Maharishi Bhrigu

Note: In the previous post, after narrating the story of Uttanka going to meet Janamejaya to seek revenge on the serpent king, Takshaka, Sauti asked the ascetics in Naimisha forest which story they wanted to hear next. Saunaka Kulapati, the chief sage, expressed an interest in hearing the story of Sage Bhrigu’s race. In this post, Sauti provides a brief description of Bhrigu’s family.

However, before returning to Sauti’s narration, let’s first learn a bit about Bhrigu’s background.

Sage Bhrigu is one of the saptarishis and also one of the many prajapatis (facilitators of creation). In the Bhagawad Gita, Lord Krishna identified Bhrigu as one of his vibhutis (divine manifestations). 

Sage Bhrigu was the first person to write a treatise on predictive astrology, called the Bhrigu Samhita.

It is believed that Sage Bhrigu’s hermitage (called Deepotsaka) was located near Dhosi Hills, which are on the north-western end of the Aravalli range near the border of Haryana and Rajasthan.

An aerial view of Dhosi Hills showing an ancient parikrama path

The following words were spoken by Sauti to Saunaka Kulapati and the ascetics in Naimisha forest to describe Sage Bhrigu and his family.

We are told that the great and blessed saint, Bhrigu, was created by Brahma from the fire at a sacrifice conducted by Varuna.

Sage Bhrigu had a son whom he loved very dearly. His name was Chyavana. 

Chyavana had a son called Pramati.

Pramati had a son called Ruru who was born from the union of Pramati and the celestial dancer, Ghritachi.

Ruru (the son of Sage Pramati and Ghritachi) was married to Pramadvara. They had a son called Sunaka.

Ugrasrava Sauti addressing Saunaka Kulapati said, “O Saunaka, this great sage, Sunaka, was your ancestor. He was extremely virtuous, devoted to asceticism, proficient in law, and famed among those who possessed knowledge of the Vedas. This reputed sage was truthful and well-balanced in his behavior. ”

This ends Sauti’s brief description of Sage Bhrigu.

Read the note below for more information about Ghritachi and the apsaras.

Apsaras in the Devi Jagadambi Temple at Khajuraho

Note: Apsara Ghritachi was responsible for the birth of many virtuous children on earth. Along with furthering Sage Bhrigu’s lineage by having a son with Sage Pramati, she was also the mother of Nala. She also furthered the Puru dynasty by having ten sons with a descendant of Janamejaya called Raudrasva.

The Natya Shastra, an ancient treatise on performing arts, composed by Bharat Muni mentions several apsaras. Some of them are: Manjukesi, Sukesi, Misrakesi, Sulochana, Saudamini, Devasena, Manorama, Sudati, Sundari, and many others.

Table of Contents

Previous: Ugrasrava Sauti Asks the Ascetics of Naimisha Forest Which Story They Want to Hear Next

Next: A Rakshasa Abducts Bhrigu’s Wife

Image Credits:

  1. The image of Sage Bhrigu is from Bhrigu Stotram. It was made available in the public domain by Shrimati Satish Janardhan Sharma and Dr. Pandit Ramanuj Sharma of Hoshiarpur, Punjab, India.
  2. The image of Dhosi Hills was made available in the public domain by Sudhirkbhargava.
  3. The image of the Devi Jagadambi Temple was made available in the public domain by Benjamín Preciado Centro de Estudios de Asia y África de El Colegio de México.

Note: In the previous post, we read about why Uttanka was angry with the serpent king, Takshaka, and how his anger caused him to go to Hastinapura to meet king Janamejaya to seek revenge on Takshaka.

With this post, we begin the Pauloma (sub) Parva of the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata.

Ugrasrava Sauti, the son of Lomaharshana, knowledgeable in the Puranas, stood before the ascetics (who were attending Saunaka Kulapati’s 12-year sacrifice) in the Naimisha forest. Having studied the Puranas with great care and devotion, he was well acquainted with them. Sauti folded his hands in front of the ascetics and said to them, “I have described the story of Uttanka who was one of the causes of King Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice. Respected sirs, what do you wish to hear now?”

The ascetics replied, “O son of Lomaharshana, we are sure you will narrate whichever story we wish to hear, but our respected teacher, Saunaka Kulapati, is not here at the moment. He is in the chamber of the holy fire. He is well acquainted with the divine stories of gods and asuras. He knows the background of humans, serpents, and gandharvas. O Sauti, he is the chief of this sacrifice. He is a capable brahmana, faithful to his vows, a lover of peace, and performs strict practices to subdue the urges of the body. He observes all the penances according to the scriptures. All of us respect him, therefore, we should wait for him to arrive and tell us which story he would like to hear.”

Sauti said, “So be it. I shall wait for the high-souled brahmin (Saunaka Kulapati) to arrive and narrate the story he asks for.”

Meanwhile, the excellent brahmin, Saunaka Kulapati, performed his duties in the fire chamber of his house. He pleased the gods with prayers and pleased his ancestors with offerings of water. After completing his rituals in the fire chamber, he returned to the place of the sacrifice where the ascetics were seated with Sauti.

The great brahmin then spoke to Sauti, “Child, in the past, your father read all the Puranas and the (Maha) Bharata with Vyasa. Have you also studied them? Those ancient records (Mahabharata and Puranas) contain the stories of the first generation of wise men. We have heard those stories from your father but would like to hear them again. The first story I want to hear is about Sage Bhrigu’s race.”

Upon hearing Saunak Kulapati’s words, Sauti said respectfully, “I have studied everything that the high-souled brahmins, including Vaishampayana, had studied. I have also learned everything my father studied.”

Sauti continued his reply to Saunaka Kulapati, “O great rishi, you are a descendant of the great race of Bhrigu which is respected by Indra and all the gods. It is respected by the rishis and Maruts. O great one, I will now tell you the story of the race of Bhrigu as it is described in the Puranas.”

Note: You might be surprised that Saunaka Kulapati did not ask Sauti to tell them the story of Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice, however, there is a reason for the delay. Uttanka was one of the causes of the sacrifice. However, there were other causes too. There was also a balancing factor to ensure that all the snakes do not get exterminated in the sacrifice. We will learn about all of these in the posts that follow.

Table of Contents

Previous: Uttanka Goes to Hastinapura to Meet Janamejaya

Next: A Brief Description of Sage Bhrigu’s Family

Ugrasrava Sauti narrating the Mahabharata to Saunaka Kulapati and other sages

Om! We utter the word Jaya only after bowing down to Narayana, Nara (the most exalted human), and the Goddess Saraswati. 

Author’s Note: In the Unabridged Mahabharata, the entire epic is narrated by Ugrasrava Sauti (a bard) to the ascetics assembled in Naimisha forest in the hermitage of Rishi Saunak Kulapati. The epic begins with Ugrasrava Sauti approaching the ascetics and engaging in a conversation with them. While conversing, the ascetics ask Sauti to narrate the story of Bharata and the great war that took place at Kurukshetra. That’s how Ugrasrava Sauti begins narrating the epic.

A few more points:

  1. In the following paragraphs, the words ascetics, sages, and rishis are used interchangeably.
  2. Janamejaya was the son of King Parikshit and the grandson of Uttara and Abhimanyu. He is often referred to as a royal sage in the Mahabharata.
  3. Dwija means twice-born. The first birth is the physical birth and the second birth is spiritual.
  4. Dwaipayana-Vyasa is Rishi Ved Vyasa, the composer of the Mahabharata.

One day Ugrasrava Sauti, son of Lomaharshana, and well-versed in the Puranas, humbly approached the great sages who had participated in Saunak Kulapati’s twelve-year sacrifice in the Naimisha forest. The ascetics, keen to listen to Sauti’s marvelous stories, began to call out to Sauti as they saw him approach. Sauti was welcomed with due respect by the sages. Soon, he folded his palms and inquired about the progress of their asceticism. The ascetics offered a seat to Sauti, and after he was rested, one of the rishis asked him where he was coming from and how he had been spending his time. The ascetic wished to know everything in detail.

Location of Naimisha Forest

Note: More details about Naimisha Forest and its importance.

Sauti was well-accomplished in speech. He gave a detailed answer to the assembled sages using words and phrases that were appropriate to their way of life.

Sauti said, “I was at the snake sacrifice conducted by the royal sage Janamejaya. After the sacrifice, I wandered around visiting many sacred water bodies (lakes, rivers, etc) and holy shrines. Then I visited a place called Samantapanchaka. This place, venerated by the Dwijas, was also the site where the battle between the sons of Kuru and Pandu was fought. All the kings of the earth fought in that battle for either of the two sides. 

Keen to meet you, I came here from Samantapanchaka. O sages, all of you are like the great God Brahma to me. O greatly blessed ones, you shine in this place of sacrifice like the solar fire. You have completed the silent meditations and fed the holy fire. And now you sit here without a care in the world. O Dwijas, which stories would you like to hear? Should I tell you stories from the Puranas that contain wise words about religious duty and worldly profit? Or should I narrate to you the actions of illustrious saints and great kings?”

The rishi, who had initially addressed Sauti, answered, “The Purana first composed by the great rishi Dwaipayana-Vyasa is the most eminent narrative that exists. This Purana is highly esteemed by the Gods and Brahmarishis. Its passages have been obtained from the Vedas and possess subtle meaning in a logically combined manner. It includes subjects from several books and is presented in elegant prose. This Purana contains the essence of the four Vedas and its subtlety is clarified by other texts.”

The rishi continued, “We would like to hear that Purana. That history called Bharata composed by the wonderful sage Dwaipayana-Vyasa. That text which is known to dispel evil. We would like to hear it just as it was recited by rishi Vaishampaya at the snake sacrifice of Janamejaya.”

Having heard the rishi, Sauti said, “I bow down to the primordial being Isana who is adored by everyone. Isana is the true incorruptible one: the Brahma, perceptible, imperceptible, and eternal. Isana is both a non-existing and an existing-non-existing being. Isana is the universe and also distinct from the existing and non-existing universe. Isana is the creator of high and low. Isana is ancient, exalted, and inexhaustible. Isana is Vishnu, beneficent and beneficence itself; pure and immaculate. Isana is Hari, the ruler of all faculties and guide of all things moveable and immovable.”

Sauti continued, “I will now recite the sacred thoughts of the great rishi Vyasa, of marvelous deeds, and worshipped by everyone in this assembly. Some bards have already recited this history, some are reciting it now, and yet others will propagate it in the future. This Purana is a great source of knowledge established throughout the three regions of the world. The Dwijas know of this Purana both in its detailed and concise forms. It is a delight of the learned because it is decorated with elegant expressions, human and divine conversations, and many poetic measures.”

Table of Contents

Previous: Introduction

Next: Creation Story of the Universe as Explained in the Adi Parva