The Brahmanda Purana

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

This page describes the race of the sages: atri and vasishtha which is Chapter 8 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 8 - The race of the sages: Atri and Vasiṣṭha

Sūta said:

1-2. “After all the progeny, both the mobile and the immobile, had been created and well-established by the noble-souled Kaśyapa Prajāpati, he began to assign them their respective domain after crowning the chiefs of them in over-lordship.[1]

3. He installed as king Soma, in the kingdom of Brāhmaṇas, creepers, constellations, planets, Yajñas aṅd austerities.

4. He gave the overlordship of all the Aṅgiras to Bṛhaspati. He anointed Kāvya (i.e. Śukra) as the ruler over the kingdom of Bhṛgus.

5. Then he made Viṣṇu, the leader of the Ādityas, Pāvaka (fire-god) as the leader of Vasus, Dakṣa chief of the Prajāpatis and Vāsava (Indra), as the head of Maruts.

6. He made Prahlāda, the delighter of Diti, the king of Daityas, Nārāyaṇa, of the Sādhyas and the bull-bannered god as the king of Rudras.

7-8. He directed Vipracitti to become the king of Dānavas; he commanded Varuṇa to rule over the kingdom of waters; he made Vaiśravaṇa, the king of kings, Yakṣas and wealth; he installed Yama the son of Vivasvān in the kingship of Pitṛs.

9. He made the trident-bearing Giriśa, the lord of all Bhūtas (goblins) and the Piśācas (ghosts); mount Himavān; the leader of all mountains and the ocean, the king of rivers.

10. He made Citraratha the overlord of Gandharvas, and crowned Uccaiśśravas as the king of horses.

11. He made Śārdūla (tiger) the king of all deer or animals in general, and Govṛṣa (Bull) the king of all animals having humps. He made Garuḍa, the most excellent one among those who fly, the king of all birds.

12. He made Vāyu the most excellent of all powerful ones, the leader of fragrant smells, Maruts and unembodied living beings who have (however) great strength at the same time.

13. He made Śeṣa the leader of all those who have fangs, Vāsuki the leader of Nāgas (snakes) and Takṣaka the leader of Sarisṛpas (reptiles), Sarpas (Cobras) and Pannagas (serpents).

14. He installed Parjanya, one of the Ādityas, as the lord of oceans, rivers, clouds and the showering rains.

15-17a. He made Kāmadeva the lord of all groups of Apsaras.

He made Saṃvatsara (the year) the lord öf the Ṛtus (seasons), months, Ārtavas (product of the Seasons), fortnights, Vipakṣas (days of transition from one half of a lunar month to another) Muhūrtas, Parvans (festival occasions of particular periods in the year) Kalās, Kāṣṭhās etc. (i.e. the various units of time), of the transits of the sun, of its movement, of Gaṇita (Mathematical calculations) and of the Yoga (combination of stars).

17b-21. He crowned Sudhanvan, the well renowned son of Virajas the Prajāpati, as the king in the eastern quarter.

He installed as king Śaṅkhapāda the son of Kardama the Prajāpati in the southern quarter.

He anointed Ketumān, the unerring noble-souled son of Rajas, as the king in the western quarter. He crowned Hiraṇyaroman, the invincible son of Parjanya the Prajāpati, in the northern quarter.

He made Manu, the son of Vivasvān the overlord of all human beings,

22. This entire earth consisting of seven continents and along with the cities is being protected righteously by them within their respective territories.

23-25a. They were formerly crowded in Svāyambhuva Manvantara by Brahmā. Those who become Manu are anointed as kings. In those Manvantaras which have gone by, these kings had ruled and had gone away. When another Manvantara comes, others will be crowned. All the rulers (of Manvantaras whether) gone by or yet to Come are declared as the overlords of the Manvantaras.

25b-26a. Pṛthu the excellent among men, was crowned in a Rājasūya sacrifice by these as an overlord in accordance with the injunction seen (i.e. prescribed) in the Vedas. He was very powerful.

26b-27. After procreating these sons for the purpose of perpetuating the line, the lord of the subjects, the holy lord Kaśyapa of great grandeur, performed great penance with a a desire for his own lineage (Gotrakāma).

28-29. “Let two sons be born unto me, two who will perpetuate my lineage.” As the noble-souled Kaśyapa was contemplating thus, two sons, the parts of Brahmā, appeared in front of him. They were extremely powerful. They were Vatsāra and Asita, both of whom were expounders of Brahman.

30. Nidhruva was born ofVatsāra. Rebhya of very great fame was also born of him.

Raibhya should be known (as the son) of Rebhya. Understand the son of Nidhruva.

31. Cyavana’s daughter Sumedhas was born of Sukanyā. It was she who became the wife of Nidhruva and the mother of Kuṇḍapāyins (A set of ascetics drinking water from the holy consecrated pitchers in particular ceremonies).

32. Devala of very great fame was born of Ekaparṇā (as the son) of Asita. He was highly prosperous and devoutly attached to Brahman. He was the most excellent one among Śāṇḍilyas.

33. Nidhruvas, Śāṇḍilas and Raibhyas—these are the three branches of the line of Kaśyapa. The thunderbolt-wielding Indra and other Devas are among the children (of Kaśyapa).

34. (Their birth took place) when the Dvāpara Yuga began to function after the eleventh set of four Yugas of Manu, the lord of the Manvantara had elapsed.

35-36. Nariṣyaṇta was the son of Marutta and Dama was his son. His son was Rājyavardhana whose sons were Sudhṛti, Nara and Kevala. Bandhumān and Vegavān were Kevala’s sons. Budha was his (? Vegavān’s) son whose son was King Tṛṇabindu.

37. He became king in the beginning of the third Tretāyuga. Ilavilā born of the womb of Alambuṣā was his daughter.

38-40. Viśravas, the cause of the flourishing family of Paulastya, was born of her. Bṛhaspati of big fame has been glorified as the preceptor of the Devas.

Viśravas married Devavarṇinī the daughter of Bṛhaspati, Puṣpotkaṭā and Vākā the daughters of Mālyavān and Kaikasī, the daughter of Mālin. Listen to his children begot of these wives. Devavarṇinī gave birth to Vaiśravaṇa the eldest son.

41 -43. He was endowed with divine ways (or injunctions) and saintly learning. He had the form of Rākṣasas, strength of Asuras (demons). He had three legs, a very huge body, a stout head, a large chin, eight curved teeth, green moustache and pike-like ears. He was bright red in colour. His arms and forearms were short. He was reddish brown and very terrific. He was richly endowed with the knowledge of Vivarta (the sky or illusory nature of the world?) He was enlightened ever since his birth.

44-46. On seeing him, his father said “This is Kubera” (ugly-bodied one). The word ‘Ku’ is an epithet used to indicate contempt. The body is called Bera. He was Kubera on account of his deformed body. He was thus marked by this name. Since he was the son of Viśravas and also because he was like Viśravas due to resemblance, he would be known by the name Vaiśravaṇa.

Kubera begot of Ṛddhi his well-renowned son Nalakūbera.

47. Kaikasī gave birth to Rāvaṇa, Kumbhakarṇa and Śūrpaṇakhā, a daughter. Vibhīṣaṇa was the fourth among her children.[2]

48-50. Rāvaṇa had pike-like ears and ten heads. He was tawny-coloured. His hairs were red. He had four legs and twenty hands. He was very powerful with a huge body. He resembled collyrium of an excellent type. He had fanglike curved teeth. His neck was red. He had the form, strength and inherent vigour of a Rākṣasa. He could defeat Yakṣas and other Rākṣasas by means of his physical strength and keen intellect. Terrible by nature Rāvaṇa was extremely cruel. He could rout his enemies.

51-54. In his previous birth Rāvaṇa was Hiraṇyakaśipu. That Rākṣasa ruled as king for thirteen sets of four Yugas. The period (of his rule) reckoned in years in accordance with human calculation comes to fifty-six million one hundred and sixty-thousand years.[3] O Brāhmaṇas, he could give terrible sleepless nights to the Devas and sages. In the twenty-fourth Tretā-yuga, the power of penance of Rāvaṇa was exhausted and dwindled down. Coming into contact with Rāma, the son of Daśaratha, he met with destruction along with his followers.

55-56. Mahodara, Prahasta, Mahāpārśva and Khara were the sons of Puṣpotkaṭā. She had a daughter (named) Kumbhīnasī also Triśiras. Dūṣaṇa and Vidyujjihva the Rākṣasa are remembered as the children of Vākā. There was aḍaughter also named Anupālikā.

57. Thus these ten Rākṣasas, the descendants of Pulastya, were of very cruel activities. They are of very terrible pursuits, ever since their birth. All of these were unassailable even to the Devas.

58-62. All of them had acquired boons. They were heroic and they were accompanied by sons and grandsons.

Aiḍaviḍa (i.e. Kubera), the descendent of Pulastya, who was Savyapiṅgala (? Tawny-coloured in the left side) became the king of all Yakṣas, all those Rākṣasas who were the descendants of Pulastya, and of all those cruel Brahmarākṣasas belonging to the families of Agastya and Viśvāmitra who still carried on the study of the Vedas and who performed regularly penances and holy rites.[4]

The other three groups of Rākṣasas were the performers of Yajñas. They were Yātudhānas, Brahmadhānas and Vārtās (?). They were moving about during the day time and they were not nocturnal wanderers like other demons. Their four groups are remembered by the wise (learned men). They were Niśācaras (moving about at night), They were Paulastyas (descendants of Pulastya), Nairṛtas, Āgastyas and Kauśikas. Thus it is remembered that there were seven classes (communities) of those Rākṣasas. I shall describe their form and features inherited by them naturally.

63-69. They are tawny-coloured and have round eyes. They have big bellies and huge bodies. They have eight-curved fanglike teeth and pikelike ears. Their hairs stand upright. Their mouths appear as though slit open upto the ears (on either side). Their smoke-coloured upright hairs are like the Muñja grass. They have large thick heads shedding bright lustre. Their thighs and forearms are short. Their faces are copper-coloured. Their tongues and lips hang down. Their brows appear dangling. Their noses are thick. They have blue (black) limbs with red necks. Their eyes are majestic and they appear terrible. Their voice and tone are extremely terrible. Their calves are hideous and rolled up. They are stout and have prominently protruding noses. They are firm and have sturdy bodies like rocks. They arc cruel and terrible ever since their birth. Generally they are consistent in their activities.

They put on (ornaments like) earrings, armlets and coronets. They bedeck themselves in diverse kinds of ornaments. They wear many kinds of garlands and use all types of fragrant scents and unguents. They are remembered as habitual eaters of cooked rice, meat and even human flesh. Thus is remembered the similarity in forms and features of demons by learned men. They are unequalled in strength, intelligence and ability to fight using the deceptive power of Māyā (or black magic).

70-73. The sons of Pulaha were the beasts, all (kinds of) serpents and tigers with curved fangs, the goblins, the cobras, the Piśācas, the reptiles, the deer, the elephants, the monkeys, the Kinnaras, the Māyu (? a kind of monkey?) and the Kimpuruṣas. These creations belonging to the family of Krodhavaśā have previously been recounted by me.

In this Vaivasvata Manvantara, Kratu is remembered as issueless. He has neither wives nor sons. He remained checking his sexual impulses and potency.

I shall recount the family of Atri the third Prajāpati (among sages).

74. He had ten beautiful wives who were very chaste.[5] All those ten were the children of Bhadrāśva begot of Ghṛtācī the celestial damsel.

75-76. They were Bhadrā, Śūdrā, Madrā, Śalabhā, Maladā, Balā and Halā. These seven (were very important) and the others like them viz. Gocapalā, Tāmarasā and Ratnakūṭā.

Among their sons perpetuating their lines was (the scion) named Prabhākara.

77-80. He begot of Madrā the famous son Soma (the moon). When the sun was hit by Svarbhānu (Rāhu), when he was falling down to the earth from the heaven and when this world was overwhelmed by darkness, it was by him (i.e. Atri) that light was made to function. The sun who was falling was also told “Welfare to you.” Due to the utterance of that Brahmanical sage, he (the Sun) did not fall from heaven on to the earth. It was Atri, the sage of great penance, who initiated the spiritual lines (of Ātreyas). It was he who brought about the prevention of death of Suras in the course of Yajñas. He begot of those (ten Apsaras) sons equal to himself.

81-84. The holy lord sanctified by means of very great penance begot those ten sons. Those sages well known as Svastyātreyas have mastered the Vedas. Among them, two were extremely renowned. They were devoutly interested in the Brahman and were of great spiritual power.

Datta is considered to be the eldest, Durvāsas was his younger brother. The youngest of all was a lady who expounded the Brahman.

In this context the persons well-versed in the Purāṇas cite this verse.

Persons conversant with the Purāṇas say that the noble-souled son of Atri (named) Dattātreya is the body (incarnation) of Viṣṇu. He is tranquil in his rnind and free from sins.

85. Among the descendants of his (i.e. Atri) four are well renowned on the earth viz. Śyāvāśvas, Mudgalas, Vāgbhūtakas and Gaviṣṭhiras.

86. The following four (also) are remembered as belonging to the side (family) of Atris. They are of very great power. They are Kāśyapa, Nārada, Parvata and Arundhatī.

87. These were the mental progeny (of Atri). Understand (the progeny) of Arundhatī.

Nārada gave Arundhatī in marriage to Vasiṣṭha.

88-89. Nārada of great splendour was of very great sublimated sexual potency due to the curse of Dakṣa. Formerly, at the time of the battle between the Devas and the Asuras, on account of the Demon Tāraka’s depredations, the whole world had been overwhelmed by drought. The entire universe was in an excited state. It had been in turmoil along with the Suras.

90. By means of his penance the intelligent Vasiṣṭha enlivened the subjects by making the medicinal herbs.

91. Vasiṣṭha[6] begot his son Śakti of Arundhatī. Śakti procreated his bosom-born son Parāśara of Adṛśyantī.

92. The holy lord Kṛṣṇadvaipāyana was born of Kālī, by (her union) with Parāśara. From Dvaipāyana, Śuka, equipped with all good qualities was born of the Araṇī (the holy wooden stick used to produce fire by attrition).

93-96. The following six were born of Pīvarī as the children of Śuka viz.—Bhūriśravas, Prabhu, Śambhu, Kṛṣṇa and Gaura the fifth (i.e. all the five were sons. The sixth was a daughter). A daughter was also born viz.—Kīrtimatī. She was the mother of yogic power. She maintained all the holy rites. She was the wife of Anuha and mother of Brahmadatta. The descendants of Parāśara were the following eight viz.—Śvetas Kṛṣṇas, Pauras, Śyāmadhūmras, Caṇḍins, Uṣmaḍas, Dārikas and Nilas.

The eight Pakṣas of the noble-souled Parāśars have been recounted. Hereafter, listen and understand the progeny of Inḍrapramati.

97. The child named Kuni who was born of Kapiñjalī (Taittirī bird) Ghṛtācī is called Inḍrapramati.

98. Vasu, born of the daughter of Pṛthu, was his son. Upamanyu was his son. It was from him that Aupamanyus took their origin.

99-100a. Kuṇḍineyas arc reputed to have been originated from Mitra and Varuṇa. Ekārṣeyas as well as others are well-known as Vāsiṣṭhas.Thus these eleven sections of Vāsiṣṭhas are declared.

100b-102. Thus the eight well-known mental sons of Brahmā have been recounted. They were brothers of very great fortune. Their races were well established. It is they who sustain the three worlds full of the groups of Devas and sages. Their sons and grandsons were hundreds and thousands.[7] The three worlds are pervaded by them as by the rays of the sun.

Footnotes and references:


VV 1-21 enumerate the chiefs or heads of different kinds of creation. One is reminded here of BG X—the Vibhūtiyoga in a different context.


VV. 47-54. The author is familiar with the traditional Rāma story but his description of Rāvaṇa is peculiar.


One set of four Yugas=4320000 years.

4320000 x 13 = 56160000 years.


VV. 60-70 enumerate and describe the seven tribes of Rākṣasas.


VV. 74-86 describe the descendants of Atri, the 3rd Prajāpati sage.


VV. 90-100 describe the race of Vasiṣṭha.


A comparison of the race of sages with those given in other Purāṇas (for example) the Matsya shows many dissimilarities in names, though some of the gotras and pravaras are common.

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