Daksa, the Prajapati
1) Two Daksas.
In most of the Puranas references about two Daksas occur. In some puranas both are referred to as one and the same person, whereas in some others both are considered as separate persons, so much so the stories concerning both are interlocked and entangled very often. The fact is that there was only one Daksa, whose life was of two stages.
The first Daksa was killed at the sacrifice of Daksa, at which point, ends the first stage, or the first Daksa. The second stage was the rebirth of the same Daksa. A short biography of Daksa including both stages is given below:-
Brahma created by his mind, the seven great hermits, Marici, Angira, Atri, Pulastya, Vasistha, Pulaha and Kratu. So these seven hermits are called the Manasaputras (sons born from mind) of Brahma. After this, from the anger of Brahma, Rudra was born, and from his lap Narada, from his right thumb Daksa, from his mind the Sanakas and from his left thumb a daughter named Virani were born.
Virani nama tasya stu asiknityapi sattama
From this passage which occurs in Kalika Purana it may be assumed that `Asikni’ was another name of Virani.
Daksa did penance in the mountain of Vindhya for a long time. It is mentioned in Bhagavata, Skandha 8, that Mahavisnu appeared before Daksa and gave him Asikni as his wife.
Several sons were born to Daksa by his wife Asikni. The last one was a daughter named Sati who became the wife of Siva. At this time Daksa performed a sacrifice. As he was not invited to that sacrifice, Siva sent Virabhadra and Bhadrakali and killed Daksa. Though the devas put the head of a goat in place of the lost head and brought Daksa to life again, no reference is made about the life of Daksa after the sacrifice. Thus the first stage of the life of Daksa ends.
(Devi Bhagavata, Skandha 7).
After this, once the Pracetases (the ten sons of Barhis) were engaged in penance and the earth was not properly cultivated in consequence of which big trees grew up and the whole of earth was changed into a big forest.
The sky was covered with tree tops. It was difficult even for the wind to pass through them and thus the forest thrived for ten thousand years. The pracetases got out of the sea after penance and entered the shore. When they saw the big forest they got angry and the ten of them discharged fire and wind from their faces. The wind up-rooted the trees and the fire dried them. Thus almost the whole of the trees were consumed. Then Candra, the King of the medicinal herbs came there and told the Pracetases
“Oh, Kings, hold your anger. I will make the trees conclude a treaty with you. The beautiful #Marisa who was born to the trees is my foster-daughter. I give her to you as your wife. From half the portion of your minds and half the portion of my mind the great and wise prajapati Daksa is going to take birth in her womb”.
The Pracetases controlled their anger and accepted Marisa as their wife, at the words of Somadeva (Candra) and as the son of the ten pracetases the Prajapati Daksa was born.
With this the second stage of the life of Daksa begins. The important occurrences in the two stages of the life of Daksa are given below in their order.
2) Daksa’s creation of the prajas or subjects. Once Brahma called Daksa and ordered him to create prajas or subjects. Accordingly Daksa created the gods, the hermits, the Gandharvas (Demi-gods),the Asuras, the serpents etc. Seeing that the subjects he created were not proliferating as required he thought of creating subjects by coition of male and female; and he begot by his wife Asikni five thousand sons, and they were called #Haryasvas. They in their turn were about to create subjects when Narada appeared before them and said “Oh, Haryasvas, you are mere children and ignorant of the secrets of this world. How do you intend to create subjects ? You fools, since you have the power to go up and down and lengthwise and breadthwise, why don’t you try to find out the extremities of the earth ?”
Hearing the words of Narada, they all ran in different directions and have not returned since. Thus Daksa lost the Haryasvas.
Daksa a ain begot thousand sons by Asikni and they were called #Savalasvas. Seeing that they also were about to create subjects Narada scattered them also, by some tricks. The Sabalasvas who had gone to see the end of the earth have not yet returned.
Daksa got angry with Narada and cursed him thus
“You also, like my children shall wander from place to place all over the earth”.
From that dry onwards Narada became a wanderer, without a fixed dwelling place.
The wise Prajapati Daksa again begot sixty damsels by Asikni. Ten of the girls were given to Dharmadeva, thirteen of them to Kasyapa, twentyseven of them to Soma, and four of them to Aristanemi. Of the rest two were given to Bahuputra, two to Arigiras and two to the wise Krsasva. The names of the wives of each are given below:-
(1) Kasyapa. Aditi, Diti, Danu, Arista, Surasa, Khasa, Surabhi, Vinata, Tamra, Krodhavasa, Ira, Kadru, Muni.
(2) Dharmadeva. Arundhati, Vasu, Yami, Lamba, Bhanu, Marutvati, Sankalpa, Muhurta, Sadhya, Visva.
(3) Soma. Asvayuk, Bharani, Krittika, Rohini, Mrgasiras, Tarakam (Ardra), Punarvasu, Pusyam, Aslesam, Janakam, Phalguni, Uttaraphalgunam, Hastam, Citra, Svatl, Visakham, Anuradha, Jyestha, Mulam, Purvasadham, Uttarasadham, Srona, Sravistha, Pracetas, Purvaprosthapadam, Uttaraprosthapadam, Revati.
The names of the wives given to Angira, Aristanemi, Bahuputra and Krsasva are not mentioned.
Besides these damsels, twentyfour daughters were born to Daksa of his wife Prasuti who was the sister of Uttanapada. Dharmadeva married thirteen of them also, named Sraddha, Laksmi, Dhrti, Tusti, Medha, Pusti, Kriya, Buddhi, Lajja. Vapus, Santi, Siddhi, Kirti.
Of the rest, Khyati was given to Bhrgu, Sati to Siva, Sambhuti to Marici, Smrti to Arigiras, Priti to Pulastya, Ksama to Pulaha, Santati to Kratu, Anasuya to Atri, Urja to Vasistha, Svaha to Agnideva and Svadha to the Manes.
(Visnu Purana, Amsa 1; Chapter 15).
3) Sacrifice of Daksa. Once Daksa performed a sacrifice called Brhaspatisavana. To this sacrifice he did not invite his daughter Sati or her husband Siva. Daksa did not invite them because of three reasons according to the Puranas.
(1) Once Durvasas, the son of Atri, went to Jambunada and meditated with the mantra or spell of `Mayabija’ and worshipped Jagadambika (mother of the world) the goddess there. The goddess was much pleased and gave him as a token of her pleasure the garland of flowers she wore from which nectar was oozing. Durvasas wore it on his head and went to the palace of Daksa, the Prajapati. When he saw such a wonderful garland which was not of this world, he wanted to have it and Durvasas instantly gave it to Daksa. He placed it in a prominent place in his bedroom and enjoying the wonderful fragrance of it he conjugated with his wife, and polluted that pure garland by his lust. Siva and his wife came to know of this and they scolded Daksa, who kept this bitterness in his heart and when the sacrifice was performed, he decided not to invite them.
(Devi Bhagavata, Skandha 7).
(2) Siva was considered as a polluted man by Daksa as he had always been carrying with him the skull of Brahma and so he thought it wrong on his part to admit his daughter and son-in-law to the sacrificial hall. The story of how Siva came to have the skull, is given below.
In days of old when the whole world was under the single ocean (of the great flood) the sun, the moon, the fire, air everything was destroyed and darkness prevailed. All the vegetations were destroyed. All the emotions and non-emotions disappeared. The supreme Lord was sleeping for so many thousands of nights together. At the end of the night he assumed the attribute of `Rajoguna’ – (activity) and got ready to create the universe. From the face of the Supreme Lord and creator of the universes came out Brahma with five faces. In the same way, Siva with three eyes and matted hair, and trident and rosary of beads (Elaeo carpus) and with attribute of `Tamas’ (darkness-destruction) also came out. Both Brahma and Siva were filled with egoism and both began to quarrel with each other. It was a contest as to who was greater. The contest ended in attack. #Siva plucked off the fifth head of Brahma, when the same face, flushed with anger, scolded Siva. The head fell into the hands of Siva, who could not throw it down as it didn’t come off from his hand. Brahma cursed Siva and made him polluted. Since Siva became polluted his wife Sati also was considered as polluted by Daksa.
(Vamana Purana, Chapter 2).
(3) Once the prajapatis performed a sacrifice. Brahma, Visnu and Siva were present there. Daksa, who had been invited by the prajapatis also was present. When Daksa entered the hall his son-in-law Siva did not rise up. This arrogance of Siva made Daksa angry. Daksa made up his mind to take vengeance on Siva, and performed a sacrifice known as Brhaspatisavana. To that sacrifice he did not invite Siva or Sati.
Hearing that her father was conducting a sacrifice Sati came uninvited. But Daksa did not even look at her. Satidevi whose heart was broken at this treatment made a fire and jumped into it and died. Siva became furious when he came to know of this. Being overwhelmed with sorrow and anger he beat his matted hair on the ground, from which two monsters, Virabhadra and Bhadrakali, came out. They ran to Daksa’s sacrificial hall and destroyed everything they saw, killed everybody, caught hold of Daksa and cut off his head. Then they began to create havoc in the whole world. The hermits and sages began to take to flight. Men and animals shivered. Thus the three worlds began to tremble with fear. The gods approached Siva with supplication to curb his anger. The gracious Sankara was pleased to recall the monsters. After that everybody requested him to bring Daksa back to life. But the search made for the head of Daksa was futile. At last Brahma took the head of a goat and joined it to the headless trunk of Daksa. Thus he was brought to life again.
(Devi Bhagavata, Skandha 7).
4) Cursing Candra. Candra had married twentyseven daughters of Daksa. But he showed particular attachment to Rohini. The other twentysix wives could not bear this. They made a complaint to their father Daksa. Daksa called Candra and advised him to show equal attachment to all his wives and not to show any partiality to anyone. Candra did not gainsay his father-inlaw, but he did not make any change in his disposition. After a few days all the daughters except Rohini went to the palace of Daksa and told him that they were going to stay with him. This time Daksa got angry and called Candra and cursed him to become a sick man (of consumption).
From that day onwards Candra became a patient affected with consumption. All the vegetations in the world began to weaken. It appeared that the world was about to be destroyed. So the gods approached Daksa and requested him to show some leniency towards Candra. Daksa accordingly called Candra and told him that he would be affected by consumption only for a fortnight and after that he would recover gradually.
Candra went to Prabhasa tirtha and Sarasvati tirtha and dipped in water. He began to recover from that day. It is according to the curse of Daksa that Candra (Moon) waxes and wanes.
(Maha-bharata Salya Parva, Chapter 35).
5) Other information.
(1) Daksa has another name ‘Kan’.
“Daksa the Prajapati is a son of ten fathers. He has two names. They are Daksa and Kan.”
(Maha-bharata Santi Parva, Chapter 208, Stanza 7).
(2) When the emperor Prthu milked the earth, Daksa was crowned as the King of the subjects. (See under Prthu ) .
(3) It occurs in Mahabharata; Sabha Parva, Chapter 11, Stanza 18, that #Daksha was a member of the assembly of Brahma.
(4) Daksa was one of those who visited Bhlsma in his bed of arrows. (Maha-bharata Santi Parva, Chapter 47).
(5 ) Mention is made in Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Chapter 166 that the devas, the manes, the gandharvas, the celestial maids, the Raksasas, animals and birds, fishes and all living creatures were born from the daughters of #Daksa.
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