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 V - Sacrifice if Nimi, origin of Sita and story of Kushadhvaja's race

Kings of Mithilā. Legend of Nimi, the son of Ikṣvāku. Birth of Janaka. Sacrifice of Sīradhwaja. Origin of Sītā. Descendants of Kuśadhwaja. Kriti the last of the Maithila princes.

THE son of Ikṣvāku, who was named Nimi[1], instituted a sacrifice that was to endure for a thousand years, and applied to Vaśiṣṭha to offer the oblations. Vaśiṣṭha in answer said, that he had been preengaged by Indra for five hundred years, but that if the Rājā, would wait for some time, he would come and officiate as superintending priest. The king made no answer, and Vaśiṣṭha went away, supposing that he had assented. When the sage had completed the performance of the ceremonies he had conducted for Indra, he returned with all speed to Nimi, purposing to render him the like office. When he arrived, however, and found that Nimi had retained Gautama and other priests to minister at his sacrifice, he was much displeased, and pronounced upon the king, who was then asleep, a curse to this effect, that since he had not intimated his intention, but transferred to Gautama the duty he had first entrusted to himself, Vaśiṣṭha, Nimi should thenceforth cease to exist in a corporeal form. When Nimi woke, and knew what had happened, he in return denounced as an imprecation upon his unjust preceptor, that he also should lose his bodily existence, as the punishment of uttering a curse upon him without previously communicating with him. Nimi then abandoned his bodily condition. The spirit of Vaśiṣṭha also leaving his body, was united with the spirits of Mitra and Varuṇa for a season, until, through their passion for the nymph Urvaśī, the sage was born again in a different shape. The corpse of Nimi was preserved from decay by being embalmed with fragrant oils and resins, and it remained as entire as if it were immortal[2]. When the sacrifice was concluded, the priests applied to the gods, who had come to receive their portions, that they would confer a blessing upon the author of the sacrifice. The gods were willing to restore him to bodily life, but Nimi declined its acceptance, saying, “O deities, who are the alleviators of all worldly suffering, there is not in the world a deeper cause of distress than the separation of soul and body: it is therefore my wish to dwell in the eyes of all beings, but never more to resume a corporeal shape!” To this desire the gods assented, and Nimi was placed by them in the eyes of all living creatures; in consequence of which their eyelids are ever opening and shutting.

As Nimi left no successor, the Munis, apprehensive of the consequences of the earth being without a ruler, agitated the body of the prince, and produced from it a prince who was called Janaka, from being born without a progenitor. In consequence of his father being without a body (videha), he was termed also Vaideha, ‘the son of the bodiless;’ and the further received the name of Mithi, from having been produced by agitation (mathana)[3]. The son of Janaka was Udāvasu; his son was Nandivarddhana; his son was Suketu; his son was Devarāta; his son was Vrihaduktha; his son was Mahāvīrya; his son was Satyadhriti; his son was Dhṛṣṭaketu; his son was Haryyaśva; his son was Maru; his son was Pratibandhaka; his son was Kritaratha; his son was Krita; his son was Vibudha; his son was Mahādhriti; his son was Kritirāta; his son was Mahāroman; his son was Suvarṇaroman; his son was Hraswaroman; his son was Sīradhwaja.

Sīradhwaja ploughing the ground, to prepare it for a sacrifice which he instituted in order to obtain progeny, there sprang up in the furrow a damsel, who became his daughter Sītā[4]. The brother of Sīradhwaja was Kuśadhwaja, who was king of Kāśī[5]; he had a son also, named Bhānumat[6]. The son of Bhānumat was Satadyumna; his son was Śuci; his son was Ūrjjavāha; his son was Śatyadhwaja; his son was Kuni[7]; his son was Añjana; his son was Ritujit; his son was Aṛṣṭanemi[8]; his son was Śrutāyus; his son was Supārśva; his son was Sañjaya[9]; his son was Kṣemāri[10]; his son was Anenas[11]; his son was Mīnaratha[12]; his son was Satyaratha; his son was Sātyarathi[13]; his son was Upagu[14]; his son was Śruta[15]; his son was Sāswata[16]; his son was Sudhanwan; his son was Subhāsa; his son was Suśruta[17]; his son was Jaya; his son was Vijaya; his son was Rita; his son was Sunaya[18]; his son was Vītahavya; his son was Dhriti; his son was Bahulāśva; his son was Kriti, with whom terminated the family of Janaka. These are the kings of Mithilā, who for the most part will be[19] proficient in spiritual knowledge[20].

Footnotes and references:


None of the authorities, except the Vāyu and Bhāgavata, contain the series of kings noticed in this chapter.


This shews that the Hindus were not unacquainted with the Egyptian art of embalming dead bodies. In the Kāśī Khaṇḍa, s. 30, an account is given of a Brahman who carries his mother's bones, p. 389 or rather her corpse, from Setuhandha or Rāmeśvara to Kāśī. For this purpose he first washes it with the five excretions of a cow, and the five pure fluids, or milk, curds, ghee, honey, and sugar. He then embalms it with Yakṣakarddama, a composition of Agallochum, camphor, musk, saffron, sandal, and a resin called Kakkola; and envelopes it severally with Netra vastra, flowered muslin; Paṭṭamvara, silk; Surasa vastra, coarse cotton; Māñjiṣṭha, cloth dyed with madder; and Nepala Kambala, nepal blanketing. He then covers it with pure clay, and puts the whole into a coffin of copper, Tāmra sampuṭa. These practices are not only unknown, but would be thought impure in the present day.


These legends are intended to explain, and were probably suggested by, the terms Vaideha and Mithilā, applied to the country upon the Gandak and Kai rivers, the modern Tirhut. The Rāmāyaṇa places a prince named Mithi between Nimi and Janaka, whence comes the name Mithilā. In other respects the list of kings of Mithilā agrees, except in a few names. Janaka the successor of Nimi is different from Janaka who is celebrated as the father of Sīta. One of them, which, does not appear, is also renowned as a philosopher, and patron of philosophical teachers. Mahābhārata, Mokṣa Dharma. According to the Vāyu P., Nimi founded a city called Jayantapur, near the Āśrama of Gautama. The remains of a city called Janakpur, on the northern skirts of the district, are supposed to indicate the site of a city founded by one of the princes so named.


This identifies Sīradhwaja with the second Janaka, the father-in-law of Rāma. The story of Sītā's birth, or rather discovery, is narrated in the Arānya Khaṇḍa of the Rāmāyaṇa, the Vana Parva of the Mahābhārata, and in the Vāyu, Brahma Vaivartta, Kālikā, and other Purāṇas.


The Rāmāyaṇa says, ‘of Saṅkaśya,’ which is no doubt the correct reading. Fa Hian found the kingdom of Sang-kia-shi in the Doab, about Mainpuri. Account of the Foe-kuë-ki. The Bhāgavata makes Kuśadhwaja the son of Sīradwaja.


The Bhāgavata differs from our authority here considerably, by inserting several princes between Kūsadhwaja and Bhānumat; or, Dharmadhwaja, who has two sons, Kritadhwaja and Khāṇḍikya; the former is the father of Keśidhwaja, the latter of Bhānumat. See the last book of the Viṣṇu.


Śakuni, and the last of the series, according to the Vāyu,


Between this prince and Śuci the series of the Bhāgavata is Sanadhwaja, Urddhwaketu, Aja, Purujit. The following variations are from the same authority.


















Yuyudhāna, Subhāṣaṇa, Śruta.




### is the reading of all the copies; but why the future verb, ‘will be,’ is used does not appear.


Descendants of two of the other sons of the Manu are noticed in the Bhāgavata; from Nriga, it is said, proceeded Sumati, Bhūtajyotish, Vasu, Pratīka, Oghavat, and his sister Oghavatī, married to Sudarśana. The Liṅga gives three sons to Nriga, Vṛṣa, Dhṛṣṭaka, and Raṇadhṛṣṭa, and alludes to a legend of his having been changed to a lizard by the curse of a Brahman. Nariṣyanta's descendants were Citrasena, Dakṣa, Madhwat, Pūrva, Indrasena, Vītihotra, Satyaśrava, Uruśravas, Devadatta, Agniveśya, also called Jātukarṇa, a form of Agni, and progenitor of the Āgniveśya Brahmans. In the Brāhma P. and Hari V. the sons of Nariṣyat, whom the commentator on the latter considers as the same with Nariṣyanta, are termed Sacas, Sacæ or Scythians; whilst, again, it is said that the son of Nariṣyanta was Dama, or, as differently read, Yams. As this latter affiliation is stated in the authorities, it would appear as if this Nariṣyanta was one of the sons of the Manu; but this is only a proof of the carelessness of the compilation, for in the Viṣṇu, Vāyu, and Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇas, Nariṣyanta, the father of Dama, is the son of Marutta, the fourteenth of the posterity of Diṣṭa or Nediṣṭa.

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