The Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, , at sacred-texts.com
Dispersion of Revata's descendants: those of Dhrisht́a: those of Nábhága. Birth of Ikshwáku, the son of Vaivaswata: his sons. Line of Vikukshi. Legend of Kakutstha; of Dhundhumára; of Yuvanáśwa; of Mándhátri: his daughters married to Saubhari.
PARÁŚARA.--Whilst Kakudmin, surnamed Raivata, was absent on his visit to the region of Brahmá, the evil spirits or Rákshasas named Puńyajanas destroyed his capital Kuśasthalí. His hundred brothers, through dread of these foes, fled in different directions; and the Kshatriyas, their descendants, settled in many countries 1.
From Dhrisht́a, the son of the Manu, sprang the Kshatriya race of Dhársht́aka 2.
The son of Nabhága was Nábhága 3; his son was
[paragraph continues] Ambarísha 4; his son was Virúpa 5; his son was Prishadaśwa; his son was Rathínara, of whom it is sung, "These, who were Kshatriyas by birth, the heads of the family of Rathínara, were called Ángirasas (or sons of Angiras), and were Brahmans as well as Kshatriyas 6."
Ikshwáku 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 Dańd́a. 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 Asht́aka 9, Ikshwáku 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. Vaśisht́ha, the family priest of the house of Ikshwáku, 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 Śaśáda (hare-eater) was affixed to him by the Guru. On the death of Ikshwáku, the dominion of the earth descended to Śaśáda 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 Vishńu for assistance, and propitiated him by their adorations. The eternal ruler of the universe, Náráyańa, 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 Viswagaśwa 14, whose son was Árdra 15, whose son was Yuvanáśwa, whose son was Śravasta, by whom the city of Śrávastí 16 was founded. The son of Śravasta was Vrihadaśwa, whose son was Kuvalayáśwa. This prince, inspired with the spirit of Vishńu, destroyed the Asura Dhundhu, who had harassed the pious sage Uttanka; and he was thence entitled Dhundhumára 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 Drídháśwa, Chandráśwa, and Kapiláśwa; and the son and successor of the elder of these was Haryyáśwa; his son was Nikumbha; his son was Sanhatáśwa; his son was Kriśáśwa; his son was Prasenajit; and his son was another Yuvanáśwa 18.
Yuvanáśwa 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 Rájá, "who unwittingly drank the water!" and accordingly in the belly of Yuvanáśwa was conceived a child, and it grew, and in due time it ripped open the right side of the Rájá, 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" (mám dhásyati); and hence the boy was named Mándhátri. 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 Mándhátri, the son of Yuvanáśwa 19."
Mándhátri married Vindumatí, the daughter of Śaśavindu, and had by her three sons, Purukutsa, Ambarísha, 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 Mándhátri 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 Rájá, "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 Mándhátri 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 Rájá, 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 Rájá 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.
Mándhátri, 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 Rája 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 Brahmá 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 Rájá 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, Viśwakarman, equal in taste and skill to Brahmá 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 Mándhátri 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 Mándhátri 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 Rájá 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 Mándhátri 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, Vishńu, 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 Vishńu, 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 Váyu, the brothers of Raivata founded a celebrated race called Śáryáta, from Śaryáti. The Bráhma P. says they took refuge in secret places (gahana); for which the Hari Vanśa substitutes (parvata gańa) mountains. The Váyu has neither, and says merely that they were renowned in all regions.
358:2 So the Váyu, Linga, Agni, Bráhma, and Hari Vanśa. The Matsya names three sons of Dhrisht́a, Dhrisht́aketu, Chitranátha, and Rańadhrisht́a. The Bhágavata adds, that the sons of Dhrisht́a obtained Brahmanhood upon earth, though born Kshatriyas.
358:3 But who is Nabhága? for, as above observed, c. 1. n. 2, the son of the Manu is Nabhága-nedisht́a, and there is in that case no such person as Nabhága: on the other hand, if Nabhága and Nedisht́a he distinct names, we have ten sons of Vaivaswata, as in the Bhágavata. The descendants of Nedisht́a, through his son Nabhága, have been already specified; and after all, therefore, we must consider the text as intending a distinct person by the name Nabhága; and such a name does occur in the lists of the Agni, Kúrma, Matsya, and Bhágavata, unquestionably distinct from that with which it is also sometimes compounded. The Bhágavata repeats the legend of the Aitareya Bráhmańa, with some additions, and says that Nabhága 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 Nabhága 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 Nabhága or Nábhága, the father of Ambarísha. The Váyu, as well as the Bhágavata, concurs with the text.
359:4 The Bhágavata considers Ambarísha as a king, who reigned apparently on the banks of the Yamuná. He is more celebrated as a devout worshipper of Vishńu, whose discus protected him from the wrath of Durvásas, and humbled that choleric saint, who was a portion of Śiva: a legend which possibly records a struggle between two sects, in which the votaries of Vishńu, headed by Ambarísha, triumphed.
359:5 The Agni, Bráhma, and Matsya stop with Ambarísha. The Váyu and Bhágavata proceed as in the text, only the latter adds to Virúpa, Ketumat and Śambhu.
359:6 The same verse is cited in the Váyu, 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 Ángirasas, followers or descendants of Angiras, who may have founded a school of warrior-priests. This is the obvious purport of the legend of Nabhága'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. Rathínara (or Rathítara, as read in some copies, as well as by the Bhágavata and Váyu) 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 Bhágavata.
359:8 The Matsya says that Indra (Devarát́) was born as Vikukshi, and that Ikshwáku 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 Váyu and most of the other authorities agree in the number of one hundred, of whom fifty, with Śakuni at their head, are placed in the north; and forty-eight in the south, according to the Váyu, of whom Vimati was the chief. The same authority specifies also Nimi and Dańd́a as sons of Ikshwáku, as does the Bhágavata, 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 Ikshwáku we are to understand colonies or settlers in various parts of India.
360:9 See p. 322, 323.
360:10 The Váyu states that he was king of Ayodhyá, after the death of Ikshwáku. The story occurs in all the authorities, more or less in detail.
360:11 The Váyu says it was in the war of the starling and the stork; a conflict between Vaśisht́ha and Viswámitra, metamorphosed into birds, according to the Bhágavata; but that work assigns it to a different period, or the reign of Hariśchandra. 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 Mahábhárata, invariably borne by princes and leaders.
361:12 The Bhágavata 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 Indraváha, 'borne by Indra.'
361:13 Suyodhana: Matsya, Agni, Kúrma.
361:14 Viśwaka: Linga. Viśwagandhi: Bhágav. Visht́aráśwa: Bráhma P. and Hari V.
361:15 Ándhra: Váyu. Áyu: Agni. Chandra: Bhágavata.
361:16 Śávasta and Śávasti: Bhágav. Śravastí: Matsya, Linga, and Kúrma, which also say that Śravastí was in the country of Gaura, which is eastern Bengal; but it is more usually placed in Kośala, by which a part of Oude is commonly understood. In my Dictionary I have inserted Śrávantí, upon the authority of the Trikáńd́a Śesha, but it is no doubt an error for Śrávasti; 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 Váyu and Bráhma Puráńas. Dhundhu hid himself beneath a sea of sand, which Kuvalyáśwa 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 Sanhatáśwa, called Varhańáśwa in the Bhágavata. We have there some variations, and some details not noticed in our text. The Váyu, Bráhma, Agni, Linga, Matsya, and Kúrma, ascribe two sons to Sanhatáśwa, whom the two first name Kriśáśwa and Akriśáśwa, and the rest Kriśáśwa and Rańáśwa. Senajit or Prasenajit is generally, though not always, termed the son of the younger brother; but the commentator on the Hari Vanśa calls him the son of Sanhatáśwa, whilst the Matsya, Agni, Linga, and Kúrma omit him, and make Mándhátri the son of Rańáśwa. The mother of Prasenajit and the wife of Akriśáśwa or Sanhatáśwa, according to the different interpretations, was the daughter of Himavat, known as Drishadvatí, the river so termed (p. 181, n. 7.) The wife of Yuvanáśwa, according to the Váyu, or of Prasenajit, according to the Bráhma, was Gaurí, the daughter of Rantínara, who, incurring the imprecation of her husband, became the Báhudá river (p. 181. n. 6). The Bráhma and Hari Vanśa call Yuvanáśwa her son; but in another place the Hari Vanśa contradicts itself, calling Gaurí the daughter of Matímara, of the race of Puru, the mother of Mándhátri; here following apparently the Matsya, in which it is so stated. The Bráhma P. is not guilty of the inconsistency. The Váyu of course gives the title to Mándhátri, with the addition that he was called Gaurika, after his mother. Mándhátri's birth from Gaurí is the more remarkable, as it is incompatible with the usual legend given in our text and in the Bhágavata, which seems therefore to have been of subsequent origin, suggested by the etymology of the name. In the Bhágavata, Mándhátri is also named Trasadasyu, or the terrifier of thieves.
363:19 The Váyu cites this same verse and another, with the remark, that they were uttered by those acquainted with the Puráńas and with genealogies.
363:20 The Bráhma and Agni omit Ambarísha, for whom the Matsya substitutes Dharmasena. The following legend of Saubhari occurs elsewhere only in the Bhágavata, 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 Mamatá, 'mineness;' the notion that wives, children, wealth, belong to an individual, and are essential to his happiness.