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

p. 413


The sons of Nahusha. The sons of Yayáti: he is cursed by Śukra: wishes his sons to exchange their vigour for his infirmities. Puru alone consents. Yayáti restores him his youth: divides the earth amongst his sons, under the supremacy of Puru.

YATI, Yayáti, Sanyáti, Áyáti, Viyati, and Kriti were the six valiant sons of Nahusha 1. Yati declined the sovereignty 2, and Yayáti therefore succeeded to the throne. He had two wives, Devayání the daughter of Usanas, and Śarmisht́há the daughter of Vrishaparvan; of whom this genealogical verse is recited: "Devayání bore two sons, Yadu and Turvasu. Sarmisht́há, the daughter of Vrishaparvan, had three sons, Druhyu, Anu, and Puru 3." Through the curse of Uśanas, Yayáti

p. 414

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 Sarmisht́há's youngest son, Puru, who bowed to his father, and readily consented to give him his youth, and receive in exchange Yayáti's infirmities, saying that his father had conferred upon him a great favour.

The king Yayáti 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 Viśwáchí, 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

p. 415

have passed," reflected Yayáti, "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, Yayáti 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 Bhágavata refers briefly to the story of Nahusha, which is told in the Mahábhárata more than once, in the Vana Parva, Udyoga P., Dána Dharma P., and others; also in the Pádma and other Puráńas. He had obtained the rank of Indra; but in his pride, or at the suggestion of Śachí, 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 Yudhisht́hira, 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: Bhágavata, &c.

413:3 The story is told in great detail in the Adi Parvan of the Mahábhárata, also in the Bhágavata, with some additions evidently of a recent taste. Śarmisht́há, the daughter of Vrishaparvan, king of the Daityas, having quarrelled with Devayání, the daughter of Śúkra (the religious preceptor of the same race), had her thrown into a well. Yayáti, hunting in the forest, found her, and taking her to her father, with his consent espoused her. Devayání, in resentment of Śarmisht́há's treatment, demanded that she should become her handmaid; and Vrishaparvan, afraid of Śukra's displeasure, was compelled to comply. In the service of his queen, however, Yayáti beheld Śarmisht́há, and secretly wedded her. Devayání complaining to her father of Yayáti's infidelity, Śukra 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 Yayáti is precisely the same in the Mahábhárata p. 414 as in our text, and is introduced in the same way.

415:4 Bhrigutunga, according to the Bráhma.

415:5 The elder brothers were made Mańd́ala-nripas, kings of circles or districts: Bhágavata. The situation of their governments is not exactly agreed upon.


Váyu and

and Hari V.


















[paragraph continues] The Linga describes the ministers and people as expostulating with Yayáti, 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 Mahábhárata, Udyoga P. Gálava Charitra, has a legend of Yayáti's giving a daughter to the saint Gálava, who through her means obtains from different princes eight hundred horses, white with one black ear, as a fee for his preceptor Viswámitra. Yayáti, 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, p. 399.

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