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 XX - Dynasty of Kuru

Descendants of Kuru. Devāpi abdicates the throne: assumed by Śāntanu: he is confirmed by the Brahmans: Bhīṣma his son by Gaṅgā: his other sons. Birth of Dhritarāṣṭra, Pāṇḍu, and Vidura. The hundred sons of Dhritarāṣṭra. The five sons of Pāṇḍu: married to Draupadī: their posterity. Parīkṣit, the grandson of Arjuna, the reigning king.

PARĪKṢIT, the son of Kuru, had four sons, Janamejaya, Śrutasena, Ugrasena, and Bhīmasena[1]. The son of Jahnu was Suratha; his son was Vidūratha; his son was Sārvabhauma; his son was Jayasena Ārāvin; his son was Ayutāyus; his son was Akrodhana; one of his sons was Devatithi, and another was called Rikṣa; his son was Dilīpa; his son was Pratīpa, who had three sons, Devāpi, Śāntanu, and Bāhlīka. The first adopted in childhood a forest life, and Śāntanu became king. Of him this verse is spread through the earth; “Śāntanu is his name, because if he lays his hands upon an old man, he restores him to youth, and by him men obtain tranquillity (śānti).”

In the kingdom over which Śāntanu ruled there was no rain for twelve years. Apprehensive that the country would become a desert, the king assembled the Brahmans, and asked them why no rain fell, and what fault he had committed. They told him that he was as it were a younger brother married before an elder, for he was in the enjoyment of the earth, which was the right of his elder brother Devāpi. “What then am I to do?” said the Rājā: to which they replied, “Until the gods shall be displeased with Devāpi, by his declining from the path of righteousness, the kingdom is his, and to him therefore you should resign it.” When the minister of the king, Asmarisārin, heard this, he collected a number of ascetics who taught doctrines opposed to those of the Vedas, and sent them into the forest; where meeting with Devāpi, they perverted the understanding of the simple-minded prince, and led him to adopt heretical notions. In the meantime, Śāntanu being much distressed to think that he had been guilty of the offence intimated by the Brahmans, sent them before him into the woods, and then proceeded thither himself, to restore the kingdom to his elder brother. When the Brahmans arrived at the hermitage of Devāpi, they informed him, that, according to the doctrines of the Vedas, succession to a kingdom was the right of the elder brother: but he entered into discussion with them, and in various ways advanced arguments which had the defect of being contrary to the precepts of the Vedas. When the Brahmans heard this, they turned to Śāntanu, and said, “Come hither, Rājā; you need give yourself no further trouble in this matter; the dearth is at an end: this man is fallen from his state, for he has uttered words of disrespect to the authority of the eternal, untreated Veda; and when the elder brother is degraded, there is no sin in the prior espousals of his junior.” Śāntanu thereupon returned to his capital, and administered the government as before; and his elder brother Devāpi being degraded from his caste by repeating doctrines contrary to the Vedas, Indra poured down abundant rain, which was followed by plentiful harvests[2].

The son of Bāhlīka was Somadatta, who had three sons, Bhūri, Bhūriśravas, and Śala[3].

The son of Śāntanu was the illustrious and learned Bhīṣma, who was born to him by the holy river-goddess, Gaṅgā; and he had by his wife Satyavatī two sons, Citrāṅgada and Vicitravīryya. Citrāṅgada, whilst yet a youth, was killed in a conflict with a Gandharva, also called Citrāṅgada. Vicitravīryya married Ambā and Ambalikā, the daughters of the king of Kāśī; and indulging too freely in connubial rites, fell into a consumption, of which he died. By command of Satyavatī, my son Kṛṣṇa-dwaipāyana, ever obedient to his mother's wishes[4], begot upon the widows of his brother the princes Dhritarāṣṭra and Pāṇḍu, and upon a female servant, Vidura. Dhritarāṣṭra had Duryodhana, Duhsāśana, and other sons, to the cumber of a hundred. Pāṇḍu having iñcurred the curse of a deer, whose mate he had killed in the chase, was deterred from procreating children; and his wife Kuntī, bare to him in consequence three sons, who were begotten by the deities Dharma, Vāyu, and Indra; namely, Yudhiṣṭhira, Bhīma, and Arjuna: and his wife Mādrī had two sons, Nakula and Sahadeva, by the celestial sons of Aśvinī. These had each a son by Draupadī. The son of Yudhiṣṭhira was Prativindhya; of Bhīma, Śrutasoma; of Arjuna, Śrutakīrtti; of Nakula, Śatānīka; and of Sahadeva, Śrutakarman. The Pāṇḍavas had also other sons[5]. By his wife Yaudheyī, Yudhiṣṭhira had Devaka.

The son of Bhīma by Hiḍimbā was Ghaṭotkaca, and he had also Sarvatraga by his wife Kāśī. The son of Sahadeva by Vijayā was Suhotra; and Niramitra was the son of Nakula by Kareṇumatī. Arjuna had Irāvat by the serpent-nymph Ulupī; Babhruvāhana, who was adopted as the son of his maternal grandfather, by the daughter of the king of Manipura; and, by his wife Subhadrā Abhimanyu, who even in extreme youth was renowned for his valour and his strength, and crushed the chariots of his foes in fight. The son of Abhimanyu by his wife Uttarā was Parīkṣit, who, after the Kurus were all destroyed, was killed in his mother's womb by the magic Brāhma weapon, hurled by Aswatthāman: he was however restored to life by the clemency of that being whose feet receive the homage of all the demons and the gods, and who for his own pleasure had assumed a human shape (Kṛṣṇa). This prince, Parīkṣit, now reigns over the whole world with undivided sway[6].

Footnotes and references:


This, although it occurs in other authorities, appears to be an error, for these are the sons of a subsequent Parīkṣit (see the next chapter, p. 461). The Matsya omits Parīkṣit here, and the Bhāgavata states that he had no children. In most of the Purāṇas, however, the line of Parīkṣit is continued, but there is very great confusion in the lineage. According to the Vāyu, Janamejaya was the son of Parīkṣit, whose son was Śrutasena, whose son was Bhīmasena. Janamejaya had also a son named Suratha; but Suratha was also the name of the son of Jahnu, from whom the line continues as in the text. The Brāhma P. and Hari V. also make Suratha the son both of Janamejaya and of Jahnu; and they observe that there are two Rikṣas, two Parīkṣits, three Bhīmasenas, and two Janamejayas, in the lunar race. Some of the confusion probably originates with the Mahābhārata, which, as before noticed, gives two lists from Puru to Śāntanu, differing from one another and from all the lists of the Purāṇas. In the first of these lists such collateral names have been retained as appear to have furnished our text and that of other Purāṇas with distinct persons: thus making the members of one fraternity so many descents. Of the two lists, however, the second is probably to be regarded as the more recent, if not more correct; for Vaiśāmpāyana repeats it at Janamejaya's request, because the latter is not satisfied with the summary account which the former had first communicated to him. Mahābh. vol. I, p. 136 and p. 138.


The Mahābhārata merely states that Devāpi retired to a religious life. The story of his heresy is narrated, much as in the text, in the Bhāgavata, Vāyu, &c. The Matsya adds, that he was also leprous; on which account his subjects contemned him. p. 459 He was probably set aside in favour of his younger brother, either on that account or on that of his heresy; such a disposition being conformable to Hindu law. According to the Bhāgavata and Matsya he is still alive at a place called Kalāpa grāma, where, in the Krita age of the next Mahāyuga, he will be the restorer of the Kṣatriya race.


The Matsya says that Bāhlīka had a hundred sons or lords of the Bahlīkas.


Before her marriage to Śāntanu, Satyavatī had a son, Kṛṣṇa-dwaipāyana or Vyāsa, by Parāśara: he was therefore the half brother of Vicitravīryya, and legally qualified to raise up offspring to him by his widow. This law is abrogated in the present age. The whole story of the sons of Śāntanu is told at length in the Mahābhārata.


The Mahābhārata names some of them rather differently, and adds some particulars. Thus Yaudheya was the son of Yudhiṣṭhira by his wife Devikā, daughter of Govāsana of the Śaivya tribe. The son of Bhīmasena was Sarvaga, by Balandharā, princess of Kāśī; he had also Ghaṭokkaca by Hiḍimbā. Abhimanyu was the p. 460 son of Arjuna by Subhadrā. The wives and sons of the other two are the same, but Kareṇumatī is termed a princess of Cedī, and Vijayā of Madra.


In the details immediately preceding, the Purāṇas generally coñcur, deriving them probably from the same source, the Ādi Parvan of the Mahābhārata, and employing very frequently the same words. The period at which the chapter closes is supposed to be that at which the Vyāsa, who arranged or compiled the Purāṇas, is believed to have flourished. Parīkṣit died of the bite of a snake, according to the Mahābhārata, Ādi P. The Bhāgavata is supposed to have been narrated to him in the interval between the bite and its fatal effect.

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