In the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata, as Vaishampayana Muni begins to narrate the story of the Pandavas and the Kauravas, Raja Janamejaya requests him to explain the benefits of listening to, or reading, the Mahabharata. Vaishampayana then narrates the great benefits of Mahabharata Katha-Shravana highlighting how it rids the listener of major sins and how it takes one on to the path of knowledge and spiritual upliftment.
Thereafter, Janamejaya expresses interest in knowing details of his ancestors and the lineage of the Puru Vamsha in which he was born. Vaishampayana’s response comprises one entire Adhyaya of the Sambhava Upaparva of the Adi Parva. Going through this Adhyaya provides wonderful information about the illustrious lineage of the Pandavas!
अव्यक्तप्रभवो ब्रह्मा शाश्वतो नित्य अव्ययः |
तस्मान्मरीचिः संजज्ञे दक्षश्चैव प्रजापतिः ||
From the supreme Lord (Narayana), the one who is unmanifested came Brahma, who too is eternal and unmodified; From Brahma were born both Marichi and Daksha.
Daksha was born from the thumb of Brahma while Rishi Marichi came from the eyes of Brahma. Rishi Kashyapa was the son of Marichi while Aditi was the daughter of Daksha.
Vivasvan (one of the 12 Adityas) was born as the son of Kashyapa and Aditi. The son of Vivasvan was Manu. The wise Manu had a daughter named Ila. Pururava was the son of Ila.
(Ila was married to Budha, the son of Chandra. Thus the name Chandra Vamsha).
The son of Pururava was Ayu. He had a son named Nahusha. Yayati was born to Nahusha.
ययातेर्द्वे भार्ये बभूवतुः | उशनसो दुहिता देवयानी
वृषपर्वणश्च दुहिता शर्मिष्टा नाम ||
Yayati had two wives. The first one was Devayani, the daughter of Shukracharya. Sharmishta, the daughter of Vrushaparva, was the second.
Devayani gave birth to two sons – Yadu and Turvasu. Sharmishta’s three sons were Druhyu, Anu and Puru.
(Yadu was the founder of the Yadava lineage. Puru gave rise to the Pauravas)
Puru married the prince of Kosala desha. Janamejaya was born to them.
Janamejaya performed three Ashwamedha yajnas and a Vishwajit yajna. He then retired to the forest.
Janamejaya was married Sunanda and they had a son named Prachinvan. The illustrious Prachinvan had conquered the entire eastern region within the time needed for the sun to rise. Hence his name (one who had conquered Prachi or east).
Prachinvan married Sushtuva, the daughter of Ashmaka, a Yadava King. He had a son named Shayyati.
Shayyati married the daughter of Trishanku called Varangi. Together they had a son named Ahampati.
(Trishanku was the Surya Vamsha King who tried to go to Swarga even as he was alive, with the help of Brahmarshi Vishwamitra)
Ahampati married Bhanumati, the daughter of Krutaveerya. A son named Sarvabhauma was born to them. Sarvabhauma won the princess of the Kekaya kingdom and Jayatsena was born to them.
Jayatsena married Sushava, the daughter of the King of Vidarbha. Their son was named Aparacheena. He too married a princess of the Vidarbha desha and their son was Riksha.
Riksha was married to the daughter of the King of Anga. His wife was Vamadevi and they had a son named Riksha (same name as the father). Riksha married the daughter of Taksha and begot a son named Antinara.
Antinara performed a great Satrayaga on the banks of the river Saraswati for 12 years. At the end of the yaga, Saraswati (the devataa of the river) appeared in front of him and married him. Their son was Trasu.
Trasu married Kalindi and obtained a son named Ilila.
स एव दुष्शन्तो विश्वामित्रदुहितरं शकुन्तलां नाम |
तस्यामस्य जज्ञे भरतः ||
Ilila was none other than Dushyanta; He married Shakuntala, the daughter of Vishwamitra. She gave him a son named Bharata.
It was eventually settled that Dushyanta was indeed the father of Bharata and he came about to take care of him. Hence he was called as Bharata (भरतत्त्वं – One who was taken care of)
Bharata married the daughter of the King of Kashi, who was called Sunanda, and had a son named Bhumanyu. The daughter of the King of Dasharha, Suparna, was Bhumanyu’s wife and their son was Suhotra.
Suhotra married Jayanti who came from the lineage of Ikshvaku. Their son was Hasti.
(He was the King who established the city that came to be known as Hastinapura)
Hasti married Yashodhare, the princess of Trigarta desha, and had a son called Vikunjana. His son was named Ajamidha, and was born out of his marriage with Vinda, the daughter of the King of Dasharha.
Ajamidha had five wives named Kaikeyi, Naga, Gandhari, Vimala and Rikshaa. He obtained 2,400 sons through them and all of them went on to establish their own lineages and kingdoms. One of the sons of Ajamidha, born to Rikshaa, was known as Samvarana.
संवरणस्तु खलु वैवस्वतीं तपतीं नमोपयेमे |
तस्यामस्य जज्ञे कुरुः ||
Samvarana married Vaivasvatee (daughter of Vaivasvata) also known as Tapati; To them was born Kuru.
(The battlefield Kurukshetra was named after him)
Kuru married the princess of Dasharha desha who was known as Shubhangi. Viduratha was born to them. Sampriya, the princess of Magadha, was Viduratha’s wife. Their son was Anashvan. He in turn married Suveshaa, the princess of Magadha. They had a son named Parikshita.
Parikshita’s son was Bhimasena, born out of wedlock to Amrutaa, the daughter of the King of Bahuka. Bhimasena married the daughter of the King of Kekaya, who was named Sukumari. He had a son named Paryashrava. Pratipa was the other name of Paryashrava.
प्रतीपस्तु शैब्यामुपयेमे सुनन्दां नाम |
तस्यां त्रीन् पुत्रानुत्पादयामास |
देवापिं शन्तनुं बाह्लीकं च ||
Prateepa married Sunanda, the princess of Shaibya; He obtained three sons with her; Devapi, Shantanu and Bahlika.
Devapi retired to a forest in his youth itself. Shantanu became the King.
(Bahlika went on to become the King of Bahlika and was the oldest participant in the Mahabharata war)
Shantanu was thus named because he had the ability to grant youth to those aged, by merely touching them. (sham-tanuh)
Shantanu married Ganga, the daughter of Bhagiratha and obtained a son named Devavrata. Bhishma was the other name of Devavrata. In order to please his father, Bhishma brought home Satyavati as his mother. She was also known as Kali.
Satyavati had mothered Rishi Vyasa even as she was a Kanya. Later, she gave birth to Chitrangada and Vichitravirya.
Chitrangada was killed by a Gandharva even before he was a youth. Vichitravirya therefore became the King. He married Ambika and Ambalika, the daughters of the King of Kashi. But he died before having any children.
Satyavati them remembered Rishi Vyasa, who appeared in front of her and agreed to her request. He blessed the family with three sons Dhritharashtra, Pandu and Vidura.
Dhritharashtra married the princess of Gandhara and had 100 sons. Duryodhana, Dushashana, Vikarna and Chitrasena were the main ones amongst the 100.
Pandu had two wives named Kunti and Madri. Pandu had a curse due to which he could not unite with his wives for obtaining progeny. Therefore, Kunti invoked the power of the boons granted to her (by Rishi Durvasa) and obtained Yudhisthira, Bhimasena and Arjuna as sons from Dharmaraja, Vayudeva and Indra, respectively.
Kunti, upon the insistence of Pandu, shared the divine mantra with Madri. She obtained two sons named Nakula and Sahadeva due to the blessings of the Ashwinis.
Bhimasena married a Rakshasi named Hidimba and had a son named Ghatotkacha. The five Pandavas married Draupadi and had a son each. Prativindya was born to Yudhisthira. Sutasoma was Bhima’s son. Arjuna’s son was named Shrutakeerti. Nakula’s son was Shataneeka and Sahadeva had a son called Shrutakarma.
Yudhisthira had a son named Yaudheya born out of wedlock with Devaki, the daughter of the King of Shaibya desha.
भीमसेनस्तु खलु वाराणस्यां काशिराजकन्यां बलधारीम् |
नमोदवहत् स्वयंवरस्थाम् | तस्यामस्य जज्ञे शर्वत्रातः ||
Bhimasena married Baladharee, the daughter of the King of Kashi, through a swayamvara in Varanasi; To them was born a son called Sharvatrata.
Arjuna married Subadhra, the sister of Sri Krishna. His son was Abhimanyu.
Through his marriage to Uloopi, Arjuna had a son named Iravanta. He married the princess of Manaluru, the beautiful Chitrangadaa and obtained a son called Babhruvahana.
Nakula married Renumati, the princess of Chedi and got a son called Niramitra. Sahadeva had a son named Suhotra born after he married Vijayaa, the princess of Madra.
(The above thirteen were the prominent sons of the Pandavas)
Abhimanyu married Uttaraa, the daughter of King Virata. A lifeless child was born to them. Uttaraa placed that child on the lap of Sri Krishna, who brought it back to life. This son was named as Parikshit.
Parikshit was married to Mudravati. Their son was Janamejaya.
Janamejaya was married to Vapushtame and had two sons named Shataneeka and Shankha.
Shataneeka married Vaidehi (princess of Videha) and had a son named Ashwamedhadatta.
Thus ends the narration of the illustrious lineage of Puru in the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata.
इत्येव पुरोर्वंशश्च पाण्डवानां च कीर्तितः |
पुरोर्वंशमिमं श्रुत्वा सर्वपापैः प्रमुच्यते ||
Thus are stated the details of the vamsha of Puru and the Pandavas; One who listens to this story of the lineage of Puru will surely be relieved of all sins.