Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Brihaspati included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Bṛhaspati

The teacher of the devas (Gods).


The father of Bṛhaspati was Aṅgiras, the son of Brahmā. Brahmā grew amorous, at the sight of some celestial maids who were present at a sacrifice performed by Rudra; and he had seminal flow. Brahmā put the semen in fire. From that fire the devas such as Marīci, Bhṛgu, Aṅgiras and others were born. The name Aṅgiras was given because he was born out of aṅgāra (live-coal). Eight sons were born to Aṅgiras by his wife Vasudā. They were Utathya, Bṛhaspati, Vayasya, Śānti, Ghora, Virūpa, Saṃvarta and Sudhanvā. All of them were sages who had attained oneness with the supreme Spirit by knowledge, and who had been free from worldly pain. Of them Bṛhaspati, Utathya and Saṃvarta became famous through all the worlds. In some purāṇas Vasudā, the mother of Bṛhaspati, is given the name Śraddhā also.

It is stated that Bṛhaspati had a sister named Āṅgirasī. She was a follower of the Brahmā cult. She became the wife of Prabhāsa the last one of the eight Vasus.* Viśvakarmā was her son. (Bhāgavata Skandha 4, Mahābhārata, Ādi Parva, Chapter 66).

Is Bṛhaspati the son of Agni?

In some purāṇas Bṛhaspati is described as the son of Agni. Its authority is given below. Aṅgiras, the father of Bṛhaspati was once doing penance in his hermitage. When the fire of penance increased the brightness of the real fire decreased. Agni (fire) stood before Aṅgiras and said "Oh Lord! your brightness surpasses mine. From this day onwards you are the real fire. So you shall be the first fire and I will be the fire of Prajāpati which is the second fire."

Because of this boon of Agni, the devas (gods), recognized Aṅgiras also as a fire-god. So in some Purāṇas Bṛhaspati is mentioned as the son of Agni (fire-god). (Bhāgavata, Skandha 4).

Teacher of the Devas.

The story of how Bṛhaspati became the teacher of the devas, is given in the Bhāṣābhārata, Chapter 76 as shown below:

"The Suras and the asuras (the gods and the demons) became enemies from time immemorial, regarding the possession of wealth and prosperity in the three worlds. To secure victory in the battles the gods made Bṛhaspati their teacher and likewise the asuras made Śukra their teacher."

The devas and asuras began to fight for prosperity and wealth. At that time the devas selected Bṛhaspati and the asuras selected Śukra, as their teacher.

The conjugality of Bṛhaspati.

Tārā was the wife of Bṛhaspati. She was very beautiful. Seeing Candra’s handsome figure she doted on him. There arose several quarrels over this affair. Finally the devas intervened and Tārā was given back to Bṛhaspatī. Budha was born to Candra by Tārā.

The individual called Tāra in the family of the monkeys, was a son of Bṛhaspati. It is mentioned in Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Bāla Kāṇḍa, Sarga 17, Stanza 10 as follows, which proves this fact.

"Bṛhaspati begot the mighty monkey Tāra." In the Ṛgveda, Maṇḍala 1, Anuvāka 19, Sūkta 126, it is mentioned that Bṛhaspati had a daughter named Romaśā. When her husband teased her Romaśā said to her husband: "You please come and feel your hand on my body. Don't think that my organs are small. Though I am hairy like the goats of Gāndhāra, I have got all the organs fully grown." This is the statement in the Ṛgveda. In the Uttara Rāmāyaṇa, it is stated that Bṛhaspati had a Brāhmaṇa son named Kuśadhvaja, and that a daughter named Devavatī was born to Kuśadhvaja. Devavatī was born from his mouth while Kuśadhvaja was engaged in devotional recitation of the Vedas. Sītā was the rebirth of this Devavatī. It is stated in the Mahābhārata, Ādi Parva, Chapter 67, Stanza 69, that Droṇa, the son of Bharadvāja, was born from a portion of Bṛhaspati. Kaca was another son of Bṛhaspati. For full particulars of the story how Devayānī (daughter of Śukra) hankered after Kaca, see 'Kaca'. Mention is made in Mahābhārata, Vana Parva, Chapter 219, Stanza 1, that Bṛhaspati had a wife called Cāndramasī and that she gave birth to six Agnis. In Kampa Rāmāyaṇa, Yuddhakāṇḍa mention is made that Bṛhaspati had a daughter named Sulekhā. Six sons and a daughter were born to Cāndramasī. The six sons were six Agnis (fires): In sacrifices the burnt offerings and the ghee were the portions meant for the great and mighty fire Śamyu, the son of Bṛhaspati. It is to satisfy this great fire which blazes with numberless pointed tongues, that in sacrifices such as Cāturmāsya, Aśvamedha etc. animals are slaughtered. The daughter of Dharma was the wife of Śaṃyu. The name of the wonderful being (Śamyu’s wife) is Satyā. A son named Dīpti and three daughters were born to Śamyu. The son of Dīpti is Bharadvāja who is the recipient of first portion of Ghee oblated in sacrifice. On all full-moon days offerings of sacrifices are meant for Bharata. Bharata had a son named Bhārata and a daughter named Bhāratī. Bharata the Agni is said to be the son of the Agni who is Prajāpati Bharata. Thus Bharata got the famous name 'the great'. Bharata married Vīrā and a son was born to them called Vīra. This Vīra like Soma is the recipient of sacrificial ghee, according to the belief of the Brāhmaṇas. As this Vīra is the recipient of the second ghee offered in sacrifice, as Soma, he is known by names such as Rathaprabhu, Rathadhvāna and Kumbharetas. Vīra married Sarayū and became the father of Siddhi—Siddhi the Agnidevatā—who is remembered in all fire songs. Fire which has no action on prosperity, fame and vigour has the name Niścyavana. Niścyavana praises the earth. Satya is the son of Niścyavana. Satya which blazes by flame determines time. Satya is known by another name Niṣkṛti. The Agni Svana spreads diseases. The Agnis called Vipulaprabha, Yatātmā and Brahmacāri are invoked in simple domestic sacrifices by Brāhmaṇas. The awful fire Baḍavāgni is supported by life. The sixth son of Bṛhaspati and Tārā is called Śvetakṛt. The oblation offered to this Agni is known as Udadvāra. Svāhā was the daughter of Cāndramasī. Svāhā had three sons. They are three Agnis called Kāmāgni, Amogha, and Ukthya. (Bhāgavata, Skandha 4).

Growing amorous on the wife of elder brother.

A story stating how Bṛhaspati begot a son by the wife of Utathya is given in Skandha 9 of Bhāgavata. Mamatā, the wife of Utathya, was pregnant. Bṛhaspati had coition with her when her husband was away. The mother and the child in the womb who opposed the act of Bṛhaspati were cursed. Mamatā gave birth to two children. Fearing that her husband might cast her out she left the son of Bṛhaspati in the forest and was about to go, when there was a divine voice from above, "Mūḍhe, Bharadvājamimam bhara dvājaṃ Bṛhaspate." "You senseless woman, bring up this one born of the two. Bṛhaspati, bring up this one born of the two." Hearing this ethereal voice Bṛhaspati took the child and gave him the name Bharadvāja and brought him up. After that the child was given to emperor Bharata. The famous archer Droṇa was the son of this Bharadvāja.

Personation of Bṛhaspati.

The enmity between the devas and asuras increased day by day. Śukrācārya the teacher of the asuras began to do penance before Śiva in the Himālayas, with a view to get a divine spell or incantation to destroy the devas. The duration of the penance was thousand years. Indra came to know of this secret and sent his daughter Jayantī to get the spell from Śukra by deceit. She stayed with Śukra as his disciple and servant. Thousand years passed by. Śiva appeared before Śukra and gave him the spell, capable of destroying the devas. When he was about to return Jayantī accepted him as her husband. Because of his familiarity with her, of a long standing, he could not refuse her request. Śukra told her that he would become her husband, for a period of ten years and that during that period both of them would be invisible to the world. Thus the couple began an invisible life.

Bṛhaspati thought of making the best use of this period. He personated himself as Śukrācārya and went to the Asuras, who thinking that their teacher had returned after a long penance gave him a loving and sincere welcome. Bṛhaspati sat on the seat of Śukrācārya and began to exhort the asuras in such a manner that within the period of ten years he was able to remove factionalism and hatred from them.

At the expiry of ten years' invisible life Śukra returned having sent Jayantī away. The asuras saw two Śukras together and were amazed. They declared that the real Śukra was he who had been teaching them for the last ten years. Being dismayed at the ingratitude of the asuras he cursed them that they would shortly be destroyed and then left the place. At this juncture Bṛhaspati also assumed his real form and returned to heaven. Thus the asuras became a people without a leader like sheep without a shepherd. At last they approached their teacher Śukra who became their teacher again, when they begged for his pardon. But he said that his curse could not be recalled. But he gave them absolution by saying that they would regain their lost power during the time of Manu Sāvarṇi. (Devī Bhāgavata, Skandha 4).

Cursing Rāvaṇa.

Once Rāvaṇa was returning haughty and proud after having defeated the devas and conquered heaven, when Sulekhā the daughter of Bṛhaspati, got terrified and ran away to hide herself from him. Rāvaṇa chased her and when she was caught he tried to ravish her. Bṛhaspati got angry and cursed him. "You, who have grown rank by the dart of Cupid, will meet with death by the dart of Rāma". (Kampa Rāmāyaṇa, Yuddha Kāṇḍa).

Bṛhaspati and Hanūmān.

Añjanā the mother of Hanūmān was a servant of Bṛhaspati in her previous birth. Her name then was Puñjikāsthalī. She once went to fetch water. At that time many Vidyādhara young people, both male and female, came there and engaged in amorous acts. Puñjikāsthalī witnessed these love scenes for a long time and then returned home. It is mentioned in Kampa Rāmāyaṇa that Bṛhaspati cursed her to be born in the next birth as a female monkey.

Añjanā gave birth to Hanūmān. When he grew up Hanūmān desired to learn Vedas and Śāstras (scriptures). Hanūmān approached Bṛhaspati to learn from him. But Bṛhaspati was not prepared to teach a monkey who jumped about everywhere. The disappointed Hanūmān went to the Sun, who asked him how it could be done by him as he was engaged in travelling without stop. Hanūmān said that he would move in front of the sun always. Thus Hanūmān who had been rejected by Bṛhaspati became the disciple of the Sun. (Uttara Rāmāyaṇa).

Other information.

(1) It is mentioned in Devī Bhāgavata, Skandha 1, that Bṛhaspati was the teacher of the hermit Śuka.

(2) In Agni Purāṇa, Chapter 51, it is instructed that Bṛhaspati should be consecrated in temples as wearing a necklace of beads (Elaeo carpus seeds) and a water pot.

(3) Mention is made in the Mahābhārata, Ādi Parva, Chapter 169, Stanza 21 that Bṛhaspati gave Bharadvāja Āgneyāstra (the arrow of fire).

(4) During the period of emperor Pṛthu, when the Earth-goddess was changed into a cow the gods employed Bṛhaspati to milk the cow to obtain the things they needed. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 69).

(5) Once Bṛhaspati gave Subrahmaṇya a stick as a present. (Mahābhārata Śalya Parva, Chapter 46).

(6) Once Bṛhaspati advised Indra to use sweet words. (Mahābhārata Śānti Parva, Chapter 84).

(7) Once Bṛhaspati got angry with Mahāviṣṇu at the sacrificial hall of Uparicaravasu. (Mahābhārata Śānti Parva, Chapter 336, Stanza 14).

(8) Bṛhaspati cursed the Jaladevatās (goddesses of water). (Mahābhārata Śānti Parva, Chapter 242, Stanza 27).

(9) Bṛhaspati and Candra are said to be Brāhmaṇa Kings. (Mahābhārata Aśvamedha Parva, Chapter 9, Stanza 8).


Bṛhaspati was a deep thinker and one who had firm convictions in many matters. He was a man of vast knowledge. Every movement of the gods had its origin in the brains of Bṛhaspati. There is no philosophy which does not contain the exhortations made by Bhaspati at various times to the devas (gods) or kings or hermits.

*) It is stated in Mahābhārata, Vana Parva, Chapter 218 that the mother of Bṛhaspati had another name, Śubhā, and that Bṛhaspati had six more brothers, born later, named Bṛhatkīrti, Bṛhatjyoti, Bṛhadbrahmā, Bṛhadmanā, Bṛhadmantra, and Bṛhadbhāsa and that Āṅgirasī had the name Bhānumatī also.

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