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 II - Of the seven future Manus and Manvantaras

Of the seven future Manus and Manvantaras. Story of Sañjñā and Chāyā, wives of the sun. Sāvarṇi, son of Chāyā, the eighth Manu. His successors, with the divinities, &c. of their respective periods. Appearance of Viṣṇu in each of the four Yugas.

Maitreya said:—

You have recapitulated to me, most excellent Brahman, the particulars of the past Manvantaras; now give me some account of those which are to come.

Parāśara said:—

Sañjñā, the daughter of Viśvakarman, was the wife of the sun, and bore him three children, the Manu (Vaivaswata), Yama, and the goddess Yamī (or the Yamunā river). Unable to endure the fervours of her lord, Sañjñā gave him Chāyā[1] as his handmaid, and repaired to the forests to practise devout exercises. The sun, supposing Chāyā to be his wife Sañjñā, begot by her three other children, Śanaiścara (Saturn), another Manu (Sāvarṇi), and a daughter Tapatī (the Tapti river). Chāyā, upon one occasion, being offended with Yama[2], the son of Sañjñā, denounced an imprecation upon him, and thereby revealed to Yama and to the sun that she was not in truth Sañjñā, the mother of the former. Being further informed by Chāyā that his wife had gone to the wilderness, the sun beheld her by the eye of meditation engaged in austerities, in the figure of a mare (in the region of Uttara Kuru). Metamorphosing himself into a horse, he rejoined his wife, and begot three other children, the two Āswins and Revanta, and then brought Sañjñā back to his own dwelling. To diminish his intensity, Viśvakarman placed the luminary on his lathe, to grind off some of his effulgence; and in this manner reduced it an eighth, for more than that was inseparable[3]. The parts of the divine Vaiṣṇava splendour, residing in the sun, that were filed off by Viśvakarman, fell blazing down upon the earth, and the artist constructed of them the discus of Viṣṇu, the trident of Śiva, the weapon[4] of the god of wealth, the lance of Kārtikeya, and the weapons of the other gods: all these Viśvakarman fabricated from the superfluous rays of the sun[5].

The son of Chāyā, who was called also a Manu, was denominated Sāvarṇi[6], from being of the same caste (Savarṇa) as his elder brother, the Manu Vaivaswata. He presides over the ensuing or eighth Manvantara; the particulars of which, and the following, I will now relate. In the period in which Sāvarṇi shall be the Manu, the classes of the gods will be Sutapas, Amitābhas, and Mukhyas; twenty-one of each. The seven Ṛṣis will be Dīptimat, Gālava, Rāma, Kripa, Drauṇi; my son Vyāsa will be the sixth, and the seventh will be Ṛṣyasriṅga[7]. The Indra will be Bali, the sinless son of Virocana, who through the favour of Viṣṇu is actually sovereign of part of Pātāla. The royal progeny of Sāvarṇi will be Virajas, Arvarīvas, Nirmoha, and others.

The ninth Manu will be Dakṣa-sāvarṇi[8]. The Pāras, Marīcigarbhas, and Sudharmas will be the three classes of divinities, each consisting of twelve; their powerful chief will be the Indra Adbhuta. Savana, Dyutimat, Bhavya, Vasu, Medhatithi, Jyotishmān, and Satya will be the seven Ṛṣis. Dhritaketu, Driptiketu, Pañcahasta, Mahāmāyā, Prithuśrava, and others, will be the sons of the Manu.

In the tenth Manvantara the Manu will be Brahmā-sāvarṇi: the gods will be the Sudhāmas, Viruddhas, and Śatasaṅkhyas: the Indra will be the mighty Śānti: the Ṛṣis will be Havishmān, Sukriti, Satya, Apāmmūrtti, Nābhāga, Apratimaujas, and Satyaketu: and the ten sons of the Manu will be Sukṣetra, Uttarnaujas, Hariṣeṇa, and others.

In the eleventh Manvantara the Manu will be Dharma-sāvarṇi: the principal classes of gods will be the Vihangamas, Kāmagamas, and Nirmānaratis, each thirty in number[9]; of whom Vṛṣa will be the Indra: the Ṛṣis will be Niścara, Agnitejas, Vapushmān, Viṣṇu, Āruni, Havishmān, and Anagha: the kings of the earth, and sons of the Manu, will be Savarga, Sarvadharma, Devānīka, and others.

In the twelfth Manvantara the son of Rudra, Sāvarṇi, will be the Manu: Ritudhāmā will be the Indra: and the Haritas, Lohitas, Sumanasas, and Sukarmas will be the classes of gods, each comprising fifteen.

Tapasvī, Sutapas, Tapomūrtti, Taporati, Tapodhriti, Tapodyuti, and Tapodhana will be the Ṛṣis: and Devavān, Upadeva, Devaśreṣṭa, and others, will be the Manu's sons, and mighty monarchs on the earth.

In the thirteenth Manvantara the Manu will be Raucya[10]: the classes of gods, thirty-three in each, will be the Sudhāmans, Sudharmans, and Sukarmans; their Indra will be Divaspati: the Ṛṣis will be Nirmoha, Tatwadersīn, Niṣprakampa, Nirutsuka, Dhritimat, Avyaya, and Sutapas: and Citrasena, Vicitra, and others, will be the kings.

In the fourteenth Manvantara, Bhautya will be the Manu[11]; Suchi, the Indra: the five classes of gods will be the Cākṣuṣas, the Pavitras, Kaniṣṭhas, Bhrājiras, and Vāvriddhas: the seven Ṛṣis will be Agnibāhu, Śuci, Śukra, Magadhā, Gridhra, Yukta, and Ajita: and the sons of the Manu will be Uru, Gabhīra, Bradhna, and others, who will be kings, and will rule over the earth[12].

At the end of every four ages there is a disappearance of the Vedas, and it is the province of the seven Ṛṣis to come down upon earth from heaven to give them currency again. In every Krita age the Manu (of the period) is the legislator or author of the body of law, the Smriti: the deities of the different classes receive the sacrifices during the Manvantaras to which they severally belong: and the sons of the Manu them. selves, and their descendants, are the sovereigns of the earth for the whole of the same term. The Manu, the seven Ṛṣis, the gods, the sons of the Manu, who are the kings, and Indra, are the beings who preside over the world during each Manvantara.

An entire Kalpa, oh Brahman, is said to comprise a thousand ages, or fourteen Manvantaras[13]; and it is succeeded by a night of similar duration; during which, he who wears the form of Brahmā, Janārddana, the substance of all things, the lord of all, and creator of all, involved in his own illusions, and having swallowed up the three spheres, sleeps upon the serpent Śeṣa, amidst the ocean[14]. Being after that awake, he, who is the universal soul, again creates all things as they were before, in combination with the property of foulness (or activity): and in a portion of his essence, associated with the property of goodness, he, as the Manus, the kings, the gods, and their Indras, as well as the seven Ṛṣis, is the preserver of the world. In what manner Viṣṇu, who is characterised by the attribute of providence during the four ages, effected their preservation, I will next, Maitreya, explain.

In the Krita age, Viṣṇu, in the form of Kapila and other inspired teachers, assiduous for the benefit of all creatures, imparts to them true wisdom. In the Treta age he restrains the wicked, in the form of a universal monarch, and protects the three worlds[15]. In the Dvāpara age, in the person of Veda-vyāsa, he divides the one Veda into four, and distributes it into innumerable branches: and at the end of the Kali or fourth age he appears as Kalki, and reestablishes the iniquitous in the paths of rectitude. In this manner the universal spirit preserves, creates, and at last destroys, all the world.

Thus, Brahman, I have described to you the true nature of that great being who is all things, and besides whom there is no other existent thing, nor has there been, nor will there be, either here or elsewhere. I have also enumerated to you the Manvantaras, and those who preside over them. What else do you wish to hear?

Footnotes and references:


That is, her shadow or image. It also means ‘shade.’ The Bhāgavata, however, makes both Sañjñā and Chāyā daughters of Viśvakarman. According to the Matsya, Vivaswat, the son of Kaśyapa and Aditī, had three wives, Rājñī, the daughter of Raivata, by whom he had Revanta; Prabhā, by whom he had Prabhata; and by Sañjñā, the daughter of Tvaṣṭri, the Manu and Yama and Yamunā. The story then proceeds much as in the text.


Yama, provoked at her partiality for her own children, abused Chāyā, and lifted up his foot to kick her. She cursed him to have his leg affected with sores and worms; but his father bestowed upon him a cock, to eat the worms, and remove the discharge; and Yama, afterwards propitiating Mahādeva, obtained the rank of Lokapāla, and sovereign of Tartarus.


The Matsya says he trimmed the sun every where except in the feet, the extent of which he could not discern. Consequently in pictures or images the feet of the sun must never be delineated, under pain of leprosy, &c.


The term is Śivikā, which properly means ‘a litter,’ The commentator calls it Astra, ‘a weapon.’


This legend is told, with some variations of no great importance, in the Matsya, Mārkaṇḍeya, and Padma P. (Svarga Khaṇḍa), in the Bhāgavata, and Hari Vaṃśa, &c.


The Mārkaṇḍeya, whilst it admits Sāvarṇi to be the son of the sun, has a legend of his former birth, in the Svārociṣa Manvantara, as Suratha Rājā, who became a Manu by having then propitiated Devī. It was to him that the Durgā Māhātmya or Caṇḍī, the popular narrative of Durga's triumphs over various demons, was narrated.


The Vāyu has Jāmadagnya or Paraśurāma, of the Kuśika race; Gālava, of that of Bhrigu; Dwaipāyana (or Vyāsa), of the family of Vaśiṣṭha; Kripa, the son of Śaradwat; Dīptimat, descended from Atri; Ṛṣyasriṅga, from Kaśyapa; and Aswatthāman, the son of Droṇa, of the Bhāradvāja family. The Matsya and Padma have Satānanda in place of Diptimat.


The four following Sāvarṇis are described in the Vāyu as the mind-engendered sons of a daughter of Dakṣa, named either Suvratā (Vāyu) or Priyā (Brāhma) by himself and the three gods, Brahmā, Dharma, and Rudra, to whom he presented her on mount Meru; whence they are called also Meru-sāvarṇis. They are termed Sāvarṇis from their being of one family or caste. According to the same authority, followed by the Hari Vaṃśa, it appears that this Manu is also called Rohita. Most of the details of this and the following Manvantaras are omitted in the Matsya, Brahmā, Padma, and Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇas. The Bhāgavata and Kūrma give the same as our text; and the Vāyu, which agrees very nearly with it, is followed in most respects by the Hari Vaṃśa. The Matsya and Padma are peculiar in their series and nomenclature of the Manus themselves, calling the 9th Raucya, 10th Bhautya, 11th Merusavārṇi, son of Brahmā, 12th Ritu, 13th Ritadhāman, and 14th Viswaksena. The Bhāgavata calls the two last Manus, Deva-sāvarṇi and Indra-sāvarṇi.


Hence the Vāyu identifies the first with days, the second with nights, and the third with hours.


The son of the Prajāpati Ruci (Vāyu, &c.), by the nymph Māninī, the daughter of the Apsaras Pramlocā (Mārkaṇḍeya).


Son of Ravi, by the goddess Bhūtī, according to the Vāyu; but the Mārkaṇḍeya makes Bhūtī the son of Aṅgiras, whose pupil Śānti, having suffered the holy fire to go out in his master's absence, prayed to Agni, and so propitiated him, that he not only relighted the flame, but desired Śānti to demand a further boon. Śānti accordingly solicited a son for his Guru; which son was Bhūti, the father of the Manu Bhautya.


Although the Purāṇas which give an account of the Manvantaras agree in some of the principal details, yet in the minor ones they offer many varieties, some of which have been noticed. These chiefly regard the first six and the eighth. Except in a few individual peculiarities, the authorities seem to arrange themselves in two classes; one comprehending the Viṣṇu, Vāyu, Kūrma, Bhāgavata, and Mārkaṇḍeya; and the other the Matsya, Padma, Brāhma, and Hari Vaṃśa. The Mārkaṇḍeya, although it agrees precisely with the Viṣṇu in its nomenclature, differs from it, and from all, in devoting a considerable number of its pages to legends of the origin of the Manus, all of which are evidently of comparatively recent invention, and several of which have been no doubt suggested by the etymology of the names of the Manus.


A thousand ages of the gods and fourteen Manvantaras are not precisely the same thing, as has been already explained. (See p. 24. n. 6.)


The order of the text would imply, that as Brahmā he sleeps upon Śeṣa; but if this be intended, it is at variance with the usual legend, that it is as Viṣṇu or Nārāyaṇa that the deity sleeps in the intervals of dissolution. The commentator accordingly qualifies the phrase Brahmarūpadhara by the term Divā: ‘Viṣṇu wears the form of Brahmā by day; by night he sleeps on Śeṣa, in the person of Nārāyaṇa.’ This however may be suspected to be an innovation upon an older system; for in speaking of the alternations of creation and dissolution, they are always considered as consentaneous with the day and night of Brahmā alone.


As a Cakravarttin.

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