Surya Vamsa and Chandra Vamsa in the Vishnupurana

This article is part 9 of 20 in the series Puranas

Lineages in the Vishnupurana

The lineages enumerated and described in the Vishnupurana are primarily of the Kshatriyas. It does not contain lists or descriptions of lineages of Brahamanas or other Varnas. The reason for this omission is perhaps because these other lineages are innumerable, infinite and not useful. Even modern histories primarily deal with royal dynasties.

In the present context, the entire human race was created by the Bhagavan. Among this, the class of people who were distinguished to rule over kingdoms was divided as the Solar and Lunar dynasties. When we examine the two, we discover several elements that are interesting and highly useful for researchers. Our purpose is to delineate some notable aspects of eminent royal dynasties.

The Solar Dynasty   

The following is the order of the (creation) of the Solar Dynasty: Vishnu-Brahma-dakṣa-vivasvān (Sun). vivasvān’s son is Manu. In turn, Manu has ten sons including ikṣvāku. The most memorable kings of this dynasty include marutt, māndhātā, triśaṅku, hariścandra, sagara, bhagīratha, ṛtuparṇa, daśaratha, śrīrāma, agnivarṇa and śīghraga. The king Maru went into the Yogic State and it is said that he still resides in the Kalapa village and that he will establish the Solar Dynasty in the next Kruta Yuga. It is also narrated that the ikṣvāku dynasty will continue till the end of the reign of the king Sumitra: ikṣvākūṇām ayaṃ vaṃśaḥ sumitrānto bhaviṣyati (4.22.13).

Further, this Solar Dynasty splits into another branch from one of his sons named Nimi. In this branch are born famous kings such as janakavaideha and Sita Devi’s father, sīradhvaja-janaka. The Nimi dynasty will continue to rule till the close of king Kruti’s reign. The original ancestor of both Sri Rama and Janaka is the selfsame ikṣvāku. All members of the Janaka lineage are well-versed in the Knowledge of Atman.

The Lunar Dynasty

The following is the order of the Lunar Dynasty: viṣṇu, brahma, atri, candra, budha, purūrava. The spread of the Lunar Dynasty is far more extensive than that of the Solar Dynasty. One branch of this dynasty is in this order: purūrava’s son Jahnu and his son, gādhi (Vishwamitra’s father) and so on. purūrava’s other son āyu originated another branch whose order is as follows: nahuṣa, dhanvantri, yayāti, Yadu, kārtivīrya, and so on. The aforementioned dhanvantri is the renowned founder of Ayurveda. However, the story that dhanvantri emerged during the Churning of the Ocean is hard to reconcile with his Lunar Dynasty-origin. The Yadu mentioned here is the first ancestor of the Yadava-Vamsa to which Srikrishna belonged. Because Yadu is much earlier than kārtivīrya, he can be placed at least in the tretāyuga. Thus, we can agree that several eons passed between Yadu and Srikrishna. Because Madhu, vṛṣṇi, and sātvata were also born in the Yadava lineage, Srikrishna is also known by the names of mādhava vārṣṇeya and sātvata. In this circumstance, we find a curious episode. Jyāmagha is another personality born in the Yadava lineage. He is described in great detail as a bhāryāvaśya, i.e., one who is scared of his wife. In fact, he had no equal to anyone in this fear of the wife.  

bhāryāvaśyāstu ye kecit bhaviśyantyathavā mṛtāḥ |
teṣāṃ tu jyāmaghaḥ śreṣṭhaḥ śaibyāpatirabhūnṛpaḥ || (4.12.13)  

One of the great warriors born in this Yadu dynasty was Vasudeva. Vasudeva’s mother was māriṣā. Vasudeva’s sisters were pṛthā (kunti), śrutadevā and śrutaśravas. Because pṛthā was given in adoption to Kuntibhoja, she eventually became famous as Kunti. It is well-known that the Pandavas are the sons of Kunti. Her sister, śrutadevā’s son was Dantavakra. The son of her other sister śrutaśravas was śiśupāla. Thus, the Pandavas and Dantavakra and śiśupāla are respectively, sisters’ sons. Later, Srikrishna’s lineage continues with pradyumna, aniruddha, vajra, pratibāhu and sucāru.

Puru is another son of yayāti. In Puru’s lineage is born the king duṣyanta. A king named Hastina born in this lineage establishes the city named hastināvati. amīḍha is the son of Hastina. amīḍha’s son is divodāsa. It is highly interesting to note that divodāsa’s sister is the famous Ahalya who appears in the Ramayana. Ahalya’s son is śatānanda. His Brahmana son satyadhṛti was an expert in archery. His son is the renowned kṛpācārya who appears in the Mahabharata. In divodāsa’s dynasty is born the famous Kuru-Raja. He births the various branches of the Kuru lineage populated by warriors like bṛhadratha and jarāsaṃdha. In another branch, the lineage grows through people like Janhu, śantanu, Kaurava and Pandava. Thus, jarāsaṃdha is linked to the Pandavas in a patrilineal relationship. The Pandava dynasty continues till the end of the reign of kṣemaka. On this side, jarāsaṃdha’s lineage continues till the close of the reign of ripuñjaya who is murdered by his minister Sunika, who then enthrones his own son pradyota. After this, the Empire of Magadha changes hands under various kings until it passes on to mahāpadma, who is also known as Nanda. He was an extraordinary warrior who had subdued all the kings of his time. Mahāpadma’s father was Mahānandi. His mother was a śūdra woman. Mahāpadma, together with his eight sons were known as the navananda-s (Nine Nandas). The story of how Kautilya installed Chandragupta (Maurya) on the Magadha throne after killing the Nine Nandas is well-known. Finally, it must be remembered that the Yadavas and the offshoots of jarāsaṃdha belonged to the Lunar Dynasty.

Like Maru of the Solar Dynasty, devāpi, a king of the Lunar Dynasty attains the Yogic State and lives in the same kalāpa village. It is said that he will revive the Lunar Dynasty in the next Yuga cycle.

Then we have another interesting episode. Anu, the other of yayāti, begins his own branch of the lineage. This branch witnesses the birth respectively, of the kings diviratha, dharmaratha, and citraratha. Citraratha was also known as romapāda. He was sonless. Therefore, his friend Dasharatha (Srirama’s father) gave his daughter Shanta to him for adoption (4.14-18). An exact opposite story is found in the Harivamsha:

Dharmaratha’s son was Chitraratha. Chitraratha’s son was Dasharatha. He had another name, romapāda. He had a daughter named Shanta. (Harivamsha: 13.44 thru 46).

Thus, according to the Vishnupurana, romapāda has an adopted daughter named Shanta, who was the (biological) daughter of Dasharatha. But according to the Harivamsha, Dasharatha who is also known as romapāda has a biological daughter named Shanta. Therefore, there is a mutual contradiction in the matter of the real name of romapāda between the Vishnupurana and the Harivamsha. It is not clear from the Harivamsha whether Shanta is the biological or the adopted daughter of romapāda.

To be continued

Author(s)

About:

Mahamahopadhyaya Vidwan Ranganatha Sharma was a renowned Sanskrit scholar and an authority on Vyakarana or Grammar. He is noted for his translation of the entire Valmiki Ramayana into Kannada, which was published with a foreword by DVG. He has authored several books in Kannada and Sanskrit. He is a recipient of the national award for Sanskrit learning and has received the Rajyotsava Award.  

Translator(s)

About:

Sandeep Balakrishna is a writer, author, translator, and socio-political-cultural analyst. He is the author of "Tipu Sultan: The Tyrant of Mysore" and "The Madurai Sultanate: A Concise History." He translated Dr. S L Bhyrappa's magnum opus "Avarana" into English.

Prekshaa Publications

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