The Brahmanda Purana

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

This page describes the story of yayati which is Chapter 68 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 68 - The story of Yayāti

The sages asked:—

1. How was his daughter given to a king by the noble-souled Maruta (rather Marutta)[1]? Of what heroic ability were the noble-souled persons born of the daughter of Maruta?

Sūta replied:—

2. That lord of subjects desirous of cooked food, performed the sacrifice Marutsoma. That king of great splendour performed it every month for sixty years.

3. The gods, Maruts, were pleased by the sacrifice Marutsoma of that king. Delighted in their heart, they give never-failing cooked food with all the other articles he should desire.

4. His food taken in once did not get wasted for a day and a night[2] (i.e. people eating it will not be hungry for twenty-four hours). Starting at sunrise, he used to give food to crores of people (?)

5. To the daughter of Mitrajyoti and the intelligent Maruta were born many sons who were conversant with dharma, could realize salvation and who were endowed with great intrinsic strength.

6. They renounced the rites and vows pertaining to the householder and adopted Vairāgya (non-attachment to worldly desires or objects). After taking up the duties of recluses they attained salvation.

7. Kṣatra-Dharma was the valorous son of Anenas.[3] Pratipakṣa of great penance was born as the son of Kṣatradharma.

8. Sṛñjaya, the son of Pratipakṣa, became well-known. Jaya was the son of Sṛñjaya. Vijaya was born to him.

9. Jaya the second, was the son of Vijaya. Haryaśvaka is remembered as his son. The valorous king Sahaḍeva was the son of Haryaśva.

10. The righteous-souled son of Sahadeva was famous by the name of Ahīna. Jayatsena was the son of Ahīna. His son was Saṅkṛti.

11. The righteous-souled Kṛtadharman. of great fame was the son of Saṅkṛti. These are the descendants of Āyus of Kṣatriya qualities. Now understand the line of Nahuṣa.

12. Nahuṣa had six sons whose splendour was comparable to that of Indra. They were Yati, Yayāti, Saṃyāti, Āyāti Viyāti and Kṛti.

13. Yati was the eldest among them. Yayāti was his younger brother. Yati got as his wife the daughter of Kākutstha, named Gau.

14. Yati adopted the path of salvation. He became a sage and became one with Brahman. Among the other five, it was Yayāti who became king.

15. He got Devayānī, the daughter of Uśanas, and Śarmiṣṭhā the Asura lady and daughter of Vṛṣaparvan, as his wives.

16-18. Devayānī gave birth to Yadu and Turvasu. Śarmiṣṭhā, the daughter of Vṛṣaparvan, gave birth to Druhyu, Anu and Pūru, sons of great prowess and comparable to the sons of the Devas.

Indra who was delighted gave him an extremely refulgent chariot. It would not get stuck up anywhere. It was divine and golden. It was fitted with horses having the speed of the mind. It was in this chariot that he brought the virgin for marriage (?). Indra gave him two great quivers too wherein the arrows would be inexhaustible.

19. With that pre-eminent chariot, he constantly conquered the different kingdoms on the earth. Yayāti was invincible in battle to the Devas, Dānavas and human beings.

20-21. That chariot continued to be with all the kings of Pūru’s line upto Janamejaya, the son of Kaurava dynasty. That chariot disappeared when it reached Pārīkṣita, the king who was the grandson of Kuru. It disappeared due to the curse of the intelligent Gārgya.

22. That king Janamejaya who was evil-minded and who was known as Lohagandhī (Having the odour of iron) also, killed a boy, the son of Gārgya.

23. Abandoned (Banished) by the citizens and people of the outlying districts, that king Lohagandhī ran about here and there. He did not get happiness or mental peace anywhere.

24. Distressed with sorrow and misery as he was, he did not get sympathetic understanding from anyone anywhere. Utterly dejected he sought refuge in the sage Śaunaka.

25-26. This sage of liberal and exalted intellect was famous under the name Indrota. For the sake of sanctity, Indrota Śaunaka made king Janamejaya perform a horse-sacrifice, O excellent Brāhmaṇas. After reaching the stage of Avabhṛtha (valedictory bath after horse-sacrifice) the king Lohagandhī died.

27-28. That divine chariot was taken away from him and given to (Uparicara) Vasu, the king of Cedi, by Indra who was pleased with him. Bṛhadratha got it from him.

Bhīma, the scion of the family of Kuru, killed Jarāsandha and gladly gifted that excellent chariot to Vāsudeva.

29. That saintly king Yayāti, the son ofNahuṣa, attained old age. He then spoke these words to Yadu, his eldest and the most excellent son.

30. “Dear son, wrinkles, grey hair and other infirmities of old age have overpowered (lit. encircled) me on account of the curse of Uśanas. But I am not content with the pleasures of youth.

31. O Yadu, accept my sin along with ṃy old age. Accept my old age.”

Yadu replied to him.

32-36. “A request for alms (of an unspecified nature) by a Brāhmaṇa has been promised but not fulfilled by me. It can be accomplished only through physical exertions. I will not take up your old age. There are many deficiencies and ailments in old age caused by food and beverage. Hence, O king, I dare not take up your old age. I do not wish to be afflicted by old age, while in youth, along with the people with sacred threads (i.e. aged Brāhmaṇas)(I do not want to be) a wretched fellow having a white beard and moustaches, rendered infirm by old age and having wrinkles covering up the whole body. (And old man) is desperate, weak in physique and incapable of doing his daily work (I do not wish to be so in my youth). I ḍo not like old age at all. You have many sons, O king, dearer to you than I. Let them accept (the old age), O king conversant with Dharma (piety and virtue), choose some other soil”.

37. On being told thus by Yadu, he became extremely furious. (The king) who was the most excellent among the eloquent ones spoke to the eldest son after censuring him.

38. “O evil-minded one, what other devout rite do you have for which you disregard me, your preceptor (and father)? What other Āśrama (stage of life) can you have?”

39-40. After saying this to Yadu, the angry father cursed him—“In spite of your being born of my bosom, you are not passing on your youthful age unto me. Hence, O foolishly deluded one, your progeny will not be entitled to the kingdom. O Turvasu, accept my sin along with my old age”.

Turvasu said:—

41-44. “I do not desire to accept old age, O father. It is destructive of all worldly pleasures oflove. There are many defects in old age caused by food and beverage. Hence, O king, I am not eager to take up your old age.”

Yayāti cursed:—

“In spite of your being born of my bosom, you are not exchanging your youthful age with me. Hence, O Turvasu your progeny will be cut off from (all rights to the kingdom). O deluded one, you will be the ruler among men of mixed religious rites and practice opposed to ours, among people of mixed castes, meat-eaters and others. Undoubtedly, your residence, O sinner, will be among barbarians and outcastes—men engaged in outraging the modesty of their preceptors’ wives, men (destined to be born) among animals of lower strata.”

Sūta said:—

45-47. After cursing Turvasu, his own son, thus, Yayāti spoke these words to Druhyu, the son of Śarmiṣṭhā:—

“O Druhyu, you take up my old age that destroys handsome features and complexion. Give me in exchange your prime of youth for the period of a thousand years. When the period of a thousand years is complete I shall give you back your youth. I shall also take back my sin once again along with the old age.”

Druhyu said:

48. “An old man cannot drive a chariot or ride a horse. He cannot enjoy women. He has no pleasure. Therefore, I do not desire old age”.

Tayāti said:

49-51. “Since you, born of my own bosom, do not give me your own youthful age, O Druhyu, none of your desires will be realised anywhere. You will always be compelled to move about in boats, rafts, canoes etc. Though born in the family of kings, you will stay there as a non-king.

O Anu, you accept my sin along with the old age. I shall move about with your youthful age for the period of a thousand years.”

Anu said:

52. “An old man is as weak and feeble as a child. He is always unclean. He does not perform Homa in the sacred fire at the proper time. I do not like that type of old age.”

Yayāti said:

53-57. “Since you, born of my own bosom, do not give me your youthful age and since the defects of old age have been recounted by you, you will have to meet with the (infirmities of) age. You will be prematurely old O Anu, your progeny will die after attaining youth. You will have to devote to the scattering of fire like this (i.e. you will have to cremate your own children).

O Pūru, accept my sin along with my old age. Defects of old age, wrinkles and grey hairs have encircled me, O dear one, due to the curse of Kāvya Uśanas. I am not satisfied with the enjoyment of pleasures of youth. With your youthful age, I shall enjoy worldly pleasures for some time. When the period of a thousand years is complete, I shall give back to you your youth. I shall also take back my own sin along with my old age.”

Sūta said:—

58-61a. On being told thus the son replied to his father immediately:

“I shall do as you wish, O dear father. I shall accept, O king, your sin along with your old age. Take from me my youthful age and enjoy worldly pleasures as much as you wish. I shall be disguised by your old age, wearing your form and age. After giving you my youthful age, I shall move about (as naturally as) I have become old in reality.”

Yayāti said:—

61b-62a. “O Pūru, welfare unto you. I am pleased with you. Being delighted I am granting you this. Your progeny shall be rich. They will realize their desires. They will rule over the kingdom.”

Sūta said:—

62b-64. With the assent of Pūru, king Yayāti then transferred his old age to him. With the blessings of Bhārgava, with the grandeur and with youthful age, Yayāti son of Nahuṣa, the excellent one among men, became delighted and enjoyed all worldly pleasures, according to his desire, in conformity with his eagerness, at the proper time and occasion and attained happiness.

65. The king was his own real self as before (in the performance of religious rites). He enjoyed pleasures without any prejudice to Dharma and according to his capacity. He propitiated the Devas by means of sacrifices and the Pitṛs by means of Śrāddha rites.

66. He delighted his wives by means of all favours desired by them. He made excellent Brāhmaṇas pleased by granting them everything they desired. He pleased guests by means of foodstuffs and beverages and the Vaiśyas (the merchant class) by according them benign administration.

67. He delighted Śūdras by avoiding cruelty and preventing their harassment by others. He controlled decoits by giving punishments and restraining them otherwise. He delighted all subjects duly according to the injunctions of dharma.

68-70a. Yayāti protected the kingdom like another Indra.

That king of leonine exploits and youthful in age enjoyed, worldly pleasures without coining into conflict with Dharma (Righteousness, piety). He attained excellent happiness. Seeking excellent happiness in the passionate indulgence because he failed to notice the defects thereof, he sported about in the company of Viśvācī in the Nandana park as well as Vaibhrāja park.

70b-73a. When the king saw that his desires for pleasures were increasing (despite his indulgence),[4] he approached Pūru and took back his old age. After attaining his desired pleasures, the king was satiated as well as dejected. The king remembered the stipulated period of a thousand years. He counted even the Kalās and Kāṣṭhās (small units of time) and thinking that the stipulated period of time was complete, said to his son Pūru.

73b-74. “With your youthful age, O son, O suppressor of foes, worldly pleasures have been enjoyed by me at the proper time, in accordance with my eagerness and in a way conducive to happiness. I am pleased with you, O Pūru. Welfare unto you. Take back your youthful age.

75-76a. You may take up the administration of the realm. Indeed, you alone among all the sons carried out my wish in order to please me.” King Yayāti, the son of Nahuṣa took back his old age. Pūru regained his youthful age.

76b-77a. When the king was desirous of crowning his youngest son Pūru, the people of all castes with the Brāhmaṇas being the chief of them, spoke to him these words.

77b-79.[5] “Why do you set aside the claim of the eldest son Yadu, the son of Devayānī, the grandson of Śukra, and hand over the kingdom to Pūru. Yadu is your eldest son. Turvasu was born after him. Druhyu is the son of Śarmiṣṭhā. Anu was born after him and only then Pūru. How does the youngest son deserve kingdom superseding the claims of the elder brothers?We are reminding you. Abide by Dharma.”

Yayāti said:—

80-86. “O people of all castes with the Brāhmaṇas as chief ones, all of you listen to my words. Understand why the kingdom should not be given at all to the elder ones by me. The bold son who carries out the words of his parents is praiseworthy. My behest was not obeyed by my eldest son Yadu. The son who is antagonistic to his father is not honoured or approved of by good men. He is the real son who behaves like a son unto his father and mother. I have been slighted and insulted by Yadu, Turvasu. I have been treated with great contempt by Druhyu and Anu. My words have been carried out by Pūru and I have been particularly honoured. This youngest son shall be my heir, because my old age was taken over by him. All my desires have been fulfilled by Pūru of meritorious activities.

A boon has been granted by Śukra Kāvya Uśanas. “O king of great intellect the son who obeys you shall be the king”.

The Subjects said

87-90. “Let Pūru approved of by your majesty be crowned as a ruler of the kingdom.

Even if he be the youngest, the son who is richly endowed with good qualities, and who does everything for the welfare of his parents, deserves all good things. He deserves to be the lord.

Puru who is your favourite son, and who has done every thing to please you, deserves this kingdom. Due to the boon granted by Śukra, nothing more can be said contradicting it”.

When this was declared by the satisfied citizens and people of the outlying districts, the son of Nahuṣa (Yayāti) crowned his soil Pūru in his own kingdom (i.e. the hereditary kingdom). He established Turvasu in the South-eastern quarter.[6]

91. The king established the eldest son Yadu in the South-Western quarter. He assigned the Western quarter to Druhyu and the northern quarter to Anu.

92. After conquering the Earth consisting of seven oceans and continents, King Yayāti, the son of Nahuṣa, divided it into five divisions and distributed them among his sons.

93. The entire Earth consisting of towns and seven continents is being protected by them righteously without encroaching on other territories as they were conversant with Dharma.

94. After dividing the Earth among his sons and after transferring the royal glory to his sons, the king, the son of Nahuṣa, became delighted.

95. After laying aside the bow and the arrows, after entrusting the kingdom to his sons and after allotting the duties and responsibilities to his kinsmen, the king became pleased.

96. In this context the following verses have been formerly sung by Yayāti, the great king. By following the advice therein one should restrain and withdraw lustful, desires like a tortoise that withdraws his limbs.[7]

97. “Never can lust subside by enjoying the pleasures. Just as the fire is ablaze all the more by ghee offerings so also the desires get increased by indulgence.

98. All the food-grains and barleys, all the gold, all the animals and all the women in the world—all these are not sufficient even for one. One who realizes this does not become deluded.

99. If one has no inauspicious feelings towards all living beings, if one is not ill-disposed towards anyone mentally, verbally or physically, one realizes the Brahman then.

100. If one does not terrify others, if one is not afraid of others, if one neither desires nor hates, one realizes the Brahman then.

101. Happiness befalls one who eschews Tṛṣṇā (thirst, covetousness) which cannot be got rid of by evil-minded persons, which does not subside even when one becomes old and infirm and which can be considered an ailment that lasts till our vital airs last (or that causes death).

102. When one becomes old, one’s hair become rotten and decayed; when one becomes old, one’s teeth decay, but the desire to live and the greediness to earn wealth do not subside even when one becomes old.

103. The pleasure of love in the world, the great pleasure of heaven, do not deserve to be on a par with a sixteenth part of the pleasure of destruction of covetousness.”

104-107. After saying thus that saintly king went to the forest along with his wives. After performing a penance on the peak Bhṛgutuṅga,[8] and after observing the holy vow of sages, that king of great fame attained heaven. These five lines of kings belonging to his family are meritorious. They are honoured by the Devas and sages. The entire Earth is pervaded by them as with the rays of the sun. The man who reads or listens to Yayāti’s life story in full shall become blessed and is blest with progeny, long life and fame, O excellent Brāhmaṇas.

Footnotes and references:


VV. 1-6 speak of Maruta and Mitra-Jyoti. But these have noconnection with any dynasty in this chapter.


Vā. P. 93 reads pakvam for bhuktam hereof. It means “food once cooked for twenty-four hours does not get exhausted even if served to millions of people from sunrise”.


This dynasty of Anenas (also given in Vā.P. 93.7-11 and Brahmā P. 11.27-31) was limited and could not be properly located. Bh.P.IX.17 gives a different line of Anenas.


The story of Yayāti requesting his sons to exchange their youth for a period of 1000 years for his old age is given in details in Mbh. Ādi. Chs 84 and 85. The immortal verse:

na jātu kāmaḥ kāmānām upabhogena śāmyatṛ

is quoted by other Purāṇas as well.


VV.77-90 show that kings in ancient India had to seek some sort of public sanction, before appointing a heir apparent to the throne.


VV.90-94 show that despite the disobedience of his sons Yayāti gave parts of his kingdom to his sons, though the hereditary throne was given to the youngest son Pūru.


VV.97-103 are often quoted and have become in a way, immortal, verses.


A mountain in Nepal on the eastern bank of the Gandak. Here was the hermitage of sage Bhṛgu (De. 34).

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