The Brahmanda Purana

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

This page describes characteristics of sages and of mantras which is Chapter 33 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 33 - Characteristics of Sages and of Mantras

Sūta said:—

1. The sons of Ṛṣikas should be known as the sons of the sages. They, are the expounders of the Brāhmaṇas. (Scriptural texts). Understand them by names.

2-4. The Śrutarṣis (sages distinguished by knowledge of the Vedas)—the most important among them—are mentioned briefly.[1] They are Bahvṛca, Bhārgava, Paila, Sāṅkṛtya, Jājali, Sandhyāsti, Māṭhara, Yājñavalkya, Parāśara, Upamanyu, Indrapramati, Māṇḍūki, Śākali, Bāṣkali, Śokapāṇi, Naila, Paila, Alaka, Pannaga, Pakṣaganta (and others). The Śrutarṣis are eighty-six in number.

5-6. These Brāhmaṇas are the most important among Bahvṛcas who are distinguished for their knowledge of Vedas.[2] Vaiśaṃpāyana, Lauhitya, Kaṇṭhakāla, Avaśāvadha(?) Śyāmāpati, Palāṇḍu, Ālambi and Kamalāpati. Their disciples and the disciples of their disciples constitute the eighty-six Śrutarṣis.

7-8. O Brāhmaṇas, these Brahmanical sages are called Adhvaryus of the Caraka Branch of Black Yajurveda[3]:—Jaimini, Bharadvāja, Kāvya, Pauṣyañji, Hiraṇyanābha, Kauśilya, Laugākṣi, Kusumi, Lāṅgalī, Śālihotra, Śaktirāja and Bhārgava.

9-11. The preceptor of those who sing Sāman Mantras is King Pururavas, the son of Ilā.[4] Forty-six other sages, together with their disciples are also Śrutarṣis.

Kauśīti, Kaṅkamudga, Kuṇḍaka, Parāśara, Lobhālobha the pious-souled, Brahmabala, Kranthala, Madagala and Mārkaṇḍeya who is conversant with Dharma—these ninety should be as Hotravad Brahmacārins (? i.e. Religious students performing Homas).

12-14a. After the expounders of Mantras and Brāhmaṇas, the Adhvaryus of the Caraka branch of Black Yajurveda (are to be understood).[5] Calūbhi, Sumati, Devavara, Anukṛṣṇa, Āyus, Anubhūmi, Prīṭa, Kṛśāśva, Sumūli and Bāṣkali—these are prominent Adhvaryus of Carakādhvaryakas. They are Brahmacārins (celibate ones) worthy of being paid obeisance.

14b-17a. Śuka the learned son of Vyāsa, Lauki, Bhūriśravas, Somāvi, Atunāntakya (?), Dhaumya and Kāśyapa, The forest-dwellers viz. Ilaka, Upamanyu, Vida, Bhārgava, Madhuka, Piṅga, Śvetaketu, Prajādarpa, Kahoḍa, Yājñāvalkya, Śaunaka, Anaṅga and Niratāla—these are Madhyama Adhvaryus.

17b-20. The following arc the ladies capable of expounding the Brahman: Aditi the mother of the Devas, Jalāpā, Mānavī, the two splendid celestial damsels viz. Urvaśī and Viśvayoṣā, Mudgalā, Anujīvā, Tārā of great fame, Prātimedhī, Mārgā, Sujātā, Mahātapā (of great penance), Lopāmudrā who is conversant with Dharma and Kauśītikā. The celestial damsels are of approved beauty.

Thus the important children of the sages have been mentioned by me.

21-22. They are the founders of the branches of Vedic Schools. Therefore, they are regarded as sages. They are known by these names also—Īśvaras (Masters), expounders of the Mantras, Ṛṣis and Ṛṣikās. The sons of the sages are the expounders of Kalpas (Ritualistic texts) and of Brāhmaṇas, along with the sons of Īśvaras, Ṛṣis and Ṛṣikas.

23-32. Similarly, understand the statements as to their visions of the Mantras.[6]

The Mantra, which is that which is equipped with command (? authoritative) is advaita (non-ḍualistic), that has deep resonant sound is Dīpta. The Mantra named Liṅga (Symbol) is perfectly direct perception. What is called Paridāna (Devotion) is that which has become the soul of all living beings.

They know that the statement which indicates the meaning mentioned in the Nirukta (semantics, one of the ancillary subjects of the Vedas) as Svāyambhuva. Whatever is associated with some Mantra is along with the case endings of substantives (?)

That which is directly spoken is considered to be the statement of Ṛṣis. It mostly consists of different words from the Nigamas (Vedas) and Nipātas (Particles, indeclinables, exceptional forms of words).

That which is a great statement is remembered as the statement of Ṛṣikas.

That in which the words are not very clear, that in which there are many doubts is the statement of Ṛṣiputras. All of them are lamentations (or all lamentations also are such).

That which mainly consists of Hetu (Reason) and Dṛṣṭānta (example) is (called) Citraśabda (one with diverse words).

That which has no sense, that which is not praised by anyone and that which is feeble—this statement is Mānuṣa (human).

(Persons) well-known as Miśras attained the status of the sages on account of their prowess. For the sake of prosperity they are born of different castes (?) by means of drawing and attraction (?) They have the knowledge of the past, present and future. They cure the misery of birth.

Those statement of Miśras is capable of activising the strength of the preceptor.

The who are composers of scriptural texts, those who go everywhere, due to their greatness, and those who possess the intensity of very great penance are considered as sages. They are Bṛhaspati, Śukra, Vyāsa and Sārasvata.

33-35. Vyāsas arc those who compose scriptural texts. They are remembered as Vedavyāsas. Since, although they are born later (i.e. younger in age), they are superior to the earlier ones in their intellect; since they are richly endowed with prosperity, they are, therefore, remembered as Ṛṣis (sages).

In the matter of the conception of a sage neither the period nor the age is the authoritative criterion.

A (younger) person is some times seen, superior-most in intellect, since even a boy who is elderly (i.e. mature) in intellect is a learned sage.[7]

36. They call this Ṛk Mantra: viz. the same foot in the middle is used with the full complement of words and their end is properly distributed.

37. They call this Yajus Mantra: viz. the Mantra is not measured by means of syllables in the foot but by means of Karaṇa (Rhythmical pause) and its end possesses syllables in excess.[8]

38-39. The following seven adjuncts of a Sāman Mantra are called Sapta Vindhyas[9] viz. (1) Hrīṃkāra (2) Prastava (beginning) (3) Praṇava Oṃkāra) (4) Gita (Song) is the fourth one (5) the fifth one is Prati-Hotra. (6) They call the sixth one Upadrava (7) Nidhana (? end). Without Hrīṃkāra and Praṇava it is called Pañcavindhyā.

40-41. (Defective text) On saying “Brahmaṇe Dharma” (Dharma is for the sake of the Brahman), that which is implied and indicated then is considered Āśāsti (Blessing). Paridevanā is lamentation. Narration of a question out of anger or hatred—this is laid down as the characteristic sign of the Mantra among all Vidyās.

42-43. Mantras characterised as Ṛk, Yajus and Sāman are said to be nine types:—Mūrti (form), Nindā (censure), Praśaṃsā, (praise), Ākrośa (scolding), Toṣa (contentedness), Praśna (question), Anujñā (permission) and Ākhyāna (narrative and modes of blessing).

I shall mention the different types of Mantras falling into twenty-four classes.

44-46. The following are the twenty-four types of Mantras:

(1) Praśaṃsā (Praise) (2) Stuti (Eulogy) (3) Ākrośa (Rebuking) (4) Nindā (Censure) (5) Paridevanā (Lamentation) (6) Abhiśāpa (Curse) (7) Viśāpa (Revocation of a curse) (8) Praśna (Question) (9) Prativacas (Reply) (10) Āśis (Blessing) (11) Yajña (Sacrifice) (12) Ākṣepa (Reviling) (13) Arthākhyāna (Narration of the meaning) (14) Saṃkathā (Conversation) (15) Viyoga (Separation) (16) Abhiyoga (Attack) (17) Kathā (Story) (18) Saṃsthā (Situation) (19) Vara (Boon) (20) Pratiṣedha (Denial) (21) Upadeśa (Advice) (22) Mamaskāra (Obeisance) (23) Spṛhā (Desire) and (24) Vilāpa (Lamentation).

Thus the twenty-four types of Mantras are mentioned.

47-48. Ten modes or formations of the Brāhmaṇas, which had been laid down formerly by the sages conversant with the principles of Yajña, are as follows—Hetu (Reason) Nirvacana (Specific explanation) Nindā (Censure) Praśasti, (Praise) Saṃśaya (Doubt), Nidhi (Deposit) Purākṛti (Previous action), Purākalpa (Previous Kalpa), Vyavadhāraṇa-Kalpanā (Conception of ascertainment), Upamā (Comparison).

49. This is the characteristic feature of a “Brāhmaṇa” in regard to persons of all (vedic) branches.

Hetu is derived from the root Had (^han-). It kills what is spoken (argued) by others.

50. Or it can be derived from the root Hinoti meaning “to go” when the meaning has been arrived at. Nirvacana means-determination of the meaning of a statement.

51. Preceptors call it nìndā where there are words of censure in finding fault.

Praśasti is derived from the root (^śaṃs-) Śaṃsati with the preposition Pra. Praśasti or Praśaṃsā means praise on account of good qualities.

52. “This is this. This is not this”. Where there is indecision like this, there is Saṃśaya (Doubt). “This should be done like this”. This is called Vidhi (Rule, Mode).

53. “This is the utterance of so and so (Lit. of others and others) This is mentioned by learned men as Purākṛti (? Precedent). This object that is completely out of view (in distant past) is called Purākalpa (A story of the past).

54-56. The word ‘Purā’ indicates what has gone by. If due to its being over in the days of yore the story of the past is decisively fixed by means of Mantras, Brāhmaṇas, Kalpas (Ritualistic texts) and Nigamas (Vedas) of pure expanse it is called Vyavadhāraṇa Kalpanā (conception of ascertainment). “Just as this, so also that”, “This is like that” this is called Upamā (comparison). This is the tenth characteristic feature of the Brāhmaṇa.

Thus, at the outset, the characteristic feature of the Brāhmaṇa has been laid down by learned men.

57-58. The commentary of that Mantra as pointed out by the Brāhmaṇas who know it, has been mentioned word by word. The application of Mantras is duly laid down in the holy rites. The word Mantra is derived from the root Mantrayati and Brāhmaṇa (scriptural text) is derived from the word Brāhmaṇa (Bṛṃhaṇa?)

Those who know Sūtra (aphorism) say that it must be brief with very few words, unambiguous, full of meaning and comprehensive. It must not contain any unwanted interpolation. It must be free from blame.

Footnotes and references:


This is a confused statement of the traditional learners of Bahvṛc an epithet of the ṚV as it consists of the biggest number of Rks. Bh. P. XII. 6-54-60 gives a somewhat different genealogy of the Teachers of ṚV. In this Purāṇa the genealogy of Vedic Teachers from Paila is given infra Ch.34.24-33. Mahidāsa’s Comments on CVS accepts the academic genealogy of Sages of the Ṛgveda though many names in our text are not included here. Our text states that there are 86 Śrutarṣis out of whom selected Ṛgveda Scholars are mentioned in VV.2-6 here.


The lines in the printed text appeared to be mixed up. Bh.P.XII.6 quoted in the Com. of Mahidāsa on Śaunaka’s CVS. states that Vaiśampāyana was taught Yajur-Veda by Vyāsa. That the Yajur-Veda had 86 branches (bhedas) is accepted in our text as 86 Śrutarṣis. And a few selected sages have been named in the Yajur-Veda group.


The list of the 12 Carakas in the CVS is totally different from that given in this Purāṇa. Thus CVS states the 12 classifications of Carakas as follows: Caraka, Āhvaraka, Kaṭha, Prācya-Kaṭha, Kapiṣṭhala-Kaṭha, Cārāyaṇīya, Vārāyaṇīya, Vārtāntaveya, Śvetāśvatara, Aupamanyava, Pātāṇḍanīya and Maitrāyaṇīya.


This is not known to CVS.


VV. 12-170 give a list of prominent Adhvaryus of Caraka Branch of Black Yajurveda.


VV. 23-32 explain many technical terms such as Mantra, Nirukta, Nipāta, Hetu, Dṛṣṭānta and others. The statement of Ṛṣis is in Vedic, those of Ṛṣikas are great, clear or emphatic while those of Ṛṣiputras are dubious.


This Subhāṣita glorifying wisdom and intelligence as superior to the age is found in Pali and Prakrits also. The word ‘bala’ here is a misprint for ‘bāla’.


This applies to Yajur-mantras in prose and not to metrical ones.


Vindhya is a technical term indicating a part of a Sāma Stanza. The parts are enumerated in VV. 38-39. Prastava is beginning of the hymn, Prati-Hotṛ is the response or supporting tune by the assistant Hotṛ, Upadrava is the fourth of the five parts of a Sāman Stanza. (Sāyaṇa on Ṣaḍaviṃśa Br.). According to that Brāhmaṇa, a Sāman Stanza has five parts. Hrīṃkāra and Oṃkāra appear subsequent additions.

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