Puranic encyclopaedia

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

This page describes the Story of Vishvakarma 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 Viśvakarmā

The architect of the Devas.


Viśvakarmā is the son of Prabhāsa, the eighth of the Eight Vasus. Varastrī, the sister of Bṛhaspati, a celibate woman who had attained Yogasiddhi (union with the Universal Soul) and travelled all over the world was the wife of Prabhāsa. Prajāpati Viśvakarmā was born to Prabhāsa by Varastrī. This Viśvakarmā was the inventor of innumerable kinds of handicrafts, the architect of the gods, maker of all kinds of ornaments, and the most famous sculptor. He was the maker of all the aerial chariots of the Devas. (Viṣṇu Purāṇa, Aṃśa 1, Chapter 15).


Though mention is made about many children of Viśvakarmā in Various Purāṇas, five sons and four daughters are mostly spoken of. When Mahāviṣṇu took the incarnation of Śrī Rāma for a stipulated purpose, the devas took birth as monkeys in forests, to help Mahāviṣṇu. Mention is made in Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Bāla Kāṇḍa, Sarga 18, that Nala a very big monkey was begotten by Viśvakarmā.

The other four sons of Viśvakarmā are mentioned in Viṣṇu Purāṇa, Aṃśa 1, Chapter 15. Four sons named Ajaikapāt, Ahirbudhnya, Tvaṣṭā and Rudra were born to Viśvakarmā. The great hermit and sage Viśvarūpa was the son of Tvaṣṭā. Hara, Bahurūpa, Tryambaka, Aparājita, Vṛṣākapi, Śambhu, Kapardī, Raivata, Mṛgavyādha, Śarva, and Kapālī are the eleven Rudras. They are the Īśvaras (gods) of the three worlds. It is said that in this way there are one hundred Rudras with shining radiance.

The daughters of Viśvakarmā:—The four prominent daughters are Saṃjñā, Citrāṅgadā, Surūpā and Barhiṣmatī. The Sun married Saṃjñā. Sun got three children, Manu, Yama and Yamī by Saṃjñā. (Viṣṇu Purāṇa, Aṃśa 3, Chapter 2). Priyavrata, the brother of Uttānapāda, married Surūpā and Barhiṣmatī. Of these the first wife gave birth to ten sons named Agnīdhra, Idhmajihva, Yajñabāhu, Mahāvīra, Rukmaśukra, Ghṛtapṛṣṭha, Savana, Medhātithi, Vītihotra and Kavi and last of all a daughter named Ūrjjasvatī. Of these Kavi, Savana and Mahāvīra became abstemious and well-versed in Brahmavidyā (theosophy). By the other wife three other sons Uttama, Tāmasa and Raivata were born to Priyavrata. These grew up to be famous and gradually became lords of Manvantaras. This Priyavrata lived with his sons and ruled over the country for eleven Arbuda ages (Arbuda = ten crores). In spite of his old age, his faculties or his body did not become weak. (Devī Bhāgavata, Skandha 8).

Citrāṅgadā was the fourth daughter of Viśvakarmā. Ghṛtācī was her mother. The young and beautiful Citrāṅgadā one day went to bathe in the river in the Naimiṣa forest. When she got into the water the prince Suratha, the son of King Sudeva came there. Their eyes met. Both fell in love with each other. In spite of the advice of her maids she succumbed to the desire of the King. Knowing this her angry father Viśvakarmā came to her and said, "Since you have deviated from the path of righteousness and abandoned your soul to a libertine, you will not have marriage, and hence you will not enjoy the pleasures of having a husband or child." As soon as she was cursed, the river Sarasvatī carried the prince Suratha thirteen yojanas down along with her current. Because the King was washed away by the current Citrāṅgadā fell down unconscious. The maids sprinkled the water from the river Sarasvatī on her face. Still she lay there as dead. Thinking that she was dead, her maids went in different ways to fetch firewood and fire. When the maids were gone, she came to herself and looked on all sides. Seeing none of her maids in the vicinity, she felt miserable and jumped into the river Sarasvatī, and the current carried her down and pushed her into the great river Gomatī. Being aware of her future, the great river Gomatī pushed her down and placed her in a big forest where lions, leopards, tigers etc. lived in plenty.

A Guhyaka (a section of Yakṣas) who was going through the sky, saw Citrāṅgadā in the forest, and in reply to his enquiry she told her story to him. Guhyaka blessed her and advised her to go to the temple close by and to worship Śrīkaṇṭheśvara, so that every thing might end well. Accordingly Citrāṅgadā reached Śrīkaṇṭheśvara on the south of Kālindī, bathed in the Yamunā at noon and went to the temple and bowed before Śrīkaṇṭha Maheśvara.

At that time the hermit Ṛtadhvaja, well-versed in Sāmaveda came there to bathe. The hermit called Citrāṅgadā and enquired about her. She told the hermit all that had happened to her. Hearing her story, the hermit became angry and cursed Viśvakarmā. "Let that Viśvakarmā who has behaved so cruelly towards his own daughter become a monkey." Then he called Citrāṅgadā and said to her. "Good girl, go to the holy place called Saptagodāvara and worship Hāṭakeśvara Mahādeva. Devavatī, the daughter of the asura Kandāramālī the hermit woman Damayantī, the daughter of Āñjana, a Guhyaka, and Vedavatī the daughter of Parjanya would come there. At the time when these three young women meet together at Hāṭakeśvara, you will unite with your husband." Being overjoyed at the words of the hermit, Citrāṅgadā went to Saptagodāvara, lived there and worshipped Śiva. Ṛtadhvaja went on his way.

Viśvakarmā, transformed into a huge monkey, was causing havoc and devastation in the forest. Once the five-year-old son of Ṛtadhvaja, called Jābāli had gone to bathe in the river. The Viśvakarmā monkey chased this boy and caught him and taking him to the top of a Banyan tree, placed him close to the branches and tied him fast with creepers. After this the monkey went to Mahāmeru. As the second adventure, the monkey separated Damayantī from her father Añjana, a Guhyaka. Damayantī was born to Añjana by the celestial maid Pramlocā. Hermit Mudgala had once prophesied that this Damayantī would become the prominent wife of a King. The delighted Damayantī was once about to get into the water of the holy bath Hiraṇvatī, with her maids when the Viśvakarmā-monkey ran to the spot and the terrified Damayantī jumped into the river and was carried down by the current. She floated down and got into a forest. It was in this forest that Jābāli was tied to the banyan branches. Damayantī saw Jābāli. Each said to the other about the cruel deeds of the monkey. After that according to the advice of Jābāli, Damayantī went to the temple of Śrīkaṇṭheśvara on the basin of the river Yamunā. After worshipping Śrīkaṇṭheśvara, she wrote on the wall of the temple, a poem about the misfortunes of herself and Jābāli and stayed in that place engaged in worshipping god.

The next confrontation of the monkey was with Vedavatī the daughter of Parjanya. Vedavatī was born to Parjanya by a celestial woman Ghṛtācī. Once while Vedavatī was playing in the forest, the monkey saw her. He addressed her Devavatī, intentionally mispronouncing her name. She replied, "You monkey. I am not Devavatī, I am Vedavatī." Instantly the monkey ran to her. Vedavatī quickly climbed on a hibiscus tree. The monkey kicked at the tree and broke it. Vedavatī held fast to a strong branch of the tree. The monkey took the branch and threw it on to the sea. Every movable and immovable thing in the world thought a tree was falling down from the sky. Seeing Vedavatī falling down, a Gandharva said, "Oh dear, Brahmā himself had said once that this damsel would become the chief wife of Indradyumna, the famous hero, the son of Manu the great King who has completed thousand yāgas (sacrifices)."

Hearing the words of the Gandharva, Indradyumna the son of Manu, broke that branch into thousand pieces by his arrows. Though the branch was destroyed, Indradyumna could not find where Vedavatī had fallen. She floated into a part of the forest. All alone she walked on and on and reached the temple of Śrīkaṇṭheśvara, on the bank of Yamunā. Damayantī who had reached the temple earlier and Vedavatī met each other and talked about their experiences. Thus due to the wickedness of the Viśvakarmā-monkey Jābāli the son of Ṛtadhvaja came to be tied, on to the banyan tree and Damayantī and Vedavatī to be staying helpless in the temple of Śrīkaṇtheśvara.

At this time the hermit Gālava reached the temple of Śrīkaṇṭheśvara. He saw Damayantī and Vedavatī and felt pity on them. Next day Gālava started for Saptagodāvara to take a bath in Kārttika. Damayantī and Vedavatī followed the hermit. They reached Saptagodāvara and dipped in Puṣkara bath. Under water they saw several Virgin fishes gathered round a whale begging him for love. The whale was saying harsh words to them rejecting their request. The fish virgins again told the whale. "Don't you see the hermit Gālava going about with two beautiful damsels. If this righteous hermit does not fear slander, why should you, who live under water fear it?" The whale replied. "Gālava doesn't fear people because he is daring and blind with love." Hearing these words of the fishes, Gālava became ashamed of himself. So without coming up he stayed under water. The two girls finished bath and got on the bank, and waited for Gālava. Viśvakarmā’s daughter Citrāṅgadā, who had reached the place earlier, met the two girls. They told each other their stories. "As Ṛtadhvaja had prophesied, Damayantī the daughter of Añjana and Vedavatī the daughter of Parjanya have arrived." Thought Citrāṅgadā. "If Devavatī the daughter of the asura Kandāramālī, also is come, I could unite with my husband Suratha." Citrāṅgadā became glad. At this time Devavatī, the daughter of Kandāramālī, ran to the spot, being chased by the Viśvakarmā monkey.

The reader might remember that Damayantī had written a poem on the wall of the temple at Śrīkaṇṭheśvara when she had gone there at the instruction of Jābāli who had been tied on to a branch of a tree. At noon on that day Ṛtadhvaja had gone to the temple at Śrīkaṇṭheśvara and happened to see the poem. Then only did he understand that his son Jābāli had been tied to a tree by a monkey. By then five hundred years had elapsed. Ṛtadhvaja was aware of the fact that the only person capable of liberating Jābāli, was Śakuni the son of Ikṣvāku. Ṛtadhvaja reached Ayodhyā instantly and told Ikṣvāku. "Oh, mighty King! hear me, please! A monkey has made my virtuous and learned son Jābāli, a captive and bound him on a tree, within the boundary of your kingdom. Nobody in the world except your son Śakuni will be capable of rescuing him." Śakuni accompanied Ṛtadhvaja to the forest. They saw the tall huge banyan tree with bulky roots hanging on all sides and on the top of the tree, on a lofty place, the son of Ṛtadhvaja entangled and entwined by creepers. Seeing the network of creepers around the body of the hermit’s son, Śakuni began to send arrows one after another and cut off all the creeper’s knots. Ṛtadhvaja climbed up the tree. Seeing his father, Jābāli bowed his head to his father. Ṛtadhvaja was not capable of extricating his son. The prince put down his bow and arrow and tried to untie the knots of the creepers that held his body to the branch. Though a sturdy man he could not do it. At last they cut the branch close to his body and got Jābāli down. A piece of the branch was stuck to his back. Thus with his son Jābāli bearing a piece of lumber on his back and Śakuni bearing bow and arrows, Ṛtadhvaja came to Kālindī.

Ṛtadhvaja, Śakuni and Jābāli wandered about for years in search of Damayantī and the others. After nearly a hundred years, with despair Jābāli bearing the lumber on his back, went with his father to Kosala. The king of that country was Indradyumna, the son of Manu. He welcomed the hermit with hospitality. Ṛtadhvaja talked about Damayantī. Indradyumna claimed that he had once saved a young woman by his arrows from the branch of a tree. They all started in search of the girls. They reached Badaryāśrama, where they saw a young hermit. From the conversation it was revealed that the young hermit was Suratha. When he learned everything he stopped penance and accompanied them. Under the leadership of Ṛtadhvaja, they reached Saptagodāvara and saw Citrāṅgadā.

In the meanwhile Ghṛtācī, sad and miserable, was wandering over the mountain of the rising sun, searching for her lost daughter Citrāṅgadā. She met the cursed monkey form of Viśvakarmā and asked it, "Oh! monkey! have you seen a girl?" The monkey told her every thing that took place. Ghṛtācī also reached Saptagodāvara. The monkey followed close behind her. As soon as Jābāli saw the monkey he got angry and jumped forward to wreak vengeance. Ṛtadhvaja checked his son and told him the history of Viśvakarmā. The monkey separated the piece of the branch from the back of Jābāli, who had been bearing it on his back for the last thousand years. Ṛtadhvaja was immensely pleased at this and asked the monkey what boon he wanted. The monkey said. "Brahman, if you wish to give me a boon, please recall your curse. Great hermit! I am Viśvakarmā the father of Citrāṅgadā. I became a monkey because of your curse. Let all the sins I have incurred because of the mischief of a monkey, be remitted." Hearing this Ṛtadhvaja said. "Your curse will end when you get a strong and sturdy son by Ghṛtācī."

Hearing this Ghṛtācī rose up in the sky. The monkey also jumped up and followed her. The monkey was attracted by the beauty of Ghṛtācī. Later, on the mountain named Kolāhala, the monkey enticed Ghṛtācī and wooed her. She consented and they lived thus for a long time. Then they went to the Vindhya mountain. On the bank of the Godāvarī, a sturdy son was born to them. This son was the strong sturdy huge monkey Nala, who helped Śrī Rāma.

On the birth of a son Viśvakarmā regained his former form. He returned to Saptagodāvara with Ghṛtācī. Gālava also came there. With the hermit Gālava at the head, the priests made burnt offerings and began the performance of the marriage ceremony. The Gandharvas sang and the celestial maids danced. The first marriage was between Devavatī the daughter of Kandāramālī and Jābāli. Then Indradyumna married Vedavatī. Next, Śakuni married Damayantī, the daughter of Añjana, and lastly Suratha married Citrāṅgadā. (Vāmana Purāṇa, Chapters 63 and 64).

Other details.

(i) Viśvakarmā shines in the assembly of Indra, in the form of a hermit. (Mahābhārata Sabhā Parva, Chapter 7, Stanza 14).

(ii) The palace of Yama was built by Viśvakarmā. (Mahābhārata Sabhā Parva, Chapter 8, Stanza 34).

(iii) Viśvakarmā lived in water and built the palace of Varuṇa. (Mahābhārata Sabhā Parva, Chapter 9, Stanza 2).

(iv) Viśvakarmā stays in the palace of Brahmā and serves him. (Mahābhārata Sabhā Parva, Chapter 11, Stanza 31).

(v) Viśvakarmā once performed a sacrifice in Brahmavana. (Mahābhārata Vana Parva, Chapter 114, Stanza 17).

(vi) The aerial chariot Puṣpaka was made by Viśvakarmā. (Mahābhārata Vana Parva, Chapter 161, Stanza 37).

(vii) It was with an illusive ensign, made by Viśvakarmā, flying in front of the chariot that Arjuna fought against the Kauravas at Virāṭa. (Mahābhārata Virāṭa Parva, Chapter 46, Stanza 3).

(viii) Once Viśvakarmā quarrelled with Indra and created the son Viśvarūpa with three heads. (See under Viśvarūpa).

(ix) Viśvakarmā made the bow called Vijaya and gave it to Indra. (Mahābhārata Karṇa Parva, Chapter 31, Stanza 42).

(x) During the burning of Tripura, Viśvakarmā made a divine chariot and gave it to Śiva. (Mahābhārata Karṇa Parva, Chapter 34, Stanza 16).

(xi) To the reception and feast given by Bharadvāja to Bharata, who was going to the forest in search of Śri Rāma who had gone to live in the forest, Viśvakarmā and Tvaṣṭā were also invited. (Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Ayodhyākāṇḍa, Sarga 91).

(xii) Viśvakarmā once cut the face of a horse and attached it to the headless body of Mahāviṣṇu. That figure was given the name Hayagrīva. It was this Hayagrīva figure of Mahāviṣṇu, which killed the asura Hayagrīva. (See under Hayagrīva).

(xiii) Viśvakarmā should be dedicated in temples in the form of wearing Akṣasūtra. (Agni Purāṇa, Chapter 51).

(xiv) It is stated in Kathāsaritsāgara, Madanamañcukālambaka Taraṅga 8, that Maya, the architect of the asuras, was the son of Viśvakarmā.

(xv) Laṅkā was built by Viśvakarmā. (Uttara Rāmāyaṇa).

(xvi) Viśvakarmā once made a heaven for hermit Ātreya. (See under Ātreya).

(xvii) Tilottamā was made by Viśvakarmā. (See under Tilottamā).

(xviii) Viśvakarmā once turned the sun in his turning machine. (See under Saṃjñā).

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