Historical Elements in the Matsya Purana

by Chaitali Kadia | 2021 | 91,183 words

This page relates ‘Varna (2): The Kshatriyas’ of the study on the historical elements of the Matsya-purana: one of the eighteen Mahapuranas which are Sanskrit texts that have preserved the cultural heritage, philosophy, religion, geography, etc of ancient India. This Matsyapurana was originally written in 20,000 verses and deals with topics such as architecture, ancient history, polity, religion and philosophy.

Now it is said in the context of the second level of society. In the Matsya Purāṇa , this order is used in the three terms ‘Rājanya’, ‘Kṣṭra ’ and ‘Kṣatriya ’. The position of ‘Rājanya ’ in place of ‘Kṣatriya ’ is rarely used in Ṛgveda (Mazumdar R.C. and Pusalkar A.D., (Ed.) The Vedic age , P-386). In some places it he Ṛgveda , the term Kṣatriya has been used as the title of God (Ṛgveda –7/6, 4/2, 8/25/8). Again somewhere it has also been used as a king or a great man (Ṛgveda –4/42/1). Like other Vedic literatures, it has been used as a monosyllabic in the Purāṇa . The other term used in the Matsya Purāṇa is also found in the Ṛgveda (Kane P.V., HDS, Vol-II, P-39). In some places in the Matsya Purāṇa it is used in the sense of king.[1] The third title is the kingdom which is mentioned only once in the Ṛgveda (Ṛgveda 10/90/12) and also used once in the Matsya Purāṇa as a sequence of Kṣatriya (MP-4/28).

Like the Vāyu Purāṇa and other Purāṇas , the Matsya Purāṇa does not say much about the protection of the people and the provision of military service as a function and duty of a Kṣatriya . On the contrary, the Matsya Purāṇa has advanced in a slightly different way in this regard.

The duty of the kings of the era Kṛtya Yuga, also known as the Golden age, was to protect the people.[2] On the other hand, the kings of the Kali period deviated from their sacred duty and were taken away by the Śudras , the Śudras became the possessors of role power.[3] From the point of view of religion, the most important duty of a king is to devote himself to the protection of all from being involved in war.[4] Where Jarāsandh declared himself the conqueror of all kings[5], Duryodhana took subordination to other kings.[6]

On the other hand, in the Matsya Purāṇa , king Yayāti had a brilliant discussion with his grandsons Aṣṭaka[7], Pratardana, Vasumāna and Sibi. This enlightened cognitive discussion deals with many important and interesting issues. Such as Āśrama duty, the cause of their happiness and downfall many heavenly holy religions etc. In that discussion, Yayāti proudly calls himself the best ascetic[8] and also calls himself a theologian.[9] Ailin the son of Yamrāja’s daughter Ilina, was the best theologian.[10] In some cases the king was known as a Mantrakarta or sorcerer. Such as–Māndhātā, Ambariṣa[11], Vaivasvata Manu and Aila Pururavā. According to the Index, Pururavā is the sage of Ṛgveda .[12]

The Ṛgveda famous Nahus Yayāti and his grandson Astaka participated in a Vedic discussion.[13] Kārtavirya Arjuna[14] was famous for his generous giving and teaching. Once Surya devata too Brahmana dressed up and came to Kārtavirya Arjuna and asked alms. When the Surya wants to eat all the forest plants, Arjuna says that he is unable to burn all the forest plants. Arjuna says that he is unable to burn all the forest plants. Then Surya was pleased and gave him a ‘Bāna ’ and as a result Arjuna burnt all the plants of Maharṣi Apa’s Tapavana to please sury.[15] Kārtaviry Arjuna’s famous son was Krostu, who as very strong.[16] Lord Viṣṇu descended in the Vṛṣṇi dynasty of Krostu.[17] Krostu’s son was Vṛjinivān, who was a Mahārathi.[18] In the Krostu dynasty there was a king named Śaśavindu who later became the Chakravarti emperor.[19] In the dynasty of Śaśavindu, Marutta, the son of Titikṣu, was born who was the best of the Rājarṣi[20]. Surā and Bhoja have a son named Samika.[21] This Samika renounced monarchy andwent to the forest and chose the life of an ascetic.[22] Janamejay is also called Rājarṣi in the Harivaṃśa. Vindhyśva and Menaka had two childrenDivodāsa and Ahalyā. Among them Divodāsa was Rājarṣi.[23] The eldest son of Divodāsa was Mitrāyu who was very pious.[24]

Relationship between Brahmin and Kṣatriya: Brahmins got a high place in the society. They used to give instructions to the Kṣatriyas . The Kṣatriyas obeyed all the orders of the Brahmins and if anyone objected to the will of the Brahmins his punishment was fixed equal to death. The relations between the Brahmins and the Kṣatriyas were cordial. Brahmanical literature shows how Brahmins and Kṣatriyas depended on each other. But later when the Brahmins wanted to take the place of the kings in the society, the conflict of the Brahmins with the Kṣatriyas started. In the Matsya Purāṇa , there is a great difference in the relationship between Kṣatriyas and Brahmins . The Purāṇas mention Parasurāma who again tried to restore the power of the Brahmins. He played an important role in the rapprochement between Brahmins and Kṣatriyas . This Parasurāma is believed to be the cause of Kārtavirya Arjuna.[25] There are some other incidents of Matsya Purāṇa such as–Ben (Matsya Purāṇa 10/4), Nimi and Vaśiṣṭha (Mtsya Purāṇa 61/33, 201/1), and Janamejaya and Vaiśampāyana (Matsya Purāṇa 50/88) etc. These incidents prove how Kṣatriyas and Brahmins oppose each other, and call for their own death. Another incident, Yayāti and Śukrācārya, proves the difference between Brahmins and Kṣatriyas . When Śukrācārya’s dauther Devayāni finds out about Yayāti’s secret love affair with Śarmiṣṭha, Devayāni hopes for justice from her father and leaves Yayāti. Then Sukrācārya curses Yayāti in old age.[26] It is to be noted that this calamity occurred because king Yayāti did not obey the orders of Śukrācārya.[27] Later Rājā Yayāti declared his youngest son Puru as king and even then the Brahmins opposed him. Because his eldest son Devayāni’s son Yadu had the right to the throne of Yayāti. But the king angrily expelled his other sons from their thrones, declaring his beloved son Puru to be king.[28]

From the above discussion it is clear that Yayāti and Kārtavirya Arjuna did not give enough importance to the Brahmins and they were not obliged to obey all their orders. All these examples prove that Kṣatriyas and Brahmins were never in friendly relations with each other. The Brahmins were predominant only in various ceremonies. The words of the Brahmins were paramount in any vow or charity ceremony. But for the rest of their lives, the kings followed their own rules, no matter how anti-Brahmin they were. This did not mean, however, that the Kṣṭriyas neglected for disrespected the Brahmins. For example–charity of Umā and Himālayā for Brahmins.[29]

However, in the Matsya Purāṇa there are mentions of some great men among whom both Kṣatriyas and Brahmins have been combined. They are mainly called Kṣatriya Brahmins . This type of adjustment was a cause of inconvenience in the Pauranic society. Perjitter discusses this in his book(AIHT(Ch-XXIII) by Perjitter). He says that there was a type of Kṣatriya class who later adopted Brahmanism in a particular situation of life, they are basically known as Kṣatriyanbrahamins . Perjitter mainly divides this class into three stages. The first stage is when a Kṣatriya king leaves his kingdoms and adopts Brahmanism. Such as Visvāmitra. The second stage is when a lower class person adopts Brahminism. Such as–Kakṣivanta. And the last stage–when a Kṣatriya king adopts Brahminism and even then he cannot leave his Kṣatriya duty. He is called the real Kṣatriyanbrahmins . This class is mainly found in the Surya and Candra dynasties. Kṣatriyanbrahmana is mainly observed in the Matsya Purāṇa .

There are several examples of Kṣatriyabrahmins in the Matsya Purāṇaa .

1. Bhāradvāja and Bhārata :

From womb of Mamata, Angira’s son Bṛhaspati gave birth to a son named Bharadvāja. Later he is abandoned by his parents.[30] On the other hand, Bharata praises the Maruts for having a son and being happy with it, the Maruts hand over Bharadvāja to Bharata.[31] Later Bharadvāja became known as Vitatha.[32] From Bharadvāja came two types of children, Brahmin and Kṣatriya , whose name is ‘Dvyamusnāyana Koulina ’.[33] Thus Bharadvāja was a co-ordinator of both Kṣatriya and Brahmin classes.

2. Garga:

Garga was the grand-sonof Vitatha. Among the four sons of Vitatha’s son Bhuvamanyu, Garga was the best.[34] Bharadvājawas a Brahmin by birth but by adapting he became Kṣatriya . For this reason his successors are known as Kṣatriya Brahmin .[35] Garga’s son was Śivi and his successors were known as Śaiva.[36] In this way they are each known as Kṣatriya Brahmins . Each of them belonged to the Angirā tribe and later they were related to Asavarṇas with Bhāradvāja, Saita, Tittira and Kapibhu, i.e. they were not married to each other.[37] Old Garga is said to be the best apostate and is also considered to be the author of chapters 229–238. This old Garga was once living peacefully. On the banks of the river Sarasvati. Then Mahatejaśvī Atri wanted to know all the reasons for the destruction from Garga.[38] Another Garga was the guru of Kousik’s seven sons, who prepared food by slaughtering cows during the Sraddha occation.[39] And in the next birth one of them became king Brahmadatta.[40] Another Garga was famous as a master of science of art.[41] Garga is also considered to be the seer of the hymn.[42]


They are the descendants of the Sankṛti that is the son of the Nara and grandson of Vitalha Bharadvāja. Sankṛti and Satkṛti had two sons–Gurudhi and Rantideva.[43] Each of them belongs to the Angira tribe and is closely associated with Manu and Trimārsti, so the marriage of Angirā and Gouraviti with them is forbidden.[44] Among the Angirās, Sankṛtis were the composers of hymns.[45] Pargiter thinks that there is no doubt that Gurudhi and Angirā are the same sage whose correct name is Gaurivithi. (AIHT, P. 249).

Kāvyas and Urukṣvas:

Urukṣva was the son of Āhārya (Pargiter reads Mahāvirya in his collated text and notes Āhārya as the Matsya Purāṇa fiction AIHT. P. 248in I) and the great-grandson of Vitatha Bharadvāja.[46] He married Viśālā and had three sons named Tryaruna, Puṣkari and Kabi.[47] The Matsya Purāṇa mentions the Asvahārya of Angira gotra to compose hymns.[48] Pargiter considered him as Ānārya (AIHT. P-250) Urukṣvasā that is Tryaruṇ and Puṣkari and their successors adopted Brahmanin[49] but the successor of the Kabi remained Kṣatriya Brahmans .[50] It is a matter of great pleaser that among the successors of the three, the Kabi’s successors are later called Maharṣi . Later the descendants of the two eldest son of Urukṣvasa, formed a distinct tribe–Urukṣyāsa and Kapi. And everyone is transferred to Angirā tribe and Angirā tribe’s name become Uruksyāsa. Although the Kapis belonged to the Kapibhu tribe (AIHT. P-250) (MP. 196/29, 48, 49). Angirā, Damabāhya, Uruksya, Tittiri, Kapibhu and Gārgya are in the same Pravara so that marriage to each other is forbidden.[51]

Maudgalya and Maitreya:

Another branch of the Kṣatriya Brahmins is Maudgalya, descendant of Mudgal, the successor of Bharadvāja, the son of Bharata (PI, Vol II, pp739 of 743). It was a dynasty of Uttar Pāñcala . Mudgala was the son of Bhadrāśva. The other sons of Bhadrāśva are Jaya, Bṛhadisu, Javinara and Kapila.[52] Each of them joins the Angira tribe.[53] According to Pargier, he was a Kṣatriya Brahmin , but he was never a king. He first became a Brahmin and later a sage. The great grandson of brahmiṣṭha was Rājarṣi Divodasa who was famous in Ṛgveda and was the brother of Ahalyā. It was this Ahalyā whomarried Sāradvata and whose successors came to be known as Gautama.[54] Divodasa’s grandson was Maitreyas. Although they belong to the Jātipakṣa Clan, they later merged into the Vārgab clan.[55] So Bhṛgu, Baddhṛyasva and Divodasa are each other in same caste.[56] The progenitor of the Maitreyas is Ārṣeya.[57]


They are the successors of Medhāṇṭithi. Medhātithi is the child of Kāṇvya. Kāṇvya is the sonof Ajāmidhā and Keśini. If these Kāṇvya tribes were descendants of Bhāradvāja, they would have been Kṣatriya Brahmins from the very beginning. Although they were Brahmins , they were called Dvija . As they belonged to the Angirā clan,[58] they were associated with other prominent sage groups such as the Angirā, Bṛhaspati, Bhāradvāja, Gargya and Saityas.[59] On the other hand, there were some famous rulers of Surya dynasty who could also be called the creators of mantras. The relationship between some of the famous rulers of the Candra dynasty is shown in a table (Cultural History from the Matsya Purāṇa by S.G. Kantawala, P. 32).

Candra Dynasty

Duṣyanta = Śakuntalā; Bharata; Vitatha Bhāradvāja; Bṛhatkṣatra Mahāvirya Nara Garga; (alis Ānārya) Sankṛti=Satkṛti; Sībi; Urukṣvasa = Viśālā Gurudhi Rantideva Descendant’s of; Śaibyas (also known as Garga); Tryaruṇa Puṣkari Kavi; Brahatkṣatra; Ajāmidha = Nilini Dvimidha Purumidha; Keśinī; Dhūmini; Nila; Suśanti; Purujānu; Pṛthu; Bhadrāśva; Mudgala Jaya Bṛhodiṣu Javinara Kapila; Brahmiṣṭha; Indrasena; Vindhyāśva = Menakā; Divodāsa Ahalya = Śardvata; Mitrayu; Maitreya

Footnotes and references:


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 50/32, 48


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 165/3


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 144/38


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 103/21


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 50/32


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 50/48


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 38/12


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 37/12


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 41/11


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 49/9


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 145/102


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 10/95


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 43/23, 44/2


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 44/3-11


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 44/13


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 44/15


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 44/15


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 44/18


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 44/24


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 46/1


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 46/28


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter4/12–13


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 50/13


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 43/44


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 32/31


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 30/36


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 34/19–25


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 154/318


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 49/26


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 49/29–30


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 49/32


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 49/33


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 49/35, 36


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 49/38, 41


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 49/37, 38


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 196/23, 24, 48


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 229/2, 3


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 20/2


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 20/21


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 252/3


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 145/101


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 49/37


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 196/30, 32; 190/30


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 145/101


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 49/38


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 49/39


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 145/103


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 49/40


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 49/40, 41, 42


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 196/29, 48, 49


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 50/3


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 50/5


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 50/6


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 50/13, 14


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 195/42


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 195/41


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 196/21, 20/9


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 196/24


Matsya Purāṇa–Chapter 163/3

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