The Brahmanda Purana

by G.V. Tagare | 1958 | 319,243 words | ISBN-10: 8120838246 | ISBN-13: 9788120838246

This page describes the legend of naimisharanya which is Chapter 2 of the English translation of the Brahmanda Purana: one of the oldest puranas including common Puranic elements such as cosmogony, genealogy, ethics, geography and yoga. Traditionally, the Brahmandapurana is said to consist of 12,000 verses metrical Sanskrit verses.

Chapter 2 - The Legend of Naimiṣāraṇya

Summary: Greedy King Pururavas killed while confiscating the Golden altar: Prince Āyu installed as King: sages conciliated.

1-3. Those sages who considered the austerities as their wealth asked Sūta once again:—“Where did that Sattra (sacrificial session) of those persons of miraculous deeds take place? How long did it continue? How was it performed? How did Prabhañjana (the Windgod) recount the Purāṇa? Recount it in detail as we have great eagerness to hear it”.

Thus urged, Sūta replied the following auspicious words (narrative):

4. “Listen to the narration as to where those self-possessed ones performed the excellent Sattra, how long it continued and how it was performed.

5-7. Desirous of creating the universe formerly, he (Brahma) discharged (everything) to those who performed the Tajña. They performed the highly meritorious Sattra for a thousand years.

Brahmā himself became the Tapogṛhapati (Lord of the penance house). Iḍā accepted the status of the Patnī (wife of the sponsor of the sacrifice). The intelligent Mṛtyu of great splendour performed the Sāmilra rite (the act of killing the sacrificial animal) in that Sattra of those noble souls. The Vibudhas (Devas) stayed there for a thousand years.

8. The place where the rim of the whirling Dharmacakra (wheel of righteousness) broke down, became well known as Naimiṣa[1] on account of that event. It is a place well-worshipped by the sages.

9-10. It is the place where the holy Gomatī river is resorted to by Siddhas and Cāraṇas. The Gomatī had a daughter in a trice and that is the Rohiṇī.

Śakti became the eldest son of the noble-souled Vasiṣṭha and Arundhatī of excellent brilliance[2](?)

11. It is the place where King Kalmāṣapāda and Śakra[3] met Śakti. It is the place where enmity broke out between Viśvāmitra and Vasiṣṭha.

12. It is the place where sage Parāśara was born of Adṛśyantī. Against his knowledge, Vasiṣṭha had to court discomfiture.[4]

13. The expounders of Brahman thought of a mountain in Naimiṣa at that spot. Since they were born (rather—performed sacrifice—Vā.P. 2.13) in Naimiṣa, they are remembered as Naimiṣīyas.

14. The Sattra of those intelligent persons lasted for twelve years, when the Valorous Pururavas was ruling over the earth.

15. We have heard the report that, even when he enjoyed eighteen islands over the ocean, Pururavas was never contented with the jewels, due to his covetousness.

16. Urged by a divine messenger, Urvaśī made love to him. He sponsored this Sattra in the company of Urvaśī.

17-19. While King Pururavas ruled, the sages of the Naimiṣa forest performed the sacrificial session.[5] The Gaṅgā conceived a brilliant foetus from the Fire-god. She deposited it on the mountain and it was transformed into gold. God Viśvakarmā himself, the god of great imagination who evolved the world, entered that sacrificial session of those sages of unbounded (immense) lustre (and) transformed the premises and enclosure of the sacrifice into a golden one.

20-21. Pururavas, the son of Iḍā came a-hunting to that region. Seeing that extremely wonderful enclosed place of the sacrifice made of gold, his wisdom was overcome (lit. struck down) by avarice and he began to seize it. Thereupon the residents of Naimiṣa became very much infuriated against the king.

22-23. The angry learned ascetics (who were devoted to penance) urged by the Devas hit him with Kuśa grasses, charged with thunderbolt. Pounded by the adamantine Kuśa grasses that king cast off his mortal body.[6] The son of Urvaśī, fought there on the ground.[7]

24-26. Āyus, the righteous ruler of the earth whom they call the noble-souled father of Nahuṣa, obtained a high priority among those who got purificatory bath in the principal sacrifice of that sacrificial session. Having pacified the King that way, the sages, the knowers of Brahman, who themselves were the mūrtis (idols) of the calves of the cow in the form of the earth[8] (?), began to perform the sacrificial session. In this sattra, the noble-souled ones observed celibacy.

27-31. They observed Brahmacarya as in the case of Viśvasṛjs (creators of the universe) formerly, when they were desirous of creating the universe. The king became endowed with the lustre of the sun and the fire. He shone like Indra with the sages and others around him, such as the anchorites Vālakhilyas fond of their friends, Marīcis; the unborn sages[9], They worshipped the Devas with hymns of praise and houses (?) and the Pitṛs by means of the holy rites befitting the Pitṛs. They duly worshipped the Gandharvas and others in accordance with their species. While propitiating, he remembered the Gandharvas and others. Thereafter, in other holy rites the Gandharvas sang Sāman hymns; the groups of Apsaras danced; the sages spoke words of wonderfully variegated letters and of splendid form.

32. The learned scholars chanted Mantras etc. They defeated their opponents by means of copious objections.

33-34. The sages were, great erudite scholars. They were experts in words, meanings and logical arguments. Nothing was seized from them. No Brahmarākṣasas entered the place and spoiled the Yajña. Neither the Daityas nor those with weapons with feather attached to them came there. There was no occasion for expiatory ac'ts and there was no poverty.

35. Due to the combination of efficiency, intellect and steady activity, the injunctions were duly carried out resulting in blessings. Thus the Sattra (sacrificial session) of those learned persons continued for twelve years.

36-38. That sacrifice of the sages residing in Naimiṣa was like that of the thunderbolt-bearing Indra. The elderly heroic and other Ṛtviks[10] performed the Jyotiṣṭoma sacrifices separately. Riding on the backs[11] (of horses?), they concluded all the sacrifices after distributing ten thousand (coins) as monetary gifts. After concluding their Yajña, all of them asked Vāyudeva (the wind god) the great lord of unmeasured vitality, O Brāhmaṇas, what I have been asked by you all. Urged (by them) the lord mentioned to them, the matter of his own race.

39. (Lord Wind) was the disciple of the self-born deity. He has perfect control over the sense organs. He sees every thing directly. He is endowed with the eight powers—Āṇimā (minuteness) and others. He is equipped with subtle limbs.

40. He sustains all the worlds by means of rains along with the winds blowing obliquely. The branches, the seven boughs, have been borne by him. (? the seven types of wind are probably alluded to). He protects the mobile and the immobile beings all round.

41-43. In his realm the seven times seven (forty-nine) Maruts are stationed.

He is extremely powerful and he performs the Sattra of the Sūtas with three Vyūhas[12] (circular or other types of arrays)

He holds the remedies of the fiery embodied beings. The five functional organ airs, viz., Prāṇa and others sustain the body filling it with its innate activities. The wind has ether (ākāśa) as its source of origin. It has two qualities. It is endowed with the qualities of Śabda (sound) and Sparśa (touch).

44. He has been called Vācoraṇi (source of origin of speech like the Araṇi which is the source of fire) by persons who are clever in the science of sound and phonetics. With soft and gentle speech, he appeared to delight the sages.

45. O learned ones, conversant with the Purāṇas, O Brāhmaṇas, well disciplined in the knowledge of the Purāṇas, the lord (wind) recounted the story in a speech befitting the basis which is the Purāṇa.

46-48. All these narrations, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, are in accordance with what had transpired. This is an excellent great principle of the world of the sages. This Purāṇa has been formerly recounted by Brahmā. It contains excellent wisdom of the deities and the sages. It destroys all sins. I shall narrate it in detail its contents in due order.[13]

Footnotes and references:


Vide Ch. 1, p. 8 note 2. It appears that the Bd.P. regards Nirṇsar near the Gomatī as the original Naimiṣāraṇya.


The text: Sutāyātrādānam uttamatejasaḥ is confusing, Vā.P. 2.10 in identical verse reads:

Śakti-jyeṣṭhāḥ samabhavan Vasiṣṭhasya mahātmanaḥ /
Ārundhyatyāh sutā yatra śatam uttama-tejasah

“There a hundred sons of excellent brilliance of whom Śakti was the eldest, were born of the noble-souled Vasiṣṭha from Arundhati


Vā.P. 2.11 (identical with this No. 11—verse) reads: ‘śaptaḥ’ for Śakraḥ. It means: It is a place where king Kalmāṣapāda was cursed by Śakti.


Parāśara, while in his mother’s (Adṛśyantī’s) womb, was such a great Vedic scholar that he surpassed his grandfather Vasiṣṭha (Mbh. Ādi.176.12-15.)


satre emended as satram (as in Vā.P. 2.17, an identical verse).


This account of Pururavas’ death recorded here appears to be correct historically. Pururavas was a chief from trans-Himalayan region—Ilāvrta varṣa, the region round Mt. Mem bounded by Mt. Gandhamādana on the west and Mālyavān on the east. He established his kingdom at Pratiṣṭhāna (modern Jhusi near Allahabad) and founded the famous Lunar dynasty. His greed for wealth and his attempt to plunder the sacrificial session is recorded in the Mbh. Ādi. 75.20-23. As he came there a-hunting (and not with an army for conquest), it is more probable that he was overwhelmed by the sages and got killed in the scuffle. The sages’ curse and the bringing of fire from the heaven etc. described in the Mbh. is obviously a white-wash by its author as the episode concerned the founder of the Lunar dynasty to which Pāṇḍavas belonged. The sages wisely installed his son Āyus who, like a farsighted statesman trying to consolidate the newly-founded kingdom, extended his patronage to the sacrificial session. The Bd.P. version is supported by Vā.P.


The text: aurvaśeyais tatas tasyayuddhaṃ cakre nṛpo bhuvi, is syntactically not correct. Moreover Āyu, the son of Pururavas and Urvaśī who succeeded him is not known to have fought with the sages.

Vā.P. 2.23b (a corresponding verse reads:)

aurvaśeyaṃ tatas tasya putraṃ cakrur nṛpaṃ bhuvi

“Then they made his son bora of Urvaśī the king over the earth”.


For Pṛthvī vatsātma-mūrtayaḥ in this text, cp. Vā.P. 2.26 (a corresponding verse reads): (satram ārebhire kartuṃ) yathāvad dharma-bhūtaye “according to prescribed rites for the prosperity of Dharma”.


The reading of these stanzas in Vā.P. 2.27/29a.:

Vaikhānasa?ḥ priya-sakhair Vālakhilyair marīcikaiḥ /
anyaiśca munibhir juṣṭaṃ sūrya-vaiśvānara-prabhaiḥ //

(28b—the same as 28b in Vā.P.)

Sambhārais tu Śubhair juṣṭaṃ tair evendra-sado yathā //

(The sacrificial session) was attended by Vālakhilyas and other sages brilliant iike the sun, the fire and by auspicious (holy) multitudes of Pitṛs, Cāraṇas, as in the assembly of Indra).


Vā.P. 2.36 reads: Bhṛgvādyā ṛṣayo dhiyā: intelligent & self possessed sages like Bhṛgu & others.


Vā.P. 2.36 reads: Pṛṣṭhagamanam “who went after them”.


Vā.P. 2.41 reads: Vvūhāśrayāṇāṃ bhūtānāṃ—“Bhūtas (beings) who depend on the Vyūha (body)”.


VV. 36-48 show that this Purāṇa (Bd.P.) was formerly narrated by god Brahmā originally. His disciple, the Windgod recounted it to sages of Naimiṣāraṇya on the occasion of the Sattra of twelve years duration.

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