The Brihaddharma Purana (abridged)

by Syama Charan Banerji | 1915 | 50,976 words

The English translation of the Brihaddharma Purana, one of the several minor or Upa Puranas, and represents an epitome of several important (Major) Puranas. In this book one can observe the attempts made to reconcile the three main forms of Hindu worship, viz. the Shaiva Vaishnava and Tantrika (worship of God in the form of Kali, Durga, Ganga, and ...

Chapter 39 - History of Ganga (continued, 3): On Music

When Siva went back with his bride, Ganga, to Kailasa, Narada went to Vaikunthadhama and communicated the news of the marriage to Narayana. Narayana was pleased to learn that Sankara had at last recovered his Sati, and, expressing a desire to see the newly married couple, asked Narada whether he should go to see them at Kailasa or they should come to see him at bis place. Narada said that in his opinion it was meet and desirable that Siva and Ganga should be invited to Vaikunthadhama.

Thereafter Narada said, “My lord, with your permission I wish to sing before you.”

Narayana said, “Certainly, O great and wise Rishi, you have my permission to sing, because music is Brahma, and a song properly sung enchants the whole universe. A good singer should have a good voice and must have a thorough knowledge of the different modes. The words of which a song is composed simply indicate the objects for which they stand, and do not show their form, but, if a song is properly sung, those objects become depicted before the mind’s eye. The sound originates in the fire of the Muladhara[1] which is a circle situated above the organs of generation, but is quite imperceptible there. It then rises to the head through the navel, the chest, the throat and the mouth, becoming more and more developed at each successive stage. From the navel to the head there are twenty-two sound divisions[2] or intervals which are divided into seven groups. These seven groups are the sources of the seven notes or tunes in the musical scale or gamut, which are known as Shadja, Rishabha, Gandhara, Madhyama, Panchama, Dhaivata, and Nishada. This scale again has three scales (gati) called Ghora, Mantra and Uchcha. There are in all five crore, five lakh and one thousand different modes known as Ragas and Raginis, chief among which are six Ragas and thirty-six Raginis. They all dwell in the throat of Siva. The six Ragas are males, and each of them has six wives known as Raginis. Each Ragini has a maidservant who is called a Ragini. Each Raga has a male servant also known as a Raga.

The six principal Ragas are:—

  1. Kamada.
  2. Vasanta.
  3. Mallara.
  4. Vibhasa.
  5. Gandhara,
  6. and Dipaka.

Their wives, maidservants and servants are as shown below:—

Name of Raga:—

Names of wifes:—

Names of maid-servants:—

Name of servant:—

(1) Name of Raga:—Kamada.
Names of wifes:—Mayuri, Totika, Gaudi, Vararhi, Vilelika, Dhanasri.
Names of maid-servants:—Vagesvari, Saradi, Syama, Vrindavali, Jayanti, Vaijayanti.
Name of servant:—Paraja

(2) Name of Raga:—Vasanta.
Names of wifes:—Kedari, Kalyani, Sindhura, Suhaya, Asvarudha, Karnati or Sudhara.
Names of maid-servants:—Syamakeli, Devakeli, Malini, Kamakeli, Sambhavati, Samvara.
Name of servant:—Hillola or Madhu

(3) Name of Raga:—Mallara.
Names of wifes:—Nati, Surahatta, Pahidi, Charurupini, Nila (or Lila), Jayajayanti.
Names of maid-servants:—Chakravaki, Chandramukhi, Rasika, Vilasika, Vamini, Syamaghotika.
Name of servant:—Not given in the original.

(4) Name of Raga:—Vibhasha.
Names of wifes:—Ramakeli, Lalita, Kodara, Kaumudi, Bhairavi, Sarvari.
Names of maid-servants:—Tarangini, Nagini, Kisori, Hemabhushana, Kallolini, Bhimanetra.
Name of servant:—Syamaghotaka.

(5) Name of Raga:—Gandhara.
Names of wifes:—Sri, Rupavati, Gauri, Dhanasi, Mangalakhya, Gandharvi.
Names of maid-servants:—Patamanjari, Manjari, Mahapadmavati, Velavali, Bhupali, Gandhini.
Name of servant:—Gaudaraja.

(6) Name of Raga:—Dipaka.
Names of wifes:—Uttari, Purvika, Gurjari, Kalagurjari, Gondakari, Mala.
Names of maid-servants:—Dipahasta, Dipavarna, Dipakarna, Pradipika, Dipakshi, Dipavaktra.
Name of servant:—Pradipanabha.

Narada, after hearing all the aboye description, began to sing, and tried to follow the instructions Narayana gave him, but failed. He cut such a sorry figure that the goddess, Sarasvati, laughed in her sleeve, and the lord Narayana stopped him, saying that he should rest for a while. After he had done so, he was asked by the Lord to go with him and see in person the Ragas and Raginis who, were all residents of Vaikunthadhama[3].

Narada saw that every resident of the place had four arms and faces, and was as full of beauty and lustre as the Lord himself, and also clothed and adorned like him.

At one place, however, he saw a few such residents of both sexes in a miserable plight, and said,

“O Lotus-eyed, is it possible that in this happy region of yours there can be such haggard mutilated creatures? They look like denizens of hell!”

Narayana answered:

“Narada, I am sorry to tell you that you are responsible for the present pitiable condition of these poor creatures. They are the Ragas and Raginis you tried to sing, and in doing so, have so grievously mutilated You can now understand why Sarasvati was laughing at you. Do not, however, distress yourself on their account. The Lord Siva will presently come and restore them to their pristine glory.”

Narada could not speak for shamed and followed Narayana with a downcast look. The latter then invited the Rishis and some other residents of Vaikunthapuri, and, sitting among them with Lakshmi and Sarasvati on each side? offered a seat to Narada near him. When all were duly seated, he invoked Siva and Ganga, and lo! they appeared at once before him. They were given, a hearty welcome, and Brahma, Indra and the other gods, learning the news of their arrival, came and joined the assembly.

When Siva and his bride were seated on a throne of gold, studded with jewels, the gods laid their offerings before them, and greetings were exchanged on both sides.

After some conversation Narayana said,

“My Lord, we are all aware of your complete mastery over music, and have assembled here to-day with the hope of being able te persuade you to sing. I request you to edify us with a few songs.”

Siva was glad to comply with the request. He began to sing and Narada joined him. Lakshmi, Sarasvati and all the gods were simply enchanted with the music and listened to it with rapt attention.

Siva commenced with the Gandhara Raga, and sang with so much effect that the Raga himself appeared in person before the audience, and took his seat on a golden throne. After that his wife, Sri Ragini was sung and she too made her appearance in full splendour.

The subject-matter of the songs was Narayana himself who was represented as being invited by his beloved to revel in her charms. Their effect on him was so great that he began to soften more and more, till, at length, when, in a gush of admiration, he tried to rise from his seat with a view to embrace Siva, he fell down and melted into water which began to overflood the Vaikunthadhama. At the touch of the water the gods were awakened from their reverie, and were, at first unable to account for it, or for the disappearance of Narayana from his throne.

After some deliberation, they guessed the truth, and Brahma, with a view to averting a catastrophe, opened the mouth of his water-jar, containing the essence of Ganga and touched the water with it saying,

“As Narayana who is Brahma has been liquified by Music who is also Brahma, let him be assimilated with Ganga who is Brahma.”

As soon as this was said all the water entered into the jar and became one with Ganga who thenceforward became the washer away of sins. Liquified Narayana held Ganga just in the same manner as a body holds a soul.

Brahma took away the jar to his own heaven, and the assembly dispersed. Lakshmi and Sarasvati also disappeared and waited for the reappearance of Narayana. In due time Ganga flowed down from the feet of Vishnu to the earth and Patala.

Footnotes and references:


Muladhara is composed two words, viz. Mula=root, and adhara=support. The literal meaning of the word is, therefore, “Primary support.”


Name of Vishnu’s heaven.

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