King Satyavrata was the subsequent Manu Vivasvanta who had the distinction of playing a major role in the context of Vishnu Bhagavan’s Avatara (Incarnation) as Matsya or the Giant Fish. The Story was when Satyavrata was paying offerings of waters in the River Kirtimala, a tiny fish appeared in his palms and requested him not to throw it back into the River as big fishes would swallow it and as such keep it in a container. As the fish was kept in a pot, it became too big for the succsessive containers and grew into a huge fish which filled in the entire Ocean. The giant fish was none other than Bhagavan Narayana himself; the Matsyaavatara directed King Satyavrata to await the arrival of a maamoth Ship and meanwhile the King should collect samples of good human beings, flora, fauna and so on and load these materials. The Matsya further conveyed that as the Ship would arrive with Sapta Rishes aboard on it, it would be hooked to the horns of the Fish to be propelled by the Great Vasuki Serpent when the totality of the Universe would be submeged in water. Lord Brahma would then be woken up from his slumber as the Demon Hayagriva who would have been killed since he would attempt to steal Vedas and other Scriptures. Subsequently Brahma would resume the task of Creation of the Universe afresh!
Manu Vivaswanta gave birth to ten sons including Ikshvaku, Saryati, Nabhaga and Prushaghna. Episoded related to many of the sons of the Manu are intersting mentioned here-below in brief:
Ikshwaku’s lineage included Puranjaya/ Kakustha, Yuvanashra and Mandhata. Puranjaya fought a severe battle with Daityas on behalf of Devas by riding a Great Bull who actually was Indra himself by holding the Kakutsa or the hump of the bull thus obtaining the epithet of Kakutsa or Indravahana!
King Yuvanashra perforned a noted Yagna targetting Indra Deva to secure a son. During the Sacrifice days, he felt very thirsty one midnight in the Yagna Shaala and drank up the ‘Mantra Jala’ or the Sanctified Water kept in a vessel. The Rishis performing the Yagna were aghast to find the vessel empty next morning as the King drank up the Sacred Water. Eventually, the King got conceived instead of his Queen and a male child came out fromhis abdomen which had to be cut. The cried for milk and Indra put his index finger in the child’s mouth and saved him!
The boy thus born was Mandhata, the undisputed Emperor of the World comprising Seven Dwipas ‘from where Sun rose at where it was set!’ He was stated to have discovered Manasa Sarovara on Mount Kailasha was he was reputed to have performed Tapas at the banks of the Lake. It was believed that there was a Serpent Mansion where the Emperor prayed under a Jamun Tree from which its fruits (Blackberry) dropped into the Sarovar making the sounds of ‘Jam’ and the area underneath the Sarovara was called Jambu Dwipa!
Mandhata’s wife Bindumati was a pious woman and gave birth to Purukutsa and Muchukunda and fifty daughters. There was an interesting Story about the daughters. Sage Saubhari a very old and diseased person who did Tapasya under water for twelve years noticed that fishes in water were having sex and procreating; the Muni got tempted and approached Mandhata to let any of his daughters marry him. The Emperor was afraid that the Sage might give a ‘Shaap’ if declined and asked that anybody among the daughters was prepared to marry the Sage; none consented as the Sage was very old and disgusting physically with diseases. Mandhata had a problem but cleverly replied that his family custom was that all the daughters would have to wed the same person and none should disagree. The Sage transformed himself into a handsome youth by his mystical powers and presented himself. All the girls vied with each other to marry him and the youthful Sage built mansions and all of them enjoyed. But in course of time, the Sage realised that on account of the fishes in the water, his spiritual life was ruined and although very late in life reverted back to a more introspective life and intensified devotion to Vishnu.
Purukutsa married Narmada the sister of Serpent brothers and she took him away to Rasatala the sub-terrain world under instruction from King Vasuki as approved by Bhagavan Vishnu to overpower Gandharvas who invaded Rasatala and other Patala Lokas. Nagas were afraid of Gandharvas as some six crores of the latter descended there for hunting the priceless ‘Ratnas’ / Jewels. Nagas sought protection and prayed to Vishnu in desperation. Indeed Purukutsa succeeded and Nagas gave a boon to Narmada that whosoever bathed in River Narmada by reciting a Shloka would be safe from Sarpa- Visha or Snake- Poison; the Shloka states: Narmadaayai Namah Praatarnamaadaayai Namo Nisha, Namostu Narmadey tubhyam traahimaam vishasarpatah/ (Devi Narmada! My salutations to you in the day or night; kindly safeguard me from the fear of Serpents and their poisonous bites!) This recitation while entering dark places as also while eating food would safeguard from any kind of poisons thanks to Purukutsa and Narmada!
It was in the lineage of Purukutsa that Satyavrata or the well known Trishanku was born. The latter kidnapped a Commoner bride from her Vivaha-Vedika or Wedding Platform and his father, King Traiyaaruni-as prompted by Sage Vasishtha the Guru of the King, banished him for life into his Kingdom; while living in the outskirts of the Kingdom Satyavrata adopted the ways of a Chandala or the lowest caste of the Society. Sage Vishwamitra once left away on a long Tapasya for a period of twelve years and as a long drawn ‘Anavrishti’ (famine) broke up in the Region, Satyavrata provided food to the Sage’s wife and children. But the latter stole Vasishtha’s cows in his Yagna Shaala and fed Vishwamitra’s wife and family with cow meat and the unsuspecting family ate it especially due to hunger. Yet, on return from his Tapasya, Vishwamitra was extremely pleased and felt highly obliged that Satyavrata supported his family for twelwe long years! But Vasishtha never excused Satyavrata on three counts: he adopted the ways of Chandala ; he stole the cows from his Ashram and finally he fed cow meat to the innocent and gullible family of a fellow Sage. Thus he cursed Satyavrata as Trishanku on the basis of three unpardonable sins especially to Brahmana families! He cursed Satyavata to become a fulfledged Chandala thus transforming his body complexion and ways of living. But Vishwamitra espoused the cause of Satyavrata; he not only restored the latter’s original position as a Prince but also sought him to despatch him in his mortal form to Swarga by the power of his Tapasya. Devas refused the Prince’s entry to Swarga and the Sage took it as a challenge and created a duplicate Swarga in the outer space near the original and thus caused the Prince to hang him upside down creating Trishanku Swarga of the Thrice-Sinned Trishanku!
Harischandra, the son of Trishanku etched himself a unique position for truthfulness and virtue in Indian mythology. He ruled his Kingdom with commitment and honesty on the strict lines of Dharma and became a darling of his Subjects. But he had no offspring and prayed to Varuna Deva; the latter blessed the King with a son no doubt but on the condition of offering the child to him in course of time. As and when Varuna Deva reminded the King of the Sacrifice appearing as a Brahmana, the King kept on postponing on some pretext or another. Meanwhile, Sage Vishwamitra developed extreme jealousy and hatred to Harischandra’s Raja Guru Maharshi Vasishtha; the hatred was so intense that they cursed each other to become birds and Lord Brahma had to intervene after a few years and made them reverse the mutual curses. Harischandra’s son Rohitasya learnt about the background of his birth viz. Varuna Deva’s condition that his father would have to sacrifice him to the Deva sooner or later and fled away to forests. Varuna Deva cursed Harischandra to suffer dropsy since the latter could not fulfil his promise. Rohitasya desired to return to take over the Kinghip. But Indra appeared as an old Sage and advised the boy not to return to the Kingdom, lest Varuna would not leave him for a sacrifice and suggested that he should better proceed on Tirtha Yatras to negate the sacrifice to Varuna. Guru Vasishtha arranged that another person would be sacrificed instead of Rohitasya and prayed Varuna to agree to the arrangement that Harishandra be freed from the disease of dropsy. Keeping in view the background of his long standing enmity with Vasishtha, Vishwamitra decided torment Harischandra. He approached the King that he dreamt of Harischandra’s promise to donate his entire Kingdom to the Maharshi! The gullible King was tricked to believe of the Sage’s dream and was packed him to Kashi along with his wife and son who had returned back after TitrhaYatras since he was no longer required for human sacrifice. Vishwamitra tormened Harischandra thereafter to defray an astronomical amount by way of Dakshna or fees to be paid to him that he performed for the King in the past; his wife Chandramati and son Lohitasya had to perform menial jobs and were sold in an auction to a house-holder subsequently; he was employed as a bonded labour himself at a Burial Ground; his son was dead in a snake bite while the wife brought the dead body of the son to the same burial ground where Harischandra was a bonded worker; she had to sell her ‘Mangal Sutra’or the precious possession of a house wife, and even had to tear off half of her sari to meet the expenses of the burial ! Such were the extreme tests of fate that Harischandra put to all due to his determination to follow what his conscience had demanded and finally succeeded as Lord Vishnu, Indra and Devas appeared when finally Chandramati was forced to take away the rest of her saree to pay for the last rites of the dead son! As he and his wife stood the tests bravely they attained Vaikuntha as their Example was indeed a banchmark to the posterity! Rohitasya was brought back to life and was made the King.
Muchukunda who too belonged to the ancestry of King Ikshwaku was the able Commander of the Army of Devas in a series of battles with Daityas for long time completely disregarding his family and personal health. Indra expressed his gratitude and asked him for a boon. As he was so tired and sleepy, Muchukunda asked Indra to let him sleep and the latter agreed especially because one Deva year was equal to three sixty five human ears and that would provide Muchukunda ample rest. Indra also gave a boon that none should disturb his sleep and if some bodydid so that person would be burnt as ash. Muchukunda descended to Earth from Swarga and selected a Mountain cave to sleep. Meanwhile, Vishnu assumed the Incarnation of Krishna and killed innumerable Forces of Evil on Earth. The most vicious of the Kings of the times Kamsa was killed by Krishna and the enraged King Jarasandha decided to uproot Krishna. Since he and his fellow Kings might not be able to do so, he sought the friendship of Kala Yavana the valiant and cruel Yavana King ; the combined army surrounded Mathura where his grand father was reigning under the care of Krishna. Just before the battle was to commence, Krishna left the Mathura Fort by a leisurely walk and Kala Yavana was puzzled and followed Krishna who entered a Cave. Kala Yavana too entered thinking that Krishna was a schemy person and shoul be vary of his mischivous plans. The cave was pitch dark and there was no trace of Krishna. Suddenly the Yavana stumbled a human body and the latter growled with shouting anger. Muchukunda got disturbed from sleep and as he opened his eyes, Kala Yavana was burnt like a soft wood into a heap of ash, in keeping with Indra’s boon that who so ever disturbed Muchkunda would be burnt alive as ash. Then Krishna made his appearance and Muchukunda recognised Bhagavan who instructed the latter to move to the Ashram of Nara Narayana in ‘Badarikashrama’ to perform Tapasya till his attainment of Mukti.
The stories of Chyavana Muni and Sukanya, King Nabhaga, Pradyumna and Ila Devi
Vaivaswata Manu’s another son Saryati gave birth to Sukanya. The latter when she came of age visited a forest once along with her companions and playfully prierced into a bush while amused about what she thought were glowing worms. But they were actually the eyes of a Muni named Chyavana performing Tapas with eyes wide open and in the process got blinded. The girl got confused when blood oozed out from the bush and ran away. The blinded Muni realised that a young princess did the indiscretion and gave a Shaap that the entire military force of the King should suffer with stoppage of their excretions. Meanwhile Sukanya conveyed to the King of her playful rashness and of the Muni’s shaap. King Saryati along with Sukanya approached the Muni and prostrated to him seeking unreserved pardon; the King offered the young Sukanya to wed the old Muni so that she could serve the Muni in his blindness. In course of time, Sukanya got used to family life serving the blind Muni in his daily puja and other chores. She excelled herself in her ‘Pativratya’ or undisputed devotion to her husband.
One day, the two Ashvini Kumars who were the Physicians of Devas passed by the Ashram of Chyavana Muni and were highly impressed with the selfless and ideal service being performed by Sukanya as an example of Pativratya. They cured the Muni’s blindness and the grateful Chyavana offered a boon to the Ashvini Kumars. The latter desired that they would like to have access to ‘Amrit’which was provided to Devas but was denied to them. Chyavana Muni made a request to Indra but he refused. The Muni took up this as an insult to him and performed an elaborate Yagna an favour of Brahma Deva and the latter who was pleased by the Muni’s Yagna instructed Ashvini Kumars to accord the same status to Devas and thus have access to the drink of Amrita eversince.
King Nabhaga was refused of material wealth: Vaivaswata’s another son King Nabhaga advised his youngest son Junior Nabhaga to perform a sincere yagna in favour of the Planetary Heads since the junior Nabhaga received a raw deal by his elder brothers in the apportionment of the King’s wealth when the senior Nabhaga proceeded to Vanaprastha. The Planetary Heads-the Ashta Dikpalakas- were very pleased with the Yagna and granted enormous wealth. But when the wealth in the form of Bhumi, Rajya, gold, Dhanya, Dhana, and Vahanas was about to be accepted by the junior Nabhaga , a dark and short Swarupa with a frightful face and offensive tone objected to receive the wealth so granted to him. Indeed that dark and dreadful person was Lord Shiva himself chiding the junior Nabhaga who preferred material wealth to Spiritual Prosperity!
King Pradyumna / Ila Devi: Vaivaswata Manu’s son Vishshta performed a Yagna to secure a son under the supervision of Sage Mitra Varuna but due to a mistake of the ‘Hota’of the Yagna, a daughter was conceived to the Queen instead of a son. But the Mantrik powers of the Sage, the daughter was converted as a boy named Pradyumna. As the latter became a King eventually, he went on a hunting spree to a forest and entered a prohibited area in the forest despite warnings; that was a very private area where Shiva-Parvati spent time together and the warning was that who ever entered there would become a woman. As per Shiva’s instruction, the King became a woman and had to enter the Royal Palace surrepticiously. Pradyumna callled Sage Vasishtha for help and the latter performed Tapas to please Lord Shiva. The Bhagavan bestowed a dispensation to the King that he would be a male for half year and a female for another half when she would be called Ila. During the woman-hood, Budha the son of Chandra Deva met Ila and their wedding resulted in the birth of King Pururava who was the foremost King in the Chandra Vamsha to be described later.
Other famed Kings of the Surya Vamsha
King Vidurath discovered a huge cavity of Earth in a forest in his Kingdom. A Muni in the forest informed that there was a demon of Patala called Kujrumbha made several such cavities in the forest through which the demon entered and killed the passers by including animals. The Muni however cautioned the King that the demon had a potent weapon named Sunanda-a Mushala or a Mace which was originally built by Twashta Prajapati. He further told the King that the Mushala w On return to the Royal Court, the King consulted his Ministers and asked his sons to take large contingents of soldiers and kill thd demon after locating him. The demon destroyed the army and imprisoned the Princes. He also managed to abduct the Princess from the Fort and out of bravado stated that none could do any harm to him till he possessed Sunanda the Mace and thus forced her to marry him. But the Princess knew about the ineffectiveness of the Mace if touched by a woman. The King announced that whosoever could free the princess from the custody of the demon would be wedded to her. An intrepid youth named Vatsandra came forward and killed the demon, since the Mace was ineffective as it was already touched by the princess while being kidnapped. The princess and the youth got married happily.
King Vishal of Vidisha Kingdom was blessed with an extraordinarily pretty Princess named Vaishali. The King announced a ‘Swayamvara’ or bride’s choice for marriage and many eligible Princes attended the function. One Prince named Aveekshith or the one who was not viewed by any malefic Graha / Planet in his birth chart tried to take away the Princess by force. But those other aspirants who attended the function over powered Aveekshith and imprisoned him. The King then proceeded with the Swayamvara but Vaishali insisted on selecting Aveekshi only. Meanwhile the King Kardama the father of the imprisoned youth attacked Vidisha and freed; the Prince felt humiliated and decided not to wed Vaishali. The disappointed Princess declared that she would wed the Prince or none else! She retired to a hermitage in a forest and performed Tapasya. Devas were happy with her devotion and blessed her with the boon of begetting a famous son who would rule the whole Sapta Dwipas soon. Vaishali wondered that after all she vowed of celibacy excepting Aveekshith. Even while she was thinking about her vow, a demon called Dhrutakesha tried to kidnap Vaishali and a passing Prince Aveekshith fought the demon and saved the Princess. On mutual consent, the married as per the Gadharva way and gave birth to a celebrated son called Marut who indeed became the Supreme Sovereign of the Sapta Dwipas.
Marut Chakravarti not only controlled Sapta Dwipas but also the Sky, Prithvi, Pataala Lokas and all the ‘Jalasthaanaas’ or wherever water existed. He performed thousands of Yagnas under the supervision of Samvarta Muni the son of Angirasa Maharshi and the brother of Brihaspati the Deva Guru. The Yagnas were lavish glittered with gold and jewellery. Brahmanas who were proverbially poor full of family needs and unfulfilled desires were surfeit with Dhana-Dhanya-Vastu-Vahana-Kanakas or cash-foodgrains-material wealth-chariots, horses, elephants and other carriages. The Chakravarti’s sovereignty was at peak when Dharma or Virtue reigned, human desires were nil, Varnashrama Rules were predominant, sins were the lowest and Peace and Contentment were the watch-words. In this idyllic atmosphere however, the ‘Raja Mata’ (Royal Grandmother) sent a precautionary note to Marut and his father Avikshith that there were some lapses in Security arrangements of the Empire as some stray cases of poison deaths of Brahmana Vidyarthis or Students by Nagas from Naga Loka. This information infuriated the Chakravarti and made elaborate preparations to attack Naga loka and destroy it all together. The Naga Kings were worried and tightened the behaviour of the miscreant elements in Naga loka and apologised to the Chakravati who was however adamant. They also approached Aveekshith for intervention and protection. Marut emphasised ‘Raja Dharma’ to protect his Subjects and decided to go ahead with the attack of the Naga Loka while the father pleaded mercy to the ‘Sharanaarthis’ or those who erred but sought pardon which too was an ‘Ashrita Dharma’ of Kshatriyas. Both the son and father took uncompromising postures and the ‘Raja Mata’ intervened and prevented ego-clashes of the Son and Father. Meanwhile, those miscreant serpents were rattled that due to their mischief the entire Naga Race faced the huge problem of destruction and by utilising the Mantra Shakti of the Naga experts revived the lives of the dead Brahmana Vidyarthis thus putting a lid on the controversial storm.