The Bhagavata Purana

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

This page describes The Description of the Race of Nimi which is chapter 13 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 thirteenth chapter of the Ninth Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 13 - The Description of the Race of Nimi

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Introductory:

(a). This chapter gives the genealogy of Nimi, the second son of Ikṣvāku, the original founder of the Janaka dynasty of Mithilā. The genealogy is practically the same as in Vāyu P. 91 and Viṣṇu Purāṇa. 4.5.1-34. It is as follows:

Nimi—>Janaka alias Mithi (Vāyu P.89.5)—>Udāvasu—>Nandivardhana—>Suketu—>Devarāta—>Bṛhadratha—>Mahāvīrya—>Sudhṛti—>Dhṛṣṭaketu—>Haryaśva—>Maru—>Pratīpaka—> Kṛtiratha Devamīḍha—> Visṛta Mahādhṛti—> Kṛtirāta—> Mahāromā—>Svarṇaromā—>Hrasvaromā—> Sīradhvaja (Sītā’s father)—> Kuśadhvaja—>Dharmadhvaja—>
[Kṛtadhvaja]—[Mitadhvaja]
[Keśidhvaja]—[Khāṇḍikya]
Bhānumān—>Śatadyumna—>Śuci—>Sanadvāja—>Urdhvaketu—>Aja—>Purujit—> Ariṣṭanemi—> Śrutāyu—> Supārśvaka—> Citraratha—> Kṣemardhi—> Samaratha—> Satyaratha—> Upaguru—> Upagupta—> Vasvananta—>Yuyudha—>Subhāṣaṇa—>Śruta Jaya—>Vijaya—>Ṛta—> Śunaka—> Vītahavya—>Dhṛti—>Bahulāśva—>Kṛti—>Mahāvaśī.

(b). Nimi (v.l. Nemi) is a famous philosopher-king more popular with non-Brahmanical sects which are anti-sacrifice and pro-recluse types of life. Restricting ourselves to the Brahmanical purāṇas, we find the Nimi- legend in Matsya. P. 61.32-34, Vāyu P. 89.1-4. (The whole chapter tallies with the Bhāgavata Purāṇa), Viṣṇu p. 4.5.1-15 (the whole prose chapter seems to be the basis of this ch. in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa), Vālmīki Rām. Uttara. 55-4-21 and canto 57. The curse-episode whereby Nimi left off his physical body and refused to return seems to be an effort at popular etymologies of the capital town “Mithilā” of the country ‘Videha’, and the word ‘Nimiṣa’ (winking of the eyes). The special feature of the Mithilā kings was their expertise in philosophy and yoga which as Viṣṇu P. 4.5.34 puts it: prāyeṇaite ātma-vidyāśrayiṇo bhūpālā bhavanti. Generally these kings resorted to the science of the Soul (spiritual lore).’ The Bhāgavata Purāṇa in the last verse of this ch. endorses the same view, though it gives the credit to the grace of Yājñavalkya, the expert yogin.

Śrī Śuka continued:

1. After commencing the session of a sacrifice, Nimi, the son of Ikṣvāku invited Vasiṣṭha to officiate as a sacrificial priest (ṛtvij). He, on his part, replied, “Oh king! I have been already requested by Indra (to conduct his sacrifice).

2. After completing his sacrifice, I shall return (to look after your sacrifice). Wait till then for me”. The house-holder (Nimi, the performer of the sacrifice) kept silent. He (Vasiṣṭha) finished the sacrifice of Indra.

3. Nimi, himself a thoughtful philosopher, knew how life is transitory and proceeded with the sacrifice with the help of other sacrificial priests, while his preceptor did not return (was absent).

4. The preceptor returned after concluding Indra’s sacrifice. Perceiving this disobedience on the part of his disciple, he cursed: ‘Let the body of Nimi who conceitedly regards himself as a learned man, fall’.

5. Nimi reciprocated the imprecation of his preceptor who violated the path of righteousness: “May your body fall, as you do not know what is dharma due to covetousness”.

6. With these words Nimi, who was proficient in spiritual lore cast off his body. My great grand-father[1] Vasiṣṭha was born of Urvaśī from Mitra and Varuṇa.

7. Preserving Nimi’s body in fragrant balms, the great sages, at the conclusion of the sacrificial session, spoke to the celestials who assembled there for the sacrifice.

8. “If ye Lords are (propitiated and) pleased, the body of the king be resuscitated”. “Amen! Be it so”, said the gods. The soul of Nimi resorted to his liṅga-śarīra and spoke loudly, “Let me have no bondage of the physical body”.

9. Being afraid of separation from it, sages do not wish to have any contact (or union) with the body, but they devote themselves to the lotus-like feet of Hari (to escape from Saṃsāra).

10. I am not desirous of re-enteriṇg into the body which brings misery, grief and fear. It is because of the physical body that the death threatens the jīva on all sides and the peril of death is everywhere, as the fish have water on all sides.

Gods said:

11. “Oh incorporal Nimi! May you live at your free will in the eyes of embodied beings.” Nimi thus took his place in the bodies of creatures, and is indicated by the opening and closing of eyelids.

12. Considering the fearful consequences of anarchy on the human beings, the great sages churned the body of Nimi and a son was born of him.

13. On account of this miraculous birth (or by being the founder of a dynasty), he became known as Janaka and was called “Vaideha” as he was produced from a life-less body or an incorporal being, and ‘Mithila’ (‘Mithi’ in other Purāṇas) as he got his birth out of churning (of Nimi’s body). And the city of Mithilā was built up by him.[2]

14. Janaka’s son was Udāvasu of whom was born Nandivardhana; his son was Suketu (Sukeśa) who gave birth to Devarāta, Oh King!

15. From him was born Bṛhadratha, whose son was Mahāvīrya, the father of Sudhṛt; from him sprang up Dhṛṣṭaketu; his son was Haryaśva, whose son was Maru.

16. Maru’s son was Pratīpaka whence was born Kṛti; his son was Devamīḍha whose son was Viśruta, the father of Mahādhṛti.

17. His son was Kṛtirāta whose son was Mahāromā; his son was Svarṇaromā from whom was born Hrasvaromā.

18. From him sprang up Sīradhvaja, who while ploughing the earth for sacrifice, Sītā (the consort of Rāma) was born (discovered) at the point of the ploughshare. He is hence remembered as Sīradhvaja[3] (one whose plough gave him celebrity like a flag).

19. From him was born Kuśadhvaja, whose son was Dharmadhvaja. He (Dharma) had two sons called Kṛtadhvaja and Mitadhvaja.

20. From Kṛtadhvaja, Keśidhvaja, and from Mitadhvaja, Khāṇḍikya were born. The son of Kṛtadhvaja was expert in the spiritual lore, Oh King.

21. Khāṇḍikya was proficient in the path of action (karma-mārga), but being afraid of Keśidhvaja, he ran away (leaving his country), Keśidhvaja had a son called Bhānumān whose son was Sudyumna.

22. His son was Śuci, whose son was Sanadvāja; from Sanadvāja was born Ūrdhvaketu whose son was Aja, who had Purujit as his son.

23. His son was Ariṣṭanemi whose son was Śrutāyu; his son Supārśvaka gave birth to Citraratha, whose son Kṣemardhi was the king of Mithilā.

24. From him Samaratha whose son was Satyaratha; from him sprang Vpaguru whose son was Upagupta who was an aṃśa of the Fire-god.

25. His son was Vasvananta, whose son was Yuyudha, from whom was born Subhāṣaṇa; his son was Śruta whose son was Jaya, the father of Vijaya. His son was Ṛta.

26. From him was born Śunaka, whose son was Vītahavya, from whom was born Dhṛti. From Dhṛti was born Bahulāśva, whose son was Kṛti noted for great self-control.

27. These are verily the kings of Mithilā who were all proficient in the Science of the Soul (Spiritual lore) through the grace of Yājñavalkya the master of yoga. Even though they led the life of householders, they were above the conflicting pairs like pleasure and pain, etc.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Actually ‘great-great-grandfather’. The genealogy being—Vasiṣṭha—>Śakti—>Parāśara—>Vyāśa—>Śuka.

[2]:

Cf. Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa.—Uttara 57.19 & 20.

mathanān mithir ityāhur jananāj janako'bhavat /19
yasmād videhāt sambhūto Vaidehas tu tataḥ smṛtaḥ /20

[3]:

Bhāvārtha-dīpikā-prakāśa quotes a legend from Adbhuta Rāmāyaṇa, according to which Sītā was originally in the womb of Mandodari who deposited the foetus in the Kurukṣetra (?) and was discovered by Hrasvaromā.

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