This Monograph on sage Visvamitra should adorn the world of Indology and Sanskrit. Visvamitra’s name ranks high amongst Indian seers. His contribution to Vedic Literature religion and culture is both rich and varied. He authored the famous source of solace and inspiration to mankind. Born a ksatriya he earned Brahmanhood and the exalted rank of a Rsi by virtue of his enlightened faculties and regiorous austerity. Almost the entire third book of Rgveda the oldest literary monument available in the world is traditionally ascribed to his rare divine genius.
Inspired by Visvamitra’s great achievements Acharya Vishva Bandhu Founder Director of V.V.B.I.S & I.S desired to have his statue installed in the institute to perpetuate the sacred memory of this monument of unageing intellect. A seven feet red stone statue made by a reputed sculptor was installed and ceremoniously unveiled on 30th March 1978.
Need was felt to explore sage Visvamitra’s multi faceted personality and contributions to various fields I am happy to note that the faculty of the institute has prepared a monograph on the basis of existing literary data from Rgveda and classical Sanskrit Literature. Eminent Scholars have traced his personality in four successive stages of Sanskrit literature in this monograph.
It is indeed gratifying that the monograph is being brought out in book form under the title Panjab University Indological Series number 32 I do hope the publication will be well received by researches savants of Sanskrit and other branches of indology and become a source of inspiration to coming generations.
Visvamitra is one of the most important and dynamic personalities of Indian antiquity and culture. He has been depicted, almost, in all branches of Indian literature beginning from the Vedicera to the present age. 'With a view to presenting a comprehensive study of the personality of Visvamitra in this monograph entitled Visvamitra in Vedic and Post Vedic Literature, the whole Sanskrit literature has been classified into four groups, viz., (i) Early Vedic literature, (ii) Later Vedic literature, (iii) Epics and Puranas, and(iv) Classical Sanskrit literature. On the basis of literary material found under these four groups of Indian literature an attempt has been made here in four papers to present the multifarious personality of Visvamitra through the ages.
The first paper presents a very sublime personality of Visvamitra as a man of high caliber, endowed with the vision of a seer-poet, the talent of a singer, the knowledge of the priest craft whereby he could produce miracles, and above all, the qualities of a dynamic leader on account of which the kings of the age always sought his help to lead them to victory, or to bestow upon them the goodwill of gods. To sum up the Rgvedic references :
1. Visvamitra is a seer of a large number of hymns of the RV. The attributes such as karu, jaritr, vipra, rsi, devajah, devajutah. nrcaksah, and so on, have been used for him depicting his august position.
2. Visvamitra has been referred to in the RV both in singular and plural. The singular forms denote the seer and the plural forms the members of his family.
3. RV, Ill. 33 describes an event of Visvamitra’s life, viz., the crossing of the rivers Vipat (Bias) and Sutudri (Satluj) along with the Bharatas. This incident took place when he was the Purohita of Sudas. The making of the two rivers fordable by the power of his mantras reveals that he was sagacious in composing mantras yielding miraculous results.
4. Visvamitra belonged to the Kusika family. The members of his family have been referred to as jysujasaha and they have been described as rsayah, vuoragm brcajsasgm the epithets also applied to Visvamitra himself. jahnu has also been mentioned as his ancestor.
5, ln the RV, though the use of the word Visvamitra in plural, no doubt, refers to the sons of Visvamitra, we do not find any direct reference to the names of his sons. From the inclusion of the hymns of Utkila, Kata, Devasrava, Devavata and Prajapati in the Vaisvamitra Mandala we can only surmise that they are somehow related to Visvamitra. Otherwise their hymns could not have been included in that Mandala. But what relations Visvamitra had with them are not mentioned in any of the Rks of the Mandala. Madhuchandas, Jeta, Aghamarsana, Renu and Astaka are nowhere referred to as his sons. In a verse (RV, X. 89.17) only Renu calls himself a Vaisvamitra, though he uses this word in plural.
6. In RV III. 53. 15•l6 Visvamitra eulogizes Jamadagni who gave him a mantra called Sasarpari which dispelled his amatim, i.e., the state of loss of power of reciting mantras. From this it is obvious that once Visvamitra had lost his power of reciting mantras, and Jamadagni rescued him from that catastrophe by giving him the knowledge of .Sasarpari, which was no other than the Gayatri mantra.
7. In BV, III. 53. 21-23 a curse against the enemy has been inflicted. However, it has nothing to do with the Visvamitra—Vasistha rivalry, though the later commentators took these verses as containing definite reference to the rivalry between the two families of the seers.
8. In the seventh Mandala Sudas has been shown as conquering the confederacy of the ten kings under the leadership of Vasistha. It appears that Visvamitra was the priest of Sudas before the Dasarajna war. Later on Sudas appointed Vasistha as his chief priest. This super cession, most probably, might have been the cause of rivalry between Visvamitra and Vasistha.
Succinctly this much we know about the personality of Visvamitra from the Rgvedic references.
The second paper of the monograph presents the personality of; Visvamitra on the basis of references gathered in the later Vedic literature. Here. There are two types of material, one having direct or indirect bearing on the Rgvedic data and the other being new developments having no connection with previous Rgvedic references. To Sum up these later Vedic References:
1. Visvamitra, as the seer of the third Mandala, is known only from the later Vedic literature, not from the RV itself.
2. Visvamitra was the son of Gathin is known only from the later Vedic literature which gives his genealogy as: Istratha•-Kusika-Gathin-Visvamitra-Rsabha, Kata, Ut-kila, Madhuchandas, and so on.
3. Before Visvamitra his family was known as Kusikas. But after him the same family inter-alia began to be known as Visvamitras. In the Baudhss (Pravaradhyaya, 31) he has been shown as a gotra-pravmtaka Rsi.
4. The RV does not mention anywhere the names of the seven seers together among whom Visvamitra is one. The SB (XIV. 5.2.6) gives the list of the seven seers and puts Visvamitra together with Jamadagni. This statement of the $`.B corroborates the Rgvedic reference where in these two seers have been shown together in a copulative compound. The close relationship between Visvamitra and Jamadagni, as referred to in the RV, continued to be mentioned in later Vedic literature.
5. The RV nowhere refers to Visvamitra as the original author of RV, IV. 19; 22:23. The AB (IV. 18) calls these three hymns as the Sampata hymns. They were originally seen by Visvamitra, but later on Vamadeva appropriated them as his own. After these hymns having been appropriated by Vamadeva, Visvamitra saw other hymns. This statement of the AB makes it obvious that Visvamitra was a prolific seer endowed with the power of seeing mantras in spontaneity. He did not quarrel with Vamadeva when the latter appropriated his (Visvamitra’s)hymns as his own.
6. The AB (VII. 13-18) and the Sankhss (XV. 17-27) explaining the context of the Rgvedic hymns I. 24-30, relate the story of Visvamitra and Sunahsepa in detail. Here it is mentioned that the arrangements were made for the sacrifice of king Harscandara in which Sunahsepa was to he offered. Visvamitra was the hot priest and three other famous sages, viz, Vasistha Jamadagni and Ayasya were functioning as the other three principal preists. When sunahsepa was released by Varuna out of compassion Visvamitra adopted him as his own son and gave him supreme place among his sons.
7. The Later Vedic Literature gives the explanation of the context of the river crossing by Visvamitra. The TMB (XIV, 3.11-13) mentions Visvamitra as winning wagers against the people called adanti on the bank of a river with the help of his tow oxen. JB III 183 gives another version of the same story. According to it, Visvamitra in the company of the wagon train of the Bharatas encountered the mahavrsas who made a wager with him. Visvamitra won the wager. The TMB and the JB unanimously mention that Visvamitra won the wager by reciting two Rohitakultya Samans. This description may be regarded as a new version of the old river crossing incident referred to in the RV.
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