Viṣṇu Purāṇa | Book 1 - Chapter 15

Chapter XV

The world overrun with trees: they are destroyed by the Prachetasas. Soma pacifies them, and gives them Māṛiṣā to wife: her story: the daughter of the nymph Pramlochā. Legend of Kaṇḍu. Māṛiṣā's former history. Dakṣa the son of the Prachetasas: his different characters: his sons: his daughters: their marriages and progeny: allusion to Prahlāda, his descendant.

WHILST the Prachetasas were thus absorbed in their devotions, the trees spread and overshadowed the unprotected earth, and the people perished: the winds could not blow; the sky was shut out by the forests; and mankind was unable to labour for ten thousand years.

When the sages, coming forth from the deep, beheld this, they were angry, and, being incensed, wind and flame issued from their mouths.

The strong wind tore up the trees by their roots, and left them sear and dry, and the fierce fire consumed them, and the forests were cleared away.

When Soma (the moon), the sovereign of the vegetable world, beheld all except a few of the trees destroyed, he went to the patriarchs, the Prachetasas, and said:

"Restrain your indignation, princes, and listen to me. I will form an alliance between you and the trees.

Prescient of futurity, I have nourished with my rays this precious maiden, the daughter of the woods. She is called Māṛiṣā, and is assuredly the offspring of the trees. She shall be your bride, and the multiplier of the race of Dhruva.

 From a portion of your lustre and a portion of mine, oh mighty sages, the patriarch Dakṣa shall be born of her, who, endowed with a part of me, and composed of your vigour, shall be as resplendent as fire, and shall multiply the human race.

"There was formerly (said Soma) a sage named Kaṇḍu, eminent in holy wisdom, who practised pious austerities on the lovely borders of the Gomati river.

The king of the gods sent the nymph Pramlochā to disturb his penance, and the sweet-smiling damsel diverted the sage from his devotions.

They lived together, in the valley of Mandāra, for a hundred and fifty years; during which, the mind of the Muni was wholly given up to enjoyment.

At the expiration of this period the nymph requested his permission to return to heaven; but the Muni, still fondly attached to her, prevailed upon her to remain for some time longer; and the graceful damsel continued to reside for another hundred years, and delight the great sage by her fascinations.

Then again she preferred her suit to be allowed to return to the abodes of the gods; and again the Muni desired her to remain.

At the expiration of more than a century the nymph once more said to him, with a smiling countenance, 'Brahman, I depart;' but the Muni, detaining the fine-eyed damsel, replied, 'Nay, stay yet a little; you will go hence for a long period.'

Afraid of incurring an imprecation, the graceful nymph continued with the sage for nearly two hundred years more, repeatedly asking his permission to go to the region of the king of the gods, but as often desired by him to remain.

Dreading to be cursed by him, and excelling in amiable manners, well knowing also the pain that is inflicted by separation from an object of affection, she did not quit the Muni, whose mind, wholly subdued by love, became every day more strongly attached to her.

"On one occasion the sage was going forth from their cottage in a great hurry. The nymph asked him where he was going.

'The day,' he replied, 'is drawing fast to a close: I must perform the Sandhya worship, or a duty will be neglected.'

The nymph smiled mirthfully as she re-joined:

'Why do you talk, grave sir, of this day drawing to a close: your day is a day of many years, a day that must be a marvel to all: explain what this means.'

The Muni said:

'Fair damsel, you came to the river-side at dawn; I beheld you then, and you then entered my hermitage. It is now the revolution of evening, and the day is gone. What is the meaning of this laughter? Tell me the truth.'

Pramlochā answered:

'You say rightly,' venerable Brahman, 'that I came hither at morning dawn, but several hundred years have passed since the time of my arrival. This is the truth.'

The Muni, on hearing this, was seized with astonishment, and asked her how long he had enjoyed her society: to which the nymph replied, that they had lived together nine hundred and seven years, six months, and three days.

The Muni asked her if she spoke the truth, or if she was in jest; for it appeared to him that they had spent but one day together:

to which Pramlochā replied, that she should not dare at any time to tell him who lived in the path of piety an untruth, but particularly when she had been enjoined by him to inform him what had passed.

"When the Muni, princes, had heard these words, and knew that it was the truth, he began to reproach himself bitterly, exclaiming:

'Fie, fie upon me; my penance has been interrupted; the treasure of the learned and the pious has been stolen from me; my judgment has been blinded: this woman has been created by someone to beguile me: Brahma is beyond the reach of those agitated by the waves of infirmity.

I had subdued my passions, and was about to attain divine knowledge. This was foreseen by him by whom this girl has been sent hither.

Fie on the passion that has obstructed my devotions. All the austerities that would have led to acquisition of the wisdom of the Vedas have been rendered of no avail by passion that is the road to hell.'

The pious sage, having thus reviled himself, turned to the nymph, who was sitting nigh, and said to her:

'Go, deceitful girl, whither thou wilt: thou hast performed the office assigned thee by the monarch of the gods, of disturbing my penance by thy fascinations.

I will not reduce thee to ashes by the fire of my wrath. Seven paces together is sufficient for the friendship of the virtuous, but thou and I have dwelt together.

And in truth what fault hast thou committed? why should I be wroth with thee?

The sin is wholly mine, in that I could not subdue my passions: yet fie upon thee, who, to gain favour with Indra, hast disturbed my devotions; vile bundle of delusion.'

"Thus spoken to by the Muni, Pramlochā stood trembling, whilst big drops of perspiration started from every pore; till he angrily cried to her, 'Depart, be gone.'

She then, reproached by him, went forth from his dwelling, and, passing through the air, wiped the perspiration from her person with the leaves of the trees.

The nymph went from tree to tree, and as with the dusky shoots that crowned their summits she dried her limbs, which were covered with moisture, the child she had conceived by the Ṛṣi came forth from the pores of her skin in drops of perspiration.

The trees received the living dews, and the winds collected them into one mass.

"This," said Soma, "I matured by my rays, and gradually it increased in size, till the exhalation that had rested on the tree tops became the lovely girl named Māṛiṣā.

The trees will give her to you, Prachetasas: let your indignation be appeased. She is the progeny of Kaṇḍu, the child of Pramlochā, the nursling of the trees, the daughter of the wind and of the moon.

The holy Kaṇḍu, after the interruption of his pious exercises, went, excellent princes, to the region of Viṣṇu, termed Puruṣottama, where, Maitreya, with his whole mind he devoted himself to the adoration of Hari; standing fixed, with uplifted arms, and repeating the prayers that comprehend the essence of divine truth."

The Prachetasas said:

"We are desirous to hear the transcendental prayers, by inaudibly reciting which the pious Kaṇḍu propitiated Keśava."

On which Soma repeated as follows:

"'Viṣṇu is beyond the boundary of all things: he is the infinite: he is beyond that which is boundless: he is above all that is above: he exists as finite truth:

he is the object of the Veda; the limit of elemental being; unappreciable by the senses; possessed of illimitable might: he is the cause of cause; the cause of the cause of cause; the cause of finite cause; and in result, he, both as every object and agent, preserves the universe:

he is Brahma the lord; Brahma all beings; Brahma the progenitor of all beings; the imperishable: he is the eternal, undecaying, unborn Brahma, incapable of increase or diminution: Puruṣottama is the everlasting, untreated, immutable Brahma.

May the imperfections of my nature be annihilated through his favour.'

Reciting this eulogium, the essence of divine truth, and propitiating Keśava, Kaṇḍu obtained final emancipation.

"Who Māṛiṣā was of old I will also relate to you, as the recital of her meritorious acts will be beneficial to you:

She was the widow of a prince, and left childless at her husband's death:

she therefore zealously worshipped Viṣṇu, who, being gratified by her adoration, appeared to her, and desired her to demand a boon; on which she revealed to him the wishes of her heart:

'I have been a widow, lord,' she exclaimed, 'even from my infancy, and my birth has been in vain: unfortunate have I been, and of little use, oh sovereign of the world.

Now therefore I pray thee that in succeeding births I may have honourable husbands, and a son equal to a patriarch amongst men: may I be possessed of affluence and beauty: may I he pleasing in the sight of all: and may I be born out of the ordinary course.

Grant these prayers, oh thou who art propitious to the devout.'

Hṛṣīkeśa, the god of gods, the supreme giver of all blessings, thus prayed to, raised her from her prostrate attitude, and said:

'In another life you shall have ten husbands of mighty prowess, and renowned for glorious acts; and you shall have a son magnanimous and valiant, distinguished by the rank of a patriarch, from whom the various races of men shall multiply, and by whose posterity the universe shall be filled.

You, virtuous lady, shall be of marvellous birth, and you shall be endowed with grace and loveliness, delighting the hearts of men.'

Thus having spoken, the deity disappeared, and the princess was accordingly afterwards born as Māṛiṣā, who is given to you for a wife."

Soma having concluded, the Prachetasas took Māṛiṣā, as he had enjoined them, righteously to wife, relinquishing their indignation against the trees: and upon her they begot the eminent patriarch Dakṣa, who had (in a former life) been born as the son of Brahmā.

This great sage, for the furtherance of creation, and the increase of mankind, created progeny:

Obeying the command of Brahmā, he made movable and immovable things, bipeds and quadrupeds;

and subsequently, by his will, gave birth to females, ten of whom he bestowed on Dharma, thirteen on Kaśyapa, and twenty-seven, who regulate the course of time, on the moon.

Of these, the gods, the Titans, the snake-gods, cattle, and birds, the singers and dancers of the courts of heaven, the spirits of evil, and other beings, were born.

From that period forwards living creatures were engendered by sexual intercourse:

before the time of Dakṣa they were variously propagated, by the will, by sight, by touch, and by the influence of religious austerities practised by devout sages and holy saints.


Dakṣa, as I have formerly heard, was born from the right thumb of Brahmā: tell me, great Muni, how he was regenerate as the son of the Prachetasas.

Considerable perplexity also arises in my mind, how he, who, as the son of Māṛiṣā, was the grandson of Soma, could be also his father-in-law.


Birth and death are constant in all creatures: Ṛṣis and sages, possessing divine vision, are not perplexed by this.

Dakṣa and the other eminent Munis are present in every age, and in the interval of destruction cease to be: of this the wise man entertains no doubt.

Amongst them of old there was neither senior nor junior; rigorous penance and acquired power were the sole causes of any difference of degree amongst these more than human beings.

MAITREYA: Narrate to me, venerable Brahman, at length, the birth of the gods, Titans, Gandharvas, serpents, and goblins.


In what manner Dakṣa created living creatures, as commanded by Brahmā, you shall hear:

 In the first place he willed into existence the deities, the Ṛṣis, the quiristers of heaven, the Titans, and the snake-gods.

Finding that his will-born progeny did not multiply themselves, he determined, in order to secure their increase, to establish sexual intercourse as the means of multiplication.

For this purpose he espoused Asiknī, the daughter of the patriarch Vīraṇa, a damsel addicted to devout practices, the eminent supportress of the world. By her the great father of mankind begot five thousand mighty sons, through whom he expected the world should be peopled.

Nārada, the divine Ṛṣi, observing them desirous to multiply posterity, approached them, and addressed them in a friendly tone:

"Illustrious Haryaśva, it is evident that your intention is to beget posterity; but first consider this:

why should you, who, like fools, know not the middle, the height, and depth of the world, propagate offspring? When your intellect is no more obstructed by interval, height, or depth, then how, fools, shall ye not all behold the term of the universe?"

Having heard the words of Nārada, the sons of Dakṣa dispersed themselves through the regions, and to the present day have not returned; as rivers that lose themselves in the ocean come back no more.

The Haryaśva having disappeared, the patriarch Dakṣa begot by the daughter of Vīraṇa a thousand other sons.

They, who were named Savalāswas, were desirous of engendering posterity, but were dissuaded by Nārada in a similar manner. They said to one another:

"What the Muni has observed is perfectly just. We must follow the path that our brothers have travelled, and when we have ascertained the extent of the universe, we will multiply our race."

Accordingly they scattered themselves through the regions, and, like rivers flowing into the sea, they returned not again. Henceforth brother seeking for brother disappears, through ignorance of the products of the first principle of things.

Dakṣa the patriarch, on finding that all these his sons had vanished, was incensed, and denounced an imprecation upon Nārada.

Then, Maitreya, the wise patriarch, it is handed down to us, being anxious to people the world, created sixty daughters of the daughter of Vīraṇā:

ten of whom he gave to Dharma, thirteen to Kaśyapa, and twenty-seven to Soma, four to Ariṣṭanemi, two to Bahuputra, two to Aṅgiras, and two to Kriśāśva.

I will tell you their names. Arundhatī, Vasu, Yāmī, Lambā, Bhānū, Marutvatī, Sankalpa, Muhūrta, Sādhyā, and Viśvā were the ten wives of Dharma, and bore him the following progeny:

The sons of Viśvā were the Viśvadevas; and the Sādhyas, those of Sādhyā. The Maruts, or winds, were the children of Marutvatī; the Vasus, of Vasu. The Bhānus (or suns) of Bhānu; and the deities presiding over moments, of Muhūrta.

Ghoṣa was the son of Lambā (an arc of the heavens); Nāgavīthī (the milky way), the daughter of Yāmī (night). The divisions of the earth were born of Arundhatī; and Sankalpa (pious purpose), the soul of all, was the son of Sankalpā.

The deities called Vasus, because, preceded by fire, they abound in splendour and might, are severally named Āpa, Dhruva, Soma, Dhava (fire), Anila (wind), Anala (fire), Pratyūṣa (day-break), and Prabhāsa (light).

The four sons of Āpa were Vaitaṇḍya, Śrama (weariness), Srānta (fatigue), and Dhur (burthen). Kāla (time), the cherisher of the world, was the son of Dhruva. The son of Soma was Varchas (light), who was the father of Varchasvī (radiance).

Dhava had, by his wife Manoharā (loveliness), Draviṇa, Hutahavyavāha, Śiśira, Prāṇa, and Ramaṇa. The two sons of Anila (wind), by his wife Śivā, were Manojava (swift as thought) and Avijnātagati (untraceable motion).

The son of Agni (fire), Kumāra, was born in a clump of Śara reeds: his sons were Sākha, Visākha, Naigameya, and Pṛṣṭhaja. The offspring of the Krittikās was named Kārtikeya. The son of Pratyūṣa was the Ṛṣi named Devala, who had two philosophic and intelligent sons.

The sister of Vācaspati, lovely and virtuous, Yogasiddhā, who pervades the wholes world without being devoted to it, was the wife of Prabhāsa, the eighth of the Vasus,

and bore to him the patriarch Viśvakarma, the author of a thousand arts, the mechanist of the gods, the fabricator of all ornaments, the chief of artists, the constructor of the self-moving chariots of the deities, and by whose skill men obtain subsistence.

Ajaikapād, Ahirvradhna, and the wise Rudra Tvāṣṭri, were born; and the self-born son of Tvāṣṭri was also the celebrated Viśvarūpa.

There are eleven well-known Rudras, lords of the three worlds, or Hara, Bahurūpa, Tryambaka, Aparājita, Vṛṣakapi, Sambhu, Kaparddī, Raivata, Mrigavyādha, Sarva, and Kapāli; but there are a hundred appellations of the immeasurably mighty Rudras.

The daughters of Dakṣa who were married to Kaśyapa were Aditi, Diti, Danu, Aṛṣṭā, Surasā, Surabhi, Vinatā, Tāmrā, Krodhavaśā, Iḍā, Khasā, Kadru, and Muni; whose progeny I will describe to you.

There were twelve celebrated deities in a former Manvantara, called Tuṣitas, who, upon the approach of the present period, or in the reign of the last Manu, Chākṣuṣa, assembled, and said to one another:

"Come, let us quickly enter into the womb of Aditī, that we may be born in the next Manvantara, for thereby we shall again enjoy the rank of gods:"

and accordingly they were born the sons of Kaśyapa, the son of Marīchi, by Aditī, the daughter of Dakṣa;

thence named the twelve Ādityas; whose appellations were respectively, Viṣṇu, Śakra, Aryamān, Dhūtī, Tvāṣṭri, Pūṣan, Vivaswat, Savitri, Mitra, Varuṇa, Anśa, and Bhaga.

These, who in the Chākṣuṣa Manvantara were the gods called Tuṣitas, were called the twelve Ādityas in the Manvantara of Vaivasvata.

The twenty-seven daughters of the patriarch who became the virtuous wives of the moon were all known as the nymphs of the lunar constellations, which were called by their names, and had children who were brilliant through their great splendour.

The wives of Ariṣṭanemi bore him sixteen children. The daughters of Bahuputra were the four lightnings. The excellent Pratyangirasa Richas were the children of Aṅgiras, descended from the holy sage: and the deified weapons of the gods were the progeny of Kriśāśva.

These classes of thirty-three divinities are born again at the end of a thousand ages, according to their own pleasure; and their appearance and disappearance is here spoken of as birth and death: but, Maitreya, these divine personages exist age after age in the same manner as the sun sets and rises again.

It has been related to us, that Diti had two sons by Kaśyapa, named Hiraṇyakaśipu and the invincible Hiraṇyākṣa: she had also a daughter, Sinkā, the wife of Viprachitti.

Hiraṇyakaśipu was the father of four mighty sons, Anuhlāda, Hlāda, the wise Prahlāda, and the heroic Sanhlāda, the augmentor of the Daitya race.

Amongst these, the illustrious Prahlāda, looking on all things with indifference, devoted his whole faith to Janārdana:

The flames that were lighted by the king of the Daityas consumed not him, in whose heart Vāsudeva was cherished; and all the earth trembled when, bound with bonds, he moved amidst the waters of the ocean.

His firm body, fortified by a mind engrossed by Achyuta, was unwounded by the weapons hurled on him by order of the Daitya monarch; and the serpents sent to destroy him breathed their venomous flames upon him in vain.

Overwhelmed with rocks, he yet remained unhurt; for he never forgot Viṣṇu, and the recollection of the deity was his armour of proof:

Hurled from on high by the king of the Daityas, residing in Swarga, earth received him unharmed. The wind sent into his body to wither him up was itself annihilated by him, in whom Madhusūdana was present.

The fierce elephants of the spheres broke their tusks, and veiled their pride, against the firm breast which the lord of the Daityas had ordered them to assault.

The ministrant priests of the monarch were baffled in all their rites for the destruction of one so steadily attached to Govinda: and the thousand delusions of the fraudulent Śamvara, counteracted by the discus of Kṛṣṇa, were practised without success.

The deadly poison administered by his father's officers he partook of unhesitatingly, and without its working any visible change;

for he looked upon the world with mind undisturbed, and, full of benignity, regarded all things with equal affection, and as identical with himself.

He was righteous; an inexhaustible mine of purity and truth; and an unfailing model for all pious men.