Sage Chyavana

Note: In the previous post, we read about how a rakshasa abducted Sage Bhrigu’s wife (Puloma) when the sage had left his house to perform his ablutions. When asked by the rakshasa, Agni Deva identified the pregnant lady as the sage’s wife. The rakshasa abducted her because her father had initially promised to marry his daughter with the rakshasa, but later, went back on his word and married her to Sage Bhrigu. 

After the rakshasa took the form of a boar and forcefully carried away Puloma, her child, who was still in her womb, became angry with the violence that the rakshasa had caused. As a result, the child (who was shining like the sun) came out of Puloma’s womb and fell to the ground. The rakshasa was startled when he noticed the child fall out of Puloma’s womb. He lost his grip on Puloma and fell down on the ground. As soon as the rakshasa fell on the ground, he was burnt to ashes. 

The grief-stricken Puloma picked up her child from the ground and started walking back to her home with tears in her eyes. When the tears fell on the ground, they formed a river whose waters followed Puloma as she walked back to Bhrigu’s ashrama. The great Lord Brahma comforted the crying lady and named the river that was formed from her tears – Vadhusara.

By the time Puloma and her child (Chyavana) returned to the hermitage, sage Bhrigu had also completed his ablutions and was already home. Upon seeing Puloma, he asked her who had identified her to the rakshasa.

Puloma replied that Agni (the God of fire) had identified her to the rakshasa and that the demon carried her away while she cried like a kurari (female osprey bird).

Puloma said, “It was only through the splendor of our child that I was rescued.”

Bhrigu became extremely angry with Agni Deva when he heard Puloma’s words, and in that state of extreme anger, he cursed Agni saying, “You will, from now on, eat all sorts of things.”

Note: Agni is known as the mouth of the Gods and he only consumed those things that were very pure. Sage Bhrigu cursed Agni such that he would have to eat all sorts of things – which meant he would also have to eat impure items. This was very disturbing to Agni.

On a separate note, much later, when Chyavana became a sage, he built his hermitage on the banks of the river Vadhusara which was formed from his mother’s tears. 

The Ayurvedic preparation “Chyavanprash” was named after Sage Chyavana because it was prepared by the Ashwini Kumars (the physicians of the Gods) to help Sage Chyavana restore his health and youth.

In the next post, we will read about how Agni responded to the sage’s curse.

Table of Contents

Previous: A Rakshasa Abducts Bhrigu’s Wife

Next: Agni Deva’s Response to Bhrigu’s Curse

Image Credit: The image at the top of the post was made available in the public domain by Kripal of Nurpur.

Image of a demon called Yakshagana

Note: In the previous post, we learned about Sage Bhrigu’s family. With this post, we begin the story of why Sage Bhrigu’s son was called Chyavana. The story begins with an incident that happened to Sage Bhrigu’s wife when she was pregnant.

After listening to Sauti’s description of Sage Bhrigu’s family, the great ascetic, Saunaka Kulapati, said to Sauti, “Why was the illustrious son of Bhrigu named Chyavana?”

Sauti replied, “Bhrigu had a wife whom he loved dearly. Her name was Puloma. One day, when Puloma was in the later stages of pregnancy, Bhrigu left his house to perform his ablutions. 

Soon after Bhrigu left, a rakshasa, whose name was also Puloma, came to Bhrigu’s house. There he saw Bhrigu’s irreproachable wife and was immediately filled with lust. In that state, he lost his senses.

Bhrigu’s beautiful wife offered the rakshasa (who approached their house) some fruits and roots from the forest. This delighted the rakshasa who burnt with desire. In that desire, he made a decision to carry her away.

In the past, Puloma’s father had promised to marry his daughter to the rakshasa, but eventually, she was married to Sage Bhrigu with due rites. The rakshasa’s mind still carried the anger of that incident. 

When he saw Bhrigu’s wife, who looked very similar to the lady he was going to marry in the past, he thought that this would be a good time to carry her away. However, he wanted to be sure if she was indeed the same lady.

Note: Kisari Mohan Ganguli’s translation of the Mahabharata does not explicitly mention that the rakshasa was unsure about the lady’s identity, however, a later incident does give the reader the impression that he was confused and wanted Agni Deva to verify her identity. I have added the above paragraph based on that impression.

The rakshasa saw the sacrificial fire which was always kept burning in the sage’s house. The rakshasa asked the fire, “Tell me, O Agni, rightfully speaking, whose wife is this woman? You are the mouth of the Gods, therefore, you are bound to answer my question. This lady, of fair complexion, was first to be wedded to me and I accepted her, but subsequently, her father wedded her to Bhrigu. Tell me — can this lady be truly regarded as Bhrigu’s wife? She is alone right now and I have decided to take her away, forcefully, from the hermitage. My heart burns with anger at the thought of this slender-waisted lady being Bhrigu’s wife when she was first promised to me.

The rakshasa asked this question to the flaming Agni Deva again and again. When he found the deva reluctant to give an answer, the rakshasa said to him, “O God of fire, you reside constantly within every living being, as a witness to their good and bad deeds. O respected one, then answer my question truly, has not Bhrigu incorrectly married the woman who was chosen to be my wife? You should, therefore, truly speak about whether she is my wife by first choice. After you answer me whether she is the wife of Bhrigu or not, I will take her away with me. Therefore answer my question with truth.”

Agni Deva was very distressed after hearing the rakshasa’s words. He was afraid of speaking a falsehood but was equally afraid of the consequences of speaking the truth. Agni Deva replied, speaking very slowly, the following words, “This lady, Puloma, was indeed chosen by you, O rakshaha, but you did not marry her with holy rites and invocations. However, this lady of much fame was bestowed by her father on Bhrigu with his blessings. She was not bestowed on you but was married to Bhrigu with Vedic rites in my presence. This is the same lady – I know her and I dare not speak a lie, because, O best of rakshasa, falsehood is never respected in this world.”

After hearing these words from Agni Deva, Puloma (the rakshasa) took the form of a boar and carried away Puloma (the lady), at the speed of thought.

Note: In the next post, we will read about how Sage Bhrigu reacts when he finds out that his wife was abducted because Agni Deva identified her to the rakshasa.

Table of Contents

Previous: A Brief Description of Sage Bhrigu’s Family

Next: Sage Bhrigu Curses Agni

Image Credit: The image was made available in the public domain by Mr.Manohara Upadhya (and uploaded by Gnanapiti) at