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 XI - Race of Yadu, An account of Arjuna, the lord of a thousand arms

The Yādava race, or descendants of Yadu. Kārttavīrya obtains a boon from Dattātreya: takes Rāvaṇa prisoner: is killed by Paraśurāma: his descendants.

I WILL first relate to you the family of Yadu, the eldest son of Yayāti, in which the eternal immutable Viṣṇu descended upon earth in a portion of his essence[1]; of which the glory cannot be described, though for ever hymned in order to confer the fruit of all their wishes—whether they desired virtue, wealth, pleasure, or liberation—upon all created beings, upon men, saints, heavenly quiristers, spirits of evil, nymphs, centaurs, serpents, birds, demons, gods, sages, Brahmans, and ascetics. Whoever hears the account of the race of Yadu shall be released from all sin; for the supreme spirit, that is without form, and which is called Viṣṇu, was manifested in this family.

Yadu had four sons, Sahasrajit, Kroṣṭi, Nala, and Raghu[2]. Śatajit was the son of the elder of these, and he had three sons, Haihaya, Veṇu[3], and Haya. The son of Haihaya was Dharmanetra[4]; his son was Kuntī[5]; his son was Sāhañji[6]; his son was Mahishmat[7]; his son was Bhadrasena[8]; his son was Durdama; his son was Dhanaka[9], who had four sons, Kritavīryya, Kritāgni, Kritavarman, and Kritaujas. Kritavīryya's son was Arjuna, the sovereign of the seven Dvīpas, the lord of a thousand arms. This prince propitiated the sage Dattātreya, the descendant of Atri, who was a portion of Viṣṇu, and solicited and obtained from him these boons—a thousand arms; never acting unjustly; subjugation of the world by justice, and protecting it equitably; victory over his enemies; and death by the hands of a person renowned in the three regions of the universe. With these means he ruled over the whole earth with might and justice, and offered ten thousand sacrifices. Of him this verse is still recited; “The kings of the earth will assuredly never pursue his steps in sacrifice, in munificence, in devotion, in courtesy, and in self-control.” In his reign nothing was lost or injured; and so he governed the whole earth with undiminished health, prosperity, power, and might, for eighty five thousand years. Whilst sporting in the waters of the Narmadā, and elevated with wine, Rāvaṇa came on his tour of triumph to the city Māhishmatī, and there he who boasted of overthrowing the gods, the Daityas, the Gandharvas and their king, was taken prisoner by Kārttavīrya, and confined like a tame beast in a corner of his capital[10]. At the expiration of his long reign Kārttavīrya was killed by Paraśurāma, who was an embodied portion of the mighty Nārāyaṇa[11]. Of the hundred sons of this king, the five principal were Śūra[12], Śūrasena, Vṛṣaṇa[13], Madhu[14], and Jayadhwaja[15]. The son of the last was Tālajaṅgha, who had a hundred sons, called after him Tālajaṅghas: the eldest of these was Vītihotra; another was Bharata[16], who had two sons, Vṛṣa and Sujātī[17]. The son of Vṛṣa was Madhu[18]; he had a hundred sons, the chief of whom was Vṛṣṇi, and from him the family obtained the name of Vṛṣṇi[19]. From the name of their father, Madhu, they were also called Mādhavas; whilst from the denomination of their common ancestor Yadu, the whole were termed Yādavas[20].

This page consists solely of footnotes.

Footnotes and references:


Or, ‘in which Kṛṣṇa was born.’ It might have been expected, from the importance of this genealogy, that it would have been so carefully preserved, that the authorities would have closely coñcurred in its details. Although, however, the leading specifications coincide, yet, as we shall have occasion to notice, great and irreconcilable variations occur.


The two first generally agree. There are differences in the rest; as,


Veṇuhaya: Bhāgavata, &c. Uttānahaya: Padma. Veṭṭahaya: Matsya. They were the sons of Sahasrāda: Brāhma and Hari V.


Dharmatantra: Vāyu. Dharma: Kūrma.


Kīrtti: Vāyu.


Sañjñeya: Vāyu. Saṅkana: Agni. Sahañja of Sahañjani pura: Brāhma. Sañjñita: Liṅga. Sanhana: Matsya. Sohañji: Bhāgavata.


By whom the city of Māhīṣmatī on the Narbadda was founded: Brāhma P., Hari V.


So the Bhāgavata; but the Vāyu, more correctly, has Bhadrasreṇya. See p. 407. n. 12.


Kanaka: Vāyu, &c. Varaka: Liṅga. Andhaka: Kūrma.


According to the Vāyu, Kārttavīrya was the aggressor, invading Laṅkā, and there taking Rāvaṇa prisoner. The circumstances are more usually narrated as in our text.


See page 402. Kārttavīrya's fate was the consequence of an imprecation denounced by Āpava or Vaśiṣṭha, the son of Varuṇa, whose hermitage had been burnt, according to the Mahābhārata, Rāja-dharma, by Citrabhānu, or Fire, to whom the king had in his bounty presented the world. The Vāyu makes the king himself the incendiary, with arrows given him by Sūrya to dry up the ocean.


Urjjita: Bhāgavata.


Vṛṣabha: Bhāgavata. Dhṛṣṭa: Matsya. Dhṛṣṇa: Kūrma. Pṛṣokta: Padma. Vṛṣṇi: Liṅga. Kṛṣṇākṣa: Brāhma.


Kṛṣṇa, in all except the Bhāgavata.


King of Avanti: Brāhma and Hari Vaṃśa.


Ananta: Vāyu and Agni; elsewhere omitted.


Durjaya only: Vāyu, Matsya.


This Madhu, according to the Bhāgavata, was the son of Kārttavīrya. The Brāhma and Hari V. make him the son of Vṛṣa, but do not say whose son Vṛṣa was. The commentator on the latter asserts that the name is a synonyme of Payoda, the son of Yadu, according to his authority, and to that alone.


The Bhāgavata agrees with our text, but the Brāhma, Hari V., Liṅga, and Kūrma make Vṛṣaṇa the son of Madhu, and derive the family name of Vṛṣṇis or Vārṣṇeyas from him.


The text takes no notice of some collateral tribes, which appear to merit remark. Most of the other authorities, in mentioning the sons of Jayadhwaja, observe that from them came the five great divisions of the Haihaya tribe. These, according to the Vāyu, were the Tālajaṅghas, Vītihotras, Āvantyas, Tuṇḍikeras, and Jātas. The Matsya and Agni omit the first, and substitute Bhojas; and the latter are included in the list in the Brāhma, Padma, Liṅga, and Hari V. For Jātas the reading is Sañjātas or Sujātas. The Brāhma P. has also Bhāratas, who, as well as the Sujātas, are not commonly specified, it is said, ‘from their great number.’ They are in all probability invented by the compiler out of the names of the text, Bharata and Sujāti. The situation of these tribes is central India, for the capital of the Tālajaṅghas was Māhishmatī or Culī-Maheswar, still called, according to Col. Tod, Sahasra-bāhuki-basti, ‘the village of the thousand-armed;’ that is, of Kārttavīryya. Annals of Rajasthan, I. 39. n. The Tuṇḍikeras and Vītihotras are placed in the geographical lists behind the Vindhyan mountains, and the termination -kaira is common in the valley of the Narmadā, as Bairkaira, &c., or we may have Tuṇḍikera abbreviated, as Tuṇḍari on the Tapti. The Āvantyas were in Ujayin, and the Bhojas were in the neighbourhood probably of Dhār in Malwa. These tribes must have preceded, then, the Rajput tribes, by whom these countries are now occupied, or Rahtores, Chauhans, Pawars, Gehlotes, and the rest. There are still some vestiges of them, and a tribe of Haihayas still exists, at the top of the valley of Sohagpur in Bhagel-khaṇḍ, aware of their ancient lineage, and though p. 419 few in number, celebrated for their valour. Tod's Rajasthan, I. 39. The scope of the traditions regarding them, especially of their overrunning the country, along with Śakas and other foreign tribes, in the reign preceding that of Sagara (see p. 373), indicates their foreign origin also; and if we might trust to verbal resemblances, we might suspect that the Hayas and Haihayas of the Hindus had some connexion with the Hia, Hoiei-ke, Hoiei-hu, and similarly denominated Hun or Turk tribes, who make a figure in Chinese history. Des Guignes, Histoire des Huns, I. 7, 55, 231. II. 253, &c. At the same time it is to be observed that these tribes do not make their appearance until some centuries after the Christian era, and the scene of their first exploits is far from the frontiers of India: the coincidence of appellation may be therefore merely accidental. In the word Haya, which properly means ‘a horse,’ it is not impossible, however, that we have a confirmatory evidence of the Scythian origin of the Haihayas, as Col. Tod supposed; although we cannot with him imagine the word ‘horse’ itself is derived from haya. Rajasthan, I. 76.

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