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 - Lineage of Puruvasas and Jahnu

Sons of Purūravas. Descendants of Amāvasu. Indra born as Gādhī. Legend of Ricīka and Satyavatī. Birth of Jamadagni and Viśvāmitra. Paraśurāma the son of the former. (Legend of Paraśurāma.) Sunahśephas and others the sons of Viśvāmitra, forming the Kauśika race.

PURŪRAVAS had six sons, Āyus, Dhīmat, Amāvasu, Viśvavasu, Śatāyus, and Śrutāyus[1]. The son of Amāvasu was Bhīma[2]; his son was Kāñcana[3]; his son was Suhotra[4], whose son was Jahnu. This prince, whilst performing a sacrifice, saw the whole of the place overflowed by the waters of the Ganges. Highly offended at this intrusion, his eyes red with anger, he united the spirit of sacrifice with himself, by the power of his devotion, and drank up the river. The gods and sages upon this came to him, and appeased his indignation, and reobtained Gaṅgā from him, in the capacity of his daughter (whence she is called Jāhnavī)[5].

The son of Jahnu was Sumantu[6]; his son was Ajaka; his son was Valākāśva[7]; his son was Kuśā[8], who had four sons, Kuśāmba, Kuśanābha, Amūrttaya, and Amāvasu[9]. Kuśāmba, being desirous of a son, engaged in devout penance to obtain one who should be equal to Indra. Observing the intensity of his devotions, Indra was alarmed lest a prince of power like his own should be engendered, and determined therefore to take upon himself the character of Kuśāmba's son[10]. He was accordingly born as Gādhi, of the race of Kuśa (Kauśika). Gādhi had a daughter named Satyavatī. Ricīka, of the descendants of Bhrigu, demanded her in marriage. The king was very unwilling to give his daughter to a peevish old Brahman, and demanded of him, as the nuptial present, a thousand fleet horses, whose colour should be white, with one black ear. Ricīka having propitiated Varuṇa, the god of ocean, obtained from him, at the holy place called Aśvatīrtha, a thousand such steeds; and giving them to the king, espoused his daughter[11].

In order to effect the birth of a son, Ricīka[12] prepared a dish of rice, barley, and pulse, with butter and milk, for his wife to eat; and at her request he consecrated a similar mixture for her mother, by partaking of which she should give birth to a prince of martial prowess. Leaving both dishes with his wife, after describing particularly which was intended for her, and which for her mother, the sage went forth to the forests. When the time arrived for the food to be eaten, the queen said to Satyavatī, “Daughter, all persons wish their children to be possessed of excellent qualities, and would be mortified to see them surpassed by the merits of their mother's brother. It will be desirable for you, therefore, to give me the mess your husband has set apart for you, and to eat of that intended for me; for the son which it is to procure me is destined to be the monarch of the whole world, whilst that which your dish would give you must be a Brahman, alike devoid of affluence, valour, and power.” Satyavatī agreed to her mother's proposal, and they exchanged messes.

When Ricīka returned home, and beheld Satyavatī, he said to her, “Sinful woman, what hast thou done! I view thy body of a fearful appearance. Of a surety thou hast eaten the consecrated food which was prepared for thy mother: thou hast done wrong. In that food I had infused the properties of power and strength and heroism; in thine, the qualities suited to a Brahman, gentleness, knowledge, and resignation. In consequence of having reversed my plans, thy son shall follow a warrior's propensities, and use weapons, and fight, and slay. Thy mother's son shall be born with the inclinations of a Brahman, and be addicted to peace and piety.” Satyavatī, hearing this, fell at her husband's feet, and said, “My lord, I have done this thing through ignorance; have compassion on me; let me not have a son such as thou hast foretold: if such there must be, let it be my grandson, not my son.” The Muni, relenting at her distress, replied, “So let it be.” Accordingly in due season she gave birth to Jamadagni; and her mother brought forth Viswamitra. Satyavatī afterwards became the Kauśikī river[13]. Jamadagni married Reṇukā, the daughter of Reṇū, of the family of Ikṣvāku, and had by her the destroyer of the Kṣatriya race, Paraśurāma, who was a portion of Nārāyaṇa, the spiritual guide of the universe[14].

Footnotes and references:


Considerable variety prevails in these names, and the Matsya, Padma, Brāhma, and Agni enumerate eight. The lists are as follows:


Son of Vijaya: Bhāgavata. This line of princes is followed only in our text, the Vāyu, Brāhma, and Hari V., and the Bhāgavata.


Kāñcanaprabha: Brāhma.


Hotraka: Bhāgavata.


The Brāhma P. and Hari V. add of this prince, that he was the husband of Kāverī, the daughter of Yuvanāśva, who by the imprecation of her husband became the Kāverī river: another indication of the Dakṣina origin of these works. The p. 399 Hari V. has another Jahnu, to whom it gives the same spouse, as we shall hereafter see.


Sunuta: Brāhma. Puru: Bhāgavata.


Valaka: Brāhma. Ajaka: Bhāgavata.


The Brāhma P. and Hari V. add that Kūśa was in alliance with the Pahlavas and foresters.


Our authorities differ as to these names:


The Brāhma and Hari V. make Gādhi the son of Kuśika; the Vāyu and Bhāgavata, of Kuśānaba; the Rāmāyaṇa, of Kuśanābha.


The Rāmāyaṇa notices the marriage, but has no legend. The Mahābhārata, Vans P., has a rather more detailed narration, but much the same as in the text. According to the commentator, Aśvatīrtha is in the district of Kanoj; perhaps at the confluence of the Kālanadī with the Ganges. The agency of the god of Ocean in procuring horses, is a rather curious additional coincidence between Varuṇa and Neptune.


In the Mahābhārata, Bhrigu, the father of Ricīka, prepares the Caru.


So the Rāmāyaṇa, after stating that Satyavatī followed her husband in death, adds, that she became the Kauśikī river; the Cosi, which, rising in Nepal, flows through Puraniya into the Ganges, opposite nearly to Rājamahal.


The text omits the story of Paraśurāma, but as the legend makes a great figure in the Vaiṣṇava works in general, I have inserted it from the Mahābhārata, where it is twice related, once in the Vana Parva, and once in the Rājadharma section of the Śānti Parva. It is told also at length in the ninth book of the Bhāgavata, in the Padma and Agni Purāṇas, &c.

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