of law.
  • 225:19 These are the names of the months which occur in the Vedas, and belong to a system now obsolete, as was noticed by Sir Wm. Jones. As. Res. III. 258. According to the classification of the text, they correspond severally with the lunar months Magha, Phalguna, Chaitra, Vais'akha, Jyeshtha, Asharha, or from December to June; and with S'ravana, Bhadra, Aswina, Kartika, Agrahayana, and Pausha, from July to December. From this order of the two series of the months, as occurring in the Vedas, Mr. Colebrooke infers, upon astronomical computations, their date to be about fourteen centuries prior to the Christian era. As. Res. VII. 283.
  • 226:20 The Vayu has the same names, but ascribes a different descent to the first, making Sudhaman the son of Viraja. Sankhapad is the son of Kardama: the other two are the sons of Parjanya and Rajas, consistently with the origin ascribed to these Lokapalas in the patriarchal genealogies of that Purana (see <page 83>).
  • 226:21 Allusion is here made to some divisions of the celestial sphere which are not described in any other part of the text. The fullest, but still in some respects a confused and partly inaccurate account is given in the Matsya Purana; but a more satisfactory description occurs in the comment on the Bhagavata, there cited from the Vayu, but not found in the copies consulted on the present occasion. According to those details, the path (Marga) of the sun and other planets amongst the lunar asterisms is divided into three portions or Avashthanas, northern, southern, and central, called severally Airavata, Jaradgava (Ajagava, Matsya P.), and Vaiswanara. Each of these, again, is divided into three parts or Vithis: those of the northern portion are termed Nagavithi, Gajavithi, and Airavati; those of the centre are Arshabhi Govithi, and Jaradgavi; and those of the south are named Ajavithi, Mrigavithi, and Vaiswanari. Each of these Vithis comprises three asterisms.
     Purva   Bhadrapada
 Uttara Bhadrapada
  See also As. Res. IX. table of Nakshatras, 346. Agastya is Canopus; and the line of the goat, or Ajavithi, comprises asterisms which contain stars in Scorpio and Sagittarius.
  • 227:22 A marginal note in one MS. explains the phrase of the text, ### to signify as far as to the moon and stars; but the Pitri yana, or path of the Pitris, lies amongst the asterisms; and, according to the Pauranik system of the heavens, it is not clear what could be meant by its being bounded by the moon and stars. The path south of the solar orb is, according to the Vedas, that of smoke or darkness.
  • 227:23 The stars of the Nagavithi are those of Aries and Taurus; and by the seven Rishis we are here to understand Ursa Major.
  • 227:24 This, according to the Vedas, is all that is to be understood of the immortality of the gods: they perish at the period of universal dissolution.
  • 227:25 That is, generally as affecting created beings, not individuals, whose acts influence their several successive births.
  • 228:26 From Ursa Major to the polar star.
  • 228:27 The popular notion is, that S'iva or Mahadeva receives the Ganges on his head; but this, as subsequently explained, is referred, by the Vaishnavas at least, to the descent of the Alakananda, or Ganges of India, not to the celestial Ganges.
  • 229:28 Or, in other words, 'flows into the sea.' The legend here alluded to is more fully detailed in a subsequent book.
  • 229:29 The situation of the source of the Ganges of heaven identifies it with the milky way.



Planetary system, under the type of a S'is'umara or porpoise. The earth nourished by the sun. Of rain whilst the sun shines. Of rain from clouds. Rain the support, of vegetation, and thence of animal life. Narayana the support of all beings.

THE form of the mighty Hari which is present in heaven, consisting of the constellations, is that of a porpoise, with Dhruva situated in the tail. As Dhruva revolves, it causes the moon, sun, and stars to turn round also; and the lunar asterisms follow in its circular path; for all the celestial luminaries are in fact bound to the polar-star by aerial cords. The porpoise-like figure of the celestial sphere is upheld by Narayana, who himself, in planetary radiance, is seated in its heart; whilst the son of Uttanapada, Dhruva, in consequence of his adoration of the lord of the world, shines in the tail of the stellar porpoise [1]. The upholder of the porpoise-shaped sphere is the sovereign of all, Janarddana. This sphere is the supporter of Dhruva; and by Dhruva the sun is upstayed. Upon the sun depends this world, with its gods, demons, and men. In what manner the world depends upon the sun, be attentive, and you shall hear.

During eight months of the year the sun attracts the waters, which are the essence of all fluids, and then pours them upon earths (during the other four months) as rain [2]: from rain grows corn; and by corn the whole world subsists. The sun with his scorching rays absorbs the moisture of the earth, and with them nourishes the moon. The moon communicates, through tubes of air, its dews to the clouds, which, being composed of smoke, fire, and wind (or vapour), can retain the waters with which they are charged: they are therefore called Abhras, because their contents are not dispersed [3]. When however they are broken to pieces by the wind, then watery stores descend, bland, and freed front every impurity by the sweetening process of time. The sun, Maitreya, exhales watery fluids from four sources, seas, rivers, the earth, and living creatures. The water that the sun has drawn up from the Ganga of the skies he quickly pours down with his rays, and without a cloud; and men who are touched by this pure rain are cleansed from the soil of sin, and never see hell: this is termed celestial ablution. That rain which falls whilst the sun is shining, and without a cloud in the sky, is the water of the heavenly Ganges, shed by the solar rays. If, however, rain falls from a bright and cloudless sky whilst the sun is in the mansion of Krittika and the other asterisms counted by odd numbers, as the third, fifth, &c., the water, although that of the Ganga of the sky, is scattered, by the elephants of the quarters, not by the rays of the sun: it is only when such rain falls, and the sun is in the even asterisms, that it is distributed by his beams [4].

The water which the clouds shed upon earth is in truth the ambrosia of living beings, for it gives fertility to the plants which are the support of their existence. By this all vegetables grow and are matured, and become the means of maintaining life. With them, again, those men who take the law for their light perform daily sacrifices, and through them give nourishment to the gods. And thus sacrifices, the Vedas, the font' castes, with the Brahmans at their head, all the residences of the gods, all the tribes of animals, the whole world, all are supported by the rains by which food is produced. But the rain is evolved by the sun; the sun is sustained by Dhruva; and Dhruva is supported by the celestial porpoise-shaped sphere, which is one with Narayana. Narayana, the primeval existent, and eternally enduring, seated in the heart of the stellar sphere, is the supporter of all beings.


  • 230:1 A more particular description of this porpoise occurs farther on.
  • 230:2 Consequently, the Linga P. observes, there is no waste of water in the universe, as it is in constant circulation.
  • 230:3 The theory of the clouds is more fully detailed in the Vayu, Linga, and Matsya [p. 231] Puranas: it is the same in its general tenor, but comprises additional circumstances. Clouds, according to those authorities, are of three classes: 1. Agneya, originating from fire or heat, or in other words evaporation: they are charged with wind and rain, and are of various orders, amongst which are those called Jimuta, from their supporting life; 2. Brahmaja, born from the breath of Brahma: these are the clouds whence thunder and lightning proceed: and 3. Pakshaja, or clouds which were originally the wings of the mountains, and which were cut off by Indra: these are also termed Pushkaravarttakas, from their including water in their vortices: they are the largest and most formidable of all, and are those which, at the end of the Yugas and Kalpas, poor down the waters of the deluge. The shell of the egg of Brahma, or of the universe, is formed of the primitive clouds.
  • 231:4 According to the Vayu, the water scattered by the elephants of the quarters is in summer dew, and in winter snow; or the latter is brought by the winds from a city called Pundra, which lies between the Himavat and Hemakuta mountains, and falls down upon the former. In like manner, also, as heat radiates from the sun, so cold radiates from the moon.



Names of the twelve Adityas. Names of the Rishis, Gandharbhas, Apsarasas, Yakshas, Uragas, and Rakshasas, who attend the chariot of the sun in each month of the year. Their respective functions.

PARAS'ARA.–Between the extreme northern and southern points the sun has to traverse in a year one hundred and eighty degrees, ascending and descending [1]. His car is presided over by divine Adityas, Rishis, heavenly singers and nymphs, Yakshas, serpents, and Rakshasas (one of each being placed in it in every month). The Aditya Dhatri, the sage Pulastya, the Gandharba Tumburu, the nymph Kratusthala, the Yaksha Rathakrit, the serpent Vasuki, and the Rakshas Heti, always reside in the sun's car, in the month of Madhu or Chaitra, as its seven guardians. In Vais'akh or Madhava the seven are Aryamat, Pulaha, Nareda, Punjikasthali, Rathaujas, Kachanira, and Praheti. In S'uchi or Jyeshtha they are Mitra, Atri, Haha, Mena, Rathaswana, Takshaka, and Paurusheya. In the month S'ukra or Ashadha they are Varuna, Vas'ishtha, Huhu, Sahajanya, Rathachitra, Naga, and Budha. In the month Nabhas (or Sravana) they are Indra, Angiras, Viswavasu, Pramlocha, S'rotas, and Elapatra (the name of both serpent and Rakshas). In the month Bhadrapada they are Vivaswat, Bhrigu, Ugrasena, Anumlocha, Apurana, S'ankhapala, and Vyaghra. In the month of Aswin they are Pushan, Gautama, Suruchi, Ghritachi, Sushena, Dhananjaya, and Vata. In the month of Kartik they are Parjanya, Bharadwaja, (another) Viswavasu, Viswachi, Senajit, Airavata, and Chapa. In Agrahayana or Margas'irsha they are Ansu, Kas'yapa, Chitrasena, Urvasi, Tarkshya, Mahapadma, and Vidyut. In the month of Pausha, Bhaga, Kratu, Urnayu, Purvachitti,

Arishtanemi, Karkotaka, and Sphurja are the seven who abide in the orb of the sun, the glorious spirits who scatter light throughout the universe. In the month of Magha the seven who are in the sun are Twashtri, Jamadagni, Dhritarashtra, Tilottama, Ritajit, Kambala, and Brahmapeta. Those who abide in the sun in the month Phalguna are Vishnu, Visvamitra, Suryaverchchas, Rambha, Satyajit, Aswatara, and Yajnapeta.

In this manner, Maitreya, a troop of seven celestial beings, supported by the energy of Vishnu, occupies during the several months the orb of the sun. The sage celebrates his praise, and the Gandharba sings, and the nymph dances before him: the Rakshas attends upon his steps, the serpent harnesses his steeds, and the Yaksha trims the reins: the numerous pigmy sages, the Balakhilyas, ever surround his chariot. The whole troop of seven, attached to the sun's car, are the agents in the distribution of cold, heat, and rain, at their respective seasons [2].


  • 233:1 It might be doubted whether the text meant 180 in each hemisphere or in both, but the sense is sufficiently clear in the Vayu, &c., and the number of Mandalas travelled in the year is 360: the Mandalas, 'circles' or 'degrees,' being in fact the sun's diurnal revolutions, and their numbers corresponding with the days of the solar year; as in the Bhavishya P. 'The horses of the sun travel twice 180 degrees in a year, internal and external (to the equator), in the order of the days.'
  • 234:2 A similar enumeration of the attendants upon the sun's car occurs in the Vayu, &c. For Yakshas, the generic term there employed is Gramanis, but the individuals are the same. The Kurma and Bhavishya refer the twelve Adityas to different months:–



The sun distinct from, and supreme over, the attendants on his car: identical with the three Vedas and with Vishnu: his functions.

MAITREYA.–You have related to me, holy preceptor, the seven classes of beings who are ever present in the solar orb, and are the causes of heat and cold: you have also described to me their individual functions, sustained by the energy of Vishnu: but you have not told me the duty of the sun himself; for if, as you say, the seven beings in his sphere are the causes of heat, cold, and rain, how can it be also true, as you have before mentioned, that rain proceeds from the sun? or how can it be asserted that the sun rises, reaches the meridian, or sets, if these situations be the act of the collective seven.

PARAS'ARA.–I will explain to you, Maitreya, the subject of your inquiry. The sun, though identified with the seven beings in his orb, is distinct from them as their chief. The entire and mighty energy of Vishnu, which is called the three Vedas, or Rich, Yajush, and Saman, is that which enlightens the world, and destroys its iniquity. It is that also which, during the continuance of things, is present as Vishnu, actively engaged in the preservation of the universe, and abiding as the three Vedas within the sun. The solar luminary, that appears in every month, is nothing else than that very supreme energy of Vishnu which is composed of the three Vedas, influencing the motions of the planet; for the Richas (the hymns of the Rig-veda) shine in the morning, the prayers of the Yajush at noon, and the Vrihadrathantara and other portions of the Saman in the afternoon. This triple impersonation of Vishnu, distinguished by the titles of the three Vedas, is the energy of Vishnu, which influences the positions of the sun [1].

But this triple energy of Vishnu is not limited to the sun alone, for Brahma, Purusha (Vishnu), and Rudra are also made up of the same triform essence. In creation it is Brahma, consisting of the Rig-veda in preservation it is Vishnu, composed of the Yajur-veda; and in destruction Rudra, formed of the Sama-veda, the utterance of which is consequently inauspicious [2].

Thus the energy of Vishnu, made up of the three Vedas, and derived from the property of goodness, presides in the sun, along with the seven beings belonging to it; and through the presence of this power the planet shines with intense radiance, dispersing with his beams the darkness that spreads over the whole world: and hence the Munis praise him, the quiristers and nymphs of heaven sing and dance before him, and fierce spirits and holy sages attend upon his path. Vishnu, in the form of his active energy, never either rises or sets, and is at once the. sevenfold sun and distinct from it. In the same manner as a man approaching a mirror, placed upon a stand, beholds in it his own image, so the energy (or reflection) of Vishnu is never disjoined (from the sun's car, which is the stand of the mirror), but remains month by month in the sun (as in the mirror), which is there stationed.

The sovereign sun, oh Brahman, the cause of day and night, perpetually revolves, affording delight to the gods, to the progenitors, and to mankind. Cherished by the Sushumna ray of the sun [3], the moon is fed to the full in the fortnight of its growth; and in the fortnight of its wane the ambrosia of its substance is perpetually drunk by the immortals, until the last day of the half month, when the two remaining digits are drunk by the progenitors: hence these two orders of beings are nourished by the sun. The moisture of the earth, which the sun attracts by his rays, he again parts with for the fertilization of the grain, and the nutriment of all terrestrial creatures; and consequently the sun is the source of subsistence to every class of living things, to gods, progenitors, mankind, and the rest. The sun, Maitreya, satisfies the wants of the gods for a fortnight (at a time); those of the progenitors once a month; and those of men and other animals daily.


  • 235:1 This mysticism originates in part apparently from a misapprehension of metaphorical texts of the Vedas, such as 'that triple knowledge (the Vedas) shines;' and 'the hymns of the Rich shine;' and in part from the symbolization of the light of religious truth by the light of the [p. 236] sun, as in the Gayatri, <page 222>. n. . To these are to be added the sectarial notions of the Vaishnavas.
  • 236:2 The formulae of the Sama-veda are not to be used along with those of the Rich and Yajush, at sacrifices in general.
  • 236:3 The Vayu, Linga, and Matsya P. specify several of the rays of the sun from amongst the many thousands which they say proceed from him. Of these, seven are principal, termed Sushumna, Harikes'a, Vis'wakarman, Vis'wakarya, Sampadvasu, Arvavasu, and Swaraj, supplying heat severally to the moon, the stars, and to Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.



Description of the moon: his chariot, horses, and course: fed by the sun: drained periodically of ambrosia by the progenitors and gods. The chariots and horses of the planets: kept in their orbits by aerial chains attached to Dhruva. Typical members of the planetary porpoise. Vasudeva alone real.

PARAS'ARA.–The chariot of the moon has three wheels, and is drawn by ten horses, of the whiteness of the Jasmine, five on the right half (of the yoke), five on the left. It moves along the asterisms, divided into ranges, as before described; and, in like manner as the sun, is upheld by Dhruva; the cords that fasten it being tightened or relaxed in the same way, as it proceeds on its course. The horses of the moon, sprung from the bosom of the waters [1], drag the car for a whole Kalpa, as do the coursers of the sun. The radiant sun supplies the moon, when reduced by the draughts of the gods to a single Kala, with a single ray; and in the same proportion as the ruler of the night was exhausted by the celestials, it is replenished by the sun, the plunderer of the waters: for the gods, Maitreya, drink the nectar and ambrosia accumulated in the moon during half the month, and from this being their food they are immortal. Thirty-six thousand three hundred and thirty-three divinities drink the lunar ambrosia. When two digits remain, the moon enters the orbit of the sun, and abides in the ray called Ama; whence the period is termed Amavasya. In that orbit the moon is immersed for a day and night in the water; thence it enters the branches and shoots of the trees; and thence goes to the sun. Consequently any one who cuts off a branch, or casts down a leaf, when the moon is in the trees (the day of its rising invisible), is guilty of Brahmanicide. When the remaining portion of the moon consists of but a fifteenth part, the progenitors approach it in the afternoon, and drink the last portion, that sacred Kali which is composed of ambrosia, and contained in the two digits of the form of the moon [2]. Having drank the nectar effused by the lunar rays on the day of conjunction, the progenitors are satisfied, and remain tranquil for the ensuing month. These progenitors (or Pitris) are of three classes, termed Saumyas, Varhishadas, and Agnishwattas [3]. In this manner the moon, with its cooling rays, nourishes the gods in the light fortnight, the Pitris in the dark fortnight; vegetables, with the cool nectary aqueous atoms it sheds upon them; and through their developement it sustains men, animals, and insects; at the same time gratifying them by its radiance.

The chariot of the son of Chandra, Budha or Mercury, is composed of the elementary substances air and fire, and is drawn by eight bay horses of the speed of the wind. The vast car of S'ukra (Venus) is drawn by earth-born horses [4], is equipped with a protecting fender and a floor, armed with arrows, and decorated by a banner. The splendid car of

Bhauma (Mars) is of gold, of an octagonal shape, drawn by eight horses, of a ruby red, sprung from fire. Vrihaspati (Jupiter), in a golden car drawn by eight pale-coloured horses, travels from sign to sign in the period of a year: and the tardy-paced S'ani (Saturn) moves slowly along in a car drawn by piebald steeds. Eight black horses draw the dusky chariot of Rahu, and once harnessed are attached to it for ever. On the Parvas (the nodes, or lunar and solar eclipses), Rahu directs his course from the sun to the moon, and back again from the moon to the sun [5]. The eight horses of the chariot of Ketu are of the dusky red colour of Lac, or of the smoke of burning straw.

I have thus described to you, Maitreya, the chariots of the nine planets, all which are fastened to Dhruva by aerial cords. The orbs of all the planets, asterisms, and stars are attached to Dhruva, and travel accordingly in their proper orbits, being kept in their places by their respective bands of air. As many as are the stars, so many are the chains of air that secure them to Dhruva; and as they turn round, they cause the pole-star also to revolve. In the same manner as the oil-man himself, going round, causes the spindle to revolve, so the planets travel round, suspended by cords of air, which are circling round a (whirling) centre. The air, which is called Pravaha, is so termed because it bears along the planets, which turn round, like a disc of fire, driven by the aerial wheel [6].

The celestial porpoise, in which Dhruva is fixed, has been mentioned, but you shall hear its constituent parts in more detail, as it is of great efficacy; for the view of it at night expiates whatever sin has been committed during the day; and those who behold it live as many years as there are stars in it, in the sky, or even more. Uttanapada is to be considered as its upper jaw; Sacrifice as its lower. Dharma is situated on its brow; Narayana in its heart. The Aswins are its two fore feet; and Varuna and Aryamat its two hinder legs. Samvatsara is its sexual organ; Mitra its organ of excretion. Agni, Mahendra, Kas'yapa, and Dhruva, in succession, are placed in its tail; which four stars in this constellation never set [7].

I have now described to you the disposition of the earth and of the stars; of the insular zones, with their oceans and mountains, their Varshas or regions, and their inhabitants: their nature has also been explained, but it may be briefly recapitulated.

From the waters, which are the body of Vishnu, was produced the lotus-shaped earth, with its seas and mountains. The stars are Vishnu; the worlds are Vishnu; forests, mountains, regions, rivers, oceans are Vishnu: he is all that is, all that is not. He, the lord, is identical with knowledge, through which he is all forms, but is not a substance. You must conceive therefore mountains, oceans, and all the diversities of earth and the rest, are the illusions of the apprehension. When knowledge is pure, real, universal, independent of works, and exempt from defect, then the varieties of substance, which are the fruit of the tree of desire, cease to exist in matter. For what is substance? Where is the thing that is devoid of beginning, middle, and end, of one uniform nature? How can reality be predicated of that which is subject to change, and reassumes no more its original character? Earth is fabricated into a jar; the jar is divided into two halves; the halves are broken to pieces; the pieces become dust; the dust becomes atoms. Say, is this reality? though it be so understood by man, whose self-knowledge is impeded by his own acts. Hence, Brahman, except discriminative knowledge, there is nothing any where, or at any time, that is real. Such knowledge is but one, although it appear manifold, as diversified by the various consequences of our own acts. Knowledge perfect, pure, free from pain, and detaching the affections from all that causes affliction; knowledge single and eternal–is the supreme Vasudeva, besides whom there is nothing. The truth has been thus communicated to you by me; that knowledge which is truth; from which all that differs is false. That information, however, which is of a temporal and worldly nature has also been imparted to you; the sacrifice, the victim, the fire, the priests, the acid juice, the gods, the desire for heaven, the path pursued by acts of devotion and the rest, and the worlds that are their consequences, have been displayed to you. In that universe which I have described, he for ever migrates who is subject to the influence of works; but he who knows Vasudeva to be eternal, immutable, and of one unchanging, universal form, may continue to perform them [8], as thereby he enters into the deity.


  • 238:1 So is the car, according to the Vayu. The orb of the moon, according to the Linga, is only congealed water; as that of the sun is concentrated heat.
  • 239:2 There is some indistinctness in this account, from a confusion between the division of the moon's surface into sixteen Kalas or phases, and its , as a receptacle of nectar, into fifteen Kalas or digits, corresponding to the fifteen lunations, on the fourteen of which, during the wane, the gods drink the amrita, and on the fifteenth of which the Pitris exhaust the remaining portion. The correspondence of the two distinctions appears to be intended by the text, which terms the remaining digit or Kala, composed of Amrita, the form or superficies of the two Kalas. This, the commentator observes, is the fifteenth, not the sixteenth. The commentator on our text observes, also, that the passage is sometimes read ###, Lava meaning 'a moment,' 'a short period.' The Matsya and Vayu express the parallel passage so as to avoid all perplexity, by specifying the two Kalas as referring to time, and leaving the number of nectareous Kalas undefined: 'They, the Pitris, drink the remaining Kalas in two Kalas of time.' Col. Warren explains Kala, or, as he 'writes it, Cala, in one of its acceptations, 'the phases of the moon, of which the Hindus count sixteen.' Kala Sankalita, 359. So the Bhagavata terms the moon, and the Vayu, after noticing the exhaustion of the fifteenth portion on the day of conjunction, states the recurrence of increase or wane to take place in the sixteenth phase at the beginning of each fortnight.
  • 239:3 The Vayu and Matsya add a fourth class, the Kavyas; identifying them with the cyclic years; the Saumyas and Agnishwattas with the seasons; and the Varhishads with the months.
  • 239:4 The Vayu makes the horses ten in number, each of a different colour.
  • 240:5 The Matsya, Linga, and Vayu add the circumstance of Rahu's taking up, on these occasions, the circular shadow of the earth.
  • 240:6 The different bands of air attached to Dhruva are, according to the commentator, varieties of the Pravaha wind; but the Kurma and Linga enumerate seven principal winds which perform this function, of which the Pravaha is one.
  • 241:7 The four last are therefore stars in the circle of perpetual apparition. One of these is the pole-star; and in Kas'yapa we have a verbal affinity to Cassiopeia. The S'is'umara, or porpoise, is rather a singular symbol for the celestial sphere; but it is not more preposterous than many of the constellations of classical fiction. The component parts of it are much more fully detailed, in the Bhagavata, whence it has been translated by Sir Wm. Jones. As. Res. II. 402. The Bhagavata, however, mystifies the description, and says it is nothing more than the Dharana, or symbol, by which Vishnu, identified with the starry firmament, is to be impressed upon the mind in meditation. The account of the planetary system is, as usual, fullest in the Vayu, with which the Linga and Matsya nearly agree. The Bhavishya is nearly, also, the same. They all contain many passages common to them and to our text. In the Agni, Padma, Kurma, Brahma, Garuda, and Vamana descriptions occur which enter into less detail than the Vishnu, and often use its words, or passages found in other Puranas. Many intimations of a similar system occur in the Vedas, but whether the whole is to be found in those works is yet to be ascertained. It must not be considered as a correct representation of the philosophical astronomy of the Hindus, being mixed up with, and deformed by, mythological and symbolical fiction.
  • 242:8 Only, however, as far as they are intended to propitiate Vishnu, and not for any other purpose.



Legend of Bharata. Bharata abdicates his throne, and becomes an ascetic: cherishes a fawn, and becomes so much attached to it as to neglect his devotions: he dies: his successive births: works in the fields, and is pressed as a palankin-bearer for the Raja of Sauvira: rebuked for his awkwardness: his reply: dialogue between him and the king.

MAITREYA.–Reverend sir [1], all that I asked of you has been thoroughly explained; namely, the situation of the earth, oceans, mountains, rivers, and planetary bodies; the system of the three worlds, of which Vishnu is the stay. The great end of life has also been expounded by you, and the preeminence of holy knowledge. It now remains that you fulfil the promise you made some time since [2], of relating to me the story of king Bharata, and how it happened that a monarch like him, residing constantly at the sacred place S'alagrama, and engaged in devotion, with his mind ever applied to Vasudeva, should have failed, through time sanctity of the shrine, and the efficacy of his abstractions, to obtain final emancipation; how it was that he was born again as a Brahman; and what was done by the magnanimous Bharata in that capacity: all this it is fit that you inform me.

PARAS'ARA.–The illustrious monarch of the earth resided, Maitreya, for a considerable period at S'alagrama, his thoughts being wholly dedicated to god, and his conduct distinguished by kindness and every virtue, until he had effected, in the highest degree, the entire control over his mind. The Raja was ever repeating the names, Yajnes'a, Achyuta, Govinda, Madhava, Ananta, Kes'ava, Krishna, Vishnu, Hrishikes'a; nothing else did be utter, even in his dreams; nor upon anything but those names, and their import, did he ever meditate. He accepted fuel, flowers, and holy grass, for the worship of the deity, but performed no other religious rites, being engrossed by disinterested, abstract devotion.

On one occasion he went to the Mahanadi [3], for the purpose of ablution: he bathed there, and performed the ceremonies usual after bathing, Whilst thus occupied, there came to the same place a doe big with young, who had come out of the forest to drink of the stream. Whilst quenching her thirst, there was heard on a sudden the loud and fearful roaring of a lion; on which the doe, being excessively alarmed, jumped out of the water upon the bank. In consequence of this great leap, her fawn was suddenly brought forth, and fell into the river; and the king, seeing it carried away by the current, caught hold of the young animal, and saved it from being drowned. The injury received by the deer, by her violent exertion, proved fatal, and she lay down, and died; which being observed by the royal ascetic, he took the fawn in his arms, and returned with it to his hermitage: there he fed it and tended it every day, and it throve and grew up under his care. It frolicked about the cell, and grazed upon the grass in its vicinity; and whenever it strayed to a distance, and was alarmed at a wild beast, it ran back thither for safety. Every morning it sallied forth from home, and every evening returned to the thatched shelter of the leafy bower of Bharata.

Whilst the deer was thus the inmate of his hermitage, the mind of the king was ever anxious about the animal, now wandering away, and now returning to his side, and he was unable to think of anything else. He had relinquished his kingdom, his children, all his friends, and now indulged in selfish affection for a fawn. When absent for a longer time than ordinary, he would fancy that it had been carried off by wolves, devoured by a tiger, or slain by a lion. “The earth,” he would exclaim, “is embrowned by the impressions of its hoofs. What has become of the young deer, that was born for my delight? How happy I should be if he had returned from the thicket, and I felt his budding antlers rubbing against my arm. These tufts of sacred grass, of which the heads have been nibbled by his new teeth, look like pious lads chanting the Sama-veda [4].” Thus the Muni meditated whenever the deer was long absent from him; and contemplated him with a countenance animated with pleasure as he stood by his side. His abstraction was interrupted, the spirit of the king being engrossed by the fawn, even though he had abandoned family, wealth, and dominion. The firmness of the prince's mind became unsteady, and wandered with the wanderings of the young deer. In the course of time the king became subject to its influence. He died, watched by the deer, with tears in its eyes, like a son mourning for his father; and he himself, as he expired, cast his eyes upon the animal, and thought of nothing else, being wholly occupied with one idea.

In consequence of this predominant feeling at such a season, he was born again, in the Jambumarga forests, as a deer [5], with the faculty of recollecting his former life; which recollection inspiring a distaste for the world, he left his mother, and again repaired to the holy place S'alagrama. Subsisting there upon dry grass and leaves, he atoned for the acts which had led to his being born in such a condition; and upon his death he was next born as a Brahman, still retaining the memory of his prior existence. He was born in a pious and eminent family of ascetics, who were rigid observers of devotional rites. Possessed of all true wisdom, and acquainted with the essence of all sacred writings, he beheld soul as contradistinguished from matter (Prakriti). Embued with knowledge of self, he beheld the gods and all other beings as in reality the same. It did not happen to him to undergo investiture with the Brahmanical thread, nor to read the Vedas with a spiritual preceptor, nor to perform ceremonies, nor to study the scriptures. Whenever spoken to, he replied incoherently and in ungrammatical and unpolished speech. His person was unclean, and he was clad in dirty garments. Saliva dribbled from his mouth, and he was treated with contempt by all the people. Regard for the consideration of the world is fatal to the success of devotion. The ascetic who is despised of men attains the end of his abstractions. Let therefore a holy man pursue the path of the righteous, without murmuring; and though men contemn him, avoid association with mankind. This, the counsel of Hiranyagarbha [6], did the Brahman call to mind, and hence assumed the appearance of a crazy ideot in the eyes of the world. His food was raw pulse, potherbs, wild fruit, and grains of corn. Whatever came in his way he ate, as part of a necessary, but temporary infliction [7]. Upon his father's death he was set to work in the fields by his brothers and his nephews, and fed by them with vile food; and as he was firm and stout of make, and a simpleton in outward act, he was the slave of every one that chose to employ him, receiving sustenance alone for his hire.

The head servant of the king of Sauvira, looking upon him as an indolent, untaught Brahman, thought him a fit person to work without pay (and took him into his master's service to assist in carrying the palankin.)

The king having ascended his litter, on one occasion, was proceeding to the hermitage of Kapila, on the banks of the Ikshumati river [8], to consult the sage, to whom the virtues leading to liberation were known, what was most desirable in a world abounding with care and sorrow. Amongst those who by order of his head servant had been compelled gratuitously to carry the litter was the Brahman, who had been equally pressed into this duty, and who, endowed with the only universal knowledge, and remembering his former existence, bore the burden as the means of expiating the faults for which he was desirous to atone. Fixing his eyes upon the pole, he went tardily along, whilst the other bearers moved with alacrity; and the king, feeling the litter carried unevenly, called out, “Ho bearers! what is this? Keep equal pace together.” Still it proceeded unsteadily, and the Raja again exclaimed, “What is this? how irregularly are you going!” When this had repeatedly occurred, the palankin-bearers at last replied to the king, “It is this man, who lags in his pace.” “How is this?” said the prince to the Brahman, “are you weary? You have carried your burden but a little way; are you unable to bear fatigue? and yet you look robust.” The Brahman answered and said, “It is not I who am robust, nor is it by me that your palankin is carried. I am not wearied, prince, nor am I incapable of fatigue.” The king replied, “I clearly see that you are stout, and that the palankin is borne by you; and the carriage of a burden is wearisome to all persons.” “First tell me,” said the Brahman, “what it is of me that you have clearly seen [9], and then you may distinguish my properties as strong or weak. The assertion that you behold the palankin borne by me, or placed on me, is untrue. Listen, prince, to what I have to remark. The place of both the feet is the ground; the legs are supported by the feet; the thighs rest upon the legs; and the belly reposes on the thighs; the chest is supported by the belly; and the arms and shoulders are propped up by the chest: the palankin is borne upon the shoulders, and how can it be considered as my burden? This body which is seated in the palankin is defined as Thou; thence what is elsewhere called This, is here distinguished as I and Thou. I and thou and others are constructed of the elements; and the elements, following the stream of qualities, assume a bodily shape; but qualities, such as goodness and the rest, are dependant upon acts; and acts, accumulated in ignorance, influence the condition of all beings [10]. The pure, imperishable soul, tranquil, void of qualities, preeminent over nature (Prakriti), is one, without increase or diminution, in all bodies. But if it be equally exempt from increase or diminution, then with what propriety can you say to me, 'I see that thou art robust?' If the palankin rests on the shoulders, and they on the body; the body on the feet, and the feet on the earth; then is the burden borne as much by you as by me [11]. When the nature of men is different, either in its essence or its cause, then may it be said that fatigue is to be undergone by me. That which is the substance of the palankin is the substance of you and me and all others, being an aggregate of elements, aggregated by individuality.”

Having thus spoken, the Brahman was silent, and went on bearing the palankin; but the king leaped out of it, and hastened to prostrate himself at his feet; saying, “Have compassion on me, Brahman, and cast aside the palankin; and tell me who thou art, thus disguised under the appearance of a fool.” The Brahman answered and said, “Hear me, Raja,. Who I am it is not possible to say: arrival at any place is for the sake of fruition; and enjoyment of pleasure, or endurance of pain, is the cause of the production of the body. A living being assumes a corporeal form to reap the results of virtue or vice. The universal cause of all living creatures is virtue or vice: why therefore inquire the cause (of my being the person I appear).” The king said, “Undoubtedly virtue and vice are the causes of all existent effects, and migration into several bodies is for the purpose of receiving their consequences; but with respect to what you have asserted, that it is not possible for you to tell me who you are, that is a matter which I am desirous to hear explained. How can it be impossible, Brahman, for any one to declare himself to be that which he is? There can be no detriment to one's-self from applying to it the word I.” The Brahman said, “It is true that there is no wrong done to that which is one's-self by the application to it of the word I; but the term is characteristic of error, of conceiving that to be the self (or soul) which is not self or soul. The tongue articulates the word I, aided by the lips, the teeth, and the palate; and these are the origin of the expression, as they are the causes of the production of speech. If by these instruments speech is able to utter the word I, it is nevertheless improper to assert that speech itself is I [12]. The body of a man, characterized by hands, feet, and the like, is made up of various parts; to which of these can I properly apply the denomination I? If another being is different specifically from me, most excellent monarch, then it may be said that this is I; that is the other: but when one only soul is dispersed in all bodies, it is then idle to say, Who are you? who am I? Thou art a king; this is a palankin; these are the bearers; these the running footmen; this is thy retinue: yet it is untrue that all these are said to be thine. The palankin on which thou sittest is made of timber derived from a tree. What then? is it denominated either timber or a tree? People do not say that the king is perched upon a tree, nor that he is seated upon a piece of wood, when you have mounted your palankin. The vehicle is an assemblage of pieces of timber, artificially joined together: judge, prince, for yourself in what the palankin differs really from the wood. Again; contemplate the sticks of the umbrella, in their separate state. Where then is the umbrella? Apply this reasoning to thee and to me [13]. A man, a woman, a cow, a goat, a horse, an elephant, a bird, a tree, are names assigned to various bodies, which are the consequences of acts. Man [14] is neither a god, nor a man, nor a brute, nor a tree; these are mere varieties of shape, the effects of acts. The thing which in the world is called a king, the servant of a king, or by any other appellation, is not a reality; it is the creature of our imaginations: for what is there in the world, that is subject to vicissitude, that does not in the course of time go by different names. Thou art called the monarch of the world; the son of thy father; the enemy of thy foes; the husband of thy wife; the father of thy children. What shall I denominate thee? How art thou situated? Art thou the head or the belly? or are they thine? Art thou the feet? or do they belong to thee? Thou art, oh king, distinct in thy nature from all thy members! Now then, rightly understanding the question, think who I am; and how it is possible for me, after the truth is ascertained (of the identity of all), to recognise any distinction, or to speak of my own individuality by the expression I.'


  • 243:1 One copy addresses Paras'ara, Bhagavan sarvabhutesa, 'Sacred sovereign, lord of all creatures;' rather an unusual title for a sage, even though an inspired one. The other two copies begin, Samyagakhyatam, 'All has been thoroughly explained.'
  • 243:2 See page 264.
  • 244:3 The Mahanadi is properly a river in Orissa, but the name is applicable to any great stream, and its connexion with S'alagrama Tirtha makes it probable that it is intended for the Gandaki or Gandaka, in which the S'alagram or Ammonite is most abundantly found. It may be here noticed that S'alagrama is named amongst the Tirthas in the Mahabharata: see <page 163>.
  • 245:4 The applicability of this simile is not explained by the commentator: it refers possibly to the cropped or shaven heads of the religious students.
  • 245:5 According to the Bhagavata, Jambumarga is the Kalanjara mountain or Kalanjar in Bundelkhand.
  • 246:6 Hiranyagarbha or Brahma is named here instead of the Yoga doctrine, which is sometimes ascribed to him as its author.
  • 246:7 As a Kala sanyama, a state of suffering or mortification lasting only for a season; or, in other words, bodily existence; the body being contemplated as a sore, for which food is the unguent; drink, the lotion; and dress, the bandage.
  • 246:8 A river in the north of India.
  • 247:9 That is, What have you discerned of me, my body, life, or soul?
  • 247:10 The condition–that is, the personal individuality–of any one is the consequence of his acts; but the same living principle animates him which is common to all living things.
  • 248:11 The body is not the individual; therefore it is not the individual, but the body, or eventually the earth, which bears the burden.
  • 249:12 That is, speech, or any or all of the faculties or senses, is not soul.
  • 249:13 The aggregate limbs and senses no more constitute the individual, than the accidental combination of certain pieces of wood makes the fabric anything else than wood: in like manner as the machine is still timber, so the body is still mere elementary matter. Again; the senses and limbs, considered separately, no more constitute the man, than each individual stick constitutes the umbrella. Whether separate or conjoined, therefore, the parts of the body are mere matter; and as matter does not make up man, they do not constitute an individual.
  • 249:14 The term in this and the preceding clause is Puman; here used generically, there specifically.



Dialogue continued. Bharata expounds the nature of existence, the end of life, and the identification of individual with universal spirit.

PARAS'ARA.–Having heard these remarks, full of profound truth, the king was highly pleased with the Brahman, and respectfully thus addressed him: “What you have said is no doubt the truth; but in listening to it my mind is much disturbed. You have shewn that to be discriminative wisdom which exists in all creatures, and which is the great principle that is distinct from plastic nature; but the assertions–'I do not bear the palankin—the palankin does not rest upon me–the body, by which the vehicle is conveyed, is different from me–the conditions of elementary beings are influenced by acts, through the influence of the qualities, and the qualities are the principles of action;'–what sort of positions are these. Upon these doctrines entering into my ears, my mind, which is anxious to investigate the truth, is lost in perplexity. It was my purpose, illustrious sage, to have gone to Kapila Rishi, to inquire of him what in this life was the most desirable object: but now that I have heard from you such words, my mind turns to you, to become acquainted with the great end of life. The Rishi Kapila is a portion of the mighty and universal Vishnu, who has come down upon earth to dissipate delusion; and surely it is he who, in kindness to me, has thus manifested himself to me in all that you have said. To me, thus suppliant, then, explain what is the best of all things; for thou art an ocean overflowing with the waters of divine wisdom.” The Brahman replied to the king, “You, again, ask me what is the best of all things, not what is the great end of life [1]; but there are many things which are considered best, as well as those which are the great ends (or truths) of life. To him who, by the worship of the gods, seeks for wealth, prosperity, children, or dominion, each of these is respectively best. Best is the rite or sacrifice, that is rewarded with heavenly pleasures. Best is that which yields the best recompense, although it be not solicited. Self-contemplation, ever practised by devout ascetics, is to them the best. But best of all is the identification of soul with the supreme spirit. Hundreds and thousands of conditions may be called the best; but these are not the great and true ends of life. Hear what those are. Wealth cannot be the true end of life, for it may be relinquished through virtue, and its characteristic property is expenditure for the gratification of desire. If a son were final truth, that would be equally applicable to a different source; for the son that is to one the great end of life, becomes the father of another. Final or supreme truth, therefore, would not exist in this world, as in all these cases those objects which are so denominated are the effects of causes, and consequently are not finite. If the acquisition of sovereignty were designated by the character of being the great end of all, then finite ends would sometimes be, and sometimes cease to be. If you suppose that the objects to be effected by sacrificial rites, performed according to the rules of the Rik, Yajur, and Sama Vedas, be the great end of life, attend to what I have to say. Any effect which is produced through the causality of earth partakes of the character of its origin, and consists itself of clay; so any act performed by perishable agents, such as fuel, clarified butter, and Kus'a grass, must itself be of but temporary efficacy. The great end of life (or truth) is considered by the wise to be eternal; but it would be transient, if it were accomplished through transitory things. If you imagine that this great truth is the performance of religious acts, from which no recompense is sought, it is not so; for such acts are the means of obtaining liberation, and truth is (the end), not the means. Meditation on self, again, is said to be for the sake of supreme truth; but the object of this is to establish distinctions (between soul and body), and the great truth of all is without distinctions. Union of self with supreme spirit is said to be the great end of all; but this is false; for one substance cannot become substantially another [2]. Objects, then, which are considered most desirable are infinite. What the great end of all is, you shall, monarch, briefly learn from me. It is soul: one (in all bodies), pervading, uniform, perfect, preeminent over nature (Prakriti), exempt from birth, growth, and decay, omnipresent, undecaying, made up of true knowledge, independent, and unconnected with unrealities, with name, species, and the rest, in time present, past, or to come. The knowledge that this spirit, which is essentially one, is in one's own and in all other bodies, is the great end, or true wisdom, of one who knows the unity and the true principles of things. As one diffusive air, passing through the perforations of a flute, is distinguished as the notes of the scale (Sherga and the rest), so the nature of the great spirit is single, though its forms be manifold, arising from the consequences of acts. When the difference of the investing form, as that of god or the rest, is destroyed, then there is no distinction.”


  • 251:1 You ask what is S'reyas, not what is Paramartha: the first means literally 'best,' 'most excellent,' and is here used to denote temporary and special objects, or sources of happiness, as wealth, posterity, power, &c.; the latter is the one great object or end of life, true wisdom or truth, knowledge of the real and universal nature of soul.
  • 253:2 But this is to be understood as applying to the doctrines which distinguish between the vital spirit (Jivatma) and the supreme spirit (Paramatma), the doctrine of the Yoga. It is here argued, that it is absurd to talk of effecting a union between the soul of man and supreme soul; for if they are distinct essentially, they cannot combine; if they are already one and the same, it is nonsense to talk of accomplishing their union. The great end of life or truth is not to effect the union of two things, or two parts of one thing, but to know that all is unity.



Bharata relates the story of Ribhu and Nidagha. The latter, the pupil of the former, becomes a prince, and is visited by his preceptor, who explains to him the principles of unity, and departs.

PARAS'ARA continued.–Having terminated these remarks, the Brahman repeated to the silent and meditating prince a tale illustrative of the doctrines of unity. “Listen, prince,” he proceeded, “to what was formerly uttered by Ribhu, imparting holy knowledge to the Brahman Nidagha. Ribhu was a son of the supreme Brahma, who, from his innate disposition, was of a holy character, and acquainted with true wisdom. Nidagha, the son of Pulastya, was his disciple; and to him Ribhu communicated willingly perfect knowledge, not doubting of his being fully confirmed in the doctrines of unity, when he had been thus instructed.

“The residence of Pulastya was at Viranagara, a large handsome city on the banks of the Devika river. In a beautiful grove adjoining to the stream the pupil of Ribhu, Nidagha, conversant with devotional practices, abode. When a thousand divine years had elapsed, Ribhu went to the city of Pulastya, to visit his disciple. Standing at the doorway, at the end of a sacrifice to the Vis'wadevas, he was seen by his scholar, who hastened to present him the usual offering, or Arghya, and conducted him into the house; and when his hands and feet were washed, and he was seated, Nidagha invited him respectfully to eat (when the following dialogue ensued):–

“Ribhu. 'Tell me, illustrious Brahman, what food there is in your house; for I am not fond of indifferent viands.'

“Nidagha. 'There are cakes of meal, rice, barley, and pulse in the house; partake, venerable sir, of whichever best pleases you.'

“Ribhu. 'None of these do I like; give me rice boiled with sugar, wheaten cakes, and milk with curds and molasses.'

“Nidagha. 'Ho dame, be quick, and prepare whatever is most delicate and sweet in the house, to feed our guest.'

“Having thus spoken, the wife of Nidagha, in obedience to her husband's commands, prepared sweet and savoury food, and set it before the Brahman; and Nidagha, having stood before him until he had eaten of the meal which he had desired, thus reverentially addressed him:–

“Nidagha. 'Have you eaten sufficiently, and with pleasure, great Brahman? and has your mind received contentment from your food? Where is your present residence? whither do you purpose going? and whence, holy sir, have you now come?'

“Ribhu. 'A hungry man, Brahman, must needs be satisfied when he has finished his meal. Why should you inquire if my hunger has been appeased? When the earthy element is parched by fire, then hunger is engendered; and thirst is produced when the moisture of the body has been absorbed (by internal or digestive heat). Hunger and thirst are the functions of the body, and satisfaction must always be afforded me by that by which they are removed; for when hunger is no longer sensible, pleasure and contentment of mind are faculties of the intellect: ask their condition of the mind then, for man is not affected by them. For your three other questions, Where I dwell? Whither I go? and Whence I come? hear this reply. Man (the soul of man) goes every where, and penetrates every where, like the ether; and is it rational to inquire where it is? or whence or whither thou goest? I neither am going nor coming, nor is my dwelling in any one place; nor art thou, thou; nor are others, others; nor am I, I. If you wonder what reply I should make to your inquiry why I made any distinction between sweetened and unsweetened food, you shall hear my explanation. What is there that is really sweet or not sweet to one eating a meal? That which is sweet, is no longer so when it occasions the sense of repletion; and that which is not sweet, becomes sweet when a man (being very hungry) fancies that it is so. What food is there that first, middle, and last is equally grateful. As a house built of clay is strengthened by fresh plaster, so is this earthly body supported by earthly particles; and barley, wheat, pulse, butter, oil, milk, curds, treacle, fruits, and the like, are composed of atoms of earth. This therefore is to be understood by you, that the mind which properly judges of what is or is not sweet is impressed with the notion of identity, and that this effect of identity tends to liberation.'

“Having heard these words, conveying the substance of ultimate truth, Nidagha fell at the feet of his visitor, and said, 'Shew favour unto me, illustrious Brahman, and tell me who it is that for my good has come hither, and by whose words the infatuation of my mind is dissipated.' To this, Ribhu answered, 'I am Ribhu, your preceptor, come hither to communicate to you true wisdom; and having declared to you what that is, I shall depart. Know this whole universe to be the one undivided nature of the supreme spirit, entitled Vasudeva.' Thus having spoken, and receiving the prostrate homage of Nidagha, rendered with fervent faith, Ribhu went his way.”


Ribhu returns to his disciple, and perfects him in divine knowledge. The same recommended to the Raja by Bharata, who thereupon obtains final liberation. Consequences of hearing this legend.

“AFTER the expiration of another thousand years, Ribhu again repaired to the city where Nidagha dwelt, to instruct him farther in true wisdom. When he arrived near the town, he beheld a prince entering into it, with a splendid retinue; and his pupil Nidagha standing afar off, avoiding the crowd; his throat shrivelled with starvation, and bearing from the thicket fuel and holy grass. Ribhu approached him, and saluting him reverentially (as if he was a stranger) demanded why he was standing in such a retired spot. Nidagha replied, 'There is a great crowd of people attending the entrance of the king into the town, and I am staying here to avoid it.' 'Tell me, excellent Brahman,' said Ribhu, 'for I believe that thou art wise, which is here the king, and which is any other man.' The king,' answered Nidagha, is he who is seated on the fierce and stately elephant, vast as a mountain peak; the others are his attendants.' You have shewn me,' observed Ribhu, 'at one moment the elephant and the king, without noticing any peculiar characteristic by which they may be distinguished. Tell me, venerable sir, is there any difference between them? for I am desirous to know which is here the elephant, which is the king.' 'The elephant,' answered Nidagha, 'is underneath; the king is above him. Who is not aware, Brahman, of the relation between that which bears and that which is borne?' To this Ribhu rejoined, 'Still explain to me, according to what I know of it, this matter: what is it that is meant by the word underneath, and what is it that is termed above?' As soon as he had uttered this, Nidagha jumped upon Ribhu, and said, 'Here is my answer to the question you have asked: I am above, like the Raja.; you are underneath, like the elephant. This example, Brahman, is intended for your information.' Very well,' said Ribhu, you, it seems, are as it were the Raja, and I am like the elephant; but come now do you tell me which of us two is you; which is I.'

“When Nidagha heard these words, he immediately fell at the feet o the stranger, and said, Of a surety thou art my saintly preceptor Ribhu the mind of no other person is so fully imbued with the doctrines of unity as that of my teacher, and hence I know that thou art he.' To this Ribhu replied, 'I am your preceptor, by name Ribhu, who, pleased with: the dutiful attention he has received, has come to Nidagha to give him instruction: for this purpose have I briefly intimated to you divine truth, the essence of which is the non-duality of all.' Having thus spoken to Nidagha, the Brahman Ribhu went away, leaving his disciple profoundly impressed, by his instructions, with belief in unity. He beheld all beings thenceforth as the same with himself, and, perfect in holy knowledge, obtained final liberation.

“In like manner do thou, oh king, who knowest what duty is, regarding equally friend or foe, consider yourself as one with all that exists in the world. Even as the same sky is apparently diversified as white or blue, so Soul, which is in truth but one, appears to erroneous vision distinct in different persons. That One, which here is all things, is Achyuta (Vishnu); than whom there is none other. He is I; he is thou; he is all: this universe is his form. Abandon the error of distinction.”

PARAS'ARA resumed.–The king, being thus instructed, opened his eyes to truth, and abandoned the notion of distinct existence: whilst the Brahman, who, through the recollection of his former lives, had acquired perfect knowledge, obtained now exemption from future birth. Whoever narrates or listens to the lessons inculcated in the dialogue between Bharata and the king, has his mind enlightened, mistakes not the nature of individuality, and in the course of his migrations becomes fitted for ultimate emancipation [1].


  • 258:1 This legend is a good specimen of a sectarial graft upon a Pauranik stem. It is in a great measure peculiar to the Vishnu P., as although it occurs also in the Bhagavata, it is narrated there in a much more concise manner, and in a strain that looks like an abridgment of our text.


book 3


Account of the several Manus and Manwantaras. Swarochisha the second Manu: the divinities, the Indra, the seven Rishis of his period, and his sons. Similar details of Auttami, Tamasa, Raivata, Chakshusha, and Vaivaswata. The forms of Vishnu, as the preserver, in each Manwantara. The meaning of Vishnu.

MAITREYA.–The disposition of the earth and of the ocean, and the system of the sun and the planets, the creation of the gods and the rest, the origin of the Rishis, the generation of the four castes, the production of brute creatures, and the narratives of Dhruva and Prahlada, have been fully related by thee, my venerable preceptor. I am now desirous to hear from you the series of all the Manwantaras, as well as an account of those who preside over the respective periods, with S'akra, the king of the gods, at their head.

PARAS'ARA.–I will repeat to you, Maitreya, in their order, the different Manwantaras; those which are past, and those which are to come.

The first Manu was Swayambhuva, then came Swarochisha, then Auttami, then Tamasa, then Raivata, then Chakshusha: these six Manus have passed away. The Manu who presides over the seventh Manwantara, which is the present period, is Vaivaswata, the son of the sun.

The period of Swayambhuva Manu, in the beginning of the Kalpa, has already been described by me, together with the gods, Rishis, and other personages, who then flourished [1]. I will now, therefore, enumerate the presiding gods, Rishis, and sons of the Manu, in the Manwantara of Swarochisha [2]. The deities of this period (or the second Manwantara) were the classes called Paravatas and Tushitas [3]; and the king of the gods was the mighty Vipas'chit. The seven Rishis [4] were Urja, Stambha,

Prana, Dattoli, Rishabha, Nis'chara, and Arvarivat; and Chaitra, Kimpurusha, and others, were the Manu's sons [5].

In the third period, or Manwantara of Auttami [6], Sus'anti was the Indra, the king of the gods; the orders of whom were the Sudhamas, Satyas, S'ivas, , and Vasavertis [7]; each of the five orders consisting of twelve divinities. The seven sons of Vas'ishtha were the seven Rishis [8]; and Aja, Paras'u, Divya, and others, were the sons of the Manu [9].

The Surupas, Haris, Satyas, and S'udhis [10] were the classes of gods, each comprising twenty-seven, in the period of Tamasa, the fourth Manu [11]. S'ivi was the Indra, also designated by his performance of a hundred sacrifices (or named S'atakratu). The seven Rishis were Jyotirdhama, Prithu, Kavya, Chaitra, Agni, Vanaka, and Pivara [12]. The sons of Tamasa were the mighty kings Nara, Khyati, S'antahaya, Janujangha, and others [13].

In the fifth interval the Manu was Raivata [14]: the Indra was Vibhu: the classes of gods, consisting of fourteen each, were the Amitabhas, Abhutarajasas, Vaikunthas, and Sumedhasas [15]: the seven Rishis were

Hiranyaroma, Vedasri, Urddhabahu, Vedabahu, Sudhaman, Parjanya, and Mahamuni [16]: the sons of Raivata were Balabandhu, Susambhavya, Satyaka, and other valiant kings.

These four Manus, Swarochisha, Auttami, Tamasa, and Raivata, were all descended from Priyavrata, who, in consequence of propitiating Vishnu by his devotions, obtained these rulers of the Manwantaras for his posterity.

Chakshusha was the Manu of the sixth period [17]: in which the Indra was Manojava: the five classes of gods were the Adyas, Prastutas, Bhavyas, Prithugas, and the magnanimous Lekhas, eight of each [18]: Sumedhas, Virajas, Havishmat, Uttama, Madhu, Abhinaman, and Sahishnu were the seven sages [19]: the kings of the earth, the sons of Chakshusha, were the powerful Uru, Puru, S'atadyumna, and others.

The Manu of the present period is the wise lord of obsequies, the illustrious offspring of the sun: the deities are the Adityas, Vasus, and Rudras; their sovereign is Purandara: Vas'ishtha, Kas'yapa, Atri, Jamadagni, Gautama, Vis'wamitra, and Bharadwaja are the seven Rishis: and the nine pious sons of Vaivaswata Manu are the kings Ikshwaku, Nabhaga, Dhrishta, Sanyati, Narishyanta, Nabhanidishta, Karusha, Prishadhra, and the celebrated Vasumat [20].

The unequalled energy of Vishnu combining with the quality of goodness, and effecting the preservation of created things, presides over all the Manwantaras in the form of a divinity. Of a portion of that divinity Yajna was born in the Swayambhuva Manwantara, the will-begotten progeny of Akuti [21]. When the Swarochisha Manwantara had arrived, that divine Yajna was born as Ajita, along with the Tushita gods, the sons of Tushita. In the third Manwantara, Tushita was again born of Satya, as Satya, along with the class of deities so denominated. In the next period, Satya became Hari, along with the Haris, the children of Hari. The excellent Hari was again born in the Raivata Manwantara, of Sambhuti, as Manasa, along with the gods called Abhutarajasas. In the next period, Vishnu was born of Vikunthi, as Vaikuntha, along with the deities called Vaikunthas. In the present Manwantara, Vishnu was again born as Vamana, the son of Kas'yapa by Aditi. With three paces he subdued the worlds, and gave them, freed from all embarrassment, to Purandara [22]. These are the seven persons by whom, in the several Manwantaras, created beings have been protected. Because this whole world has been pervaded by the energy of the deity, he is entitled Vishnu, from the root Vis, 'to enter' or 'pervade;' for all the gods, the Manus, the seven Rishis, the sons of the Manus, the Indras the sovereigns of the gods, all are but the impersonated might of Vishnu [23].


  • 259:1 The gods were said to be the Yamas (<page 54>); the Rishis were Marichi, Angiras, &c. (<page 49>. n. ); and the sons were Priyavrata and Uttanapada (<page 53>). The Vayu adds to the Yamas, the Ajitas, who share with the former, it observes, sacrificial [p. 260] offerings. The Matsya, Padma, Brahma P. and Hari Vans'a substitute for the sons, the grandsons of Swayambhuva, Agnidhra and the rest (<page 162>).
  • 260:2 This Manu, according to the legend of his birth in the Markandeya P., was the son of Swarochish, so named from the splendour of his appearance when born, and who was the son of the nymph Varuthini by the Gandharba Kali. The text, in another place, makes him a son of Priyavrata.
  • 260:3 The Vayu gives the names of the individuals of these two classes, consisting each of twelve. It furnishes also the nomenclature of all the classes of divinities, and of the sons of the Manus in each Manwantara. According to the same authority, the Tushitas were the sons of Kratu: the Bhagavata calls them the sons of Tushita by Vedas'iras. The divinities of each period are, according to the Vayu, those to whom offerings of the Soma juice and the like are presented collectively.
  • 260:4 The Vayu describes the Rishis of each Manwantara as the sons, or in some cases the descendants in a direct line, of the seven sages, Atri, Angiras, Bhrigu, Kas'yapa, Pulaha, Pulastya, and Vas'ishtha; with some inconsistency, for Kas'yapa, at least, did not appear himself until the seventh, Manwantara. In the present series Urja is the son of Vas'ishtha, Stambha springs from Kas'yapa, Prana from Bhrigu, Dattoli is the son of Pulastya, Rishabha descends from Angiras, Nis'chara from Atri, and Arvarivat is the son of Pulaha. The Brahma P. and Hari Vans'a have a rather different list, or Aurva, Stambha, Kas'yapa, Prana, Vrihaspati, Chyavana, and Dattoli; but the origin of part of this difference is nothing more than an imperfect quotation from the Vayu Purana; the two first, Aurva and Stambha, being specified as the son of Vas'ishtha and the descendant of Kas'yapa, and then the parentage of the rest being omitted: to complete the seven, therefore, Kas'yapa becomes one of them. Some other errors of this nature occur in these two works, and from the same cause, a blundering citation of the Vayu, which is named as their authority. A curious peculiarity also occurs in these mistakes. They are confined to the first eight Manwantaras. The Brahma P. omits all details of the last six, and the Hari Vans'a inserts them fully and correctly, agreeably to the authority of the Vayu. It looks, therefore, as if the compiler of the Hari Vans'a had followed the Brahma, as far as it went, right or wrong; but had had recourse to the original Vayu P. when the Brahma failed him. Dattoli is sometimes written Dattoni and Dattotri; and the latter appears to have been the case with the copy of the Hari Vans'a employed by M. Langlois, who makes one of the Rishis of this Manwantara, “le penitent Atri.” He is not without countenance in some such reading, for the Padma P. changes the name to Dattatreya, no doubt suggested by Datta-atri. [p. 261] Dattatreya, however, is the son of Atri; whilst the Vayu calls the person of the text the son of Pulastya. There can be no doubt therefore of the correct reading, for the son of Pulastya is Dattoli. (<page 83>.)
  • 261:5 The Vayu agrees with the text in these names, adding seven others. The Bhagavata has a different series. The Padma has four other names, Nabha, Nabhasya, Prasriti, Bhavana. The Brahma has ten names, including two of these, and several of the names of the Rishis of the tenth Manwantara. The Matsya has the four names of the Padma for the sons of the Manu, and gives seven others, Havindhra, Sukrita, Murtti, Apas, Jyotir, Aya, Smrita (the names of the Brahma), as the seven Prajapatis of this period, and sons of Vas'ishtha. The sons of Vas'ishtha, however, belong to the third Manwantara, and bear different appellations. There is, no doubt, some blundering here in all the books except the Vayu, and those which agree with it.
  • 261:6 The name occurs Auttami, Auttama, and Uttama. The Bhagavata and Vayu agree with our text (<page 263>) in making him a descendant from Priyavrata. The Markandeya calls him the son of Uttama, the son of Uttanapada: and this appears to be the correct genealogy, both from our text and the Bhagavata.
  • 261:7 The Brahma and Hari Vans'a have, in place of these, the Bhanus; but the Vayu and Markandeya concur with the text.
  • 261:8 All the authorities agree in this; but the Brahma and Hari Vans'a appear to furnish a different series also; or even a third, according to the French translation: 'Dans le troisieme Manwantara parurent comme Saptarchis les fils de Vasichtha, de son nom appeles Vasichthas, les fils de Hiranyagarbha et les illustres enfans d'Ourdja.' The text is, ### &c. The meaning of which is, 'There were (in the first Manwantara) seven celebrated sons of Vas'ishtha, who (in the third Manwantara) were sons of Brahma (i. e. Rishis), the illustrious posterity of Urjja. We have already seen that Urjja was the wife of Vas'ishtha, by whom she had seven sons, Rajas,' &c. (see <page 83>), in the Swayambhuva Manwantara; and these were born again as the Rishis of the third period. The names of these persons, according to the Matsya and Padma, are however very different from those of the sons of Vas'ishtha, given <page 83>, or Kaukundihi, Kurundi, Dalaya, S'ankha, Pravahita, Mita, and Sammita.
  • 261:9 The Vayu adds ten other names to those of the text. The Brahma gives ten [p. 262] altogether different. The Bhagavata an Padma have each a separate nomenclature.
  • 262:10 Of these, the Brahma and Hari V notice only the Satyas: the Matsya and Padma have only Sadhyas. The Vayu Bhagavata, Kurma, and Markandeya agree with the text.
  • 262:11 He is the son of Priyavrata, according to the text, the Vayu, &c. The Markandeya has a legend of his birth by a doe; and from his being begotten in dark, tempestuous weather, he derives his name.
  • 262:12 Severally, according to the Vayu, the progeny of Bhrigu, Kas'yapa, Angiras, Pulastya, Atri, Vas'ishtha, and Pulaha. There is considerable variety in some of the names. Thus the Matsya has Kavi, Prithu, Agni, Salpa, Dhimat, Kapi, Akapi. The Hari Vans'a has Kavya, Prithu, Agni, Jahnu, Dhatri, Kapivat, Akapivat. For the two last the Vayu reads Gatra and Vanapitha. The son of Pulaha is in his place (<page 83>. n. ), Arvarivat or Vanakapivat. Gatra is amongst the sons of Vas'ishtha (<page 83>). The Vayu is therefore probably most correct, although our text, in regard to these two denominations, admits of no doubt.
  • 262:13 The Vayu, &c. agree with the text; the Vayu naming eleven. The Brahma, Matsya, and Padma have a series of ten names, Sutapas, Tapomula, &c.; of which, seven are the Rishis of the twelfth Manwantara.
  • 262:14 Raivata, as well as his three predecessors, is regarded usually as a descendant of Priyavrata. The Markandeya has a long legend of his birth, as the son of king Durgama by the nymph Revati, sprung from the constellation Revati, whom Ritavach, a Muni, caused to fall from heaven. Her radiance became a lake on mount Kumuda, thence called Raivataka; and from it appeared the damsel, who was brought up by Pramucha Muni. Upon the marriage of Revati, the Muni, at her request, restored the asterism to its place in the skies.
  • 262:15 The Brahma inserts of these only the Abhutarajasas, with the remark, that 'they were of like nature (with their name):' i. e. they were exempt from the quality of passion. M. Langlois, in rendering the parallel passage of the Hari Vans'a, has confounded the epithet and the subject: 'dont les dieux furent les Pracritis, depourvu de [p. 263] colere et de passion.' He is also at a loss what to do with the terms Pariplava and Raibhya, in the following passage; ### asking, 'qu'est ce que Pariplava? qu'est ce que Rebhya?' If he had had the commentary at hand, these questions would have been unnecessary: they are there said to be two classes of divinities.
  • 263:16 There is less variety in these names than usual. Vedabahu is read Devabahu; Sudhaman, Satyanetra; and Mahamuni, Muni, Yajur, Vas'ishtha, and Yadudhra. According to the Vayu, those of the text are respectively of the lineage of Angiras, Bhrigu, Vas'ishtha, Pulastya, Atri, Pulaha, and Kas'yapa. There is considerable variety in the names of the Manu's sons.
  • 263:17 Chakshusha, according to the best authorities, descended from Dhruva (see p. 98); but the Markandeya has a legend of his birth as the son of a Kshatriya, named Anamitra; of his being exchanged at his birth for the son of Vis'ranta Raja, and being brought up by the prince as his own; of his revealing the business when a man, and propitiating Brahma by his devotions; in consequence of which he became a Manu. In his former birth he was born from the eye of Brahma; whence his name, from Chakshush, 'the eye.'
  • 263:18 The authorities agree as to the number, but differ as to the names; reading for Adyas, Aryas and Apyas; for Prastutas, Prabhutas and Prasutas; for Prithugas, Prithukas and Prithusas; and, which is a more wide deviation, Ribhus for Bhavyas. M. Langlois omits the Prasutas, and inserts Divaukasas; but the latter, meaning 'divinities,' is only an epithet. The Hari Vans'a has, ###—. The comment adds, ###.
  • 263:19 The Vayu reads Sudhaman for the first name; Unnata for Uttama; and Abhimana for Abhinaman. The latter occurs also Abhinamin (Matsya) and Atinaman (Hari V.) The latter reads, no doubt incorrectly, Bhrigu, Nabha, and [p. 264] Vivaswat for Uttama, Madhu, and Havishmat. The sons of Chakshusha are enumerated, <page 98>.
  • 264:20 There is no great variety of nomenclature in this Manwantara. The Vayu adds to the deities the Sadhyas, Vis'was, Maruts, and gods sprung from Bhrigu and Angiras. The Bhagavata adds the Ribhus: and most include the two Aswins as a class. Of the Maruts, however, the Hari Vans'a remarks that they are born in every Manwantara, seven times seven (or forty-nine); that in each Manwantara four times seven, or twenty-eight, obtain emancipation, but their places are filled up by persons reborn in that character. So the commentator explains the passages ### and ### &c. ### Comment. ### Comment. It may be suspected, however, that these passages have been derived from the simple statement of the Matsya, that in all the Manwantaras classes of Rishis appear by seven and seven, and having established a code of law and morality, depart to felicity. The Vayu has a rather different list of the seven Rishis; or Vasumat, the son of Vas'ishtha; Vatsara, descended from Kas'yapa; Vis'wamitra, the son of Gadhi, and of the Kus'ika race; Jamadagni, son of Kuru, of the race of Bhrigu; Bharadwaja, son of Vrihaspati; S'aradwat, son of Gautama, of the family of Utatthya; and Brahmakosha or Atri, descended from Brahma. All the other authorities agree with our text.
  • 264:21 The nominal father being the patriarch Ruchi. (See <page 54>.)
  • 265:22 There is no further account of this incarnation in the Vishnu Purana. Fuller details occur in the Bhagavata, Kurma, Matsya, and Vamana Puranas. The first of these (b. VIII. c. 15-23) relates the penance and sacrifices of Bali, son of Virochana, by which he had overcome Indra and the gods, and obtained supreme dominion over the three spheres. Vishnu, at the request of the deities, was born as a dwarf, Vamana, the son of Aditi by Kas'yapa; who, applying to Bali for alms, was promised by the prince whatever he might demand, notwithstanding S'ukra, the preceptor of the Daityas, apprised him whom he had to deal with. The dwarf demanded as much space as he could step over at three steps; and upon the assent of Bali, enlarged himself to such dimensions as to stride over the three worlds. Being worshipped however by Bali and his ancestor Prahlada, he conceded to them the sovereignty of Patala.
  • 265:23 See the same etymology, <page 3>. n. .



Of the seven future Manus and Manwantaras. Story of Sanjna and Chhaya, wives of the sun. Savarni, son of Chhaya, the eighth Manu. His successors, with the divinities, &c. of their respective periods. Appearance of in each of the four Yugas.

MAITREYA.–You have recapitulated to me, most excellent Brahman, the particulars of the past Manwantaras; now give me some account of those which are to come.

PARAS'ARA.–Sanjna, the daughter of Vis'wakarman, was the wife of the sun, and bore him three children, the Manu (Vaivaswata), Yama, and the goddess Yami (or the Yamuna river). Unable to endure the fervours of her lord, Sanjna gave him Chhaya [1] as his handmaid, and repaired to the forests to practise devout exercises. The sun, supposing Chhaya to be his wife Sanjna, begot by her three other children, S'anais'chara (Saturn), another Manu (Savarni), and a daughter Tapati (the Tapti river). Chhaya, upon one occasion, being offended with Yama [2], the son of Sanjna, denounced an imprecation upon him, and thereby revealed to Yama and to the sun that she was not in truth Sanjna, the mother of the former. Being further informed by Chhaya that his wife had gone to the wilderness, the sun beheld her by the eye of meditation engaged in austerities, in the figure of a mare (in the region of Uttara Kuru). Metamorphosing himself into a horse, he rejoined his wife, and begot three other children, the two Aswins and Revanta, and then brought Sanjna back to his own dwelling. To diminish his intensity, Vis'wakarman placed the luminary on his lathe, to grind off some of his effulgence; and in this manner reduced it an eighth, for more than that was inseparable [3]. The parts of the divine Vaishnava splendour, residing in the sun, that were filed off by Vis'wakarman, fell blazing down upon the earth, and the artist constructed of them the discus of Vishnu, the trident of S'iva, the weapon [4] of the god of wealth, the lance of Kartikeya, and the weapons of the other gods: all these Vis'wakarman fabricated from the superfluous rays of the sun [5].

The son of Chhaya, who was called also a Manu, was denominated Savarni [6], from being of the same caste (Savarna) as his elder brother, the Manu Vaivaswata. He presides over the ensuing or eighth Manwantara; the particulars of which, and the following, I will now relate. In the period in which Savarni shall be the Manu, the classes of the gods will be Sutapas, Amitabhas, and Mukhyas; twenty-one of each. The seven Rishis will be Diptimat, Galava, Rama, Kripa, Drauni; my son Vyasa will be the sixth, and the seventh will be Rishyasringa [7]. The Indra will be Bali, the sinless son of Virochana, who through the favour of Vishnu is actually sovereign of part of Patala. The royal progeny of Savarni will be Virajas, Arvarivas, Nirmoha, and others.

The ninth Manu will be Daksha-savarni [8]. The Paras, Marichigarbhas, and Sudharmas will be the three classes of divinities, each consisting of twelve; their powerful chief will be the Indra Adbhuta. Savana, Dyutimat, Bhavya, Vasu, Medhatithi, Jyotishman, and Satya will be the seven Rishis. Dhritaketu, Driptiketu, Panchahasta, Mahamaya, Prithus'rava, and others, will be the sons of the Manu.

In the tenth Manwantara the Manu will be Brahma-savarni: the gods will be the Sudhamas, Viruddhas, and S'atasankhyas: the Indra will be the mighty S'anti: the Rishis will be Havishman, Sukriti, Satya, Apammurtti, Nabhaga, Apratimaujas, and Satyaketu: and the ten sons of the Manu will be Sukshetra, Uttarnaujas, Harishena, and others.

In the eleventh Manwantara the Manu will be Dharma-savarni: the principal classes of gods will be the Vihangamas, Kamagamas, and Nirmanaratis, each thirty in number [9]; of whom Vrisha will be the Indra: the Rishis will be Nis'chara, Agnitejas, Vapushman, Vishnu, Aruni, Havishman, and Anagha: the kings of the earth, and sons of the Manu, will be Savarga, Sarvadharma, Devanika, and others.

In the twelfth Manwantara the son of Rudra, Savarni, will be the Manu: Ritudhama will be the Indra: and the Haritas, Lohitas, Sumanasas, and Sukarmas will be the classes of gods, each comprising fifteen.

Tapaswi, Sutapas, Tapomurtti, Taporati, Tapodhriti, Tapodyuti, and Tapodhana will be the Rishis: and Devavan, Upadeva, Devas'reshta, and others, will be the Manu's sons, and mighty monarchs on the earth.

In the thirteenth Manwantara the Manu will be Rauchya [10]: the classes of gods, thirty-three in each, will be the Sudhamans, Sudharmans, and Sukarmans; their Indra will be Divaspati: the Rishis will be Nirmoha, Tatwadersin, Nishprakampa, Nirutsuka, Dhritimat, Avyaya, and Sutapas: and Chitrasena, Vichitra, and others, will be the kings.

In the fourteenth Manwantara, Bhautya will be the Manu [11]; Suchi, the Indra: the five classes of gods will be the Chakshushas, the Pavitras, Kanishthas, Bhrajiras, and Vavriddhas: the seven Rishis will be Agnibahu, S'uchi, S'ukra, Magadha, Gridhra, Yukta, and Ajita: and the sons of the Manu will be Uru, Gabhira, Bradhna, and others, who will be kings, and will rule over the earth [12].

At the end of every four ages there is a disappearance of the Vedas, and it is the province of the seven Rishis to come down upon earth from heaven to give them currency again. In every Krita age the Manu (of the period) is the legislator or author of the body of law, the Smriti: the deities of the different classes receive the sacrifices during the Manwantaras to which they severally belong: and the sons of the Manu them. selves, and their descendants, are the sovereigns of the earth for the whole of the same term. The Manu, the seven Rishis, the gods, the sons of the Manu, who are the kings, and Indra, are the beings who preside over the world during each Manwantara.

An entire Kalpa, oh Brahman, is said to comprise a thousand ages, or fourteen Manwantaras [13]; and it is succeeded by a night of similar duration; during which, he who wears the form of Brahma, Janarddana, the substance of all things, the lord of all, and creator of all, involved in his own illusions, and having swallowed up the three spheres, sleeps upon the serpent S'esha, amidst the ocean [14]. Being after that awake, he, who is the universal soul, again creates all things as they were before, in combination with the property of foulness (or activity): and in a portion of his essence, associated with the property of goodness, he, as the Manus, the kings, the gods, and their Indras, as well as the seven Rishis, is the preserver of the world. In what manner Vishnu, who is characterised by the attribute of providence during the four ages, effected their preservation, I will next, Maitreya, explain.

In the Krita age, Vishnu, in the form of Kapila and other inspired teachers, assiduous for the benefit of all creatures, imparts to them true wisdom. In the Treta age he restrains the wicked, in the form of a universal monarch, and protects the three worlds [15]. In the Dwapara age, in the person of Veda-vyasa, he divides the one Veda into four, and distributes it into innumerable branches: and at the end of the Kali or fourth age he appears as Kalki, and reestablishes the iniquitous in the paths of rectitude. In this manner the universal spirit preserves, creates, and at last destroys, all the world.

Thus, Brahman, I have described to you the true nature of that great being who is all things, and besides whom there is no other existent thing, nor has there been, nor will there be, either here or elsewhere. I have also enumerated to you the Manwantaras, and those who preside over them. What else do you wish to hear?


  • 266:1 That is, her shadow or image. It also means 'shade.' The Bhagavata, however, makes both Sanjna and Chhaya daughters of Vis'wakarman. According to the Matsya, Vivaswat, the son of Kas'yapa and Aditi, had three wives, Rajni, the daughter of Raivata, by whom he had Revanta; Prabha, by whom he had Prabhata; and by Sanjna, the daughter of Twashtri, the Manu and Yama and Yamuna. The story then proceeds much as in the text.
  • 266:2 Yama, provoked at her partiality for her own children, abused Chhaya, and lifted up his foot to kick her. She cursed him to have his leg affected with sores and worms; but his father bestowed upon him a cock, to eat the worms, and remove the discharge; and Yama, afterwards propitiating Mahadeva, obtained the rank of Lokapala, and sovereign of Tartarus.
  • 267:3 The Matsya says he trimmed the sun every where except in the feet, the extent of which he could not discern. Consequently in pictures or images the feet of the sun must never be delineated, under pain of leprosy, &c.
  • 267:4 The term is S'ivika, which properly means 'a litter,' The commentator calls it Astra, 'a weapon.'
  • 267:5 This legend is told, with some variations of no great importance, in the Matsya, Markandeya, and Padma P. (Swarga Khanda), in the Bhagavata, and Hari Vans'a, &c.
  • 267:6 The Markandeya, whilst it admits Savarni to be the son of the sun, has a legend of his former birth, in the Swarochisha Manwantara, as Suratha Raja, who became a Manu by having then propitiated Devi. It was to him that the Durga Mahatmya or Chandi, the popular narrative of Durga's triumphs over various demons, was narrated.
  • 267:7 The Vayu has Jamadagnya or Paras'urama, of the Kus'ika race; Galava, of that of Bhrigu; Dwaipayana (or Vyasa), of the family of Vas'ishtha; Kripa, the son of S'aradwat; Diptimat, descended from Atri; Rishyasringa, from Kas'yapa; and Aswatthaman, the son of Drona, of the Bharadwaja family. The Matsya and Padma have Satananda in place of Diptimat.
  • 268:8 The four following Savarnis are described in the Vayu as the mind-engendered sons of a daughter of Daksha, named either Suvrata (Vayu) or Priya (Brahma) by himself and the three gods, Brahma, Dharma, and Rudra, to whom he presented her on mount Meru; whence they are called also Meru-savarnis. They are termed Savarnis from their being of one family or caste. According to the same authority, followed by the Hari Vans'a, it appears that this Manu is also called Rohita. Most of the details of this and the following Manwantaras are omitted in the Matsya, Brahma, Padma, and Markandeya Puranas. The Bhagavata and Kurma give the same as our text; and the Vayu, which agrees very nearly with it, is followed in most respects by the Hari Vans'a. The Matsya and Padma are peculiar in their series and nomenclature of the Manus themselves, calling the 9th Rauchya, 10th Bhautya, 11th Merusavarni, son of Brahma, 12th Ritu, 13th Ritadhaman, and 14th Viswaksena. The Bhagavata calls the two last Manus, Deva-savarni and Indra-savarni.
  • 268:9 Hence the Vayu identifies the first with days, the second with nights, and the third with hours.
  • 269:10 The son of the Prajapati Ruchi (Vayu, &c.), by the nymph Manini, the daughter of the Apsaras Pramlocha (Markandeya).
  • 269:11 Son of Ravi, by the goddess Bhuti, according to the Vayu; but the Markandeya makes Bhuti the son of Angiras, whose pupil S'anti, having suffered the holy fire to go out in his master's absence, prayed to Agni, and so propitiated him, that he not only relighted the flame, but desired S'anti to demand a further boon. S'anti accordingly solicited a son for his Guru; which son was Bhuti, the father of the Manu Bhautya.
  • 269:12 Although the Puranas which give an account of the Manwantaras agree in some of the principal details, yet in the minor ones they offer many varieties, some of which have been noticed. These chiefly regard the first six and the eighth. Except in a few individual peculiarities, the authorities seem to arrange themselves in two classes; one comprehending the Vishnu, Vayu, Kurma, Bhagavata, and Markandeya; and the other the Matsya, Padma, Brahma, and Hari Vans'a. The Markandeya, although it agrees precisely with the Vishnu in its nomenclature, differs from it, and from all, in devoting a considerable number of its pages to legends of the origin of the Manus, all of which are evidently of comparatively recent invention, and several of which have been no doubt suggested by the etymology of the names of the Manus.
  • 270:13 A thousand ages of the gods and fourteen Manwantaras are not precisely the same thing, as has been already explained. (See <page 24>. n. .)
  • 270:14 The order of the text would imply, that as Brahma he sleeps upon S'esha; but if this be intended, it is at variance with the usual legend, that it is as Vishnu or Narayana that the deity sleeps in the intervals of dissolution. The commentator accordingly qualifies the phrase Brahmarupadhara by the term Diva: 'Vishnu wears the form of Brahma by day; by night he sleeps on S'esha, in the person of Narayana.' This however may be suspected to be an innovation upon an older system; for in speaking of the alternations of creation and dissolution, they are always considered as consentaneous with the day and night of Brahma alone.
  • 270:15 As a Chakravarttin.



Division of the Veda into four portions, by a Vyasa, in every Dwapara age. List of the twenty-eight Vyasas of the present Manwantara. Meaning of the word Brahma.

MAITREYA.–I have learnt from you, in due order, how this world is Vishnu; how it is in Vishnu; how it is from Vishnu: nothing further is to be known: but I should desire to hear how the Vedas were divided, in different ages, by that great being, in the form of Veda-vyasa? who were the Vyasas of their respective eras? and what were the branches into which the Vedas were distributed?

PARAS'ARA.–The branches of the great tree of the Vedas are so numerous, Maitreya, that it is impossible to describe them at length. I will give you a summary account of them.

In every Dwapara (or third) age, Vishnu, in the person of Vyasa, in order to promote the good of mankind, divides the Veda, which is properly but one, into many portions: observing the limited perseverance, energy, and application of mortals, he makes the Veda fourfold, to adapt it to their capacities; and the bodily form which he assumes, in order to effect that classification, is known by the name of Veda-vyasa. Of the different Vyasas in the present Manwantara [1], and the branches which they have taught, you shall have an account.

Twenty-eight times have the Vedas been arranged by the great Rishis in the Vaivaswata Manwantara in the Dwapara age, and consequently eight and twenty Vyasas have passed away; by whom, in their respective periods, the Veda has been divided into four. In the first Dwapara age the distribution was made by Swayambhu (Brahma) himself; in the second, the arranger of the Veda (Veda-vyasa) was Prajapati (or Manu); in the third, Us'anas; in the fourth, Vrihaspati; in the fifth, Savitri; in the sixth, Mrityu (Death, or Yama); in the seventh, Indra; in the eighth, Vas'ishtha; in the ninth, Saraswata; in the tenth, Tridhaman; in the eleventh, Trivrishan; in the twelfth, Bharadwaja; in the thirteenth, Antariksha; in the fourteenth, Vapra; in the fifteenth, Trayyaruna [2]; in the sixteenth, Dhananjaya; in the , Kritanjaya; in the eighteenth, Rina; in the nineteenth, Bharadwaja; in the twentieth, Gotama; in the twenty-first, Uttama, also called Haryatma; in the twenty-second, Vena, who is likewise named Rajas'ravas; in the twenty-third, Somas'ushmapana, also Trinavindu; in the twenty-fourth, Riksha, the descendant of Bhrigu, who is known also by the name Valmiki; in the twenty-fifth, my father S'akti was the Vyasa; I was the Vyasa of the twenty-sixth Dwapara, and was succeeded by Jaratkaru; the Vyasa of the twenty-eighth, who followed him, was Krishna Dwaipayana. These are the twenty-eight elder Vyasas, by whom, in the preceding Dwapara ages, the Veda has been divided into four. In the next Dwapara, Drauni (the son of Drona) will be the Vyasa, when my son, the Muni Krishna Dwaipayana, who is the actual Vyasa, shall cease to be (in that character) [3].

The syllable Om is defined to be the eternal monosyllabic Brahma [4]. The word Brahma is derived from the root Vriha (to increase), because it is infinite (spirit), and because it is the cause by which the Vedas (and all things) are developed. Glory to Brahma, who is addressed by that mystic word, associated eternally with the triple universe [5], and who is one with the four Vedas. Glory to Brahma, who, alike in the destruction and renovation of the world, is called the great and mysterious cause of the intellectual principle (Mahat); who is without limit in time or space, and exempt from diminution or decay; in whom (as connected with the property of darkness) originates worldly illusion; and in whom resides the end of soul (fruition or liberation), through the properties of light and of activity (or goodness and foulness). He is the refuge of those who are versed in the Sankhya philosophy; of those who have acquired control over their thoughts and passions. He is the invisible, imperishable Brahma; varying in form, invariable in substance; the chief principle, self-engendered; who is said to illuminate the caverns of the heart; who is indivisible, radiant, undecaying, multiform. To that supreme Brahma be for ever adoration.

That form of Vasudeva, who is the same with supreme spirit, which is Brahma, and which, although diversified as threefold, is identical, is the lord, who is conceived by those that contemplate variety in creation to be distinct in all creatures. He, composed of the Rik, Sauna, and Yajur-Vedas, is at the same time their essence, as he is the soul of all embodied spirits. He, distinguished as consisting of the Vedas, creates the Vedas, and divides them by many subdivisions into branches: he is the author of those branches: he is those aggregated branches; for he, the eternal lord, is the essence of true knowledge [6].


  • 272:1 The text has, 'Hear from me an account of the Vyasas of the different Manwantaras;' but this is inconsistent with what follows, in which the enumeration is confined to the Vaivaswata Manwantara.
  • 273:2 This name occurs as that of one of the kings of the solar dynasty, and is included by Mr. Colebrooke amongst the persons of royal descent, who are mentioned as authors of hymns in the Rig-veda. As. Res. VIII. 383.
  • 273:3 A similar list of Vyasas is given in the Kurma and Vayu Puranas. Many of the individuals appear as authors of different hymns and prayers in the Vedas; and it is very possible that the greater portion, if not all of them, had a real existence, being the framers or teachers of the religion of the Hindus before a complete ritual was compiled.
  • 273:4 We have already had occasion to explain the sanctity of this monosyllable (see <page 1>, n. ), which ordinarily commences different portions of the Vedas, and which, as the text describes it, is identified with the supreme, undefinable deity, or Brahma. So in the Bhagavad-gita: 'Repeating Om, the monosyllable, which is Brahma, and calling me to mind:' which is not exactly the same idea that is conveyed by Schlegel's version; 'Monosyllabum mysticum Om pronuntiando, numen adorans, mei memor;' where 'numen adorans,' although it may be defended as necessary to the sense, is not expressed by the words of the text, nor compatible with Hindu notions. In one of the MSS. employed, the transcriber has evidently been afraid of desecrating this sacred monosyllable, and has therefore altered the text, writing it ### instead of ###.
  • 274:5 The daily prayers of the Brahman commence with the formula, Om bhuh, bhuvah, swar: Om earth, sky, heaven: these are the three mystical terms called Vyahritis, and are scarcely of less sanctity than the Pranava itself. Their efficacy, and the order of their repetition preceding the Gayatri, are fully detailed in Manu, II. 76-81. In the Mitakshara they are directed to be twice repeated mentally, with Om prefixed to each; Om bhuh, Om bhuvah, Om swar; the breath being suppressed by closing the lips and nostrils.
  • 274:6 The form or sensible type of Vasudeva is here considered to be the monosyllable Om, and which is one with the three mystical words, Bhuh, Bhuvar, Swar, and with the Vedas: consequently the Vyahritis and the Vedas are also forms of Vasudeva, diversified as to their typical character, but essentially one and the same.



Division of the Veda, in the last Dwapara age, by the Vyasa Krishna Dwaipayana. Paila made reader of the Rich; Vais'ampayana of the Yajush; Jaimini of the Shun; and Sumantu of the Atharvan. Suta appointed to teach the historical poems. Origin of the four parts of the Veda. Sanhitas of the Rig-veda.

PARAS'ARA.–The original Veda, in four parts, consisted of one hundred thousand stanzas; and from it sacrifice of ten kinds [1], the accomplisher of all desires, proceeded. In the twenty-eighth Dwapara age my son Vyasa separated the four portions of the Veda into four Vedas. In the same manner as the Vedas were arranged by him, as Vedavyasa, so were they divided in former periods by all the preceding Vyasas, and by myself: and the branches into which they were subdivided by him were the same into which they had been distributed in every aggregate of the four ages. Know, Maitreya, the Vyasa called Krishna Dwaipayana to be the deity Narayana; for who else on this earth could have composed the Mahabharata [2]? Into what portions the Vedas were arranged by my magnanimous son, in the Dwapara age, you shall hear.

When Vyasa was enjoined by Brahma to arrange the Vedas in different books, he took four persons, well read in those works, as his disciples. He appointed Paila reader of the Rich [3]; Vais'ampayana of the Yajush; and Jaimini of the Soma-veda: and Sumantu, who was conversant with the Atharva-veda, was also the disciple of the learned Vyasa. He also took Suta, who was named Lomaharshana, as his pupil in historical and legendary traditions [4].

There was but one Yajur-veda; but dividing this into four parts, Vyasa instituted the sacrificial rite that is administered by four kinds of priests: in which it was the duty of the Adhwaryu to recite the prayers (Yajush) (or direct the ceremony); of the Hotri, to repeat the hymns (Richas); of the Udgatri, to chaunt other hymns (Sama); and of the Brahman, to pronounce the formulae called Atharva. Then the Muni, having collected together the hymns called Richas, compiled the Rigveda; with the prayers and directions termed Yajushas he formed the Yajur-veda; with those called Sama, Sama-veda; and with the Atharvas he composed the rules of all the ceremonies suited to kings, and the function of the Brahman agreeably to practice [5].

This vast original tree of the Vedas, having been divided by him into four principal stems, soon branched out into an extensive forest. In the first place, Paila divided the Rig-veda, and gave the two Sanhitas (or collections of hymns) to Indrapramati and to Bashkali. Bashkali [6] subdivided his Sanhita into four, which he gave to his disciples Baudhya, Agnimathara, Yajnawalka, and Paras'ara; and they taught these secondary shoots from the primitive branch. Indrapramati imparted his Sanhita to his son Mandukeya, and it thence descended through successive generations, as well as disciples [7]. Vedamitra, called also S'akalya, studied the same Sanhita, but he divided it into five Sanhitas, which he distributed amongst as many disciples, named severally Mudgala, Goswalu, Vatsya, S'aliya, and S'is'ira [8]. Sakapurni made a different division of the original Sanhita into three portions, and added a glossary (Nirukta), constituting a fourth [9]. The three Sanhitas were given to his three pupils, Krauncha,

Vaitalaki, and Valaka; and a fourth, (thence named) Niruktakrit, had the glossary [10]. In this way branch sprang from branch. Another Bashkali [11] composed three other Sanhitas, which he taught to his disciples Kalayani, Gargya, and Kathajava [12]. These are they by whom the principal divisions of the Rich have been promulgated [13].


  • 275:1 According to the Grihya portion of the Sama-veda, there are five great sacrificial ceremonies; 1. Agnihotra, burnt-offerings, or libations of clarified butter on sacred fire; 2. Ders'apaurnamasa, sacrifices at new and full moon; 3. Chaturmasya, sacrifices every four months; 4. Pas'u-yajna or As'wamedha, sacrifice of a horse or animal; and 5. Soma-yajna, offerings and libations of the juice of the acid asclepias. These, again, are either Prakrita, 'simple,' or Vaikrita, 'modified;' and being thus doubled, constitute ten.
  • 275:2 The composition of the Mahabharata is always ascribed to the Vyasa named Krishna Dwaipayana, the cotemporary of the events there described. The allusion in the text establishes the priority of the poem to the Vishnu Purana.
  • 275:3 Or rather, 'he took Paila as teacher.' The expression is, Rigveda s'ravakam Pailam jagraha. S'ravaka means properly 'he who causes to hear,' 'a lecturer,' 'a preacher;' although, as in the case of its applicability to the laity of the Buddhists and Jainas, it [p. 276] denotes a disciple. The commentator however observes, that the text is sometimes read 'one who had gone through the Rig-veda.' So in the preceding verse it is said, 'he took four persons, well read in the Vedas, as his disciples,' and again it is said, 'Sumantu, conversant with the Atharva-veda, was his disciple.' It is clear, therefore, that the Vedas were known, as distinct works, before Krishna Dwaipayana; and it is difficult to understand how he earned his title of arranger, or Vyasa: at any rate, in undertaking to give order to the prayers and hymns of which the Vedas consist, Paila and the others were rather his coadjutors than disciples; and it seems probable that the tradition records the first establishment of a school, of which the Vyasa was the head, and the other persons named were the teachers.
  • 276:4 The Itihasa and Puranas; understanding by the former, legendary and traditional narratives. It is usually supposed that by the Itihasa the Mahabharata is especially meant; but although this poem is ascribed to Krishna Dwaipayana, the recitation of it is not attributed to his pupil, Roma or Loma-harshana: it was first narrated by Vais'ampayana, and after him by Sauti, the son of Lomaharshana.
  • 276:5 From this account, which is repeated in the Vayu P., it appears that the original Veda was the Yajush, or in other words was a miscellaneous body of precepts, formulae, prayers, and hymns, for sacrificial ceremonies; Yajush being derived by the grammarians from Yaj, 'to worship.' The derivation of the Vayu Purana, however, is from Yuj, 'to join,' 'to employ;' the formulae being those especially applied to sacrificial rites, or set apart for that purpose from the general collection: [p. 277] ### again, ### The commentator on the text however, citing the former of these passages from the Vayu, reads it, confining the derivation to Yaj, 'to worship.' The concluding passage, relating to the Atharvan, refers, in regard to regal ceremonies, to those of expiation, S'anti, &c. The function of the Brahman is not explained; but from the preceding specification of the four orders of priests who repeat at sacrifices portions of the several Vedas, it relates to the office of the one that is termed specifically the Brahman: so the Vayu has 'He constituted the function of the Brahman at sacrifices with the Atharva-veda.'
  • 277:6 Both in our text and in that of the Vayu this name occurs both Bashkala and Bashkali. Mr. Colebrooke writes it Bahkala and Bahkali. As. Res. VIII. 374.
  • 277:7 The Vayu supplies the detail. Mandukeya, or, as one copy writes, Markandeya, taught the Sanhita to his son Satyas'ravas; he to his son Satyahita; and he to his son Satyas'ri. The latter had three pupils, S'akalya, also called Devamitra (sic in MS.), Rathantara, and another Bashkali, called also Bharadwaja. The Vayu has a legend of S'akalya's death, in consequence of his being defeated by Yajnavalkya in a disputation at a sacrifice celebrated by Janaka.
  • 277:8 These names in the Vayu are Mudgala, Golaka, Khaliya, Matsya, S'ais'ireya.
  • 277:9 The commentator, who is here followed by Mr. Colebrooke, states that he was a pupil of Indrapramati; but from the Vayu it appears that S'akapurni was another name of Rathantara, the pupil of Satyas'ri, the author of three Sanhitas and a Nirukta, or glossary; whence Mr. Colebrooke supposes him the same with Yaska. As. Res. VIII. 375. It is highly probable that the text of the Vayu may be made to correct that of the Vishnu in this place, which is inaccurate, notwithstanding the copies agree: they read, ###. [p. 278] Here S'akapurnir-atha-itaram is the necessary construction; but quere if it should not be S'akapurni Rathantara. The parallel passage in the Vayu is, ###. Now in describing the pupils of Satyas'ri, Rathantara was named clearly enough: ###. In another passage it would seem to be implied that this Bashkali was the author of the Sanhitas, and Rathantara of the Nirukta only: ###. However this may be, his being the author of the Nirukta identifies him with S'akapurni, and makes it likely that the two names should come in juxta-position in our text, as well as in the Vayu. It must be admitted, however, that there are some rather inexplicable repetitions in the part of the Vayu where this account occurs, although two copies agree in the reading. That a portion of the Vedas goes by the name of Rathantara we have seen (<page 42>); but as far as is yet known, the name is confined to different prayers or hymns of the Uhya Gana of the Sama-veda. The text of the Vishnu also admits of a different explanation regarding the work of S'akapurni, and instead of a threefold division of the original, the passage may mean that he composed a third Sanhita. So Mr. Colebrooke says “the Vishnu P. omits the S'akhas of As'walayana and Sankhyayana, and intimates that S'akapurni gave the third varied edition from that of Indrapramati.” The Vayu, however, is clear in ascribing three Sanhitas or S'akhas to S'akapurni.
  • 278:10 In the Vayu the four pupils of Sakapurni are called Kenava, Dalaki, S'atavalaka, and Naigama.
  • 278:11 This Bashkali may either be, according to the commentator, the pupil of Paila, who, in addition to the four Sanhitas previously noticed, compiled three others; or he may be another Bashkali, a fellow-pupil of S'akapurni. The Vayu makes him a disciple of Satyas'ri, the fellow-pupil of S'akalya and Rathantara, and adds the name or title Bharadwaja.
  • 278:12 In the Vayu they are called Nandayaniya, Pannagari, and Arjjava.
  • 278:13 Both the Vishnu and Vayu Puranas omit two other principal divisions of the Rich, those of As'walayana and Sankhyayana or the Kaus'itaki. As. Res. VIII. 375. There is no specification of the aggregate number of Sanhitas of the Rich in our text, or in the Vayu; but they describe eighteen, including the Nirukta; or as Mr. Colebrooke states, sixteen (As. Res. VIII. 374); that is, omitting the two portions of the original, as divided by Paila. The Kurma Purana states the number at twenty-one; but treatises on the study of the Vedas reduce the S'akhas of the Rich to five.



Divisions of the Yajur-veda. Story of Yajnawalkya: forced to give up what he has learned: picked up by others, forming the Taittiriya-yajush. Yajnawalkya worships the sun, who communicates to him the Vajasneyi-yajush.

PARAS'ARA.–Of the tree of the Yajur-veda there are twenty-seven branches, which Vais'ampayana, the pupil of Vyasa, compiled, and taught to as many disciples [1]. Amongst these, Yajnawalkya, the son of Brahmarata, was distinguished for piety and obedience to his preceptor.

It had been formerly agreed by the Munis, that any one of them who, at a certain time, did not join an assembly held on mount Meru should incur the guilt of killing a Brahman, within a period of seven nights [2]. Vais'ampayana alone failed to keep the appointment, and consequently killed, by an accidental kick with his foot, the child of his sister. He then addressed his scholars, and desired them to perform the penance expiatory of Brahmanicide on his behalf. Without any hesitation Yajnawalkya refused, and said, “How shall I engage in penance with these miserable and inefficient Brahmans?” On which his Guru, being incensed, commanded him to relinquish all that he had learnt from him. “You speak contemptuously,” he observed, “of these young Brahmans, but of what use is a disciple who disobeys my commands?” “I spoke,” replied Yajnawalkya, “in perfect faith; but as to what I have read from you, I have had enough: it is no more than this–” (acting as if he would eject it from his stomach); when he brought up the texts of the Yajush in substance stained with blood. He then departed. The other scholars of Vais'ampayana, transforming themselves to partridges (Tittiri), picked up the texts which he had disgorged, and which from that circumstance were called Taittiriya [3]; and the disciples were called the Charaka professors of the Yajush, from Charana, 'going through' or 'performing' the expiatory rites enjoined by their master [4].

Yajnawalkya, who was perfect in ascetic practices, addressed himself strenuously to the sun, being anxious to recover possession of the texts of the Yajush. “Glory to the sun,” he exclaimed, “the gate of liberation, the fountain of bright radiance, the triple source of splendour, as the Rig, the Yajur, and the Sama Vedas. Glory to him, who, as fire and the moon, is one with the cause of the universe: to the sun, that is charged with radiant heat, and with the Sushumna ray (by which the moon is fed with light): to him who is one with the notion of time, and all its divisions of hours, minutes, and seconds: to him who is to be meditated upon as the visible form of Vishnu, as the impersonation of the mystic Om: to him who nourishes the troops of the gods, having filled the moon with his rays; who feeds the Pitris with nectar and ambrosia, and who nourishes mankind with rain; who pours down or absorbs the waters in the time of the rains, of cold, and of heat. Glory be to Brahma, the sun, in the form of the three seasons: he who alone is the dispeller of the darkness of this earth, of which he is the sovereign lord: to the god who is clad in the raiment of purity be adoration. Glory to the sun, until whose rising man is incapable of devout acts, and water does not purify, and touched by whose rays the world is fitted for religious rites: to him who is the centre and source of purification. Glory to Savitri, to Surya, to Bhaskara, to Vivaswat, to Aditya, to the first-born of gods or demons. I adore the eye of the universe, borne in a golden car, whose banners scatter ambrosia.”

Thus eulogized by Yajnawalkya, the sun, in the form of a horse, appeared to him, and said, “Demand what you desire.” To which the sage, having prostrated himself before the lord of day, replied, “Give me a knowledge of those texts of the Yajush with which even my preceptor is unacquainted.” Accordingly the sun imparted to him the texts of the Yajush called Ayatayama (unstudied), which were unknown to Vais'ampayana: and because these were revealed by the sun in the form of a horse, the Brahmans who study this portion of the Yajush are called Vajis (horses). Fifteen branches of this school sprang from Kanwa and other pupils of Yajnawalkya [5].


  • 279:1 The Vayu divides these into three classes, containing each nine, and discriminated, northern, middle, and eastern. Of these, the chiefs were severally S'yamayani, Aruni, and Analavi, or Alambi. With some inconsistency, however, the same authority states that Vais'ampayana composed and gave to his disciples eighty-six Sanhitas.
  • 279:2 The parallel passage in the Vayu rather implies that the agreement was to meet within seven nights.
  • 280:3 Also called the black Yajush. No notice of this legend, as Mr. Colebrooke observes (As. Iles. VIII. 376), occurs in the Veda itself; and the term Taittiriya is more rationally accounted for in the Anukramani or index of the black Yajush. It is there said that Vais'ampayana taught it to Yaska, who taught it to Tittiri, who also became a teacher; whence the term Taittiriya, for a grammatical rule explains it to mean, 'The Taittiriyas are those who read what was said or repeated by Tittiri.' Panini, 4. 3. 102. The legend, then, appears to be nothing more than a Pauranik invention, suggested by the equivocal sense of Tittiri, a proper name or a partridge. Much of the mythos of the Hindus, and obviously of that of the Greeks and Romans, originates in this source. It was not confined, at least amongst the former, to the case that Creuzer specifies; “Telle ou telle expression cessa d'etre comprise, et l'on inventa des mythes pour eclaircir ces malentendus;” but was wilfully perpetrated, even where the word was understood, when it afforded a favourable opportunity for a fable. It may be suspected in the present instance that the legend is posterior, not only to the Veda, but to the grammatical rule, or it would have furnished Panini with a different etymology.
  • 280:4 This is another specimen of the sort of Paronomasia explained in the preceding note. The Charakas are the students of a S'akha, so denominated from its teacher Charaka. (As. Res. VIII. 377.) So, again, Panini 4. 3. 107: 'The readers of that which is said by Charaka are Charakas:' Charaka has no necessary connexion with Chara, 'to go.' The Vayu states they were also called Chatakas, from Chat, 'to divide,' because they shared amongst them their master's guilt. 'Those pupils of Vais'ampayana were called Chatakas by whom the crime of Brahmanicide was shared; and Charakas from its departure.'
  • 281:5 The Vayu names the fifteen teachers of these schools, Kanwa, Vaidheya, S'alin, Madhyandina, Sapeyin, Vidagdha, Uddalin, Tamrayani, Vatsya, Galava, S'ais'iri, Atavya, Parna, Virana, and Samparayana, who were the founders of no fewer than 101 branches of the Vajasaneyi, or white Yajush. Mr. Colebrooke specifies several of these, as the Jabalas, Baudhayanas, Tapaniyas, &c. As. Res. VIII. 376.



Divisions of the Sama-veda: of the Atharva-veda. Four Pauranik Sanhitas. Names of the eighteen Puranas. Branches of knowledge. Classes of Rishis.

YOU shall now hear, Maitreya, how Jaimini, the pupil of Vyasa, divided the branches of the Sama-veda. The son of Jaimini was Sumantu, and his son was Sukarman, who both studied the same Sanhita under Jaimini [1]. The latter composed the Sahasra Sanhita (or compilation of a thousand hymns, &c.), which he taught to two disciples, Hiranyanabha, also named Kaus'alya (or of Kos'ala), and Paushyinji [2]. Fifteen disciples of the latter were the authors of as many Sanhitas: they were called the northern chaunters of the Saman. As many more, also the disciples of Hiranyanabha, were termed the eastern chaunters of the Saman, founding an equal number of schools. Lokakshi, Kuthumi, Kushidi, and Langali were the pupils of Paushyinji; and by them and their disciples many other branches were formed. Whilst another scholar of Hiranyanabha, named Kriti, taught twenty-four Sanhitas to as many pupils; and by them, again, was the Sama-veda divided into numerous branches [3].

I will now give you an account of the Sanhitas of the Atharva-veda. The illustrious Muni Sumantu taught this Veda to his pupil Kabandha, who made it twofold, and communicated the two portions to Devaders'a and to Pathya. The disciples of Devaders'a were Maudga, Brahmabali,

S'aulkayani, and Pippalada. Pathya had three pupils, Jajali, Kumudadi, and S'aunaka; and by all these were separate branches instituted. S'aunaka having divided his Sanhita into two, gave one to Babhru, and the other to Saindhavayana; and from them sprang two schools, the Saindhavas and Munjakes'as [4]. The principal subjects of difference in the Sanhitas of the Atharva-veda are the five Kalpas or ceremonials: the Nakshatra Kalpa, or rules for worshipping the planets; the Vaitana Kalpa, or rules for oblations, according to the Vedas generally; the Sanhita Kalpa, or rules for sacrifices, according to different schools; the Angirasa Kalpa, incantations and prayers for the destruction of foes and the like; and the Santi Kalpa, or prayers for averting evil [5].

Accomplished in the purport of the Puranas, Vyasa compiled a Pauranik Sanhita, consisting of historical and legendary traditions, prayers and hymns, and sacred chronology [6]. He had a distinguished disciple, Suta, also termed Romaharshana, and to him the great Muni communicated the Puranas. Suta had six scholars, Sumati, Agnivarchas, Mitrayu, S'ans'apayana, Akritavrana, who is also called Kas'yapa, and Saverni. The three last composed three fundamental Sanhitas; and Romaharshana himself compiled a fourth, called Romaharshanika. The substance of which four Sanhitas is collected into this (Vishnu) Purana.

The first of all the Puranas is entitled the Brahma. Those who are acquainted with the Puranas enumerate eighteen, or the Brahma, Padma, Vaishnava, S'aiva, Bhagavata, Naradiya, Markandeya, Agneya, Bhavishyat, Brahma Vaivartta, Lainga, Varaha, Skanda, Vamana, Kaurmma, Matsya, Garura, Brahmanda. The creation of the world, and its successive reproductions, the genealogies of the patriarchs and kings, the periods of the Manus, and the transactions of the royal dynasties, are narrated in all these Puranas. This Purana which I have repeated to you, Maitreya, is called the Vaishnava, and is next in the series to the Padma; and in every part of it, in its narratives of primary and subsidiary creation, of families, and of periods, the mighty Vishnu is declared in this Purana [7].

The four Vedas, the six Angas (or subsidiary portions of the Vedas, viz. S'iksha, rules of reciting the prayers, the accents and tones to be observed; Kalpa, ritual; Vyakarana, grammar; Nirukta, glossarial comment; Chhandas, metre; and Jyotish, (astronomy), with Mimansa (theology), Nyaya (logic), Dharma (the institutes of law), and the Puranas, constitute the fourteen principal branches of knowledge: or they are considered as eighteen, with the addition of these four; the Ayur-veda, medical science (as taught by Dhanwantari); Dhanur-veda, the science of archery or arms, taught by Bhrigu; Gandharba-veda, or the drama, and the arts of music, dancing, &c., of which the Muni Bharata was the author; and the Artha s'astram, or science of government, as laid down first by Vrihaspati.

There are three kinds of Rishis, or inspired sages; royal Rishis, or princes who have adopted a life of devotion, as Viswamitra; divine Rishis, or sages who are demigods also, as Narada; and Brahman Rishis, or sages who are the sons of Brahma, or Brahmans, as Vas'ishtha and others [8].

I have thus described to you the branches of the Vedas, and their subdivisions; the persons by whom they were made; and the reason why they were made (or the limited capacities of mankind). The same branches are instituted in the different Manwantaras. The primitive Veda, that of the progenitor of all things, is eternal: these branches are but its modifications (or Vikalpas).

I have thus related to you, Maitreya, the circumstances relating to the Vedas, which you desired to hear. Of what else do you wish to be informed [9]?


  • 282:1 The Vayu makes Sukarman the grandson of Sumantu, his son being called Sunwat.
  • 282:2 Some copies read Paushpinji. The Vayu agrees with our text, but alludes to a legend of Sukarman having first taught a thousand disciples, but they were all killed by Indra, for reading on an unlawful day, or one when sacred study is prohibited.
  • 282:3 The Vayu specifies many more names than the Vishnu, but the list is rather confused. Amongst the descendants of those named in the text, Rayananiya (or Ranayaniya), the son of Lokakshi, is the author of a Sanhita still extant: Saumitri his son was the author of three Sanhitas: Paras'ara, the son of Kuthumi, compiled and taught six Sanhitas: and S'aligotra, a son of Langali, established also six schools. Kriti was of royal descent: he and Paushyinji were the two most eminent teachers of the Sama-veda.
  • 283:4 According to the commentator, Munjakes'a is another name for Babhru; but the Vayu seems to consider him as the pupil of Saindhava, but the text is corrupt.
  • 283:5 The Vayu has an enumeration of the verses contained in the different Vedas, but it is very indistinctly given in many respects, especially as regards the Yajush. The Rich is said to comprise 8600 Richas. The Yajush, as originally compiled by Vyasa, 12000: of which the Vajasaneyi contains 1900 Richas, and 7600 Brahmanas; the Charaka portion contains 6026 stanzas: and consequently the whole exceeds 12000 verses. The stanzas of the Saman are said to be 8014; and those of the Atharvan 5980. Mr. Colebrooke states the verses of the whole Yajush to be 1987; of the Salapalka Brahmana of the same Veda 7624; and of the Atharvan 6015.
  • 283:6 Or of stories (Akhyanas) and minor stories or tales (Upakhyanas); of portions dedicated to some particular divinity, as the S'iva-gita, Bhagavad-gita, &c.; and accounts of the periods called Kalpas, as the Brahma Kalpa, Varaha Kalpa, &c.
  • 284:7 For remarks upon this enumeration, see Introduction.
  • 284:8 A similar enumeration is given in the Vayu, with some additions. Rishi is derived from Rish, 'to go to' or 'approach.' The Brahmarshis, it is said, are descendants of the five patriarchs, who were the founders of races or Gotras of Brahmans, or Kas'yapa, Vas'ishtha, Angiras, Atri, and Bhrigu. The Devarshis are Nara and Narayana, the sons of Dharma; the Balakhilyas, who sprung from Kratu; Kardama, the son of Pulaha; Kuvera, the son of Pulastya; Achala, the son of Pratyusha; [p. 285] Narada and Parvata, the sons of Kas'yapa. Brahmarshis are Ikshwaku and other princes. The Brahmarshis dwell in the sphere of Brahma; the Devarshis in the region of the gods; and the Rajarshis in the heaven of Indra.
  • 285:9 No notice is taken here of a curious legend which is given in the Mahabharata, in the Gada Parvan. It is there said, that during a great drought the Brahmans, engrossed by the care of subsistence, neglected the study of the sacred books, and the Vedas were lost. The Rishi Saraswata alone, being fed with fish by his mother Saraswati, the personified river so named, kept up his studies, and preserved the Hindu scriptures. At the end of the famine the Brahmans repaired to him to be taught, and sixty thousand disciples again acquired a knowledge of the Vedas from Saraswata. This legend appears to indicate the revival, or more probably the introduction, of the Hindu ritual by the race of Brahmans, or the people called Saraswata; for, according to the Hindu geographers, it was the name of a nation, as it still is the appellation of a class of Brahmans who chiefly inhabit the Panjab. (As. Res. VII. 219, 338, 341.) The Saraswata Brahmans are met with in many parts of India, and are usually fair-complexioned, tall, and handsome men. They are classed in the Jati malas, or popular lists of castes, amongst the five Gaura Brahmans, and are divided into ten tribes: they are said also to be especially the Purohits or family priests of the Kshatriya or military castes: (see the Jati mala, printed in Price's Hindi Selections, II. 280:) circumstances in harmony with the purport of the legend, and confirmatory of the Saraswatas of the Panjab having been prominent agents in the establishment of the Hindu religion in India. The holy land of the Hindus, or the primary seat, perhaps, of Brahmanism, has for one of its boundaries the Saraswati river: see <page 181>, n. .



By what means men are exempted from the authority of Yama, as narrated by Bhishma to Nakula. Dialogue between Yama and one of his attendants. Worshippers of Vishnu not subject to Yama. How they are to be known.

MAITREYA.–You have indeed related to me, most excellent Brahman, all that I asked of you; but I am desirous to hear one thing which you have not touched on. This universe, composed of seven zones, with its seven subterrestrial regions, and seven spheres–this whole egg of Brahma.–is every where swarming with living creatures, large or small, with smaller and smallest, and larger and largest; so that there is not the eighth part of an inch in which they do not abound. Now all these are captives in the chains of acts, and at the end of their existence become slaves to the power of Yama, by whom they are sentenced to painful punishments. Released from these inflictions, they are again born in the condition of gods, men, or the like: and thus living beings, as the S'astras apprise us, perpetually revolve. Now the question I have to ask, and which you are so well able to answer, is, by what acts men may free themselves from subjection to Yama?

PARAS'ARA.–This question, excellent Muni, was once asked by Nakula [1] of his grandfather Bhishma; and I will repeat to you the reply made by the latter.

Bhishma said to the prince, “There formerly came on a visit to me a friend of mine, a Brahman, from the Kalinga country, who told me that he had once proposed this question to a holy Muni, who retained the recollection of his former births, and by whom what was, and what will be, was accurately told. Being importuned by me, who placed implicit faith in his words, to repeat what that pious personage had imparted to him, he at last communicated it to me; and what he related I have never met with elsewhere.

“Having, then, on one occasion, put to him the same question which you have asked, the Kalinga Brahman recalled the story that had been told him by the Muni–the great mystery that had been revealed to him by the pious sage, who remembered his former existence–a dialogue that occurred between Yama and one of his ministers.

“Yama beholding one of his servants with his noose in his hand, whispered to him, and said, 'Keep clear of the worshippers of Madhusudana. I am the lord of all men, the Vaishnavas excepted. I was appointed by Brahma, who is reverenced by all the immortals, to restrain mankind, and regulate the consequences of good and evil in the universe. But be who obeys Hari, as his spiritual guide, is here independent of me; for Vishnu is of power to govern and control me. As gold is one substance still, however diversified as bracelets, tiaras, or earrings, so Hari is one and the same, although modified in the forms of gods, animals, and man. As the drops of water, raised by wind from the earth, sink into the earth again when the wind subsides, so the varieties of gods, men, and animals, which have been detached by the agitation of the qualities, are reunited, when that disturbance ceases, with the eternal. He who through holy knowledge diligently adores the lotus foot of that Hari, who is reverenced by the gods, is released from all the bonds of sin; and you must avoid him as you would avoid fire fed with oil.'

“Having heard these injunctions of Yama, the messenger addressed the lord of righteousness, and said, 'Tell me, master, how am I to distinguish the worshipper of Hari, who is the protector of all beings?' Yama replied, 'You are to consider the worshipper of Vishnu, him who never deviates from the duties prescribed to his caste; who looks with equal indifference upon friend or enemy; who takes,; nothing (that is not his own), nor injures any being. Know that person of unblemished mind to be a worshipper of Vishnu. Know him to be a devout worshipper of Hari, who has placed Janarddana in his pure mind, which has been freed from fascination, and whose soul is undefiled by the soil of the Kali age. Know that excellent man to be a worshipper of Vishnu, who, looking upon gold in secret, holds that which is another's wealth but as grass, and devotes all his thoughts to the lord. Pure is he as a mountain of clear crystal; for how can Vishnu abide in the hearts of men with malice and envy, and other evil passions? the glowing heat of fire abides not in a cluster of the cooling rays of the moon. He who lives pure in thought, free from malice, contented, leading a holy life, feeling tenderness for all creatures, speaking wisely and kindly, humble and sincere, has Vasudeva ever present in his heart. As the young Sal-tree by its beauty declares the excellence of the juices which it has imbibed from the earth, so when the eternal has taken up his abode in the bosom of any one, that man is lovely amidst the beings of this world. Depart, my servant, quickly from those men whose sins have been dispersed by moral and religious merit [2], whose minds are daily dedicated to the imperceptible deity, and who are exempt from pride, uncharitableness, and malice. In the heart in which the divine Hari, who is without beginning or end, abides, armed with a sword, a shell, and a mace, sin cannot remain; for it cannot coexist with that which destroys it, as darkness cannot continue in the world when the sun is shining. The eternal makes not his abode in the heart of that man who covets another's wealth, who injures living creatures, who speaks harshness and untruth, who is proud of his iniquity, and whose mind is evil. Janarddana occupies not his thoughts who envies another's prosperity, who calumniates the virtuous, who never sacrifices nor bestows gifts upon the pious, who is blinded by the property of darkness. That vile wretch is no worshipper of Vishnu, who through avarice is unkind to his nearest friends and relations, to his wife, children, parents, and dependants. The brute-like man whose thoughts are evil, who is addicted to unrighteous acts, who ever seeks the society of the wicked, and suffers no day to pass without the perpetration of crime, is no worshipper of Vasudeva. Do you proceed afar off from those in whose hearts Ananta is enshrined; from him whose sanctified understanding conceives the supreme male and ruler, Vasudeva, as one with his votary, and with all this world. Avoid those holy persons who are constantly invoking the lotus-eyed Vasudeva, Vishnu, the supporter of the earth, the immortal wielder of the discus and the shell, the asylum of the world. Come not into the sight of him in whose heart the imperishable soul resides, for he is defended from my power by the discus of his deity: he is designed for another world (for the heaven of Vishnu).'

”'Such,' said the Kalinga Brahman, 'were the instructions communicated by the deity of justice, the son of the sun, to his servants, as they were repeated to me by that holy personage, and as I have related them to you, chief of the house of Kuru' (Bhishma). So also, Nakula, I have faithfully communicated to you all I heard from my pious friend, when he came from his country of Kalinga to visit me. I have thus explained to you, as was fitting, that there is no protection in the ocean of the world except Vishnu; and that the servants and ministers of Yama, the king of the dead himself, and his tortures, are all unavailing against one who places his reliance on that divinity.”

I have thus, resumed Paras'ara, related to you what you wished to hear, and what was said by the son of Vivaswat [3]. What else do you wish to hear?


  • 286:1 Nakula is one of the Pandava princes, and consequently grand-nephew, not grandson, of Bhishma: he is great grandson of Paras'ara; and it is rather an anomaly for the latter to cite a conversation in which Nakula formerly bore a part.
  • 288:2 Or Yama and Niyama. The duties intended by these terms are variously enumerated. The commentator on the text specifics under the first head, absence of violence or cruelty to other beings (Ahinsa), honesty (Asteya), truth (Satya), chastity (Brahmacharyya), and disinterestedness or non-acceptance of gifts (Aparigraha). Under Niyama are comprehended purity (S'aucha), contentment (Santosha), devotion (Tapas), study of the Vedas (Swadhyaya), and adoration of the supreme (Is'wara-pranidhana).
  • 289:3 Or Vaivaswata. This section is called the Yama gita.



How Vishnu is to be worshipped, as related by Aurva to Sagara. Duties of the four castes, severally and in common: also in time of distress.

MAITREYA.–Inform me, venerable teacher, how the supreme deity, the lord of the universe, Vishnu, is worshipped by those who are desirous of overcoming the world; and what advantages are reaped by men, assiduous in his adoration, from the propitiated Govinda.

PARAS'ARA.–The question you have asked was formerly put by Sagara to Aurva [1]. I will repeat to you his reply.

Sagara having bowed down before Aurva, the descendant of Bhrigu, asked him what were the best means of pleasing Vishnu, and what would be the consequence of obtaining his favour. Aurva replied, “He who pleases Vishnu obtains all terrestrial enjoyments; heaven and a place in heaven; and what is best of all, final liberation: whatever he wishes, and to whatever extent, whether much or little, he receives it, when Achyuta is content with him. In what manner his favour is to be secured, that also I will, oh king, impart to you, agreeably to your desire. The supreme Vishnu is propitiated by a man who observes the institutions of caste, order, and purificatory practices: no other path is the way to please him. He who offers sacrifices, sacrifices to him; he who murmurs prayer, prays to him; he who injures living creatures, injures him; for Hari is all beings. Janarddana therefore is propitiated by him who is attentive to established observances, and follows the duties prescribed for his caste. The Brahman, the Kshatriya, the Vais'ya, and the S'udra, who attends to the rules enjoined his caste, best worships Vishnu. Kes'ava is most pleased with him who does good to others; who never utters abuse, calumny, or untruth; who never covets another's wife or another's wealth, and who bears ill-will towards none; who neither beats nor slays any animate or inanimate thing; who is ever diligent in the service of the gods, of the. Brahmans, and of his spiritual preceptor; who is always desirous of the welfare of all creatures, of his children, and of his own soul; in whose pure heart no pleasure is derived from the imperfections of love and hatred. The man, oh monarch, who conforms to the duties enjoined by scriptural authority for every caste and condition of life, is he who best worships Vishnu: there is no other mode.”

Aurva having thus spoken, Sagara said to him, “Tell me then, venerable Brahman, what are the duties of caste and condition [2]: I am desirous of knowing them.” To which Aurva answered and said, “Attentively listen to the duties which I shall describe as those severally of the Brahman, the Kshatriya, the Vais'ya, and the S'udra. The Brahman should make gifts, should worship the gods with sacrifices, should be assiduous in studying the Vedas, should perform ablutions and libations with water, and should preserve the sacred flame. For the sake of subsistence he may offer sacrifices on behalf of others, and may instruct them in the S'astras; and he may accept presents of a liberal description in a becoming manner (or from respectable persons, and at an appropriate season). He must ever seek to promote the good of others, and do evil unto none; for the best riches of a Brahman are universal benevolence. He should look upon the jewels of another person as if they were pebbles; and should, at proper periods, procreate offspring by his wife. These are the duties of a Brahman.

“The man of the warrior tribe should cheerfully give presents to Brahmans, perform various sacrifices, and study the scriptures. His especial sources of maintenance are arms and the protection of the earth. The guardianship of the earth is indeed his especial province: by the discharge of this duty a king attains his objects, and realizes a share of the merit of all sacrificial rites. By intimidating the bad, and cherishing the good, the monarch who maintains the discipline of the different castes secures whatever region he desires.

“Brahma, the great parent of creation, gave to the Vais'ya the occupations of commerce and agriculture, and the feeding of flocks and herds, for his means of livelihood; and sacred study, sacrifice, and donation are also his duties, as is the observance of fixed and occasional rites.

“Attendance upon the three regenerate castes is the province of the S'udra, and by that he is to subsist, or by the profits of trade, or the earnings of mechanical labour. He is also to make gifts; and he may offer the sacrifices in which food is presented, as well as obsequial offerings [3].

“Besides these their respective obligations, there are duties equally incumbent upon all the four castes. These are, the acquisition of property, for the support of their families; cohabitation with their wives, for the sake of progeny; tenderness towards all creatures, patience, humility, truth, purity, contentment, decency of decoration, gentleness of speech, friendliness; and freedom from envy and repining, from avarice, and from detraction. These also are the duties of every condition of life.

“In times of distress the peculiar functions of the castes may be modified, as you shall hear. A Brahman may follow the occupations of a Kshatriya or a Vais'ya; the Kshatriya may adopt those of the Vais'ya; and the Vais'ya those of the Kshatriya: but these two last should never descend to the functions of the S'udra, if it be possible to avoid them [4]; and if that be not possible, they must at least shun the functions of the mined castes. I will now, Raja, relate to you the duties of the several Asramas or conditions of life.”


  • 290:1 Sagara, as we shall see, was a king of the solar race. Aurva was a sage, the grandson of Bhrigu. When the sons of king Kritavirya persecuted and slew the children of Bhrigu, to recover the wealth which their father had lavished upon them, they destroyed even the children in the womb. One of the women of the race of Bhrigu, in order to preserve her embryo, secreted it in her thigh (Uru), whence the child on his birth was named Aurva: from his wrath proceeded a flame, that threatened to destroy the world; but at the persuasion of his ancestors he cast it into the ocean, where it abode with the face of a horse. Aurva was afterwards religious preceptor to Sagara, and bestowed upon him the Agneyastram, or fiery weapon, with which he conquered the tribes of barbarians, who had invaded his patrimonial possessions. Mahabh. Adi Parvan, Dana Dharma P., Hari .
  • 291:2 Most of the Puranas, especially the Kurma, Padma, Vamana, Agni, and Garuda, contain chapters or sections more or less in detail upon the moral and ceremonial duties of the Hindus; and a considerable portion of the Mahabharata, especially in the Moksha Dharma Parvan, is devoted to the same subject. No other Pauranik work, however, contains a series of chapters exactly analogous to those which follow, and which contain a compendious and systematic description of the Acharas, or personal and social obligations of the Hindus. The tenor of the whole is conformable to the institutes of Manu, and many passages are the same.
  • 292:3 The Pakayajna, or sacrifice in which food is offered, implies either the worship of the Vis'wadevas, the rites of hospitality, or occasional oblations, on building a house, the birth of a child, or any occasion of rejoicing. It is to be understood, however, that this injunction intends his performing these ceremonies through the agency of a Brahman, as a S'udra cannot repeat the Mantras or prayers that accompany them; and it might be a question how far he might be present, for he ought not even to hear such prayers repeated. The performance of funeral rites involves some personal share, and the S'udra must present the cakes, but it must be done without Mantras; as the Mitakshara; 'This rite (the presentation of cakes) must be performed by the S'udras, without formula:, on the twelfth day.' The Vayu P. directs the performance of the five great sacrifices by S'udras, only omitting the Mantras: It may be suspected that the Puranas relaxed in some degree from the original rigour; for it may be inferred that the great ceremonies were altogether withheld from S'udras in the time of Manu, who declares that none have any right or part (Adhikara) in his code except those who perform rites with Mantras, or the three regenerate castes (II. 16); and denounces as heinous sins teaching the [p. 293] Vedas to S'udras, performing sacrifices for them, or taking gifts from them. X. 309, 110, 111. Yajnawalkya, however, allows them to perform five great rites with the Namaskara, or the simple salutation: which Gotama confirms. Some restrict the sense of Mantra, also, to the prayers of the Vedas, and allow the S'udras to use those of the Puranas; as S'ulapani: and the Titthi Tatwa is cited in the S'udra Kamalakara as allowing them any Mantras except those of the Vedas.
  • 293:4 This last clause reconciles what would else appear to be an incompatibility with Manu, who permits the Vais'ya in time of distress to descend to the servile acts of a S'udra. X. 98.



Duties of the religious student, householder, hermit, and mendicant.

AURVA continued.–“When the youth has been invested with the thread of his caste, let him diligently prosecute the study of the Vedas, in the house of his preceptor, with an attentive spirit, and leading a life of continence. He is to wait upon his Guru, assiduously observant of purificatory practices, and the Veda is to be acquired by him, whilst he is regular in the performance of religious rites. In the morning Sandhya he is first to salute the sun; in the evening, fire; and then to address his preceptor with respect. He must stand when his master is standing; move when he is walking; and sit beneath him when he is seated: he must never sit, nor walk, nor stand when his teacher does the reverse. When desired by him, let him read the Veda attentively, placed before his preceptor; and let him eat the food he has collected as alms, when permitted by his teacher [1]. Let him bathe in water which has first been used for his preceptor's ablutions; and every morning bring fuel and water, and whatsoever else may be required.

“When the scriptural studies appropriate to the student have been completed, and he has received dismissal from his Guru, let the regenerate man enter into the order of the householder; and taking unto himself, with lawful ceremonies, house, wife, and wealth, discharge to the best of his ability the duties of his station [2]; satisfying the manes with funeral cakes; the gods with oblations; guests with hospitality; the sages with holy study; the progenitors of mankind with progeny; the spirits with the residue of oblations; and all the world with words of truth [3]. A householder secures heaven by the faithful discharge of these obligations. There are those who subsist upon alms, and lead an erratic life of self-denial, at the end of the term during which they have kept house. They wander over the world to see the earth, and perform their ablutions, with rites enjoined by the Vedas, at sacred shrines: houseless, and without food, and resting for the night at the dwelling at which they arrive in the evening. The householder is to them a constant refuge and parent: it is his duty to give them a welcome, and to address them with kindness; and to provide them, whenever they come to his house, with a bed, a seat, and food. A guest disappointed by a householder, who turns away from his door, transfers to the latter all his own misdeeds, and bears away his religious merit [4]. In the house of a good man, contumely, arrogance, hypocrisy, repining, contradiction, and violence are annihilated: and the householder who fully performs this his chief duty of hospitality is released from every kind of bondage, and obtains the highest of stations after death.

“When the householder, after performing the acts incumbent on his condition, arrives at the decline of life, let him consign his wife to the care of his sons, and go himself to the forests [5]. Let him there subsist upon leaves, roots, and fruit; and suffer his hair and beard to grow, and braid the former upon his brows; and sleep upon the ground: his dress must be made of skin or of Kas'a or Kus'a grasses; and he must bathe thrice a day; and he must offer oblations to the gods and to fire, and treat all that come to him with hospitality: he must beg alms, and present food to all creatures: he must anoint himself with such unguents as the woods afford; and in his devotional exercises he must be endurant of heat and cold. The sage who diligently follows these rules, and leads the life of the hermit (or Vanaprastha), consumes, like fire, all imperfections, and conquers for himself the mansions of eternity.

“The fourth order of men is called that of the mendicant; the circumstances of which it is fit, oh king, that you should hear from me. Let the unimpassioned man, relinquishing all affection for wife, children, and possessions, enter the fourth order [6]. Let him forego the three objects of human existence (pleasure, wealth, and virtue), whether secular or religious, and, indifferent to friends, be the friend of all living beings. Let him, occupied with devotion, abstain from wrong, in act, word, or thought, to all creatures, human or brute; and equally avoid attachment to any. Let him reside but for one night in a village, and not more than five nights at a time in a city; and let him so abide, that good-will, and not animosity, may be engendered. Let him, for the support of existence, apply for alms at the houses of the three first castes, at the time when the fires have been extinguished, and people have eaten. Let the wandering mendicant call nothing his own, and suppress desire, anger, covetousness, pride, and folly. The sage who gives no cause for alarm to living beings need never apprehend any danger from them. Having deposited the sacrificial fire in his own person, the Brahman feeds the vital flame, with the butter that is collected as alms, through the altar of his mouth; and by means of his spiritual fire he proceeds to his own proper abode. But the twice-born man [7], who seeks for liberation, and is pure of heart, and whose mind is perfected by self-investigation, secures the sphere of Brahma, which is tranquil, and is as a bright flame that emits not smoke.”


  • 294:1 These directions are the same as those prescribed by Manu, though not precisely in the same words. II. 175, et seq.
  • 294:2 So Manu, III. 4, &c.
  • 294:3 The great obligations, or, as Sir Wm. Jones terms them, sacraments, the Mahayajnas, or great sacrifices, are, according to Manu, but five; Brahmayajna, sacred study; Pitriyajna, libations to the manes; Devayajna, burnt-offerings to the gods; Baliyajna, offerings to all creatures; and Nriyajna, hospitality. III. 70, 71. The Prajapatiyajna, or propagation of offspring, and Satyayajna, observance of truth, are apparently later additions.
  • 295:4 This is also the doctrine of Manu, III. 100.
  • 295:5 Manu, VI. 3, &c.
  • 296:6 Manu, VI. 33, &c.
  • 296:7 The text uses the term Dwijati, which designates a man of the three first castes. The commentator cites various authorities to prove that its sense should be Brahman only, who alone is permitted to enter the fourth order.–'Entrance into the fourth order is never for the Kshatriya and Vais'ya. Entrance into the fourth order is for Brahmans, according to Swayambhu. So says Dattatreya: “Let the Brahman proceed from his dwelling is also the expression of Yama, Samvartta, and Baudhayana.”' But this is not the general understanding of the law, nor was it originally so restricted apparently. Manu does not so limit it.



Ceremonies to be observed at the birth and naming of a child. Of marrying, or leading a religious life. Choice of a wife. Different modes of marrying.

SAGARA then addressed Aurva, and said, “You have described to me, venerable Brahman, the duties of the four orders and of the four castes. I am now desirous to hear from you the religious institutes which men should individually observe, whether they be invariable, occasional, or voluntary. Describe these to me; for all things are known, chief of Bhrigu's race, unto you.” To this Aurva replied, “I will communicate to you, oh king, that which you have asked, the invariable and occasional rites which men should perform: do you attend.

“When a son is born, let his father perform for him the ceremonies proper on the birth of a child, and all other initiatory rites, as well as a S'raddha, which is a source of prosperity. Let him feed a couple of Brahmans, seated with their faces to the east; and according to his means offer sacrifices to the gods and progenitors. Let him present to the manes [1] balls of meat mixed with curds, barley, and jujubes, with the part of his hand sacred to the gods, or with that sacred to Prajapati [2]. Let a Brahman perform such a S'raddha, with all its offerings and circumambulations, on every occasion of good fortune [3].

“Next, upon the tenth day after birth, let the father give a name to his child; the first term of which shall be the appellation of a god, the second of a man, as S'arman or Varman; the former being the appropriate designation of a Brahman, the latter of a warrior; whilst Gupta and Dasa are best fitted for the names of Vais'yas and S'udras [4]. A name should not be void of meaning; it should not be indecent, nor absurd, nor ill-omened, nor fearful; it should consist of an even number of syllables; it should not be too long nor too short, nor too full of long vowels; but contain a due proportion of short vowels, and be easily articulated. After this and the succeeding initiatory rites [5], the purified youth is to acquire religious knowledge, in the mode that has been described, in the dwelling of his spiritual guide.

“When he has finished his studies, and given the parting donation to his preceptor, the man who wishes to lead the life of a householder must take a wife. If he does not propose to enter into the married state, he may remain as a student with his teacher, first making a vow to that effect, and employ himself in the service of his preceptor and of that preceptor's descendants; or he may at once become a hermit, or adopt the order of the religious mendicant, according to his original determination [6].

“If he marry, he must select a maiden who is of a third of his age [7]; one who has not too much hair, but is not without any; one who is not very black nor yellow complexioned, and who is not from birth a cripple or deformed. He must not marry a girl who is vicious or unhealthy, of low origin, or labouring under disease; one who has been ill brought up; one who talks improperly; one who inherits some malady from father or mother; one who has a beard, or who is of a masculine appearance; one who speaks thick or thin, or croaks like a raven; one who keeps her eyes shut, or has the eyes very prominent; one who has hairy legs, or thick ancles; or one who has dimples in her cheeks when she laughs [8]. Let not a wise and prudent man marry a girl of such a description: nor let a considerate man wed a girl of a harsh skin; or one with white nails; or one with red eyes, or with very fat hands and feet; or one who is a dwarf, or who is very tall; or one whose eyebrows meet, or whose teeth are far apart, and resemble tusks. Let a householder marry a maiden who is in kin at least five degrees remote from his mother, and seven from his father, with the ceremonies enjoined by law [9].

“The forms of marriage are eight, the Brahma, Daiva, the Arsha, Prajapatya, Asura, Gandharba, Rakshasa, and Pais'acha; which last is the worst [10]: but the caste to which either form has been enjoined as lawful by inspired sages should avoid any other mode of taking a wife. The householder who espouses a female connected with him by similarity of religious and civil obligations, and along with her discharges the duties of his condition, derives from such a wife great benefits.”


  • 297:1 To the Nandimukhas. The Pitris, or progenitors, are so termed here from words occurring in the prayer used on the occasion of a festive S'raddha. As. Res. VII. 270.
  • 297:2 With the Daiva tirtha, the tips of the fingers; or with the Prajapatya tirtha, the part of the hand at the root of the little finger. Manu, II. 58, 59. The second is called by Manu the Kaya tirtha, from Ka, a synonyme of Prajapati.
  • 297:3 The S'raddha is commonly an obsequial or funeral sacrifice, but it implies offerings to the progenitors of an individual and of mankind, and always forms part of a religious ceremony on an occasion of rejoicing or an accession of prosperity, this being termed the Abhyudaya or Vriddhi S'raddha. As. Res. VII. 270.
  • 298:4 So Manu, II. 30, 31, 32. The examples given in the comment are, Somas'arman, Indravarman, Chandragupta, and S'ivadasa, respectively appropriate appellations of men of the four castes.
  • 298:5 Or Sanskaras; initiatory ceremonies, purificatory of the individual at various stages.
  • 298:6 Or the vow or pledge he has taken, that he will follow for life the observances of the student or ascetic; both of which are enumerated in the Nirnaya Sindhu, as acts prohibited in the Kali age; a man is not to continue a student or Brahmachari, i. e. a caenobite, for life; nor is he to become a mendicant without previously passing through the order of householder. In practice, however, the prohibition is not unfrequently disregarded.
  • 298:7 By this is to be understood, according to the commentator, merely a young girl, but at the same time one not immature; for otherwise, he observes, a man of thirty, by which age he completes his sacred studies, would espouse a girl of but ten years of age. According to Manu, however, the period of religious study does not terminate until thirty-six; and in the East a girl of twelve would be marriageable. The text of Yajnawalkya has merely the word Yaviyasi, 'a very young woman.' It is worthy of remark here, that neither that text, nor the text of Manu, nor the interpretation of our text, authorizes the present practice of the nuptials of children. The obligation imposed upon a man of a life of perfect continence until he is more than thirty is singularly Malthusian.
  • 299:8 For the credit of Hindu taste it is to be noticed that the commentator observes the hemistich in which this last clause occurs is not found in all copies of the text.
  • 299:9 See Manu, III. 5, &c.
  • 299:10 These different modes of marriage a described by Manu, III. 27, &c.



Of the Sadacharas, or perpetual obligations of a householder. Daily purifications, ablutions, libations, and oblations: hospitality: obsequial rites: ceremonies to be observed at meals, at morning and evening worship, and on going to rest.

SAGARA again said to Aurva, “Relate to me, Muni, the fixed observances of the householder, by attending to which he will never be rejected from this world or the next.”

Aurva replied to him thus: “Listen, prince, to an account of those perpetual observances, by adhering to which both worlds are subdued. Those who are called Sadhus (saints) are they who are free from all defects; and the term Sat means the same, or Sadhu: those practices or observances (Acharas) which they follow are therefore called Sadacharas, the institutions or observances of the pious [1].' The seven Rishis, the Manus, the patriarchs, are they who have enjoined and who have practised these observances. Let the wise man awake in the Muhurtta of Brahma. (or in the third Muhurtta, about two hours before sunrise), and with a composed mind meditate on two of the objects of life (virtue and wealth), and on topics not incompatible with them. Let him also think upon desire, as not conflicting with the other two; and thus contemplate with equal indifference the three ends of life, for the purpose of counter- acting the unseen consequences of good or evil acts. Let him avoid wealth and desire, if they give uneasiness to virtue; and abstain from virtuous or religious acts, if they involve misery, or are censured by the world [2]. Having risen, he must offer adoration to the sun; and then, in the south-east quarter, at the distance of a bowshot or more, or any where remote from the village, void the impurities of nature. The water that remains after washing his feet he must throw away into the courtyard of the house. A wise man will never void urine on his own shadow, nor on the shadow of a tree, nor on a cow, nor against the sun, nor on fire, nor against the wind, nor on his Guru, nor men of the three first castes; nor will he pass either excrement in a ploughed field, or pasturage, or in the company of men, or on a high road, or in rivers and the like, which are holy, or on the bank of a stream, or in a place where bodies are burnt; or any where quickly. By day let him void them with his face to the north, and by night with his face to the south, when he is not in trouble. Let him perform these actions in silence, and without delay; covering his head with a cloth, and the ground with grass. Let him not take, for the purposes of cleanliness, earth from an ant-hill, nor a rat-hole, nor from water, nor from the residue of what has been so used, nor soil that has been employed to plaster a cottage, nor such as has been thrown up by insects, or turned over by the plough. All such kinds of earth let him avoid, as means of purification. One handful is sufficient after voiding urine; three after passing ordure: then ten handfulls are to be rubbed over the left hand, and seven over both hands. Let him then rince his mouth with water that is pure, neither fetid, nor frothy, nor full of bubbles; and again use earth to cleanse his feet, washing them well with water. He is to drink water then three times, and twice wash his face with it; and next touch with it his head, the cavities of the eyes, ears, and nostrils, the forehead, the navel, and the heart [3]. Having finally washed his mouth, a man is to clean and dress his hair, and to decorate his person, before a glass, with unguents, garlands, and perfumes. He is then, according to the custom of his caste, to acquire wealth, for the sake of subsistence; and with a lively faith worship the gods. Sacrifices with the acid juice, those with clarified butter, and those with offerings of food, are comprehended in wealth: wherefore let men exert themselves to acquire wealth for these purposes [4].

“As preparatory to all established rites of devotion the householder should bathe in the water of a river, a pond, a natural channel, or a mountain torrent; or he may bathe upon dry ground, with water drawn from a well, or taken from a, river, or other source, where there is any objection to bathing on the spot [5]. When bathed, and clad in clean clothes, let him devoutly offer libations to the gods, sages, and progenitors, with the parts of the hand severally sacred to each. He must scatter water thrice, to gratify the gods; as many times, to please the Rishis; and once, to propitiate Prajapati: he must also make three libations, to satisfy the progenitors. He must then present, with the part of the hand sacred to the manes, water to his paternal grandfather and great-grandfather, to his maternal grandfather, great-grandfather, and his father; and at pleasure to his own mother and his mother's mother and grandmother, to the wife of his preceptor, to his preceptor, his maternal uncle, and other relations [6], to a dear friend, and to the king. Let him also, after libations have been made to the gods and the rest, present others at pleasure for the benefit of all beings, reciting inaudibly this prayer; 'May the gods, demons, Yakshas, serpents, Rakshasas, Gandharbas, Pisachas, Guhyakas, Siddhas, Kushmandas, trees, birds, fish, all that people the waters, or the earth, or the air, be propitiated by the water I have presented to them. This water is given by me for the alleviation of the pains of all those who are suffering in the realms of hell. May all those who are my kindred, and not my kindred, and who were my relations in a former life, all who desire libations from me, receive satisfaction from this water. May this water and sesamum, presented by me, relieve the hunger and thirst of all who are suffering from those inflictions, wheresoever they may be [7].' Presentations of water, given in the manner, oh king, which I have described, yield gratification to all the world: and the sinless man, who in the sincerity of faith pours out these voluntary libations, obtains the merit that results from affording nutriment to all creatures.

“Having then rinced his mouth, he is to offer water to the sun, touching his forehead with his hands joined, and with this prayer; 'Salutation to Vivaswat, the radiant, the glory of Vishnu; to the pure illuminator of the world; to Savitri, the granter of the fruit of acts.' He is then to perform the worship of the house, presenting to his tutelary deity water, flowers, and incense. He is next to offer oblations with fire, not preceded by any other rite, to Brahma [8]. Having invoked Prajapati, let him pour oblations reverently to his household gods, to Kas'yapa and to Anumati [9], in succession. The residue of the oblation let him offer to the earth, to water, and to rain, in a pitcher at hand; and to Dhatri and Vidhatri at the doors of his house, and in the middle of it to Brahma. Let the wise man also offer the Bali, consisting of the residue of the oblations, to Indra, Yama, Varuna, and Soma, at the four cardinal points of his dwelling, the east and the rest; and in the north-east quarter he will present it to Dhanwantari [10]. After having thus worshipped the domestic deities, he will next offer part of the residue to all the gods (the Vis'wadevas); then, in the north-west quarter, to Vayu (wind); then, in all directions, to the points of the horizon, to Brahma, to the atmosphere, and to the sun; to all the gods, to all beings, to the lords of beings, to the Pitris, to twilight. Then taking other rice [11], let the householder at pleasure cast it upon a clean spot of ground, as an offering to all beings, repeating with collected mind this prayer; 'May gods, men, animals, birds, saints, Yakshas, serpents, demons, ghosts, goblins, trees, all that desire food given by me; may ants, worms, moths, and other insects, hungered and bound in the bonds of acts; may all obtain satisfaction from the food left them by me, and enjoy happiness. May they who have neither mother, nor father, nor relations, nor food, nor the means of preparing it, be satisfied and pleased with the food presented for their contentment [12]. Inasmuch as all beings, and this food, and I, and Vishnu are not different, I therefore give for their sustenance the food that is one with the body of all creatures. May all beings, that are comprehended in the fourteen orders of existent things [13], be satisfied with the food bestowed by me for their gratification, and be delighted.'

Having uttered this prayer, let the devout believer cast the food upon the ground, for the nourishment of all kinds of beings; for the householder is thence the supporter of them all. Let him scatter food upon the ground for dogs, outcasts, birds, and all fallen and degraded persons.

“The householder is then to remain at eventide in his courtyard as long as it takes to milk a cow [14], or longer if he pleases, to await the arrival of a guest. Should such a one arrive, he is to be received with a hospitable welcome; a seat is to be offered to him, and his feet are to be washed, and food is to be given him with liberality, and he is to be civilly and kindly spoken to; and when he departs, to be sent away by his host with friendly wishes. A householder should ever pay attention to a guest who is not an inhabitant of the same village, but who comes from another place, and whose name and lineage are unknown. He who feeds himself, and neglects the poor and friendless stranger in want of hospitality, goes to hell. Let a householder who has a knowledge of Brahma reverence a guest, without inquiring his studies, his school, his practices, or his race [15].

“A householder should also at the perpetual S'raddha entertain another Brahman, who is of his own country, whose family and observances are known, and who performs the five sacramental rites. He is likewise to present to a Brahman learned in the Vedas four handfulls of food, set apart with the exclamation Hanta; and he is to give to a mendicant religious student three handfulls of rice, or according to his pleasure when he has ample means. These, with the addition of the mendicant before described, are to be considered as guests; and he who treats these four descriptions of persons with hospitality acquits himself of the debt due to his fellow men. The guest who departs disappointed from any house, and proceeds elsewhere, transfers his sins to the owner of that mansion, and takes away with him such a householder's merits. Brahma, Prajapati, Indra, fire, the Vasus, the sun, are present in the person of a guest, and partake of the food that is given to him. Let a man therefore be assiduous in discharging the duties of hospitality; for he who eats his food without bestowing any upon a guest feeds only upon iniquity.

“In the next place the householder must provide food for a married damsel, remaining in her father's dwelling; for any one who is ill; for a pregnant woman; for the aged and the infants of his house; and then he may eat himself. He who eats whilst these are yet unfed is guilty of sin in this life, and when he dies is condemned in hell to feed upon phlegm. So he who eats without performing ablutions is fed in hell with filth; and he who repeats not his prayers, with matter and blood: he who eats unconsecrated food, with urine; and he who eats before the children and the rest are fed is stuffed in Tartarus with ordure. Hear therefore, oh king of kings, how a householder should feed, so that in eating no sin may be incurred, that invariable health and increased vigour may be secured, and all evils and hostile machinations may be averted. Let the householder, having bathed, and offered libations to the gods and manes, and decorated his hand with jewels, proceed to take his meal, after having repeated the introductory prayers, and offered oblations with fire, and having given food to guests, to Brahmans, to his elders, and to his family. He must not eat with a single garment on, nor with wet hands and feet, but dressed in clean clothes, perfumed, and wearing garlands of flowers: he must not eat with his face to any intermediate point of the horizon, but fronting the east or the north: and thus, with a smiling countenance, happy and attentive, let him partake of food, of good quality, wholesome, boiled with clean water, procured from no vile person nor by improper means, nor improperly cooked. Having given a portion to his hungry companions, let him take his food without reproach out of a clean handsome vessel, which must not be placed upon a low stool or bed. He must not eat in an unfit place or out of season, nor in an incommodious attitude; nor must he first cast any of his meal into the fire. Let his food be made holy with suitable texts; let it be good of its kind; and it must not be stale, except in the case of fruit or meat [16]; nor must it be of dry vegetable substances, other than jujubes [17] or preparations of molasses; but never must a man eat of that of which the juices have been extracted [18]. Nor must a man eat so as to leave no residue of his meal, except in the case of flour, cakes, honey, water, curds, and butter. Let him, with an attentive mind, first taste that which has a sweet flavour: he may take salt and sour things in the middle course, and finish with those which are pungent and bitter. The man who commences his meal with fluids, then partakes of solid food, and finishes with fluids again, will ever be strong and healthy. In this manner let him feed without fault, silent, and contented with his food; taking, without uttering a word, to the extent of five handfulls, for the nutriment of the vital principle. Having eaten sufficiently, the householder is then to rinse his mouth, with his face turned towards the east or the north; and having again sipped water, he is to wash his hands from the wrist downwards. With a pleased and tranquil spirit he is then to take a seat, and call to memory his tutelary deity; and then he is thus to pray: 'May fire, excited by air, convert this food into the earthly elements of this frame, and in the space afforded by the etherial atmosphere cause it to digest, and yield me satisfaction! May this food, in its assimilation, contribute to the vigour of the earth, water, fire, and air of my body, and afford unmixed gratification! May Agasti, Agni, and submarine fire effect the digestion of the food of which I have eaten; may they grant me the happiness which its conversion into nutriment engenders; and may health ever animate my form! May Vishnu, who is the chief principle of all invested with bodily structure and the organs of sense, be propitiated by my faith in him, and influence the assimilation of the invigorating food which I have eaten! For verily Vishnu is the eater and the food and the nutriment: and through this belief may that which I have eaten be digested.'

“Having repeated this prayer, the householder should rub his stomach with his hand, and without indolence perform such rites as confer repose, passing the day in such amusements as are authorized by holy writings, and are not incompatible with the practices of the righteous; until the Sandhya, when he must engage in pious meditation. At the Sandhya, at the close of the day he must perform the usual rites before the sun has quite set; and in the morning he must perform them before the stars have disappeared [19]. The morning and evening rites must never be neglected, except at seasons of impurity, anxiety, sickness, or alarm. He who is preceded by the sun in rising, or sleeps when the sun is setting, unless it proceed from illness and the like, incurs guilt which requires atonement; and therefore let a man rise before the sun in the morning, and sleep not until after be has set. They who sinfully omit both the morning and the evening service go after death to the hell of darkness. In the evening, then, having again dressed food, let the wife of the householder, in order to obtain the fruit of the Vais'wadeva rite, give food, without prayers, to outcasts and unclean spirits. Let the householder himself, according to his means, again shew hospitality to any guest who may arrive, welcoming him with the salutation of evening, water for his feet, a seat, a supper, and a bed. The sin of want of hospitality to a guest who comes after sunset is eight times greater than that of turning away one who arrives by day. A man should therefore most especially shew respect to one who comes to him in the evening for shelter, as the attentions that gratify him will give pleasure to all the gods. Let the householder, then, according to his ability, afford a guest food, potherbs, water, a bed, a mat, or, if he can do no more, ground on which to lie.

“After eating his evening meal, and having washed his feet, the householder is to go to rest. His bed is to be entire, and made of wood: it is not to be scanty, nor cracked, nor uneven, nor dirty, nor infested by insects, nor without a bedding: and he is to sleep with his head either to the east or to the south; any other position is unhealthy. In due season a man should approach his wife, when a fortunate asterism prevails, in an auspicious moment, and on even nights, if she is not unbathed, sick, unwell, averse, angry, pregnant, hungry, or over-fed. He should be also free from similar imperfections, should be neatly attired and adorned, and animated by tenderness and affection. There are certain days on which unguents, flesh, and women are unlawful, as the eighth and fourteenth. lunar days, new moon and full moon [20], and the entrance of the sun into a new sign. On these occasions the wise will restrain their appetites, and occupy themselves in the worship of the gods, as enjoined by holy writ, in meditation, and in prayer; and he who behaves differently will fall into a hell where ordure will be his food. Let not a man stimulate his desires by medicines, nor gratify them with unnatural objects, or in public or holy places. Let him not think incontinently of another's wife, much less address her to that end; for such a man will be born in future life as a creeping insect. He who commits adultery is punished both here and hereafter; for his days in this world are cut short, and when dead he falls into hell. Thus considering, let a man approach his own wife in the proper season, or even at other times.”


  • 300:1 Sir Wm. Jones renders Achara, 'the immemorial customs of good men' (Manu, II. 6); following the explanation of Kulluka Bhatta, which is much the same as that of our text. 'Achara means the use of blankets or bark, &c. for dress. Sadhus are pious or just men.' Acharas are, in fact, all ceremonial and purificatory observances or practices, not expiatory, which are enjoined either by the Vedas or the codes of law.
  • 300:2 That is, he may omit prescribed rites, if they are attended with difficulty or danger: he may forego ablutions, if they disagree with his health; and he may omit pilgrimage to holy shrines, if the way to them is infested by robbers. Again, it is injoined in certain ceremonies to eat meat, or drink wine; but these practices [p. 301] are generally reprehended by pious persons, and a man may therefore disregard the injunction.
  • 301:3 Many of these directions are given by Manu, IV. 45, &c.
  • 302:4 That is, wealth is essential to the performance of religious rites, and it is also the consequence of performing them. A householder should therefore diligently celebrate them, that he may acquire property, and thus be enabled to continue to sacrifice. According to Gautama there are seven kinds of each of the three sorts of sacrificial rites particularized in the text, or those in which the Soma juice, oiled butter, or food are presented. Of the latter, according to Manu, there are four varieties, the offering of food to the Vis'wadevas, to spirits, to deceased ancestors, and to guests. II. 86. The seven of Gautama are, offerings to progenitors on certain eighth days of the fortnight, at the full and change, at S'raddhas generally, and to the manes on the full moon of four different months, or S'ravan, Agrahayana, Chaitra, and Aswin.
  • 302:5 A person may perform his ablutions in his own house, if the weather or occupation prevent his going to the water. If he be sick, he may use warm water; and if bathing be altogether injurious, he may perform the Mantra snana, or repeat the prayers used at ablution, without the actual bath.
  • 302:6 The whole series is thus given by Mr. Colebrooke; As. Res. V. 367. Triple libations of tila (sesamum seeds) and water are to be given to the father, paternal grandfather, and great grandfather; to the mother, maternal grandfather, great grandfather, and great great grandfather: and single libations are to be offered to the paternal and maternal grandmother and great grandmother, to the paternal uncle, brother, son, grandson, daughter's son, son-in-law, maternal uncle, sister's son, father's sister's son, mother's sister, and [p. 303] other relatives. With exception of those, however, offered to his own immediate ancestors, which are obligatory, these libations are optional, and are rarely made.
  • 303:7 The first part of this prayer is from the Sama-veda, and is given by Mr. Colebrooke. As. Res. V. 367.
  • 303:8 The rite is not addressed to Brahma specially, but he is to be invoked to preside over the oblations offered to the gods and sages subsequently particularized.
  • 303:9 Kas'yapa, the son of Kas'yapa, is Aditya, or the sun. Anumati is the personified moon, wanting a digit of full. The objects and order of the ceremony here succinctly described differ from those of which Mr. Colebrooke gives an account (As. Res. VII. 236), and from the form of oblations given by Ward (Account of the Hindus, II. 447); but, as observed by Mr. Colebrooke, “oblations are made with such ceremonies, and in such form, as are [p. 304] adapted to the religious rite which is intended to be subsequently performed.” As. Res. VII. 237.
  • 304:10 See also Manu, III. 84, &c. and the As. Res. VII. 275.
  • 304:11 Or this ceremony may be practised instead of the preceding.
  • 304:12 This prayer is said by Mr. Colebrooke to be taken from the Puranas (As. Res. VII. 275): he translates the last clause, May they who have neither food, nor means of obtaining it.' In our text the phrase is ### which the commentator explains by ### understanding Anna siddhi to mean 'means of dressing food,' Paka sadhana. The following passages of the prayer are evidently peculiar to the Vishnu Purana.
  • 304:13 Either fourteen classes of Bhutas or spirits, or the same number of living beings, or eight species of divine, one of human, and five of animal creatures.
  • 305:14 This, according to the commentator, is equal to the fourth part of a Ghatika, which, considering the latter synonymous with Muhurtta, or one-thirtieth of the day and night, would be twelve minutes.
  • 305:15 These precepts, and those which follow, are of the same tenor as those given by Manu on the subject of hospitality (III. 99, &c.), but more detailed.
  • 306:16 By stale, as applied to meat, is intended in this place probably meat which has been previously dressed as part of an offering to the gods or manes: meat which [p. 307] is dressed in the first instance for an individual being prohibited; as by Yajnawalkya: 'Let him avoid flesh killed in vain;' or that which is not the residue of an offering to the gods, &c. So also Manu, V. 7.
  • 307:17 By dried vegetables, &c. is to be understood unboiled vegetables, or potherbs dressed without being sprinkled with water: Instead of 'jujubes,' the reading is sometimes 'myrobalans:' the other term, ###, is explained 'sweet-meats.' The construction here, however, is somewhat obscure.
  • 307:18 As oil-cake, or the sediment of any thing after expression.
  • 308:19 So Manu, II. 101. and IV. 93.
  • 309:20 So Manu, IV. 128.



Miscellaneous obligations–purificatory, ceremonial, and moral.

AURVA continued.–“Let a respectable householder ever venerate the gods, kine, Brahmans, saints, aged persons, and holy teachers. Let him observe the two daily Sandhyas, and offer oblations to fire. Let him dress in untorn garments, use delicate herbs and flowers, wear emeralds and other precious stones, keep his hair smooth and neat, scent his person with agreeable perfumes, and always go handsomely attired, decorated with garlands of white flowers. Let him never appropriate another's property, nor address him with the least unkindness. Let him always speak amiably and with truth, and never make public another's faults. Let him not desire another's prosperity, nor seek his enmity. Let him not mount upon a crazy vehicle, nor take shelter under the bank of a river (which may fall upon him). A wise man will not form a friendship nor walk in the same path with one who is disesteemed, who is a sinner or a drunkard, who has many enemies, or who is lousy, with a harlot or her gallant, with a pauper or a liar, with a prodigal, a slanderer, or a knave. Let not a man bathe against the strength of a rapid stream, nor enter a house on fire, nor climb to the top of a tree; nor (in company) clean his teeth or blow his nose, nor gape without covering his mouth, nor clear his throat, nor cough, nor laugh loudly, nor emit wind with noise, nor bite his nails, nor cut grass, nor scratch the ground [1], nor put his beard into his mouth, nor crumble a clod of clay; nor look upon the chief planetary bodies when he is unclean. Let him not express disgust at a corpse, for the odour of a dead body is the produce of the moon. Let a decent man ever avoid by night the place where four roads meet, the village tree, the grove adjacent to the place where bodies are burnt, and a loose woman. Let him not pass across the shadow of a venerable person, of an image, of a deity, of a flag, of a heavenly luminary [2]. Let him not travel alone through a forest, nor sleep by himself in an empty house [3]. Let him keep remote from hair, bones, thorns, filth, remnants of offerings, ashes, chaff, and earth [4] wet with water in which another has bathed. Let him not receive the protection of the unworthy, nor attach himself to the dishonest. Let him not approach a beast of prey; and let him not tarry long when he has risen from sleep. Let him not lie in bed when he is awake, nor encounter fatigue when it is time to rest. A prudent man will avoid, even at a distance, animals with tusks and horns; and he will shun exposure to frost, to wind, and to sunshine. A man must neither bathe, nor sleep, nor rinse his mouth whilst he is naked [5]: he must not wash his mouth, or perform any sacred rite, with his waistband unfastened: and he must not offer oblations to fire, nor sacrifice to the gods, nor wash his mouth, nor salute a Brahman, nor utter a prayer, with only one garment on. Let him never associate with immoral persons: half an instant is the limit for the intercourse of the righteous with them. A wise man will never engage in a dispute with either his superiors or inferiors: controversy and marriage are to be permitted only between equals. Let not a prudent man enter into contention: let him avoid uprofitable enmity. A small loss may be endured; but he should shun the wealth that is acquired by hostility.

“When a man has bathed, he must not wipe his limbs with a towel nor with his hands, nor shake his hair, nor rinse his mouth before he has risen. Let him not (when sitting) put one foot over another, nor stretch forth his foot, in the presence of a superior, but sit with modesty in the posture called Virasana (or on his knees). He must never pass round a temple upon his left hand, nor perform the ceremony of circumambulating any venerable object in the reverse direction. A decent man will not spit, nor eject any impurity, in front of the moon, fire, the sun, water, wind, or any respectable person [6]; nor will he void urine standing, nor upon the highway: he will never step over phlegm, ordure, urine, or blood; nor is the expectoration of the mucus of the throat allowable at the time of eating, offering sacrifices or oblations, or repeating prayers, or in the presence of a respectable person.

“Let not a man treat women with disrespect, nor let him put entire faith in them. Let him not deal impatiently with them, nor set them over matters of importance. A man who is attentive to the duties of his station will not go forth from his house without saluting the chaplets, flowers, gems, clarified butter, and venerable persons in it. At proper seasons he will salute respectfully the places where four roads meet, when engaged in offering oblations with fire. Let him liberally relieve the virtuous who are poor, and reverence those who are learned in the Vedas. He who is a worshipper of the gods and sages, who gives cakes and water to the manes, and who exercises hospitality, obtains the highest regions after death. He who speaks wisely, moderately, and kindly, goes to those worlds which are the inexhaustible sources of happiness. He who is intelligent, modest, devout, and who reverences wisdom, his superiors, and the aged, goes to heaven.

“On the days called Parvas, on periods of impurity, upon unseasonable thunder, and the occurrence of eclipses or atmospheric portents, a wise man must desist from the study of the Vedas [7]. The pious man who suppresses anger and envy, who is benevolent to all, and allays the fears of others, secures, as the least of his rewards, enjoyment in Swarga. A man should carry an umbrella, as a defence against sun and rain; he should bear a staff when he goes by night, or through a wood; and he should walk in shoes, if he desires to keep his body from harm. As he goes along he should not look up, nor about him, nor afar off, but keep his eyes upon the ground to the extent of a couple of yards.

“The householder who expels all sources of imperfection is in a great degree acquitted of the three ordinary objects of existence, desire, wealth, and virtue; sinless amongst the sinful; speaking amicably to all men; his whole soul melting with benevolence; final felicity is in his grasp. The earth is upheld by the veracity of those who have subdued their passions, and, following righteous practices, are never contaminated by desire, covetousness, and wrath. Let therefore a wise man ever speak the truth when it is agreeable, and when the truth would inflict pain let him hold his peace. Let him not utter that which, though acceptable, would be detrimental; for it were better to speak that which would be salutary, although it should give exceeding offence [8]. A considerate man will always cultivate, in act, thought, and speech, that which is good for living beings, both in this world and in the next [9].”


  • 310:1 Manu, IV. 71. “He who breaks clay, or cuts grass, or bites his nails, will speedily fall to ruin.”
  • 310:2 Manu, IV. 130.
  • 311:3 Manu, IV. 57.
  • 311:4 Ib. id. 78.
  • 311:5 Ib. id. 45.
  • 311:6 Ib. id. 52.
  • 312:7 Manu, IV. 101, &c. The legislator is much more copious on this subject than the author of the Purana.
  • 313:8 So Manu, IV. 538. “Let him say what is true, but let him say what is pleasing. Let him speak no disagreeable truth, nor let him speak agreeable falsehood. This is a primeval rule.”
  • 313:9 That the preceding chapter agrees in many respects very closely with the contents of the fourth book of the Institutes of Manu, on economics and private morals, will be evident from the instances cited of some of the parallel passages. Several others might have been adduced.



Of S'raddhas, or rites in honour of ancestors, to be performed on occasions of rejoicing. Obsequial ceremonies. Of the Ekoddishta or monthly S'raddha, and the Sapindana or annual one. By whom to be performed.

AURVA continued.–“The bathing of a father without disrobing is enjoined when a son is born; and he is to celebrate the ceremony proper for the event, which is the S'raddha offered upon joyous occasions [1]. With composed mind, and thinking on nothing else, the Brahman should offer worship to both the gods and progenitors, and should respectfully circumambulate, keeping Brahmans on his left hand, and give them food. Standing with his face to the east, he should present, with the parts of the hand sacred to the gods and to Prajapati, balls of food [2], with curds, unbruised grain, and jujubes; and should perform, on every accession of good fortune, the rite by which the class of progenitors termed Nandimukha is propitiated [3]. A householder should diligently worship the Pitris so named, at the marriage of a son or daughter, on entering a new dwelling, on giving a name to a child, on performing his tonsure and other purificatory ceremonies, at the binding of the mother's hair during gestation, or on first seeing the face of a son, or the like.

The S'raddha on such occasions, however, has been briefly alluded to. Hear now, oh king, the rules for the performance of obsequial rites.

“Having washed the corpse with holy water, decorated it with garlands, and burnt it without the village, the kinsmen, having bathed with their clothes on, are to stand with their faces to the south, and offer libations to the deceased, addressing him by name, and adding, 'wherever thou mayest be [4].' They then return, along with the cattle coming from pasture, to the village; and upon the appearance of the stars retire to rest, sleeping on mats spread upon the earth. Every day (whilst the mourning lasts) a cake or ball of food [5] is to be placed on the ground, as an offering to the deceased; and rice, without flesh, is to be daily eaten. Brahmans are to be fed for as many days as the mourner pleases, for the soul of the defunct derives satisfaction accordingly as his relatives are content with their entertainment. On the first day, or the third, or seventh, or ninth (after the death of a person), his kinsmen should change their raiment, and bathe out of doors, and offer a libation of water, with (tila) sesamum-seeds. On the fourth day [6] the ashes and bones should be collected: after which the body of one connected with the deceased by offerings of funeral cakes may be touched (by an indifferent person), without thereby incurring impurity; and those who are related only by presentation of water are qualified for any occupation [7].

The former class of relatives may use beds, but they must still refrain from unguents and flowers, and must observe continence, after the ashes and bones have been collected (until the mourning is over). When the deceased is a child, or one who is abroad, or who has been degraded, or a spiritual preceptor, the period of uncleanness is but brief, and the ceremonies with fire and water are discretional. The food of a family in which a kinsman is deceased is not to be partaken of for ten days [8]; and during that period, gifts, acceptance, sacrifice, and sacred study are suspended. The term of impurity for a Brahman is ten days; for a Kshatriya, twelve; for a Vais'ya, half a month; and a whole month for a S'udra [9]. On the first day after uncleanness ceases, the nearest relation of the deceased should feed Brahmans at his pleasure, but in uneven numbers, and offer to the deceased a ball of rice upon holy grass placed near the residue of the food that has been eaten. After the guests have been fed, the mourner, according to his caste, is to touch water, a weapon, a goad, or a staff, as he is purified by such contact. He may then resume the duties prescribed for his caste, and follow the avocation ordinarily pursued by its members.

“The S'raddha enjoined for an individual is to be repeated on the day of his death (in each month for a year) [10], but without the prayers and rites performed on the first occasion, and without offerings to the Vis'wadevas. A single ball of food is to be offered to the deceased, as the purification of one person, and Brahmans are to be fed. The Brahmans are to be asked by the sacrificer if they are satisfied; and upon their assent, the prayer, 'May this ever satisfy such a one' (the deceased) is to be recited.

“This is the S'raddha called Ekoddishta, which is to be performed monthly to the end of a twelvemonth from the death of a person; at the expiration of which the ceremony called Sapindana is to be observed. The practices of this rite are the same as those of the monthly obsequies, but a lustration is to be made with four vessels of water, perfumes, and sesamum: one of these vessels is considered as dedicated to the deceased, the other three to the progenitors in general; and the contents of the former are to be transferred to the other three, by which the deceased becomes included in the class of ancestors, to whom worship is to be addressed with all the ceremonies of the S'raddha. The persons who are competent to perform the obsequies of relations connected by the offering of the cake are the son, grandson, great grandson, a kinsman of the deceased, the descendants of a brother, or the posterity of one allied by funeral offerings. In absence of all these, the ceremony may be instituted by those related by presentations of water only, or those connected by offerings of cakes or water to maternal ancestors. Should both families in the male line be extinct, the last obsequies may be performed by women, or by the associates of the deceased in religious or social institutions, or by any one who becomes possessed of the property of a deceased kinsman.

“Obsequial rites are of three descriptions, initiative, intermediate, and subsequent [11]. The first are those which are observed after the burning of the corpse until the touching of water, weapons, &c. (or until the cessation of uncleanness). The intermediate ceremonies are the Sraddhas called Ekoddishta, which are offered every month: and the subsequent rites are those which follow the Sapindikarana, when the deceased is admitted amongst the ancestors of his race; and the ceremonies are thenceforth general or ancestral. The first set of rites (as essential) are to be performed by the kindred of the father or mother, whether connected by the offering of the cake or of water, by the associates of the deceased, or by the prince who inherits his property.

The first and the last rites are both to be performed by sons and other relations, and by daughter's sons, and their sons; and so are the sacrifices on the day of the person's death. The last class, or ancestral rites, are to be performed annually, with the same ceremonies as are enjoined for the monthly obsequies; and they may be also performed by females. As the ancestral rights are therefore most universal, I will describe to you, oh king, at what seasons, and in what manner, they should be celebrated.”


  • 314:1 The offerings of the Hindus to the Pitris partake of the character of those of the Romans to the lares and manes, but bear a more conspicuous part in their ritual. They are said indeed by Manu (III. 203), in words repeated in the Vayu and Matsya Puranas and Hari Vans'a, to be of more moment than the worship of the gods: These ceremonies are not to be regarded as merely obsequial; for independently of the rites addressed to a recently deceased relative, and in connexion with him to remote ancestors and to the progenitors of all beings, which are of a strictly obsequial or funereal description, offerings to deceased ancestors, and the Pitris in general, form an essential ceremony on a great variety of festive and domestic occasions. The Nirnaya Sindhu, in a passage referred to by Mr. Colebrooke (As. Res. VII.), specifies the following S'raddhas: 1. The Nitya, or perpetual; daily offerings to ancestors in general: 2. The Naimittika, or occasional; as the Ekoddishta,or obsequial offerings on account of a kinsman recently deceased: 3. The Kamya, voluntary; performed for the accomplishment of a special design: 4. The Vriddhi; performed on occasions of rejoicing or prosperity: 5. The Sapindana; offerings to all individual and to general ancestors: 6. The Parvana S'raddha; offerings to the manes on certain lunar days called Parvas, or day of full moon and new moon, and the eighth and fourteenth days of the lunar fortnight: 7. The Goshthi; for the advantage of a number of learned persons, or of an assembly of Brahmans, invited for the purpose: 8. The S'uddhi; one performed to purify a person from some defilement; an expiatory S'raddha: 9. The Karmanga; one forming part of the initiatory ceremonies, or Sanskaras, observed at conception, birth, tonsure, &c.: 10. The Daiva; to which the gods are invited: 11. The Yatra S'raddha; held by a person going a journey: and 12. The Pushti S'raddha; one performed to promote health and [p. 315] wealth. Of these, the four which are considered the most solemn are the rite performed for a parent, or near relative, lately deceased; that which is performed for kindred collectively; that observed on certain lunar days; and that celebrated on occasions of rejoicing. Nirnaya Sindhu, p. 271.
  • 315:2 Manu directs the balls to be made from the remainder of the clarified butter constituting the previous oblation to the gods. III. 215. Kulluka Bhatta explains, however, the oblation to consist partly of Anna food, or boiled rice. The latter is the article of which the balls chiefly consist. Yajnawalkya directs them to be made of rice and sesamum-seeds. The Vayu P. adds to these two ingredients, honey and butter: but various kinds of fruit, of pulse, and of grain, and water, frankincense, sugar, and milk, are also mixed up in the Pindas. Their size also differs; and according to Angiras, as quoted by Hemadri in the S'raddha Mayukha, they may be of the dimension of the fruit of the jujube, or of the hog-plum, of the fruit of the Bel, or of the wood-apple, or of a fowl's egg. Some authorities direct Pindas of a different size for different S'raddhas; prescribing them no larger than the wood-apple at the first or pure funereal ceremony, and as big as a cocoa-nut at the monthly and annual S'raddha. In practice the Pinda is usually of such a magnitude that it may be conveniently held by the hand.
  • 315:3 We have here the authority of the text for classing the Nandimukhas amongst the Pitris (see p. 297): the verse is ###, and the same Gana or class is presently again named: ### The Mantra of the Vriddhi or festival S'raddha is also said, in the Nirnaya Sindhu, to be ###. According to the authorities, however, which are cited in that work, there seems to be some uncertainty about the character of the Nandimukhas; and they are addressed both as Pitris and gods: being in the former case either the ancestors prior to the great grandfather, ancestors collectively, or a certain class of them; and in the latter, being identified with the Vis'wadevas, or a class of them called also Urddhavaktra. The term Nandimukha is also applied to the rite itself, or to the Vriddhi S'raddha, and to one addressed to maternal ancestors. Nirnaya Sindhu, p. 268, &c.
  • 316:4 “An oblation of water must be next presented from the joined palms of the hand, naming the deceased and the family from which he sprang, and saying, 'May this oblation reach thee.'” As. Res. VII. 244. The text has, ###.
  • 316:5 The proper period of mourning is ten days, on each of which offerings of cakes, and libations of water, are to be made to the deceased, augmenting the number of cakes each day, so that on the last day ten cakes are presented. When the period is shorter, the same number of ten cakes must be distributed amongst the several days, or they may be all presented on one day. Nirnaya Sindhu, p. 429.
  • 316:6 It should be, more correctly, on that day on which the mourning ceases, or, as previously mentioned, the first, third, seventh, or ninth; but the authorities vary, and, besides these, the second and fourth days, and certain days of the fortnight or month, are specified. Nirnaya Sindhu, p. 432.
  • 316:7 They are no longer unclean. The Sapindas, or those connected by offerings of cakes to common ancestors, extend to seven degrees, ascending or descending. The Samanodakas, or those similarly connected by presentations of water, to fourteen degrees.
  • 317:8 That is, a mere guest or stranger is not to partake of it. The food directed to be given to Brahmans is given in general only to the relatives of the deceased, who are already unclean. In this respect our text and the modern practice seem to differ from the primitive system, as described by Manu, III. 187. The eleventh or twelfth day is the term on which the S'raddha which crowns the whole of the funeral rites is to be performed, and when Brahmans are to be invited. Nirnaya Sindhu, p. 437.
  • 317:9 The number of Pindas, however, is for each case the same, or ten. Nirnaya Sindhu, p. 429.
  • 317:10 So Manu, III. 251. It may be doubted if the monthly S'raddha was part [p. 318] of the ancient system, although Kulluka Bhatta supposes it to be referred to (v. 548), and supplies the fancied omission of the text.
  • 318:11 Purva, 'first;' Madhyama, 'middle;' and Uttara, 'last.'



Of occasional S'raddhas, or obsequial ceremonies: when most efficacious, and at what places.

AURVA proceeded.–“Let the devout performer of an ancestral oblation propitiate Brahma, Indra, Rudra, the As'wins, the sun, fire, the

Vasus, the winds, the Vis'wadevas, the sages, birds, men, animals, reptiles, progenitors, and all existent things, by offering adoration to them monthly, on the fifteenth day of the moon's wane (or dark fortnight), or on the eighth day of the same period in certain months, or at particular seasons, as I will explain.

“When a householder finds that any circumstance has occurred, or a distinguished guest has arrived, on which account ancestral ceremonies are appropriate, the should celebrate them. He should offer a voluntary sacrifice upon any atmospheric portent, at the equinoctial and solstitial periods, at eclipses of the sun and moon, on the sun's entrance into a zodiacal sign, upon unpropitious aspects of the planets and asterisms, on dreaming unlucky dreams, and on eating the grain of the year's harvest. The Pitris [1] derive satisfaction for eight years from ancestral offerings upon the day of new moon when the star of the conjunction [2] is Anuradha, Vis'akha, or Swati; and for twelve years when it is Pushya, Ardra, or Punarvasu. It is not easy for a man to effect his object, who is desirous of worshipping the Pitris or the gods on a day of new moon when the stars are those of Dhanishtha, Purvabhadrapada, or S'atabhisha. Hear also an account of another class of Sraddhas, which afford especial contentment to progenitors, as explained by Sanatkumara, the son of Brahma, to the magnanimous Pururavas, when full of faith and devotion to the Pitris he inquired how he might please them. The third lunar day of the month Vais'akha (April, May), and the ninth of Kartika

(October, November), in the light fortnight; the thirteenth of Nabha (July, August), and the fifteenth of Magha (January, February), in the dark fortnight; are called by ancient teachers the anniversaries of the first day of a Yuga, or age (Yugadya), and are esteemed most sacred. On these days, water mixed with sesamum-seeds should be regularly presented to the progenitors of mankind; as well as on every solar and lunar eclipse; on the eighth lunations of the dark fortnights of Agrahayana, Magha, and Phalguna (December–February); on the two days commencing the solstices, when the nights and days alternately begin to diminish; on those days which are the anniversaries of the beginning of the Manwantaras; when the sun is in the path of the goat; and on all occurrences of meteoric phenomena. A S'raddha at these seasons contents the Pitris for a thousand years: such is the secret which they have imparted. The fifteenth day of the dark half of the month Magha, when united with the conjunction of the asterism over which Varuna presides (Satabhisha), is a season of no little sanctity, when offerings are especially grateful to the progenitors. Food and water presented by men who are of respectable families, when the asterism Dhanishtha is combined with the day of new moon, content the Pitris for ten thousand years; whilst they repose for a whole age when satisfied by offerings made on the day of new moon when Ardra is the lunar mansion.

“He who, after having offered food and libations to the Pitris, bathes in the Ganges, Satlaj, Vipas'a (Beyah), Saraswati, or the Gomati at Naimisha, expiates all his sins. The Pitris also say, 'After having received satisfaction for a twelvemonth, we shall further derive gratification by libations offered by our descendants at some place of pilgrimage, at the end of the dark fortnight of Magha.' The songs of the Pitris confer purity of heart, integrity of wealth, prosperous seasons, perfect rites, and devout faith; all that men can desire. Hear the verses that constitute those songs, by listening to which all those advantages will be secured, oh prince, by you. 'That enlightened individual who begrudges not his wealth, but presents us with cakes, shall be born in a distinguished family. Prosperous and affluent shall that man ever be, who in honour of us gives to the Brahmans, if he is wealthy, jewels, clothes, land, conveyances, wealth, or any valuable presents; or who, with faith and humility, entertains them with food, according to his means, at proper seasons. If he cannot afford to give them dressed food, he must, in proportion to his ability, present them with unboiled grain, or such gifts, however trifling, as he can bestow. Should he be utterly unable even to do this, he must give to some eminent Brahman, bowing at the same time before him, sesamum-seeds adhering to the tips of his fingers, and sprinkle water to us, from the palms of his hands, upon the ground; or he must gather, as he may, fodder for a day, and give it to a cow; by which he will, if firm in faith, yield us satisfaction. If nothing of this kind is practicable, he must go to a forest, and lift up his arms to the sun and other regents of the spheres, and say aloud–I have no money, nor property, nor grain, nor any thing whatever it for an ancestral offering. Bowing therefore to my ancestors, I hope the progenitors will be satisfied with these arms tossed up in the air in devotion.' These are the words of the Pitris themselves; and he who endeavours, with such means as he may possess, to fulfil their wishes, performs the ancestral rite called a S'raddha.”


  • 322:1 [p. 320] We may here take the opportunity of inquiring who are meant by the Pitris; and, generally speaking, they may be called a race of divine beings, inhabiting celestial regions of their own, and receiving into their society the spirits of those mortals for whom the rite of fellowship in obsequial cakes with them, the Sapindikarana, has been duly performed. The Pitris collectively, therefore, include a man's ancestors; but the principal members of this order of beings are of a different origin. The Vayu, Matsya, and Padma Puranas, and Hari Vans'a, profess to give an account of the original Pitris. The account is much the same, and for the most part in the same words, in all. They agree in distinguishing the Pitris into seven classes; three of which are without form, or composed of intellectual, not elementary substance, and assuming what forms they please; and four are corporeal. When they come to the enumeration of the particular classes they somewhat differ, and the accounts in all the works are singularly imperfect. According to a legend given by the Vayu and the Hari Vans'a, the first Pitris were the sons of the gods. The gods having offended Brahma, by neglecting to worship him, were cursed by him to become fools; but upon their repentance he directed them to apply to their sons for instruction. Being taught accordingly the rites of expiation and penance by their sons, they addressed them as fathers; whence the sons of the gods were the first Pitris. So the has 'The Pitris are born in the Manwantaras as the sons of the gods.' The Hari Vans'a makes the sons assume the character of fathers, addressing them, 'Depart, children.' Again; the Vayu P. declares the seven orders of Pitris to have been originally the first gods, the Vairajas, whom Brahma, with the eye of Yoga, beheld in the eternal spheres, and who are the gods of the gods. Again; in the same work we have the incorporeal Pitris called Vairajas, from being the sons of the Prajapati Viraja. The Matsya agrees with this latter statement, and adds that the gods worship them. The Hari Vans'a has the same statement, but more precisely [p. 321] distinguishes the Vairajas as one class only of the incorporeal Pitris. The commentator states the same, calling the three incorporeal Pitris, Vairajas, Agnishwattas, and Varhishads; and the four corporeal orders, Sukalas, Angirasas, Suswadhas, and Somapas. The Vairajas are described as the fathers of Mena, the mother of Uma. Their abode is variously termed the Santanika, Sanatana, and Soma loka. As the posterity of Viraja, they are the Somasads of Manu. The other classes of Pitris the three Puranas agree with Manu in representing as the sons of the patriarchs, and in general assign to them the same offices and posterity. They are the following:–

Agnishwattas–sons of Marichi, and Pitris of the gods (Manu, Matsya, Padma): living in Soma-loka, and parents of Achchoda (Matsya, Padma, Hari Vans'a). The Vayu makes them residents of Viraja-loka, sons of Pulastya, Pitris of the demigods and demons, and parents of Pivari; omitting the next order of Pitris, to whom these circumstances more accurately refer. The commentator on the Hari V. derives the name from Agnishu, 'in or by oblations to fire,' and Atta, 'obtained,' 'invoked.'

Varhishads–sons of Atri, and Pitris of the demons (Manu): sons of Pulastya, Pitris of the demons, residents in Vaibhraja, fathers of Pivari (Matsya, Padma, Hari V.).

These three are the formless or incorporeal Pitris.

Somapas–descendants of Bhrigu, or sons of Kavi by Swadha, the daughter of Agni; and Pitris of the Brahmans (Manu and Vayu P.). The Padma calls them Ushmapas. The Hari V. calls the Somapas, to whom it ascribes the same descent as the Vayu, the Pitris of the S'udras; and the Sukalas the Pitris of the Brahmans.

Havishmantas–in the solar sphere, sons of Angiras, and Pitris of the Kshatriyas (Manu, Vayu, Matsya, Padma, Hari Vans'a).

Ajyapas–sons of Kardama, Pitris of the Vais'yas, in the Kamaduha-loka (Manu, &c.); but the lawgiver calls them the sons of Pulastya. The Pitris of the Vais'yas are called Kavyas in the Nandi Upapurana; and in the Hari Vans'a and its comment they are termed Suswadhas, sons of Kardama, descended from Pulaha.

Sukalins–sons of Vas'ishtha, and Pitris of the S'udras (Manu and Vayu P.). They are not mentioned in the Padma. The Matsya inserts the name and descent, but specifies them as amongst the incorporeal Pitris. It may be suspected that the passage is corrupt. The Hari Vans'a makes the Sukalas sons of Vas'ishtha, the Pitris of the Brahmans; and gives the title of Somapas to the Pitris of the S'udras. In general this work follows the Vayu; but with omissions and transpositions, as if it had carelessly mutilated its original.

Besides these Pitris or progenitors, other heavenly beings are sometimes made to adopt a similar character: thus Manu says, “The wise call our fathers Vasus; our paternal grandfathers, Rudras; our paternal great grandfathers, Adityas; agreeably [p. 322] to a text of the Vedas:” that is, these divine beings are to be meditated upon along with, and as not distinct from, progenitors. Hemadri quotes the Nandi Upapurana for a different practice, and directs Vishnu to be identified with the father, Brahma with the grandfather, and S'iva with the great grandfather. This, however, is S'aiva innovation. The Vaishnavas direct Aniruddha to be regarded as one's-self, and Pradyumna, Sankarshana, and Vasudeva as the three ancestors. Again, they are identified with Varuna, Prajapatya, and Agni; or, again, with months, seasons, and years. Nirnaya Sindhu, p. 284. It may be doubted how far any of these correctly represent the original notions inculcated by the texts of the Vedas, from which, in the most essential particulars, they are derived.

  • 322:2 When the Yogatara, or principal star seen, is the chief star or stars of these asterisms or lunar mansions respectively, see the table given by Mr. Colebrooke: As. Res. IX. p. 346. The first three named in the text are stars in Scorpio, Libra, and Arcturus: the second three are stars in Cancer, Gemini, and Orion: and the third are stars in the Dolphin, Pegasus, and Aquarius.



What Brahmans are to be entertained at S'raddhas. Different prayers to be recited. Offerings of food to be presented to deceased ancestors.

AURVA proceeded.–“Hear next, oh prince, what description of Brahman should be fed at ancestral ceremonies. he should be one studied in various triplets of the Rich and Yajur Vedas [1]; one who is acquainted with the six supplementary sciences of the Vedas [2]; one who understands the Vedas; one who practises the duties they enjoin [3]; one who exercises penance; a chanter of the principal Sama-veda [4], an officiating priest, a sister's son, a daughter's son, a son-in-law, a father-in-law, a maternal uncle, an ascetic, a Brahman who maintains the five fires, a pupil, a kinsman; one who reverences his parents. A man should first employ the Brahmans first specified in the principal obsequial rite; and the others (commencing with the ministering priest) in the subsidiary ceremonies instituted to gratify his ancestors.

“A false friend, a man with ugly nails or black teeth, a ravisher, a Brahman who neglects the service of fire and sacred study, a vender of the Soma plant, a man accused of any crime, a thief, a calumniator, a Brahman who conducts religious ceremonies for the vulgar; one who instructs his servant in holy writ, or is instructed in it by his servant; the husband of a woman who has been formerly betrothed to another; a man who is undutiful to his parents; the protector of the husband of a woman of the servile caste, or the husband of a woman of the servile caste; and a Brahman who ministers to idols–are not proper persons to be invited to au ancestral offering [5]. On the first day let a judicious man invite eminent teachers of the Vedas, and other Brahmans; and according to their directions determine what is to be dedicated to the gods, and what to the Pitris. Associated with the Brahmans, let the institutor of an obsequial rite abstain from anger and incontinence. He who having eaten himself in a S'raddha, and fed Brahmans, and appointed them to their sacred offices, is guilty of incontinence, thereby sentences his progenitors to shameful suffering. In the first place, the Brahmans before described are to be invited; but those holy men who come to the house without an invitation are also to be entertained. The guests are to be reverently received with water for their feet, and the like; and the entertainer, holding holy grass in his hand, is to place them, after they have rinsed their mouths, upon seats. An uneven number of Brahmans is to be invited in sacrifices to the manes; an even or uneven number in those presented to the gods; or one only on each occasion [6].

“Then let the householder, inspired by religious faith, offer oblations to the maternal grandfather, along with the worship of the Vis'wadevas [7], or the ceremony called Vais'wadeva, which comprehends offerings to both paternal and maternal ancestors, and to ancestors in general. Let him feed the Brahmans who are appropriated to the gods, and to maternal ancestors, with their faces to the north; and those set apart for the paternal ancestors, and ancestors in general, with their faces to the east. Some say that the viands of the S'raddha should be kept distinct for these two sets of ancestors, but others maintain that they are to be fed with the same food, at the same time. Having spread Kus'a grass for seats, and offered libations according to rule, let the sensible man invoke the deities, with the concurrence of the Brahmans who are present [8]. Let the man who is acquainted with the ritual offer a libation to the gods with water and barley, having presented to them flowers, perfumes, and incense. Let him offer the same to the Pitris, placed upon his left; and with the consent of the Brahmans, having first provided seats of Kus'a grass doubled, let him invoke with the usual prayers the manes to the ceremony, offering a libation, on his left hand, of water and sesamum. He will then, with the permission of the Brahmans, give food to any guest who arrives at the time, or who is desirous of victuals, or who is passing along the road; for holy saints and ascetics, benefactors of mankind, are traversing this earth, disguised in various shapes [9]. On this account let a prudent man welcome a person who arrives at such a season; for inattention to a guest frustrates the consequences of an ancestral offering.

“The sacrificer is then to offer food, without salt or seasoning, to fire [10], three several times, with the consent of the assistant Brahmans; exclaiming first, 'To fire, the vehicle of the oblations; to the manes Swaha!' Next addressing the oblation to Soma, the lord of the progenitors; and giving the third to Vaivaswata. He is then to place a very little of the residue of the oblation in the dishes of the Brahmans; and next, presenting them with choice viands, well dressed and seasoned, and abundant, he is to request them civilly to partake of it at their pleasure. The Brahmans are to eat of such food attentively, in silence, with cheerful countenances, and at their ease. The sacrificer is to give it to them, not churlishly, nor hurriedly, but with devout faith.

“Having next recited the prayer for the discomfiture of malignant spirits [11], and scattered sesamum-seeds upon the ground, the Brahmans who have been fed are to be addressed, in common with the ancestors of the sacrificer, in this manner: 'May my father, grandfather, and great grandfather, in the persons of these Brahmans, receive satisfaction! May my father, grandfather, and great grandfather derive nutriment from these oblations to fire! May my father, grandfather, and great grandfather derive satisfaction from the balls of food placed by me upon the ground! May my father, grandfather, and great grandfather be pleased with what I have this day offered them in faith! May my maternal grandfather, his father, and his father, also enjoy contentment from my offerings! May all the gods experience gratification, and all evil beings perish! May the lord of sacrifice, the imperishable deity

Hari, be the acceptor of all oblations made to the manes or the gods! and may all malignant spirits, and enemies of the deities, depart from the rite.'

“When the Brahmans have eaten sufficiently, the worshipper must scatter some of the food upon the ground, and present them individually with water to rinse their mouths; then, with their assent, he may place upon the ground balls made up of boiled rice and condiments, along with sesamum-seeds. With the part of his hand sacred to the manes he must offer sesamum-seeds, and water from his joined palms; and with the same part of his hand he must present cakes to his maternal ancestors. He should in lonely places, naturally beautiful, and by the side of sacred streams, diligently make presents (to the manes and the Brahmans) [12]. Upon Kus'a grass, the tips of which are pointed to the south, and lying near the fragments of the meat, let the householder present the first ball of food, consecrated with flowers and incense, to his father; the second to his grandfather; and the third to his great grandfather; and let him satisfy those who are contented with the wipings of his hand, by wiping it with the roots of Kus'a grass [13]. After presenting balls of food to his maternal ancestors in the same manner, accompanied by perfumes and incense, he is to give to the principal Brahmans water to rinse their mouths; and then, with attention and piety, he is to give the Brahmans gifts, according to his power, soliciting their benedictions, accompanied with the exclamation 'Swadha [14]!' Having made presents to the Brahmans, he is to address himself to the gods, saying, 'May they who are the Vis'wadevas be pleased with this oblation!' Having thus said, and the blessings to be solicited having been granted by the Brahmans, he is to dismiss first the paternal ancestors, and then the gods. The order is the same with the maternal ancestors and the gods in respect to food, donation, and dismissal. Commencing with the washing of the feet, until the dismissing of the gods and Brahmans, the ceremonies are to be performed first for paternal ancestors, and then for ancestors on the mother's side. Let him dismiss the Brahmans with kindly speeches and profound respect, and attend upon them at the end of the S'raddha; until permitted by them to return. The wise man will then perform the invariable worship of the Vis'wadevas, and take' his own meal along with his friends, his kinsmen, and his dependants.

“In this manner an enlightened householder will celebrate the obsequial worship of his paternal and maternal ancestors, who, satisfied by his offerings, will grant him all his desires. Three things are held pure at obsequies, a daughter's son, a Nepal blanket, and sesamum-seeds [15]; and the gift, or naming, or sight of silver is also propitious [16]. The person offering a S'raddha should avoid anger, walking about, and hurry; these three things are very objectionable. The Vis'wadevas, and paternal and maternal ancestors, and the living members of a man's family are all nourished by the offerer of ancestral oblations.

“The class of Pitris derives support from the moon, and the moon is sustained by acts of austere devotion. Hence the appointment of one who practises austerities is most desirable. A Yogi set before a thousand Brahmans enables the institutor of obsequial rites to enjoy all his desires [17].”


  • 325:1 The Brahmans here particularized are termed Trinachiketa, Trimadhu, and Trisuparna; and are so denominated, according to the commentator, from particular parts of the Vedas. The first is so called from studying or reciting three Anuvakas of the Kathaka branch of the Yajur-veda, commencing with the term Trinachiketa; the second, from three Anuvakas of the same Veda, beginning Madhuvata, &c.; and the third, from a similar portion, commencing Brahmavan namami. The first and third terms occur in Manu, III. 185; and Kulluka Bhatta explains Trinachiketa to mean a portion of the Yajur-veda, and the Brahman who studies it; and Trisuparna, a part of the Rich, and the Brahman who is acquainted with it. The Nirnaya Sindhu explains the terms m a like manner, but calls the Trisuparna, as well as the Trinachiketa prayers, portions of the Yajush. The Trimadhu it assigns to the Rich. Other explanations are also given to the terms Trinachiketa and Trisuparna: the first being explained a Brahman who thrice performs the ceremony called Chayana; and the last, one who, after the seven ascending generations, worships the Pitris termed Somapas. These explanations are however considered less correct than the preceding, and which are thus given in the authority cited: ###.
  • 325:2 For the six Angas, see <page 284>.
  • 325:3 So the commentator distinguishes the Vedavit, the Brahman who understands the meaning of the text of the Vedas, from the S'rotriya, who practises the rites he studies.
  • 325:4 Portions of the Saman contained in the Aranyaka are called the Jyeshtha, 'elder' or 'principal' Saman.
  • 326:5 Manu, III. 150, &c.
  • 326:6 As two or five at a ceremony dedicated to the gods; three at the worship of the Pitris. Nirnaya Sindhu, p. 311.
  • 326:7 The worship of the Vis'wadevas (see <page 321>) forms a part of the general S'raddhas, and of the daily sacrifices of the householder. According to the Vayu this was a privilege conferred upon them by Brahma and the Pitris, as a reward for religious austerities practised by them upon Himalaya. Their introduction as a [p. 327] specific class seems to have originated in the custom of sacrificing to the gods collectively, or to all the gods, as the name Vis'wadevas implies. They appear, however, as a distinct class in the Vedas, and their assumption of this character is therefore of ancient date. The daily offering to them is noticed by Manu, III. 90, 172; and offerings to 'the gods' are also enjoined at the beginning and end of a S'raddha. Kulluka Bhatta understands here the Vis'wadevas, and it probably is so; but in another verse different divinities are specified: “First having satisfied Agni, Soma, Yama, with clarified butter, let him proceed to satisfy the manes of his progenitors.” v. 211. Manu also directs them to be worshipped first and last in order. See As. Res. VII. 265, 271, &c.
  • 327:8 The text is 'with their assent;' but no noun occurs in the sentence with which the relative is connected. It must mean the Brahmans, however, as in this passage of Vriddha Par tiara; 'Let the sacrificer place his left hand on the Brahman's right knee, and say, “Shall I invoke the Vis'wadevas?” and being desired to invoke them, let him address them with the two Mantras, “Vis'wadevas, he is come! Vis'wadevas, hear him!”'
  • 328:9 This notion occurs more than once in the Vayu, in nearly the same words.
  • 328:10 This places the initiatory oblations noticed by Manu (see note [7]) subsequent to the offerings to the Vis'wadevas.
  • 328:11 The Rakshoghna Mantra: the extinguishing of a lamp, lighted to keep off evil spirits, which is accompanied by a Mantra, or prayer. As. Res. VII. 274.
  • 329:12 Part of this passage is in the words of Manu, III. 207. It is omitted in the MSS. in the Bengali character.
  • 329:13 Manu, III. 296.
  • 329:14 “Then let the Brahmans address him, saying, 'Swadha!' for in all ceremonies relating to deceased ancestors, the word Swadha is the highest benison.” Manu, III. 252.
  • 330:15 We have here the words of Manu; III. 235. Three things are held pure at such obsequies, the daughter's son, the Nepal blanket, and sesamum-seed.' Sir Wm. Jones's translation of these terms rests upon the explanation of Kulluka Bhatta of this and the verse preceding; 'Let him give his daughter's son, though a religious student, food at a S'raddha, and the blanket for a seat.' The commentator on our text says that some understand by Dauhitra, clarified butter made from the milk of a cow fed with grass gathered on the day of new moon; and some explain it a plate or dish of buffalo horn. Kutapa he interprets by Ashtama Muhurtta, the eighth hour of the day, or a little after noon, although he admits that some render it a blanket made of goats' wool. These explanations are also noticed in the Nirnaya Sindhu, p. 302; and, upon the authority of the Matsya P., Kutapa is said to mean eight things; which equally consume (Tapa) all sin (Ku), or noon, a vessel of rhinoceros' horn, a nepal blanket, silver, holy grass, sesamum, kine, and a daughter's son.
  • 330:16 So the Matsya P. has 'the gift, sight, and name of silver are desired.' The notion originates with Manu, III. 202.
  • 331:17 The same doctrine is inculcated by the Vayu P.; but it appears to be a Pauranik innovation, for Manu places the Brahman intent on scriptural knowledge and on austere devotion on a level, and makes no mention of the Yogi. III, 134.



Things proper to be offered as food to deceased ancestors: prohibited things. Circumstances vitiating a S'raddha: how to be avoided. Song of the Pitris, or progenitors, heard by Ikshwaku.

AURVA continued.–“Ancestors are satisfied for a month with offerings of rice or other grain, with clarified butter [1], with fish, or the flesh of the hare, of birds, of the hog, the goat, the antelope, the deer, the gayal, or the sheep, or with the milk of the cow, and its products [2]. They are for ever satisfied with flesh (in general), and with that of the long-eared white goat in particular. The flesh of the rhinoceros, the Kalas'aka potherb, and honey, are also especial sources of satisfaction to those worshipped at ancestral ceremonies. The birth of that man is the occasion of satisfaction to his progenitors who performs at the due time their obsequial rites at Gaya. Grains that spring up spontaneously, rice growing wild, Panic of both species (white or black), vegetables that grow in forests, are fit for ancestral oblations; as are barley, wheat, rice, sesamum, various kinds of pulse, and mustard. On the other hand, a householder must not offer any kind of grain that is not consecrated by religious ceremonies on its first coming into season; nor the pulse called Rajamasha, nor millet, nor lentils, nor gourds, nor garlick, nor onions, nor nightshade, nor camels' thorn, nor salt, nor the efflorescence of salt deserts, nor red vegetable extracts, nor any thing that looks like salt, nor any thing that is not commendable; nor is water fit to be offered at a S'raddha that has been brought by night, or has been abandoned, or is so little as not to satisfy a cow, or smells badly, or is covered with froth. The milk of animals with undivided hoofs, of a camel, a ewe, a deer, or a buffalo, is unfit for ancestral oblations. If an obsequial rite is looked at by a eunuch, a man ejected from society, an outcast, a heretic, a drunken man, or one diseased, by a cock, a naked ascetic [3], a monkey, a village hag, by a woman in her courses or pregnant, by an unclean person, or by a carrier of corpses, neither gods nor progenitors will partake of the food. The ceremony should therefore be performed in a spot carefully enclosed. Let the performer cast sesamum on the ground, and drive away malignant spirits. Let him not give food that is fetid, or vitiated by hairs or insects, or mixed with acid gruel, or stale. Whatever suitable food is presented with pure faith, and with the enunciation of name and race, to ancestors, at an obsequial oblation, becomes food to them (or gives them nourishment). In former times, O king of the earth! this song of the Pitris was heard by Ikshwaku, the son of Manu, in the groves of Kalapa (on the skirts of the Himalaya mountains): 'Those of our descendants shall follow a righteous path who shall reverently present us with cakes at Gaya. May he be born in our race who shall give us, on the thirteenth of Bhadrapada and Magha, milk, honey, and clarified butter; or when he marries a maiden, or liberates a black bull [4], or performs any domestic ceremony agreeable to rule, accompanied by donations to the Brahmans [5]!”


  • 332:1 See Manu, III. 266, &c. The articles are much the same; the periods of satisfaction somewhat vary.
  • 332:2 The expression Gavya implies all that is derived from a cow, but in the text it is associated with 'flesh;' and, as the commentator observes, some consider the flesh of the cow to be here intended: but this, he adds, relates to other ages. In the Kali or present age it implies milk and preparations of milk, The sacrifice of a cow or calf formed part of the ancient S'raddha. It then became typical, or a bull was turned loose, instead of being slaughtered; and this is still practised on some . In Manu, the term Gavya is coupled with others, which limit its application: 'A whole year with the milk of cows, and food made of that milk.' III. 272.
  • 333:3 Nagna is literally 'naked,' but, as explained in the following chapter, means a Jain mendicant. No such person is included by Manu (III. 239, &c.) amongst those who defile a S'raddha by looking upon it. The Vayu contains the same prohibition.
  • 333:4 Nila vrisha; but this animal is not altogether or always black. In the Brahma P., as quoted in the Nirnaya Sindhu, it is said to be of a red colour, with light face and tail, and white hoofs and horns; or a white bull, with black face, &c.; or a black bull, with white face, tail, and feet.
  • 333:5 Very full descriptions of the S'raddha occur in almost all the Puranas, especially in the Vayu, Kurma, Markandeya, Vamana, and Garuda. The Matsya and Padma (S'rishthi Khanda) contain descriptions which are much the same as that of the Vayu. The accounts of the Brahma, Agni, and Varaha are less full and regular than in some of the others; and in none of them is the subject so fully and perspicuously treated as in our text. For satisfactory information, however, the S'raddha Mayukha and the Nirnaya Sindhu should be consulted.



Of heretics, or those who reject the authority of the Vedas: their origin, as described by Vas'ishtha to Bhishma: the gods, defeated by the Daityas, praise Vishnu: an illusory being, or Buddha, produced from his body.

PARAS'ARA.–Thus, in former days, spake the holy Aurva to the illustrious monarch Sagara, when he inquired concerning the usages proper to be practised by mankind; and thus I have explained to you the whole of those observances against which no one ought to transgress.

MAITREYA.–You have told me, venerable sir, that an ancestral rite is not to be looked upon by certain persons, amongst whom you mentioned such as were apostates. I am desirous to learn whom you intended by that appellation; what practices bestow such a title upon a man; and what is the character of the individual to whom you alluded.

PARAS'ARA.–The Rig, Yajur, and Sama Vedas constitute the triple covering of the several castes, and the sinner who throws this off is said to be naked (or apostate). The three Vedas are the raiment of all the orders of men, and when that is discarded they are left bare [1]. On this subject hear what I heard my grandfather, the pious Vas'ishtha, relate to the magnanimous Bhishma:

There was formerly a battle between the gods and demons, for the period of a divine year, in which the gods were defeated by the demons under the command of Hrada [2]. The discomfited deities fled to the northern shore of the milky ocean, where engaging in religious penance they thus prayed to Vishnu: “May the first of beings, the divine Vishnu, be pleased with the words that we are about to address to him, in order to propitiate the lord of all worlds; from which mighty cause all created things have originated, and into whom they shall again dissolve! Who is able to declare his praise? We, who have been put to shame by the triumph of our foes, will glorify thee, although thy true power and might be not within the reach of words. Thou art earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, crude matter, and primeval soul: all this elementary creation, with or without visible form, is thy body; all, from Brahma to a stock, diversified by place and time. Glory to thee, who art Brahma, thy first form, evolved from the lotus springing from thy navel, for the purpose of creation. Glory to thee, who art Indra, the sun, Rudra, the Vasus, fire, the winds, and even also ourselves. Glory to they, Govinda, who art all demons, whose essence is arrogance and want of discrimination, unchecked by patience or self-control. Glory to thee, who art the Yakshas, whose nature is charmed with sounds, and whose frivolous hearts perfect knowledge cannot pervade. Glory to thee, who art all fiends, that walk by night, sprung from the quality of darkness, fierce, fraudulent, and cruel. Glory to thee, Janarddana, who art that piety which is the instrument of recompensing the virtues of those who abide in heaven. Glory to thee, who art one with the saints, whose perfect nature is ever blessed, and traverses unobstructed all permeable elements. Glory to thee, who art one with the serpent race, double-tongued, impetuous, cruel, insatiate of enjoyment, and abounding with wealth. Glory to thee, who art one with the Rishis, whose nature is free from sin or defect, and is identified with wisdom and tranquillity. Glory to thee, oh lotus-eyed, who art one with time, the form that devours, without remorse, all created things at the termination of the Kalpa. Glory to thee, who art Rudra, the being that dances with delight after he has swallowed up all things, the gods and the rest, without distinction. Glory to thee, Janarddana, who art man, the agent in developing the results of that activity which proceeds from the quality of foulness. Glory to thee, who art brute animals, the universal spirit that tends to perversity, which proceeds from the quality of darkness, and is encumbered with the twenty-eight kinds of obstructions [3]. Glory to thee, who art that chief spirit which is diversified in the vegetable world, and which, as the essence of sacrifice, is the instrument of accomplishing the perfection of the universe. Glory to thee, who art every thing, and whose primeval form is the objects of perception, and heaven, and animals, and men, and gods. Glory to thee, who art the cause of causes, the supreme spirit; who art distinct from us and all beings composed of intelligence and matter and the like, and with whose primeval nature there is nothing that can be compared. We bow to thee, O lord, who hast neither colour, nor extension, nor bulk, nor any predicable qualities; and whose essence, purest of the pure, is appreciable only by holy sages. We bow to thee, in the nature of Brahma, untreated, undecaying; who art in our bodies, and in all other bodies, and in all living creatures; and besides whom there is nothing else. We glorify that Vasudeva, the sovereign lord of all, who is without soil, the seed of all things, exempt from dissolution, unborn, eternal, being in essence the supreme condition of spirit, and in substance the whole of this universe.”

Upon the conclusion of their prayers, the gods beheld the sovereign deity Hari, armed with the shell, the discus, and the mace, riding on Garuda. Prostrating themselves before him, they addressed him, and said, “Have compassion upon us, O lord, and protect us, who have come to thee for succour from the Daityas. They have seized upon the three worlds, and appropriated the offerings which are our portion, taking care not to transgress the precepts of the Veda. Although we, as well as they, are parts of thee, of whom all beings consist, yet we behold the world impressed by the ignorance of unity, with the belief of its separate existence. Engaged in the duties of their respective orders, and following the paths prescribed by holy writ, practising also religious penance, it is impossible for us to destroy them. Do thou, whose wisdom is immeasurable, instruct us in some device by which we may be able to exterminate the enemies of the gods.”

When the mighty Vishnu heard their request, he emitted from his body an illusory form, which he gave to the gods, and thus spake This deceptive vision shall wholly beguile the Daityas, so that, being led astray from the path of the Vedas, they may be put to death; for all gods, demons, or others, who shall be opposed to the authority of the Veda, shall perish by my might, whilst exercised for the preservation of the world. Go then, and fear not: let this delusive vision precede you; it shall this day be of great service unto you, oh gods!”


  • 334:1 This idea is expressed in nearly the same terms in the Vayu P.: 'The three Vedas are the covering of all beings, and they who throw it off through delusion are called Nagnas, naked.' The notion is probably original with neither of the Puranas, and the metaphorical sense of the term is not that in which it was first employed; ascetics, whether of the Bauddha or of the Digambara order of Jains, being literally Nagnas, or going naked. The qualified application of it, however, was rendered necessary by the same practice being familiar to ascetics of the orthodox faith. To go naked was not necessarily a sign of a heretic, and therefore his nudity was understood to be, rejecting the raiment of holy writ. Thus the Vayu P. extends the word to all ascetics, including naked Brahmans, who practise austerities fruitlessly, that is, heretically or hypocritically: 'The Brahman who unprofitably bears a staff, shaves his head, goes naked, makes a vow, or mutters prayers, all such persons are called Nagnas and the like.'
  • 335:2 A son of Hiranyakas'ipu (<page 124>).
  • 336:3 See <page 35>. n. .



Buddha goes to the earth, and teaches the Daityas to contemn the Vedas: his sceptical doctrines: his prohibition of animal sacrifices. Meaning of the term Bauddha. Jainas and Bauddhas; their tenets. The Daityas lose their power, and are overcome by the gods. Meaning of the term Nagna. Consequences of neglect of duty. Story of S'atadhanu and his wife S'aivya. Communion with heretics to be shunned.

PARAS'ARA.–After this, the great delusion, having proceeded to earth, beheld the Daityas engaged in ascetic penances upon the banks of the Narmada river [1]; and approaching them in the semblance of a naked mendicant, with his head shaven, and carrying a bunch of peacock's feathers [2], he thus addressed them in gentle accents: “Ho, lords of the Daitya race! wherefor is it that you practise these acts of penance? is it with a view to recompense in this world, or in another?” “Sage,” replied the Daityas, “we pursue these devotions to obtain a reward hereafter; why should you make such an inquiry?” “If you are desirous of final emancipation,” answered the seeming ascetic, “attend to my words, for you are worthy of a revelation which is the door to ultimate felicity. The duties that I will teach you are the secret path to liberation; there are none beyond or superior to them: by following them you shall obtain either heaven or exemption from future existence. You, mighty beings, are deserving of such lofty doctrine.” By such persuasions, and by many specious arguments, did this delusive being mislead the Daityas from the tenets of the Vedas; teaching that the same thing might be for the sake of virtue and of vice; might be, and might not be; might or might not contribute to liberation; might be the supreme object, and not the supreme object; might be effect, and not be effect; might be manifest, or not be manifest; might be the duty of those who go naked, or who go clothed in much raiment: and so the Daityas were seduced from their proper duties by the repeated lessons of their illusory preceptor, maintaining the equal truth of contradictory tenets [3]; and they were called Arhatas [4], from the phrase he had employed of “Ye are worthy (Arhatha) of this great doctrine;” that is, of the false doctrines which he persuaded them to embrace.

The foes of the gods being thus induced to apostatize from the religion of the Vedas, by the delusive person sent by Vishnu, became in their turn teachers of the same heresies, and perverted others; and these, again, communicating their principles to others, by whom they were still further disseminated, the Vedas were in a short time deserted by most of the Daitya race. Then the same deluder, putting on garments of a red colour, assuming a benevolent aspect, and speaking in soft and agreeable tones, addressed others of the same family, and said to them, “If; mighty demons, you cherish a desire either for heaven or for final repose, desist from the iniquitous massacre of animals (for sacrifice), and hear from me what you should do. Know that all that exists is composed of discriminative knowledge. Understand my words, for they have been uttered by the wise. This world subsists without support, and engaged in the pursuit of error, which it mistakes for knowledge, as well as vitiated by passion and the rest, revolves in the straits of existence.” In this manner, exclaiming to them, “Know!” (Budhyadwam), and they replying, “It is known” (Budhyate), these Daityas were induced by the arch deceiver to deviate from their religious duties (and become Bauddhas), by his repeated arguments and variously urged persuasions [5], When they had abandoned their own faith, they persuaded others to do the same, and the heresy spread, and many deserted the practices enjoined by the Vedas and the laws.

The delusions of the false teacher paused not with the conversion of the Daityas to the Jaina and Bauddha heresies, but with various erroneous tenets he prevailed upon others to apostatize, until the whole were led astray, and deserted the doctrines and observances inculcated by the three Vedas. Some then spake evil of the sacred books; some blasphemed the gods; some treated sacrifices and other devotional ceremonies with scorn; and others calumniated the Brahmans. “The precepts,” they cried, “that lead to the injury of animal life (as in sacrifices) are highly reprehensible. To say that casting butter into flame is productive of reward, is mere childishness. If Indra, after having obtained godhead by multiplied rites, is fed upon the wood used as fuel in holy fire, he is lower than a brute, which feeds at least upon leaves. If an animal slaughtered in religious worship is thereby raised to heaven, would it not be expedient for a man who institutes a sacrifice to kill his own father for a victim? If that which is eaten by one at a S'raddha gives satisfaction to another, it must be unnecessary for one who resides at a distance to bring food for presentation in person [6].” “First, then, let it be determined what may be (rationally) believed by mankind, and then,” said their preceptor, “you will find that felicity may be expected from my instructions. The words of authority do not, mighty Asuras, fall from heaven: the text that has reason is alone to be acknowledged by me, and by such as you are [7].” By such and similar lessons the Daityas were perverted, so that not one of them admitted the authority of the Vedas.

When the Daityas had thus declined from the path of the holy writings, the deities took courage, and gathered together for battle. Hostilities accordingly were renewed, but the demons were now defeated and slain by the gods, who had adhered to the righteous path. The armour of religion, which had formerly protected the Daityas, had been discarded by them, and upon its abandonment followed their destruction [8].

Thus, Maitreya, you are to understand that those who have seceded from their original belief are said to be naked, because they have thrown off the garment of the Vedas. According to the law there are four conditions or orders of men (of the three first castes), the religious student, the householder, the hermit, and the mendicant. There is no fifth state; and the unrighteous man who relinquishes the order of the householder, and does not become either an anchoret or a mendicant, is also a naked (seceder). The man who neglects his permanent observances for one day and night, being able to perform them, incurs thereby sin for one day; and should he omit them, not being in trouble, for a fortnight, he can be purified only by arduous expiation. The virtuous must stop to gaze upon the sun after looking upon a person who has allowed a year to elapse without the observance of the perpetual ceremonies; and they must bathe with their clothes on should they have touched him: but for the individual himself no expiation has been declared. There is no sinner upon earth more culpable than one in whose dwelling the gods, progenitors, and spirits, are left to sigh unworshipped. Let not a man associate, in residence, sitting, or society, with him whose person or whose house has been blasted by the sighs of the gods, progenitors, and spirits. Conversation, interchange of civilities, or association with a man who for a twelvemonth has not discharged his religious duties, is productive of equality of guilt; and the person who eats in the house of such a man, or sits down with him, or sleeps on the same couch with him, becomes like him instantaneously. Again; he who takes his food without shewing reverence to the gods, progenitors, spirits, and guests, commits sin. How great is his sin! The Brahmans, and men of the other castes, who turn their faces away from their proper duties, become heretics, and are classed with those who relinquish pious works. Remaining in a place where there is too great an intermixture of the four castes is detrimental to the character of the righteous. Men fall into hell who converse with one who takes his food without offering a portion to the gods, the sages, the manes, spirits, and guests. Let therefore a prudent person carefully avoid the conversation, or the contact, and the like, of those heretics who are rendered impure by their desertion of the three Vedas. The ancestral rite, although performed with zeal and faith, pleases neither gods nor progenitors if it be looked upon by apostates.

It is related that there was formerly a king named S'atadhanu, whose wife S'aivya was a woman of great virtue. She was devoted to her husband, benevolent, sincere, pure, adorned with every female excellence, with humility, and discretion. The Raja and his wife daily worshipped the god of gods, Janarddana, with pious meditations, oblations to fire, prayers, gifts, fasting, and every other mark of entire faith, and exclusive devotion. On one occasion, when they had fasted on the full moon of Kartika, and had bathed in the Bhagirathi, they beheld, as they came up from the water, a heretic approach them, who was the friend of the Raja's military preceptor. The Raja, out of respect to the latter, entered into conversation with the heretic; but not so did the princess; reflecting that she was observing a fast, she turned from him, and cast her eyes up to the sun. On their arrival at home, the husband and wife, as usual, performed the worship of Vishnu, agreeably to the ritual. After a time the Raja, triumphant over his enemies, died; and the princess ascended the funeral pile of her husband.

In consequence of the fault committed by S'atadhanu, by speaking to an infidel when he was engaged in a solemn fast, he was born again as a dog. His wife was born as the daughter of the Raja of Kas'i, with a knowledge of the events of her preexistence, accomplished in every science, and endowed with every virtue. Her father was anxious to give her in marriage to some suitable husband, but she constantly opposed his design, and the king was prevented by her from accomplishing her nuptials. With the eye of divine intelligence she knew that her own husband had been regenerate as a dog, and going once to the city of Vaidis'a she saw the dog, and recognised her former lord in him. Knowing that the animal was her husband, she placed upon his neck the bridal garland, accompanying it with the marriage rites and prayers: but he, eating the delicate food presented to him, expressed his delight after the fashion of his species; at which she was much ashamed, and, bowing reverently to him, thus spake to her degraded spouse: “Recall to memory, illustrious prince, the ill-timed politeness on account of which you have been born as a dog, and are now fawning upon me. In consequence of speaking to a heretic, after bathing in a sacred river, you have been condemned to this abject birth. Do you not remember it?” Thus reminded, the Raja recollected his former condition, and was lost in thought, and felt deep humiliation. With a broken spirit he went forth from the city, and falling dead in the desert, was born anew as a jackal. In the course of the following year the princess knew what had happened, and went to the mountain Kolahala to seek for her husband. Finding him there, the lovely daughter of the king of the earth said to her lord, thus disguised as a jackal, “Dost thou not remember, oh king, the circumstance of conversing with a heretic, which I called to thy recollection when thou wast a dog?” The Raja, thus addressed, knew that what the princess had spoken was true, and thereupon desisted from food, and died. He then became a wolf; but his blameless wife knew it, and came to him in the lonely forest, and awakened his remembrance of his original state. “No wolf art thou,” she said, “but the illustrious sovereign S'atadhanu. Thou wast then a dog, then a jackal, and art now a wolf.” Upon this, recollecting himself, the prince abandoned his life, and became a vulture; in which form his lovely queen still found him, and aroused him to a knowledge of the past. “Prince,” she exclaimed, “recollect yourself: away with this uncouth form, to which the sin of conversing with a heretic has condemned you!” The Raja was next born as a crow; when the princess, who through her mystical powers was aware of it, said to him, “Thou art now thyself the eater of tributary grain, to whom, in a prior existence, all the kings of the earth paid tribute [9].” Having abandoned his body, in consequence of the recollections excited by these words, the king next became a peacock, which the princess took to herself, and petted, and fed constantly with such food as is agreeable to birds of its class. The king of Kas'i instituted at that time the solemn sacrifice of a horse. In the ablutions with which it terminated the princess caused her peacock to be bathed, bathing also herself; and she then reminded S'atadhanu how he had been successively born as various animals. On recollecting this, he resigned his life. He was then born as the son of a person of distinction; and the princess now assenting to the wishes of her father to see her wedded, the king of Kas'i caused it to be made known that she would elect a bridegroom from those who should present themselves as suitors for her hand. When the election took place, the princess made choice of her former lord, who appeared amongst the candidates, and again invested him with the character of her husband. They lived happily together, and upon her father's decease S'atadhanu ruled over the country of Videha. He offered many sacrifices, and gave away many gifts, and begot sons, and subdued his enemies in war; and having duly exercised the sovereign power, and cherished benignantly the earth, he died, as became his warrior birth, in battle. His queen again followed him in death, and, conformably to sacred precepts, once more mounted cheerfully his funeral pile. The king then, along with his princess, ascended beyond the sphere of Indra to the regions where all desires are for ever gratified, obtaining ever-during and unequalled happiness in heaven, the perfect felicity that is the rarely realised reward of conjugal fidelity [10].

Such, Maitreya, is the sin of conversing with a heretic, and such are the expiatory effects of bathing after the solemn sacrifice of a horse, as I have narrated them to you. Let therefore a man carefully avoid the discourse or contact of an unbeliever, especially at seasons of devotion, and when engaged in the performance of religious rites preparatory to a sacrifice. If it be necessary that a wise man should look at the sun, after beholding one who has neglected his domestic ceremonies for a month, how much greater need must there be of expiation after encountering one who has wholly abandoned the Vedas? one who is supported by infidels, or who disputes the doctrines of holy writ? Let not a person treat with even the civility of speech, heretics, those who do forbidden acts, pretended saints, scoundrels, sceptics [11], and hypocrites. Intercourse with such iniquitous wretches, even at a distance, all association with schismatics, defiles; let a man therefore carefully avoid them.

These, Maitreya, are the persons called naked, the meaning of which term you desired to have explained. Their very looks vitiate the performance of an ancestral oblation; speaking to then destroys religious merit for a whole day. These are the unrighteous heretics to whom a man must not give shelter, and speaking to whom effaces whatever merit he may that day have obtained. Men, indeed, fall into hell as the consequence of only conversing with those who unprofitably assume the twisted hair, and shaven crown; with those who feed without offering food to gods, spirits, and guests; and those who are excluded from the presentation of cakes, and libations of water, to the manes.


  • 338:1 The situation chosen for the first appearance of the heresy agrees well enough with the great prevalence of the Jain faith in the west of India in the eleventh and twelfth centuries (As. Res. XVI. 318), or perhaps a century earlier, and is a circumstance of some weight in investigating the date of the Vishnu Purana.
  • 338:2 A bunch of peacock's feathers is still an ordinary accompaniment of a Jain mendicant. According to the Hindi poem, the Prithu Rai Charitra, it was borne by the Buddhist Amara Sinha; but that work is not, perhaps, very good authority for Bauddha observances, at least of an ancient date.
  • 339:3 In this and the preceding contradictions it is probable that the writer refers, although not with much precision, to the sceptical tenets of the Jainas, whence they are called commonly Syadvadis, assertors of probabilities, or of what may be. These usually form seven categories, or, 1. a thing is; 2. it is not; 3. it is, and it is not; 4. it is not definable; 5. it is, but is not definable; 6. it is not, neither is it definable; 7. it is, and it is not, and is not definable. Hence the Jains are also termed Saptavadis and Saptabhangis, assertors and oppugners of seven propositions. As. Res. XVII. 271; and Trans. Royal As. Soc. I. 555.
  • 339:4 Here is farther confirmation of the Jains being intended by our text, as the term Arhat is more particularly applied to them, although it is also used by the Buddhists.
  • 340:5 We have therefore the Bauddhas noticed as a distinct set. If the author wrote from a personal knowledge of Buddhists in India, he could not have written much later than the 10th or 11th century.
  • 340:6 That is, according to the commentator, a S'raddha may be performed for a man who is abroad by any of his kinsmen who are tarrying at home; it will be of equal benefit to him as if he offered it himself; he will equally eat of the consecrated food.
  • 340:7 We have in these passages, no doubt, allusion to the Varhaspatyas, or followers of Vrihaspati, who seem to have been numerous and bold at some period anterior to the 14th century. As. Res. XVI. 5.
  • 341:8 We may have in this conflict of the orthodox divinities and heretical Daityas some covert allusion to political troubles, growing out of religious differences, and the final predominance of Brahmanism. Such occurrences seem to have preceded the invasion of India by the Mohammedans, and prepared the way for their victories.
  • 344:9 There is a play upon the word Bali, which means 'tribute,' or 'fragments of a meal scattered abroad to the birds,' &c.
  • 344:10 The legend is peculiar to the Vishnu Purana, although the doctrine it inculcates is to be found elsewhere.
  • 345:11 Haitukas, 'causalists;' either the followers of the Nyaya or 'logical' philosophy, or Bauddhas, those who take nothing upon authority, and admit nothing that cannot be proved; or it is explained, those who by argument cast a doubt upon the efficacy of acts of devotion.


book 4


Dynasties of kings. Origin of the solar dynasty from Brahma. Sons of the Manu Vaivaswata. Transformations of Ila or Sudyumna. Descendants of the sons of Vaivaswat; those of Nedishtha. Greatness of Marutta. Kings of Vais'ali. Descendants of S'aryati. Legend of Raivata; his daughter Revati married to Balarama.

MAITREYA.–Venerable preceptor, you have explained to me the perpetual and occasional ceremonies which are to be performed by those righteous individuals who are diligent in their devotions; and you have also described to me the duties which devolve upon the several castes, and on the different orders of the human race. I have now to request you will relate to me the dynasties of the kings who have ruled over the earth [1].

PARAS'ARA.–I will repeat to you, Maitreya, an account of the family of Manu, commencing with Brahma, and graced by a number of religious, magnanimous, and heroic princes. Of which it is said, “The lineage of him shall never be extinct, who daily calls to mind the race of

Manu, originating with Brahma [2].” Listen therefore, Maitreya, to the entire series of the princes of this family, by which all sin shall be effaced.

Before the evolution of the mundane egg, existed Brahma, who was Hiranyagarbha, the form of that supreme Brahma which consists of Vishnu as identical with the Rig, Yajur, and Sama Vedas; the primeval, uncreated cause of all worlds. From the right thumb of Brahma was born the patriarch Daksha [3]; his daughter was Aditi, who was the mother of the sun. The Manu Vaivaswata was the son of the celestial luminary; and his sons were Ikshwaku, Nriga, Dhrishta, S'aryati, Narishyanta, Prans'u, Nabhaga, Nedishta, Karusha, and Prishadhra [4].

Before their birth, the Manu being desirous of sons, offered a sacrifice for that purpose to Mitra and Varuna; but the rite being deranged, through an irregularity of the ministering priest, a daughter, Ila, was produced [5]. Through the favour of the two divinities, however, her sex was changed, and she became a man, named Sudyumna. At a subsequent period, in consequence of becoming subject to the effects of a malediction once pronounced by S'iva, Sudyumna was again transformed to a woman in the vicinity of the hermitage of Budha, the son of the deity of the moon. Budha saw and espoused her, and had by her a son named Pururavas. After his birth, the illustrious Rishis, desirous of restoring Sudyumna to his sex, prayed to the mighty Vishnu, who is the essence of the four Vedas, of mind, of every thing, and of nothing; and who is in the form of the sacrificial male; and through his favour Ila once more became Sudyumna, in which character he had three sons, Utkala, Gaya, and Vinata [6].

In consequence of his having been formerly a female, Sudyumna was excluded from any share in his paternal dominions; but his father, at the suggestion of Vas'ishtha, bestowed upon him the city Pratishthana [7], and he gave it to Pururavas.

Of the other sons of the Manu, Prishadhra, in consequence of the crime of killing a cow, was degraded to the condition of a S'udra [8]. From Karusha descended the mighty warriors termed Karushas (the sovereigns of the north [9]). The son of Nedishtha, named Nabhaga, became a Vais'ya [10]: his son was Bhalandana [11]; whose son was the celebrated Vatsapri [12]: his son was Pransu; whose son was Prajani [13]; whose son was Khanitra [14]; whose son was the very valiant Chakshupa [15]; whose son was Vins'a [16]; whose son was Vivins'ati [17]; whose son was Khaninetra; whose son was the powerful, wealthy, and valiant Karandhama [18]; whose son was Avikshi (or Avikshit [19]); whose son was the mighty Marutta, of whom this well known verse is recited; “There never was beheld on earth a sacrifice equal to the sacrifice of Marutta: all the implements and utensils were made of gold. Indra was intoxicated with the libations of Soma juice, and the Brahmans were enraptured with the magnificent donations they received. The winds of heaven encompassed the rite as guards, and the assembled gods attended to behold it [20].” Marutta was a Chakravartti, or universal monarch: he had a son named Narishyanta [21]; his son was Dama [22]; his son was Rajyavarddhana; his son was Sudhriti; his son was Nara; his son was Kevala; his son was Bandhumat; his son was Vegavat; his son was Budha [23]; his son was Trinavindu, who had a daughter named Ilavila [24]. The celestial nymph Alambusha becoming enamoured of Trinavindu, bore him a son named Vis'ala, by whom the city Vaisali was founded [25].

The son of the first king of Vais'ali was Hemachandra; his son was Suchandra; his son was Dhumras'wa; his son was Srinjaya [26]; his son was Sahadeva [27]; his son was Kris'as'wa; his son was Somadatta, who celebrated ten times the sacrifice of a horse; his son was Janamejaya; and his son was Sumati [28]. These were the kings of Vais'ali; of whom is said, “By the favour of Trinavindu all the monarchs of Vais'ali were long lived, magnanimous, equitable, and valiant.”

S'aryati, the fourth son of the Manu, had a daughter named Sukanya, who was married to the holy sage Chyavana [29]: he had also a righteous son, called Anartta. The son of the latter was Revata [30], who ruled over the country called after his father Anartta, and dwelt at the capital denominated Kus'asthali [31]. The son of this prince was Raivata or Kakudmin, the eldest of a hundred brethren. He had a very lovely daughter, and not finding any one worthy of her hand, he repaired with her to the region of Brahma to consult the god where a fit bridegroom was to be met with. When he arrived, the quiristers Haha, Huhu, and others, were singing before Brahma; and Raivata, waiting till they had finished, imagined the ages that elapsed during their performance to be but as a moment. At the end of their singing, Raivata prostrated himself before Brahma, and explained his errand. “Whom should you wish for a son-in-law?” demanded Brahma; and the king mentioned to him various persons with whom he could be well pleased. Nodding his head gently, and graciously smiling, Brahma said to him, “Of those whom you have named the third or fourth generation no longer survives, for many successions of ages have passed away whilst you were listening to our songsters: now upon earth the twenty-eighth great age of the present Manu is nearly finished, and the Kali period is at hand. You must therefore bestow this virgin gem upon some other husband, for you are now alone, and your friends, your ministers, servants, wife, kinsmen, armies, and treasures, have long since been swept away by the hand of time.” Overcome with astonishment and alarm, the Raja then said to Brahma, “Since I am thus circumstanced, do thou, lord, tell me unto whom the maiden shall be given:” and the creator of the world, whose throne is the lotus, thus benignantly replied to the prince, as he stood bowed and humble before him: “The being of whose commencement, course, and termination, we are ignorant; the unborn and omnipresent essence of all things; he whose real and infinite nature and essence we do not know–is the supreme Vishnu. He is time, made up of moments and hours and years; whose influence is the source of perpetual change. He is the universal form of all things, from birth to death. He is eternal, without name or shape. Through the favour of that imperishable being am I the agent of his power in creation: through his anger is Rudra the destroyer of the world: and the cause of preservation, Purusha, proceeds also from him. The unborn having assumed my person creates the world; in his own essence he provides for its duration; in the form of Rudra he devours all things; and with the body of Ananta he upholds them. Impersonated as Indra and the other gods he is the guardian of mankind; and as the sun and moon he disperses darkness. Taking upon himself the nature of fire he bestows warmth and maturity; and in the condition of the earth nourishes all beings. As one with air he gives activity to existence; and as one with water he satisfies all wants: whilst in the state of ether, associated with universal aggregation, he furnishes space for all objects. He is at once the creator, and that which is created; the preserver, and that which is preserved; the destroyer, and, as one with all things, that which is destroyed; and, as the indestructible, he is distinct from these three vicissitudes. In him is the world; he is the world; and he, the primeval self-born, is again present in the world. That mighty Vishnu, who is paramount over all beings, is now in a portion of himself upon the earth. That city Kus'asthali which was formerly your capital, and rivalled the city of the immortals, is now known as Dwaraka [32], and there reigns a portion of that divine being in the person of Baladeva; to him, who appears as a man, present her as a wife: he is a worthy bridegroom for this excellent damsel, and she is a suitable bride for him.”

Being thus instructed by the lotus-born divinity, Raivata returned with his daughter to earth, where he found the race of men dwindled in stature, reduced in vigour, and enfeebled in intellect. Repairing to the city of Kus'asthali, which he found much altered, the wise monarch bestowed his unequalled daughter on the wielder of the ploughshare, whose breast was as fair and radiant as crystal. Beholding the damsel of excessively lofty height, the chief, whose banner is a palm-tree, shortened her with the end of his ploughshare, and she became his wife. Balarama having espoused, agreeably to the ritual, Revati, the daughter of Raivata, the king retired to the mountain Himalaya, and ended his days in devout austerities [33].


  • 347:1 The complete series of the different dynasties is found elsewhere only in the Vayu, the Brahmanda (which is the same), the Matsya, and the Bhagavata Puranas. The Brahma P. and the Hari Vans'a, the Agni, Linga, Kurma, and Garuda Puranas have lists of various extent, but none beyond the families of Pandu and Krishna. The Markandeya contains an account of a few of the kings of the solar dynasty alone; and the Padma, of a part of the solar and lunar princes only, besides accounts of individuals. In the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and in the other Puranas, occasional short genealogies and notices of individual princes occur. In general there is a tolerable conformity, but this is not invariably the case, as we shall have occasion to observe.
  • 348:2 In the historical passages of all the Puranas in which such occur, and especially in the Vishnu and Vayu, verses, apparently the fragments of a more ancient narrative, are frequently cited. It may also be noticed, as a peculiarity of this part of the Purana, that the narration is in prose.
  • 348:3 Daksha is elsewhere said to have been one of the mind-born sons of Brahma, or to have been the son of the Prachetasas: see <page 115>. n. .
  • 348:4 According to the nomenclature sometimes followed, and as we shall have reason to conclude intended in this place, there are ten sons of Manu. The commentator regards them, however, as but nine, considering Nabhaga-nedishta but one name, or Nedishta the father of Nabhaga. The number is generally stated to be nine, although there is some variety in the names, particularly in this name, which occurs Nabhagadishta, Nabhagarishtha; and also separated, as Nabhaga, Nabhaga, or Nabhaga; Nedishta, Dishta, and Arishta: the latter, as in the Kurma, distinctly stated, ###. Again, ### Brahma P. The commentator on the Hari Vans'a quotes the Vedas for Nabhagadishta: ### but the name occurs as Nabhanedishtha in the Aitareya Brahmana of the Rigveda, where a story is told of his being excluded from all share of his inheritance, on the plea of his being wholly devoted to a religious life. See also As. Res. VIII. 384. The name as ordinarily written, Na-bhaga, 'no-share,' has nevertheless an obvious connexion with the legend. The name of Nriga is found only in our text, the Padma, and the Bhagavata: the Vayu has Najava. Prans'u is also the reading of the Vayu and Agni, but not of the rest, which have Vena, Vanya, Danda, Kus'anabha or Kavi, in its place. The Mahabharata, Adi P., p. 113, has Vena, Dhrishnu, Narishyanta, Nabhaga, Ikshwaku, Karusha, S'aryati, Ila, Prishadhra, and Nabhagarishta. The Padma P., in the Patala Khanda, says there were 'ten,' and names them Ikshwaku, Nriga, Dishta, Dhrishta, Karusha, S'aryati, Narishyanta, Prishadhra, Nabhaga, and Kavi.
  • 349:5 'That sacrifice being wrongly offered, through the improper invocations of the Hotri.' It is also read 'frustrated.' This is rather a brief and obscure allusion to what appears to be an ancient legend, and one that has undergone various modifications. According to the Matsya, no change of sex took place in the first instance. The eldest son of Manu was Ida or Ila, whom his father appointed sovereign of the seven Dwipas. In his progress round his dominions, Ila came to the forest of S'ambhu or S'iva; entering into which, he was changed to a female, Ila, agreeably to a promise made formerly by S'iva to Parvati, who had been once unseasonably broken in upon by some sages, that such a transformation should be inflicted on every male who trespassed upon the sacred grove. After a season, the brothers of Ila sought for him, and finding him thus metamorphosed, applied to Vas'ishtha, their father's priest, to know the cause. He explained it to them, and directed them to worship S'iva and his bride. They did so, accordingly; and it was announced by the deities, that, upon the performance of an As'wamedha by Ikshwaku, Ila should become a Kimpurusha, named Sudyumna, and that he should be a male one month, and a female another month, alternately. The Vayu, which is followed by most of the other authorities, states, that upon Manu's offering their share of the sacrifice to Mitra and Varuna, instead of a boy, a girl was born: according to the Vedas. Manu desired her to follow him; whence her name Ila (from ila or ida, 'come'. There, however, Manu propitiates Mitra and Varuna, and the girl Ila is changed into the boy Ila or Sudyumna by their favour: as the Markandeya. Sudyumna's subsequent change to a female again, is told much as in the Matsya; but his being alternately male and female is not mentioned in the Vayu any more than it is in our text. The Bhagavata agrees in that respect with the Matsya, but it has evidently embellished the earlier part of the legend by the introduction of another character, S'raddha, the wife of the Manu. It is said that it was by her instigation, as she was desirous of having a girl, that the ministering Brahmans altered the purpose of the rite, in consequence of which a girl, instead of a boy, was born. The similarity of the name has induced the learned author of the Origin of Pagan Idolatry to conceive that he has found the Ila of the Hindus in the Il or Ilus of the Phoenicians. “The Phoenician Il is the masculine Ila of the Hindus and Indo-Scythae, and Ila was a title of Manu or Buddha, who was preserved in the ark at the time of the deluge:” I. 156: and he thence concludes that Ila must be Noah; whilst other circumstances in his Phoenician history identify [p. 350] him with Abraham. I. 159. Again; “Ilus or Il is a regular Cuthic name of Buddha, which the Phoenicians, I have no doubt, brought with them; for Buddha or Manu, in the character of Ina, is said to have married his own daughter, who is described as the offspring of an ancient personage that was preserved in an ark at the time of the deluge.” I. 223. Now whatever connexion there may be between the names of Ila, Il, Ilus, Ilium, Ila 'the earth,' and Ilos 'slime,' there is no very obvious resemblance between the Pauranik legends of Ila and the Mosaic record; nor do the former authorize the particulars of Ina stated by Mr. Faber, on the authority probably of Col. Wilford. The Manu Satyavrata, who was preserved in the ark, is never called Ila, nor is he the father of Ila. Buddha was not so preserved, nor is Ila ever a title of Buddha. Budha (not Buddha), the husband of Ila, never appears as her father, nor is he a Manu, nor is she the daughter of any ancient personage preserved in an ark. There is not therefore, as far as I am aware, any circumstance in the history of Ila or Ila which can identify either with Abraham or Noah.
  • 350:6 The Matsya calls the name of the third Haritas'wa; the Vayu &c., Vinatas'wa; the Markandeya, Vinaya; and the Bhagavata, Vimala. All but the last agree in stating that Utkala (Orissa) and Gaya in Behar are named after the two first. The Matsya calls the third the sovereign of the east, along with the Kauravas; the Vayu makes him king of the west. The Bhagavata calls them all three rulers of the south.
  • 350:7 The authorities agree in this location of Sudyumna. Pratishthana was situated on the eastern side of the confluence of the Ganges and Jumna; the country between which rivers was the territory of the direct male descendants of Vaivaswata. In the Hari Vaasa it is said that he [p. 351] reigned in Pratishthana, having killed Dhrishtaka, Ambarisha, and Danda. M. Langlois had no doubt 79-4: in his copy, as he renders it, 'Il donna naissance a trois enfans;' though, as he observes, Hamilton had called these the sons of Ikshwaku. The Brahma P. has not this passage, nor does the commentator on the Hari Vans'a give any explanation; neither does any thing of the kind occur elsewhere. We have however, subsequently in the text, Danda named as a son of Ikshwaku; and in the Padma P., Srishti Khanda, and in the Uttara Khanda of the , we have a detailed narrative of Danda, the son of Ikshwaku, whose country was laid waste by an imprecation of Bhargava, whose daughter that prince had violated. His kingdom became in consequence the Dandaka forest. The Mahabharata, Dana Dharma, alludes to the same story. If therefore the preferable reading of the Hari Vans'a be Suta, 'son,' it is at variance with all other authorities. At the same time it must be admitted, that the same work is singular in asserting any collision between Danda and his brothers and Sudyumna, and the passage seems to have grown out of that careless and ignorant compilation which the Hari Vans'a so perpetually presents. It is not improbably a gratuitous perversion of this passage in the Matsya; 'Ambarisha was the son of Nabhaga; and Dhrishta had three sons.'
  • 351:8 This story has been modified apparently at different periods, according to a progressive horror of the crime. Our text simply states the fact. The Vayu says he was hungry, and not only killed, but ate the cow of his spiritual preceptor, Chyavana. In the Markandeya he is described as being out a hunting, and killing the cow of the father of Babhravya, mistaking it for a Gavaya or Gayal. The Bhagavata, as usual, improves upon the story, and says that Prishadhra was appointed by his Guru Vas'ishtha to protect his cattle. In the night a tiger made his way into the fold, and the prince in his haste, and in the dark, killed the cow upon which he had fastened, instead of the tiger. In all the authorities the effect is the same, and the imprecation of the offended sage degraded Prishadhra to the caste of a S'udra. According to the Bhagavata, the prince led a life of devotion, and perishing in the flame of a forest, obtained final liberation. The obvious purport of this legend, and of some that follow, is to account for the origin of the different castes from one common ancestor.
  • 351:9 The Bhagavata also places the Karushas in the north; but the country of the Karushas is usually placed upon the Paripatra or Vindhya mountains (see <page 186>. n. ).
  • 352:10 The Vayu has Nabhaga, the son of Arishta; the Markandeya has, the son of Dishta; the Bhagavata also calls him the son of Dishta. According to that authority, he became a Vais'ya by his actions. The other Puranas generally agree that the descendants of this person became Vais'yas; but the Matsya and Vayu do not notice it. The Markandeya details a story of Nabhaga's carrying off and marrying the daughter of a Vais'ya; in consequence of which he was degraded, it is said, to the same caste, and deprived of his share of the patrimonial sovereignty, which his son and successor recovered. The Brahma P. and Hari Vans'a assert that two sons of Nabhagarishta again became Brahmans; but the duties of royalty imply the Kshatriya caste of his posterity; and the commentator on our text observes that the son of Nabhaga was born before his father's degradation, and consequently the race continued Kshatriya; an assertion unsupported by any authority, and it must therefore appear that .a race of Vais'ya princes was recognised by early traditions.
  • 352:11 Bhanandana: Bhagavata.
  • 352:12 Vatsapriti: Bhagavata. Vatsasri: Markandeya. The latter has a story of the destruction of the Daitya Kujambha by Viduratha, the father of Sunanda, the wife a of Vatsasri. The Vayu has Sahasrari.
  • 352:13 Pramati: Bhagavata.
  • 352:14 According to the Markandeya, the priests of the royal family conspired against this prince, and were put to death by his ministers.
  • 352:15 Chakshusha: Bhagavata.
  • 352:16 Vira: Markandeya.
  • 352:17 Rambha precedes Vivins'ati: Bhagav.
  • 352:18 Balas'wa or Balakas'wa or Subalas'wa, according to the Markandeya, which explains his name Karandhama to denote his creation of an army, when besieged by his revolted tributaries, by breathing on his hands.
  • 352:19 Both forms occur, as the commentator observes. The Markandeya has a long story of this prince's carrying off the daughter of Vis'ala, king of Vaidis'a. Being attacked and captured by his confederated rivals, he was rescued by his father, but was so much mortified by his disgrace, that he vowed never to marry nor reign. The princess, also becoming an ascetic, met with him in the woods, and they were finally espoused; but Avikshit kept his other vow, and relinquished his succession in favour of his son, who succeeded to the kingdoms of both Karandhama and Vis'ala,
  • 353:20 Most of our authorities quote the same words, with or without addition. The Vayu adds, that the sacrifice was conducted by Samvartta, whom the Bhagavata terms a Yogi, the son of Angiras; and that Vrihaspati was so jealous of the splendour of the rite, that a great quarrel ensued between him and Samvartta. How it involved the king is not told, but apparently in consequence, Marutta, with his kindred and friends, was taken by Samvartta to heaven. According to the Markandeya, Marutta was so named from the paternal benediction, 'May the winds be thine,' or 'be propitious to thee.' He reigned, agreeably to that record, 85000 years.
  • 353:21 Omitted in the Bhagavata.
  • 353:22 A rather chivalric and curious story is told of Dama in the Markandeya. His bride Sumana, daughter of the king Das'arha, was rescued by him from his rivals. One of them, Bapushmat, afterwards killed Marutta, who had retired into the woods, after relinquishing his crown to his son. Dama in retaliation killed Bapushmat, and made the Pinda, or obsequial offering to his father, of his flesh: with the remainder he fed the Brahmans of Rakshasa origin: such were the kings of the solar race.
  • 353:23 The Bhagavata has Bandhavat, Oghavat, and Bandha.
  • 353:24 The Vayu and Bhagavata both add that she was the wife of Vis'ravas, and mother of Kuvera. In the Linga P. she is said to have been the wife of Pulastya, and mother of Vis'ravas. The weight of authority is in favour of the former statement. See <page 83>. n. .
  • 353:25 The Bhagavata names three sons, Vis'ala, S'unyabandhu, and Dhumaketu. Vais'ali is a city of considerable renown in Indian tradition, but its site is a subject of some uncertainty. Part of the difficulty arises from confounding it with Vis'ala, another name of Ujayin; ### Hemachandra. Also in the Megha Duta; 'Having arrived at Avanti, proceed to the illustrious city before indicated, [p. 354] Vis'ala.' 'To the city Ujjayini, named Vis'ala. Comment. Vais'ali however appears to be very differently situated. According to the Buddhists, amongst whom it is celebrated as a chief seat of the labours of S'akhya and his first disciples, it is the same as Prayaga or Allahabad; but the Ramayana (I. 45) places it much lower down, on the north bank of the Ganges, nearly opposite to the mouth of the Sone; and it was therefore in the modern district of Saran, as Hamilton (Genealogies of the Hindus) conjectured. In the fourth century it was known to the Chinese traveller Fa-hian as Phi-she-li, on the right bank of the Gandak, not far from its confluence with the Ganges. Account of the Foe-kue-ki: Trans. R. As. Soc. no. IX. p. 128.
  • 354:26 Dhumraksha and Samyama: Bhagavata.
  • 354:27 The text is clear enough; but, as elsewhere noticed (Hindu Theatre, II. 296), the commentator on the Bhagavata interprets the parallel passage, very differently, or 'Kris'as'wa with Devaja,' or, as some copies read, Devaka or Daivata, as if there were two sons of Samyama.
  • 354:28 The Bhagavata changes the order of these two, making Janamejaya the son of Sumati; or Pramati, Vayu. Sumati, king of Vais'ali, is made cotemporary with Rama: Ramayana, I.47. 17. The dynasty of Vais'ala kings is found only in our text, the Vayu, and Bhagavata. Hamilton places them from 1920 to 1240 B. C.; but the latter is incompatible with the date he assigns to Rama, of 1700 B. C. The co-temporary existence of Sumati and Rama, however, is rather unintelligible, as, according to our lists, the former is the thirty-fourth, and the latter the sixtieth, from Vaivaswata Manu.
  • 354:29 The circumstances of their marriage, of Chyavana's appropriating a share of offerings to the Aswini Kumaras, and of sis quarrel with Indra in consequence, are old in detail in the Bhagavata and Padma Puranas.
  • 354:30 In most of the other Puranas, Reva or Raiva. The Linga and Matsya insert Rochamana before him; and the Bhagavata adds to Anartta, Uttanavarhish and Bhurishena.
  • 355:31 The Bhagavata ascribes the foundation of Kus'asthali to Revata, who built it, it is said, within the sea. The subsequent legend shews that it was the same, or on the same spot, as Dwaraka; and Anartta was therefore part of Cutch or Guzerat. See <page 190>. n. .
  • 356:32 So called from its many Dwaras or gateways: ### Vayu.
  • 357:33 The object of this legend, which is told by most of the authorities, is obviously to account for the anachronism of making Balarama cotemporary with Raivata; the one early in the Treta age, and the other at the close of the Dwapara.



Dispersion of Revata's descendants: those of Dhrishta: those of Nabhaga. Birth of Ikshwaku, the son of Vaivaswata: his sons. Line of Vikukshi. Legend of Kakutstha; of Dhundhumara; of Yuvanas'wa; of Mandhatri: his daughters married to Saubhari.

PARAS'ARA.–Whilst Kakudmin, surnamed Raivata, was absent on his visit to the region of Brahma, the evil spirits or Rakshasas named Punyajanas destroyed his capital Kus'asthali. His hundred brothers, through dread of these foes, fled in different directions; and the Kshatriyas, their descendants, settled in many countries [1].

From Dhrishta, the son of the Manu, sprang the Kshatriya race of Dharshtaka [2].

The son of Nabhaga was Nabhaga [3]; his son was

Ambarisha [4]; his son was Virupa [5]; his son was Prishadas'wa; his son was Rathinara, of whom it is sung, “These, who were Kshatriyas by birth, the heads of the family of Rathinara, were called Angirasas (or sons of Angiras), and were Brahmans as well as Kshatriyas [6].”

Ikshwaku was born from the nostril of the Manu, as he happened to sneeze [7]. He had a hundred sons, of whom the three most distinguished were Vikukshi, Nimi, and Danda. Fifty of the rest, under Sakuni, were the protectors of the northern countries. Forty-eight were the princes of the south [8].

Upon one of the days called Ashtaka [9], Ikshwaku being desirous of celebrating ancestral obsequies, ordered Vikukshi to bring him flesh suitable for the offering. The prince accordingly went into the forest, and killed many deer, and other wild animals, for the celebration. Being weary with the chase, and being hungered, he sat down, and ate a hare; after which, being refreshed, he carried the rest of the game to his father. Vas'ishtha, the family priest of the house of Ikshwaku, was summoned to consecrate the food; but he declared that it was impure, in consequence of Vikukshi's having eaten a hare from amongst it (making it thus, as it were, the residue of his meal). Vikukshi was in consequence abandoned by his offended father, and the epithet S'as'ada (hare-eater) was affixed to him by the Guru. On the death of Ikshwaku, the dominion of the earth descended to S'as'ada [10], who was succeeded by his son Puranjaya.

In the Treta age a violent war [11] broke out between the gods and the Asuras, in which the former were vanquished. They consequently had recourse to Vishnu for assistance, and propitiated him by their adorations. The eternal ruler of the universe, Narayana, had compassion upon them, and said, “What you desire is known unto me. Hear how your wishes shall be fulfilled. There is an illustrious prince named Puranjaya, the son of a royal sage; into his person I will infuse a portion of myself, and having descended upon earth I will in his person subdue all your enemies. Do you therefore endeavour to secure the aid of Puranjaya for the destruction of your foes.” Acknowledging with reverence the kindness of the deity, the immortals quitted his presence, and repaired to Puranjaya, whom they thus addressed: “Most renowned Kshatriya, we have come to thee to solicit thy alliance against our enemies: it will not become thee to disappoint our hopes.” The prince replied, “Let this your Indra, the monarch of the spheres, the god of a hundred sacrifices, consent to carry me upon his shoulders, and I will wage battle with your adversaries as your ally.” The gods and Indra readily answered, “So be it;” and the latter assuming the shape of a bull, the prince mounted upon his shoulder. Being then filled with delight, and invigorated by the power of the eternal ruler of all movable and immovable things, he destroyed in the battle that ensued all the enemies of the gods; and because he annihilated the demon host whilst seated upon the shoulder (or the hump, Kakud) of the bull, he thence obtained the appellation Kakutstha (seated on the hump [12]).

The son of Kakutstha was Anenas [13], whose son was Prithu, whose son was Viswagas'wa [14], whose son was Ardra [15], whose son was Yuvanas'wa, whose son was S'ravasta, by whom the city of S'ravasti [16] was founded. The son of S'ravasta was Vrihadas'wa, whose son was Kuvalayas'wa. This prince, inspired with the spirit of Vishnu, destroyed the Asura Dhundhu, who had harassed the pious sage Uttanka; and he was thence entitled Dhundhumara [17]. In his conflict with the demon the king was attended by his sons, to the number of twenty-one thousand; and all these, with the exception of only three, perished in the engagement, consumed by the fiery breath of Dhundhu. The three who survived were Dridhas'wa, Chandras'wa, and Kapilas'wa; and the son and successor of the elder of these was Haryyas'wa; his son was Nikumbha; his son was Sanhatas'wa; his son was Kris'as'wa; his son was Prasenajit; and his son was another Yuvanas'wa [18].

Yuvanas'wa had no son, at which he was deeply grieved. Whilst residing in the vicinage of the holy Munis, he inspired them with pity for his childless condition, and they instituted a religious rite to procure him progeny. One night during its performance the sages having placed a vessel of consecrated water upon the altar had retired to repose. It was past midnight, when the king awoke, exceedingly thirsty; and unwilling to disturb any of the holy inmates of the dwelling, he looked about for something to drink. In his search he came to the water in the jar, which had been sanctified and endowed with prolific efficacy by sacred texts, and he drank it. When the Munis rose, and found that the water had been drunk, they inquired who had taken it, and said, “The queen that has drunk this water shall give birth to a mighty and valiant son.” “It was I,” exclaimed the Raja, “who unwittingly drank the water!” and accordingly in the belly of Yuvanas'wa was conceived a child, and it grew, and in due time it ripped open the right side of the Raja, and was born, and the Raji, did not die. Upon the birth of the child, “Who will be its nurse?” said the Munis; when, Indra, the king of the gods, appeared, and said, “He shall have me for his nurse” (mam dhasyati); and hence the boy was named Mandhatri. Indra put his fore finger into the mouth of the infant, who sucked it, and drew from it heavenly nectar; and he grew up, and became a mighty monarch, and reduced the seven continental zones under his dominion. And here a verse is recited; “From the rising to the going down of the sun, all that is irradiated by his light, is the land of Mandhatri, the son of Yuvanas'wa [19].”

Mandhatri married Vindumati, the daughter of S'as'avindu, and had by her three sons, Purukutsa, Ambarisha, and Muchukunda; he had also fifty daughters [20].

The devout sage Saubhari, learned in the Vedas, had spent twelve years immersed in a piece of water; the sovereign of the fish in which, named Sammada, of large bulk, had a very numerous progeny. His children and his grandchildren were wont to frolic around him in all directions, and he lived amongst them happily, playing with them night and day. Saubhari the sage, being disturbed in his devotions by their sports, contemplated the patriarchal felicity of the monarch of the lake, and reflected, “How enviable is this creature, who, although horn in a degraded state of being, is ever thus sporting cheerfully amongst his offspring and their young. Of a truth he awakens in my mind the wish to taste such pleasure, and I also will make merry amidst my children.” Having thus resolved, the Muni came up hastily from the water, and, desirous of entering upon the condition of a householder, went to Mandhatri to demand one of his daughters as his wife. As soon as he was informed of the arrival of the sage, the king rose up from his throne, offered him the customary libation, and treated him with the most profound respect. Having taken a seat, Saubhari said to the Raja, “I have determined to marry: do you, king, give me one of your daughters as a wife: disappoint not my affection. It is not the practice of the princes of the race of Kakutstha to turn away from compliance with the wishes of those who come to them for succour. There are, O monarch, other kings of the earth to whom daughters have been born, but your family is above all renowned for observance. of liberality in your donations to those who ask your bounty. You have, O prince, fifty daughters; give one of them to me, that so I may be relieved from the anxiety I suffer through fear that my suit may be denied.”

When Mandhatri heard this request, and looked upon the person of the sage, emaciated by austerity and old age, he felt disposed to refuse his consent; but dreading to incur the anger and imprecation of the holy man, he was much perplexed, and, declining his head, was lost a while in thought. The Rishi, observing his hesitation, said, “On what, O Raja, do you meditate? I have asked for nothing which may not be readily accorded: and what is there that shall he unattainable to you, if my desires be gratified by the damsel whom you must needs give unto me?” To this, the king, apprehensive of his displeasure, answered and said, “Grave sir, it is the established usage of our house to wed our daughters to such persons only as they shall themselves select from suitors of fitting rank; and since this your request is not yet made known to my maidens, it is impossible to say whether it may be equally agreeable to them as it is to me. This is the occasion of my perplexity, and I am at a loss what to do.” This answer of the king was fully understood by the Rishi, who said to himself, “This is merely a device of the Raja to evade compliance with my suit: the has reflected that I am an old man, having no attractions for women, and not likely to be accepted by any of his daughters: even be it so; I will be a match for him:” and he then spake aloud, and said, “Since such is the custom, mighty prince, give orders that I be admitted into the interior of the palace. Should any of the maidens your daughters be willing to take me for a bridegroom, I will have her for my bride; if no one be willing, then let the blame attach alone to the years that I have numbered.” Having thus spoken, he was silent.

Mandhatri, unwilling to provoke the indignation of the Muni, was accordingly obliged to command the eunuch to lead the sage into the inner chambers; who, as he entered the apartments, put on a form and features of beauty far exceeding the personal charms of mortals, or even of heavenly spirits. His conductor, addressing the princesses, said to them, “Your father, young ladies, sends you this pious sage, who has demanded of him a bride; and the Raja has promised him, that he will not refuse him any one of you who shall choose him for her husband.” When the damsels heard this, and looked upon the person of the Rishi, they were equally inspired with passion and desire, and, like a troop of female elephants disputing the favours of the master of the herd, they all contended for the choice. “Away, away, sister!” said each to the other; “this is my election, he is my choice; he is not a meet bridegroom for you; he has been created by Brahma on purpose for me, as I have been created in order to become his wife: he has been chosen by me before you; you have no right to prevent his becoming my husband.” In this way arose a violent quarrel amongst the daughters of the king, each insisting upon the exclusive election of the Rishi: and as the blameless sage was thus contended for by the rival princesses, the superintendent of the inner apartments, with a downcast look, reported to the king what had occurred. Perplexed more than ever by this information, the Raja exclaimed, “What is all this! and what am I to do now! What is it that I have said!” and at last, although with extreme reluctance, he was obliged to agree that the Rishi should marry all his daughters.

Having then wedded, agreeably to law, all the princesses, the sage took them home to his habitation, where he employed the chief of architects, Vis'wakarman, equal in taste and skill to Brahma himself, to construct separate palaces for each of his wives: he ordered him to provide each building with elegant couches and seats and furniture, and to attach to them gardens and groves, with reservoirs of water, where the wild-duck and the swan should sport amidst beds of lotus flowers. The divine artist obeyed his injunctions, and constructed splendid apartments for the wives of the Rishi; in which by command of Saubhari, the inexhaustible and divine treasure called Nanda [21] took up his permanent abode, and the princesses entertained all their guests and dependants with abundant viands of every description and the choicest quality.

After some period had elapsed, the heart of king Mandhatri yearned for his daughters, and he felt solicitous to know whether they were happily circumstanced. Setting off therefore on a visit to the hermitage of Saubhari, he beheld upon his arrival a row of beautiful crystal palaces, shining as brilliantly as the rays of the sun, and situated amidst lovely gardens, and reservoirs of pellucid water. Entering into one of these magnificent palaces, he found and embraced a daughter, and said to her, as the tears of affection and delight trembled in his eyes, “Dear child, tell me how it is with you. Are you happy here? or not? Does the great sage treat you with tenderness? or do you revert with regret to your early home?” The princess replied, “You behold, my father, how delightful a mansion I inhabit, surrounded by lovely gardens and lakes, where the lotus blooms, and the wild swans murmur. Here I have delicious viands, fragrant unguents, costly ornaments, splendid raiment, soft beds, and every enjoyment that affluence can procure. Why then should I call to memory the place of my birth? To your favour am I indebted for all that I possess. I have only one cause of anxiety, which is this; my husband is never absent from my dwelling: solely attached to me, he is always at my side; he never goes near my sisters; and I am concerned to think that they must feel mortified by his neglect: this is the only circumstance that gives me uneasiness.”

Proceeding to visit another of his daughters, the king, after embracing her, and sitting down, made the same inquiry, and received the same account of the enjoyments with which the princess was provided: there was also the same complaint, that the Rishi was wholly devoted to her, and paid no attention to her sisters. In every palace Mandhatri heard the same story from each of his daughters in reply to his questions; and with a heart overflowing with wonder and delight he repaired to the wise Saubhari, whom he found alone, and, after paying homage to him, thus addressed him: “Holy sage, I have witnessed this thy marvellous power; the like miraculous faculties I have never known any other to possess. How great is the reward of thy devout austerities!” Having thus saluted the sage, and been received by him with respect, the Raja resided with him for some time, partaking of the pleasures of the place, and then returned to his capital.

In the course of time the daughters of Mandhatri bore to Saubhari a hundred and fifty sons, and day by day his affection for his children became more intense, and his heart was wholly occupied, with the sentiment of self [22]. “These my sons,” he loved to think, “will charm me with their infant prattle; then they will learn to walk; they will then grow up to youth and to manhood: I shall see them married, and they will have children; and I may behold the children of those children.” By these and similar reflections, however, he perceived that his anticipations every day outstripped the course of time, and at last he exclaimed, “What exceeding folly is mine! there is no end to my desires. Though all I hope should come to pass for ten thousand or a hundred thousand years, still new wishes would spring up. When I have seen my infants walk; when I have beheld their youth, their manhood, their marriage, their progeny; still my expectations are unsatisfied, and my soul yearns to behold the descendants of their descendants. Shall I even see them, some other wish will be engendered; and when that is accomplished, how is the birth of fresh desires to he prevented? I have at last discovered that there is no end to hope, until it terminates in death; and that the mind which is perpetually engrossed by expectation, can never be attached to the supreme spirit. My mental devotions, whilst immersed in water, were interrupted by attachment to my friend the fish. The result of that connexion was my marriage; and insatiable desires are the consequences of my married life. The pain attendant upon the birth of my single body, is now augmented by the cares attached to fifty others, and is farther multiplied by the numerous children whom the princesses have borne to me. The sources of affliction will be repeatedly renewed by their children, and by their espousals, and by their progeny, and will be infinitely increased: a married life is a mine of individual anxiety. My devotions, first disturbed by the fish of the pool, have since been obstructed by temporal indulgence, and I have been beguiled by that desire for progeny which was communicated to me by association with Sammada. Separation from the world is the only path of the sage to final liberation: from commerce with mankind innumerable errors proceed. The ascetic who has accomplished a course of self-denial falls from perfection by contracting worldly attachments: how much more likely should one so fall whose observances are incomplete? My intellect has been a prey to the desire of married happiness; but I will now so exert myself for the salvation of my soul, that, exempt from human imperfections, I may be exonerated from human sufferings. To that end I will propitiate, by arduous penance, Vishnu, the creator of the universe, whose form is inscrutable, who is smaller than the smallest, larger than the largest, the source of darkness and of light, the sovereign god of gods. On his everlasting body, which is both discrete and indiscrete substance, illimitably mighty, and identical with the universe, may my mind, wholly free from sin, be ever steadily intent, so that I may be born no more. To him I fly for refuge; to that Vishnu, who is the teacher of teachers, who is one with all beings, the pure eternal lord of all, without beginning, middle, or end, and besides whom is nothing.”


  • 358:1 According to the Vayu, the brothers of Raivata founded a celebrated race called S'aryata, from S'aryati. The Brahma P. says they took refuge in secret places (gahana); for which the Hari Vans'a substitutes (parvata gana) mountains. The Vayu has neither, and says merely that they were renowned in all regions.
  • 358:2 So the Vayu, Linga, Agni, Brahma, and Hari Vans'a. The Matsya names three sons of Dhrishta, Dhrishtaketu, Chitranatha, and Ranadhrishta. The Bhagavata adds, that the sons of Dhrishta obtained Brahmanhood upon earth, though born Kshatriyas.
  • 358:3 But who is Nabhaga? for, as above observed, c. 1. n. 2, the son of the Manu is Nabhaga-nedishta, and there is in that case no such person as Nabhaga: on the other hand, if Nabhaga and Nedishta he distinct names, we have ten sons of Vaivaswata, as in the Bhagavata. The descendants of Nedishta, through his son Nabhaga, have been already specified; and after all, therefore, we must consider the text as intending a distinct person by the name Nabhaga; and such a name does occur in the lists of the Agni, Kurma, Matsya, and Bhagavata, unquestionably distinct from that with which it is also sometimes compounded. The Bhagavata repeats the legend of the Aitareya Brahmana, with some additions, and says that Nabhaga having protracted his period of study beyond the usual age, his brothers appropriated his share of the patrimony. On his applying for his portion, they consigned their father to him, by whose advice he assisted the descendants of Angiras in a sacrifice, and they presented him with all the wealth that was left at its termination. Rudra claimed it as his; and Nabhaga acquiescing, the god confirmed the gift, by which he became possessed of [p. 359] an equivalent for the loss of territory. Most of the authorities recognise but one name here, variously read either Nabhaga or Nabhaga, the father of Ambarisha. The Vayu, as well as the Bhagavata, concurs with the text.
  • 359:4 The Bhagavata considers Ambarisha as a king, who reigned apparently on the banks of the Yamuna. He is more celebrated as a devout worshipper of Vishnu, whose discus protected him from the wrath of Durvasas, and humbled that choleric saint, who was a portion of S'iva: a legend which possibly records a struggle between two sects, in which the votaries of Vishnu, headed by Ambarisha, triumphed.
  • 359:5 The Agni, Brahma, and Matsya stop with Ambarisha. The Vayu and Bhagavata proceed as in the text, only the latter adds to Virupa, Ketumat and S'ambhu.
  • 359:6 The same verse is cited in the Vayu, and affords an instance of a mixture of character, of which several similar cases occur subsequently. Kshatriyas by birth, become Brahmans by profession; and such persons are usually considered as Angirasas, followers or descendants of Angiras, who may have founded a school of warrior-priests. This is the obvious purport of the legend of Nabhaga's assisting the sons of Angiras to complete their sacrifice, referred to in a former note, although the same authority has devised a different explanation. Rathinara (or Rathitara, as read in some copies, as well as by the Bhagavata and Vayu) being childless, Angiras begot on his wife sons radiant with divine glory, who as the sons of the monarch by his wife were Kshatriyas, but were Brahmans through their actual father. This however is an afterthought, not warranted by the memorial verse cited in our text.
  • 359:7 So the Bhagavata.
  • 359:8 The Matsya says that Indra (Devarat) was born as Vikukshi, and that Ikshwaku had one hundred and fourteen other sons, who were kings of the countries south of Meru; and as many who reigned north of that mountain. The Vayu and most of the other authorities agree in the number of one hundred, of whom fifty, with S'akuni at their head, are placed in the north; and forty-eight in the south, according to the Vayu, of whom Vimati was the chief. The same authority specifies also Nimi and Danda as sons of Ikshwaku, as does the Bhagavata, with the addition of their reigning in the central regions. The distribution of the rest in [p. 360] that work is twenty-five in the west, as many in the east, and the rest elsewhere; that is, the commentator adds, north and south. It seems very probable that by these sons of Ikshwaku we are to understand colonies or settlers in various parts of India.
  • 360:9 See <page 322>, <page 323>.
  • 360:10 The Vayu states that he was king of Ayodhya, after the death of Ikshwaku. The story occurs in all the authorities, more or less in detail.
  • 360:11 The Vayu says it was in the war of the starling and the stork; a conflict between Vas'ishtha and Viswamitra, metamorphosed into birds, according to the Bhagavata; but that work assigns it to a different period, or the reign of Haris'chandra. If the tradition have any import, it may refer to the ensigns of the contending parties; for banners, with armorial devices, were, as we learn from the Mahabharata, invariably borne by princes and leaders.
  • 361:12 The Bhagavata adds, that he captured the city of the Asuras, situated in the west; whence his name Puranjaya, 'victor of the city:' he is also termed Paranjaya, 'vanquisher of foes:' he is also called Indravaha, 'borne by Indra.'
  • 361:13 Suyodhana: Matsya, Agni, Kurma.
  • 361:14 Vis'waka: Linga. Vis'wagandhi: Bhagav. Vishtaras'wa: Brahma P. and Hari V.
  • 361:15 Andhra: Vayu. Ayu: Agni. Chandra: Bhagavata.
  • 361:16 S'avasta and S'avasti: Bhagav. S'ravasti: Matsya, Linga, and Kurma, which also say that S'ravasti was in the country of Gaura, which is eastern Bengal; but it is more usually placed in Kos'ala, by which a part of Oude is commonly understood. In my Dictionary I have inserted S'ravanti, upon the authority of the Trikanda S'esha, but it is no doubt an error for S'ravasti; it is there also called Dharmapattana, being a city of some sanctity in the estimation of the Buddhists. It is termed by Fa-Hian, She-wei; by Hwan Tsang, She-lo-va-si-ti; and placed by both nearly in the site of Fyzabad in Oude. Account of the Foe-kue-ki.
  • 361:17 This legend is told in much more [p. 362] detail in the Vayu and Brahma Puranas. Dhundhu hid himself beneath a sea of sand, which Kuvalyas'wa and his sons dug up, undeterred by the flames which checked their progress, and finally destroyed most of them. The legend originates probably in the occurrence of some physical phenomenon, as an earthquake or volcano.
  • 362:18 The series of names agrees very well to Sanhatas'wa, called Varhanas'wa in the Bhagavata. We have there some variations, and some details not noticed in our text. The Vayu, Brahma, Agni, Linga, Matsya, and Kurma, ascribe two sons to Sanhatas'wa, whom the two first name Kris'as'wa and Akris'as'wa, and the rest Kris'as'wa and Ranas'wa. Senajit or Prasenajit is generally, though not always, termed the son of the younger brother; but the commentator on the Hari Vans'a calls him the son of Sanhatas'wa, whilst the Matsya, Agni, Linga, and Kurma omit him, and make Mandhatri the son of Ranas'wa. The mother of Prasenajit and the wife of Akris'as'wa or Sanhatas'wa, according to the different interpretations, was the daughter of Himavat, known as Drishadvati, the river so termed (<page 181>, n. .) The wife of Yuvanas'wa, according to the Vayu, or of Prasenajit, according to the Brahma, was Gauri, the daughter of Rantinara, who, incurring the imprecation of her husband, became the Bahuda river (<page 181>. n. ). The Brahma and Hari Vans'a call Yuvanas'wa her son; but in another place the Hari Vans'a contradicts itself, calling Gauri the daughter of Matimara, of the race of Puru, the mother of Mandhatri; here following apparently the Matsya, in which it is so stated. The Brahma P. is not guilty of the inconsistency. The Vayu of course gives the title to Mandhatri, with the addition that he was called Gaurika, after his mother. Mandhatri's birth from Gauri is the more remarkable, as it is incompatible with the usual legend given in our text and in the Bhagavata, which seems therefore to have been of subsequent origin, suggested by the etymology of the name. In the Bhagavata, Mandhatri is also named Trasadasyu, or the terrifier of thieves.
  • 363:19 The Vayu cites this same verse and another, with the remark, that they were uttered by those acquainted with the Puranas and with genealogies.
  • 363:20 The Brahma and Agni omit Ambarisha, for whom the Matsya substitutes Dharmasena. The following legend of Saubhari occurs elsewhere only in the Bhagavata, and there less in detail.
  • 366:21 The great Nidhi: a Nidhi is a treasure, of which there are several belonging to Kuvera; each has its guardian spirit, or is personified.
  • 367:22 Of Mamata, 'mineness;' the notion that wives, children, wealth, belong to an individual, and are essential to his happiness.



Saubhari and his wives adopt an ascetic life. Descendants of Mandhatri. Legend of Narmada and Purukutsa. Legend of Tris'anku. Bahu driven from his kingdom by the Haihayas and Talajanghas. Birth of Sagara: he conquers the barbarians, imposes upon them distinguishing usages, and excludes them from offerings to fire, and the study of the Vedas.

HAVING thus communed with himself, Saubhari abandoned his children, his home, and all his splendour, and, accompanied by his wives, entered the forest, where he daily practised the observances followed by the ascetics termed Vaikhanasas (or anchorets having families), until he had cleansed himself from all sin. When his intellect had attained maturity, he concentrated in his spirit the sacramental fires [1], and became a religious mendicant. Then having consigned all his acts to the supreme, he obtained the condition of Achyuta, which knows no change, and is not subject to the vicissitudes of birth, transmigration, or death. Whoever reads, or hears, or remembers, or understands, this legend of Saubhari, and his espousal of the daughters of Mandhatri, shall never, for eight successive births, be addicted to evil thoughts, nor shall he act unrighteously, nor shall his mind dwell upon improper objects, nor shall he be influenced by selfish attachments. The line of Mandhatri is now resumed.

The son of Ambarisha, the son of Mandhatri, was Yuvanas'wa; his son was Harita [2], from whom the Angirasa Haritas were descended [3].

In the regions below the earth the Gandharbas called Mauneyas (or sons of the Muni Kas'yapa), who were sixty millions in number, had defeated the tribes of the Nagas, or snake-gods, and seized upon their most precious jewels, and usurped their dominion. Deprived of their power by the Gandharbas, the serpent chiefs addressed the god of the gods, as he awoke from his slumbers; and the blossoms of his lotus eyes opened while listening to their hymns. They said, “Lord, how shall we be delivered from this great fear?” Then replied the first of males, who is without beginning, “I will enter into the person of Purukutsa, the son of Mandhatri, the son of Yuvanas'wa, and in him will I quiet these iniquitous Gandharbas.” On hearing these words, the snake-gods bowed and withdrew, and returning to their country dispatched Narmada to solicit the aid of Purukutsa [4].

Narmada accordingly went to Purukutsa, and conducted him to the regions below the earth, where, being filled with the might of the deity, he destroyed the Gandharbas. He then returned to his own palace; and the snake-gods, in acknowledgment of Narmada's services, conferred upon her as a blessing, that whosoever should think of her, and invoke her name, should never have any dread of the venom of snakes. This is the invocation; “Salutation be to Narmada in the morning; salutation be to Narmada at night; salutation be to thee, O Narmada! defend me from the serpent's poison.” Whoever repeats this day and night, shall never be bitten by a snake in the dark nor in entering a chamber; nor shall he who calls it to mind when he eats suffer any injury from poison, though it be mixed with his food. To Purukutsa also the snake-gods announced that the series of his descendants should never be cut off.

Purukutsa had a son by Narmada named Trasadasyu, whose son was Sambhuta [5], whose son was Anaranya, who was slain, by Ravana in his triumphant progress through the nations. The son of Anaranya was Prishadas'wa; his son was Haryyas'wa; his son was Sumanas [6]; his son was Tridhanwan; his son was Trayyaruna; and his son was Satyavrata, who obtained the appellation of Tris'anku, and was degraded to the condition of a Chandala, or outcast [7]. During a twelve years' famine Tris'anku provided the flesh of deer for the nourishment of the wife and children of Viswamitra, suspending it upon a spreading fig-tree on the borders of the Ganges, that he might not subject them to the indignity of receiving presents from an outcast. On this account Vis'wamitra, being highly pleased with him, elevated him in his living body to heaven [8].

The son of Tris'anku was Haris'chandra [9]; his son was

Rohitas'wa [10]; his son was Harita [11]; his son was Chunchu [12], who had two sons named Vijaya and Sudeva. Ruruka [13] was the son of Vijaya, and his own son was Vrika, whose son was Bahu (or Bathuka). This prince was vanquished by the tribes of Haihayas and Talajanghas [14], anti his country was overrun by them; in consequence of which he fled into the forests with his wives. One of these was pregnant, and being an object of jealousy to a rival queen, the latter gave her poison to prevent her delivery. The poison had the effect of confining the child in the womb for seven years. Bahu, having waxed old, died in the neighbourhood of the residence of the Muni Aurva. His queen having constructed his pile, ascended it with the determination of accompanying him in death; but the sage Aurva, who knew all things, past, present, and to come, issued forth from his hermitage, and forbade her, saying, “Hold! hold! this is unrighteous; a valiant prince, the monarch of many realms, the offerer of many sacrifices, the destroyer of his foes, a universal emperor, is in thy womb; think not of committing so desperate an act!” Accordingly, in obedience to his injunctions, she relinquished her intention. The sage then conducted, her to his abode, and after some time a very splendid boy was there born. Along with him the poison that had been given to his mother was expelled; and Aurva, after performing the ceremonies required at birth, gave him on that account the name of Sagara (from Sa, 'with,' and Gara, 'poison'). The same holy sage celebrated his investure with the cord of his class, instructed him fully in the Vedas, and taught him the use of arms, especially those of fire, called after Bhargava.

When the boy had grown up, and was capable of reflection, he said to his mother one day, “Why are we dwelling in this hermitage? where is my father? and who is he?” His mother, in reply, related to him all that had happened. Upon hearing which he was highly incensed, and vowed to recover his patrimonial kingdom; and exterminate the Haihayas and Talajanghas, by whom it had been overrun. Accordingly when he became a man he put nearly the whole of the Haihayas to death, and would have also destroyed the S'akas, the Yavanas, Kambojas, Paradas, and Pahnavas [15], but that they applied to Vas'ishtha, the family priest of Sagara, for protection. Vas'ishtha regarding them as annihilated (or deprived of power), though living, thus spake to Sagara: “Enough, enough, my son, pursue no farther these objects of your wrath, whom you may look upon as no more. In order to fulfil your vow I have separated them from affinity to the regenerate tribes, and from the duties of their castes.” Sagara, in compliance with the injunctions of his spiritual guide, contented himself therefore with imposing upon the vanquished nations peculiar distinguishing marks. He made the Yavanas [16] shave their heads entirely; the S'akas he compelled to shave (the upper) half of their heads; the Paradas wore their hair long; and the Pahnavas let their beards grow, in obedience to his commands [17]. Them also, and other Kshatriya races, he deprived of the established usages of oblations to fire and the study of the Vedas; and thus separated from religious rites, and abandoned by the Brahmans, these different tribes became Mlechchhas. Sagara, after the recovery of his kingdom, reigned over the seven-zoned earth with undisputed dominion [18].


  • 369:1 So Manu; “Having reposited, as the law directs, the holy fires in his breast,” &c. VI. 25.
  • 369:2 The Vayu, Linga, Kurma, and Bhagavata agree in this series; the others omit it.
  • 369:3 The words of the text are ###, and the commentator explains the phrase, 'the Angirasa Brahmans, of whom the Harita family was the chief.' The Linga reads, 'Harita was the son of Yuvanas'wa, whose sons were the Haritas; they were on the part (or followers) of Angiras, and were Brahmans with the properties of Kshatriyas.' The Vayu has, 'Harita was the son of Yuvanas'wa, from whom were many called [p. 370] Haritas; they were sons of Angiras, and Brahmans with the properties of Kshatriyas.' The Bhagavata has only, These (Ambarisha, Purukutsa, and Harita) were, according to S'ridhara Swami's comment, the chiefs of Mandhatri's descendants, being founders of three several branches: or it may mean, he says, merely that they had Mandhatri for their progenitor, Mandhatri being by some also named Angiras, according to As'walayana. It may be questioned if the compilers of the Puranas, or their annotators, knew exactly what to make of this and similar phrases, although they were probably intended to intimate that some persons of Kshatriya origin became the. disciples of certain Brahmans, particularly of Angiras, and afterwards founders of schools of religious instruction themselves. Mandhatri himself is the author of a hymn in the Rig-veda. As. Res. VIII. 385. Harita is the name of an individual sage, considered as the son of Chyavana, and to whom a work on law is attributed. It is probably rather that of a school, however, than of an individual.
  • 370:4 Narmada, the personified Nerbudda river, was, according to the Bhagavata, the sister of the Nagas.
  • 371:5 We have some varieties here. Instead of Trasadasyu the Matsya has Dussaha, whom it makes the husband of Narmada, and father of Sambhuti, the father of Tridhanwan. The Bhagavata omits Sambhuti; the Linga makes him the brother of Trasadasyu; and the Agni has in his place Sudhanwan.
  • 371:6 Vrishadas'wa: Vayu. The Matsya, Agni, and Brahma omit all between Sambhuta and Tridhanwan. The Bhagavata has a rather different series, or Anaranya, Haryyas'wa, Aruna, Tribandhana, Tris'anku. As Anaranya is famous in Hindu story, and Trayyaruna is a contributor to the Rig-veda, their omission shews careless compilation.
  • 371:7 The Vayu states he was banished by his father for his wickedness (Adharma). The Brahma P. and Hari Vans'a detail his iniquity at length; and it is told more concisely in the Linga. He carried off the betrothed wife of another man, one of the citizens according to the two former, of Vidarbha according to the latter: for this, his father, by the advice of Vas'ishtha, banished him, and he took refuge with S'wapakas. The Ramayana has a different story, and ascribes Tris'anku's degradation to the curse of the sons of Vas'ishtha, to whom the king had applied to conduct his sacrifice, after their father had refused to do so. Before that, he is described as a pious prince, and the object of his sacrifice was to ascend to heaven.
  • 371:8 The occurrence of the famine, and Satyavrata's care of the wife and family of Vis'wamitra, are told, with some variations, in the Vayu, which has been followed by [p. 372] the Brahma and Hari Vans'a. During the famine, when game finis he kills the cow of Vas'ishtha; and for the three crimes of displeasing his father, killing a cow, and eating flesh not previously consecrated, he acquires the name of Tris'anku (tri, 'three,' s'anku, 'sin'). Vas'ishtha refusing to perform his regal inauguration, Vis'wamitra celebrates the rites, and on his death elevates the king in his mortal body to heaven. The Ramayana relates the same circumstance, but assigns to it a different motive, Vis'wamitra's resentment of the refusal of the gods to attend Tris'anku's sacrifice. That work also describes the attempt of the gods to cast the king down upon earth, and the compromise between them and Vis'wamitra, by which Tris'anku was left suspended, head downwards, in mid-air, forming a constellation in the southern hemisphere, along with other new planets and stars formed by Vis'wamitra. The Bhagavata has an allusion to this legend, saying that Tris'anku is still visible in heaven. The Vayu furnishes some further information from an older source. Both my copies leave a blank where it is marked, and a similar passage does not elsewhere occur; but the word should probably be ###, and the whole may be thus rendered: 'Men acquainted with the Puranas recite these two stanzas; “By the favour of Vis'wamitra the illustrious Tris'anku shines in heaven along with the gods, through the kindness of that sage. Slowly passes the lovely night in winter, embellished by the moon, decorated with three watches, and ornamented with the constellation Tris'anku:”' This legend is therefore clearly astronomical, and alludes possibly to some reformation of the sphere by Vis'wamitra, under the patronage of Tris'anku, and in opposition to a more ancient system advocated by the school of Vas'ishtha. It might be no very rash conjecture, perhaps, to identify Tris'anku with Orion, the three bright stars of whose belt may have suggested the three S'ankus (stakes or pins) which form his name.
  • 372:9 The Pauranik lists generally dismiss Haris'chandra very summarily, but he makes a conspicuous figure in legends of an apparently later date. In the Mahabharata, Sabha Parva, it is stated that he resides in the court of Indra, to which he was elevated for his performance of the Rajasuya sacrifice, and for his unbounded liberality. This seems to have served as the groundwork of the tale told in the Markandeya and Padma Puranas, of his having given his whole country, his wife and son, and finally himself, to Vis'wamitra, in satisfaction of his demands for Dakshina. In consequence he was elevated with his subjects to heaven, from whence, having been insidiously led by Nareda to boast of his merits, he was again precipitated. His repentance of his pride, however, arrested his downward descent, and he and his train paused in mid-air. The city of Haris'chandra is popularly believed to be at times still [p. 373] visible in the skies. The indignation of Vas'ishtha at Vis'wamitra's insatiableness produced a quarrel, in which their mutual imprecations changed them to two birds, the S'arali, a sort of Turdus, and the Baka, or crane. In these forms they fought for a considerable term, until Brahma interposed, and reconciled them. The Bhagavata alludes to this story, in its notice of Haris'chandra; but the Vayu refers the conflict to the reign of a different prince: see c. 2. n. 11. According to the S'iva P., Haris'chandra was an especial worshipper of that deity; and his wife Satyavati was a form of Jaya, one of Durga's handmaids.
  • 373:10 Also read Rohita. Traces of his name appear in the strong holds of Rotas, in Behar and in the Panjab. The Bhagavata has a legend of his having been devoted to Varuna, before his birth, by his father, who having on various pleas deferred offering his son as promised, was afflicted by a dropsy. Rohita at last purchased S'unahs'ephas, who was offered as a victim in his stead: see hereafter, note on S'unahs'ephas.
  • 373:11 Omitted: Agni, Linga, and Matsya.
  • 373:12 Omitted: Agni. Dhundhu: Linga and Kurma. Champa, founder of Champamalini: Bhagavata. But all other authorities make Champa a different person, a descendant of Anga: see family of Ann, of the lunar race.
  • 373:13 Kuruka: Linga and Kurma. Bharuka: Bhagavata.
  • 373:14 Descendants of Yadu. The first springs from a prince who is the twelfth, and the second from one who is the eighteenth, in the lunar line, and both are thus cotemporary with a prince who is the thirty-fifth of the solar dynasty. The Vayu adds, that they were assisted by S'akas, Yavanas, Kambojas, Paravas, and Pahlavas.
  • 374:15 The Haihayas we shall have farther occasion to notice. The S'akas are, no doubt, the Sacae or Sakai of the classical geographers, Scythians and Indo-Scythians, Turk or Tartar tribes, who established themselves, about a century and a half before our era, along the western districts of India, and who are not improbably connected with our Saxon forefathers. The Yavanas are the Ionians or Greeks. The Kambojas were a people on the northwest of India, of whom it is said that they were remarkable for a capital breed of horses. There is an apparent trace of their name in the Caumogees of Kaferistan, who may have retreated to the mountains before the advance of the Turk tribes. (Elphinstone's Caubul, 619: see also before, <page 194>. n. .) The Paradas and Pahlavas or Pahnavas may designate other bordering tribes in the same direction, or on the confines of Persia. Along with these, in the legend that follows, the Bhagavata enumerates Barbaras. The Vayu adds Mahishikas, Chaulas, Darvas, and Khasas: the two former of which are people on the Malabar and Coromandel coasts; the two latter are usually placed amongst the mountaineers of the Hindu Kosh. The Brahma P. lengthens the list with the Kolas, the forest races of eastern Gondwana; the Sarpas and the[p. 375] Keralas, who are the people of Malabar. The Hari Vans'a still farther extends the enumeration with the Tusharas or Tokharas, the Turks of Tokharestan; the Chinas, Chinese; the Madras, people in the Panjab; the Kishkindhas, in Mysore; Kauntalas, along the Narbudda; Bangas, Bengalis; S'alwas, people in western India; and the Konkanas, or inhabitants of the Concan. It is evident from the locality of most of the additions of the last authority, that its compiler or corrupter has been a native of the Dekhin.
  • 375:16 And Kambojas: Vayu.
  • 375:17 The Asiatic nations generally shave the head either wholly or in part. Amongst the Greeks it was common to shave the fore part of the head, a custom introduced, according to Plutarch, by the Abantes, whom Homer calls opithen komountes and followed, according to Xenophon, by the Lacedaemonians. It may be doubted, however, if the Greeks or Ionians ever shaved the head completely. The practice prevails amongst the Mohammedans, but it is not universal. The S'akas, Scythians or Tartars, shave the fore part of the head, gathering the hair at the back into a long tail, as do the Chinese. The mountaineers of the Himalaya shave the crown of the head, as do the people of Kaferistan, with exception of a single tuft. What Oriental people wore their hair long, except at the back of the head, is questionable; and the usage would be characteristic rather of the Teutonic and Gothic nations. The ancient Persians had long bushy beards, as the Persepolitan sculptures demonstrate. In Chardin's time they were out of fashion, but they were again in vogue in that country in the reign of the last king, Fateh Shuh.
  • 375:18 So the Vayu, &c.; and a similar [p. 376] statement is given in Manu, X. 44, where to the S'akas, Yavanas, Kambojas, Paradas, and Pahnavas, are added the Pandaras (people of western Bengal), Odras (those of Orissa), Draviras (of the Coromandel coast), Chinas (Chinese), Kiratas (mountaineers), and Daradas (Durds of the Hindu Koh). From this passage, and a similar one in the Ramayana, in which the Chinas are mentioned, the late Mr. Klaproth inferred those works to be not older than the third century B. C., when the reigning dynasty of Thsin first gave that name to China (see also <page 194>. n. .) It was probable, he supposed, that the Hindus became acquainted with the Chinese only about 200 B. C., when their arms extended to the Oxus; but it is difficult to reconcile this date with the difference of style between the Ramayana particularly and the works of the era of Vikramaditya. It would seem more likely that the later appellations were interpolated. It must have been a period of some antiquity, when all the nations from Bengal to the Coromandel coast were considered as Mlechchhas and outcasts.



The progeny of Sagara: their wickedness: he performs an As'wamedha: the horse stolen by Kapila: found by Sagara's sons, who are all destroyed by the sage: the horse recovered by Ans'umat: his descendants. Legend of Mitrasaha or Kalmashapada, the son of Sudasa. Legend of Khatwanga. Birth of Rama and the other sons of Das'aratha. Epitome of the history of Rama: his descendants, and those of his brothers. Line of Kus'a. Vrihadbala, the last, killed in the great war.

SUMATI the daughter of Kas'yapa, and Kesini the daughter of Raja Viderbha, were the two wives of Sagara [1]. Being without progeny, the king solicited the aid of the sage Aurva with great earnestness, and the Muni pronounced this boon, that one wife should bear one son, the upholder of his race, and the other should give birth to sixty thousand sons; and he left it to them to make their election. Kesini chose to have the single son; Sumati the multitude: and it came to pass in a short time that the former bore Asamanjas [2], a prince through whom the dynasty continued; and the daughter of Vinata (Sumati) had sixty thousand sons. The son of Asamanjas was Ans'umat.

Asamanjas was from his boyhood of very irregular conduct. His father hoped that as he grew up to manhood he would reform; but finding that he continued guilty of the same immorality, Sagara abandoned him. The sixty thousand sons of Sagara followed the example of their brother Asamanjas. The path of virtue and piety being obstructed in the world by the sons of Sagara, the gods repaired to the Muni Kapila, who was a portion of Vishnu, free from fault, and endowed with all true wisdom. Having approached him with respect, they said, “O lord, what will become of the world, if these sons of Sagara are permitted to go on in the evil ways which they have learned from Asamanjas! Do thou, then, assume a visible form, for the protection of the afflicted universe.” “Be satisfied,” replied the sage, “in a brief time the sons of Sagara shall be all destroyed.”

At that period Sagara commenced the performance of the solemn sacrifice of a horse, who was guarded by his own sons: nevertheless some one stole the animal, and carried it off into a chasm in the earth, Sagara commanded his sons to search for the steed; and they, tracing him by the impressions of his hoofs, followed his course with perseverance, until coming to the chasm where he had entered, they proceeded to enlarge it, and dug downwards each for a league. Coming to Patala, they beheld the horse wandering freely about, and at no great distance from him they saw the Rishi Kapila sitting, with his head declined in meditation, and illuminating the surrounding space with radiance as bright as the splendours of the autumnal sun, shining in an unclouded sky. Exclaiming, “This is the villain who has maliciously interrupted our sacrifice, and stolen the horse! kill him! kill him!” they ran towards him with uplifted weapons. The Muni slowly raised his eyes, and for an instant looked upon them, and they were reduced to ashes by the sacred flame that darted from his person [3].

When Sagara learned that his sons, whom he had sent in pursuit of the sacrificial steed, had been destroyed by the might of the great Rishi Kapila, he dispatched Ans'umat, the son of Asamaujas, to effect the animals recovery. The youth, proceeding by the deep path which the princes had dug, arrived where Kapila was, and bowing respectfully, prayed to him, and so propitiated him, that the saint said, “Go, my son, deliver the horse to your grandfather; and demand a boon; thy grandson shall bring down the river of heaven on the earth.” Ans'umat requested as a boon that his uncles, who had perished through the sage's displeasure, might, although unworthy of it, be raised to heaven through his favour. “I have told you,” replied Kapila, “that your grandson shall bring down upon earth the Ganges of the gods; and when her waters shall wash the bones and ashes of thy grandfather's sons, they shall be raised to Swarga. Such is the efficacy of the stream that flows from the toe of Vishnu, that it confers heaven upon all who bathe in it designedly, or who even become accidentally immersed in it: those even shall obtain Swarga, whose bones, skin, fibres, hair, or any other part, shall be left after death upon the earth which is contiguous to the Ganges.” Having acknowledged reverentially the kindness of the sage, Ans'umat returned to his grandfather, and delivered to him the horse. Sagara, on recovering the steed, completed his sacrifice; and in affectionate memory of his sons, denominated Sagara the chasm which they had dug [4].

The son of Ans'umat was Dilipa [5]; his son was Bhagiratha, who brought Ganga down to earth, whence she is called Bhagirathi. The son of Bhagiratha was S'ruta [6]; his son was Nabhaga [7]; his son was Ambarisha; his son was Sindhudwipa; his son was Ayutas'wa [8]; his son was Rituparna, the friend of Nala, skilled profoundly in dice [9]. The son of Rituparna was Sarvakama [10]; his son was Sudasa; his son was Saudasa, named also Mitrasaha [11].

The son of Sudasa having gone into the woods to hunt, fell in with a couple of tigers, by whom the forest had been cleared of the deer. The king slew one of these tigers with an arrow. At the moment of expiring, the form of the animal was changed, and it became that of a fiend of fearful figure, and hideous aspect. Its companion, threatening the prince with its vengeance, disappeared.

After some interval Saudasa celebrated a sacrifice, which was conducted by Vas'ishtha. At the close of the rite Vas'ishtha went out; when the Rakshas, the fellow of the one that had been killed in the figure of a tiger, assumed the semblance of Vas'ishtha, and came and said to the king, “Now that the sacrifice is ended, you must give me flesh to eat: let it be cooked, and I will presently return.” Having said this, he withdrew, and, transforming himself into the shape of the cook, dressed some human flesh, which he brought to the king, who, receiving it on a plate of gold, awaited the reappearance of Vas'ishtha. As soon as the Muni returned, the king offered to him the dish. Vas'ishtha surprised at such want of propriety in the king, as his offering him meat to eat, considered what it should be that was so presented, and by the efficacy of his meditations discovered that it was human flesh. His mind being agitated with wrath, he denounced a curse upon the Raja, saying, “Inasmuch as you have insulted all such holy men as we are, by giving me what is not to be eaten, your appetite shall henceforth be excited by similar food.”

“It was yourself,” replied the Raja to the indignant sage, “who commanded this food to be prepared.” “By me!” exclaimed Vas'ishtha; “how could that have been?” and again having recourse to meditation, he detected the whole truth. Foregoing then all displeasure towards the king, he said, “The food to which I have sentenced you shall not be your sustenance for ever; it shall only be so for twelve years.” The king, who had taken up water in the palms of his hands, and was prepared to curse the Muni, now considered that Vas'ishtha was his spiritual guide, and being reminded by Madayanti his queen that it ill became him to denounce an imprecation upon a holy teacher, who was the guardian divinity of his race, abandoned his intention.

Unwilling to cast the water upon the earth, lest it should wither up the grain, for it was impregnated with his malediction, and equally reluctant to throw it up into the air, lest it should blast the clouds, and dry up their contents, he threw it upon, his own feet. Scalded by the heat which the water had derived from his angry imprecation, the feet of the Raja became spotted black and white, and he thence obtained the name of Kalmashapada, or he with the spotted (kalmasha) feet (pada).

In consequence of the curse of Vas'ishtha, the Raja became a cannibal every sixth watch of the day for twelve years, and in that state wandered through the forests, and devoured multitudes of men. On one occasion he beheld a holy person engaged in dalliance with his wife. As soon as they saw his terrific form, they were frightened, and endeavoured to escape; but the regal Rakshasa overtook and seized the husband. The wife of the Brahman then also desisted from flight, and earnestly entreated the savage to spare her lord, exclaiming, “Thou, Mitrasaha, art the pride of the royal house of Ikshwaku, not a malignant fiend! it is not in thy nature, who knowest the characters of women, to carry off and devour my husband.” But all was in vain, and, regardless of her reiterated supplications, he ate the Brahman, as a tiger devours a deer. The Brahman's wife, furious with wrath, then addressed the Raja, and said, “Since you have barbarously disturbed the joys of a wedded pair, and killed my husband, your death shall be the consequence of your associating with your queen.” So saying, she entered the flames.

At the expiration of the period of his curse Saudasa returned home. Being reminded of the imprecation of the Brahmani by his wife Madayanti, he abstained from conjugal intercourse, and was in consequence childless; but having solicited the interposition of Vas'ishtha, Madayanti became pregnant. The child, however, was not born for seven years, when the queen, becoming impatient, divided the womb with a sharp stone, and was thereby delivered. The child was thence called As'maka (from As'man, 'a stone'). The son of As'maka was Mulaka, who, when the warrior tribe was extirpated upon earth, was surrounded and concealed by a number of females; whence he was denominated Narikavacha

(having women for armour) [12]. The son of Mulaka was Das'aratha; his son was Ilavila; his son was Vis'wasaha; his son was Khatwanga, called also Dilipa [13], who in a battle between the gods and the Asuras, being called by the former to their succour, killed a number of the latter. Having thus acquired the friendship of the deities in heaven, they desired him to demand a boon. He said to them, “If a boon is to be accepted by me, then tell me, as a favour, what is the duration of my life.” “The length of your life is but an hour,” the gods replied. On which, Khatwanga, who was swift of motion, descended in his easy-gliding chariot to the world of mortals. Arrived there, he prayed, and said, “If my own soul has never been dearer to me than the sacred Brahmans; if I have never deviated from the discharge of my duty; if I have never regarded gods, men, animals, vegetables, all created things, as different from the imperishable; then may I, with unswerving step, attain to that divine being on whom holy sages meditate!” Having thus spoken, he was united with that supreme being, who is Vasudeva; with that elder of all the gods, who is abstract existence, and whose form cannot be described. Thus he obtained absorption, according to this stanza, which was repeated formerly by the seven Rishis; “Like unto Khatwanga will be no one upon earth, who having come from heaven, and dwelt an hour amongst men, became united with the three worlds by his liberality and knowledge of truth [14].”

The son of Khatwanga was Dirghabahu; his son was Raghu; his son was Aja; his son was Das'aratha [15]. The god from whose navel the lotus springs became fourfold, as the four sons of Das'aratha, Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata, and S'atrughna, for the protection of the world. Rama, whilst yet a boy, accompanied Viswamitra, to protect his sacrifice, and slew Tadaka. He afterwards killed Maricha with his resistless shafts; and Subahu and others fell by his arms. He removed the guilt of Ahalya by merely looking upon her. In the palace of Janaka he broke with ease the mighty bow of Mahes'wara, and received the hand of Sita, the daughter of the king, self-born from the earth, as the prize of his prowess. He humbled the pride of Paras'urama, who vaunted his triumphs over the race of Haihaya, and his repeated slaughters of the Kshatriya tribe. Obedient to the commands of his father, and cherishing no regret for the loss of sovereignty, he entered the forest, accompanied by his brother Lakshmana and by his wife, where he killed in conflict Viradha, Kharadushana and other Rakshasas, the headless giant Kabandha, and Bali the monkey monarch. Having built a bridge across the ocean, and destroyed the whole Rakshasa nation, he recovered his bride Sita, whom their ten-headed king Ravana had carried off, and returned to Ayodhya with her, after she had been purified by the fiery ordeal from the soil contracted by her captivity, and had been honoured by the assembled gods, who bore witness to her virtue [16].

Bharata made himself master of the country of the Gandharbas, after destroying vast numbers of them; and S'atrughna having killed the Rakshasa chief Lavana, the son of Madhu, took possession of his capital Mathura.

Having thus, by their unequalled valour and might, rescued the whole world from the dominion of malignant fiends, Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata, and S'atrughna reascended to heaven, and were followed by those of the people of Kos'ala who were fervently devoted to these incarnate portions of the supreme Vishnu.

Rama and his brothers had each two sons. Kus'a and Lava were the sous of Rama; those of Lakshmana were Angada and Chandraketu; the sons of Bharata were Taksha and Pushkara; and Subahu and S'urasena [17] were the sons of S'atrughna.

The son of Kus'a was Atithi; his son was Nishadha; his son was Nala [18]; his son was Nabhas; his son was Pundarika; his son was Kshemadhanwan; his son was Devanika; his son was Ahinagu [19]; his son was Paripatra; his son was Dala [20]; his son was Chhala [21]; his son was Uktha [22]; his son was Vajranabha; his son was S'ankhanabha [23]; his son was Abhyutthitas'wa [24]; his son was Vis'wasaha [25]; his son was Hiranyanabha, who was a pupil of the mighty Yogi Jaimini, and communicated the knowledge of spiritual exercises to Yajnawalkya [26]. The son of this saintly king was Pushya; his son was Dhruvasandhi [27]; his son was Sudars'ana; his son was Agnivarna; his son was S'ighra; his son was Maru [28], who through the power of devotion (Yoga) is still living in the village called Kalapa, and in a future age will be the restorer of the Kshatriya race in the solar dynasty. Maru had a son named Prasus'ruta; his son was Susandhi; his son was Amarsha; his son was Mahaswat [29]; his son was Vis'rutavat [30]; and his son was Vrihadbala, who was killed in the great war by Abhimanyu, the son of Anjuna. These are the most distinguished princes in the family of Ikshwaku: whoever listens to the account of them will be purified from all his sins [31].}


  • 377:1 So the Ramayana. Sumati is called the daughter of Arishtanemi: the Mahabharata calls her S'aivya. The story of Sagara and his descendants is told at length in the Ramayana, first book, and in the Mahabharata, Vana Parva, III. 106, et seq., as well as in most of the Puranas.
  • 377:2 Or Panchajana: Brahma.
  • 378:3 The Bhagavata has, for a Purana, some curious remarks on this part of the story, flatly denying its truth. 'The report is not true, that the sons of the king were scorched by the wrath of the sage; for how can the quality of darkness, made up of anger, exist in a world-purifying nature, consisting of the quality of goodness; the dust of earth, as it were, in the sky? How should mental perturbation distract that sage, who was one with the supreme, and who has promulgated that Sankhya philosophy, which is a strong vessel, by which he who is desirous of liberation passes over the dangerous ocean of the world by the path of death?'
  • 379:4 Sagara is still the name of the ocean, and especially of the bay of Bengal, at the mouth of the Ganges. On the shore of the island called by the same name, tradition places a Kapilas'rama, or hermitage of Kapila, which is still the scene of an annual pilgrimage. Other legends assign a very different situation for the abode of the ascetic, or the foot of the Himalaya, where the Ganges descends to the plains. There would be no incompatibility, however, in the two sites, could we imagine the tradition referred to a period when the ocean washed, as it appears once to have done, the base of the Himalaya, and Saugor (Sagara) was at Haridwar.
  • 379:5 Or Khatwanga: Brahma and Hari Vans'a: but this is apparently an error. See note [14].
  • 379:6 Omitted: Matsya and Agni. Vis'ruta: Linga.
  • 379:7 Nabhin: Bhagavata.
  • 379:8 Ayutayus: Vayu, Linga, and Kurma. S'rutayus: Agni. Ayutajit: Brahma.
  • 379:9 'knowing the heart of the dice.' The same epithet, as well as that of 'friend of Nala,' is given him in the Vayu, Bhagavata, and Brahma Puranas, [p. 380] and in the Hari Vans'a, and leaves no doubt of their referring to the hero of the story told in the Mahabharata. Nara however, as we shall hereafter see, is some twenty generations later than Rituparna in the same family; and the Vayu therefore thinks it necessary to observe that two Nalas are noticed in the Puranas, and the one here adverted to is the son of Virasena; whilst the other belongs to the family of Ikshwaku. The same passage occurs in the Brahma P. and Hari V.; and the commentator on the latter observes, 'Nala the son of Nishadha is different from Nala the son of Virasena.' It is also to be observed, that the Nala of the tale is king of Nishadha, and his friend Rituparna is king of Ayodhya. The Nala of the race of Ikshwaku is king of Ayodhya: he is the son of Nishadha, however, and there is evidently some confusion between the two. We do not find Virasena or his son in any of the lists. See n. [19].
  • 380:10 There is considerable variety in this part of the lists, but the Vayu and Bhagavata agree with our text. The Matsya and others make Kalmashapada the son or grandson of Rituparna, and place Sarvakama or Sarvakarman after him. See further on.
  • 380:11 The Vayu, Agni, Brahma, and Hari Vans'a read Amitrasaha, 'foe-enduring;' but the commentator on our text explains it Mitra, a name of Vas'ishtha, Saha, 'able to bear' the imprecation of; as in the following legend, which is similarly related in the Bhagavata. It is not detailed in the Vayu. A full account occurs in the Mahabharata, Adi P., s. 176, but with many and important variations. Kalmashapada, whilst hunting, encountered S'aktri, the son of Vas'ishtha, in the woods; and on his refusing to make way, struck the sage with his whip. S'aktri cursed the king to become a cannibal; and Viswamitra, who had a quarrel with Vas'ishtha, seized the opportunity to direct a Rakshas to take possession of the king, that he might become the instrument of destroying the family of the rival saint. Whilst thus influenced, Mitrasaha, a Brahman, applied to Kalmashapada for food, and the king commanded his cook to dress human flesh, and give it to the Brahman, who, knowing what it was, repeated the curse of S'aktri, that the king should become a cannibal; which taking effect with double force, Kalmashapada began to eat men. One of his first victims was S'aktri, whom he slew and ate; and then killed and devoured, under the secret impulse of Vis'wamitra's demon, all the other sons of Vas'ishtha. Vas'ishtha however liberated him from the Rakshas who possessed him, and restored him to his natural character. The imprecation of the Brahman's wife, and its consequences, are told in the Mahabharata as in the text; but the story of the water falling on his feet appears to have grown out of the etymology of his name, which might have referred to some disease of the lower extremities, the prince's designation being at length, Mitrasaha Saudasa Kalmashapada, or Mitrasaha, son of Sudasa, with the swelled feet.
  • 383:12 His name Mulaka, or 'the root,' refers also to his being the stem whence the Kshatriya races again proceeded. It may be doubted if the purport of his title Narikavacha is accurately explained by the text.
  • 383:13 This prince is confounded with an earlier Dilipa by the Brahma P. and Hari Vans'a.
  • 383:14 The term for his obtaining final liberation is rather unusual; 'By whom the three worlds were affected or beloved:' the three worlds being identified with their source, or the supreme. The text says of this stanza ###, and the Vayu, citing it, says ###, the legend is therefore from the Vedas.
  • 383:15 The lists here differ very materially, as the following comparison will best shew: [p. 384]
  The Vayu, Bhagavata, Kurma, and Linga agree with our text, except in the reading of a few names; as S'ataratha for Das'aratha the first; Vairivira for Ilavila; and Kritasarman, Vriddhasarman, or Vriddhakarman, for Vis'wasaha. The Agni and Brahma and Hari Vans'a agree with the second series, with similar occasional exceptions; shewing that the Puranas admit two series, differing in name, but agreeing in number. The Ramayana, however, differs from both in a very extraordinary manner, and the variation is not limited to the cases specified, as it begins with Bhagiratha, as follows:
  The entire Pauranik series comprises twenty descents, and that of the Ramayana sixteen. Some of the last names of the poem occur amongst the first of those of the Puranas, but there is an irreconcilable difference in much of the nomenclature. The Agni, under the particular account of the descent of Rama, has for his immediate predecessors Raghu, Aja, Das'aratha, as in our text; and the author of the Raghu Vans'a agrees with the Puranas from Dilipa downwards.
  • 385:16 This is an epitome of the Ramayana, the heroic poem of Valmiki, on the subject of Rama's exploits. A part of the Ramayana was published, with a translation by Messrs. Carey and Marshman, several years since; but a much more correct edition of the text of the two first books, with a Latin translation of the first, and part of the second, have been more recently published by Professor Schlegel; a work worthy of his illustrious name. A summary of the story may be found in Sir Wm. Jones's Works, Maurice's Hindustan, Moor's Pantheon, &c. It is also the subject of the Uttara Rama Charitra in the Hindu Theatre, in the introduction to which an outline of the whole is given. The story is therefore, no doubt, sufficiently familiar even to English readers. It seems to be founded on historical fact; and the traditions of the south of India uniformly ascribe its civilization, the subjugation or dispersion of its forest tribes of barbarians, and the settlement of civilized Hindus, to the conquest of Lanka by Rama.
  • 385:17 The Vayu specifies the countries or cities over which they reigned. Anguda and Chitraketu, as the Vayu terms the latter, governed countries near the Himalaya, [p. 386] the capitals of which were Angadi and Chandravaktra. Taksha and Pushkara were sovereigns of Gandhara, residing at Takshas'ila and Pushkaravati. Subahu and S'urasena reigned at Mathura; and in the latter we might be satisfied to find the S'urasenas of Arrian, but that there is a subsequent origin, of perhaps greater authenticity, in the family of Yadu, as we shall hereafter see. 'Kus'a built Kus'asthali on the brow of the Vindhya, the capital of Kos'ala; and Lava reigned at S'ravasti (see p. <page 355>. <page 361>) in Uttara (northern) Kos'ala:' &c. The Raghu Vaasa describes Kus'a as returning from Kus'avati to Ayodhya, after his father's death; but it seems not unlikely that the extending power of the princes of the Doab, of the lunar family, compelled Rama's posterity to retire more to the west and south.
  • 386:18 The Bhagavata is the only Purana that omits this name, as if the author had been induced to correct the reading in order to avoid the necessity of recognising two Nalas. See above, n. 9.
  • 386:19 Here again we have two distinct series of princes, independently of variations of individual names. Instead of the list of the text, with which the Vayu and Bhagavata nearly, and the Brahma and Hari Vans'a indifferently conform, we have in the , Linga, Kurma, and Agni the following: Ahinagu, Sahasras'wa, Sahasraya or Sahasrabala, Chandravaloka, Tarapida or Taradhis'a, Chandragiri, Bhanuratha or Bhanumitra, and S'rutayus, with whom the list ends, except in the Linga, which adds Bahula, killed by Abhimanyu: enumerating therefore from Devanika but seven or eight princes to the great war, instead of twenty-three, as in the other series. The Raghu Vaasa gives much the same list as our text, ending with Agnivarna.
  • 386:20 Bala: Bhagavata. Nala: Hari V.
  • 386:21 Sthala: Bhagavata. S'ala: Vayu and Brahma. S'ila: Raghu Vans'a.
  • 386:22 Omitted: Bhagavata.
  • 386:23 S'ankha: Brahma. Khagana: Bhag.
  • 386:24 Dushitas'wa: Vayu. Adhyushitas'wa: Brahma. Vidhriti: Bhagavata.
  • 386:25 Omitted: Brahma and Bhagavata.
  • 386:26 Omitted: Brahma and Hari V.: but included with similar particulars by the Vayu, Bhagavata, and Raghu Vans'a: see also p. 283, where Kaus'alya is likewise given as the synonyme of Hiranyagarbha, being, as the commentator observes, his Visheshanam, his epithet or attribute, born [p. 387] in, or king of, Kos'ala. The Vayu accordingly terms him ###, but in the Bhagavata the epithet Kaus'alya is referred by the commentator to Yajnawalkya, the pupil of Hiranyanabha. The author of the Raghu Vans'a, not understanding the meaning of the term, has converted Kaus'alya into the son of Hiranyanabha. Raghu V. 18. 27. The Bhagavata, like our text, calls the prince the pupil of Jaimini. The Vayu, more correctly, 'the pupil of the sage's grandson.' There seems to be, however, something unusual in the account given of the relation borne by the individuals named to each other. As a pupil of Jaimini, Hiranyanabha is a teacher of the Sama-veda (see <page 283>), but Yajnawalkya is the teacher of the Vajasaneyi branch of the Yajush (<page 281>). Neither of them is specified by Mr. Colebrooke amongst the authorities of the Patanjala or Yoga philosophy; nor does either appear as a disciple of Jaimini in his character of founder of the Mimansa school. Trans. R. As. Soc. vol. I.
  • 387:27 Arthasiddhi: Brahma P. and Hari V.
  • 387:28 Maruta: Brahma P. and Hari V. These authorities omit the succeeding four names.
  • 387:29 Sahaswat: Vayu.
  • 387:30 Vis'wasaha: Bhagavata.
  • 387:31 The list closes here, as the author of the Puranas, Vyasa, is cotemporary with the great war. The line of Ikshwaku is resumed prophetically in the twenty-second chapter.



Kings of Mithila. Legend of Nimi, the son of Ikshwaku. Birth of Janaka. Sacrifice of Siradhwaja. Origin of Sita. Descendants of Kus'adhwaja. Kriti the last of the Maithila princes.

THE son of Ikshwaku, who was named Nimi [1], instituted a sacrifice that was to endure for a thousand years, and applied to Vas'ishtha to offer the oblations. Vas'ishtha in answer said, that he had been preengaged by Indra for five hundred years, but that if the Raja, would wait for some time, he would come and officiate as superintending priest. The king made no answer, and Vas'ishtha went away, supposing that he had assented. When the sage had completed the performance of the ceremonies he had conducted for Indra, he returned with all speed to Nimi, purposing to render him the like office. When he arrived, however, and found that Nimi had retained Gautama and other priests to minister at his sacrifice, he was much displeased, and pronounced upon the king, who was then asleep, a curse to this effect, that since he had not intimated his intention, but transferred to Gautama the duty he had first entrusted to himself, Vas'ishtha, Nimi should thenceforth cease to exist in a corporeal form. When Nimi woke, and knew what had happened, he in return denounced as an imprecation upon his unjust preceptor, that he also should lose his bodily existence, as the punishment of uttering a curse upon him without previously communicating with him. Nimi then abandoned his bodily condition. The spirit of Vas'ishtha also leaving his body, was united with the spirits of Mitra and Varuna for a season, until, through their passion for the nymph Urvas'i, the sage was born again in a different shape. The corpse of Nimi was preserved from decay by being embalmed with fragrant oils and resins, and it remained as entire as if it were immortal [2]. When the sacrifice was concluded, the priests applied to the gods, who had come to receive their portions, that they would confer a blessing upon the author of the sacrifice. The gods were willing to restore him to bodily life, but Nimi declined its acceptance, saying, “O deities, who are the alleviators of all worldly suffering, there is not in the world a deeper cause of distress than the separation of soul and body: it is therefore my wish to dwell in the eyes of all beings, but never more to resume a corporeal shape!” To this desire the gods assented, and Nimi was placed by them in the eyes of all living creatures; in consequence of which their eyelids are ever opening and shutting.

As Nimi left no successor, the Munis, apprehensive of the consequences of the earth being without a ruler, agitated the body of the prince, and produced from it a prince who was called Janaka, from being born without a progenitor. In consequence of his father being without a body (videha), he was termed also Vaideha, 'the son of the bodiless;' and the further received the name of Mithi, from having been produced by agitation (mathana) [3]. The son of Janaka was Udavasu; his son was Nandivarddhana; his son was Suketu; his son was Devarata; his son was Vrihaduktha; his son was Mahavirya; his son was Satyadhriti; his son was Dhrishtaketu; his son was Haryyas'wa; his son was Maru; his son was Pratibandhaka; his son was Kritaratha; his son was Krita; his son was Vibudha; his son was Mahadhriti; his son was Kritirata; his son was Maharoman; his son was Suvarnaroman; his son was Hraswaroman; his son was Siradhwaja.

Siradhwaja ploughing the ground, to prepare it for a sacrifice which he instituted in order to obtain progeny, there sprang up in the furrow a damsel, who became his daughter Sita [4]. The brother of Siradhwaja was Kus'adhwaja, who was king of Kas'i [5]; he had a son also, named Bhanumat [6]. The son of Bhanumat was Satadyumna; his son was S'uchi; his son was Urjjavaha; his son was S'atyadhwaja; his son was Kuni [7]; his son was Anjana; his son was Ritujit; his son was Arishtanemi [8]; his son was S'rutayus; his son was Supars'wa; his son was Sanjaya [9]; his son was Kshemari [10]; his son was Anenas [11]; his son was Minaratha [12]; his son was Satyaratha; his son was Satyarathi [13]; his son was Upagu [14]; his son was S'ruta [15]; his son was Saswata [16]; his son was Sudhanwan; his son was Subhasa; his son was Sus'ruta [17]; his son was Jaya; his son was Vijaya; his son was Rita; his son was Sunaya [18]; his son was Vitahavya; his son was Dhriti; his son was Bahulas'wa; his son was Kriti, with whom terminated the family of Janaka. These are the kings of Mithila, who for the most part will be [19] proficient in spiritual knowledge [20].


  • 388:1 None of the authorities, except the Vayu and Bhagavata, contain the series of kings noticed in this chapter.
  • 388:2 This shews that the Hindus were not unacquainted with the Egyptian art of embalming dead bodies. In the Kas'i Khanda, s. 30, an account is given of a Brahman who carries his mother's bones, [p. 389] or rather her corpse, from Setuhandha or Rames'wara to Kas'i. For this purpose he first washes it with the five excretions of a cow, and the five pure fluids, or milk, curds, ghee, honey, and sugar. He then embalms it with Yakshakarddama, a composition of Agallochum, camphor, musk, saffron, sandal, and a resin called Kakkola; and envelopes it severally with Netra vastra, flowered muslin; Pattamvara, silk; Surasa vastra, coarse cotton; Manjishtha, cloth dyed with madder; and Nepala Kambala, nepal blanketing. He then covers it with pure clay, and puts the whole into a coffin of copper, Tamra samputa. These practices are not only unknown, but would be thought impure in the present day.
  • 389:3 These legends are intended to explain, and were probably suggested by, the terms Vaideha and Mithila, applied to the country upon the Gandak and Kai rivers, the modern Tirhut. The Ramayana places a prince named Mithi between Nimi and Janaka, whence comes the name Mithila. In other respects the list of kings of Mithila agrees, except in a few names. Janaka the successor of Nimi is different from Janaka who is celebrated as the father of Sita. One of them, which, does not appear, is also renowned as a philosopher, and patron of philosophical teachers. Mahabharata, Moksha Dharma. According to the Vayu P., Nimi founded a city called Jayantapur, near the As'rama of Gautama. The remains of a city called Janakpur, on the northern skirts of the district, are supposed to indicate the site of a city founded by one of the princes so named.
  • 390:4 This identifies Siradhwaja with the second Janaka, the father-in-law of Rama. The story of Sita's birth, or rather discovery, is narrated in the Aranya Khanda of the Ramayana, the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata, and in the Vayu, Brahma Vaivartta, Kalika, and other Puranas.
  • 390:5 The Ramayana says, 'of Sankas'ya,' which is no doubt the correct reading. Fa Hian found the kingdom of Sang-kia-shi in the Doab, about Mainpuri. Account of the Foe-kue-ki. The Bhagavata makes Kus'adhwaja the son of Siradwaja.
  • 390:6 The Bhagavata differs from our authority here considerably, by inserting several princes between Kusadhwaja and Bhanumat; or, Dharmadhwaja, who has two sons, Kritadhwaja and Khandikya; the former is the father of Kes'idhwaja, the latter of Bhanumat. See the last book of the Vishnu.
  • 390:7 S'akuni, and the last of the series, according to the Vayu,
  • 390:8 Between this prince and S'uchi the series of the Bhagavata is Sanadhwaja, Urddhwaketu, Aja, Purujit. The following variations are from the same authority.
  • 390:9 Chitraratha.
  • 390:10 Kshemadhi.
  • 390:11 Omitted.
  • 390:12 Samaratha.
  • 390:13 Omitted.
  • 390:14 Upaguru.
  • 390:15 Upagupta.
  • 390:16 Vaswananta.
  • 390:17 Yuyudhana, Subhashana, S'ruta.
  • 390:18 S'unaka.
  • 391:19 ### is the reading of all the copies; but why the future verb, 'will be,' is used does not appear.
  • 391:20 Descendants of two of the other sons of the Manu are noticed in the Bhagavata; from Nriga, it is said, proceeded Sumati, Bhutajyotish, Vasu, Pratika, Oghavat, and his sister Oghavati, married to Sudars'ana. The Linga gives three sons to Nriga, Vrisha, Dhrishtaka, and Ranadhrishta, and alludes to a legend of his having been changed to a lizard by the curse of a Brahman. Narishyanta's descendants were Chitrasena, Daksha, Madhwat, Purva, Indrasena, Vitihotra, Satyas'rava, Urus'ravas, Devadatta, Agnives'ya, also called Jatukarna, a form of Agni, and progenitor of the Agnives'ya Brahmans. In the Brahma P. and Hari V. the sons of Narishyat, whom the commentator on the latter considers as the same with Narishyanta, are termed Sacas, Sacae or Scythians; whilst, again, it is said that the son of Narishyanta was Dama, or, as differently read, Yams. As this latter affiliation is stated in the authorities, it would appear as if this Narishyanta was one of the sons of the Manu; but this is only a proof of the carelessness of the compilation, for in the Vishnu, Vayu, and Markandeya Puranas, Narishyanta, the father of Dama, is the son of Marutta, the fourteenth of the posterity of Dishta or Nedishta.



Kings of the lunar dynasty. Origin of Soma, or the moon: he carries off Tara, the wife of Vrihaspati: war between the gods and Asuras in consequence: appeased by Brahma. Birth of Budha: married to Ila, daughter of Vaivaswata. Legend of his son Pururavas, and the nymph Urvas'i: the former institutes offerings with fire: ascends to the sphere of the Gandharbas.

MAITREYA.–You have given me, reverend preceptor, an account of the kings of the dynasty of the sun: I am now desirous to hear a description of the princes who trace their lineage from the moon, and whose race is still celebrated for glorious deeds. Thou art able to relate it to me, Brahman, if thou wilt so favour me.

PARAS'ARA.–You shall hear from me, Maitreya, an account of the illustrious family of the moon, which has produced many celebrated rulers of the earth; a race adorned by the regal qualities of strength, valour, magnificence, prudence, and activity; and enumerating amongst its monarchs Nahusha, Yayati, Kartaviryarjuna, and others equally renowned. That race will I describe to you: do you attend.

Atri was the son of Brahma, the creator of the universe, who sprang from the lotus that grew from the navel of Narayana. The son of Atri was Soma [1] (the moon), whom Brahma installed as the sovereign of plants, of Brahmans, and of the stars. Soma celebrated the Rajasuya sacrifice, and from the glory thence acquired, and the extensive dominion with which he had been invested, he became arrogant and licentious, and carried off Tara, the wife of Vrihaspati, the preceptor of the gods. In vain Vrihaspati sought to recover his bride; in vain Brahma commanded, and the holy sages remonstrated; Soma refused to relinquish her. Us'anas, out of enmity to Vrihaspati, took part with Soma. Rudra, who had studied under Angiras, the father of Vrihaspati, befriended his fellow-student. In consequence of Us'anas, their preceptor, joining Soma, Jambha, Kujambha, and all the Daityas, Danavas, and other foes of the gods, came also to his assistance; whilst Indra and all the gods were the allies of Vrihaspati.

Then there ensued a fierce contest, which, being on account of Taraka (or Tara), was termed the Tarakamaya or Taraka war. In this the gods, led by Rudra, hurled their missiles on the enemy; and the Daityas with equal determination assailed the gods. Earth, shaken to her centre by the struggle between such foes, had recourse to Brahma for protection; on which he interposed, and commanding Us'anas with the demons and Rudra with the deities to desist from strife, compelled Soma to restore Tara to her husband. Finding that she was pregnant, Vrihaspati desired her no longer to retain her burden; and in obedience to his orders she was delivered of a son, whom she deposited in a clump of long Munja grass. The child, from the moment of its birth, was endued with a splendour that dimmed the radiance of every other divinity, and both Vrihaspati and Soma, fascinated by his beauty, claimed him as their child. The gods, in order to settle the dispute, appealed to Tara; but she was ashamed, and would make no answer. As she still continued mute to their repeated applications, the child became incensed, and was about to curse her, saying, “Unless, vile woman, you immediately declare who is my father, I will sentence you to such a fate as shall deter every female in future from hesitating to speak the truth.” On this, Brahma again interfered, and pacified the child; and then, addressing Tara, said, “Tell me, daughter, is this the child of Vrihaspati, or of Soma?” “Of Soma,” said Tara, blushing. As soon as she had spoken, the lord of the constellations, his countenance bright, and expanding with rapture, embraced his son, and said, “Well done, my boy; verily thou art wise:” and hence his name was Budha [2].

It has already been related how Budha begot Pururavas by Ila. Pururavas [3] was a prince renowned for liberality, devotion, magnificence, and love of truth, and for personal beauty. Urvas'i having incurred the imprecation of Mitra and Varuna, determined to take up her abode in the world of mortals; and descending accordingly, beheld Pururavas. As soon as she saw him she forgot all reserve, and disregarding the delights of Swarga, became deeply enamoured of the prince. Beholding her infinitely superior to all other females in grace, elegance, symmetry, delicacy, and beauty, Pururavas was equally fascinated by Urvas'i: both were inspired by similar sentiments, and mutually feeling that each was every thing to the other, thought no more of any other object. Confiding in his merits, Pururavas addressed the nymph, and said, “Fair creature, I love you; have compassion on me, and return my affection.” Urvas'i, half averting her face through modesty, replied, “I will do so, if you will observe the conditions I have to propose.” “What are they?” inquired the prince; “declare them.” “I have two rams,” said the nymph, “which I love as children; they must be kept near my bedside, and never suffered to be carried away: you must also take care never to he seen by me undressed; and clarified butter alone must be my food.” To these terms the king readily gave assent.

After this, Pururavas and Urvas'i dwelt together in Alaka, sporting amidst the groves and lotus-crowned lakes of Chaitraratha, and the other forests there situated, for sixty-one thousand years [4]. The love of

Pururavas for his bride increased every day of its duration; and the affection of Urvas'i augmenting equally in fervour, she never called to recollection residence amongst the immortals. Not so with the attendant spirits at the court of Indra; and nymphs, genii, and quiristers, found heaven itself but dull whilst Urvas'i was away. Knowing the agreement that Urvas'i had made with the king, Vis'wavasu was appointed by the Gandharbas to effect its violation; and he, coming by night to the chamber where they slept, carried off one of the rams. Urvas'i was awakened by its cries, and exclaimed, Ah me! who has stolen one of my children? Had I a husband, this would not have happened! To whom shall I apply for aid?” The Raja overheard her lamentation, but recollecting that he was undressed, and that Urvas'i might see him in that state, did not move from the couch. Then the Gandharbas came and stole the other ram; and Urvas'i, hearing it bleat, cried out that a woman had no protector who was the bride of a prince so dastardly as to submit to this outrage. This incensed Pururavas highly, and trusting that the nymph would not see his person, as it was dark, he rose, and took his sword, and pursued the robbers, calling upon them to stop, and receive their punishment. At that moment the Gandharbas caused a flash of brilliant lightning to play upon the chamber, and Urvas'i beheld the king undressed: the compact was violated, and the nymph immediately disappeared. The Gandharbas, abandoning the rams, departed to the region of the gods.

Having recovered the animals, the king returned delighted to his couch, but there he beheld no Urvas'i; and not finding her any where, he wandered naked over the world, like one insane. At length coming to Kurukshetra, he saw Urvas'i sporting with four other nymphs of heaven in a lake beautified with lotuses, and he ran to her, and called her his wife, and wildly implored her to return. “Mighty monarch,” said the nymph, “refrain from this extravagance. I am now pregnant: depart at present, and come hither again at the end of a year, when I will deliver to you a son, and remain with you for one night.” Pururavas, thus comforted, returned to his capital. Urvas'i said to her companions, “This prince is a most excellent mortal: I lived with him long and affectionately united.” “It was well done of you,” they replied; “he is indeed of comely appearance, and one with whom we could live happily for ever.”

When the year had expired, Urvas'i and the monarch met at Kurukshetra, and she consigned to him his first-born Ayus; and these annual interviews were repeated, until she had borne to him five sons. She then said to Pururavas, “Through regard for me, all the Gandharbas have expressed their joint purpose to bestow upon my lord their benediction: let him therefore demand a boon.” The Raja replied, “My enemies are all destroyed, my faculties are all entire; I have friends and kindred, armies and treasures: there is nothing which I may not obtain except living in the same region with my Urvas'i. My only desire therefore is, to pass my life with her.” When he had thus spoken, the Gandharbas brought to Pururavas a vessel with fire, and said to him, “Take this fire, and, according to the precepts of the Vedas, divide it into three fires; then fixing your mind upon the idea of living with Urvas'i, offer oblations, and you shall assuredly obtain your wishes.” The Raja took the brasier, and departed, and came to a forest. Then he began to reflect that he had committed a great folly in bringing away the vessel of fire instead of his bride; and leaving the vessel in the wood, he went disconsolate to his palace. In the middle of the night he awoke, and considered that the Gandharbas had given him the brasier to enable him to obtain the felicity of living with Urvas'i, and that it was absurd in him to have left it by the way. Resolving therefore to recover it, he rose, and went to the place where he had deposited the vessel; but it was gone. In its stead he saw a young As'wattha tree growing out of a S'ami plant, and he reasoned with himself, and said, “I left in this spot a vessel of fire, and now behold a young As'wattha tree growing out of a S'ami plant. Verily I will take these types of fire to my capital, and there, having engendered fire by their attrition, I will worship it.” Having thus determined, he took the plants to his city, and prepared their wood for attrition, with pieces of as many inches long as there are syllables in the Gayatri: he recited that holy verse, and rubbed together sticks of as many inches as he recited syllables in the

Gayatri [5]. Having thence elicited fire, he made it threefold, according to the injunctions of the Vedas, and offered oblations with it, proposing as the end of the ceremony reunion with Urvas'i. In this way, celebrating many sacrifices agreeably to the form in which offerings are presented with fire, Pururavas obtained a seat in the sphere of the Gandharbas, and was no more separated from his beloved. Thus fire, that was at first but one, was made threefold in the present Manwantara by the son of Ila [6].


  • 392:1 The Vayu says the essence of Soma (Somatwa) issued from the eyes of Atri, and impregnated the ten quarters. The Bhagavata says merely that Soma was born from the eyes of Atri. The Brahma P. and Hari V. give a grosser name to the effusion.
  • 393:2 'He who knows.' Much erroneous speculation has originated in confounding this Budha, the son of Soma, and regent of the planet Mercury, 'he who knows,' the intelligent, with Buddha, any deified mortal, or 'he by whom truth is known;' or, as individually applicable, Gautama or S'akya, son of the Raja S'uddhodana, by [p. 394] whom the Buddhists themselves aver their doctrines were first promulgated. The two characters have nothing in common, and the names are identical only when one or other is misspelt.
  • 394:3 The story of Pururavas is told much in the same strain as follows, though with some variations, and in greater or less detail, in the Vayu, Matsya, Vamana, Padma, and Bhagavata Puranas. It is also referred to in the Mahabharata, vol. I. p. 113. It is likewise the subject of the Vikrama and Urvas'i of Kalidasa, in which drama the incidents offensive to good taste are not noticed. See Hindu Theatre, vol. I. p. 587. The Matsya Purana, besides this story, which is translated in the introduction to the drama, has in another part, c. 94, an account of a Pururavas, who, in the Chakshusha Manwantara, was king of Madra, and who by the worship of Vishnu obtained a residence with the Gandharbas.
  • 394:4 One copy has sixty-one years; the Brahma P. and Hari V. have fifty-nine: one period is as likely as the other.
  • 397:5 It does not appear why this passage is repeated. The length of the sticks, conformably to the number of syllables in the usual form of the Gayatri, would be twenty-four inches. The Bhagavata attaches to the operation a piece of mysticism of a Tantrika origin: Pururavas, whilst performing the attrition, mentally identifies himself and Urvas'i with the two sticks, and repeats the Mantra, ###.
  • 397:6 The division of one fire into three is ascribed to Pururavas by the Mahabharata and the rest. The commentator on the former specifies them as the Garhapatya, Dakshina, and Ahavaniya, which Sir Wm. Jones, Manu, II. 231, renders nuptial, ceremonial, and sacrificial fires; or rather, 1. household, that which is perpetually maintained by a householder; 2. a fire for sacrifices, placed to the south of the rest; and 3. a consecrated fire for oblations; forming the Tretagni, or triad of sacred fires, in opposition to the Laukika, or merely temporal ones. To Pururavas it would appear the triple arrangement was owing; but there are some other curious traditions regarding him, which indicate his being the author of some important innovations in the Hindu ritual. The Bhagavata says, that before his time there was but one Veda, one caste, one fire, and one god, Narayana; and that, in the beginning of the Treta age, Pururavas made them all 'three:' that is, according to the commentator, the ritual was then instituted: The Matsya P. has an account of this prince's going to the orbit of the sun and moon at every conjunction, when oblations to progenitors are to be offered, as if obsequial rites had originated with Pururavas. The Mahabharata states some still more remarkable particulars. 'The glorious Pururavas, endowed, although a mortal, with the properties of a deity, governing the thirteen islands of the ocean, engaged in hostilities with the Brahmans in the pride of his strength, and seized their jewels, as they exclaimed against his oppression. Sanatkumara came from the sphere of Brahma to teach him the rules of duty, but Pururavas did not accept his instructions, and the king, deprived of understanding by the pride of his power, and actuated by avarice, was therefore ever accursed by the offended great sages, and was destroyed.'



Sons of Pururavas. Descendants of Amavasu. Indra born as Gadhi. Legend of Richika and Satyavati. Birth of Jamadagni and Vis'wamitra. Paras'urama the son of the former. (Legend of Paras'urama.) Sunahs'ephas and others the sons of Vis'wamitra, forming the Kaus'ika race.

PURURAVAS had six sons, Ayus, Dhimat, Amavasu, Vis'wavasu, S'atayus, and S'rutayus [1]. The son of Amavasu was Bhima [2]; his son was Kanchana [3]; his son was Suhotra [4], whose was Jahnu. This prince, whilst performing a sacrifice, saw the whole of the place overflowed by the waters of the Ganges. Highly offended at this intrusion, his eyes red with anger, he united the spirit of sacrifice with himself, by the power of his devotion, and drank up the river. The gods and sages upon this came to him, and appeased his indignation, and reobtained Ganga from him, in the capacity of his daughter (whence she is called Jahnavi) [5].

The son of Jahnu was Sumantu [6]; his son was Ajaka; his son was Valakas'wa [7]; his son was Kus'a [8], who had four sons, Kus'amba, Kus'anabha, Amurttaya, and Amavasu [9]. Kus'amba, being desirous of a son, engaged in devout penance to obtain one who should be equal to Indra. Observing the intensity of his devotions, Indra was alarmed lest a prince of power like his own should be engendered, and determined therefore to take upon himself the character of Kus'amba's son [10]. He was accordingly born as Gadhi, of the race of Kus'a (Kaus'ika). Gadhi had a daughter named Satyavati. Richika, of the descendants of Bhrigu, demanded her in marriage. The king was very unwilling to give his daughter to a peevish old Brahman, and demanded of him, as the nuptial present, a thousand fleet horses, whose colour should be white, with one black ear. Richika having propitiated Varuna, the god of ocean, obtained from him, at the holy place called As'watirtha, a thousand such steeds; and giving them to the king, espoused his daughter [11].

In order to effect the birth of a son, Richika [12] prepared a dish of rice, barley, and pulse, with butter and milk, for his wife to eat; and at her request he consecrated a similar mixture for her mother, by partaking of which she should give birth to a prince of martial prowess. Leaving both dishes with his wife, after describing particularly which was intended for her, and which for her mother, the sage went forth to the forests. When the time arrived for the food to be eaten, the queen said to Satyavati, “Daughter, all persons wish their children to be possessed of excellent qualities, and would be mortified to see them surpassed by the merits of their mother's brother. It will be desirable for you, therefore, to give me the mess your husband has set apart for you, and to eat of that intended for me; for the son which it is to procure me is destined to be the monarch of the whole world, whilst that which your dish would give you must be a Brahman, alike devoid of affluence, valour, and power.” Satyavati agreed to her mother's proposal, and they exchanged messes.

When Richika returned home, and beheld Satyavati, he said to her, “Sinful woman, what hast thou done! I view thy body of a fearful appearance. Of a surety thou hast eaten the consecrated food which was prepared for thy mother: thou hast done wrong. In that food I had infused the properties of power and strength and heroism; in thine, the qualities suited to a Brahman, gentleness, knowledge, and resignation. In consequence of having reversed my plans, thy son shall follow a warrior's propensities, and use weapons, and fight, and slay. Thy mother's son shall be born with the inclinations of a Brahman, and be addicted to peace and piety.” Satyavati, hearing this, fell at her husband's feet, and said, “My lord, I have done this thing through ignorance; have compassion on me; let me not have a son such as thou hast foretold: if such there must be, let it be my grandson, not my son.” The Muni, relenting at her distress, replied, “So let it be.” Accordingly in due season she gave birth to Jamadagni; and her mother brought forth Viswamitra. Satyavati afterwards became the Kaus'iki river [13]. Jamadagni married Renuka, the daughter of Renu, of the family of Ikshwaku, and had by her the destroyer of the Kshatriya race, Paras'urama, who was a portion of Narayana, the spiritual guide of the universe [14].


  • 398:1 Considerable variety prevails in these names, and the Matsya, Padma, Brahma, and Agni enumerate eight. The lists are as follows:
  The list of the Brahma is that of the Mahabharata, with the addition of S'atayus and Vis'wayus; and the Padma agrees with the Matsya.
  • 398:2 Son of Vijaya: Bhagavata. This line of princes is followed only in our text, the Vayu, Brahma, and Hari V., and the Bhagavata.
  • 398:3 Kanchanaprabha: Brahma.
  • 398:4 Hotraka: Bhagavata.
  • 398:5 The Brahma P. and Hari V. add of this prince, that he was the husband of Kaveri, the daughter of Yuvanas'wa, who by the imprecation of her husband became the Kaveri river: another indication of the Dakshina origin of these works. The [p. 399] Hari V. has another Jahnu, to whom it gives the same spouse, as we shall hereafter see.
  • 399:6 Sunuta: Brahma. Puru: Bhagavata.
  • 399:7 Valaka: Brahma. Ajaka: Bhagavata.
  • 399:8 The Brahma P. and Hari V. add that Kus'a was in alliance with the Pahlavas and foresters.
  • 399:9 Our authorities differ as to these names:
     Brahma and Hari V.
    Kus'as'wa   or,
  The Ramayana has Kus'amba, Kus'anabha, Amurttarayasa, and Vasu; and makes them severally the founders of Kaus'ambi, of Mahodaya (which afterwards appears the same as Kanoj), Dharmaranya, and Girivraja; the latter being in the mountainous part of Magadha. I. s. 29.
  • 399:10 The Brahma and Hari V. make Gadhi the son of Kus'ika; the Vayu and Bhagavata, of Kus'anaba; the Ramayana, of Kus'anabha.
  • 399:11 The Ramayana notices the marriage, but has no legend. The Mahabharata, Vans P., has a rather more detailed narration, but much the same as in the text. According to the commentator, As'watirtha is in the district of Kanoj; perhaps at the confluence of the Kalanadi with the Ganges. The agency of the god of Ocean in procuring horses, is a rather curious additional coincidence between Varuna and Neptune.
  • 399:12 In the Mahabharata, Bhrigu, the father of Richika, prepares the Charu.
  • 400:13 So the Ramayana, after stating that Satyavati followed her husband in death, adds, that she became the Kaus'iki river; the Cosi, which, rising in Nepal, flows through Puraniya into the Ganges, opposite nearly to Rajamahal.
  • 401:14 The text omits the story of Paras'urama, but as the legend makes a great figure in the Vaishnava works in general, I have inserted it from the Mahabharata, where it is twice related, once in the Vana Parva, and once in the Rajadharma section of the S'anti Parva. It is told also at length in the ninth book of the Bhagavata, in the Padma and Agni Puranas, &c.


(From the Mahabharata.)

“JAMADAGNI (the son of Richika [15]) was a pious sage, who by the fervour of his devotions, whilst engaged in holy study, obtained entire possession of the Vedas. Having gone to king Prasenajit, he demanded in marriage his daughter Renuka, and the king gave her unto him. The descendant of Bhrigu conducted the princess to his hermitage, and dwelt with her there, and she was contented to partake in his ascetic life. They had four sons, and then a fifth, who was Jamadagnya, the last but not the least of the brethren, Once when her sons were all absent, to gather the fruits on which they fed, Renuka, who was exact in the discharge of all her duties, went forth to bathe. On her way to the stream she beheld Chitraratha, the prince of Mrittikavati, with a garland of lotuses on his neck, sporting with his queen in the water, and she felt envious of their felicity. Defiled by unworthy thoughts, wetted but not purified by the stream, she returned disquieted to the hermitage, and her husband perceived her agitation. Beholding her fallen from perfection, and shorn of the lustre of her sanctity, Jamadagni reproved her, and was exceeding wroth. Upon this there came her sons from the wood, first the eldest, Rumanwat, then Sushena, then Vasu, and then Vis'wavasu; and each, as he entered, was successively commanded by his father to put his mother to death; but amazed, and influenced by natural affection, neither of them made any reply: therefore Jamadagni was angry, and cursed them, and they became as idiots, and lost all understanding, and were like unto beasts or birds. Lastly, Rama returned to the hermitage, when the mighty and holy Jamadagni said unto him, 'Kill thy mother, who has sinned; and do it, son, without repining.' Rama accordingly took up his axe, and struck off his mother's head; whereupon the wrath of the illustrious and mighty Jamadagni was assuaged, and he was pleased with his son, and said, 'Since thou hast obeyed my commands, and done what was hard to be performed, demand from me whatever blessings thou wilt, and thy desires shall be all fulfilled.' Then Rama begged of his father these boons; the restoration of his mother to life, with forgetfulness of her having been slain, and purification from all defilement; the return of his brothers to their natural condition; and, for himself, invincibility in single combat, and length of days: and all these did his father bestow.

“It happened on one occasion, that, during the absence of the Rishi's sons, the mighty monarch Karttavirya, the sovereign of the Haihaya tribe, endowed by the favour of Dattatreya with a thousand arms, and a golden chariot that went wheresoever he willed it to go, came to the hermitage [16] of Jamadagni, where the wife of the sage received him with all proper respect. The king, inflated with the pride of valour, made no return to her hospitality, but carried off with him by violence the calf of the milch cow of the sacred oblation [17], and cast down the tall trees surrounding the hermitage. When Rama returned, his father told him what had chanced, and he saw the cow in affliction, and he was filled with wrath. Taking up his splendid bow [18], Bhargava, the slayer of hostile heroes, assailed Karttavirya, who had now become subject to the power of death, and overthrew him in battle. With sharp arrows Rama cut off his thousand arms, and the king perished. The sons of Karttavirya, to revenge his death, attacked the hermitage of Jamadagni, when Rama was away, and slew the pious and unresisting sage, who called repeatedly, but fruitlessly, upon his valiant son. They then departed; and when Rama returned, bearing fuel from the thickets, he found his father lifeless, and thus bewailed his unmerited fate: 'Father, in resentment of my actions have you been murdered by wretches as foolish as they are base! by the sons of Karttavirya are you struck down, as a deer in the forest by the huntsman's shafts! Ill have you deserved such a death; you who have ever trodden the path of virtue, and never offered wrong to any created thing! How great is the crime that they have committed, in slaying with their deadly shafts an old man like you, wholly occupied with pious cares, and engaging not in strife! Much have they to boast of to their fellows and their friends, that they have shamelessly slain a solitary hermit, incapable of contending in arms!' Thus lamenting, bitterly and repeatedly, Rama performed his father's last obsequies, and lighted his funeral pile. He then made a vow that he would extirpate the whole Kshatriya race. In fulfilment of this purpose he took up his arms, and with remorseless and fatal rage singly destroyed in fight the sons of Karttavirya; and after them, whatever Kshatriyas he encountered, Rama, the first of warriors, likewise slew. Thrice seven times did the clear the earth of the Kshatriya caste [19]; and he filled with their blood the five large lakes of Samanta-panchaka, from which he offered libations to the race of Bhrigu. There did he behold his sire again, and the son of Richika beheld his son, and told him what to do. Offering a solemn sacrifice to the king of the gods, Jamadagnya presented the earth to the ministering priests. To Kas'yapa he gave the altar made of gold, ten fathoms in length, and nine in height [20]. With the permission of Kas'yapa, the Brahmans divided it in pieces amongst them, and they were thence called Khandavayana Brahmans. Having given the earth to Kas'yapa, the hero of immeasurable prowess retired to the Mahendra mountain, where he still resides: and in this manner was there enmity between him and the race of Kshatriyas, and thus was the whole earth conquered by Rama [21].”

The son of Viswamitra was S'unahs'ephas, the descendant of Bhrigu, given by the gods, and thence named Devarata [22]. Viswamitra had other sons also, amongst whom the most celebrated were Madhuchhandas, Kritajaya, Devadeva, Ashtaka, Kachchapa, and Harita; these founded many families, all of whom were known by the name of Kaus'ikas, and intermarried with the families of various Rishis [23].

Footnotes EndFootnotes

  • 401:15 The circumstances of Richika's marriage, and the birth of Jamadagni and Vis'wamitra, are told much in the same manner as in our text both in the Mahabharata and Bhagavata.
  • 402:16 In the beginning of the legend occurs the account of Karttaviryarjuna, with the addition that he oppressed both men and gods. The latter applying to Vishnu for succour, he descended to earth, and was born as Paras'urama, for the especial purpose of putting the Haihaya king to death.
  • 402:17 In the Rajadharma the sons of the king carry off the calf. The Bhagavata makes the king seize upon the cow, by whose aid Jamadagni had previously entertained Arjuna and all his train: borrowing, no doubt, these embellishments from the similar legend of Vas'ishtha and Vis'wamitra, related in the Ramayana.
  • 402:18 The characteristic weapon of Rama is however an axe (paras'u), whence his name Rama, 'with the axe.' It was given to him by S'iva, whom the hero propitiated on mount Gandhamadana. He at the same time received instruction in the use of weapons generally, and the art of war. Raja Dharma.
  • 403:19 This more than 'thrice slaying of the slain' is explained in the Rajadharma to mean, that he killed the men of so many generations, as fast as they grew up to adolescence.
  • 403:20 It is sometimes read Narotsedha, 'as high as a man.'
  • 404:21 The story, as told in the Rajadharma section, adds, that when Rama had given the earth to Kas'yapa, the latter desired him to depart, as there was no dwelling for him in it, and to repair to the seashore of the south, where Ocean made for him (or relinquished to him) the maritime district named S'urparaka. The traditions of the Peninsula ascribe the formation of the coast of Malabar to this origin, and relate that Paras'urama compelled the ocean to retire, and introduced Brahmans and colonists from the north into Kerala or Malabar. According to some accounts he stood on the promontory of Dilli, and shot his arrows to the south, over the site of Kerala. It seems likely that we have proof of the local legend being at least as old as the beginning of the Christian era, as the mons Pyrrhus of Ptolemy is probably the mountain of Paras'u or Paras'urama. See Catalogue of Mackenzie Collection, Introd. p. xcv. and vol. II. p. 74. The Rajadharma also gives an account of the Kshatriyas who escaped even the thrice seven times repeated destruction of their race. Some of the Haihayas were concealed by the earth as women; the son of Viduratha, of the race of Puru, was preserved in the Riksha mountain, where he was nourished by the bears; Sarvakarman, the son of Saudasa, was saved by Paras'ara, performing the offices of a S'udra; Gopati, son of S'ivi, was nourished by cows in the forests; Vatsa, the son of Pratarddana, was concealed amongst the calves in a cow-pen; the son of Deviratha was secreted by Gautama on the banks of the Ganges; Vrihadratha was preserved in Gridhrakuta; and descendants of Marutta were saved by the ocean. From these the lines of kings were continued; but it does not appear from the ordinary lists that they were ever interrupted. This legend however, as well as that of the Ramayana, b. I. c. 52, no doubt intimates a violent and protracted struggle between the Brahmans and Kshatriyas for supreme domination in India, as indeed the text of the Mahabharata more plainly denotes, as Earth is made to say to Kas'yapa, 'The fathers and grandfathers of these Kshatriyas have been killed by the remorseless Rama in warfare on my account.'
  • 404:22 The story of S'unahs'ephas is told by different authorities, with several variations. As the author of various S'uktas in the Rich, he is called the son of Ajigartta. The Ramayana makes him the middle son of the sage Richika, sold to Ambarisha, king of Ayodhya, by his parents, to be a victim in a human sacrifice offered [p. 405] by that prince. He is set at liberty by Vis'wamitra, but it is not added that he was adopted. The Bhagavata concurs in the adoption, but makes S'unahs'ephas the son of Vis'wamitra's sister, by Ajigartta of the line of Bhrigu, and states his being purchased as a victim for the sacrifice of Haris'chandra (see n. . <page 372>). The Vayu makes him a son of Richika, but alludes to his being the victim at Haris'chandra's sacrifice. According to the Ramayana, Viswamitra called upon his sons to take the place of S'unahs'ephas, and on their refusing, degraded them to the condition of Chandalas. The Bhagavata says, that fifty only of the hundred sons of Viswamitra were expelled their tribe, for refusing to acknowledge S'unahs'ephas or Devarata as their elder brother. The others consented; and the Bhagavata expresses this; 'They said to the elder, profoundly versed in the Mantras, We are your followers:' as the commentator; ###. The Ramayana also observes, that S'unahs'ephas, when bound, praised Indra with Richas or hymns of the Rig-veda. The origin of the story therefore, whatever may be its correct version, must be referred to the Vedas; and it evidently alludes to some innovation in the ritual, adopted by a part only of the Kaus'ika families of Brahmans.
  • 405:23 The Bhagavata says one hundred sons, besides Devarata and others, as Ashtaka, Harita, &c. Much longer lists of names are given in the Vayu, Bhagavata, Brahma, and Hari V. The two latter specify the mothers. Thus Devas'ravas, Kati (the founder of the Katyayanas), and Hiranyaksha were sons of S'ilavati; Renuka, Galava, Sankriti, Mudgala, Madhuchchandas, and Devala were sons of Renu; and Ashtaka, Kachchhapa, and Harita were the sons of Drishadvati. The same works enumerate the Gotras, the families or tribes of the Kaus'ika Brahmans: these are, Parthivas, Devaratas, Yajnawalkyas, Samarshanas, Udumbaras, Dumlanas, Tarakayanas, Munchatas, Lohitas, Renus, Karishus, Babhrus, Paninas, Dhyanajyapyas, S'yalantas, Hiranyakshas, S'ankus, Galavas, Yamadutas, Devalas, S'alankayanas, Bashkalas, Dadativadaras, S'aus'ratas, S'aindhavayanas, Nishnatas, Chunchulas, S'alankrityas, Sankrityas, Vadaranyas, and an infinity of others, multiplied by intermarriages with other tribes, and who, according to the Vayu, were originally of the regal caste, like Viswamitra; but, like him, obtained Brahmanhood through devotion. Now these Gotras, or some of them at least, no doubt existed, partaking more of the character of schools of doctrine, but in which teachers and scholars were very likely to have become of one family by intermarrying; and the whole, as well as their original founder, imply the interference of the Kshatriya caste with the Brahmanical monopoly of religious instruction and composition.



Sons of Ayus. Line of Kshatravriddha, or kings of Kas'i. Former birth of Dhanwantari. Various names of Pratarddana. Greatness of Alarka.

AYUS, the eldest son of Pururavas, married the daughter of Rahu (or Arahu), by whom he had five sons, Nahusha, Kshatravriddha [1], Rambha [2], Raji, and Anenas [3].

The son of Kshatravriddha was Suhotra [4], who had three sons, Kas'a [5], Les'a [6], and Ghritsamada. The son of the last was S'aunaka [7], who first established the distinctions of the four castes [8]. The son of Kas'a was Kas'iraja [9]; his son was Dirghatamas [10]; his son was Dhanwantari, whose nature was exempt from human infirmities, and who in every existence had been master of universal knowledge. In his past life (or when he was produced by the agitation of the milky sea), Narayana had conferred upon him the boon, that he should subsequently be born in the family of Kasiraja, should compose the eightfold system of medical science [11], and should be thereafter entitled to a share of offerings made to the gods. The son of Dhanwantari was Ketumat; his son was Bhimaratha; his son was Divodasa [12]; his son was Pratarddana, so named from destroying the race of Bhadras'renya. He had various other appellations, as S'atrujit, 'the victor over his foes,' from having vanquished all his enemies; Vatsa, or 'child,' from his father's frequently calling him by that name; Ritadhwaja, 'he whose emblem was truth,' being a great observer of veracity; and Kuvalayas'wa, because he had a horse (as'wa) called Kuvalaya [13]. The son of this prince was Alarka, of whom this verse is sung in the present day; “For sixty thousand and sixty hundred years no other youthful monarch except Alarka, reigned over the earth [14].” The son of Alarka was

Santati [15]; his son was Sunitha; his son was Suketu; his son was Dharmaketu; his son was Satyaketu; his son was Vibhu; his son was Suvibhu; his son was Sukumara; his son was Dhrishtaketu; his son was Vainahotra; his son was Bharga; his son was Bhargabhumi; from whom also rules for the four castes were promulgated [16]. These are the Kas'ya princes, or descendants of Kas'a [17]. We will now enumerate the descendants of Raji.


  • 406:1 Dharmavriddha: Vayu. Vriddhas'arman: Matsya. Yajnas'arman: Padma.
  • 406:2 Darbha: Agni. Dambha: Padma.
  • 406:3 Vipapman: Agni and Matsya. Vidaman: Padma. The two last authorities proceed no farther with this line.
  • 406:4 Sunahotra: Vayu, Brahma.
  • 406:5 Kas'ya: Bhagavata.
  • 406:6 Sala: Vayu, Brahma, Hari V.: whose son was Arshtisena, father of Charanta; Vayu: of Kas'yapa; Brahma and Hari V.
  • 406:7 Here is probably an error, for the Vayu, Bhagavata, and Brahma agree in making S'unaka the son of Ghritsamada, and father of S'aunaka.
  • 406:8 The expression is 'The originator or causer of the distinctions (or duties) of the four castes.' The commentator, however, understands the expression to signify, that his descendants were of the four castes. So also the Vayu: 'The son of Ghritsamada was S'unaka, whose son was S'aunaka. Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vais'yas, and S'udras were born in his race; Brahmans by distinguished deeds.' The existence of but one caste in the age of purity, however incompatible with the legend which ascribes the origin of the four tribes to Brahma, is every where admitted. Their separation is assigned to different individuals, whether accurately to any one may be doubted; but the notion indicates that the distinction was of a social or political character.
  • 406:9 Kas'iya: Brahma.
  • 406:10 Dirghatapas: Vayu. Ghritsatamas: Agni. The Bhagavata inserts a Rashtra before this prince, and the Vayu a Dharma after him.
  • 407:11 The eight branches of medical science are, 1. S'alya, extraction of extraneous bodies; 2. S'alaka, treatment of external organic affections: these two constitute surgery: 3. Chikitsa, administration of medicines, or medical treatment in general; 4. Bhutavidya, treatment of maladies referred to demoniac possession; 5. Kaumarabhritya, midwifery and management of children; 6. Agada, alexipharmacy; 7. Rasayana, alchemical therapeutics; 8. Bajikarana, use of aphrodisiacs. Dhanwantari, according to the Brahma Vaivartta P., was preceded in medical science by Atreya, Bharadwaja, and Charaka: his pupil S'us'ruta is the reputed author of a celebrated work still extant. It seems probable that Kas'i or Benares was at an early period a celebrated school of medicine.
  • 407:12 Some rather curious legends are connected with this prince in the Vayu and Brahma Puranas, and Hari Vans'a, and especially in the Kas'i Khanda of the Skanda Purana. According to these authorities, S'iva and Parvati, desirous of occupying Kas'i, which Divodasa possessed, sent Nikumbha, one of the Ganas of the former, to lead the prince to the adoption of Buddhist doctrines; in consequence of which he was expelled from the sacred city, and, according to the Vayu, founded another on the banks of the Gomati. We have, however, also some singular, though obscure intimations of some of the political events of this and the succeeding reign. The passage of the Vayu is, 'The king Divodasa, having slain the hundred sons of Bhadras'renya, took possession of his kingdom, which was conquered by that hero. The son of Bhadras'renya, celebrated by the name of Durdama, was spared by Divodasa, as being an infant. Pratarddana was the son of Divodasa by Drishadvati; and by that great prince, desirous of destroying all enmity, (was recovered) that (territory) which had been seized by that young boy (Durdama).' This is not very explicit, and something is wanted to complete the sense. The Brahma P. and Hari V. tell the story twice over, chiefly in the words of the Vayu, but with some additions. In ch. 29. we have, first, the first three lines of the above extract; then comes the story of Benares being deserted; we then have the two next lines; then follow, 'That prince (Durdama) invading his patrimonial possessions, the territory which Divodasa had seized by force was recovered by the gallant son of Bhadhras'renya, Durddama, a warrior desirous, mighty king, [p. 408] to effect the destruction of his foes.' Here the victory is ascribed to Durddama, in opposition to what appears to be the sense of the Vayu, and what is undoubtedly that of our text, which says that he was called Pratarddana from destroying the race of Bhadras'renya, and S'atrujit from vanquishing all his foes. By Vairasya anta, 'the end of hostility or enmity,' is obviously not to be understood here, as M. Langlois has intimated, a friendly pacification, but the end or destruction of all enemies. In the 32d chapter of the Hari Vans'a we have precisely the same lines, slightly varied as to their order; but they are preceded by this verse; 'The city (that on the Gomati), before the existence of Benares, of Bhadras'renya, a pious prince of the Yadu race: This verse is not in the Brahma P. After giving the rest of the above quotation, except the last line, the passage proceeds, 'The king called Ashtaratha was the son of Bhimaratha; and by him, great king, a warrior desirous of destroying his foes was (the country) recovered, the children (of Durdama) being infants.' According to the same authority, we are here to understand Bhimaratha and Ashtaratha as epithets of Divodasa and Pratarddana. From these scanty and ill-digested notices it appears, that Divodasa, on being expelled from Benares, took some city and district on the Gomati from the family of Bhadras'renya; that Durdama recovered the country, and that Pratarddana again conquered it from his descendants. The alternation concerned apparently only bordering districts, for the princes of Mahishmati and of Kas'i continue, in both an earlier and a later series, in undisturbed possession of their capitals and their power.
  • 408:13 The Vayu, Agni, Brahma P., and Hari V. interpose two sons of Pratarddana, Garga or Bharga and Vatsa; and they make Vatsa the father of Alarka, except the Brahma, which has S'atrujit and Ritadhwaja as two princes following Vatsa.
  • 408:14 The Vayu, Brahma, and Hari V. repeat this stanza, and add that Alarka enjoyed such protracted existence through the favour of Lopamudra, and that having [p. 409] lived till the period at which the curs upon terminated, he killed the Rakshas Kshemaka, by whom it had been occupied after it was abandoned by Divodasa, and caused the city to be reinhabited. The Hari V. agrees as usual with the Brahma, except in the reading of one or two names. It is to be observed, however, that the Agni makes the Kas'i princes the descendants of Vitatha, the successor of Bharata. The Brahma P. and Hari V., determined apparently to be right, give the list twice over, deriving it in one place from Kshatravriddha, as in our text, the Vayu, and the Bhagavata; and in another, with the Agni, from Vitatha. The series of the Brahma, however, stops with Lauhi, the son of Alarka, and does not warrant the repetition which the carelessness of the compiler of the Hari Vans'a has superfluously inserted.
  • 409:15 Several varieties occur, in the series that follows, as the comparative lists will best shew:
  • 409:16 Our text is clear enough, and so is the Bhagavata, but the Vayu, Brahma, and Hari V. contain additions of rather doubtful import. The former has, 'The son of Venuhotra was the celebrated Gargya; Gargabhumi was the son of Gargya; and Vatsa, of the wise Vatsa: virtuous Brahmans and Kshatriyas[p. 410] were the sons of these two.' By the second Vatsa is perhaps meant Vatsabhumi; and the purport of the passage is, that Gargya (or possibly rather Bharga, one of the sons of Pratarddana) and Vatsa were the founders of two races (Bhumi, 'earth,' implying 'source' or founder', who were Kshatriyas by birth, and Brahmans by profession. The Brahma and Hari V., apparently misunderstanding this text, have increased the perplexity. According to them, the son of Venuhotra was Bharga; Vatsabhumi was the son of Vatsa; and Bhargabhumi (Bhrigubhumi, Brahma) was from Bhargava. 'These sons of Angiras were born in the family of Bhrigu, thousands of great might, Brahmans, Kshatriyas and Vais'yas.' The commentator has, 'Another son of Vatsa, the father of Alarka, is described, Vatsabhumi, &c. From Bhargava, the brother of Vatsa. (They were) Angirasas from Galava belonging to that family, (and were born) in the family of Bhrigu from the descent of Vis'wamitra.' The interpretation is not very clear, but it authorizes the notion above expressed, that Vatsa and Bharga, the sons of Pratarddana, are the founders of two races of Kshatriya-Brahmans.
  • 410:17 On the subject of note [12]. some farther illustration is derivable from the Mahabharata, S'anti P. Dana-dharma. Haryas'wa the king of the Kas'is, reigning between the Ganges and the Yamuna, or in the Do-ab, was invaded and slain by the Haihayas, a race descended, according to this authority, from S'aryati, the son of Manu (see p. 358). Sudeva, the son of Haryas'wa, was also attacked and defeated by the same enemies. Divodasa, his son, built and fortified Benares as a defence against the Haihayas, but in vain, for they took it, and compelled him to fly. He sought refuge with Bharadwaja, by whose favour he had a son born to him, Pratardana, who destroyed the Haihayas under their king Vitihavya, and reestablished the kingdom of Kas'i. Vitihavya, through the protection of Bhrigu, became a Brahman. The Mahabharata gives a list of his descendants, which contains several of the names of the Kas'ya dynasty of the text; thus, Ghritsamada is said to be his son, and the two last of the line are S'unaka and S'aunaka. See n. [7].



Descendants of Raji, son of Ayus: Indra resigns his throne to him: claimed after his death by his sons, who apostatize from the religion of the Vedas, and are destroyed by Indra. Descendants of Pratikshatra, son of Kshatravriddha.

RAJI had five hundred sons, all of unequalled daring and vigour. Upon the occurrence of a war between the demons and the gods, both parties inquired of Brahma which would be victorious. The deity replied, “That for which Raji shall take up arms.” Accordingly the Daityas immediately repaired to Raji, to secure his alliance; which he promised them, if they would make him their Indra after defeating the gods. To this they answered and said, “We cannot profess one thing, and mean another; our Indra is Prahlada, and it is for him that we wage war.” Having thus spoken, they departed; and the gods then came to him on the like errand. He proposed to them the said conditions, and they agreed that he should be their Indra. Raji therefore joined the heavenly host, and by his numerous and formidable weapons destroyed the army of their enemies.

When the demons were discomfited, Indra placed the feet of Raji upon his head, and said, “Thou hast preserved me from a great danger, and I acknowledge thee as my father; thou art the sovereign chief over all the regions, and I, the Indra of the three spheres, am thy son.” The Raja. smiled, and said, “Even be it so. The regard that is conciliated by many agreeable speeches is not to be resisted even when such language proceeds from a foe (much less should the kind words of a friend fail to win our affection).” He accordingly returned to his own city, and Indra remained as his deputy in the government of heaven.

When Raji ascended to the skies, his sons, at the instigation of Narada, demanded the rank of Indra as their hereditary right; and as the deity refused to acknowledge their supremacy, they reduced him to submission by force, and usurped his station. After some considerable time had elapsed, the god of a hundred sacrifices, Indra, deprived of his share of offerings to the immortals, met with Vrihaspati in a retired place, and said to him, “Cannot you give me a little of the sacrificial butter, even if it were no bigger than a jujube, for I am in want of sustenance?” “If,” replied Vrihaspati, “I had been applied to by you before, I could have done any thing for you that you wished; as it is, I will endeavour and restore you in a few days to your sovereignty.” So saying, he commenced a sacrifice for the purpose of increasing the might of Indra, and of leading the sons of Raji into error, and so effecting their downfall [1]. Misled by their mental fascination, the princes became enemies of the Brahmans, regardless of their duties, and contemners of the precepts of the Vedas; and thus devoid of morality and religion, they were slain by Indra, who by the assistance of the priest of the gods resumed his place in heaven. Whoever hears this story shall retain for ever his proper place, and shall never be guilty of wicked acts.

Rambha, the third son of Ayus, had no progeny [2]. Kshatravriddha had a son named Pratikshatra [3]; his son was Sanjaya; his son was Vijaya [4]; his son was Yajnakrit [5]; his son was Harshavarddhana [6]; his son was Sahadeva; his son was Adina [7]; his son was Jayasena; his son was Sankriti; his son was Kshatradharman [8]. These were the descendants of Kshatravriddha. I will now mention those of Nahusha.


  • 412:1 The Matsya says he taught the sons of Raji the Jinadharma or Jain religion.
  • 412:2 The Bhagavata enumerates however, as his descendants, Rabhasa, Gambhira, and Akriya, whose posterity became Brahmans. The same authority gives as the descendants of Anenas, the fourth son of Ayus, S'uddha, S'uchi, Trikakud, and S'antakhya.
  • 412:3 The Vayu agrees with our text in making Pratipaksha (Pratikshatra) the son of Kshattravriddha; but the Brahma P. and Hari V. consider Anenas to be the head of this branch of the posterity of Ayus. The Bhagavata substitutes Kus'a, the Les'a, of our text, the grandson of Kshatravriddha, for the first name; and this seems most likely to be correct. Although the different MSS. agree in reading ### it should be perhaps ### the patronymic Kshatravriddha; making then, as the Bhagavata does, Pratikshatra the son of the son of Kshatravriddha.
  • 412:4 Jaya: Bhagavata, Vayu.
  • 412:5 Vijaya: Vayu. Krita: Bhagavata,
  • 412:6 Haryas'wa: Brahma, Hari V. Haryavana: Bhagavata.
  • 412:7 The last of the list: Vayu. Ahina: Bhagavata.
  • 412:8 Kshatravriddha: Brahma, Hari V.



The sons of Nahusha. The sons of Yayati: he is cursed by S'ukra: wishes his sons to exchange their vigour for his infirmities. Puru alone consents. Yayati restores him his youth: divides the earth amongst his sons, under the supremacy of Puru.

YATI, Yayati, Sanyati, Ayati, Viyati, and Kriti were the six valiant sons of Nahusha [1]. Yati declined the sovereignty [2], and Yayati therefore succeeded to the throne. He had two wives, Devayani the daughter of Usanas, and S'armishtha the daughter of Vrishaparvan; of whom this genealogical verse is recited: “Devayani bore two sons, Yadu and Turvasu. Sarmishtha, the daughter of Vrishaparvan, had three sons, Druhyu, Anu, and Puru [3].” Through the curse of Us'anas, Yayati became old and infirm before his time; but having appeased his father-in-law, he obtained permission to transfer his decrepitude to any one who would consent to take it. He first applied to his eldest son Yadu, and said, “Your maternal grandfather has brought this premature decay upon me: by his permission, however, I may transfer it to you for a thousand years. I am not yet satiate, with worldly enjoyments, and wish to partake of them through the means of your youth. Do not refuse compliance with my request.” Yadu, however, was not willing to take upon him his father's decay; on which his father denounced an imprecation upon him, and said, “Your posterity shall not possess dominion.” He then applied successively to Druhyu, Turvasu, and Anu, and demanded of them their juvenile vigour. They all refused, and were in consequence cursed by the king. Lastly he made the same request of Sarmishtha's youngest son, Puru, who bowed to his father, and readily consented to give him his youth, and receive in exchange Yayati's infirmities, saying that his father had conferred upon him a great favour.

The king Yayati being thus endowed with renovated youth, conducted the affairs of state for the good of his people, enjoying such pleasures as were suited to his age and strength, and were not incompatible with virtue. He formed a connexion with the celestial nymph Vis'wachi, and was wholly attached to her, and conceived no end to his desires. The more they were gratified, the more ardent they became; as it is said in this verse, “Desire is not appeased by enjoyment: fire fed with sacrificial oil becomes but the more intense. No one has ever more than enough of rice, or barley, or gold, or cattle, or women: abandon therefore inordinate desire. When a mind finds neither good nor ill in all objects, but looks on all with an equal eye, then every thing yields it pleasure. The wise man is filled with happiness, who escapes from desire, which the feeble minded can with difficulty relinquish, and which grows not old with the aged. The hair becomes grey, the teeth fall out, as man advances in years; but the love of wealth, the love of life, are not impaired by age.” “A thousand years have passed,” reflected Yayati, “and my mind is still devoted to pleasure: every day my desires are awakened by new objects. I will therefore now renounce all sensual enjoyment, and fix my mind upon spiritual truth. Unaffected by the alternatives of pleasure and pain, and having nothing I may call my own, I will henceforth roam the forests with the deer.”

Having made this determination, Yayati restored his youth to Puru, resumed his own decrepitude, installed his youngest son in the sovereignty, and departed to the wood of penance (Tapovana [4]). To Turvasu he consigned the south-east districts of his kingdom; the west to Druhyu; the south to Yadu; and the north to Anu; to govern as viceroys under their younger brother Puru, whom he appointed supreme monarch of the earth [5].


  • 413:1 The Bhagavata refers briefly to the story of Nahusha, which is told in the Mahabharata more than once, in the Vana Parva, Udyoga P., Dana Dharma P., and others; also in the Padma and other Puranas. He had obtained the rank of Indra; but in his pride, or at the suggestion of S'achi, compelling the Rishis to bear his litter, he was cursed by them to fall from his state, and reappear upon earth as a serpent. From this form he was set free by philosophical discussions with Yudhishthira, and received final liberation. Much speculation, wholly unfounded, has been started by Wilford's conjecture that the name of this prince, with Deva, 'divine,' prefixed, a combination which never occurs, was the same as Dionysius or Bacchus. Authorities generally agree as to the names of the first three of his sons: in those of the others there is much variety, and the Matsya, Agni, and Padma have seven names, as follows omitting the three first of the text:
  • 413:2 Or, as his name implies, he became a devotee, a Yati: Bhagavata, &c.
  • 413:3 The story is told in great detail in the Adi Parvan of the Mahabharata, also in the Bhagavata, with some additions evidently of a recent taste. S'armishtha, the daughter of Vrishaparvan, king of the Daityas, having quarrelled with Devayani, the daughter of S'ukra (the religious preceptor of the same race), had her thrown into a well. Yayati, hunting in the forest, found her, and taking her to her father, with his consent espoused her. Devayani, in resentment of S'armishtha's treatment, demanded that she should become her handmaid; and Vrishaparvan, afraid of S'ukra's displeasure, was compelled to comply. In the service of his queen, however, Yayati beheld S'armishtha, and secretly wedded her. Devayani complaining to her father of Yayati's infidelity, S'ukra inflicted on him premature decay, with permission to transfer it to any one willing to give him youth and strength in exchange, as is related in the text. The passage specifying the sons of Yayati is precisely the same in the Mahabharata [p. 414] as in our text, and is introduced in the same way.
  • 415:4 Bhrigutunga, according to the Brahma.
  • 415:5 The elder brothers were made Mandala-nripas, kings of circles or districts: Bhagavata. The situation of their governments is not exactly agreed upon.
     Vayu and
 and Hari V.
  The Linga describes the ministers and people as expostulating with Yayati, for illegally giving the supremacy to the youngest son; but he satisfies them by shewing that he was justified in setting the seniors aside, for want of filial duty. The Mahabharata, Udyoga P. Galava Charitra, has a legend of Yayati's giving a daughter to the saint Galava, who through her means obtains from different princes eight hundred horses, white with one black ear, as a fee for his preceptor Viswamitra. Yayati, after his death and residence in Indra's heaven, is again descending to earth, when his daughter's sons give him the benefit of their devotions, and replace him in the celestial sphere. It has the air of an old story. A legend in some respects similar has been related in our text, <page 399>.



The Yadava race, or descendants of Yadu. Karttavirya obtains a boon from Dattatreya: takes Ravana prisoner: is killed by Paras'urama: his descendants.

I WILL first relate to you the family of Yadu, the eldest son of Yayati, in which the eternal immutable Vishnu descended upon earth in a portion of his essence [1]; of which the glory cannot be described, though for ever hymned in order to confer the fruit of all their wishes–whether they desired virtue, wealth, pleasure, or liberation–upon all created beings, upon men, saints, heavenly quiristers, spirits of evil, nymphs, centaurs, serpents, birds, demons, gods, sages, Brahmans, and ascetics. Whoever hears the account of the race of Yadu shall be released from all sin; for the supreme spirit, that is without form, and which is called Vishnu, was manifested in this family.

Yadu had four sons, Sahasrajit, Kroshti, Nala, and Raghu [2]. S'atajit was the son of the elder of these, and he had three sons, Haihaya, Venu [3], and Haya. The son of Haihaya was Dharmanetra [4]; his son was Kunti [5]; his son was Sahanji [6]; his son was Mahishmat [7]; his son was Bhadrasena [8]; his son was Durdama; his son was Dhanaka [9], who had four sons, Kritaviryya, Kritagni, Kritavarman, and Kritaujas. Kritaviryya's son was Arjuna, the sovereign of the seven Dwipas, the lord of a thousand arms. This prince propitiated the sage Dattatreya, the descendant of Atri, who was a portion of Vishnu, and solicited and obtained from him these boons–a thousand arms; never acting unjustly; subjugation of the world by justice, and protecting it equitably; victory over his enemies; and death by the hands of a person renowned in the three regions of the universe. With these means he ruled over the whole earth with might and justice, and offered ten thousand sacrifices. Of him this verse is still recited; “The kings of the earth will assuredly never pursue his steps in sacrifice, in munificence, in devotion, in courtesy, and in self-control.” In his reign nothing was lost or injured; and so he governed the whole earth with undiminished health, prosperity, power, and might, for eighty five thousand years. Whilst sporting in the waters of the Narmada, and elevated with wine, Ravana came on his tour of triumph to the city Mahishmati, and there he who boasted of overthrowing the gods, the Daityas, the Gandharbas and their king, was taken prisoner by Karttavirya, and confined like a tame beast in a corner of his capital [10]. At the expiration of his long reign Karttavirya was killed by Paras'urama, who was an embodied portion of the mighty Narayana [11]. Of the hundred sons of this king, the five principal were S'ura [12], S'urasena, Vrishana [13], Madhu [14], and

Jayadhwaja [15]. The son of the last was Talajangha, who had a hundred sons, called after him Talajanghas: the eldest of these was Vitihotra; another was Bharata [16], who had two sons, Vrisha and Sujati [17]. The son of Vrisha was Madhu [18]; he had a hundred sons, the chief of whom was Vrishni, and from him the family obtained the name of Vrishni [19]. From the name of their father, Madhu, they were also called Madhavas; whilst from the denomination of their common ancestor Yadu, the whole were termed Yadavas [20].


  • 416:1 Or, 'in which Krishna was born.' It might have been expected, from the importance of this genealogy, that it would have been so carefully preserved, that the authorities would have closely concurred in its details. Although, however, the leading specifications coincide, yet, as we shall have occasion to notice, great and irreconcilable variations occur.
  • 416:2 The two first generally agree. There are differences in the rest; as,
  The Brahma and Hari V. read Sahasrada for the first name; and the Linga has Balasani in place of Nala. The Agni makes S'atajit also a son of Yadu.
  • 416:3 Venuhaya: Bhagavata, &c. Uttanahaya: Padma. Vettahaya: Matsya. They were the sons of Sahasrada: Brahma and Hari V.
  • 416:4 Dharmatantra: Vayu. Dharma: Kurma.
  • 416:5 Kirtti: Vayu.
  • 416:6 Sanjneya: Vayu. Sankana: Agni. Sahanja of Sahanjani pura: Brahma. Sanjnita: Linga. Sanhana: Matsya. Sohanji: Bhagavata.
  • 416:7 By whom the city of Mahishmati on the Narbadda was founded: Brahma P., Hari V.
  • 417:8 So the Bhagavata; but the Vayu, more correctly, has Bhadrasrenya. See <page 407>. n. .
  • 417:9 Kanaka: Vayu, &c. Varaka: Linga. Andhaka: Kurma.
  • 417:10 According to the Vayu, Karttavirya was the aggressor, invading Lanka, and there taking Ravana prisoner. The circumstances are more usually narrated as in our text.
  • 417:11 See page 402. Karttavirya's fate was the consequence of an imprecation denounced by Apava or Vas'ishtha, the son of Varuna, whose hermitage had been burnt, according to the Mahabharata, Raja-dharma, by Chitrabhanu, or Fire, to whom the king had in his bounty presented the world. The Vayu makes the king himself the incendiary, with arrows given him by Surya to dry up the ocean.
  • 417:12 Urjjita: Bhagavata.
  • 417:13 Vrishabha: Bhagavata. Dhrishta: Matsya. Dhrishna: Kurma. Prishokta: Padma. Vrishni: Linga. Krishnaksha: Brahma.
  • 417:14 Krishna, in all except the Bhagavata.
  • 418:15 King of Avanti: Brahma and Hari Vans'a.
  • 418:16 Ananta: Vayu and Agni; elsewhere omitted.
  • 418:17 Durjaya only: Vayu, Matsya.
  • 418:18 This Madhu, according to the Bhagavata, was the son of Karttavirya. The Brahma and Hari V. make him the son of Vrisha, but do not say whose son Vrisha was. The commentator on the latter asserts that the name is a synonyme of Payoda, the son of Yadu, according to his authority, and to that alone.
  • 418:19 The Bhagavata agrees with our text, but the Brahma, Hari V., Linga, and Kurma make Vrishana the son of Madhu, and derive the family name of Vrishnis or Varshneyas from him.
  • 418:20 The text takes no notice of some collateral tribes, which appear to merit remark. Most of the other authorities, in mentioning the sons of Jayadhwaja, observe that from them came the five great divisions of the Haihaya tribe. These, according to the Vayu, were the Talajanghas, Vitihotras, Avantyas, Tundikeras, and Jatas. The Matsya and Agni omit the first, and substitute Bhojas; and the latter are included in the list in the Brahma, Padma, Linga, and Hari V. For Jatas the reading is Sanjatas or Sujatas. The Brahma P. has also Bharatas, who, as well as the Sujatas, are not commonly specified, it is said, 'from their great number.' They are in all probability invented by the compiler out of the names of the text, Bharata and Sujati. The situation of these tribes is central India, for the capital of the Talajanghas was Mahishmati or Chuli-Maheswar, still called, according to Col. Tod, Sahasra-bahuki-basti, 'the village of the thousand-armed;' that is, of Karttaviryya. Annals of Rajasthan, I. 39. n. The Tundikeras and Vitihotras are placed in the geographical lists behind the Vindhyan mountains, and the termination -kaira is common in the valley of the Narmada, as Bairkaira, &c., or we may have Tundikera abbreviated, as Tundari on the Tapti. The Avantyas were in Ujayin, and the Bhojas were in the neighbourhood probably of Dhar in Malwa. These tribes must have preceded, then, the Rajput tribes, by whom these countries are now occupied, or Rahtores, Chauhans, Pawars, Gehlotes, and the rest. There are still some vestiges of them, and a tribe of Haihayas still exists, at the top of the valley of Sohagpur in Bhagel-khand, aware of their ancient lineage, and though [p. 419] few in number, celebrated for their valour. Tod's Rajasthan, I. 39. The scope of the traditions regarding them, especially of their overrunning the country, along with S'akas and other foreign tribes, in the reign preceding that of Sagara (see p. 373), indicates their foreign origin also; and if we might trust to verbal resemblances, we might suspect that the Hayas and Haihayas of the Hindus had some connexion with the Hia, Hoiei-ke, Hoiei-hu, and similarly denominated Hun or Turk tribes, who make a figure in Chinese history. Des Guignes, Histoire des Huns, I. 7, 55, 231. II. 253, &c. At the same time it is to be observed that these tribes do not make their appearance until some centuries after the Christian era, and the scene of their first exploits is far from the frontiers of India: the coincidence of appellation may be therefore merely accidental. In the word Haya, which properly means 'a horse,' it is not impossible, however, that we have a confirmatory evidence of the Scythian origin of the Haihayas, as Col. Tod supposed; although we cannot with him imagine the word 'horse' itself is derived from haya. Rajasthan, I. 76.



Descendants of Kroshtri. Jyamagha's connubial affection for his wife S'aivya: their descendants kings of Vidarbha and Chedi.

KROSHTRI, the son of Yadu [1], had a son named Vrijinivat [2]; his son was Swahi [3]; his son was Rushadru [4]; his son was Chitraratha; his son was S'as'avindu, who was lord of the fourteen great gems [5]; he had a hundred thousand wives and a million of sons [6]. The most renowned of them were Prithuyas'as, Prithukarman, Prithujaya, Prithukirtti, Prithudana, and Prithus'ravas. The son of the last of these six [7] was Tamas [8]; his son was Us'anas [9], who celebrated a hundred sacrifices of the horse; his son was S'iteyus [10]; his son was Rukmakavacha [11]; his son was Paravrit, who lead five sons, Rukmeshu, Prithurukman, Jyamagha, Palita, and Harita [12]. To this day the following verse relating to Jyamagha is repeated: “Of all the husbands submissive to their wives, who have been or who will be, the most eminent is the king Jyamagha [13], who was the husband of S'aivya.” S'aivya was barren; but Jyamagha was so much afraid of her, that he did not take any other wife. On one occasion the king, after a desperate conflict with elephants and horse, defeated a powerful foe, who abandoning wife, children, kin, army, treasure, and dominion, fled. When the enemy was put to flight, Jyamagha beheld a lovely princess left alone, and exclaiming, “Save me, father! Save me, brother!” as her large eyes rolled wildly with affright. The king was struck by her beauty, and penetrated with affection for her, and said to himself, “This is fortunate; I have no children, and am the husband of a sterile bride; this maiden has fallen into my hands to rear up to me posterity: I will espouse her; but first I will take her in my car, and convey her to my palace, where I must request the concurrence of the queen in these nuptials.” Accordingly he took the princess into his chariot, and returned to his own capital.

When Jyamagha's approach was announced, S'aivya came to the palace gate, attended by the ministers, the courtiers, and the citizens, to welcome the victorious monarch: but when she beheld the maiden standing on the left hand of the king, her lips swelled and slightly quivered with resentment, and she said to Jyamagha, “Who is this light-hearted damsel that is with you in the chariot?” The king unprepared with a reply, made answer precipitately, through fear of his queen; “This is my daughter-in-law.” “I have never had a son,” rejoined S'aivya, “and you have no other children. Of what son of yours then is this girl the wife?” The king disconcerted by the jealousy and anger which the words of S'aivya displayed, made this reply to her in order to prevent further contention; “She is the young bride of the future son whom thou shalt bring forth.” Hearing this, S'aivya smiled gently, and said, “So be it;” and the king entered into his great palace.

In consequence of this conversation regarding the birth of a son having taken place in an auspicious conjunction, aspect, and season, the queen, although passed the time of women, became shortly afterwards pregnant, and bore a son. His father named him Vidarbha, and married him to the damsel he had brought home. They had three sons, Kratha, Kais'ika [14], and Romapada [15]. The son of Romapada was Babhru [16], and his son was Dhriti [17]. The son of Kais'ika was Chedi, whose descendants were called the Chaidya kings [18]. The son of Kratha was Kunti [19]; his son was Vrishni [20]; his son was Nirvriti [21]; his son was Dasarha; his son was Vyoman; his son was Jimuta; his son was Vikriti [22]; his son was Bhimaratha; his son was Navaratha [23]; his son was Das'aratha [24]; his son was S'akuni; his son was Karambhi; his son was Devarata; his son was Devakshatra [25]; his son was Madhu [26]; his son was Anavaratha; his son was Kuruvatsa; his son was Anuratha; his son was Puruhotra; his son was Ans'u; his son was Satwata, from whom the princes of this house were termed Satwatas. This was the progeny of Jyamagha; by listening to the account of whom, a man is purified from his sins.


  • 420:1 In the Brahma P. and Hari V. we have two families from Kroshtri; one which is much the same as that of the text; the other makes short work of a long story, as we shall again notice.
  • 420:2 Vajravat: Kurma.
  • 420:3 S'anti: Kurma. Swaha: Matsya. Tris'anku Linga.
  • 420:4 Vishansu: Agni. Rishabha: Linga. Kus'ika: Kurma. Rus'eku: Bhagavata.
  • 420:5 Or articles the best of their kind; seven animate, and seven inanimate; a wife, a priest, a general, a charioteer, a horse, an elephant, and a body of foot soldiers; or, instead of the last three, an executioner, an encomiast, a reader of the Vedas; and a chariot, an umbrella, a jewel, a sword, a shield, a banner, and a treasure.
  • 420:6 The text states this in plain prose, but the Vayu quotes a verse which makes out but a hundred hundred or 10,000 sons.
  • 420:7 The Matsya has the first, third, and fifth of our text, and Prithudharma, Prithukirtti, and Prithumat. The Kurma has also six names, but makes as many successions.
  • 420:8 Suyajna: Agni, Brahma, Matsya. Dharma: Bhagavata.
  • 420:9 Ushat: Brahma, Hari V.
  • 420:10 S'itikshu: Agni. S'ineyus: Brahma. Purujit: Bhagavata. The Vayu has Maruta and Kambalavarhish, brothers, instead.
  • 420:11 Considerable variety prevails here. The Brahma and Hari V. have Marutta the Rajarshi (a gross blunder, see <page 352>), Kambalavarhish, S'ataprasuti, Rukmakavacha: the Agni–Marutta, Kambalavarhish, Rukmeshu: whilst the Bhagavata makes Ruchaka son of Us'anas, and father to the five princes who in the text are the grandsons of Rukmakavacha.
  • 420:12 The Bhagavata has Rukmeshu, Rukman, Jyamagha, Prithu, and Purujit. The [p. 421] Vayu reads the two last names Parigha and Hari. The Brahma and Hari V. insert Parajit as the father of the five named as in the text.
  • 421:13 Most of the other authorities mention that the elder of the five brothers, Rukmeshu, succeeded his father in the sovereignty; and that the second, Prithurukman, remained in his brother's service. Palita and Harita were set over Videha (Linga) or Tirhut, and Jyamagha went forth to settle where he might: according to the Vayu he conquered Madhyades'a (the country along the Narmada), Mekala, and the S'uktimat mountains. So the Brahma P. states that he established himself along the Rikshavat mountain, and dwelt in S'uktimati. He names his son, as we shall see, Vidarbha: the country so called is Berar, and amongst his descendants we have the Chaidyas or princes of Boghelkand, and Chandail, and Dasarha, more correctly perhaps Dasarna, Chattisgher; so that this story of Jyamagha's adventures appears to allude to the first settlement of the Yadava tribes along the Narmada, more to the south and west than before.
  • 422:14 The Bhagavata has Kus'a; the Matsya, Kaus'ika: all the authorities agree in specifying three sons.
  • 422:15 Lomapada: Agni.
  • 422:16 Vastu: Vayu. Kriti: Agni.
  • 422:17 Ahuti: Vayu. Iti: Padma. Dyuti: Matsya. Bhriti: Kurma. This latter is singular in carrying on the line of Romapada for twelve generations farther.
  • 422:18 The Bhagavata, however, makes the princes of Chedi continuous from Romapada; as, Babhru, Dhriti, Us'ika, Chedi–the Chaidyas, amongst whom were Damaghosha and S'is'upala.
  • 422:19 Kumbhi: Padma.
  • 422:20 Dhrishta: Vayu. Dhrishti: Matsya,
  • 422:21 Nivritti: Vayu. Nidhriti: Agni. The Brahma makes three sons, Avanta, Das'arha, and Balivrishahan. In the Linga it is said of Dasarha that he was 'destroyer of the host of copper (faced; European?) foes.'
  • 422:22 Vikala: Matsya.
  • 422:23 Nararatha: Brahma, Hari V.
  • 422:24 Dridharatha: Agni. Devarata: Linga.
  • 422:25 Soma: Linga. Devanakshatra: Padma.
  • 422:26 There is great variety in the succeeding appellations: [p. 423]
 and Satwa
  The Linga has Purushaprabhu, Manwat, Pratarddana, Satwata; and the Agni, Dravavasu, Puruhuta, Jantu, and Satwata. Some of these originate, no doubt, in the blunders of copyists, but they cannot all be referred to that source.



Sons of Satwata. Bhoja princes of Mrittikavati. Surya the friend of Satrajit: appears to him in a bodily form: gives him the Syamantaka gem: its brilliance and marvellous properties. Satrajit gives it to Prasena, who is killed by a lion: the lion killed by the bear Jambavat. Krishna suspected of killing Prasena, goes to look for him in the forests: traces the bear to his cave: fights with him for the jewel: the contest prolonged: supposed by his companions to be slain: he overthrows Jambavat, and marries his daughter Jambavati: returns with her and the jewel to Dwaraka: restores the jewel to Satrajit, and marries his daughter Satyabhama. Satrajit murdered by S'atadhanwan: avenged by Krishna. Quarrel between Krishna and Balarama. Akrura possessed of the jewel: leaves Dwaraka. Public calamities. Meeting of the Yadavas. Story of Akrura's birth: he is invited to return: accused by Krishna of having the Syamantaka jewel: produces it in full assembly: it remains in his charge: Krishna acquitted of having purloined it.

THE sons of Satwata were Bhajina, Bhajamana, Divya, Andhaka, Devavriddha, Mahabhoja, and Vrishni [1]. Bhajamana had three sons, Nimi [2], Krikana [3], and Vrishni [4], by one wife, and as many by another, S'atajit, Sahasrajit, and Ayutajit [5]. The son of Devavriddha was Babhru of whom this verse is recited; “We hear when afar, and we behold when nigh, that Babhru is the first of men, and Devavriddha is equal to the gods: sixty-six persons following the precepts of one, and six thousand and eight who were disciples of the other, obtained immortality.” Mahabhoja was a pious prince; his descendants were the Bhojas, the princes of Mrittikavati [6], thence called Marttikavatas [7]. Vrishni had two sons, Sumitra and Yudhajit [8]; from the former Anamitra and S'ini were born [9]. The son of Anamitra was Nighna, who had two sons, Prasena and Satrajit. The divine Aditya, the sun, was the friend of the latter.

On one occasion Satrajit, whilst walking along the sea shore, addressed his mind to Surya, and hymned his praises; on which the divinity appeared and stood before him. Beholding him in an indistinct shape, Satrajit said to the sun, “I have beheld thee, lord, in the heavens as a globe of fire: now do thou shew favour unto me, that I may see thee in thy proper form.” On this the sun taking the jewel called Syamantaka from off his neck, placed it apart, and Satrajit beheld him of a dwarfish stature, with a body like burnished copper, and with slightly reddish eyes. Having offered his adorations, the sun desired him to demand a boon, and he requested that the jewel might become his. The sun presented it to him, and then resumed his place in the sky. Having obtained the spotless gem of gems, Satrajit wore it on his neck, and becoming as brilliant thereby as the sun himself, irradiating all the region with his splendour, he returned to Dwaraka. The inhabitants of that city, beholding him approach, repaired to the eternal male, Purushottama, who, to sustain the burden of the earth, had assumed a mortal form (as Krishna), and said to him, “Lord, assuredly the divine sun is coming to visit you.” But Krishna smiled, and said, “It is not the divine sun, but Satrajit, to whom Aditya has presented the Syamantaka gem, and he now wears it: go and behold him without apprehension.” Accordingly they departed. Satrajit having gone to his house, there deposited the jewel, which yielded daily eight loads of gold, and through its marvellous virtue dispelled all fear of portents, wild beasts, fire, robbers, and famine.

Achyuta was of opinion that this wonderful gem should be in the possession of Ugrasena; but although he had the power of taking it from Satrajit, he did not deprive him of it, that he might not occasion ally disagreement amongst the family. Satrajit, on the other hand, fearing that Krishna would ask him for the jewel, transferred it to his brother Prasena. Now it was the peculiar property of this jewel, that although it was an inexhaustible source of good to a virtuous person, yet when worn by a man of bad character it was the cause of his death. Prasena having taken the gem, and hung it round his neck, mounted his horse, and went to the woods to hunt. In the chase he was killed by a lion. The lion, taking the jewel in his mouth, was about to depart, when he was observed and killed by Jambavat, the king of the bears, who carrying off the gem retired into his cave, and gave it to his son Sukumara to play with. When some time had elapsed, and Prasena did not appear, the Yadavas began to whisper one to another, and to say, “This is Krishna's doing: desirous of the jewel, and not obtaining it, he has perpetrated the murder of Prasena in order to get it into his possession.”

When these calumnious rumours came to the knowledge of Krishna, he collected a number of the Yadavas, and accompanied by them pursued the course of Prasena by the impressions of his horse's hoofs. Ascertaining by this means that he and his horse had been killed by a lion, he was acquitted by all the people of any share in his death. Desirous of recovering the gem, he thence followed the steps of the lion, and at no great distance came to the place where the lion had been killed by the bear. Following the footmarks of the latter, he arrived at the foot of a mountain, where he desired the Yadavas to await him, whilst he continued the track. Still guided by the marks of the feet, he discovered a cavern, and had scarcely entered it when he heard the nurse of Sukumara saying to him, “The lion killed Prasena; the lion has been killed by Jambavat: weep not, Sukumara, the Syamantaka is your own.” Thus assured of his object, Krishna advanced into the cavern, and saw the brilliant jewel in the hands of the nurse, who was giving it as a plaything to Sukumara. The nurse soon descried his approach, and marking his eyes fixed upon the gem with eager desire, called loudly for help. Hearing her cries, Jambavat, full of anger, came to the cave, and a conflict ensued between him and Achyuta, which lasted twenty-one days. The Yadavas who had accompanied the latter waited seven or eight days in expectation of his return, but as the foe of Madhu still came not forth, they concluded that he must have met his death in the cavern. “It could not have required so many days,” they thought, “to overcome an enemy;” and accordingly they departed, and returned to Dwaraka, and announced that Krishna had been killed.

When the relations of Achyuta heard this intelligence, they performed all the obsequial rites suited to the occasion. The food and water thus offered to Krishna in the celebration of his S'raddha served to support his life, and invigorate his strength in the combat in which he was engaged; whilst his adversary, wearied by daily conflict with a powerful foe, bruised and battered in every limb by heavy blows, and enfeebled by want of food, became unable longer to resist him. Overcome by his mighty antagonist, Jambavat cast himself before him and said, “Thou, mighty being, art surely invincible by all the demons, and by the spirits of heaven, earth, or hell; much less art thou to be vanquished by mean and powerless creatures in a human shape; and still less by such as we are, who are born of brute origin. Undoubtedly thou art a portion of my sovereign lord Narayana, the defender of the universe.” Thus addressed by Jambavat, Krishna explained to him fully that he had descended to take upon himself the burden of the earth, and kindly alleviated the bodily pain which the bear suffered from the fight, by touching him with his hand. Jambavat again prostrated himself before Krishna, and presented to him his daughter Jambavati, as an offering suitable to a guest. He also delivered to his visitor the Syamantaka jewel. Although a gift from such an individual was not fit for his acceptance, yet Krishna took the gem for the purpose of clearing his reputation. He then returned along with his bride Jambavati to Dwaraka..

When the people of Dwaraka beheld Krishna alive and returned, they were filled with delight, so that those who were bowed down with years recovered youthful vigour; and all the Yadavas, men and women, assembled round Anakadundubhi, the father of the hero, and congratulated him. Krishna related to the whole assembly of the Yadavas all that had happened, exactly as it had befallen, and restoring the Syamantaka jewel to Satrajit was exonerated from the crime of which he had been falsely accused. He then led Jambavati into the inner apartments.

When Satrajit reflected that he had been the cause of the aspersions upon Krishna's character, he felt alarmed, and to conciliate the prince he gave him to wife his daughter Satyabhama. The maiden had been previously sought in marriage by several of the most distinguished Yadavas, as Akrura, Kritavarman and S'atadhanwan, who were highly incensed at her being wedded to another, and leagued in enmity against Satrajit. The chief amongst them, with Akrura and Kritavarman, said to S'atadhanwan, “This caitiff Satrajit has offered a gross insult to you, as well as to us who solicited his daughter, by giving her to Krishna: let him not live: why do you not kill him, and take the jewel? Should Achyuta therefore enter into feud with you, we will take your part.” Upon this promise S'atadhanwan undertook to slay Satrajit.

When news arrived that the sons of Pandu had been burned in house of wax [10], Krishna, who knew the real truth, set off for Baranavata to allay the animosity of Duryodhana, and to perform the duties his relationship required. S'atadhanwan taking advantage of his absence, killed Satrajit in his sleep, and took possession of the gem. Upon this coming to the knowledge of Satyabhama, she immediately mounted her chariot, and, filled with fury at her father's murder, repaired to Baranavata, and told her husband how Satrajit had been killed by S'atadhanwan in resentment of her having been married to another, and how he had carried off the jewel; and she implored him to take prompt measures to avenge such heinous wrong. Krishna, who is ever internally placid, being informed of these transactions, said to Satyabhama, as his eyes flashed with indignation, “These are indeed audacious injuries, but I will not submit to them from so vile a wretch. They must assail the tree, who would kill the birds that there have built their nests. Dismiss excessive sorrow; it needs not your lamentations to excite any wrath.” Returning forthwith to Dwaraka, Krishna took Baladeva apart, and said to him, “A lion slew Prasena, hunting in the forests; and now Satrajit has been murdered by S'atadhanwan. As both these are removed, the jewel which belonged to them is our common right. Up then, ascend your car, and put S'atadhanwan to death.”

Being thus excited by his brother, Balarama engaged resolutely in the enterprise; but S'atadhanwan, being aware of their hostile designs, repaired to Kritavarman, and required his assistance. Kritavarman, however, declined to assist him, pleading his inability to engage in a conflict with both Baladeva and Krishna. S'atadhanwan thus disappointed, applied to Akrura; but he said, “You must have recourse to some other protector. How should I be able to defend you? There is no one even amongst the immortals, whose praises are celebrated throughout the universe, who is capable of contending with the wielder of the discus, at the stamp of whose foot the three worlds tremble; whose hand makes the wives of the Asuras widows, whose weapons no host, however mighty, can resist: no one is capable of encountering the wielder of the ploughshare, who annihilates the prowess of his enemies by the glances of his eyes, that roll with the joys of wine; and whose vast ploughshare manifests his might, by seizing and exterminating the most formidable foes.” “Since this is the case,” replied S'atadhanwan, “and you are unable to assist me, at least accept and take care of this jewel.” “I will do so,” answered Akrura, “if you promise that even in the last extremity you will not divulge its being in my possession.” To this S'atadhanwan agreed, and Akrura took the jewel; and the former mounting a very swift mare, one that could travel a hundred leagues a day, fled from Dwaraka.

When Krishna heard of S'atadhanwan's flight, he harnessed his four horses, S'aivya, Sugriva, Meghapushpa, and Balahaka, to his car, and, accompanied by Balarama, set off in pursuit. The mare held her speed, and accomplished her hundred leagues; but when she reached the country of Mithila, her strength was exhausted, and she dropped down and died. S'atadhanwan [11] dismounting, continued his flight on foot. When his pursuers came to the place where the mare had perished, Krishna said to Balarama, “Do you remain in the car, whilst I follow the villain on foot, and put him to death; the ground here is bad; and the horses will not be able to drag the chariot across it.” Balarama accordingly stayed with the car, and Krishna followed S'atadhanwan on foot: when he had chased him for two kos, he discharged his discus, and, although S'atadhanwan was at a considerable distance, the weapon struck off his head. Krishna then coining up, searched his body and his dress for the Syamantaka jewel, but found it not. He then returned to Balabhadra, and told him that they had effected the death of S'atadhanwan to no purpose, for the precious gem, the quintessence of all worlds, was not upon his person. When Balabhadra heard this, he flew into a violent rage, and said to Vasudeva, “Shame light upon you, to be thus greedy of wealth! I acknowledge no brotherhood with you. Here lies my path. Go whither you please; I have done with Dwaraka, with you, with all our house. It is of no use to seek to impose upon me with thy perjuries.” Thus reviling his brother, who fruitlessly endeavoured to appease him, Balabhadra went to the city of Videha, where Janaka [12] received him hospitably, and there he remained. Vasudeva returned to Dwaraka. It was during his stay in the dwelling of Janaka that Duryodhana, the son of Dhritarashtra, learned from Balabhadra the art of fighting with the mace. At the expiration of three years, Ugrasena and other chiefs of the Yadavas, being satisfied that Krishna had not the jewel, went to Videha, and removed Balabhadra's suspicions, and brought him home.

Akrura, carefully considering the treasures which the precious jewel secured to him, constantly celebrated religious rites, and, purified with holy prayers [13], lived in affluence for fifty-two years; and through the virtue of that gem there was no dearth nor pestilence in the whole country [14]. At the end of that period, S'atrughna, the great grandson of Satwata, was killed by the Bhojas, and as they were in bonds of alliance with Akrura, he accompanied them in their flight from Dwaraka. From the moment of his departure various calamities, portents, snakes, dearth, plague, and the like, began to prevail; so that he whose emblem is Garuda called together the Yadavas, with Balabhadra and Ugrasena, and recommended them to consider how it was that so many prodigies should have occurred at the same time. On this Andhaka, one of the elders of the Yadhu race, thus spake: “Wherever S'waphalka, the father of Akrura, dwelt, there famine, plague, dearth, and other visitations were unknown. Once when there was want of rain in the kingdom of Kasiraja, S'waphalka was brought there, and immediately there fell rain from the heavens. It happened also that the queen of Kas'iraja conceived, and was quick with a daughter; but when the time of delivery arrived, the child issued not from the womb. Twelve years passed away, and still the girl was unborn. Then Kas'iraja spake to the child, and said, 'Daughter, why is your birth thus delayed? come forth; I desire to behold you, why do you inflict this protracted suffering upon your mother?' Thus addressed, the infant answered, 'If, father, you will present a cow every day to the Brahmans, I shall at the end of three years more be born.' The king accordingly presented daily a cow to the Brahmans, and at the end of three years the damsel came into the world. Her father called her Gandini, and he subsequently gave her to S'waphalka, when he came to his palace for his benefit. Gandini, as long as she lived, gave a cow to the Brahmans every day. Akrura was her son by S'waphalka, and his birth therefore proceeds from a combination of uncommon excellence. When a person such as he is, is absent from us, is it likely that famine, pestilence, and prodigies should fail to occur? Let him then he invited to return: the faults of men of exalted worth must not be too severely scrutinized.”

Agreeably to the advice of Audhaka the elder, the Yadavas sent a mission, headed by Kes'ava, Ugrasena, and Balabhadra, to assure Akrura that no notice would be taken of any irregularity committed by him; and having satisfied him that he was in no danger, they brought him back to Dwaraka. Immediately on his arrival, in consequence of the properties of the jewel, the plague, dearth, famine, and every other calamity and portent, ceased. Krishna, observing this, reflected [15] that the descent of Akrura from Gandini and S'waphalka was a cause wholly disproportionate to such an effect, and that some more powerful influence must be exerted to arrest pestilence and famine. “Of a surety,” said he to himself, “the great Syamantaka jewel is in his keeping, for such I have heard are amongst its properties. This Akrura too has been lately celebrating sacrifice after sacrifice; his own means are insufficient for such expenses; it is beyond a doubt that he has the jewel.” Having come to this conclusion, he called a meeting of all the Yadavas at his house, under the pretext of some festive celebration. When they were all seated, and the. purport of their assembling had been explained, and the business accomplished, Krishna entered into conversation with Akrura, and, after laughing and joking, said to him, “Kinsman, you are a very prince in your liberality; but we know very well that the precious jewel which was stolen by Sudhanwan was delivered by him to you, and is now in your possession, to the great benefit of this kingdom. So let it remain; we all derive advantage from its virtues.

But Balabhadra suspects that I have it, and therefore, out of kindness to me, shew it to the assembly.” When Akrura, who had the jewel with him, was thus taxed, he hesitated what he should do. “If I deny that I have the jewel,” thought he, “they will search my person, and find the gem hidden amongst my clothes. I cannot submit to a search.” So reflecting, Akrura said to Narayana, the cause of the whole world, “It is true that the Syamantaka jewel was entrusted to me by S'atadhanwan, when he went from hence. I expected every day that you would ask me for it, and with much inconvenience therefore I have kept it until now. The charge of it has subjected me to so much anxiety, that I have been incapable of enjoying any pleasure, and have never known a moment's ease. Afraid that you would think me unfit to retain possession of a jewel so essential to the welfare of the kingdom, I forbore to mention to you its being in my hands; but now take it yourself, and give the care of it to whom you please.” Having thus spoken, Akrura drew forth from his garments a small gold box, and took from it the jewel. On displaying it to the assembly of the Yadavas, the whole chamber where they sat was illuminated by its radiance. “This,” said Akrura, “is the Syamantaka gem, which was consigned to me by S'atadhanwan: let him to whom it belongs now take it.”

When the Yadavas beheld the jewel, they were filled with astonishment, and loudly expressed their delight. Balabhadra immediately claimed the jewel as his property jointly with Achyuta, as formerly agreed upon; whilst Satyabhama, demanded it as her right, as it had originally belonged to her father. Between these two Krishna considered himself as an ox between the two wheels of a cart, and thus spake to Akrura in the presence of all the Yadavas: “This jewel has been exhibited to the assembly in order to clear my reputation; it is the joint right of Balabhadra and myself, and is the patrimonial inheritance of Satyabhama. But this jewel, to be of advantage to the whole kingdom, should be taken charge of by a person who leads a life of perpetual continence: if worn by an impure individual, it will be the cause of his death. Now as I have sixteen thousand wives, I am not qualified to have the care of it. It is not likely that Satyabhama will agree to the conditions that would entitle her to the possession of the jewel; and as to Balabhadra, he is too much addicted to wine and the pleasures of sense to lead a life of self-denial. We are therefore out of the question, and all the Yadavas, Balabhadra, Satyabhama, and myself, request you, most bountiful Akrura, to retain the care of the jewel, as you have done hitherto, for the general good; for you are qualified to have the keeping of it, and in your hands it has been productive of benefit to the country. You must not decline compliance with our request.” Akrura, thus urged, accepted the jewel, and thenceforth wore it publicly round his neck, where it shone with dazzling brightness; and Akrura moved about like the sun, wearing a garland of light.

He who calls to mind the vindication of the character of Krishna from false aspersions, shall never become the subject of unfounded accusation in the least degree, and living in the full exercise of his senses shall be cleansed from every sin [16].


  • 424:1 The Agni acknowledges but four sons. but all the rest agree in the number, and mostly in the names, Mahabhoja is sometimes read Mahabhaga.
  • 424:2 Krimi: Brahma, Agni, Kurma.
  • 424:3 Panava: Vayu. Kramana: Brahma. Kripana: Padma. Kinkina: Bhagavata.
  • 424:4 Dhrishthi: Bhagavata, Brahma.
  • 424:5 The Brahma and Hari V. add to the first three S'ara and Puranjaya, and to the second Dasaka.
  • 424:6 By the Parnas'a river: Brahma P.: a river in Malwa.
  • 424:7 These are made incorrectly the descendants of Babhru in the Hari V.
  • 424:8 The Bhagavata, Matsya, and Vayu [p. 425] agree in the main, as to the genealogy that follows, with our text. The Vayu states that Vrishni had two wives, Madri and Gandhari; by the former he had Yudhajit and Anamitra, and by the latter Sumitra and Devamidhush. The Matsya also names the ladies, but gives Sumitra to Gandhari, and makes Madri the mother of Yudhajit, Devamidhusha, Anamitra, and S'ini. The Agni has a similar arrangement, but substitutes Dhrishta for Vrishni, and makes him the fifteenth in descent from Satwata. The Linga, Padma, Brahma P., and Hari V. have made great confusion by altering, apparently without any warrant, the name of Vrishni to Kroshtri.
  • 425:9 The Bhagavata makes them sons of Yudhajit; the Matsya and Agni, as observed in the preceding note, his brothers as well as Sumitra's.
  • 428:10 This alludes to events detailed in the Mahabharata.
  • 430:11 The Vayu calls Sudhanwan or S'atadhanwan king of Mithila.
  • 430:12 A rather violent anachronism to make Janaka cotemporary with Balarama.
  • 430:13 The text gives the commencement of the prayer, but the commentator does not say whence it is taken: 'Oh, goddess! the [p. 431] murderer of a Kshatriya or Vais'ya, engaged in religious duties, is the slayer of a Brahman;' i. e. the crime is equally heinous. Perhaps the last word should be ### 'is.'
  • 431:14 Some of the circumstances of this marvellous gem seem to identify it with a stone of widely diffused celebrity in the East, and which, according to the Mohammedan writers, was given originally by Noah to Japhet; the Hijer al mattyr of the Arabs, Sang yeddat of the Persians, and Jeddah tash of the Turks, the possession of which secures rain and fertility. The author of the Habib us Seir gravely asserts that this stone was in the hands of the Mongols in his day, or in the tenth century.
  • 432:15 Krishna's reflecting, the commentator observes, is to be understood of him only as consistent with the account here given of him, as if he were a mere man; for, as he was omniscient, there was no occasion for him to reflect or reason. Krishna however appears in this story in a very different light from that in which he is usually represented; and the adventure, it may be remarked, is detached from the place in which we might have expected to find it, the narrative of his life, which forms the subject of the next book.
  • 434:16 The story of the Syamantaka gem occurs in the Bhagavata, Vayu, Matsya, Brahma, and Hari V., and is alluded to in other Puranas. It may be considered as one common to the whole series. Independently of the part borne in it by Krishna, it presents a curious and no doubt a faithful picture of ancient manners, in the loose self-go