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The Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, [1840], at

p. 160 p. 161




Descendants of Priyavrata, the eldest son of Swáyambhuva Manu: his ten sons: three adopt a religious life; the others become kings of the seven Dwípas, or isles, of the earth. Agnídhra, king of Jambu-dwípa, divides it into nine portions, which he distributes amongst his sons. Nábhi, king of the south, succeeded by Rishabha; and he by Bharata: India named after him Bhárata: his descendants reign during the Swáyambhuva 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 Uttánapáda were the sons of Swáyambhuva Manu, and you repeated the story of Dhruva, the son of Uttánapáda: 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.

PARÁŚARA.--Priyavrata married Kámyá, the daughter of the patriarch Kardama 1, and had by her two daughters, Samrát and Kukshi, and ten

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sons, wise, valiant, modest, and dutiful, named Agnídhra, Agnibáhu, 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 Agnibáhu, 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 Agnídhra he gave Jambu-dwípa; to Medhatithi he gave Plaksha-dwípa: he installed Vapushmat in the sovereignty over the Dwípa of Sálmali; and made Jyotishmat king of Kuśa-dwípa: he appointed Dyutimat to rule over Krauncha-dwípa; Bhavya to reign over Sáka-dwípa; and Savala he nominated the monarch of the Dwípa of Pushkara.

Agnídhra, the king of Jambu-dwípa, had nine sons, equal in splendour to the patriarchs: they were named Nábhi, Kimpurusha, Harivarsha, Ilávrita, Ramya, Hirańvat, Kuru, Bhadráśwa, and Ketumála 4, who was a prince ever active in the practice of piety.

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

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[paragraph continues] Nishadha. The region in the centre of which mount Meru is situated he conferred on Ilávrita; and to Ramya, the countries lying between it and the Níla mountain. To Hirańvat his father gave the country lying to the north of it, called Śweta; and, on the north of the Śweta mountains, the country bounded by the Śringaván range he gave to Kuru. The countries on the east of Meru he assigned to Bhadráśwa; and Gandhamádana, which lay west of it, he gave to Ketumála 5.' Having installed his sons sovereigns in these several regions, the pious king Agnídhra retired to a life of penance at the holy place of pilgrimage, Śálagráma 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.

Nábhi, who had for his portion the country of Himáhwa, 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

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termed Bhárata 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, Śálagráma: 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 Paramesht́hin: his son was Pratihára, who had a celebrated son, named

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[paragraph continues] Pratiharttá: his son was Bhava, who begot Udgítha, who begot Prastára; whose son was Prithu. The son of Prithu was Nakta: his son was Gaya: his son was Nara; whose son was Virát. The valiant son of Virát was Dhímat, who begot Mahánta; whose son was Manasyu; whose son was Twasht́ri: his son was Víraja: his son was Rája: his son was Śatajit, who had a hundred sons, of whom Viswagjyotish was the eldest 9. Under these princes, Bhárata-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 Swáyambhuva Manu, by which the earth was peopled, when he presided over the first Manwantara, in the Kalpa of Varáha 10


161:1 The text reads Kanyá; and the commentator has, 'he married the daughter of Kardama, whose name was Kanyá.' The copies agree in the reading, and the Váyu has the same name, Kanyá; but the Márkańd́eya, which is the same in other respects as our text, has Kámyá: Kámyá also is the name elsewhere given by the Váyu to the daughter of Kardama (p. 83. n. 6). Kámyá, as has been noticed, appears in the Bráhma and Hari V. (p. 53. n. 6) as the mother of Priyavrata, but erroneously; and the same authorities specify a Kámyá as the wife of that sovereign. So the commentator on the Hari V. states, 'another Kámyá is mentioned (in the text), the daughter of Kardama, the wife of Priyavrata.' p. 162 The name Kanyá is therefore most probably an error of the copyists. The Bhágavata calls the wife of Priyavrata, Varhishmatí, the daughter of Viśwakarman.

162:2 These names nearly agree in the authorities which specify the descendants of Priyavrata, except in the Bhágavata: that has an almost entirely different series of names, or Ágnidhra, Idhmajihwa, Yajnabáhu, Mahávíra, Hirańyaretas, Medhatithi, Ghritaprisht́ha, Savana, Vitihotra, and Kavi; with one daughter, Urjjaswatí. It also calls the Manus Uttama, Tamasa, and Raivata the sons of Priyavrata by another wife.

162:3 According to the Bhágavata, he drove his chariot seven times round the earth, and the ruts left by the wheels became the beds of the oceans, separating it into seven Dwípas.

162:4 Even the Bhágavata concurs with the other Puráńas in this series of Priyavrata's grandsons.

163:5 Of these divisions, as well as of those of the earth, and of the minor divisions of the Varshas, we have further particulars in the following chapter.

163:6 This place of pilgrimage has not been found elsewhere. The term is usually applied to a stone, an ammonite, which is supposed to be a type of Vishńu, and of which the worship is enjoined in the Uttara Khańd́a of the Padma P. and in the Brahma Vaivartta, authorities of no great weight or antiquity. As these stones are found chiefly in the Gandak river, the Sálagráma Tírtha was probably at the source of that stream, or at its confluence with the Ganges. Its sanctity, and that of the stone, are probably of comparatively modern origin.

163:7 'The great road,' or 'road of heroes.' The pebble was intended either to compel perpetual silence, or to prevent his eating. The Bhágavata p. 164 adverts to the same circumstance. That work enters much more into detail on the subject of Rishabha's devotion, and particularizes circumstances not found in any other Puráńa. The most interesting of these are the scene of Rishabha's wanderings, which is said to be Konka, Venkat́a, Kút́aka, and southern Karnátaka, or the western part of the Peninsula; and the adoption of the Jain belief by the people of those countries. Thus it is said, "A king of the Konkas, Venkat́as, and Kút́akas, named Arhat, having heard the tradition of Rishabha's practices (or his wandering about naked, and desisting from religious rites), being infatuated by necessity, under the evil influence of the Kali age, will become needlessly alarmed, and abandon his own religious duty, and will foolishly enter upon an unrighteous and heretical path. Misled by him, and bewildered by the iniquitous operation of the Kali age, disturbed also by the delusions of the deity, wicked men will, in great numbers, desert the institutes and purifications of their own ritual; will observe vows injurious and disrespectful to the gods; will desist from ablutions, mouth-washings, and purifications, and will pluck out the hair of the head; and will revile the world, the deity, sacrifices, Brahmans, and the Vedas." It is also said, that Sumati, the son of Bharata, will be irreligiously worshipped by some infidels, as a divinity. Besides the import of the term Arhat, or Jain, Rishabha is the name of the first, and Sumati of the fifth Tírthakara, or Jain saint of the present era. There can be no doubt, therefore, that the Bhágavata intends this sect; and as the Jain system was not matured until a comparatively modern date, this composition is determined to be also recent. The allusions to the extension of the Jain faith in the western parts of the Peninsula, may serve to fix the limit of its probable antiquity to the 11th or 12th century, when the Jains seem to have been flourishing in Guzerat and the Konkan. As. Res. XVII. 232.

164:8 This etymology is given in other Puráńas; but the Matsya and Váyu have a different one, deriving it from the Manu, called Bharata, or the cherisher, one who rears or cherishes progeny. The Váyu has, in another place, the more common explanation also: ###.

165:9 The Agni, Kúrma, Márkańd́eya, Linga, and Váyu Puráńas agree with the Vishńu in these genealogical details. The Bhágavata has some additions and variations of nomenclature, but is not essentially different. It ends, however, with Śatajit, and cites a stanza which would seem to make Viraja the last of the descendants of Priyavrata.

165:10 The descendants of Priyavrata were the kings of the earth in the first or Swáyambhuva Manwantara. Those of Uttánapáda, his brother, are placed rather incongruously in the second or Swárochisha Manwantara: whilst, with still more palpable inconsistency, Daksha, a descendant of Uttánapáda, gives his daughter to Kaśyapa in the seventh or Vaivaswata Manwantara. It seems probable that the patriarchal genealogies are older than the chronological system of Manwantaras and Kalpas, and have been rather clumsily distributed amongst the different periods.

Next: Chapter II