Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana Book 3 Chapter 17:18-31

Book 3: Chapter 17

Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana: Book 3: Chapter 17: Verses 18-31
Birth of Hiranyakasipu and Hiranyaksa and the latter's conquest of the four quarters

asyapa (one of the lords of created beings) gave them names. (Accordingly) of the two twin brothers, the people came to know the one who descended from his loins (and entered the womb) first, by the name of Hiranyakasipu; while he whom Diti brought forth first was known as Hiranyaksa' [1]Fearing death at the hands of none by virtue of a boon got from Brahma, Hiranyakasipu was puffed up with pride and brought under his sway by (the strength of) his arms all the three spheres (the earth, heaven and the subterranean region) along with their guardian deities. His beloved younger brother, 'Hiranyaksa, who always tried to please him and was very fond of war, once went up to heaven, mace in hand, seeking (an adversary in) combat. His tempo was difficult to resist. He had anklets of gold tinkling about his feet. Adorned with a Vaijayanti garland, he rested his huge mace on one of his shoulders. His strength of mind and body as well as the boon conferred on him (by Brahma) had puffed him up. He feared death at the hands of none and there was no check on him. The gods, therefore, were seized with fear at his very sight and hid themselves even as snakes hide themselves for fear of Garuda. The chief of the Daityas saw that they had vanished before his might, and roared aloud on not finding Indra and the other gods that had been intoxicated with power. Having returned therefrom, the mighty Daitya, like an elephant in rut, dived into the deep ocean-which was terribly roaring-just for the sake of sport. On his entering the ocean the aquatic creatures forming the host of Varuna (the god presiding over the waters) were distracted with fear and ran away too far, scared by his very splendour without his dealing a blow. Moving about in the ocean for very many years, the mighty Hiranyaksa smote the gigantic waves tossed by the winds with his iron mace again and again and reached Vibhavari, the capital of Varuna, O dear Vidura. Seeing Praceta (Varuna), the guardian of Patala (the abode of the demons) and the lord of the aquatic creatures, there, he fell at the latter's feet like a low man to make fun of him, and said with a smile, "Give me battle, O supreme lord ! You are the guardian of a whole sphere and a ruler of wide fame, and have crushed the might of arrogant and conceited warriors. Nay, having conquered all the Daityas and Danavas in the world, you once performed a Rajasuya sacrifice, my lord." Thus wantonly mocked by an enemy whose vanity knew no bounds, the worshipful lord of waters waxed angry : but he managed to curb the anger that had sprung in him by dint of his reason and replied, "O dear one, we have (now) desisted from warfare (have grown too old fora combat). I do not see anyone else than the most ancient Person (Lord Visnu), who will give satisfaction in battle to you, who are so skilled in the ways of war. Therefore, O chief of the Asuras, approach Him, whom even heroes like you mention with praise. On reaching Him you will be rid of your pride at once and will lie down on the field of battle (in eternal sleep), surrounded by dogs. It is in order to exterminate wicked fellows like you and to show His grace to the virtuous that He assumes various forms (from time to time)."

Thus ends the seventeenth discourse, forming part of the story of Hiranyaksa's conquest of the four quarters, in Book Three of the great and glorious Bhagavata-Purana, otherwise known as the Paramahamsa-Samhita.


  1. In his commentary on the above verse, Sridhara Swami, the earliest known commentator of Srimad Bhagavata, quotes the following verse from a work entitled 'Pindasiddhi":-'A mother develops two embryos in her womb when the male generative fluid enters the menstrual flux in the uterus in two successive drops. And the mother brings forth the twins in an order reverse to that in which she conceives them. That is to say, the child which was conceived before is brought forth later, while the one conceived later is brought forth first.'

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