The Brahmanda Purana

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

This page describes the origin of dhanvantari which is Chapter 67 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 67 - The origin of Dhanvantari

Note: This chapter describes the line of Āyu that ruled at Kāśī. In this dynasty was born Dhanvantari, the famous physician-king, the founder of Āyurveda. He learnt the science from Bharadvāja but due to his systematic presentation of that science, due credit is given to him. Hence, the title of this chapter specially refers to Dhanvantari. His period viz.: “second Dvāpara Yuga” is merely a Purāṇic way of stating time.

1. Āyus had five noble-souled sons of great strength. Those kings were born of Prabhā, the daughter of Svarbhānu.

2. Nahuṣa was the eldest among them. Kṣatravṛddha is remembered as the son next to him. Rambha, Raji and Anenas are well-known in the three worlds.

3. Kṣatravṛddha’s son was Śunahotra of great reputation. Śunahotra had three sons who were very much righteous.

4. They were Kāśa, Śala and lord Gṛtsamada. The son of Gṛtsamada was Śunaka from whom Śaunaka was born.

5. Brāhmaṇas, Kṣatriyas, Vaiśyas and Śūdras were born in his family, O Brāhmaṇas, on account of their diverse Karmans.

6. Ārṣṭiṣeṇa was Śala’s son. His son was Śiśira. The Śaunakas and the Ārṣṭiṣeṇas were Brāhmaṇas mixed with Kṣatriyas.

7-8. King Dīrghatapas was the ruler of Kāśī and son. of Kāśya. Dhanva was the son of Dīrghatapas and the scholar. Dhanvantari was born of him. This brilliant son was born to the intelligent king in his old age, at the close of his penance.

Thereupon, the sages spoke these words to Sūta.

The sages said:—

9. Who is Dhanvantari, the lord who was born among human beings? We wish to know this. Recount that unto us, O scorcher of enemies (?)

Sūta replied:—

10-13a. Let the origin of Dhanvantari be heard, O Brāhmaṇas. He was born formerly when the ocean was being churned, for the sake of nectar. At the outset, he was born before the Kalaśa (pot). He was encircled by a halo of glory all round. On seeing him having accomplished his task suddenly, Viṣṇu who was standing by said—“You are born of water”. Hence, he is remembered as Abja (water-born). Abja said to Viṣṇu—“O lord, I am your son. Allot me my share and place in the world, O excellent god.”

13b-19. On being told thus, the lord said after review in the factual position, “The division of the Yajña has already been made by the sons of Diti as well as the Suras. The due performance of Homas etc. has been laid down in the Vedas by the great sages. It is not possible to get Homa performed unto you at any time. As you are born subsequent to Vedas O god, you have no Mantra (assignable to you). O lord, in your second incarnation you will earn reputation in the world. Then you will attain the super-natural powers like Aṇimā (minuteness) and others. O lord, you will attain Deva-hood with this selfsame body. Brāhmaṇas (and other twice-born ones) shall worship you with Caturmantras (i.e. Mantras from the four Vedas), ghee offerings and Gavyas (materials of worship obtained from milk, milk products). You will once again reproduce the Āyurveda (the Science of Medicine). These incidents and events are inevitable and have already been visualised by the lotus-born lord (Brahmā) earlier. Undoubtedly you will be born in the second Dvāpara Yuga”. Therefore, after granting the boon, Viṣṇu disappeared.

20. When the second Dvāpara arrived, king Dīrghatapas, the ruler of Kāśī, a descendant of Śunahotra being desirous of a son, performed a penance.

21. The king desired to propitiate lord Dhanvantari for the sake of a son. Thereupon, Dhanvantari urged the king to choose a boon as he pleased.

The king said:—

22. “O lord, if you are pleased with me, be my son, bestower of my goal”. After saying “So be it”, the lord vanished there itself.

23-24. Lord Dhanvantari was then born in his abode. He was a great king, the ruler of Kāśī, the dispeller of all ailments. He learned the science of Medicine—Āyurveda along with its therapeutics from Bharadvāja. He classified it into eight sections and taught them to different disciples.

25. The son of Dhanvantari became well known as Ketumān. The son born to Ketumān became king Bhīmaratha.

26. The son of Bhīmaratha became an intelligent lord of the subjects. Well-renowned as Divodāsa,[1] he became the lord of Vārāṇasī.

27. At this time, a Rākṣasa named Kṣemaka, colonised the city of Vārāṇasī which had been a desolate and tenantless place.

28. Earlier, the city had been cursed by the noble-souled Nikumbha, again and again—“This city will be void of people and a deserted place for a thousand years”.

29. When this city was cursed, Divodāsa, the lord of the subjects, colonized another beautiful city at the border of his realm, on the banks of Gomatī.

The sages said:—

30. What for did Nikumbha curse Vārāṇasī formerly? Why did Nikumbha the noble-souled one curse the holy place of the Siddhas?

Sūta said:—

31. The saintly king Divodāsa lived in that flourishing city after obtaining it. The ruler of men of great brilliance lived there in that prosperous city.

32. It was at this very same time that Maheśvara took a wife unto him. Desirous of doing some thing pleasing to the Goddess Umā, the lord lived near his father-in-law.

33. At the behest of the lord, the Pāriṣaḍas (attendants) of various kinds of forms, the ascetics began to delight goddess Umā (Maheśvarī) by adopting the forms and guise as mentioned before.

34. Mahādeva was delighted on account of them. But Menā was not delighted. She treated the lord and the goddess with contempt.

35. She said—“Your husband Maheśvara has no manners or good conduct even in my presence. He is always indigent in every respect. Alas, he is not ashamed”.

36. On being told thus by her mother in so many -words, Pārvatī did not brook it, that being the natural characteristic of women. Smilingly, the goddess who bestowed boons, went near Hara.

37. With a sorrowful face, the goddess spoke to Mahādeva—“O lord, I will not stay here, Take me to your abode”.

38. On being told thus, Mahādeva examined all the worlds, O excellent Brāhmaṇas and desired to take up residence on the Earth.

39-41 a. The great lord Bhava of great lustre, came to know that the city of Vārāṇasī, the spot of spiritual masters, was occupied by Divodāsa. He called the lord of Gaṇas standing at his side and said thus—“O lord of Gaṇas, go to the city of Vārāṇasī and make it evacuated by using gentle means. That king possesses excessive heroism and strength”.

41b-44a. Then Nikumbha went to the city of Vārāṇasī at outset. He appeared before a Brāhmaṇa named Maṅkaṇa in dream and said—“I shall do something for your welfare, O sinless one, find out a suitable place for me. Make an idol of mine and install it at the outskirts of the city”.

After getting permission of the king, the Brāhmaṇa did everything duly as he was instructed in dream. He installed the idol, at the gate of the city.

44b-47a. Worship was carried on every day on a grand scale, with fragrant garlands, sweet scents, incense, offerings of cooked food and many other beautiful things worthy of being seen. That was really a wonderful thing. Thus the lord of Gaṇas was worshipped there every day. Therefore, he granted thousands of boons to the citizens such as sons, gold, land, etc,—nay all that they wished for.

47b-50. The excellent queen of the king, named Suyaśā, who was chaste and renowned, and who was urged by the king, came there for the sake of a son. After performing the worship elaborately, the gentle lady begged for sons, visiting (the temple) again and again for many times for the sake of sons. Nikumbha did not grant her sons with a reason behind it. His idea was to do something destructive, if the king were to get furious.

Then after a long time, the king was overwhelmed with anger.

51-55. He thought thus:—“This great Bhūta (Goblin, Spirit) at the gateway grants hundreds of boons with great pleasure, to the citizens. But he does not give us anything. He is always being worshipped by my own people in my own city. He has been requested by the queen many times for sons, but he has not granted a son. Really he is ungrateful despite eating a lot. Hence, he does not deserve at all any worship from me. Therefore, I shall destroy the abode of that wicked being”.

After resolving thus, the evil-minded sinful king destroyed the abode of that lord of the Gaṇas. On seeing his shrine shattered, the lord cursed the king.

56. “Since, without any fault on my side, my abode has been destroyed by you, O king, your city shall become a deserted wasteland suddenly”.

57. Thereupon, on account of that curse, Vārāṇasī became a void then. After cursing the city, Nikumbha brought Mahādeva there.

58. Mahādeva of great and noble mind made that deserted vacant city equal to the city of the Devas by means of its wealth and luxury, and made it his abode as well as that of the goddess.

59. The goddess sported and diverted her mind there itself. She was wonder-struck at the affluence. For the sake of sports and pastime of the goddess, lord Īśāna spoke these words:—

60. “I will not leave off my abode. Indeed my abode is Avimukta”. Laughingly he said to her—“My abode is Avimukta. I will not go elsewhere, O gentle lady, after leaving thus.

61. Sport along with me in this holy spot, O resplendent lady who has no one superior to you”. Hence that (holy place) was called Avimukta by the lord himself.

62-63. Thus Vārāṇasī was cursed and glorified as Avimukta. It was here that the noble-souled Maheśvara lived in the three Yugas along with the goddess. That city of that great Soul vanishes in the Kali age.

64. When that city vanished, it was built once again, and colonized. Thus Vārāṇasī was cursed and colonized once again.

65. King Divodāsa colonized it after killing a hundred sons of Bhadrasena, who were excellent wielders of bows.

66-67. The kingdom of Bhadrasena was destroyed by that powerful king. There was a son of Bhadrasena named Durmada who was let off with contempt and mercifulness that he was only a boy. The heroic son Pratardana was born of Dṛṣadvatī and Divodāsa (Divodāsa II).

68. He was attacked by that boy, the son (of Bhadrasena) O great king, who was desirous of wreaking vengeance.

69. Pratardana had two sons, Vatsa and Garga who became very famous. Alarka was the son of Vatsa and Sannati was his son.

70-71. This verse has been sung by persons of yore about the saintly king Alarka:—

“The young and excellent king of Kāśī, Alarka, was richly endowed with beauty for sixty thousand and six hundred years. By the grace of Lopāmudrā he attained the greatest span of life.”

72. At the end of the period of curse, the king of powerful and great arms killed the demon Kṣemaka and got rehabilitated the city of Vārāṇasī.

73. The heir of Sannati was a pious person named Sunītha. The heir of Sunītha was a righteous person named Kṣaima (Kṣema?).

74. Ketumān was the son of Kṣema. Suketu was his son. The son of Suketu was known as Dharmaketu.

75. The heroic warrior Satyaketu was the heir of Dharmaketu. The lord of subjects named Vibhu was the son of Satyaketu.

76. Suvibhu was the son of Vibhu. It is remembered that Sukumāra came thereafter. Dhṛṣṭaketu was the extremely virtuous son of Sukumāra.

77. The heir of Dhṛṣṭaketu was the lord of subjects Veṇuhotra. Veṇuhotra’s son named Gārgya[2] was very famous.

78-79. Gargabhūmi was the son of Gārgya. This is the line of Vatsa, the intelligent one. Their sons were Brāhmaṇas and Kṣatriyas. They were exceedingly righteous. They were valorous and powerful and had leonine exploits. Thus the Kāśyapas have been recounted. Understand the descendants of Raji too.

80. The heroic Raji had five hundred sons. This group of Kṣatriyas is well known as Rājeya on the Earth. Indra was afraid of them.

81. At that time a very terrible battle between the Devas and the Asuras took place, when the Devas and the Asuras asked Brahmā.

82. “Who will be victorious, O holy lord in the battle between us? Tell us, O lord of all worlds. We wish to hear.”

Brahmā said:—

83. “There is no doubt that those, on whose behalf Lord Raji will take up his arms and fight, will conquer the three worlds.[3]

84. Where there is Raji, there will be Lakṣmī (fortune, wealth), where there is Lakṣmī there is fortitude. Where there is fortitude there is Dharma (virtue) and where there is Dharma there is victory.”

85-86. On hearing about Raji’s success in battles, all the Devas and the Dānavas, desirous of their own victories, approached the excellent king and eulogised him.

Delighted in their minds, all those Devas and Dānavas said—“You, please take up your excellent bow for the sake of our victory”.

Raji said:—

87. “I shall defeat, O Daityas, the Devas with Indra at their head I shall become Indra with a virtuous soul. Therefore, I shall fight in the battle-field.

88. Our Indra is Prahlāda. We shall win the battle for his sake. Abide by this agreement urged by our lord.”

89. Even as he was about to say “So be it”, he was urged by the Devas too—“After winning the war, you will become Indra”. He was thus invited by the Devas too.

90-91. He killed all the Dānavas who had been armed with thunderbolts and who could not be killed. That king of great splendour and perfect control over his sense-organs redeemed the lost glory of the Devas after killing all Dānavas. Lord Raji redeemed it. Accompanied by the Devas, Indra spoke to Raji. “I am the son ofRaji”. After saying like this, he spoke these words once again.

92-93. “You are Indra of all Devas. There is no doubt in this. I shall, O king, O slayer of foes, attain reputation since I am your son”. On hearing these words of Indra he was deceived by his illusion.

94-95. “So it shall be”, said the delighted king to Indra.

When the king who was on a par with the Devas went to heaven, the sons of the preceptor of Raji, seized their share in the legacy from Indra (?). The hundreds of sons attacked the heavenly world Triviṣṭapa, the abode of Indra, several times.

96-98. Then, after the lapse of a great deal of time, Indra of great strength whose kingdom had been taken away and whose fortune had been spoilt spoke to Bṛhaspati—“Make my Puroḍāśa (sacrificial offering) at last as big as the jujube fruit, O Brāhmaṇa sage, whereby I can remain alive after being revived by means of splendour. O Brāhmaṇa, I am emaciated and dejected in mind because my kingdom has been taken away and my seat removed. I have been rendered weak and devoid of prowess in the battle by the sons of Raji. Be pleased with me.”

Bṛhaspati said:—

99-101. “If only you had urged me earlier in this matter, O Indra, O sinless one, there would have been no work on my part that should not have been done, for the sake of your pleasure.

I shall endeavour, O lord of Devas of great splendour, for the sake of what is conducive to your welfare.

Ere long, you will attain your kingdom and share in the Yajña offerings.

So Indra I shall go. Let not your mind be dejected.”

102-104. Thereafter, he performed great holy rites that caused the development of his splendour. The preceptor of excellent intellect caused delusion to sons of Raji.

When they became extremely deluded, intoxicated due to passion, haters of Brāhmaṇas, followers of heretic views and deprived of heroism and exploits, he regained the excellent abode of Indra and the affluence of Asuras after killing the sons of Raji who were engrossed in activities of lust and fury.

105. If anyone were to listen and narrate the details of dethronement and re-establishment of Indra, he shall never attain the state of wretchedness.

Footnotes and references:


He [Divodāsa] is regarded as a contemporary of Daśaratha of Ayodhyā. During his reign, Vārāṇasī was made desolate by a demon-like Gaṇa of god Śiva—the whole episode (described later in this chapter) is not creditable to the great God Mahādeva.


Recorded as Bharga in AIHT, p.149. The line is shown to have closed there, but our text records Gargabhūmi as the son of Gārgya (VV. 78-79).


This is the twelfth war between Devas and Asuras (vide-Intro.—Vaiṣṇavism—last footnote).

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