Harivamsha Purana

by Manmatha Nath Dutt | 1897 | 293,872 words | ISBN-10: 8178542188 | ISBN-13: 9788178542188

This page is entitled “account of brahmadatta and the strange bird” and represents Chapter 20 of the first book (‘Adi Parva’) of the Harivamsa (English translation in Prose). The Harivamsha Purana narrates the lineage and life-story of Krishna (Hari). Although not officially mentioned in the list of Puranas, this book includes topics such as geology, creation theory, time (manvantaras), ancient historical legends and accounts of royal dynasties.

Chapter 20 - Account of Brahmadatta and the Strange Bird

1. Markandeya said:—After the disappearance of that deity and according to the words of that lord, I acquired discriminative knowledge along with celestial vision.

2. Thereupon, O son of Ganga, I saw at Kurukshetra, all those Brahmanas, the descendants of Kaushika of whom that lord (Sanatkumar) spoke to me.

3. Of them the seventh Brahmana became the king Brahmadatta. By his name, character and action he also became celebrated by the name Pitridatta.

4. In an excellent city by name Kampilya, the foremost of kings Anuha begat that monarch on Suka’s daughter Kritvi.

5. Bhishma said:—O king, hear I shall describe the family of that king as recounted by the highly regenerate great Rishi Markandeya.

6-7. Yudhisthira said:—Whose son was Anuha, the foremost of the pious? In what age was he born? How powerful was he? Whose son was the highly illustrious king Brahmadatta? How did the seventh Brahmana become a king?

8. (Certainly) the self-controlled, omnipotent sage Suka, respected by all the world, did not give away his illustrious daughter Kritvi to an effeminate person.

9. O you of great effulgence, I wish to hear at length the account of Brahmadatta; it behoves you to describe it.

10. Do you describe unto me how the Brahmanas, mentioned by Markandeya, are living in the world.

12. Bhishma said:—I have heard that this king (Brahmadatta) was contemporary of my grand-father the royal saint Pratipa (II). The noble ascetic Brahmadatta, the foremost of royal saints, was grateful unto all creatures and engaged in their well-being.

13. He made (that division of the Vedas) which is called Siksha[1] by means of his Tapas and instituted an order of study. The highly illustrious teacher of Yoga, Galava, was his friend and the ascetic Kandarik was his minister.

14. In another birth they all help each other. As narrated by the noble and great ascetic Markandeya they, in the seventh birth, were all gifted with unlimited energy.

16. Hear, O king, I shall describe to you the ancient family of the high-souled king Brahmadatta born in the race of Puru.

16. The pious son of Vrihatkshetra was celebrated by the name of Suhotra. Suhotra’s son was known by the name of Hasti.

17. By him in the days of yore the most excellent city of Hastinapur was founded. Hasti had three highly pious sons.

18. Of them the eldest was Ajamida, the second Dvimida and the youngest Paramida. Ajamida begat on Dhumini the king Vrihadishu whose son was the highly illustrious Vrihaddhanu.

19. His son Vrihadbharma was known as a highly pious king. His son was Satyajit whose son was Visvajit.

20. His son was the king Senajit who had four sons celebrated in the world.

21. Rucira, Svetaketu, Mahim nara and Vatsa, the king of Avanti—these were his four sons.

22. Rucira’s son was the highly illustrious Prithusena whose son was Para, from whom was born Neepa.

23. Neepa had a hundred sons who all were of unlimited energy, mighty car-warriors, heroic and powerful. All these kings were known by the name of Neepa.

24. The illustrious descendant of those Neepas was known as Samara in the Province of Kampilya. He was greatly fond of Dar.

25. Samara had three sons—Para, Para and Sadashva, who were all greatly pious. Para’s son was Prithu.

26. Prithu’s son was Sukrita, who, by good actions, was endued with all accomplishments. His son was Vibhraja.

27. His son was the king Anuha. He was the illustrious son-in-law of Suka and the husband of Kritvi.

28. Anuha’s son was the royal saint Brahmadatta. His son was the ascetic Visvaksena, the subduer of foes.

29. By his own actions Vibhraja was again born (as the son of Brahmadatta). He had another son by the name of Sarvasena.

30. His eyes, O king, were torn by a sparrow known by the name of Pujanya (worshipful) that lived in the house of Brahmadatta for a long time.

31. Brahmadatta had an other highly powerful son by the name of Visvaksena.

32. His son was the king Dandasena. His son was Bhattata who was formerly killed by Karna.

33. This son of Dandasena was heroic and perpetuated his race. O Yudhishthira, Bhattata’s son was evil-minded.

34. O king, he brought about the fall of the house of Neepas. For him all the Neepas were destroyed by Ugrayudha.

35. I have killed Ugrayudha, in battle, on account of his being elated with pride. He was proud and took delight in haughtiness and sinful ways.

36. Yudhisthira said:—Whose son was Ugrayudha? And in whose family was he born? For what did you kill him? Tell me all this.

37. Bhishma said:—Ajamida’s son was the learned king Yavinara. His son was Dhritiman whose son was Satyadhriti.

38. His son was the powerful Dridanemi whose son was the king Sudharma.

39. His son was the king Sarvabhouma. He was the only Lord Paramount of the world and was (therefore) called Sarvabhouma.

40. In his family was born Mahan, the descendant of Puru. Mahan’s son was known as the king Rukmaratha.

41. His son was the king Suparshva, whose son was the pious Sumati.

42. His son was the virtuous-souled and powerful Sannati. His son was the valiant king Krita.

43. He was the disciple of the high-souled Hiranyanabha. By him the Sanhita of the Sama Veda has been sung in twenty-four ways.

44. For this reason the western Saman and the chanters thereof are known under the appellation of Karti. Krita’s son was the heroic Ugrayudha, born in the race of Puru.

45. By displaying his prowess he slew the highly energetic king of Pancala, Neepa by name, the grand-father of Prishata.

46. Ugrayudha’s son was the highly illustrious king Kshemya, whose son was Suvira and whose son was Nripanjaya.

47. From Nripanjaya was born Vahuratha—all these kings are called Pauravas. O my son, Ugrayudha grew highly vicious.

48. Having burnt down all the Neepas he brought about their extinction. Slaying all the Neepas and other kings he was filled with pride.

49-50. After the death of my father he told me (many) sinful words. O king, while I was lying down on earth encircled by my courtiers Ugrayudha’s messenger came to me and said:—"O foremost of Kurus, do you give me your illustrious mother Gandhakali, the jewel of a female, as my wife.

51. Forsooth shall I confer upon you a prosperous kingdom and riches. I have acquired jewels, according to my desire, on earth.

52. O descendant of Bharata, by merely hearing of this my effulgent and irrepressible discus or at the very sight of it the enemies fly away from the field of battle.

53. If dost you seek your kingdom, life and the well-being of your family, obey my command or else you shalt have no peace".

54. I heard these words resembling the flames of fire from the messenger despatched by him while I was lying down on earth on a Kusha bed.

55. O undeteriorating one, thus informed of the desire of that vicious-minded one, I ordered my commander-in-chief to undertake a war.

56. As Vicitravirja was a boy and under my protection, I was filled with rage and made up my mind for engaging in a war.

57-58. But, O sinless one, all my ministers, well-versed in counsels, the god-like Ritwikas, well-meaning friends and companions well-read in scriptures, all requested me to desist and pointed out sound reasonings too.

59. The ministers said:—"O lord, this vicious-souled (Ugravudha) is carrying on the work of devastation and you, too, art impure.[2] So you should not undertake a war as your first work.

60-61. We shall first resort to the expedients of conciliation, gifts and sowing dissension. And afterwards when you shalt be pure,[3] you should bow unto the gods, make the Brahmanas perform benedictorv rites and then having saluted them and obtained their permission, you should set out for victory.

62. It has been laid down by the elderly sages that a man, when he is in mourning, should not take up a weapon or enter into a contract.

63. First you should try the expedient of conciliation and gift and then try to sow dissension. And afterwards you should slay him, manifesting your prowess, as Indra killed (the demon) Samvara.

64. O king, the words of the elderly sages should be obeyed in proper time." Hearing this I desisted from fightlng.

65. Thereupon those ministers, well-versed in counsels, tried all the expedients. O foremost of Kurus, at that time the most excellent work began.

66. Although solicited by the expedients of conciliation and others settled upon by the sages that wicked-minded one was not won over.

67. Though the discus of that sinful one was set in motion, it immediately stopped on account of his longing for others' wives..

68. I did not perceive then that his most excellent discus had stopped, which, spoken ill of by the pious, had been rendered abortive by its own action.

69. Then being purified and having benedictorv rites performed by the Brahmanas, I set out from the city in a car with my bow and arrows and engaged in a fight with my enemy.

70. Thereupon encountering the army strengthened by weapons there took place a mad fight which lasted for three days like that between the gods and demons.

71. When the battle raged to its highest pitch, that hero, consumed completely by the might of my weapons, gave up his ghost and fell down with his face downwards.

72-73. In the meantime, O my son, Prishata started for the province of Kampilya. On the king Neepa and Ugrayudha being slain that highly effulgent one obtained his ancestral kingdom Ahichatra. O king, he was the father of king Drupada and an ally of mine.

74. Afterwards having defeated Drupada by force in battle, Arjuna conferred the province of Kampilya together with that of Ahiccatra on Drona.

75. Having accepted both the kingdom, Drona, the foremost of victors, gave away Kampilya to Drupada. This is known to you.

76. I have thus described to you in detail the race of Brahmadatta, the ancestor of Drupada and that of the hero Ugrayudha.

77. Yudhisthira said:—O son of Ganga, why did the bird Pujanya put out the eyes of the eldest son of the Brahmadatta?

78. She lived for a long time in his house. Why did she (then) commit such a mischief by that high-souled king?

79. Why did Pujanya contract friendship with him? Do you duly satisfy all these my doubts.

80. Bhishma said:—O Emperor! O Yudhishthira! hear in due order what took place formerly in the house of Brahmadatta,

81. O king, a certain female bird was the companion of Brahmadatta. Her two wings were white, head red and back and abdomen were black.

82. Brahmadatta was greatly attached to that female companion. O best of men, she made a nest in his house and lived there.

83. She every day used to go out of the palace and roam at large on the bank of ocean, in lakes and ponds.

84-86. Having ranged over the rivers, mountains, woods, pleasure gardens, ponds perfumed with fragrant white water-lilies and places the air whereof is impregnated with the perfume of lilies and lotuses and abounding in swans, Sarasas and Karandavas, she used to come back in the night to the city of Kampilya and live in the house of the intelligent king Brahmadatta.

87-89. O king, whatever strange things she saw in her peregenations in various parts of the country, she used to describe them to the king in her conversation in the night. O descendant of Kuru, once on a time a son, the foremost of kings, was born to Brahmadatta, celebrated by the name of Sarvasena. Pujanya also gave birth to an egg there.

90. In time that egg opened and thence came out a lump of flesh with legs, arms and face.

91. O king, its face was tawny coloured and had no eyes. Gradually that young one got its eyes and its wings grew a little.

92. Pujanya used to love equally her young one and the Prince, and gradually became fond of them.

93. And she every evening used to pick up with her beaks two ambrosial fruits for (the prince) Sarvasena and her young one.

94. Brahmadatta’s son and the young one delightedly lived upon those two fruits.

95-96. By daily partaking of those fruits they began to grow up. When during the day Pujanya used to go away the nurse gave play to Brahmadatta’s son in the company of that young one of the bird.

97. When Pujanya went out of the nest the Prince used to take away that young sparrow for play.

98. Once on a time the Prince held fast the young bird by the neck for which, O king, it immediately died.

97-100. Beholding the young bird set free a little with its mouth wide open, that had been killed by the boy, the king was greatly sorry and remonstrated with the nurse. He was filled with great grief for that young sparrow.

101. Pujanya too, who used to range in the forest, came at that time to the palace of Brahmadatta with two fruits.

102. Coming there she saw the child, that came out of her body, dead.

103. Beholding her dead young one she at first lost consciousness but afterwards gradually regained it. Regaining her consciousness the poor bird began to bewail.

104. Pujanya said:—"O my child, when I used to come back to my nest emitting my cries you were wont to come to me with your thousand indistinct accents.

105. Why do you not come to me to-day with your mouth open, yellow face and black throat?

106. I always cry embracing you with my wings. Why do I not hear to-day your inarticulate sound?

107. I had always this desire that some day or other I shall see my young one begging water with its mouth open and shaking its wings.

108. That desire of mine is now frustrated with your death." Having thus bewailed in various ways she said to the king. "

109. O king, you are a Kshatriya,[4] you know the eternal ways of religion. Then why have you got my young one slain by the nurse

110. O wretch of a Kshasriya, why did your son take away my young one and kill it? Methinks, you have not listened to Sruti of Angiras.

111. One who seeks shelter, one who is hungry, one who is assailed by his enemies and one who lives for ever in his house should be protected by a man.

112. He who neglects this duty goes without any doubt to the hell Kumbhipaka. How can the deities and the manes accept Havi and food consecrated with Svadha mantras offered by him?"

113. Having thus said to the great king, (the bird), stricken with grief and possessed by ten-fold[5] characteristics, tore off the eyes of the boy.

114. Thereupon the eyes of the prince were put out. Having thus blinded him the bird Pujanya flew away into the sky.

115. Thereupon beholding his own son the king said to the bird:—"Renounce your grief, O auspicious one. You have done well, O timid bird..

116. Give up your sorrow and come back; may your friendship become everlasting. Live in my city and enjoy. May good betide you.

117. For the misfortune of my son I have not the least anger for you. Be my friend. May you fare well. You have done your duty."

118. Pujanya said:—"I know how much love you have for your son like me. Making your son blind I do not wish to live here.

119-120. Hear I shall recount the themes narrated by the preceptor Sukra. 'One should always leave at a distance a bad friend, a bad country, a bad son and a bad wife. There can be no friendship for an evil friend and attachment for a bad wife. One cannot expect Pinda from: a bad son and one cannot rely on a bad king.

121. Who can trust a bad friend? One cannot live in a bad country. People are always afraid of a bad king and a bad son always brings on misery.

122. That wretch of a man, who being weak and having none to protect him, confides in a man who does him injury, does not live long.

123. Do not trust a faithless man and do not place too much confidence even on a man who is faithful. Fear, begotten by confidence, destroys all the roots.

124. That stupid man, who serves a man and confides in a low caste, does not survive long.

125. As earthworms are devoured by birds as soon as they are born, so men, obtaining advancement from a king, undoubtedly meet with destruction soon.

126. As a creeper destroys a huge tree so even a learned man, resorting to mildness of nature and destroying his body, daily brings about the destruction of his enemies.

127. An enemy, first becoming mild, delicate and emaciated, gradually makes the body lean and then kills us as an earth-worm gradually eradicates a tree.

128. Having made this promise in the presence of the ascetics 'I shall not destroy anybody' Hari, afterwards, O king, killed Namuchi with a foam.

129. A man destroys his enemy either with poison, fire or water whether he be asleep, drunk or careless

130. In fear of future enmity men do not leave the remnant of enemies. Remembering this, example, O king, they bring about the entire extermination of their enemies'".

131. O king, the remnant of enemies, debt and fire, becomes again united and assumes proportion. Therefore the remnant of these three should never be kept.

132. An enemy laughs, talks, takes food from the same plate, sits on the same seat, but he always keeps in mind that sin.

133. Even contracting a relationship with an enemy one should not trust him. The king of gods, though himself a son-in-law, killed Puloma.

134. As a deer does not approach a hunter so a wise man should not near him who speaks sweet words keeping enmity at heart.

135. It is not proper to live near an enemy who has prospered. He brings about our destruction as a river destroys a tree.

136. Even obtaining advancement from an enemy one should not trust him. Securing prosperity from him one meets with destruction like an earth-worm.

137. Learned persons, who are to protect themselves, should always keep in mind these verses chanted by the preceptor Sukra, O king,.

138. By making your son blind I have committed a great iniquity so I place no confidence in you.

139-141. Having said all this the bird at once flew up into the sky. I have thus O king, described to you, what took place formerly between Pujanya and the king Brahmadatta. O highly intelligent one, O Yudhisthira, I shall describe to you the ancient history of Sradha as accosted by you which was recounted by Sanatkumar in response to a question from Markandeya.

142-143. O king, hear what happened in the days of yore to Galava, Kundarika and Brahmadatta the three Brahmacarins in their seventh birth who longed for the fruit of Sraddha and good actions.

Footnotes and references:


This is one of the parts of Vedanga—a sacred science, considered as subordinate to and in some sense a part of the Vedas; six sciences come under this denomination; Siksha or the science of pronounciation and articulation; Kalpa, the detail of religious ceremonies; Vyakarana or grammar; Chandas, prosody; Jyotish, astronomy; and Nirukta, or the explanation of the difficult and obscure words and phrases that occur in the Vedas.


i.e. You are in mourning on account of the death of your father.


After the performance of your father’s Sraddha.


The word in the text is Murdhabhisikta. Literally it means on whose head water is sprinkled. The Kshatriyas go through this ceremony at the time of installation.


i.e. Those of a drunkard, a madman, of one exhausted with fatigue, hungry, angry, hasty, of one afraid, stupified and passionate.

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