The Bhagavata Purana

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

This page describes Dynasties of the Kali Age which is chapter 1 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 first chapter of the Twelfth Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 1 - Dynasties of the Kali Age

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

King Parīkṣit requested:

1. When Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the ornament of the race of Yadus, retired to His glorious abode (in Vaikuṇṭha), whose dynasty- continued to rule over the earth? Be pleased to narrate that to me, O sage.

Śrī Śuka said:

2-3. O king, Purañjaya[1], who has been named as the last prince in Bṛhadratha’s dynasty, is yet to be born. His minister Śunaka will, however, assassinate his master Purañjaya and will install his son Pradyota[2], as the king on his throne. His son will be pālaka whose successor will be Viśākhayūpa from whom will be born Rājaka.

4. Rājaka’s son will be Nandivardhana. These five Pradyotas will enjoy the (sovereignty of the) earth for one hundred and thirty eight years.[3]

5. Then there will be born Śiśunāga whose son will be Kākavarṇa. His son will be Kṣemadharmā. He will beget a son called Kṣetrajña.

6. He son will be Vidhisāra who will have Ajātaśatru as his son. His son will be Darbhaka while the future son of Darbhaka is Ajaya.

7. Nandivardhana will be the son of Ajaya, while Mahānandi will be the son of Nandivardhana. In this way, there will be ten kings from the Śiśunāga dynasty which will rule (Magadha) for three hundred and sixty years.[4]

8. O mighty Kuru, in the Kali age, they will enjoy the earth to that much period of time. The son of Mahānandi, a mighty king, will be born from the womb of a Śūdra woman.

9. He will be a certain Nanda, the master of a mahāpadma (treasury) and an exterminator of Kṣatriyas. After him, all kings will be as bad as Śūdras and irreligious.

10. Like another Paraśurāma[5], the Scion of the Bhṛgu race, Mahāpadma will rule over the entire earth under one sceptre (or royal umbrella) and his command will never be violated by any one.

11. It is traditionally reported that Mahāpadma will have eight sons of whom Sumālya was prominent. These kings will enjoy this earth for one hundred years.

12. A certain Brāhmaṇa[6] on whom the nine Nandas were completely dependent (and practically at his mercy) will uproot them. After their extermination, the Mauryas[7] will enjoy the sovereignty of the earth in the Kali age.

13. That very Brāhmaṇa, it is reported, will crown Candragupta. His son will be Vārisāra whose son will be Aśokavardhana.

14. Aśokavardhana’s son will be Suyaśas who will beget Saṅgata. From Saṅgata will be born Śāliśuka whose son was Somaśarmā.

15. 16. From his loins will be born Śatadhanvan and his son will be Bṛhadratha. Thus there will be these ten Maurya kings[8] who will enjoy the kingdom of this world for one hundred thirty seven years.

16(A). (Having killed the Maurya king Bṛhadratha, his commander-in-chief of the army Puṣyamitra of Śuṅga race[9] will be the ruler himself). Puṣya mitra’s son will be Agnimitra to whom Sujyeṣṭha will be born.

17. His son will be Vasumitra who will beget Bhadraka who will have Pulinda as his son. His son will be Ghoṣa to whom will be born Vajramitra as the son.

18. The next ruling prince will be Bhāgavata from, whom will be born Devabhūti as it is reported. These ten Śuṅga kings[10] will enjoy the kingship of the earth for a little over a hundred years.

19-20. Later on, O king Parīkṣit, the earth will pass under the control of the Kaṇva dynasty of every poor merit. Having killed the dissolute monarch Devabhūti Śuṅga (through a female slave), the highly intelligent Vasudeva himself will rule over the earth. His son will be Bhūmitra whose son will be Nārāyaṇa. Nārāyaṇa will have a famous son called Suśarmā.

21. In this way, kings of the Kaṇva dynasty will enjoy rulership of the earth for forty-five years from 75 B.C. to 30 B.C. though the Purāṇic statement is three hundred forty-five years of the Kali age.

22. Murdering king Suśarmā of the Kaṇva dynasty, his low born servant Balī[11] of the Āndhra race, one of the wretched most persons, will rule over the earth for some time.

23. After him his brother called Kṛṣṇa will be the next king. His son will be Śāntakarṇa and his son Paurṇamāsa.

24. Lambodara will be his son and from him will be born king Cibilaka. He will beget Meghasvāti whose son will be Aṭamāna.

25. Aniṣṭakarmā and Hāleya will then follow. Hāleya’s son will be Talaka. He will beget Purīṣabhīru who will be succeeded by his son king Sunandana.

26. Sunandana will have a son called Cakora who will be succeeded by eight sons known as Bahus collectively, the youngest of them being Śivasvāti, the vanquisher of enemies. He will beget a son called Gomatī-putra whose son will be Purīman,

27. The succession of princes after Purīman will be Medaḥśiras, Śivaskanda, his son Yajñaśrī and his prince Vijaya and his successors Candravijña and Salomadhi.

28. These thirty kings[12] will enjoy the sovereignty of the world for four hundred and fifty six years, O delight of the Kuru race.

29. At their capital Avabhṛti[13], seven Ābhīra princes will rule the earth, ten kings of Gardhabhī dynasty and sixteen of the Kaṅka (Śaka) race—all of them very greedy and lewd will hold the sway.

30. They will be succeeded by eight Yavana rulers (Bactrian Greeks), and fourteen kings of the Turuṣka race. Again there will be ten kings of Guruṇḍa (Probably Maruṇḍas vide DKA P.45) race and eleven of the Mauna (Hūṇa) dynasty.

31-33. These kings (beginning from Ābhīras upto Maunas, viz. sixty-five kings will enjoy the sovereignty of the earth for (a total of) one thousand ninety-nine years[14] And the eleven Mauna (Hūṇa) kings will rule over the earth for three hundred years, O king. When their dynasty ended, at the capital town of Kilikila, kings Bhūtananda, Vaṅgiri Śiśunandi and his famous warrior brother Yaśanandi will reign for one hundred and six years.[15]

34. They will have thirteen sons called Bāhlīkas. Then will rule the Kṣatriya Prince Puṣyamitra and his son Dumitra.

35. All these will be contemporary kings ruling over different states. Seven of these will be the rulers of Āndhra and seven kings of Kosai. The kings of Viḍūra and Niṣadha also will be out of these Bālhīkas.

36. There will be a king of Magadhas called Viśvasphūrji. He will be well known as Purañjaya the second. He will reduce the higher castes to the status of Pulindas, Yadus and Madrakas.[16]

37. That powerful but wicked-minded prince will establish a caste-less society where there will be no reverence to Vedas and Brāhmaṇas. He will exterminate the Kṣatriyas as well. In his capital city of Padmāvatī, he will enjoy a well- guarded state from Haraḍwar to Prayāga in the valley of the Gaṅgā.

38. The twice-born castes of Saurāṣṭra, Avanti, Ābhīra, Śūra, Arbuda and Mālava countries will become fallen (due to lapse or non-performance of saṃskāras, such as the investiture of the sacred thread) and the rulers of these people will be mostly of Śūdra castes.

39. Śūdras, persons fallen from higher castes, Mlecchas all bereft of Vedic culture and way of life—will be the rulers over the banks of the Sindhu and the Candrabhāgā (the Chinab), the city of Kaunti and the region of Kaśmīra.

40. O Parīkṣit! All these contemporary kings will be as good as Mlecchas, bent on unrighteousness, falsehood, miserly and ferocious.

41. (With no compunctious) they will murder women, children, Brāhmaṇas, slaughter cows. They will covet after the women and property of others. Subject to vicissitudes of fate and overwhelmed with joy or grief, they will be poor in strength and of short duration of life.

42. Devoid of culture or purificatory ceremonies (right from inception) of righteous deeds and dominated by rajas and tamas, these Mlecchas in the guise of Kṣattriyas will exploit their own subjects.

43. The subjects inhabiting those lands will emulate their rulers in their habits, character, way of talking and coming in conflict with each other as well as their rulers, will perish.

Footnotes and references:


Bh, P. IX.22.49 refers to him as Ripuñjaya.


Historically Pradyotas did not rule Magadha. Buddhist records and Purāṇic accounts make Caṇḍa Pradyota, a contemporary of Bimbisāra, as the founder of a dynasty in Avantī and not in Magadha. It is possible that Ripuñjaya might have been treacherously murdered by his minister but he was succeeded by Bimbisāra, the founder of the Magadhan empire: BVB’S Vedic Age, P. 328


The list of Kings of the Pradyota dynasty differs considerably from Pargiter’s in The Purāṇa Text of the Dynasties of the Kali Age.

2ndly, The Pradyotas did not supplant the Bārhadrathas & rule over Magadha! The Śiśunāgas did it and it was Bimbisāra who founded the Śiśunāga dynasty and not Śiśunāga. The Pradyotas ruled at Avanti. Caṇḍa Pradyota, Udayana, Bimbisāra Ajātaśatru were in a way contemporaries of Mahāvīra & the Buddha and the historical information available shows that Pradyotas did not intervene the Bṛhadratha & Śiśunāga dynasties of Magadha.


There are some similarities in the names of the descendants of Śiśunāgas as given in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa and Pargiter’s Purāṇa Text List. But instead of Bimbisāra, being the historical founder of the Śiśunāga dynasty, he is represented as the 5th & Ajātaśatru as the 6th descendant of Śiśunāga in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa


The apparent similarity between Mahāpadma and Paraśurāma is limited to putting an end to the dominance of traditional Kṣattriya families. Mahāpadma, perhaps being insulted by blue-blooded ancient Kṣattriya Kings because of his birth from a Śūdra woman, seems to have made it his policy to eliminate the dominance of these ancient Kṣattriya rulers. Hence this apparent similarity. The account of Mahāpadma as recorded by the Greek author Curtius makes him the son of a barber. Jainas (Pariśiṣṭaparvan Āvaśyaka-Sūtra) confirm Curtius. The Buddhist texts (Mahāvaṃsaṭīkā) regard Nandas as of ‘un-known lineage’ (aññāta-kula). This unanimous tradition confirms the low origin of Mahāpadma—which is a title meaning ‘a lord of infinite army’ or ‘of immense wealth? His real name is Ugrasena according to the Mahābodhivaṃśa (and it is confirmed by Greeks).


Bhāvāratha Dīpikā names him as Kauṭilya, Vātsyāyana or Cāṇakya. But Cāṇakya or Viṣṇugupta who uprooted that dynasty was their sworn enemy and he outwitted and out-manoeuvered Rākṣasa and destroyed Nandas. Can this be Rākṣasa, the trusted but gullible minister of Nandas (vide Mudrā-Rākṣasa) on whom Nandas depended completely.


Padaratnāvalī is obviously quoting a wrong tradition that Mauryas were the descendants of Murā and belonged to the low caste of fishermen. Now it is accepted that Candragupta belonged to the Kṣattriya class of Moriyas ruling over Pipphalivana (Probably in U.P.)—BVB’s The Age of Imperial Unity, pp. 17 and 56.


According to Viṣṇu Purāṇa 4.24.28-32 the Mauryan kings arc: (1) Candragupta, (2) Bindusāra, (3) Aśokavardhana, (4) Suyaśas (5) Daśaratha (not mentioned in Bh. P.) (6) Saṃyuta (7) Śāliśuka (8) Somaśarmā, (9) Śatadhanvā (10) Bṛhadratha. Pargiter’s Purāṇa Text list mentioned above shows much discrepancy about the number, names and order of the Mauryan kings; Bhāgavata Purāṇa agrees with the combined versions of Matsya and Vāyu Purāṇas. Out of these different names of Aśoka’s successors, the reality of Daśaratha is established by his three inscriptions on Nāgārjunī hills. Jain texts treat Samprati (mentioned in Matsya Purāṇa.) as a patron of Jainism as Aśoka was that of Buddhism. King Śāliśuka is mentioned in the Gārgī-Saṃhitā. No Purāṇa or Buddhist source claims Candragupta, the founder of the dynasty, as Jaina (even a convert). The final coup in 187 B.C. managed by Puṣya- mitra ended the Maurya Rule—(For details vide the Age of Imperial Unity).


Not in SR’s text. Strangely enough Padaratnāvalī thinks Śuṅga as the proper name and Puṣyamitra his caste.


The list of Śuṅga kings in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa concurs fairly well with Pargiter’s Purāṇa text list. But the Bhāgavata Purāṇa states ten as the number of Śuṅga kings but actually names nine kings. SR however clarifies that Puṣyamitra, the commander-in-chief of Bṛhadratha Maurya, who was killed by Puṣyamitra should be regarded as the 1st Śuṅga king and thus makes the number of kings ten. Bhāvāratha Dīpikā states that the period of this dynasty was 112 years. Thus the Śuṅgas ruled from circa B.C. 187 to 75 B.C. This dynasty did not only stem the tide of Greek and other foreign invaders but rejuvenated Hinduism by performing an Aśvamedha sacrifice. The spread of Bhāgavatism under them is remarkable.—BVB. Age of Imp. Unity, pp 95-99


The author of the Bh. P. does not know that his real name is Simuka and uses the adjective ‘Powerful’. As Pargiter’s Dynasties of the Kali Age (DKA) (P. 38 Notes 14, 16) shows, other Purāṇas use similar adjectives balīyas, balī with reference to Simuka. The consensus of Purāṇas on ‘Simuka’ as the name of this king is confirmed by numismatics and in Buhler’s List of Brāhmī Inscriptions. The author of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa seems to be a staunch orthodox Brāhmaṇa, so like Candragupta Maurya, Simuka or Balī is called Vṛṣala though his descendants like Gautamī-putra Śātakarṇi (in Nasik inscriptions) assume the title eka-Brāhmaṇa (the unique Brāhmaṇa). The prejudice against Āndhras as Dasyus dates from the Aitareya Brāhmaṇa. Simuka is called Rājā Simuka-Sātavāhana and as the legend goes Satavāhanas or Śālivāhanas were of mixed Brāhmaṇa and Nāga origins (Dvātriṃśat-Puttalikā). The epigraphic evidence of the associations of Sātavāhanas with Śakas and Nāgas shows that the orthodox Brāhmaṇas regarded them as vṛṣalas or degraded Brāhmaṇas or outcastes despite Sātavāhana’s claim to Brāhmaṇa-hood—The Age of Imp. Unity, pp. 106-107, etc.


The Bhāgavata Purāṇa actually enumerates 23 kings though in conformity with other Purāṇas, the number of kings is stated as thirty. Pargiter’s single unified list of Purāṇa Text (DKA pp. 38-43, 71-72) and his co-ordinated list (DK.A- 36) show differences in names of the kings. The list of 30 kings as given in Matsya P. is quoted in The Age of Imp. Unity, pp, 706-707.

Viṣṇu P. (4.24.5) correctly calls these kings Āndhrabhṛtyas, for after the Andhras probably (as happened in the case of Śuṅgas and Kaṇvas) the servants of the Āndhra rulers became the rulers and came to be known as such.


Bhāvāratha Dīpikā is simply offering a conjecture when he explains ‘Āvabhṛtyas,’ as the rulers of Avabhṛti.


The above four verses, viz. 29-33 mention some local dynasties. References to other Purāṇas and Pargiter’s DKA (Dynasty of the Kali Age) show that some of them were contemporaries. Hence the duration of these dynasties viz. 1099 years as given in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa is not correct. In fact, the author of this chapter of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa is less critical and relics on hearsay evidence. Some of these are foreign tribes viz. Śakas (called Kaṅkas in the Bh. P.) and Hūṇas (called Maunas here).


Compare DKA: Dynasties of 3rd Cent. A.D.—pp. 50-53.


BVB. AGE Imp. Unity regards Viśvasphūrji as a foreign ruler of Magadha, p. 177 Ft. Note No. 3.

Bhāvāratha Dīpikā gives Viśvasphūrji the credit of creating the subcastes like Pulindas.

Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: