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 VIII - Origin of Rudra: his becoming eight Rudras

Origin of Rudra: his becoming eight Rudras: their wives and children. The posterity of Bhrigu. Account of Śrī in conjunction with Viṣṇu. Sacrifice of Dakṣa.

Parāśara said:—

I have described to you, oh great Muni, the creation of Brahmā, in which the quality of darkness prevailed. I will now explain to you the creation of Rudra[1].

In the beginning of the Kalpa, as Brahmā purposed to create a son, who should be like himself, a youth of a purple complexion[2] appeared, crying with a low cry, and running about[3]. Brahmā, when he beheld him thus afflicted, said to him, “Why dost thou weep?” “Give me a name,” replied the boy. “Rudra be thy name,” rejoined the great father of all creatures: “be composed; desist from tears.” But, thus addressed, the boy still wept seven times, and Brahmā therefore gave to him seven other denominations; and to these eight persons regions and wives and posterity belong. The eight manifestations, then, are named Rudra, Bhava, Śarva, Iśāna, Paśupati, Bhīma, Ugra, and Mahādeva, which were given to them by their great progenitor. He also assigned to them their respective stations, the sun, water, earth, air, fire, ether, the ministrant Brahman, and the moon; for these are their several forms[4]. The wives of the sun and the other manifestations, termed Rudra and the rest, were respectively, Suvercalā, Uṣā, Vikesī, Sivā, Svāhā, Diśā, Dīkṣā, and Rohinī. Now hear an account of their progeny, by whose successive generations this world has been peopled. Their sons, then, were severally, Sanaiścara (Saturn), Śukra (Venus), the fiery-bodied Mars, Manojava (Hanumān), Skanda, Svarga, Santāna, and Budha (Mercury).

It was the Rudra of this description that married Satī, who abandoned her corporeal existence in consequence of the displeasure of Dakṣa[5]. She afterwards was the daughter of Himavān (the snowy mountains) by Menā; and in that character, as the only Umā, the mighty Bhava again married her[6]. The divinities Dhātā and Vidhātā were born to Bhrigu by Khyāti, as was a daughter, Śrī, the wife of Nārāyaṇa, the god of gods[7].

Maitreya said:—

It is commonly said that the goddess Śrī was born from the sea of milk, when it was churned for ambrosia; how then can you say that she was the daughter of Bhrigu by Khyāti.

Parāśara said:—

Śrī, the bride of Viṣṇu, the mother of the world, is eternal, imperishable; in like manner as he is all-pervading, so also is she, oh best of Brahmans, omnipresent. Viṣṇu is meaning; she is speech. Hari is polity (Naya); she is prudence (Nīti). Viṣṇu is understanding; she is intellect. He is righteousness; she is devotion. He is the creator; she is creation. Śrī is the earth; Hari the support of it. The deity is content; the eternal Lakṣmī is resignation. He is desire; Śrī is wish. He is sacrifice; she is sacrificial donation (Dakṣinā). The goddess is the invocation which attends the oblation; Janārddana is the oblation. Lakṣmī is the chamber where the females are present (at a religious ceremony); Madhusūdana the apartment of the males of the family. Lakṣmī is the altar; Hari the stake (to which the victim is bound). Śrī is the fuel; Hari the holy grass (Kuśa). He is the personified Sāma veda; the goddess, lotus-throned, is the tone of its chanting. Lakṣmī is the prayer of oblation (Svāhā); Vāsudeva, the lord of the world, is the sacrificial fire. Saurī (Viṣṇu) is Śaṅkara (Śiva); and Śrī is the bride of Śiva (Gaurī). Keśava, oh Maitreya, is the sun; and his radiance is the lotus-seated goddess. Viṣṇu is the tribe of progenitors (Pitrigana); Padma. is their bride (Swadhā), the eternal bestower of nutriment. Śrī is the heavens; Viṣṇu, who is one with all things, is wide extended space. The lord of Śrī is the moon; she is his unfading light. She is called the moving principle of the world; he, the wind which bloweth every where. Govinda is the ocean; Lakṣmī its shore. Lakṣmī is the consort of Indra (Indrānī); Madhusūdana is Devendra. The holder of the discus (Viṣṇu) is Yama (the regent of Tartarus); the lotus-throned goddess is his dusky spouse (Dhūmornā). Śrī is wealth; Śridhara (Viṣṇu) is himself the god of riches (Kuvera). Lakṣmī, illustrious Brahman, is Gaurī; and Keśava, is the deity of ocean (Varuna). Śrī is the host of heaven (Devasenā); the deity of war, her lord, is Hari. The wielder of the mace is resistance; the power to oppose is Śrī. Lakṣmī is the Kāṣṭhā and the Kalā; Hari the Nimeṣa and the Muhūrtta. Lakṣmī is the light; and Hari, who is all, and lord of all, the lamp. She, the mother of the world, is the creeping vine; and Viṣṇu the tree round which she clings. She is the night; the god who is armed with the mace and discus is the day. He, the bestower of blessings, is the bridegroom; the lotus-throned goddess is the bride.

The god is one with all male—the goddess one with all female, rivers. The lotus-eyed deity is the standard; the goddess seated on a lotus the banner. Lakṣmī is cupidity; Nārāyaṇa, the master of the world, is covetousness. Oh thou who knowest what righteousness is, Govinda is love; and Lakṣmī, his gentle spouse, is pleasure. But why thus diffusely enumerate their presence: it is enough to say, in a word, that of gods, animals, and men, Hari is all that is called male; Lakṣmī is all that is termed female: there is nothing else than they.

Footnotes and references:


The creation of Rudra has been already adverted to, and that seems to be the primitive form of the legend. We have here another account, grounded apparently upon Śaiva or Yogi mysticism.


The appearance of Rudra as a Kumāra, ‘a boy,’ is described as of repeated occurrence in the Liṅga and Vāyu Purāṇas, as already noticed (p. 38); and these Kumāras are of different complexions in different Kalpas. In the Vaiṣṇava Purāṇas, however, we have only one original form, to which the name of Nīlalohita, the blue and red or purple complexioned is assigned. In the Kūrma this youth comes from Brahmā's mouth: in the Vāyu, from his forehead.


This is the Paurāṇic etymology: ### or rud, ‘to weep,’ and dru, ‘to run’ The grammarians derive the name from rud, ‘to weep,’ with ra affix.


The Vāyu details the application of each name severally. These eight Rudras are therefore but one, under as many appellations, and in as many types. The Padma, Mārkaṇḍeya, Kūrma, Liṅga, and Vāyu agree with our text in the nomenclature of the Rudras, and their types, their wives, and progeny. The types are those which are enumerated in the Nāndī, p. 59 or opening benedictory verse, of Sakuntalā; and the passage of the Viṣṇu P. was found by Mons. Chezy on the envelope of his copy. He has justly corrected Sir Wm. Jones's version of the term ### ‘the sacrifice is performed with solemnity;’ as the word means, ‘Brahmane officiant,’ ‘the Brāhmaṇ who is qualified by initiation (Dīkṣā) to conduct the rite.’ These are considered as the bodies, or visible forms, of those modifications of Rudra which are variously named, and which, being praised in them, severally abstain from harming them: ### Vāyu P. The Bhāgavata, III. 12, has a different scheme, as usual; but it confounds the notion of the eleven Rudras, to whom the text subsequently adverts, with that of the eight here specified. These eleven it terms Manyu, Manu, Mahīnasa, Mahān, Siva, Ritadhwaja, Ugraretas, Bhava, Kāla, Vāmadeva, and Dhritavrata: their wives are, Dhī, Dhriti, Rasalomā, Niyut, Sarpī, Ilā, Ambikā, Irāvatī, Swadhā, Dīkṣā, Rudrānī: and their places are, the heart, senses, breath, ether, air, fire, water, earth, sun, moon, and tapas, or ascetic devotion. The same allegory or mystification characterises both accounts.


See the story of Dakṣa's sacrifice at the end of the chapter.


The story of Umā's birth and marriage occurs in the Śiva P. and in the Kāśī Khanda of the Skanda P.: it is noticed briefly, and with some variation from the Purāṇas, in the Rāmāyaṇa, first book: it is also given in detail in the Kumāra Sambhava of Kālidāsa.


The family of Bhrigu is more particularly described in the tenth chapter: it is here mentioned merely to introduce the story of the birth of the goddess of prosperity, Śrī.

Let's grow together!

I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased sources, definitions and images. Your donation direclty influences the quality and quantity of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight the world is exposed to.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: