The Vishnu Purana (abridged)

27,616 words

The Vishnu Purana (Viṣṇu Purāṇa) is a religious Hindu text and one of the (most important) eighteen Mahapuranas. It is also known as Puranaratna ("gem of Puranas"). Presented as a dialogue between Parashara and his disciple Maitreya, the major topics discussed include creation, stories of battles fought between asuras and devas, the Avat...


Once upon a time, the famous rishis decided that they would have a gathering. They also decided that whoever did not come to this gathering, would after a period of seven days commit the crime of killing a brahmana. All the sages came to this gathering, but Vaishampayana did not. After seven days, Vaishampayana stepped on his nephew and killed him by mistake. This was a terrible sin and had to be atoned for.

Vaishampayna had divided the Yajur Veda into twenty-seven parts and had distributed these parts among various disciples. One of these disciples was Yajnavalka. Vaishampayana called his disciples together and said, “I have committed the crime of killing a brahmana. Please arrange for a sacrifice so that I might atone for this sin.”

On hearing this Yajnavalka said, “There is no need to bother about these other disciplines. They do not have much power. I will arrange for the sacrifice myself.”

This made Vaishampayana angry. “You have insulted the other disciples, Yajnavalka,” he said. “Return to me hwat I have taught you. I do not need a disciple like you.”

Yajnavalka replied,”I said what I did because I respected you. But since you have misunderstood, I too do not require a teacher like you. Here is what I have learnt. I am returning it.”

Yajnavalka then vomited out the Yajur Veda and the other disciplines ate it up in the form of birds. That is why this branch of the Yajur Veda is called the Taittiriya after the name of the bird Tittira.

But Yajnavalka still wanted to learn the Yajur Veda. So he began to pray to the sun. The sun finally appeared to him in the form of a horse and taught him those branches of the Yajur Veda which even Vaishampayana did not know.

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