The Vishnu Purana

by Horace Hayman Wilson | 1840 | 287,946 words | ISBN-10: 8171102127

The English translation of the Vishnu Purana. This is a primary sacred text of the Vaishnava branch of Hinduism. It is one of the eighteen greater Puranas, a branch of sacred Vedic literature which was first committed to writing during the first millennium of the common era. Like most of the other Puranas, this is a complete narrative from the cr...

Chapter VII - Production of the mind-born sons of Brahma

Creation continued. Production of the mind-born sons of Brahmā; of the Prajāpatis; of Sanandana and others; of Rudra and the eleven Rudras; of the Manu Svāyambhuva, and his wife Śatarūpā; of their children. The daughters of Dakṣa, and their marriage to Dharma and others. The progeny of Disarms and Adharma. The perpetual succession of worlds, and different modes of mundane dissolution.

Parāśara said:—

From Brahmā, continuing to meditate, were born mind-engendered progeny, with forms and faculties derived from his corporeal nature; embodied spirits, produced from the person of that all-wise deity. All these beings, front the gods to inanimate things, appeared as I have related to you[1], being the abode of the three qualities: but as they did not multiply themselves, Brahmā created other mind-born sons, like himself; namely, Bhrigu, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Aṅgiras, Marīci, Dakṣa, Atri, and Vaśiṣṭha: these are the nine Brahmas (or Brahma ṛṣis) celebrated in the Purāṇas[2]. Sanandana and the other sons of Brahmā were previously created by him, but they were without desire or passion, inspired with holy wisdom, estranged from the universe, and undesirous of progeny. This when Brahmā perceived, he was filled with wrath capable of consuming the three worlds, the flame of which invested, like a garland, heaven, earth, and hell. Then from his forehead, darkened with angry frowns, sprang Rudra[3], radiant as the noon-tide sun, fierce, and of vast bulk, and of a figure which was half male, half female. Separate yourself, Brahmā said to him; and having so spoken, disappeared. Obedient to which command, Rudra became twofold, disjoining his male and female natures. His male being he again divided into eleven persons, of whom some were agreeable, some hideous, some fierce, some mild; and he multiplied his female nature manifold, of complexions black or white[4].

Then Brahmā[5] created himself the Manu Svāyambhuva, born of, and identical with, his original self, for the protection of created beings; and the female portion of himself he constituted Śatarūpā, whom austerity purified from the sin (of forbidden nuptials), and whom the divine Manu Svāyambhuva took to wife. From these two were born two sons, Priyavrata and Uttānapāda[6], and two daughters, named Prasūti and Ākūti, graced with loveliness and exalted merit[7]. Prasūti he gave to Dakṣa, after giving Ākūti to the patriarch Ruci[8], who espoused her. Ākūti bore to Ruci twins, Yajña and Dakṣinā[9], who afterwards became husband and wife, and had twelve sons, the deities called Yāmas[10], in the Manvantara of Svāyambhuva.

The patriarch Dakṣa had by Prasūti twenty-four daughters[11]: hear from me their names: Sraddhā (faith), Lakṣmī (prosperity), Dhriti (steadiness), Tuṣṭi (resignation), Puṣṭi (thriving), Medhā (intelligence), Krīyā (action, devotion), Buddhi (intellect), Lajjā (modesty), Vapu (body), Sānti (expiation), Siddhi (perfection), Kīrtti (fame): these thirteen daughters of Dakṣa, Dharma (righteousness) took to wife. The other eleven bright-eyed and younger daughters of the patriarch were, Khyāti (celebrity), Sati (truth), Sambhūti (fitness), Smriti (memory), Prīti (affection), Kṣamā (patience), Sannati (humility), Anasūyā (charity), Ūrjjā (energy), with Svāhā (offering), and Swadhā (oblation). These maidens were respectively wedded to the Munis, Bhrigu, Bhava, Marīci, Aṅgiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Atri, and Vaśiṣṭha; to Fire (Vahni), and to the Pitris (progenitors)[12].

The progeny of Dharma by the daughters of Dakṣa were as follows: by Sraddhā he had Kāma (desire); by Lakṣmī, Darpa (pride); by Dhriti, Niyama (precept); by Tuṣṭi, Santoṣa (content); by Puṣṭi, Lobha (cupidity); by Medhā, Sruta (sacred tradition); by Kriyā, Daṇḍa, Naya, and Vinaya (correction, polity, and prudence); by Buddhi, Bodha (understanding); by Lajjā, Vinaya (good behaviour); by Vapu, Vyavasaya (perseverance). Sānti gave birth to Kṣema (prosperity); Siddhi to Sukha (enjoyment); and Kīrtti to Yasas (reputation[13]). These were the sons of Dharma; one of whom, Kāma, had Hersha (joy) by his wife Nandi (delight).

The wife of Adharma[14] (vice) was Hinsā (violence), on whom he begot a son Anrita (falsehood), and a daughter Nikriti (immorality): they intermarried, and had two sons, Bhaya (fear) and Naraka (hell); and twins to them, two daughters, Māyā (deceit) and Vedanā (torture), who became their wives. The son of Bhaya and Māyā was the destroyer of living creatures, or Mrityu (death); and Dukha (pain) was the offspring of Naraka and Vedanā. The children of Mrityu were Vyādhi (disease), Jarā (decay), Soka (sorrow), Tṛṣṇa (greediness), and Krodha (wrath). These are all called the inflictors of misery, and are characterised as the progeny of Vice (Adharma). They are all without wives, without posterity, without the faculty to procreate; they are the terrific forms of Viṣṇu, and perpetually operate as causes of the destruction of this world. On the contrary, Dakṣa and the other Ṛṣis, the elders of mankind, tend perpetually to influence its renovation: whilst the Manus and their sons, the heroes endowed with mighty power, and treading in the path of truth, as constantly contribute to its preservation.

Maitreya said:—

Tell me, Brāhman, what is the essential nature of these revolutions, perpetual preservation, perpetual creation, and perpetual destruction.

Parāśara said:—

Madhusūdana, whose essence is incomprehensible, in the forms of these (patriarchs and Manus), is the author of the uninterrupted vicissitudes of creation, preservation, and destruction. The dissolution of all things is of four kinds; Naimittika, ‘occasional;’ Prākritika, ‘elemental;’ Atyantika, ‘absolute;’ Nitya, 'perpetual[15]: The first, also termed the Brāhma dissolution, occurs when the sovereign of the world reclines in sleep. In the second, the mundane egg resolves into the primary element, from whence it was derived. Absolute non-existence of the world is the absorption of the sage, through knowledge, into supreme spirit. Perpetual destruction is the constant disappearance, day and night, of all that are born. The productions of Prakriti form the creation that is termed the elemental (Prākrita). That which ensues after a (minor) dissolution is called ephemeral creation: and the daily generation of living things is termed, by those who are versed in the Purāṇas, constant creation. In this manner the mighty Viṣṇu, whose essence is the elements, abides in all bodies, and brings about production, existence, and dissolution. The faculties of Viṣṇu to create, to preserve, and to destroy, operate successively, Maitreya, in all corporeal beings and at all seasons; and he who frees himself from the influence of these three faculties, which are essentially composed of the three qualities (goodness, foulness, and darkness), goes to the supreme sphere, from whence he never again returns.

Footnotes and references:


It is not clear which of the previous narratives is here referred to, but it seems most probable that the account in p. 35, 36. is intended.


Considerable variety prevails in this list of Prajāpatis, Brahmaputras, Brāhmanas, or Brahmarṣis; but the variations are of the nature of additions made to an apparently original enumeration of but seven, whose names generally recur. Thus in the Mahābhārata, Mokṣa Dharma, we have in one place, Marīci, Atri, Aṅgiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, and Vaśiṣṭha, ‘the seven highminded sons of the self-born Brahmā.’ In another place of the same, however, we have Dakṣa substituted for Vaśiṣṭha: ‘Brahmā then created mind-begotten sons, of whom Dakṣa was the seventh, with Marīci,’ &c. These seven sons of Brahmā are also identified with the seven Ṛṣis as in the Vāyu; although, with palpable inconsistency, eight are immediately enumerated, or, Bhrigu, Marīci, Atri, Aṅgiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, and Vaśiṣṭha. The Uttara Khanda of the Padma P. substitutes Kardama for Vaśiṣṭha. The Bhāgavata includes Dakṣa, enumerating nine. The Matsya agrees with Manu in adding Nārada to the list of our text. The Kūrma P. adds Dharma and Saṅkalpa. The Liṅga, Brahmāṇḍa, and Vāyu P. also add them, and extend the list to Adharma and Ruci. The Hari Vaṃśa in one place inserts Gautama, and p. 50 in another Manu. Altogether therefore we have seventeen, instead of seven. But the accounts given of the origin of several of these, shew that they were not originally included amongst the Mānasa putras, or sons of Brahmā's mind; for even Dakṣa, who finds a place in all the lists except one of those given in the Mahābhārata, is uniformly said to have sprung from Brahmā's thumb: and the same patriarch, as well as Dharma, is included in some accounts, as in the Bhāgavata and Matsya P., amongst a different series of Brahmā's progeny, or virtues and vices; or, Dakṣa (dexterity), Dharma (virtue), Kāma (desire), Krodha (passion), Lobha (covetousness), Moha (infatuation), Mada (insanity), Pramoda (pleasure), Mrityu (death), and Aṅgaja (lust). These are severally derived from different parts of Brahmā's body: and the Bhagāvata, adding Kardama (soil or sin) to this enumeration, makes him spring from Brahmā's shadow. The simple statement, that the first Prajāpatis sprang from the mind or will of Brahmā, has not contented the depraved taste of the mystics, and in some of the Purāṇas, as the Bhāgavata, Liṅga, and Vāyu, they also are derived from the body of their progenitor; or, Bhrigu from his skin, Marīci from his mind, Atri from his eyes, Aṅgiras from his mouth, Pulastya from his ear, Pulaha from his navel, Kratu from his hand, Vaśiṣṭha from his breath, Dakṣa from his thumb, and Nārada from his hip. They do not exactly agree, however, in the places whence these beings proceed; as for instance, according to the Liṅga, Marīci springs from Brahmā's eyes, not Atri, who there proceeds, instead of Pulastya, from his ears. The Vāyu has also another account of their origin, and states them to have sprung from the fires of a sacrifice offered by Brahmā; an allegorical mode of expressing their probable original, considering them to be in some degree real persons, from the Brahmanical ritual, of which they were the first institutors and observers. The Vāyu P. also states, that besides the seven primitive Ṛṣis, the Prajāpatis are numerous, and specifies Kardama, Kaśyapa, Śeṣa, Vikrānta, Susravas, Bahuputra, Kumāra, Vivaswat, Suchisravas, Prācetasa (Dakṣa), Aṛṣṭanemi, Bahula. These and many others were Prajāpatis. In the beginning of the Mahābhārata (A. P.) we have again a different origin, and first Dakṣa, the son of Pracetas, it is said, had seven sons, after whom the twenty-one Prajāpatis were born, or appeared. According to the commentator, the seven sons of Dakṣa were the allegorical persons Krodha, Tamas, Dama, Vikrita, Aṅgiras, Kardama, and Aswa; and the twenty-one Prajāpatis, the seven usually specified Marīci and the rest, and the fourteen Manus. This looks like a blending of the earlier and later notions.


Besides this general notice of the origin of Rudra and his separate forms, we have in the next chapter an entirely different set of beings so denominated; and the eleven alluded to in the text are also more particularly enumerated in a subsequent chapter. The origin of Rudra, as one of the agents in creation, is described in most of the Purāṇas. The Mahābhārata, indeed, refers his origin to Viṣṇu, representing him as the personification of his anger, whilst Brahmā is that of his kindness. The Kūrma P. makes him proceed from Brahmā's mouth, whilst engaged in meditating on creation. The Varāha P. makes this appearance of Rudra the consequence of a promise made by Śiva to Brahmā, that he would become his son. In the parallel passages in other Purāṇas the progeny of the Rudra created by Brahmā is not confined to the eleven, but comprehends infinite numbers of beings in person and equipments like their parent; until Brahmā, alarmed at their fierceness, numbers, and immortality, desires his son Rudra, or, as the Matsya calls him, Vāmadeva, to form creatures of a different and mortal nature. Rudra refusing to do this, desists; whence his name Sthānu, from Sthā, ‘to stay.’ Liṅga, Vāyu P. &c.


According to the Vāyu, the female became first twofold, or one half white, and the other black; and each of these, again, becomes manifold, being the various energies, or Śaktis, of Mahādeva, as stated by the Kūrma, after the words ### which are those of our text: ###. The Liṅga and Vāyu specify many of their names. Those of the white complexion, or mild nature, include Lakṣmī, Sarasvatī, Gaurī, Umā, &c. Those of the dark hue, and fierce disposition, Durgā, Kālī, Candī, Mahārātrī, and others.


Brahmā, after detaching from himself the property of anger, in the form of Rudra, converted himself into two persons, the first male, or the Manu Svāyambhuva, and the first woman, or Śatarūpā: so in the Vedas; ‘So himself was indeed (his) son.’ The commencement of production through sexual agency is here described with sufficient distinctness, but the subject has been rendered p. 52 obscure by a more complicated succession of agents, and especially by the introduction of a person of a mythic or mystical character, Virāj. The notion is thus expressed in Manu: “Having divided his own substance, the mighty power Brahmā became half male and half female; and from that female he produced Virāj. Know me to be that person whom the male Virāj produced by himself.” I. 32, 33. We have therefore a series of Brahmā, Virāj, and Manu, instead of Brahmā and Manu only: also the generation of progeny by Brahmā, begotten on Satarūpā, instead of her being, as in our text, the wife of Manu. The idea seems to have originated with the Vedas, as Kullūka Bhaṭṭa quotes a text; ‘Then (or thence) Virāt was born.’ The procreation of progeny by Brahmā, however, is at variance with the whole system, which almost invariably refers his creation to the operation of his will: and the expression in Manu, ‘he created Virāj in her,’ does not necessarily imply sexual intercourse. Virāj also creates, not begets, Manu. And in neither instance does the name of Śatarūpā occur. The commentator on Manu, however, understands the expression asrijat to imply the procreation of Virāj; and the same interpretation is given by the Matsya Purāṇa, in which the incestuous passion of Brahmā for Śatarūpa, his daughter in one sense, his sister in another, is described; and by her he begets Virāj, who there is called, not the progenitor of Manu, but Manu himself. This therefore agrees with our text, as far as it makes Manu the son of Brahmā, though not as to the nature of the connexion. The reading of the Agni and Padma P. is that of the Viṣṇu; and the Bhāgavata agrees with it in one place, stating distinctly that the male half of Brahmā, was Manu, the other half, Śatarūpā: ### Bhāgav. III. 12. 35: and although the production of Virāj is elsewhere described, it is neither as the son of Brahmā, nor the father of Manu. The original and simple idea, therefore, appears to be, the identity of Manu with the male half of Brahmā, and his being thence regarded as his son. The Kūrma P. gives the same account as Manu, and in the same words. The Liṅga P. and Vāyu P. describe the origin of Virāj and Śatarūpā from Brahmā; and they intimate the union of Śatarūpā with Puruṣa or Virāj, the male portion of Brahmā, in the first instance; and in the second, with Manu, who is termed Vairāja, or the son of Virāj. The Brāhma P., the words of which are repeated in the Hari Vaṃśa, introduces a new element of perplexity in a new name, that of Āpava. According to the commentator, this is a name of the Prajāpati Vaśiṣṭha. As, however, he performs the office of Brahmā, he should be regarded as that divinity: but this is not exactly the case, although it has been so rendered by the French translator. Āpava becomes twofold, and in the capacity of his male half begets offspring by the female. Again, it is said Viṣṇu created p. 53 Virāj, and Virāj created the male, which is Vairāja or Manu; who was thus the second interval (Antaram), or stage, in creation. That is, according to the commentator, the first stage was the creation of Āpava, or Vaśiṣṭha, or Virāj, by Viṣṇu, through the agency of Hiranyagarbha or Brahmā; and the next was that of the creation of Manu by Virāj. Śatarūpā appears as first the bride of Āpava, and then as the wife of Manu. This account therefore, although obscurely expressed, appears to be essentially the same with that of Manu; and we have Brahmā, Virāj, Manu, instead of Brahmā and Manu. It seems probable that this difference, and the part assigned to Virāj, has originated in some measure from confounding Brahmā with the male half of his individuality, and considering as two beings that which was but one. If the Puruṣa or Virāj be distinct from Brahmā, what becomes of Brahmā? The entire whole and its two halves cannot coexist; although some of the Paurāṇics and the author of Manu seem to have imagined its possibility, by making Virāj the son of Brahmā. The perplexity, however, is still more ascribable to the personification of that which was only an allegory. The division of Brahmā into two halves designates, as is very evident from the passage in the Vedas given by Mr. Colebrooke, (As. R. VIII. 425,) the distinction of corporeal substance into two sexes; Virāj being all male animals, Śatarūpā all female animals. So the commentator on the Hari Vaṃśa explains the former to denote the horse, the bull, &c.; and the latter, the mare, the cow, and the like. In the Bhāgavata the term Virāj implies, Body, collectively, as the commentator observes; ‘As the sun illuminates his own inner sphere, as well as the exterior regions, so soul, shining in body (Virāja), irradiates all without and within.’ All therefore that the birth of Virāj was intended to express, was the creation of living body, of creatures of both sexes: and as in consequence man was produced, he might be said to be the son of Virāj, or bodily existence. Again, Śatarūpā, the bride of Brahmā, or of Virāj, or of Manu, is nothing more than beings of varied or manifold forms, from Sata, ‘a hundred,’ and ‘form;’ explained by the annotator on the Hari Vaṃśa by Anantarūpā, ‘of infinite,’ and Vividharūpā, ‘of diversified shape;’ being, as he states, the same as Māyā, ‘illusion,’ or the power of multiform metamorphosis. The Matsya P. has a little allegory of its own, on the subject of Brahmā's intercourse with Śatarūpā; for it explains the former to mean the Vedas, and the latter the Savitrī, or holy prayer, which is their chief text; and in their cohabitation there is therefore no evil.


The Brāhma P. has a different order, and makes Vīra the son of the first pair, who has Uttānapāda, &c. by Kāmyā. The commentator on the Hari Vaṃśa quotes the Vāyu for a confirmation of this account; but the passage there is, ‘Śatarūpā bore to the male Vairāja (Manu) two Vīras,’ i. e. heroes or heroic sons, p. 54 Uttānpāda and Priyavrata. It looks as if the compiler of the Brāhma P. had made some very unaccountable blunder, and invented upon it a new couple, Vīra and Kāmyā: no such person as the former occurs in any other Purāṇa, nor does Kāmyā, as his wife.


The Bhāgavata adds a third daughter, Devahūti; for the purpose apparently of introducing a long legend of the Ṛṣi Kardama, to whom she is married, and of their son Kapila: a legend not met with any where else.


Ruci is reckoned amongst the Prajāpatis by the Liṅga and Vāyu Purāṇas.


These descendants of Svāyambhuva are all evidently allegorical: thus Yajña is ‘sacrifice,’ and Dakṣiṇā ‘donation’ to Brahmans.


The Bhāgavata (b. IV. c. 1) says the Tuṣitas, but they are the divinities of the second, not of the first Manvantara, as appears also in another part of the same, where the Yāmas are likewise referred to the Svāyambhuva Manvantara.


These twenty-four daughters are of much less universal occurrence in the Purāṇas than the more extensive series of fifty or sixty, which is subsequently described, and which appears to be the more ancient legend.


The twenty-four daughters of Dakṣa are similarly named and disposed of in most of the Purāṇas which notice them. The Bhāgavata, having introduced a third daughter. of Svāyambhuva, has a rather different enumeration, in order to assign some of them, the wives of the Prajāpatis, to p. 55 Kardama and Devahūti. Dakṣa had therefore, it is there said (b. IV. c. 1), sixteen daughters, thirteen of whom were married to Dharma, named Sraddhā, Maitrī (friendship), Dayā (clemency), Sānti Tuṣṭi, Puṣṭi, Kriyā, Unnati (elevation), Buddhi, Medhā, Titikṣā (patience), Hrī (modesty), Mūrtti (form); and three, Sati, Svāhā, and Swadhā, married, as in our text. Some of the daughters of Devahūti repeat these appellations, but that is of slight consideration. They are, Kalā (a moment), married to Marīci; Anasūyā to Atri; Sraddhā to Aṅgiras; Havirbhu (oblation-born) to Pulastya; Gati (movement) to Pulaha; Kriyā to Kratu; Khyāti to Bhrigu; Arundhati to Vaśiṣṭha; and Sānti to Atharvan. In all these instances the persons are manifestly allegorical, being personifications of intelligences and virtues and religious rites, and being therefore appropriately wedded to the probable authors of the Hindu code of religion and morals, or to the equally allegorical representation of that code, Dharma, moral and religious duty.


The same remark applies here. The Purāṇas that give these details generally coñcur with our text, but the Bhāgavata specifies the progeny of Dharma in a somewhat different manner; or, following the order observed in the list of Dharma's wives, their children are, Rita (truth), Prasāda (favour), Abhaya (fearlessness), Sukha, Muda (pleasure), Smaya (wonder), Yoga (devotion), Darpa, Artha (meaning), Smriti (memory), Kṣema, Prasraya (affection), and the two saints Nara and Nārāyaṇa, the sons of Dharma by Mūrtti. We have occasional varieties of nomenclature in other authorities; as, instead of Śruta, Sama; Kūrma P.: instead of Dandanaya, Samaya; and instead of Bodha, Apramāda; Liṅga P.: and Siddha in place of Sukha; Kūrma P.


The text rather abruptly introduces Adharma and his family. He is said by the commentator to be the son of Brahmā, and the Liṅga P. enumerates him among the Prajāpatis, as well as Dharma. According to the Bhāgavata, he is the husband of Mṛṣā (falsehood), and the father of Dambha (hypocrisy) and Māyā (deceit), who were adopted by Nirritti. The series p. 56 of their descendants is also somewhat varied from our text; being in each descent, however, twins which intermarry, or Lobha (covetousness) and Nikriti, who produce Krodha (wrath) and Hinsā: their children are, Kali (wickedness) and Durukti (evil speech): their progeny are, Mrityu and Bhī (fear); whose offspring are, Niraya (hell) and Yātanā (torment).


The three first of these are more particularly described in the last book: the last, the Nitya, or constant, is differently described by Col. Vans Kennedy (Ancient and Hindu Mythology, p. 224, note). “In the 7th chapter,” he observes, “of the Viṣṇu Purāṇa four kinds of Pralaya are described. The Naimittika takes place when Brahmā slumbers: the Prākritika when this universe returns to its original nature: Atyantika proceeds from divine knowledge: and Nitya is the extinction of life, like the extinction of a lamp, in sleep at night.” For this last characteristic, however, our text furnishes no warrant; nor can it be explained to signify, that the Nitya Pralaya means no more p. 57 than “a man's falling into a sound sleep at night.” All the copies consulted on the present occasion coñcur in reading ### as rendered above. The commentator supplies the illustration, ‘like the flame of a lamp;’ but he also writes, ‘That which is the destruction of all that are born, night and day, is the Nitya, or constant.’ Again, in a verse presently following we have the Nitya Sarga, ‘constant or perpetual creation,’ as opposed to constant dissolution: ‘That in which, oh excellent sages, beings are daily born, is termed constant creation, by those learned in the Purāṇas.’ The commentator explains this, ‘The constant flow or succession of the creation of ourselves and other creatures is the Nitya or constant creation: this is the meaning of the text.’ It is obvious, therefore, that the alternation intended is that of life and death, not of waking and sleep.

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