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



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.  



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

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the fourth volume, some character sketches of the Dewans of Mysore preceded by an account of the political framework of the State before Independence and followed by a review of the political conditions of the State after 1940. These remarkable leaders of Mysore lived in a period that spans from the mid-nineteenth century to the...

Bharatiya Kavya-mimamseya Hinnele is a monograph on Indian Aesthetics by Mahamahopadhyaya N. Ranganatha Sharma. The book discusses the history and significance of concepts pivotal to Indian literary theory. It is equally useful to the learned and the laity.

Sahitya-samhite is a collection of literary essays in Kannada. The book discusses aestheticians such as Ananda-vardhana and Rajashekhara; Sanskrit scholars such as Mena Ramakrishna Bhat, Sridhar Bhaskar Varnekar and K S Arjunwadkar; and Kannada litterateurs such as DVG, S L Bhyrappa and S R Ramaswamy. It has a foreword by Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh.

The Mahābhārata is the greatest epic in the world both in magnitude and profundity. A veritable cultural compendium of Bhārata-varṣa, it is a product of the creative genius of Maharṣi Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa. The epic captures the experiential wisdom of our civilization and all subsequent literary, artistic, and philosophical creations are indebted to it. To read the Mahābhārata is to...

Shiva Rama Krishna

சிவன். ராமன். கிருஷ்ணன்.
இந்திய பாரம்பரியத்தின் முப்பெரும் கதாநாயகர்கள்.
உயர் இந்தியாவில் தலைமுறைகள் பல கடந்தும் கடவுளர்களாக போற்றப்பட்டு வழிகாட்டிகளாக விளங்குபவர்கள்.
மனித ஒற்றுமை நூற்றாண்டுகால பரிணாம வளர்ச்சியின் பரிமாணம்.
தனிநபர்களாகவும், குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களாகவும், சமுதாய பிரஜைகளாகவும் நாம் அனைவரும் பரிமளிக்கிறோம்.
சிவன் தனிமனித அடையாளமாக அமைகிறான்....

ऋतुभिः सह कवयः सदैव सम्बद्धाः। विशिष्य संस्कृतकवयः। यथा हि ऋतवः प्रतिसंवत्सरं प्रतिनवतामावहन्ति मानवेषु तथैव ऋतुवर्णनान्यपि काव्यरसिकेषु कामपि विच्छित्तिमातन्वते। ऋतुकल्याणं हि सत्यमिदमेव हृदि कृत्वा प्रवृत्तम्। नगरजीवनस्य यान्त्रिकतां मान्त्रिकतां च ध्वनदिदं चम्पूकाव्यं गद्यपद्यमिश्रितमिति सुव्यक्तमेव। ऐदम्पूर्वतया प्रायः पुरीपरिसरप्रसृतानाम् ऋतूनां विलासोऽत्र प्रपञ्चितः। बेङ्गलूरुनामके...

The Art and Science of Avadhānam in Sanskrit is a definitive work on Sāhityāvadhānam, a form of Indian classical art based on multitasking, lateral thinking, and extempore versification. Dotted throughout with tasteful examples, it expounds in great detail on the theory and practice of this unique performing art. It is as much a handbook of performance as it is an anthology of well-turned...

This anthology is a revised edition of the author's 1978 classic. This series of essays, containing his original research in various fields, throws light on the socio-cultural landscape of Tamil Nadu spanning several centuries. These compelling episodes will appeal to scholars and laymen alike.
“When superstitious mediaevalists mislead the country about its judicial past, we have to...

The cultural history of a nation, unlike the customary mainstream history, has a larger time-frame and encompasses the timeless ethos of a society undergirding the course of events and vicissitudes. A major key to the understanding of a society’s unique character is an appreciation of the far-reaching contributions by outstanding personalities of certain periods – especially in the realms of...

Prekṣaṇīyam is an anthology of essays on Indian classical dance and theatre authored by multifaceted scholar and creative genius, Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh. As a master of śāstra, a performing artiste (of the ancient art of Avadhānam), and a cultured rasika, he brings a unique, holistic perspective to every discussion. These essays deal with the philosophy, history, aesthetics, and practice of...


इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।


अस्मिन् स्तोत्रकाव्ये भगवन्तं शिवं कविरभिष्टौति। वसन्ततिलकयोपनिबद्धस्य काव्यस्यास्य कविकृतम् उल्लाघनाभिधं व्याख्यानं च वर्तते।

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the third volume, some character sketches of great literary savants responsible for Kannada renaissance during the first half of the twentieth century. These remarkable...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the second volume, episodes from the lives of remarkable exponents of classical music and dance, traditional storytellers, thespians, and connoisseurs; as well as his...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the first volume, episodes from the lives of great writers, poets, literary aficionados, exemplars of public life, literary scholars, noble-hearted common folk, advocates...

Evolution of Mahabharata and Other Writings on the Epic is the English translation of S R Ramaswamy's 1972 Kannada classic 'Mahabharatada Belavanige' along with seven of his essays on the great epic. It tells the riveting...

Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...


ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...


“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...