The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes Different Spiritual Lineages and Their Goddesses which is chapter 9 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the ninth chapter of the Dharmaranya-khanda of the Brahma-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 9 - Different Spiritual Lineages and Their Goddesses

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Vyāsa said:

1. May it be heard, O tiger among kings. It is a meritorious and excellent narration. The lord of the universe spoke these words on being eulogized (thus):

Viṣṇu said:

2. What for have you all come, O excellent Suras including Brahmā? I hope there is weal all over the world. Whence has fear befallen you?

3a. Thereupon the delighted Brahmā spoke these words to Keśava:

3b-6 “We have nothing to fear in all the three worlds consisting of mobile and immobile beings. I have approached you to inform you of one thing. That I shall narrate to you now. Listen to my words. Formerly a great and excellent holy place was established by Dharma. I am desirous of seeing it with your favour, O Lord Janārdana. O lord of the chiefs of gods, kindly make up your mind to go there, so that the excellent Dharmāraṇya may attain the status of an excellent sacred spot.”

Viṣṇu said:

7. Well said, well spoken, O blessed one! Hasten thereto. Do not delay. My mind too is desirous of seeing it.

Vyāsa said:

8-10. Riding on Garuḍa, Govinda went there quickly. Thereupon the Devas along with Indra and multitudes of sages, Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Maheśa and others were seen from a distance by Dharma. He rejoiced too.

On seeing those Devas with Viṣṇu at the head, Dharma came there from his hermitage in front of them, taking with him (the materials of) worship.

Rising up from his seat promptly, holding the materials of hospitality etc., he performed the worship of everyone of them separately.

11. Seating them in their respective seats, the son of the Sun-god duly performed their worship. The worship (i.e. reception) was really grand.

Yama said:

12. O son of Devakī, with your favour, your propitiation and Śiva’s kindness, this spot has attained the status of a sacred place.

13. Today my birth has become fruitful; today my penance has borne its fruit. Today my holy place has become fruitful due to the close contact of Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva.

Vyāsa said:

14-15. On being eulogized thus, Viṣṇu spoke these sweet words: “O Dharmarāja, I am delighted by this eulogy of thine. Request for something from me. I shall do what you desire. I shall undoubtedly grant you whatever you wish.”

Yama said:

16. If you are pleased, O Lord of Devas, if you wish to do me a favour, kindly establish the hermitages of sages in this highly meritorious Dharmāraṇya.

17. Where Vāḍavas (Brāhmaṇas) stay and where sacrificial priests perform Yajñas, that place, reverberating with the chanting of the Vedas, shines as an excellent holy spot.

18. Animals will devastate this place which is bereft of Brāhmaṇas. Hence, O Śauri (Viṣṇu), bring many sages and Brāhmaṇas so that Dharmāraṇya may shine in all the three worlds consisting of mobile and immobile beings.

19-20. Then the thousand-eyed, thousand-headed, thousand-footed Viṣṇu, fond of Dharma, assumed thousands of forms. On that holy spot Brāhmaṇas of good conduct and auspicious observances were established. All of them were experts in righteous activities. They were well-versed in all the Śāstras. They were of good reputation in (performance of) penance and perfect knowledge. They were keenly devoted to the performance of Brahmayajña rites. Eighteen thousand sages were thus settled there.

21-22. They were brought from different countries and established there by Suras. Many hermitages were built by Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva there for the propagation and instruction of righteousness. Through Kṛṣṇa, Śiva and Brahmā, Keśava thus established them in their respective places.

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

23. In which families were those Brāhmaṇas who had mastered the Vedas, born? They were established along with their kinsmen. They were surrounded by sons and grandsons. They were accompanied by many disciples. They were devoted to the performance of Agnihotra. Kindly mention to me their abodes and names befittingly.

Vyāsa said:

24-25. May this be heard, O tiger among kings. I am recounting the names of ṃose noble-souled Brāhmaṇas who inhabited Dharmāraṇya, of the sages who had sublimated their sexual energy and of their sons and grandsons.

26-32. O great son of Pāṇḍu, the Gotras of the Brāhmaṇas were twenty-four in number.[1] Their branches and subsidiary branches, sons and grandsons were numerous. Hundreds and thousands of sons were born. The names of the (main) sages have been mentioned already. Listen to Pravaras (spiritual lineages). I shall mention the names of twenty-four principal ones. They are: (1) Bhāradvāja, (2) Vatsa, (3) Kauśika, (4) Kuśa, (5) Śāṇḍilya, (6) Kāśyapa, (7) Gautama, (8) Chāndhana, (9) Jātūkarṇya, (10) Vatsa (? repetition), (11) Vasiṣṭha, (12) Dhāraṇa, (13) Ātreya, (14) Bhāṇḍila, (15) (from this onwards the persons are mundane i.e. not divine) Kṛṣṇāyana, (16) Upamanyu, (17) Gārgya, (18) Mudgala, (19) Mauṣaka, (20) Puṇyāsana, (21) Parāśara, (22) Kauṇḍinya, (23) Gāni, (24) Āsana. These are the twenty-four Pravaras. The Pravaras of the Jāmadagnya Gotra are five only. They are: (1) Bhārgava, (2) Cyavana, (3) Āpnuvāna, (4) Aurva and (5) Jamadagnika. O king, these five Pravaras are famous and well-known in all the worlds.

33-34. Thus the Brāhmaṇas born of different Gotras (become) masters of the Vedas. They regularly performed the worship and other rites befitting the twice-born. They were devoted to different sacrificial rites. They were endowed with all good qualities and were engaged in the six holy rites. Thus were the extremely fortunate Brāhmaṇas (there) who hailed from many different countries.

35-39. (Partially defective text) There is a third (?) Gotra called Bhāmevasa (?). It has five Pravaras, viz. (1) Bhārgava, (2) Cyāvana, (3) Āpnuvāna, (4) Aurva and (5) Jāmadagnya. The third one (? one that has three Pravaras) consists of (1) Ātreya, (2) Arcanānasa and (3) Śyāvāsya. The Brāhmaṇas born of this Gotra were defiled ones with crooked ways. They were wealthy, righteous and masters of the Vedas and Vedāṅgas. All of them were equally devoted to making liberal gifts as well as personal enjoyment. They were greatly honoured (as experts) in the various rites both Vedic and Smārta (i.e. laid down in the Smṛtis). The Brāhmaṇas in the Māṇḍavya Gotra should be known as having five Pravaras, viz. (1) Bhārgava, (2) Cyavana, (3) Atri, (4) Āpnuvāna and (5) Aurva. The Brāhmaṇas born of this Gotra do regularly follow the Vedas and Smṛtis. They are sickly, avaricious and defiled. They are engaged in worshipping for themselves or on behalf of others. All the Māṇḍavyas are devoted to Brāhmaṇical holy rites, O foremost among the descendants of Kuru.

40. Of those who are born in the Gotra of Gārgya, there are three Pravaras, viz. (1) Aṅgiras, (2) Aṃbarīṣa and (3) Yauvanāśva the third.

41-43. Those who are born in this Gotra are speakers of truth and are of good conduct. They are quiescent and are of different colours. They are poor in wealth and habitually wear dirty clothes. They possess the qualities of endearment and desire for close association. They are never wayward in the adherence to the Vedas and Śāstras.

There are five Pravaras, O king, of Brāhmaṇas in the Vatsa Gotra. They are: (1) Bhārgava, (2) Cyavana, (3) Āpnuvāna, (4) Aurva and (5) Jamadagnika. With these the five (types of) Brāhmaṇas are well-known as having the form of Brahmā.

44-46a. They are calm with self-control. They are of good conduct. They have righteous sons. They are bereft of a regular study of the Vedas. They are adepts in all activities. They have handsome features. They are well-behaved and well-established in all holy rites. All of them practise the righteousness of liberal gifts. All those Brāhmaṇas make gifts of food and water. They are compassionate and conduct themselves nicely. They are devoted to the well-being of all living things.

46b-49. Brāhmaṇas of Kāśyapa Gotra, O king, have three Pravaras, viz. (1) Kāśyapa, (2) Āpavatsāra and (3) Naidhruva, the third. They are conversant with the Vedas and are fair-complexioned. They are steadfast in their convictions and regularly perform Yajñas. They are fond of their homes. They are highly skilled and are always devoted to their preceptors. They are of good status and of great honour. They are devoted to the welfare of all living beings. The Brāhmaṇas of Kāśyapa lineage perform great sacrifices.

Those born of Dhārīṇasa (Dhāraṇa in verse 29) Gotra have three Pravaras.

50-52a. They are named: (1) Agastidarva, (2) Śvetāśva and (3) Dadhyavāhana. Those who are born in this Gotra keep up holy rites. All of them are ruthless in their activities and they are gluttons. Their ears hang down and their jaws are big. These Brāhmaṇas are greedy of wealth. They are bad-tempered and are prone to hatred. They are awesome and fearful for all living beings.

52b-53. The Brāhmaṇas born of Laugākṣasa (Gotra) strictly adhere to truth. They have three Pravaras who are by nature seekers of truth. They are: Kāśyapa, Vatsa and Vasiṣṭha, the third.

54-57. They are well-known as well-behaved Vaiṣṇavas of various occupations and avocations. The Brāhmaṇas are dark-complexioned having profuse hairs (all over the body). They are quiescent, of good conduct and of perfect self-control. They are always loyal and faithful to their wives.

Those who are born of Kuśika Gotra, have three Pravaras. Those three are: (1) Viśvāmitra, (2) Devarāta and (3) Audala. Those who are born in this Gotra are feeble and of poor mental accomplishments. The Brāhmaṇas have the habit of speaking untruth but the excellent kings (of this Gotra?) are of splendid features. The Brāhmaṇas who are well-versed in Vedic study are experts in all branches of learning.

58-61. Those who are of the same Gotra as Upamanyu have three Pravaras: (1) Vasiṣṭha, (2) Bharadvāja and (3) Indrapramada. The Brāhmaṇas in this Gotra are cruel and capricious. They are slander-mongers. They hate all others. They are vain and mean-minded and are eager to amass everything. They are experts in instigating quarrels. They are wealthy and proud. They are always defiled and fond of the company of evil-minded persons. They are sickly and weak with no proper arrangement for their livelihood.

The Brāhmaṇas born of Vātsya Gotra have five Pravaras.

62-64. They are: (1) Bhārgava, (2) Cyavana, (3) Āpnuvāna, (4) Aurva and (5) Jamadagnika.

The Brāhmaṇas born of this Gotra are stout and versatile. They are devoted to all activities and are unswervingly faithful to all righteous actions. They are clever at debates regarding interpretations of Vedas and other scriptures. They are engaged in performing sacrifices and helping others to perform them. They are of good conduct and handsome in features. They are far-sighted with a keen intellect.

Those of Vātsyāyana Gotra have five Pravaras.

65-67. They are: (1) Bhārgava, (2) Cyavana, (3) Āpnuvāna, (4) Aurva, and (5) Jamadagnika. O descendant of Bharata, the Pravaras of this (Gotra) have already been mentioned. Those who are born of this Gotra are always engaged in Pākayajña (sacrifice with cooked food). They are congenitally avaricious and hot-tempered. They have many progenies. They are engaged in holy baths, liberal monetary gifts etc. They have their sense-organs under control. They build tanks, wells and lakes in thousands. They habitually carry out vows and observances. They appreciate merits. Those who are devoid of Vedic study are fools.

68-70. Those who are born in Kauśika family have three Pravaras. They are: (1) Viśvāmitra, (2) Aghamarṣī, and (3) Kauśika. The Brāhmaṇas of this Gotra are knowers of Brahman (the Absolute). They are quiescent, with perfect control over their sense-organs and are of good conduct. They are devoted to all righteous activities. They are harsh and they do not have sons. They are devoid of splendour (though they are) excellent Brāhmaṇas.

Those who are of the Bhāradvāja Gotra have five Pravaras.

71. Those five Pravaras are: (1) Āṅgirasa, (2) Bārhaspatya, (3) Bhāradvāja, (4) Sainyasa, and (5) Gārgya. These should be known as their five Pravaras.

72-73. The Vāḍavas (Brāhmaṇas) who are born in this Gotra, are splendid ones with ample wealth. They possess good garments, ornaments and jewellery. They are devoted to Brāhmaṇas. All of them are eager to feed Brāhmaṇas. They are engaged in every righteous activity.

Those who are born of Kāśyapa Gotra have three Pravaras.

74-76a. They are the three famous ones: (1) Kāśyapa, (2) Apavatsāra and (3) Raibhya.

The Brāhmaṇas born of this Gotra are of ruthless red eyes. They are slaves of their tongues (i.e. they are gluttons). All of them are seekers of truth. They are poor and sickly. They are thieves and they speak lies. All of them know the meanings of the scriptures. They are devoid of the Vedas and Smṛtis.

76b-78. The Brāhmaṇas who are born of the family of Śunaka are devoted to meditation. They are Yogins of good penance. They are masters of the Vedas and Vedāṅgas. They are saintly people of good conduct and mode of life. They are devotees of Viṣṇu.

Their body is short in stature. They are of different complexions. They have many wives. They are excellent Brāhmaṇas. They are compassionate, straightforward and quiescent. They are eager to feed Brāhmaṇas.

79. Those who are born of Śaunakasa have three Pravaras: (1) Bhārgava, (2) Śaunahotra and (3) Gārtsyapramada.

80-82a. O king, the Vāḍavas born of this family are unbearable. They are excessively gigantic, of huge bodies, tall and very haughty. Their appearance shows afflictions (due to difficulties?). They are dark-complexioned. They are clever masters of all scriptures. They eat a lot. They are proud and clever. They are devoid of passion and hatred. They are Brāhmaṇas who are devoted to Brahman. They are handsome and they wear good garments and ornaments.

82b-85. Those who are born of Vasiṣṭha Gotra have three Pravaras. They are: (1) Vasiṣṭha, (2) Bhāradvāja and (3) Indrapramada.

The Brāhmaṇas born of this Gotra are masters of the Vedas and Vedāṅgas. They perform Yajñas regularly and make others too perform them. Their voice is good. They are fond of happiness and ease. The wealthy are prone to hate others. They are endowed with good qualities and have sons. They are large-hearted, O king, heroic and capable of eliminating their enemies.

Those who are born of the same Gotra as Gautama have five Pravaras.

86-88. They are: (1) Kautsa, (2) Gārgya, (3) Umavāha, (4) Asita, and (5) Devala. The Brāhmaṇas who are born of this Gotra are extremely holy. All of them render help unto others. They are well-versed in the Vedas and Smṛtis. They are crooked. They are hypocrites. They are prone to deceitful activities. They are clever in polemical discussions about different scriptural topics. They are fond of different types of jewellery. They are adepts in the work connected with trees etc. They nurse anger for a long time and are sickly.

89. Those who are born of Āṅgirasa Gotra have three Pravaras: (1) Āṅgirasa, (2) Aṃbarīṣa, and (3) Yauvanāśva the third.

90-92. Those who are born of this Gotra are speakers of truth. They have perfect control over their sense-organs. They are handsome in appearance. Their countenance is splendid. They are moderate in eating. They carry on great vows and observances. They are conversant with the Purāṇas. They are always devoted to make liberal gifts. They are devoid of hatred (though) greedy. They are devoted to the study of the Vedas. They are far-sighted and have great splendour (but) they are deluded by great Māyā.

Those who are of the same Gotra as Śāṇḍila have three Pravaras.

93-95a. They are: (1) Asita, (2) Devala, and (3) Śāṇḍila. The excellent Brāhmaṇas in this Gotra are very fortunate but humpbacked. They have diseases of the eye. They are extremely defiled but are great renouncers. They are not long-lived. They are experts in instigating quarrels. They are eager to amass everything. They are dirty and proud. They are masters of the Science of Planets and Luminaries (Astrology).

95b-99. Those who are born of the same Gotra as Ātreya have five Pravaras. They are: (1) Ātreya, (2) Arcanānasa, (3) Śyāvāśva, (4) Aṅgiras, and (5) Atri. The Brāhmaṇas who are born of this family, have splendour of the sun. All of them are cool like the moon. They are well established in Dharmāraṇya. They are of excellent conduct. They are very intelligent. They are devoted to the Vedas and sacred scriptures. They regularly perform Yajñas. Their behaviour is splendid. They are adherents of truth and cleanliness. They are conversant with righteousness. They habitually make liberal gifts. They are free from dirt and are excessively enthusiastic. They engage themselves in penance and study of the Vedas. They are devoted to justice and righteousness.

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

100. Kindly give, O mighty one, the nectarine narrative of Dharmāraṇya, on listening to which one is rid of every terrible sin, even of the slaughter of a Brāhmaṇa.

Vyāsa said:

101-103. Listen, O king. I shall narrate this story which is extremely rare to be heard (i.e. rarely narrated). (Once) Yakṣas, Rākṣasas, Piśācas and others harassed Vāḍavas. There was a Yakṣa named Jṛṃbhaka near Dharmāraṇya. He harassed the residents of Dharmāraṇya continuously.

Thereupon the prominent Brāhmaṇas submitted the (following petition) to the Devas:

104. “O Suras, we are being harassed by Yakṣas, Rākṣasas and others. We shall abandon the excellent region today, due to the fear thereof; there is no doubt about it.”

105-107. Thereafter Siddhas, excellent Yoginīs including Śrīmātṛ and others were installed on the grounds there for the protection of the Brāhmaṇas and with a desire for the benefit of all the worlds. One Yoginī was installed then for each Gotra.[2]

It was readily accepted there that the Śakti (power manifestation of Goddess) who is capable of protecting and sustaining a Gotra, is the family Goddess of that Gotra.

108-111. The Gotra-mothers are the following: Śrīmātṛ, Tāraṇīdevī, Āśāpurī, Gotrapā, Icchārtināśinī, Pippalī, Vikāravaśā, Jaganmātā, Mahāmātā, Siddhā, Bhaṭṭārikā, Kadaṃbā, Vikatā, Mīṭhā, Suparṇā, Vasujā, Mataṅgī, Mahādevī, Vāṇī, Mukuṭeśvarī, Bhadrī, Mahāśakti, Saṃhārī, Mahābalā, Cāmuṇḍā the great goddess. They have been installed there for the protection by Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Maheśa and others.

112-117a. The prominent Brāhmaṇas worshipped them always. They were ever engaged in their own duties. Since then the Yoginīs were safe in their own time. The Brāhmaṇas regained their normal state surrounded by sons and grandsons. Then Devas and Gandharvas were fully delighted in their minds. They seated themselves in an excellent aerial chariot and went to heaven. They fed themselves on nectar.

After the lapse of a hundred years, O king, Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara remembered Dharmāraṇya. They were eager to visit it. At dawn when the sun rose, O king, they came there riding on an aerial chariot. They were served by groups of celestial damsels. Ganḍharvas sang in praise of them and Prabodhakas (those who waken i.e. bards) eulogized them. The Brāhmaṇas of that region, O king, abandoned the hermitages abounding in sacrificial twigs, flowers and Kuśa grass and went away to all the different ten quarters.

117b-121. On seeing the (colony of) hermitages empty Maheśvara, conversant with righteousness, spoke these words (to Viṣṇu): “O lord, the Vāḍavas undergo hardships. In my opinion, we should make arrangements for the rehabilitation of these Brāhmaṇas. Servants should be engaged.” On hearing the words of Śaṃbhu Janārdana said: “True. True.” After saying this he spoke to Brahmā: “O Brahmā, make arrangements for rendering service to the Brāhmaṇas. The creation should be everlasting. The group of Brāhmaṇas should be happy.”

On hearing these words of Viṣṇu, Brahmā, the grandfather of the worlds, remembered the cow Kāmadhenu who came there instantaneously to the sacred Dharmāraṇya.

Footnotes and references:


VV 26-99 give the Gotras and Pravaras of the Brāhmaṇas settled in Dharmāraṇya.

The connection of Gotra and Pravara is given by P.V. Kane (in HD II, i, 497) as follows:

“Gotra is the latest ancestor or one of the latest ancestors of a person by whose name his family has been known for generations; while Pravara is constituted by the sage or sages who lived in the remotest past, who were most illustrious and who are generally the ancestors of the Gotra sages or in some cases the remotest ancestor alone.”

It will be interesting to investigate the Gotra-Pravaras of the Brāhmaṇas in Moharpur area of Mirzapur District and compare them with the lists given here.


VV 108-111 explain the function of Gotra-devīs or Gotra-mātās of the different Gotras of the Brāhmaṇas in Dharmāraṇya.

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