January 24, 2012 13 Comments
Last updated: 31st Dec., 2013
Without a doubt, the Bharadvaja’s are accorded pride of place amongst the family of seers of the Rig Veda. It would be fair to say that they are the first among equals, the equals being Visvamitras and the Vasisthas.
Mandala VI is composed entirely by members of this family and so, it is called the Bharadvaja Kula Mandala (Family Mandala). In his book, “Historical Analysis of the Rig Veda”, Shrikant Talegiri convincingly argues that Mandala VI (and not I), is chronologically the oldest of the ten Mandalas. Which would mean, the Bharadvaja’s are amongst the earliest composers of the Rig Veda.
The progenitor of the family is Bharadvaja Barhaspatya, one of the most respected seers of the Rig Veda. This is evident on the basis of 59 hymns out of a total of 75 hymns in Mandala VI being ascribed to him. Next in importance is Samyu Bharadvaja, Barhaspatya’s brother, followed by Rjisvan Bharadvaja, a distant descendant.
The Bharadvaja’s are closely associated with the Puru tribe and various branches of the Puru tribe such as the Bharatas and then further splinters such as the Kurus and Panchalas.Their association with the Bharatas was particularly close and there are several instances of adoption of a Bharadvaja by the Bharata family or a member of the Bharata family choosing a life of priesthood and becoming part of the Bharadvajas.
The Panchala kings patronized the Bharadvajas as well and are known to seek their guidance, especially in their wars with other Arya tribes. King Divodasa sought the guidance of Payu Bharadvaja in his conquests and in a protracted war with the Dasa king Sambhara. (These accounts form the basis for my fictional story – Blood on the river Saraswati).
The sway and influence of the Bharadvajas seemed to have waned after Divodasa’s conquests and although they do find mention even in the Mahabharata, they appear to have lost ground to other families.
The primary deities worshiped by the family include Indra, Agni and Pusan.
The stand out names from this family, based on their making it to the list of composers of Mandala VI are: Bharadvaja Barhaspatya, Suhotra Bharadvaja, Sunahotra Bharadvaja, Nara Bharadvaja, Samyu Bharadvaja, Garga Bharadvaja, Rjisvan Bharadvaja, and Payu Bharadvaja.
As mentioned above, Bharadvaja Barhaspatya is the progenitor of the Bharadvaja family. He is widely regarded as the son of Brhaspati – an seer himself, but accorded a demi-god status in the Rig Veda. Strangely, for a person of his stature, he is ascribed to only one hymn in the Rig Veda. <<Needs more investigation>>. Brhaspati is in turn widely regarded as the son of the seer Angirasa. Angirasa and Angirasas are thus the primeaval seer and seer families respectively of the Rig Veda and indeed in all of the Hindu scriptures .
The circumstances leading to the birth of Bharadvaja make interesting reading and will be covered in a separate article.
Based on the thorough research by Thaneshwar Sarmah, detailed in his book, “The Bharadvajas in Ancient India”, the genealogy of the composers of the Mandala VI can be summarized as below:
- Samyu Bharadvaja is the brother of Bharadvaja Barhaspatya.
- All other composers/seers are descendants of King Bharata (son of Dushyanta).
- Nara Bharadvaja and Garga Bharadvaja are brothers and sons of Bhumanyu, great-grand son of King Bharata.
- Suhotra Bharadvaja is a nephew of Nara and Garga <<this is contestable and needs further investigation>>.
- Payu Bharadvaja is a distant descendant of all the seers named above, but a contemporary of King Divodasa, a Panchala.
<<work in progress>>
In Mandala VI, we find a record of several historical events – mostly battles fought with Dasa and Arya rivals. Without exception, victories in each of these battles is credited to Indra.
Listing of battles with the Dasas/Dasyus:
- Victory over Susna; involvement of Kutsa
- Victory over Dhuni and Cumuri; involvement of Dabhiti
- Victory over Pipru; seer Rjisvan is involved and benefited as well
- Victory over Namuci and rescue of Nami, son of Sapya
- Divodasa seeks and destroys Sambara and his city
- Defeat of Dasa tribes by alliance of Purus and Kutsas
Listing of battle with rival Arya
- Turvayana defeats of Kutsa, Ayu and Atithigva
- Assistance to the crafty Vetasu, swift Dasoni and Tugra
- Vetasu defeats Tugra and Tuji (probably the tribe that Vetasu belonged to) becomes strong
- Battle where Dasadyu fought against unknown opponent
- Defeat of the Raji (tribe??) by the Pithinas (tribe??)
While most of the battles would have been over gaining wealth from the other tribe, in the form of cattle and horses, Mandala VI has first hand account of three major wars – the Hariyupiyah War, the conquests of Divodasa and the conquests of Pratardani.
Mandala VI also mentions a number of events where Indra has assisted or come to the rescue of his worshipers. Again, these could be actual events, the positive outcome however credited to their God. Some of these events include:
- Assistance to Usana, son of Kavi
- The miraculous recovery or rescue of Navavasta who is then returned to his grandfather
- The voyage/migration of Yadu and Turvasa tribes over the sea
- Setting free of waters from the southwards (perhaps in Dasa territory??)
The loathing for the Pani tribe is apparent based on the vitriol in the Pusan hymns. However, we have no clear account of any Pani chiefs that the Bharadvaja patrons fought against. The only Pani named is Brbu and surprisingly, talked of in good terms, as a generous chief.
Finally, the Bharadvajas, themselves talk of events they have heard from their ancestors, events that over time take the form of myths. Some of these include:
- Vala myth – probable account of a distant mid-winter solstice ritual where the Angirasas (ancestors of the Bharadvajas) participated.
- Vrtra myth – demolishing of a huge obstacle by Indra in order to release waters
- Ahi myth – slaying of the dragon by Indra that resulted in the release of waters
Society & Lifestyle
<<work in progress>>
<<work in progress>>
- Dundubhi Hymn (origin of the practice of beating of drums before battle/war ??)
- Worship of tools and weapons
- Go Sukta (The Cow Hymn)
The Bharadvajas, especially Payu Bharadvaja and his father seemed to have played a central role in bringing about an alliance between the Panchala and Anu kings and then guiding them to victory in the Hariyupiyah War. Both father and son were handsomely rewarded by Prastoka (a Panchala prince) and Abhyavarthin Cayamana (a Anu King).
Click here for a fictional account of the alliance before the Hariyupiyah War.
Divodasa, after vanquishing the wealthy and powerful Dasa King Sambara, gave several gifts to father and son (Payu) from the spoils of war.
A surprising benefactor was Brbu, a Panu chieftain, given that, according to the Bharadvajas, the Panis were miserly.