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The son of Brahma.
Atri Maharsi was one of the #manasa putras of Brahma.
The manasaputras were:
Marici, –
(Maha-bharata Adi Parva, Chapter 65, Verse 10).

2) One of the Saptarsis.
Brahma’s sons, Marici, Angiras, Atri, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu and Vasistha are known as the Saptarsis (seven sages).
(Maha-bharata, Santi Parva, Chapter 208) .

3) Creator of the pracetases.
The sage Pracinabarhis was born in the family of Atri Maharsi. Ten Pracetases (Prajapatis) were born as the sons of this Muni.
(Maha-bharata, Santi Parva, Chapter 208).

4) Citra Sikhandi.
Among the seven Munis known as Citra Sikhandis, we see Atri Maharsi as one of the Astaprakritis which form the basis of the Universe.


5 ) Important events.


(1) How Mahavisnu became Atri’s son.
Kasyapa had a son named Kasipu. He was a very mighty ruler and carried on his reign in an ungodly manner. In a terrible battle which took place at that time between the Devas and Asuras Kasipu was killed. Prahlada became the Asura King. Then there was a battle between Indra and Prahlada. After six years’ war, Prahlada withdrew, defeated. Later Mahabali, the son of Virocana (grandson of Prahlada) became emperor of Asuras. War broke out again between Mahabali and Indra. In this war, Mahavisnu helped Indra. The Asuras were utterly defeated. They sought refuge with Sukra, the Asura guru. Sukra promised to help them. He set out to the Himalayas to receive a powerful mantra from Siva. The Asaras kept waiting for Sukra’s return.
At this stage, Mahavisnu who was the protector of Indra, came to Sukra’s asrama and killed Sukra’s mother, Kavyamata. Seeing this impudence of Mahavisnu, Bhrgu Maharsi was enraged and cursed him that he should be born many times in human wombs. It is on account of this that Mahavisnu had to take many avataras (incarnations). It was in this way that Mahavisnu incarnated as Dattatreya, the son of Atri.
(Devi Bhagavata, 4th Skandha).


(2) Atri and Parasara.
It was a time when Vasistha and Visvamitra were in a state of mutual ill-will. Once King Kalmasapada was going about in the forest on a hunting expedition. He met Sakti, the eldest son of Vasistha in the forest. The King did not respect him properly. Sakti transformed Kalmasapada into a Raksasa by his curse. The Raksasa who was also a cannibal, first swallowed Sakti himself. Visvamitra offered whatever help he could to destroy Vasistha’s family. Kalmasapada ate successively all the 100 sons of Vasistha. Vasistha, in great sorrow and Sakti’s wife, Adrisyanti lived in an asrama. Adrsyanti was pregnant at the time of Sakti’s death. In due course she gave birth to a boy who was called #Parasara and who later on became the father of Vyasa.
When Parasara grew up, he came to know that his father #Sakti was eaten by the #Raksasa. Enraged at this, he started a yajna to annihilate the whole race of Raksasas. As the yajna gained intensity and force #Atri Muni arrived there with certain other Maharsis and dissuaded Parasara from the yajna.
(Maha-bharata Adi larva, Chapter 181).


(3) Atri’s dispute with Vainya.
Atri Maharsi and his wife once got ready to go for Vanavasa. At that time the poor Maharsi’s wife was in great distress because they had no money to be distributed to their disciples and children. She requested her husband to go to King Vainya and to beg for some money. Accordingly the Maharsi visited King Vainya at his #yajnasala (The shed where a yaga is held). He began to flatter Vainya by saying that he was the first among kings and so on. Vainya did not like it. He began to dispute with Atri. Vainya remarked that Indra was the first King. To settle the dispute they went together to Sanat Kumara Muni. Sanatkumara sent them away reconciled. After that Vainya gave Atri much wealth. After distributing all this wealth among their sons and disciples Atri and his wife set out to the forest to perform penance.


(4) How Atri became Sun and Moon.
Once there was a fierce battle between Devas and Asuras. Owing to the shower of arrows from the Asuras, the Sun and Moon became dim. Darkness spread everywhere. The Devas began to grope in the dark. They requested Atri Maharsi to find a remedy for this. Moved by their distress, Atri suddenly transformed himself into the Sun and Moon. The Moon gave light to the Devas. The Sun burnt up the Asuras by his intense heat. Thus the Devas were saved. This story was told by Vayu Bhagavan, to Arjuna.
(Maha-bharata, Anusasana Parva, Chapter 156).


(5) Atri and King Vrisadarbhi. In the Mahabharata we find a story about a difference of opinion between King Vrsadarbhi and some Maharsis. This story was told by Bhisma to Yudhisthira about the kind of persons from whom Brahmins may accept gifts.
Once the Munis Kasyapa, Atri, Vasistha, Bharadvaja, Gautama, Visvamitra, Jamadagni, and Pasusakha with Arundhati and Ganda, who were the wives of two Munis, travelled round the world. Their object was to go to Brahmaloka.
At that time there was drought in the world. King Vrsadarbhi, the son of Sibi, suggested that the above-mentioned Munis should be called and given wealth. They refused to accept it. Vrsadarbhi became angry. He performed Homes in Ahavaniyagni and from the agnikunda, the Raksasi Yatudhani (Krtya) arose. Vrsadarbhi sent Yatudhani to destroy Atri and all other Munis. As Yatudhani was guarding a lotus pond in the forest, the munis led by Atri happened to come that way. The Maharsis were able to recognize Yatudhani. They beat her with their tridandu (Trident or a kind of magic wand) and reduced her to ashes. After satisfying their hunger by eating the lotus flowers the Maharsis went to Brahmaloka.
(Maha-bharata, Anusasana Parva, Chapter 93).


(6) Atri and Sraddha.
There is a passage in the Mahabharata in which Atri gives advice to the emperor Nimi who belonged to Atri’s fanmily. The story of how Sraddha originated in the world which Bhisma had told Dharmaputra was retold by Atri.
A son named Dattatreya was born to Atri, the son of Brahma. Dattatreya became King. Nimi was his son. Nimi’s son died after one thousand years. Nimi who was in deep grief at the death of his son, ordained a Sraddha in memory of his son. On that occasion Atri Maharsi came there and explained to Nimi the importance of Sraddha.
(Maha-bharata, Anusasana Parva, Chapter 91, Verses 20-44)

(7) How Brahma, Visnu and Mahesvara (gives) were born as sons of Atri.
There is no other woman in the Puranas who surpasses Silavati in her fidelity to her husband. In order to enable Ugrasravas, her husband, to satisfy his passion, she once carried him on her own shoulders to a prostitute’s house. On the way, Mandavya Muni pronounced a curse that Ugrasravas should die before sunrise. The grief-stricken Silavati pronounced a counter-curse that the sun should not rise on the next day. As the sun failed to rise, the Trimurtis (Brahma, Visnu and Siva), accompanied by Anasuya, Atri’s wife, went to Silavati. Anasuya persuaded Silavati to with draw her curse. The Trimurtis who were happy at the success of their mission (of bringing about the Sunrise) asked #Anasuya to demand any boon she wanted. Anasuya expressed her wish that the Trimurtis (Brahma, Vrsnu and Siva) should be born as her sons and they agreed.
Mahavisnu, under the name of #Dattatreya, was born as the son of Anasuya. Siva was born to her under the name of #Durvasa.
There is a story about it in the Brahmanda Purana. Once Siva got angry with the Devas. They began to flee for life. But Brahma alone did not run away. Siva who became more furious at this, pinched off one of the heads of Brahma. Still he was not pacified. Parvati who was alarmed, approached Siva and begged him to suppress his anger. At her request, Siva’s fury was transferred and deposited in Anasuya, Atri’s wife. Durvasas is the embodiment of that element of Siva’s fury.

According to the promise, Brahma also took his birth as the moon from Anasuya, the wife of Atri.
(For that story, see Pururava).
There is a story about that also in the Brahmanda Purana.
Once when Brahma was performing the task of creation, he experienced carnal passion. Sarasvati was the offspring of that passion. When Brahma saw her, he fell in love with her also. This made him feel angry towards Kamadeva. He pronounced a curse that Kamadeva should be burnt up in the fire from Siva’s eye. (This is why #Kamadeva was later burnt to death by #Siva).
Although Kama had retreated from Brahma, his passion had not been suppressed. Brahma transferred his passion to Atri Maharsi. The Maharsi gave it to Anasuya, his wife. Since she was unable to bear such a violent passion, she gave it back to her husband. That passion emerged from Atri’s eye in the form of the #Moon. This is why lovers experience strong passion for each other at the time of the rising of the moon.
(Brahmanda Purana, Chapters 39-43).


(8) Atri and #Ganga Devi. Once, while Atri Maharsi was performing penance in Kamada forest, there was a terrible drought in the country. At that time, his wife Anasuya made a Sivalinga of sand and offered worship to it. Then Atri asked her to give him a little water. There was no water anywhere. Suddenly Ganga Devi appeared there and said to Anasuya:
“There will be a hole here. Water will come out of it in a torrent.”
Pure water began to flow from the place pointed out by Ganga Devi. Anasuyi begged Ganga Devi to stay there for a month. Ganga Devi agreed to do so on condition that Anasuya would transfer her Tapasakti to her for one month.

Atri was pleased by drinking the water. He asked Anasuya where she got such nice fresh water. She explained to him all matters. Atri expressed his desire to see Ganga Devi.
She appeared before him at once. Anasuya prayed to her that Ganga should continue to exist in the world always. Ganga Devi answered that she would do so if Anasuya was prepared to give her the fruit of one year’s Tapassakti and of devoted service to her husband. Anasuya agreed to that condition. Suddenly Siva appeared there in the shape of a Linga. At the request of Atri and Anasuya Siva took his seat there permanently assuming the name of Atrisvara.
(Siva Purana).


(9) Other Details.

1. Besides Dattatreya, Durvasas and Candra, Atri had another son, Pracinabarhis. (Maha-bharata, Santi Parva, Chapter 208, Verse 6).

2. Many Pavakas had been born in Atri Vamsa.
(Maha-bharata, Vana Parva, Chapter 222, Verses 27-29).

3. When the Kaurava-Pandava war was raging with great fury, many Maharsis went to Drona and advised him to stop the battle. Atri Maharsi was one of them.
(Maha-bharata, Drona Parva, Chapter 190, Verse 35 ).

4. On another occasion, a King named Soma performed a Rajasuya (Royal sacrifice). Atri Maharsi was the chief priest at this yaga.
(Maha-bharata, Salya Parva, Chapter 43, Verse 47) .

5. Atri was also among the Maharsis who had gone to witness Parasurama’s tapas.
(Brahmanda Purana, Chapter 64) .

6. Rgveda, 5th Mandala was composed by Atri.
(Rig Veda Sarmhita, Preface).

7. Once the Asuras put Atri Maharsi into the Satadvara yantra (a machine of torture with a hundred holes).
Rig Veda, 1st Mandala, 16th Anuvaka, Sakta 51).

8. Once the Asuras tried to burn Atri alive.
(Rig Veda, 1st Mandala, 16th Anuvatka, Sukta 112).

9. The Asuras at another time made Atri lie down in a machine with a large number of holes and tried to burn him alive in it. At that time he prayed to the Asvins and they liberated him. (Rgveda, Ist Mandala, 17th Anuvaka, Sukta 116) .

10. Atri was among the Maharsis who visited Sri Rama, on his return to Ayodhya after the war with Rdvana. (Uttara Ramayana).

11. From the navel lotus of Visnu Brahma was born, Atri from Brahma, Soma from Atri, and Puraravas from Soma were born.
(Agni Purana, Chapter 12) .

12. Atri begot by #Anasuya, Soma, Durvasas and Dattatreya yogi.
(Agni Purana, Chapter 20) .




Atri: Atri Muni was a great brahmana sage and was one of the mental sons of Brahmaji. Brahmaji is so powerful that simply by thinking of a son he can have it. These sons are known as manasa-putras. Out of seven manasa-putras of Brahmaji and out of the seven great brahmana sages, Atri was one. In his family the great Pracetas were also born. Atri Muni had two ksatriya sons who became kings. King Arthama is one of them. He is counted as one of the twenty-one prajapatis. His wife’s name was Anasuya, and he helped Maharaja Pariksit in his great sacrifices.
* Srimad-Bhagavatam 1

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