The Bhagavata Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 780,972 words | ISBN-10: 8120838203 | ISBN-13: 9788120838208

This page describes History of Daksha, the son of Pracetas which is chapter 4 of the English translation of the Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas containing roughly 18,000 metrical verses. Topics include ancient Indian history, religion, philosophy, geography, mythology, etc. The text has been interpreted by various schools of philosophy. This is the fourth chapter of the Sixth Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 4 - History of Dakṣa, the son of Pracetas

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The King (Parīkṣit) said:

1. You have briefly described the genesis of gods, Asuras (demons), men, serpents, beasts and birds during the (first) Manvantara period presided over by Svāyambhuva Manu.

2. I desire to know from you the details of that creation (as to) how and with what power the transcendental, glorious Lord brought for the subsequent creation, Oh venerable sage.

Sūta said:

3. On hearing this excellent query from the royal sage (Parīkṣit), the great Yogī Śuka, the son of Bāḍarāyaṇa, expressed his appreciation and spoke unto him, the noblest of sages.

Śrī Śuka said:

4. When the ten Pracetasas, sons of king Prācīnabarhis emerged from within the sea (-like lake) they saw that the earth was covered with trees.

5. Being enraged at the trees and with their wrath flared up by austere penance, they blew out fire and wind through their mouth, with the intention of burning down the trees.[1]

6. Finding the trees being reduced to ashes by them both (the fire and the wind), the great Moon-god, the ruler of the vegetable kingdom, addressed them with a view to appeasing their anger.

7. “Oh highly fortunate Princes! It does not behove you to bear enmity to the poor trees. You are regarded as the protectors of the beings the special promotion of whose growth should be your concern and desire.

8. Oh Princes! The immutable glorious Lord Hari, the ruler of progenitors of all creatures has created the trees and the annual plants (cereals) for fruits and food-grains (or the food of the manes and food for gods).

9. The immobile ones (trees, plants etc. i.e. their produce like fruits and flowers) are food for the mobile creatures; the footless (i.e. grass etc.) the food of those having feet; the handless ones (e.g. the fish) are the food of those endowed with hands; and the quadrupeds (e.g. deer, boar etc.) are the food of the bipeds (human beings).

10. Oh sinless ones! Inasmuch as you are commanded by your father (Prācīnabarhis) and by the god of gods to procreate beings how is it proper for you to burn down trees (which form the food of creatures).

11. Please follow the path of the righteous which was adopted by your father, grandfather and great-grandfather and control your intensified wrath.

12. The parents are real friends (guardians of interests) of children; the eyelashes are of the eyes; the husband is of a woman; the king is of the subjects; the householder is the true friend of the mendicants and the teacher or the wise person is that of the ignorant. (The protectors of beings are hence the true friends of the creatures; you should not therefore, destroy the food or the means of livelihood of your subjects).

13. The Soul that dwells within the bodies of the creatures is Lord Hari, the Supreme Controller; please note (carefully) that the entire creation is his abode. Hence, it is thus that he will be propitiated by you.

14. He, who, with a desire to know the real nature of the Soul, controls (within himself) sudden explosion of wrath within the cavity of his heart, goes beyond the guṇas which are the cause of the miseries of Saṃsāra).

15. Enough of the helpless trees that are (so far) consumed with fire. (Spare the remaining ones). May the surviving trees and yourselves live in bliss. Here is this excellent girl (Māriṣā by name) brought up by the trees. May she be accepted by you as your wife.”

16. Having pacified them (the Pracetasas) thus and having offered that beautiful daughter (with fine hips) of the Apsaras (Pramlocā) to them in marriage, the king Soma (the Moon-god) returned. They then married her according to religious rites.[2]

17. Dakṣa, the son of Pracetasas, they say, was born of her from them. The three worlds are fully populated by his progeny (and their descendants).

18. Now listen to me attentively how Dakṣa who was so affectionate to his daughters procreated beings by his mind (mental faculty) as well as with his semen (physical body).

19. In the beginning, it was by his mental faculties that he procreated these beings, viz., gods, demons (Asuras), men and such other creatures dwelling in the sky, on the earth and in the water.

20. Finding that this creation of beings was not growing prolific, the progenitor (of creation) approached the hills near the foot of the Vindhya mountain and performed very austere penance.

21. There was an extremely holy lake efficacious to destroy sins. It was called Aghamaṛṣaṇa (efficacious to wash off sins). He bathed three times a day (in the morning, midday and evening) in the lake and propitiated Lord Hari with his austere penance.

22. He praised the glorious Lord Viṣṇu with the Haṃsaguhya hymn. I shall now recite that hymn with which Hari was pleased with Dakṣa.

Prajāpati (Dakṣa) said:

23. I pay obeisance to the transcendental Lord whose power of consciousness is not unreal; who is the controller of jīva (the individual Soul as reflected through the three guṇas of Māyā) and the Māyā (the cause or the basis of such reflection); whose form or true nature is invisible to those who look upon guṇas or objects of senses as real; who is beyond all the means of knowledge (e.g. inference etc.) who is beyond limit of time and space, and Self-effulgent.

24. I bow to the Supreme Lord who is the friend of the jīva inhabiting the same city (body) along with him but of whose friendliness (in activating the sense-organs and the mind) the jīva is not aware. He is the seer of the world (and hence unseen by the world) just as a guṇa (the object of cognition) cannot perceive the possessor of the guṇa (viz. the cognitive ability of the cognizing sense).

25. The body, the vital breaths, the senses, the internal organs or mental faculties, the five bhūtas (gross elements) and their tanmātrās (subtle forms e.g. sound, touch etc.) do not know either themselves or the others and their presiding deities who are beyond them all (as all these have no consciousness). The jīva (being consciousness by nature) knows all the guṇas (the root cause of the above-mentioned list). But the jīva who knows them (the above) does not know the Omniscient Lord who is Infinite. Him I praise.

26. When the mind which cognizes the world of names and forms ceases to function due to the loss or obsolescence of all cognition and memory, in the state of samādhi or complete absorption in the self, he (the Supreme Brahman) reveals himself through his inherent existence, consciousness and bliss. I offer my salutations to him whose abode is the pure heart.

27. With their purified intellect, the self-controlled, discerning persons discover (and meditate upon) him (as distinct from ahaṃkāra) as enthroned in the innermost heart, even though he lies unmanifest by his nine powers[3] (viz. Prakṛti, mahat or cosmic intelligence, ahaṃkāra or ego, mind and tanmātras (five subtle bhūtas) and (by mind, five gross elements and ten sense-organs) and influenced by three guṇas (viz. Sattva, rajas, and tamas). (The above-mentioned wise persons do so) just as the experts in sacrificial lore separate (by friction) the sacrificial fire latent in the (piece of) wood by reciting the fifteen Sāmidhenī verses[4] (in the course of churning out fire).

28. He is realized as the highest bliss in meditation by the negation of Māyā which creates all distinctions and differences. Verily he bears every name, and assumes all forms. He possesses within him innumerable potencies which are beyond the power of words to describe. (May the Lord be gracious unto me).

29. Whatever is described in words, concluded (to be true) by the intellect, perceived by the senses or imagined by the mind, is only a phenomenon of the (three) guṇas and cannot be his essential nature; for he is verily characterised by the creation or dissolution of guṇas (i.e. their product, the universe).

30. It is Brahman on which everything depends; from it everything is caused; it has created everything from itself with itself. Everything is for it and belongs to it. Whatever it makes and causes others to make is Brahman. It is the ultimate cause of all causes both earlier (e.g. god Brahmā) or later. As the primary cause, it is known to have preceded all causes. It is one without a second, whether of its own kind or of another category. It is Brahman to whom I bow[5].

31. (If Brahman is the cause of the universe, why do the different schools of thoughts like the followers of Mīmāṃsā, Nyāya, indulge in disputation?). It is his potencies (such as Māyā) which have verily become the grounds (causes) for disputations and concurrence for various eloquent theoreticians (of different schools of thought) and which (in spite of the exhortations of the knowers of the truth to these disputants) delude their minds now and again. I bow to him, the omnipresent Lord of infinite excellences.

32. (Yoga, as a science of divine worship, conceives of God as a cosmic person with Pātāla, subterranean regions, as his feet, while Sankhya which is the Science of Knowledge or self-realization regards him as formless without any hands or feet.) The Yoga and Sāṅkhya systems of philosophy which proclaim faith in one and the same Reality predicate the existence and nonexistence of (two) distinct and mutually contradictory attributes to be subsisting in the same Reality (viz. possession and non-possession of feet etc.). But the common basis on which they agree and (is thus beyond dispute) is the existence of God—a Reality beyond dispute. It is the great thing—Brahman (to whom I bow).

33. May that glorious Supreme Lord of infinite attributes be gracious unto me—the Lord who though above material names and forms, invested himself with (absolutely pure sāttvic) forms by incarnating himself, and assumed names by his (wonderful) deeds, for the sake of bestowing his grace on those who seek shelter at his feet.

34. May that Supreme Ruler grant me my desired object(s)—the Supreme Lord who abiding in all bodies as the (formless) Inner controller, manifests himself in the forms of different deities to people according to the tendencies (formed by impressions of the actions of their previous births) and their paths of worship of recent origin, just as a breeze of wind (though itself devoid of the characteristics of the earth, viz. fragrance or colour) bears different kinds of smells according to the fragrance of the flowers with which it comes into contact or looks whitish, the attribute of dust mixed with it.

Śrī Śuka said:

35. Thus praised (with the hymns), the glorious Lord who is affectionate to his devotees manifested himself to Dakṣa while he was extolling him in the sacred lake called Aghamarṣaṇa, oh foremost Kuru.

36. Riding with his feet flung on both the shoulders of Garuḍa, he wielded in his extraordinarily long and mighty arms a discus, a conch, a sword,a shield, an arrow, a noose and a mace (in each respectively).

37. He was clad in yellow silken garment with complexion dark like a cloud, his countenance and eyes were beaming with pleasure and joy. His person was adorned with Vanamālā (a garland of forest-flowers) and bore the mark called Śrīvatsa and the valuable gem Kaustubha.

38. He wore a very costly crown and bracelets and radiant pair of crocodile-shaped ear-rings. He was adorned with zones, rings, bracelets, anklets and armlets.

39. The Lord of the three worlds manifested a beautiful form captivating the three worlds. He was surrounded by Nārada, Nanda and other attendants and by protectors of the worlds (like Indra, Varuṇa). He was eulogized by Siddhas, Gandharvas and Cāraṇas (the celestial singers and others) who followed him singing.

40. On seeing that most wonderful form (of the Lord), the progenitor Dakṣa was overcome with awe, but his heart was overjoyed. He lay prostrate before him on the ground (like a rod) and bowed to him.

41. Just as rivers are overflooded by streams, his senses were too full with intense joy to be able to speak. Thus, on account of excessive joy he could not utter a word.

42. Lord Viṣṇu who knows the minds of all created beings spoke thus to the progenitor devotee Dakṣa who had laid himself prostrate that way before him and was desirous of procreating progeny.

The Venerable Lord said:

43. Oh highly fortunate son of Pracetas! You have achieved the objective of your austere penance inasmuch as you have cherished supreme devotion unto me through your unswerving intense faith in me.

44. Oh Lord of created beings! I am pleased with you as the growth of the universe is the aim of your penance. It is also my desire that there should be all round growth and prosperity of all created beings.

45. God Brahmā, Śiva, you all Prajāpatis (Lords of created beings), Manus (progenitors of human beings who preside over certain epochs or Manvantaras) and the foremost deities—all are my special incarnations for the prosperity and procreation of created beings.

46.[6] Oh Brahman (Dakṣa)! Contemplation (accompanied with disciplines of Yama and Niyama) is my heart. The spiritual lore (the internal repetition of Mantras with the specific technique of nyāsa etc. which results in concrete meditation and my realization) is my body. The activities pertaining to contemplation is my form. Accurately performed sacrifices are the limbs of my body. The merit (accruing from the well-performed sacrifices) is my Soul. Gods (the recipients of oblations in the sacrifices) form my very life.

47. At the beginning of creation, I alone existed (without any activity). There was nothing else as internal (the seer or knower) or external (the seen or the object of knowledge). I was pure consciousness and unmanifested. There was (as if) deep sleep (no activity) everywhere.

48. In me who am Infinite and endowed with an infinite number of attributes, there evolved through Māyā (constituted of three guṇas) this universe (a product of guṇas). At that time the selfborn Brahmā, the First Person (the creator of all) arose (along with the universe).

49. When the great god Brahmā, though supplied with my energy, became engaged in the work of creation, he felt that he was not sufficiently competent for it.

50. Then as per my command, the god Brahmā performed very austere penance. Empowered by it, he created nine progenitors of created beings including you (in your previous birth) in the beginning.

51. Oh dear child! Here is the daughter of the progenitor of creatures, Pañcajana. Her name is Asiknī. Accept her as your wife, Oh Lord of created beings.

52. You have to follow the righteous course of sexual union between a duly married couple. You will procreate progeny in large numbers from her who will also observe the same righteous duty (of sexual intercourse between the duly married) like you.

53. All created beings after you will be born through sexual intercourse with women, under the influence of my Māyā and they will offer worship.

Śrī Śuka said:

54. Having addressed him [thus, Lord Hari the prime cause of the universe vanished on that very spot like an object seen in a dream, while Dakṣa was looking on.

Footnotes and references:


Vide Supra 4.30.44ff.


Vide supra 4.30.13-16. As Soma brought her up by nectar from his index finger, he had the fatherly right to offer her in marriage. As Lord Viṣṇu commanded them all to marry her, religious sanction was automatically received for this polyandric marriage.


Padaratnāvalī mentions a different list of nine potencies, viz., Vimalā, Utkarṣaṇī, Jñānakriyā etc. and the three powers (trivṛdbhiḥ) are Will, Knowledge and Action (Kriyā).


Viṣṇu is called the fifteenth Principle (Pāñcadaśya). The remaining fourteen are: Ten sense-organs (indriyas), mind, intelligence (buddhi), vital airs (Prāṇa) and Pradhāna. Viṣṇu controls these—Padaratnāvalī


Bhāgavata Candrikā takes the Viśiṣṭādvaita position in which Īśvara is the Soul and jīva and jagat (unintelligent matter) form his body. The different cases in this verse show the intimate relation of Īśvara with others.


Bhāgavata Candrikā, Siddhāntapradīpa explain that Lord wants to emphasize the importance of contemplation, sacrifices etc. as they are dear to him.

Bālaprabodhini explains that the Lord reminds Dakṣa of his previous birth and proficiency in sacrifice by calling him ‘Brahman’.

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