The Brahmanda Purana

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

This page describes yugas and classes of people: lineage of sages which is Chapter 32 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 32 - Yugas and classes of people: lineage of sages

Note: This chapter corresponds to Vā.P. chapter 59.

Sūta said:

1. Learn from me the different subjects viz. Asuras, Serpents, Gandharvas, Piśācas, Yakṣas and Rākṣasas, that are born in (different) Yugas.

2-4. Understand in which Yuga their nativity takes place and how long do they live.

The Piśācas, the Asuras, the Gandharvas, the Yakṣas, the Rākṣasas and the Serpents who are born in the Kṛta Yuga have their height and girth equal.

The height of the joyous divine beings is ninety-six Aṅgulas according to the measure of their own figures. It has become so due to the nourishment (?) It is taken as their natural measure.

5-7. Human beings existing in the Sandhyāṃśaka are shorter by seven times seven Aṅgulas than the height of the Devas and Asuras (?)

The height of Devas and Asuras in hundred and fifty eight Aṅgulas is remembered by those born in the Kali age.

It is remembered by persons born in Kali (that their height) from head to foot is eighty-four Aṅgulas of their own fingers.

8. This height of human beings becomes reduced in the Yugāṃśaka (transitional period between two Yugas) in all the Yuga periods past and future.

9-10a. Man is regarded to be eight spans high with his own fingers as unit.

He who is nine spans high from head to foot and has arms extending as far as the knees is worshipped even by the Devas (gods).

10b-11a. By means of the same activity[1] (?) the increase and decrease in the different Yugas of the height of cows, horses, elephants, buffaloes and immobile beings, should be understood.

11b-12a. The hump of the cattle is seventy-six Aṅgulas high. The height of elephants is declared as hundred and eight Aṅgulas in full.

12b. The height of trees is remembered as a thousand Aṅgulas without forty Aṅgulas and fifty Yavas.[2]

13-14a. The constitution of the bodies of the Devas is similar to that of the body of human beings. It is realised, if we ponder over reality.

The body that has nothing else to excel it in intellect is called the body of the Devas. So also that which has something to excel it is called human body. Thus have been described the living beings divine and human.

14b-15. The body of Devas is said to be endowed with the excellence of intelligence. Similarly, the body of human beings is also possessed of excellences (of intelligence and others).

16-19. The beings—animals, birds and immobile ones—are useful ones. For example—the cows, the goats, the sheep, the horses, the elephants, the birds and the trees—these are useful in holy rites. Hence, they are worthy of Yajñas in every respect. They are born in the abodes of gods. Hence, they are of the same form.

The auspicious forms of the Devas are such as could enjoy as they wished. They became happy with those charming beings mobile and immobile and befitting their own forms and magnitude. Henceforth, I shall narrate the remaining ones called as sats and Sādhus (good ones).

20. The word Sat indicates the Brahman.[3] Those who possess it are called Sants due to their similarity with the Brahman.

21 Those who neither become angry nor are too overjoyed in regard to those ten objects of (ten) sense-organs (i.e. five pertaining to the sense-organs and five to the organs of physical activity) and eight varieties of causes—are called jitātmans (those who have conquered their own selves).

22. Inasmuch as Brāhmaṇas, Kṣatriyas and Vaiśyas are engaged in general religious rites as well as in special rites, they are the twice-born castes.

23. One who adheres to the religious duties prescribed for one’s caste and stage of life and one who is happy in practising the path to heaven (?) is called a knower of Dharma (Dharmajña) due to his knowledge of the Dharma as enjoined in Śruti (Vadas) and Smṛtis.

24. A religious student who works for the welfare of his preceptor is called Sādhu (good one) because he strives for the achievement of learning. A house-holder is called Sādhu because he gathers together the requisites for his house-hold.

25. A Vaikhānasa (forest-hermit) is declared as Sādhu because he achieves power of penance in the forest. The striving recluse is remembered as Sādhu because he accumulates and achieves Yogic power.

26. Thus the religious student, the householder, the forest-dwelling hermit and the recluse are all called as Sādhus because they achieve the Dharmas of their respective stages of life.

27. Neither the Devas nor the Pitṛs, neither the sages nor the human beings understand the point “This is Dharma—This is not”, because of different points of view (?)

28. The words Dharma and Adharma mentioned here refer to the rites.[4] Auspicious rite is remembered as Dharma. Inauspicious rite is declared as Adharma.

29. The root ^Dhṛ is used in the sense of Dhāraṇa (Holding, Sustaining) and (Dharma means that which sustains us). In the sense of Adhāraṇā (non-sustenance) and Amahatva (Nongreatness) the word Adharma is mentioned.

30. That Dharma which takes us to what we desire (and what is good for us) is taught by the preceptors. It is also taught by the preceptors that Adharma has adverse and undesirable fruits.

31. They call these persons Ācāryas[5] (preceptors) viz.—old men devoid of greadiness, Self-possessed persons devoid of arrogance and straight-forward persons who have been educated and well disciplined.

32. He himself practices (Dharma). He establishes the code of good behaviour and he gathers together (and masters) the various scriptural texts—he is therefore, called Ācārya.

33-34. Two types of Dharma have been laid down by Brāhmaṇas conversant with Dharma viz. Śrauta and Smārta.

Śrauta Dharma pertains to marriage rites as well as (adoption of) Agnihotra worship.

The Smārta Dharma pertains to the conduct of life of people of different castes and stages of life, Yamas (controls of the sense-organs) and Niyamas (observances). After learning from the previous persons (or after instructing the previous ones) the seven sages expounded the Śrauta Dharma.

35. The Ṛk, Yajus and the Sāman constitute the Śruti. They are the limbs of the Veda. It was after remembering the code of conduct of life in the previous Manvantara that Manu expounded his Smṛti.

36. Hence, Smārta Dharma is declared as the Dharma that differentiates the castes and stages of life. These different types of Dharma are called Śiṣṭācāra.

37-39. The word Śiṣṭa is derived from the word Śeṣa (Remainder). They call what remains by the word Śiṣṭa.

Those righteous persons who survived in the Manvantara and continued to stay were Manu and the seven sages. They remained there for sustaining the worlds. Those who remain for the sake of Dharma are called Śiṣṭas. In every yuga, this Dharma has been practised very well by the Śiṣṭas (survivors) viz. Manu and others who have already been, referred to by me before.

40. The study of the three Vedas, agricultural operation, administration of justice, performance of sacrifice, special duties of the people of different castes and stages of life are practised by Śiṣṭas again and again.

41-43a. Since they have been practised by the previous persons they are Śiṣṭācāra and righteous activity as well.[6]

The following eight meritorious activities also are characteristically Śiṣṭācāra viz. charitable offerings, truthfulness, austerity, knowledge, learning, sacrifice, renunciation (of the world) and departure from one’s household and sympathy. Since the Śiṣṭas (the remaining ones, or the well-disciplined ones), Maṇu and the seven sages practise these in all the Manvantaras, they are, therefore, declared as SŚṣṭācāra.

43b-44. It should be known that a Dharma is called Śrauta if it is traced to the Śruti. It is called Smārta if it is traced to the Smṛti. That which refers to sacrifice and Vedas, is called Śrauta Dharma and that which concerns the activities and duties of the people of different castes of life is called Smārta.

I shall mention the characteristic features of Dharma with regard to each part.

45. This is the characteristic sign of truthfulness viz. After seeing an event and on being asked, he (a person) does not conceal the fact and states it exactly as it has happened.

46. Celibacy, chanting of Mantras, vow of silence and observance of fast—these constitute the form of Tapas (Penance). It is extremely terrible and very difficult to achieve.

47. The collection of sacrificial materials, Havis (ghee) offerings, Ṛk, Sāman and Yajur Mantras, Ṛtviks (sacrificial priests) and Dakṣiṇās (monetary gifts and fees) is called Yajña.

48. The perfect vision of impartiality between oneself and all living beings whether for welfare or distress—is remembered as Dayā (Mercy, Sympathy).

49. If a person, on being sccolded or struck does not scold or strike in retaliation either verbally, mentally or physically—this attitude is remembered as Titikṣā (forbearance) and Kṣamā (patience).

50. Refraining from taking other man’s belongings well protected by their owners but abandoned in their excitement, is glorified as Alobha (absence of greed).

5Í. Non-indulgence in sexual intercourse, absence of thought thereof, avoidance of prattling about it, receding from all activities (connected with it is Brahmacarya (celibacy). It is called a penance without any vulnerable point.

52. If man’s sense-organs do not function falsely either for his own sake or for others’ sake that is the sign of Śama (Quiescence and Restraint of passions.

53. If a person, is obstructed (and hence disappointed) in regard to the object of sense-organs (ì.e. five sense-organs and five organs of action) or eight-fold causes, but he does not become infuriated, he is considered to be Jitātman (one who has conquered his own self).

54. If a person feels that he must give away unto a deserving person whatever is desired most by him, or the money that has come down to him duly and justly, that is the characteristic sign of Dana (charitable offering).

55-56a. Dana is of three types, Kaniṣṭha (base) Jyeṣṭha (superior) and Madhyama (middling). Among them, that which is conducive to salvation is the superior one. That which is only for the sake of achieving ones’ own selfish ends is the base one. Sharing (of one’s possessions) with all living beings out of sympathy is the middling.

56b-57a. The Dharma regarding the discipline of the four castes and stages of life is laid down by the Śrutis and Smṛtis. What is not antagonistic to Śiṣṭācāra (the practice of well-disciplined cultured people) is also Dharma, approved by good learned men.

57b-58. Absence of hatred toward what is not liked by one, approval of what is (desirable and) desired, and turning away from pleasure, excessive agony and distress is Viraktatā (absence of passion).

Relinquishing of all committed actions along with the omitted ones is called Sannyāsa (Renunciation).

59-61a. (Defective Text). Giving up of both auspicious and inauspicious activities is called Nyāsa or (Relinquishment. Unmanifest particular things are Vikāras (Transformations) in the matter of insentient objects (?) Perfect understanding of the distinctness of the sentient and the insentient, is called Jñāna (Knowledge). These are remembered as the characteristic features of different parts of Dharma by sages conversant with the principles of Dharma, in the previous Svāyambhuva Manvantara.

61b-62. I shall describe unto you the procedure of Manvantara as well as Cāturhotra and Cāturvidya (Holy rites).

Different Śruti is assigned to different Manvantara.

63-65a. Ṛk, Yajus and Sāman (are assigned to different Manvantaras) in the same manner as deities are assigned. In spite of the procedure of annihilation of all living beings, Śatarudriya, the procedure of Hotra as well as Stotra (Hymn, Prayer) function as before.

The Stotra is of four types: Dravyastotra (Eulogy of materials), Guṇa-Stotra (Eulogy of quality) Phala-stotra (Eulogy of fruit) and the fourth one Ābhijanaka-Stotra (Eulogy of Abhijanas).

65b. In all the Manvantaras, Brahmā sets in motion the four types of Stotras in regard to the Devas even as they come into being. Thus the origin of the collections of Mantras is of four types.

66-68. As the sages perform the severe and extremely difficult penance, the Mantras of different Vedas—Atharva, Ṛk, Yajus and Sāman appear before them severally in the same manner as in the previous Manvantaras. They appear in five ways viz.—owing to non-contenḍedness, owing to fear, owing to misery (pain), owing to happiness and owing to grief.

69. These Mantras appear before the sages casually because of the (supreme) vision of the sages named Tāraka (that which redeems). I shall state the Ṛṣitva (state of sage-hood) of the sages along with the characteristics.

70. Among the past and future ones, it is said (that) there are five types of sages. Hence, I shall recount the origin of the sages.[7]

71-73. When the Guṇas were in (a state of) equilibrium, when there was the annihilation of everything, when there was no classification of the Vedas, when everything was full of darkness and it could not be indicated or specified particularly (the pradhāna) unintelligently functions for the sake of Cetana (Sentient one). It functions through the intellect of the sentient one and through consciousness (?) Both of them function like the fish and the water. The Sattva[8] (? Tattva) presided over by the sentient one functions in the nature (Guṇas).

74. On account of the cause, its effect functions in the same way. The object functions due to the subject. The Artha (meaning) functions due to its (state of possessing an Artha).

75. Within the time (?) when it should take place the Bhedas (differences) of the nature of Karaṇa[9] (sense-organ) become realised. Then Mahat and other principles manifest themselves gradually.

76. The Ahaṃkāra (Ego) was evolved out of Mahat and from it the Bhūtas (Elements) and the Indriyas (sense-organs) were born. The different Bhūtas were mutually born out of the elements.

77-82. The effect and the cause[10] (sense-organs) suddenly get transformed itself. Just as the sparks and particles come out of the fire-brand simultaneously, so also the Kṣetrajñas (Individual Souls) come out of their Material cause at the same time.

Just as íhe glow-worm is suddenly seen in blinding also the transformed (Kṣetrajña) from the unmanifest shines like the glow-worm. It is great and embodied. The (all) knower became stationed there itself at the entrance to the Dvāraśālā (Hall of entry) where the great and embodied one was present. Beyond the vast expanse of darkness, the Mahat is perceived on account of its disparity. The Sruti says—“He stationed himself there. The learned one (the knowing one) was stationed at the end of Tamas (darkness)

When it (the Avyakta) transformed itself, Buddhi (Intellect) appeared in four ways viz. Jñāna (Knowledge) Vairāgya (Absence of attachment), Aiśvarya (Prosperity, masterliness) and Dharma (Virtue). These should be known as conducive to the final emancipation of man.

83-86. He is called Mahātman (the great Soul) by good people, because it is the transformation of the body[11](?)

Since he lies within the body, he is called Puruṣa. Due to his knowledge of the Kṣetra (field, body) he is called Kṣetrajña. Since he lies within intelligently he is of the nature of consciousness. The non-sentient Vyaktā-Vyākta (manifest-cum-nonmanifest) is encompassed for the sake of achievement (?).

Thus the Kṣetrajña (individual Soul) is Vivṛtta (transformed one) and it is equipped with the knowledge of the Kṣetra (field, i.e. the body).

Simultaneously with Vivṛtti (transformation) the Ṛṣi himself excessively activises (Param arṣayate) Avyakta (the unmanifest one). Therefore, it has the Paramarṣitva (the state of being a great sage).

87. It is from the root ṛṣ that means “to go” that the name has been derived at the outset. It is considered that it has ṛṣitā (the ṛṣi-hood) as it is self-born.[12]

88-90. They are born of God himself, they are the mental sons of Brahmā.

Since on being born, the great Mahat principle was surrounded by them, since those self-possessed persons went round the Mahat principle by means of their good qualities, hence they are called Maharṣis. They are the supreme viewers (seers) of the Buddhi (Intellect). They are the sons of Īśvaras (gods) both mind-born as well as bosom-born. They go beyond (or get under control) Ahaṃkāra (Ego) and penance. Hence they are Ṛṣis.

91. Hence, the seven sages are called sages because they see the principle of Bhūtādi (Ahaṅkāra). The Ṛṣikas, the sons of sages, are those born of the womb after sexual intercourse.

92. The Tanmātras (subtle elements) and Satya (the reality) are also realised by those sages of great prowess. Hence, those seven sages are the seers of the ultimate truth.

93. They are the sons of Ṛṣikas. They should be known as sons of sages since they realise (Ṛṣanti) the Ṛta (The great truth of the cosmos) and the particularities (Viśeṣas) factually.

94-95.[13] Hence, those seven sages also are called sages because they see the vast extent of the Śruti. The following are the five classes of sages having the knowledge of the particular Ātmans viz. (1) Avyaktātman (the Unmenifest Ātman) (2) Mahān Ātman (the Soul called Mahat) (3) Ahaṃkārātman (the Ātman of the cosmic Ego) (4) Bhūtātman (the Ātman of the living beings or elements) and (5) Indriyātman (The Ātman of the Sense-Organs), listen to them by their names.

96-97. Bhṛgu, Marīci, Atri, Aṅgiras, Pulaha, Kratu, Manu, Dakṣa, Vasiṣṭha and Pulastya. These ten were mentally born of god Brahmā. They are themselves masterly and powerful ones. Since they are considered as supreme as well as sages they are Maharṣis.

98-100. The following sages are the sons of Īśvaras. Understand them. Kāvya (Śukra), Bṛhaspati, Kaśyapa, Cyavana, Utathya, Vāmadeva, Apāsya, Uśija, Kardama, Viśravas, Śakti, Vālakhilyas and Arvata. These sages are said to have attained the state of sages by means of penance. Understand Ṛṣikas, the sons of sages born of womb.

101-103. Vatsara, Nagṛhū, Bharadvāja, Dīrghatamas, Bṛhaduktha, Śaradvata, Vājaśravas, Śuci, Vaśyāśva, Parāśara, Dadhīca, Śaṃśapa, Rājā (King) Vaiśrvaṇa—these are called Ṛṣikas. They attained sage-hood on account of their truthfulness. They are remembered as Īśvaras, Ṛṣis and Ṛṣikas.

104-106.[14] All these are the composers (seers) of Mantras. Understand them entirely; Bhṛgu, Kāvya (Śukra), Pracetas, Ṛcika, Ātmavān, Aurva, Jamadagni, Vida, Sārasvata, Ārṣṭiṣeṇa, Yudhājit, Vītahavya, Suvarcas, Vainya, Pṛthu, Divodāsa, Bādhyaśva, Gṛtsa and Śaunaka. These nineteen sages are Bhṛgus (i.e. the descendants of Bhṛgu). They are expounders of Mantras.

107-111. The following are the thirty-three excellent members of the family of Aṅgiras viz. Aṅgiras, Vaidyaga, Bharadvāja, Bāṣkali, Ṛtavāka, Garga, Śini, Saṅkṛti, Purukutsa, Māndhātā, Ambarīṣa, Yuvanāśva, Paurakutsa, Trasaddasyu, Dasyumān, Āhārya, Ajamīḍha, Tukṣaya, Kapi, Vṛṣādarbha, Virūpāśva, Kaṇva, Mudgala, Utathya, Sanadvāja, Vājaśravas, Ayāsya, Cakravartin, Vāmadeva, Asija. Bṛhaduktha, Dīrghatamas and Kakṣivān.

112-114. All these are composers of Mantras. Understand the Kāśyapas. (Sages of Kaśyapa group): Kāśyapa, Vātsara, Naidhruva, Raibhya, Asita and Devala—these six are the expounders of Brahman.

Atri, Arvasana, Śyāvāśva, Gaviṣṭhira. Āvihotra, Dhīmān and Pūrvātithi—these are called Atris. They are great sages and composers of Mantras.

115-116. Vasiṣṭha, Śakti, Parāśara, the fourth one Indrapramati, the fifth one Bharadvasu, the sixth one Maitrāvaruṇi and the seventh one Kuṇḍina—these seven members of the family of Vasiṣṭha should be known as expounders of Brahman.

117-122. Viśvāmitra, (the son of Gādhi), Devarāta, Udgala, Madhucchandas the learned, the other sage Aghamarṣaṇa, Aṣṭaka, Lohita, Kata, Kola, Devaśravas, Reṇu, Pūraṇa and Dhanañjaya—these thirteen righteous persons should be known as the excellent members of the Kuśika family.

Agastya, Dṛḍhāyu and Vidhmavāha—these three sages are Brahmiṣṭhas (fully engrossed in the meditation on Brahman and having excellent penance and of excellent reputation.

Manu the son of Vivasvān (Sun) and King Pururavas the son of Ilā, these two excellent Kṣatriyas should be known as expounders of Mantras.

Bhalandana, Vatsa and Saṃkīla—these three are composers of Mantras and are remembered as the most excellent ones among Vaiśyas.

Thus the Mantras composed by the sages are said to be ninety. The sages are Brāhmaṇas, Kṣatriyas and Vaiśyas. Understand the Ṛṣiputras (sons of sages).

Notes on this chapter:

This chapter records the belief that there has been a continuous deterioration in height or physical built and other capacities of all the subjects of creation, be they gods, men or serpents. Archaeological excavations have not substantiated this belief.

Footnotes and references:


For Karmaṇaitena here-of, Vā.P/59-10 reads Krameṇaitena ‘in this serial order.’


One Yava=1/2 Aṅgula.

Therefore the height of trees =1000-40 +12 1/2 = 947 1/2 Aṅgulas.


VV. 20-26 give the characteristics of saints, sādhus and knowers of Dharma.


VV. 28-30 and 33-36 explain the concept of Dharma and what is Śrauta and Smārta Dharma? A detailed elucidation of various virtues constituting Dharma are given in VV. 43-57.


VV. 31-32 mention the qualifications of an Ācārya (preceptor).


VV. 37-43 give a peculiar definition of Śiṣṭas and explanation of Śiṣṭācāra. The identification of Śiṣṭācāra with Dharma is in V. 57. Manu XII.109 and Vasiṣṭha. VI. 143 define śiṣṭācāra differently.


The following verses (VV. 71-73) describe the process of evolution of the universe to explain how sages (the Seven Sages—Saptarṣis) came into being in a new Kalpa.


Vā. P. 59.66b reads tattvāni ‘the principles’.


The obscurity of the verse is due to the reading Karaṇātmaka. If emended as Kāraṇātmaka as in the identical verse in Vā P. 59.68a, it means ‘differences of the nature of cause’ became explicit etc.


Karaṇa emended as Kāraṇa as in Vā P.59.69c. The word Karaṇa ‘Sense-organs’ obscures the meaning implied in the next line.


A comparison of Bd.P. VV. 75-85 hereof with Vā P.39.69-77 shows that the lines in the Bd. P. are confused and disconnectedly mixed up. Hence the obscurity.


VV. 87-90 give the derivation of the term ‘ṛṣi’ and ‘maharṣi’


VV. 94-103 give the various divisions of Sages as Maharṣis, Ṛṣikas, Īśvaras.


VV. 104-122 give the list of the Sages who are composers or seers of Mantras. They are divided according to their families viz. that of Bhṛgu (19) Aṅgiras (34) Kaśyapa (6) Vasiṣṭha (7) Kuśika (13). Three Brahmiṣṭhas (viz. Agastya, Dṛḍhāyu and Vidmavāha), two Kṣatriya Kings (viz. Manu and Pururavas), three Vaiśyas (viz. Bhalandana, Vatsa and Saṃkila). It may be noted that these seers of Mantras are Brāhmaṇas, Kṣatriyas and Vaiśyas and their number is 93 and not 90 as given in V.122.

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