Parashara

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Parashara
In-universe information
FamilyŚakti Maharṣi (father)
Adrushyanti(mother)[1]
ChildrenVyasa (with Satyavati), Jaimini

Parāśara (Sanskrit: पराशर; IAST: Parāśara) was a maharshi and the author of many ancient Indian texts. He is accredited as the author of the first Purana, the Vishnu Purana, before his son Vyasa wrote it in its present form. He was the grandson of Vasishtha, the son of Śakti Maharṣi, and the father of Vyasa. There are several texts which give reference to Parashara as an author/speaker. Modern scholars believe that there were many individuals who used this name throughout time whereas others assert that the same Parashara taught these various texts and the time of writing them varied. The actual sage himself never wrote the texts; the various texts attributed to him are given in reference to Parashara being the speaker to his student.[2] He is the third member of the Ṛṣi Paramparā of the Advaita Guru Paramparā.

Etymology[edit]

When Parashara's father, Sakti Maharishi died after being devoured by the king Kalmashapada along with Vashistha's other sons, Vashistha resorted to ending his life by suicide. Hence he jumped from Mount Meru but landed on soft cotton, he entered a forest fire only to remain unharmed, then he jumped into the ocean who saved him by casting him ashore. Then he jumped in the overflowing river Vipasa, which also left him ashore. Then he jumped into the river Haimavat, which fled in several directions from his fear and was named Satadru. Then when he returned to his asylum, he saw his daughter-in-law pregnant. When a son was born he acted as his father and hence forgot completely about destroying his life.

Hence, the child was named Prashara which meant enlivener of the dead.[3]

Genealogy[edit]

According to the Vedas, Brahma created Vasishtha, who, with his wife Arundhati, had a son named Śakti Mahariṣhi who sired Parashara. With Satyavati, Parashara is father of Vyasa. Vyāsa sired Dhritarashtra and Pandu through his deceased step brother's wives, Ambika and Ambalika and Vidura through a hand-maiden of Ambika and Ambalika. Vyāsa also sired Shuka through his wife, Jābāli's daughter Pinjalā. Thus Parashara was the biological great-grandfather of both the warring parties of the Mahābhārata, the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Parashara is used as a gotra for the ancestors and their offsprings thereon.

Life[edit]

There is a story of Rishi Parashara: Sakti Rishi died in his early age. This made Vasishtha, his father live in his hermitage with Adrsyanti (wife of Sakti). Vasistha heard the chanting of the Vedas and Adrsyanti told him that Vedic hymn sounds were coming from the child of his son, Sakti, that was developing in her womb. Vasistha was happy to hear this. Adrsyanti gave birth to a son and the child grew up to become Parashara, father of Vyasa.[4]

Parashara was raised by his grandfather Vasishtha because he lost his father at an early age. His father, Śakti Muni, was on a journey and came across an angry rākṣasa (demon) who had once been a king but was turned into a demon feeding on human flesh as a curse from Viśvamitra. The demon devoured Parashara's father. In the Viṣṇu Purāṇa, Parashara speaks about his anger from this:[5]

I had heard that my father had been devoured by a Rākṣasa employed by Viśvamitra: violent anger seized me, and I commenced a sacrifice for the destruction of the Rākṣasas: hundreds of them were reduced to ashes by the rite, when, as they were about to be entirely exterminated, my grandfather Vasishtha said to me: Enough, my child; let thy wrath be appeased: the Rākṣasas are not culpable: thy father's death was the work of destiny. Anger is the passion of fools; it becometh not a wise man. By whom, it may be asked, is anyone killed? Every man reaps the consequences of his own acts. Anger, my son, is the destruction of all that man obtains by arduous exertions, of fame, and of devout austerities; and prevents the attainment of heaven or of emancipation. The chief sages always shun wrath: be not subject to its influence, my child. Let no more of these unoffending spirits of darkness be consumed. Mercy is the might of the righteous.[citation needed]

Parashara Muni (Sage) once halted for a night in a little hamlet on the banks of the river Yamuna. He was put up in the house of the fisherman-chieftain Dusharaj. When dawn broke, the chief asked his daughter, Matsyagandha, whose name means "one with the smell of fish", to ferry the sage to his next destination. When in the ferry, Parashara was attracted by the beautiful girl and asked her to fulfill his desire of having sexual intercourse with her. Matsyagandha refused fearing the other people and sages who were standing on the bank of river at the other side.[6]

He then created an island within the river by his mystic potency and asked her to land the boat there. Being insecure of her bodily odor , she tried to dissuade Parashara, saying that a learned Brahmin of his stature should not desire a woman who stinks of fish. On reaching the other side the sage held onto her again, but she declared that her body stank and coitus should be undelightful to them both. Parashara granted her the boon that the finest fragrance may emit from her person. She was thereafter known as Satyavati (pure fragrance).[6] Matsyagandha was transformed (by the powers of the sage) into Yojanagandha ("she whose fragrance can be smelled from across a yojana").[7] She now smelled of musk, and so was called Kasturi-Gandhi ("musk-fragrant").[8] When Parashara, attracted to her beauty, approached her again. Then , she insisted that the act was not appropriate in broad daylight, as her father and others would see them from the other bank; they should wait till night. The sage, with his powers, shrouded the entire area in fog. Before Parashara made love to her, Satyavati again interrupted him to say that he would enjoy her and depart, robbing her of her virginity and leaving her shamed in society. The sage then blessed her with virgo intacta. She asked Parashara to promise her that the coitus would be a secret and her virginity intact; the son born from their union would be as famous as the great sage, and her fragrance and youth would be eternal. Parashara granted her these wishes and was satiated by the beautiful Satyavati. Parashara then made love to her out of which a son called Krishna Dvaipāyana was born , who was dark-complexioned and hence may be called by the name Krishna (black), and also the name Dwaipayana, meaning 'island-born'. He later compiled the classic Vedic literatures of India, and so is called Vyasa who is the 17th incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Leaving Satyavati , Parashara proceeded to perform Tapas (intense meditation). Later Vyasa also became a Rishi and Satyavati returned to her father's house, and in due course, married Śantanu.[6]

Parashara was known as the "limping sage". He had his leg wounded during an attack on his āśrama. When a ṛṣi dies he merges back into an element or an archetype. When Sage Parashara was walking through a dense forest he and his students were attacked by wolves. He was unable to get away in his old age with a lame leg and he left this world merging into the wolves.[9]

The Monument of Parashara Muni is available at Junha - Panhala fort in Tal Kavathe Mahankal Sangli district of Maharashtra. A cave supposed to be of Parāśāra Muni is present at the fort.

Ṛgveda[edit]

In the Ṛgveda, Parashara, son of Śakti Muni (Parashara Śāktya), is the seer of verses 1.65-73 which are all in praise of Agni (the sacred fire), and part of 9.97 (v.31-44) which is in praise of Soma. Below is 1.73.2

devo na yaḥ savitā satyamanmā kratvā nipāti vṛjanāni viṣvā
purupraṣasto amatirna satya ātmeva Sevo didhiṣāyyo bhūt

He who is like the divine Sun, who knows the truth (of all things), preserves by his actions (his votaries) in all encounters; like nature, he is unchangeable and, like soul, is the source of all happiness: he is ever to be cherished.[10]

Texts attributed to Parashara[edit]

  • Seer of verses in the Ṛgveda: recorded as the seer of RV 1.65-73 and part of RV 9.97.
  • Parashara Smṛti (also called Parashara Dharma Saṃhitā): a code of laws which is stated in the text (1.24) to be for Kali Yuga.[11]
  • Speaker of Viṣṇu Purana considered by scholars as one of the earliest Purāṇas.[12]
  • Speaker of the Bṛhat Parāśara Horāśāstra, also written as BPHS. It is considered a foundational text of astrology. The Sanskrit in which it is composed dates to the 7th or 8th centuries CE
  • Speaker of the Vṛkṣāyurveda ("the science of life of trees"), one of the earliest texts on botany.[13] This text was considered to be an ancient botany primer for students of Traditional Indian Medicine.
  • Krishi parasaram, a book that dealt with agriculture and weeds.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Bhiḍe, Śrīpāda Raghunātha (1996). Wife of Sakti Maharsi. ISBN 9788185080987.
  2. ^ "Rishi Parashara - Speaking Tree".
  3. ^ Pratap Chandra Roy's Mahabharata Adi Parva Pages: 406-410
  4. ^ "Puranic encyclopaedia: comprehensive dictionary with special reference to the epic and Puranic literature". archive.org. 1975.
  5. ^ Wilson, H. H. The Vishnu Purana: A System of Hindu Mythology and Tradition.
  6. ^ a b c J. P. Mittal (2006). History of Ancient India (A New Version). Atlantic Publishers & Dist. ISBN 8126906162. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  7. ^ Bhattacharya, Pradip (May–June 2004). "Of Kunti and Satyawati: Sexually Assertive Women of the Mahabharata" (PDF). Manushi (142): 21–25.
  8. ^ Cite error: The named reference Mani was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  9. ^ Munshi, K. M. The Book of VedaVyaasa: The Master.
  10. ^ Rgveda 1.73.2 Translation by H.H.Wilson
  11. ^ https://archive.org/download/ParasharaSmriti/SriParasharaSmrithiPdf.pdf
  12. ^ Flood, Gavin. An Introduction to Hinduism.
  13. ^ Ancient Indian Botany and Taxonomy

References[edit]