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 I - An Account of the several Manus and Manvantaras

Account of the several Manus and Manvantaras. Svārociṣa the second Manu: the divinities, the Indra, the seven Ṛṣis of his period, and his sons. Similar details of Auttami, Tāmasa, Raivata, Cākṣuṣa, and Vaivaswata. The forms of Viṣṇu, as the preserver, in each Manvantara. The meaning of Viṣṇu.

Maitreya said:—

The disposition of the earth and of the ocean, and the system of the sun and the planets, the creation of the gods and the rest, the origin of the Ṛṣis, the generation of the four castes, the production of brute creatures, and the narratives of Dhruva and Prahlāda, have been fully related by thee, my venerable preceptor. I am now desirous to hear from you the series of all the Manvantaras, as well as an account of those who preside over the respective periods, with Śakra, the king of the gods, at their head.

Parāśara said:—

I will repeat to you, Maitreya, in their order, the different Manvantaras; those which are past, and those which are to come.

The first Manu was Svāyambhuva, then came Svārociṣa, then Auttami, then Tāmasa, then Raivata, then Cākṣuṣa: these six Manus have passed away. The Manu who presides over the seventh Manvantara, which is the present period, is Vaivaswata, the son of the sun.

The period of Svāyambhuva Manu, in the beginning of the Kalpa, has already been described by me, together with the gods, Ṛṣis, and other personages, who then flourished[1]. I will now, therefore, enumerate the presiding gods, Ṛṣis, and sons of the Manu, in the Manvantara of Svārociṣa[2]. The deities of this period (or the second Manvantara) were the classes called Pārāvatas and Tuṣitas[3]; and the king of the gods was the mighty Vipaścit. The seven Ṛṣis[4] were Ūrja, Stambha, Prāṇa, Dattoli, Riṣabha, Niścara, and Arvarīvat; and Caitra, Kimpuruṣa, and others, were the Manu's sons[5].

In the third period, or Manvantara of Auttami[6], Suśānti was the Indra, the king of the gods; the orders of whom were the Sudhāmas, Satyas, Śivas, Pradarśanas, and Vasavertis[7]; each of the five orders consisting of twelve divinities. The seven sons of Vaśiṣṭha were the seven Ṛṣis[8]; and Aja, Paraśu, Divya, and others, were the sons of the Manu[9].

The Surūpas, Haris, Satyas, and Śudhīs[10] were the classes of gods, each comprising twenty-seven, in the period of Tāmasa, the fourth Manu[11]. Śivi was the Indra, also designated by his performance of a hundred sacrifices (or named Śatakratu). The seven Ṛṣis were Jyotirdhāmā, Prithu, Kāvya, Caitra, Agni, Vanaka, and Pivara[12]. The sons of Tāmasa were the mighty kings Nara, Khyāti, Śāntahaya, Jānujaṅgha, and others[13].

In the fifth interval the Manu was Raivata[14]: the Indra was Vibhu: the classes of gods, consisting of fourteen each, were the Amitābhas, Abhūtarajasas, Vaikunthas, and Sumedhasas[15]: the seven Ṛṣis were Hiraṇyaromā, Vedasrī, Urddhabāhu, Vedabāhu, Sudhāman, Parjanya, and Mahāmuni[16]: the sons of Raivata were Balabandhu, Susambhāvya, Satyaka, and other valiant kings.

These four Manus, Svārociṣa, Auttamī, Tāmasa, and Raivata, were all descended from Priyavrata, who, in consequence of propitiating Viṣṇu by his devotions, obtained these rulers of the Manvantaras for his posterity.

Cākṣuṣa was the Manu of the sixth period[17]: in which the Indra was Manojava: the five classes of gods were the Ādyas, Prastūtas, Bhavyas, Prithugas, and the magnanimous Lekhas, eight of each[18]: Sumedhas, Virajas, Havishmat, Uttama, Madhu, Abhināman, and Sahiṣṇu were the seven sages[19]: the kings of the earth, the sons of Cākṣuṣa, were the powerful Uru, Puru, Śatadyumna, and others.

The Manu of the present period is the wise lord of obsequies, the illustrious offspring of the sun: the deities are the Ādityas, Vasus, and Rudras; their sovereign is Purandara: Vaśiṣṭha, Kaśyapa, Atri, Jamadagni, Gautama, Viśvāmitra, and Bharadvāja are the seven Ṛṣis: and the nine pious sons of Vaivaswata Manu are the kings Ikṣvāku, Nabhaga, Dhṛṣṭa, Sanyāti, Nariṣyanta, Nābhanidiṣṭa, Karuṣa, Pṛṣadhra, and the celebrated Vasumat[20].

The unequalled energy of Viṣṇu combining with the quality of goodness, and effecting the preservation of created things, presides over all the Manvantaras in the form of a divinity. Of a portion of that divinity Yajña was born in the Svāyambhuva Manvantara, the will-begotten progeny of Ākūtī[21]. When the Svārociṣa Manvantara had arrived, that divine Yajña was born as Ajita, along with the Tuṣita gods, the sons of Tushitā. In the third Manvantara, Tuṣita was again born of Satyā, as Satya, along with the class of deities so denominated. In the next period, Satya became Hari, along with the Haris, the children of Harī. The excellent Hari was again born in the Raivata Manvantara, of Sambhūti, as Mānasa, along with the gods called Abhūtarajasas. In the next period, Viṣṇu was born of Vikunthi, as Vaikuntha, along with the deities called Vaikunthas. In the present Manvantara, Viṣṇu was again born as Vāmana, the son of Kaśyapa by Aditī. With three paces he subdued the worlds, and gave them, freed from all embarrassment, to Purandara[22]. These are the seven persons by whom, in the several Manvantaras, created beings have been protected. Because this whole world has been pervaded by the energy of the deity, he is entitled Viṣṇu, from the root Vis, ‘to enter’ or ‘pervade;’ for all the gods, the Manus, the seven Ṛṣis, the sons of the Manus, the Indras the sovereigns of the gods, all are but the impersonated might of Viṣṇu[23].

Footnotes and references:


The gods were said to be the Yāmas (p. 54); the Ṛṣis were Marīci, Aṅgiras, &c. (p. 49. n. 2); and the sons were Priyavrata and Uttānapāda (p. 53). The Vāyu adds to the Yamas, the Ajitas, who share with the former, it observes, sacrificial p. 260 offerings. The Matsya, Padma, Brāhma P. and Hari Vaṃśa substitute for the sons, the grandsons of Svāyambhuva, Agnīdhra and the rest (p. 162).


This Manu, according to the legend of his birth in the Mārkaṇḍeya P., was the son of Swarociṣ, so named from the splendour of his appearance when born, and who was the son of the nymph Varuthinī by the Gandharva Kali. The text, in another place, makes him a son of Priyavrata.


The Vāyu gives the names of the individuals of these two classes, consisting each of twelve. It furnishes also the nomenclature of all the classes of divinities, and of the sons of the Manus in each Manvantara. According to the same authority, the Tuṣitas were the sons of Kratu: the Bhāgavata calls them the sons of Tushitā by Vedaśiras. The divinities of each period are, according to the Vāyu, those to whom offerings of the Soma juice and the like are presented collectively.


The Vāyu describes the Ṛṣis of each Manvantara as the sons, or in some cases the descendants in a direct line, of the seven sages, Atri, Aṅgiras, Bhrigu, Kaśyapa, Pulaha, Pulastya, and Vaśiṣṭha; with some inconsistency, for Kaśyapa, at least, did not appear himself until the seventh, Manvantara. In the present series Ūrja is the son of Vaśiṣṭha, Stambha springs from Kaśyapa, Prāṇa from Bhrigu, Dattoli is the son of Pulastya, Riṣabha descends from Aṅgiras, Niścara from Atri, and Arvarīvat is the son of Pulaha. The Brāhma P. and Hari Vaṃśa have a rather different list, or Aurva, Stambha, Kaśyapa, Prāṇa, Vrihaspati, Chyavana, and Dattoli; but the origin of part of this difference is nothing more than an imperfect quotation from the Vāyu Purāṇa; the two first, Aurva and Stambha, being specified as the son of Vaśiṣṭha and the descendant of Kaśyapa, and then the parentage of the rest being omitted: to complete the seven, therefore, Kaśyapa becomes one of them. Some other errors of this nature occur in these two works, and from the same cause, a blundering citation of the Vāyu, which is named as their authority. A curious peculiarity also occurs in these mistakes. They are confined to the first eight Manvantaras. The Brāhma P. omits all details of the last six, and the Hari Vaṃśa inserts them fully and correctly, agreeably to the authority of the Vāyu. It looks, therefore, as if the compiler of the Hari Vaṃśa had followed the Brāhma, as far as it went, right or wrong; but had had recourse to the original Vāyu P. when the Brāhma failed him. Dattoli is sometimes written Dattoni and Dattotri; and the latter appears to have been the case with the copy of the Hari Vaṃśa employed by M. Langlois, who makes one of the Ṛṣis of this Manvantara, “le penitent Atri.” He is not without countenance in some such reading, for the Padma P. changes the name to Dattātreya, no doubt suggested by Datta-atri. p. 261 Dattātreya, however, is the son of Atri; whilst the Vāyu calls the person of the text the son of Pulastya. There can be no doubt therefore of the correct reading, for the son of Pulastya is Dattoli. (p. 83.)


The Vāyu agrees with the text in these names, adding seven others. The Bhāgavata has a different series. The Padma has four other names, Nabha, Nabhasya, Prasriti, Bhavana. The Brāhma has ten names, including two of these, and several of the names of the Ṛṣis of the tenth Manvantara. The Matsya has the four names of the Padma for the sons of the Manu, and gives seven others, Havīndhra, Sukrita, Mūrtti, Apas, Jyotir, Aya, Smrita (the names of the Brāhma), as the seven Prajāpatis of this period, and sons of Vaśiṣṭha. The sons of Vaśiṣṭha, however, belong to the third Manvantara, and bear different appellations. There is, no doubt, some blundering here in all the books except the Vāyu, and those which agree with it.


The name occurs Auttami, Auttama, and Uttama. The Bhāgavata and Vāyu agree with our text (p. 263) in making him a descendant from Priyavrata. The Mārkaṇḍeya calls him the son of Uttama, the son of Uttānapāda: and this appears to be the correct genealogy, both from our text and the Bhāgavata.


The Brāhma and Hari Vaṃśa have, in place of these, the Bhānus; but the Vāyu and Mārkaṇḍeya coñcur with the text.


All the authorities agree in this; but the Brāhma and Hari Vaṃśa appear to furnish a different series also; or even a third, according to the French translation: ‘Dans le troisième Manvantara parurent comme Saptarchis les fils de Vasichtha, de son nom appelés Vâsichthas, les fils de Hiranyagarbha et les illustres enfans d’Ourdja.’ The text is, ### &c. The meaning of which is, ‘There were (in the first Manvantara) seven celebrated sons of Vaśiṣṭha, who (in the third Manvantara) were sons of Brahmā (i. e. Ṛṣis), the illustrious posterity of Urjjā. We have already seen that Urjjā was the wife of Vaśiṣṭha, by whom she had seven sons, Rajas,’ &c. (see p. 83), in the Svāyambhuva Manvantara; and these were born again as the Ṛṣis of the third period. The names of these persons, according to the Matsya and Padma, are however very different from those of the sons of Vaśiṣṭha, given p. 83, or Kaukundihi, Kurundi, Dalaya, Śaṅkha, Pravāhita, Mita, and Sammita.


The Vāyu adds ten other names to those of the text. The Brāhma gives ten p. 262 altogether different. The Bhāgavata an Padma have each a separate nomenclature.


Of these, the Brāhma and Hari V notice only the Satyas: the Matsya and Padma have only Sādhyas. The Vāyu Bhāgavata, Kūrma, and Mārkaṇḍeya agree with the text.


He is the son of Priyavrata, according to the text, the Vāyu, &c. The Mārkaṇḍeya has a legend of his birth by a doe; and from his being begotten in dark, tempestuous weather, he derives his name.


Severally, according to the Vāyu, the progeny of Bhrigu, Kaśyapa, Aṅgiras, Pulastya, Atri, Vaśiṣṭha, and Pulaha. There is considerable variety in some of the names. Thus the Matsya has Kavi, Prithu, Agni, Salpa, Dhīmat, Kapi, Akapi. The Hari Vaṃśa has Kāvya, Prithu, Agni, Jahnu, Dhātri, Kapivat, Akapivat. For the two last the Vāyu reads Gātra and Vanapītha. The son of Pulaha is in his place (p. 83. n. 6), Arvarīvat or Vanakapīvat. Gātra is amongst the sons of Vaśiṣṭha (p. 83). The Vāyu is therefore probably most correct, although our text, in regard to these two denominations, admits of no doubt.


The Vāyu, &c. agree with the text; the Vāyu naming eleven. The Brāhma, Matsya, and Padma have a series of ten names, Sutapas, Tapomūla, &c.; of which, seven are the Ṛṣis of the twelfth Manvantara.


Raivata, as well as his three predecessors, is regarded usually as a descendant of Priyavrata. The Mārkaṇḍeya has a long legend of his birth, as the son of king Durgama by the nymph Revatī, sprung from the constellation Revatī, whom Ritavāch, a Muni, caused to fall from heaven. Her radiance became a lake on mount Kumuda, thence called Raivataka; and from it appeared the damsel, who was brought up by Pramucha Muni. Upon the marriage of Revatī, the Muni, at her request, restored the asterism to its place in the skies.


The Brāhma inserts of these only the Abhūtarajasas, with the remark, that ‘they were of like nature (with their name):’ i. e. they were exempt from the quality of passion. M. Langlois, in rendering the parallel passage of the Hari Vaṃśa, has confounded the epithet and the subject: ‘dont les dieux furent les Pracritis, dépourvu de p. 263 colere et de passion.’ He is also at a loss what to do with the terms Pāriplava and Raibhya, in the following passage; ### asking, ‘qu’est ce que Pāriplava? qu’est ce que Rêbhya?’ If he had had the commentary at hand, these questions would have been unnecessary: they are there said to be two classes of divinities.


There is less variety in these names than usual. Vedabāhu is read Devabāhu; Sudhāman, Satyanetra; and Mahāmuni, Muni, Yajur, Vāśiṣṭha, and Yadudhra. According to the Vāyu, those of the text are respectively of the lineage of Aṅgiras, Bhrigu, Vaśiṣṭha, Pulastya, Atri, Pulaha, and Kaśyapa. There is considerable variety in the names of the Manu's sons.


Cākṣuṣa, according to the best authorities, descended from Dhruva (see p. 98); but the Mārkaṇḍeya has a legend of his birth as the son of a Kṣatriya, named Anamitra; of his being exchanged at his birth for the son of Viśrānta Rājā, and being brought up by the prince as his own; of his revealing the business when a man, and propitiating Brahmā by his devotions; in consequence of which he became a Manu. In his former birth he was born from the eye of Brahmā; whence his name, from Cakṣush, ‘the eye.’


The authorities agree as to the number, but differ as to the names; reading for Ādyas, Āryās and Āpyas; for Prastūtas, Prabhūtas and Prasūtas; for Prithugas, Prithukas and Prithusas; and, which is a more wide deviation, Ribhus for Bhavyas. M. Langlois omits the Prasūtas, and inserts Divaukasas; but the latter, meaning ‘divinities,’ is only an epithet. The Hari Vaṃśa has, ###—-. The comment adds, ###.


The Vāyu reads Sudhāman for the first name; Unnata for Uttama; and Abhimāna for Abhināman. The latter occurs also Abhināmin (Matsya) and Atināman (Hari V.) The latter reads, no doubt incorrectly, Bhrigu, Nabha, and p. 264 Vivaswat for Uttama, Madhu, and Havishmat. The sons of Cākṣuṣa are enumerated, p. 98.


There is no great variety of nomenclature in this Manvantara. The Vāyu adds to the deities the Sādhyas, Viśvas, Maruts, and gods sprung from Bhrigu and Aṅgiras. The Bhāgavata adds the Ribhus: and most include the two Āswins as a class. Of the Maruts, however, the Hari Vaṃśa remarks that they are born in every Manvantara, seven times seven (or forty-nine); that in each Manvantara four times seven, or twenty-eight, obtain emancipation, but their places are filled up by persons reborn in that character. So the commentator explains the passages ### and ### &c. ### Comment. ### Comment. It may be suspected, however, that these passages have been derived from the simple statement of the Matsya, that in all the Manvantaras classes of Ṛṣis appear by seven and seven, and having established a code of law and morality, depart to felicity. The Vāyu has a rather different list of the seven Ṛṣis; or Vasumat, the son of Vaśiṣṭha; Vatsāra, descended from Kaśyapa; Viśvāmitra, the son of Gādhi, and of the Kuśika race; Jamadagni, son of Kuru, of the race of Bhrigu; Bharadvāja, son of Vrihaspati; Śaradwat, son of Gautama, of the family of Utatthya; and Brahmakoṣa or Atri, descended from Brahmā. All the other authorities agree with our text.


The nominal father being the patriarch Ruci. (See p. 54.)


There is no further account of this incarnation in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa. Fuller details occur in the Bhāgavata, Kūrma, Matsya, and Vāmana Purāṇas. The first of these (b. VIII. c. 15-23) relates the penance and sacrifices of Bali, son of Virocana, by which he had overcome Indra and the gods, and obtained supreme dominion over the three spheres. Viṣṇu, at the request of the deities, was born as a dwarf, Vāmana, the son of Aditī by Kaśyapa; who, applying to Bali for alms, was promised by the prince whatever he might demand, notwithstanding Śukra, the preceptor of the Daityas, apprised him whom he had to deal with. The dwarf demanded as much space as he could step over at three steps; and upon the assent of Bali, enlarged himself to such dimensions as to stride over the three worlds. Being worshipped however by Bali and his ancestor Prahlāda, he conceded to them the sovereignty of Pātāla.


See the same etymology, p. 3. n. 7.

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