Bhrigu is one of the most famous sages in Hinduism. The name comes up again and again in the texts, from the Puranas to the Ramayana to the Mahabharata. In this post, we will discuss his various exploits. Over his two lifetimes, he got into some serious fights with some powerful people, including the Trimurti and Agni. This post doesn’t even cover all of his adventures and stories, but I attempted to cover the most prominent events in his life.
- Father: Brahma
- Wife: Khyati
- Sons: Dhata, Vidhata, Kavi
- Daughter: Lakshmi
- Father: Brahma
- Foster Father: Varuna
- Foster Mother: Charsni
- Wife: Puloma
- Sons: Bhuta, Chyavana, Vajrasirsa, Suchi, Shukra, Savana
Birth of Bhrigu
This story is in the Shiva Purana, Rudra Samhita, Sati Khanda, Chapter 2
During the creation of the universe, Lord Brahma created various beings to assist him with his creation and to populate the universe. Brahma created ten Manasputras (mind-born sons): Marichi, Atri, Pulahu, Pulastya, Angiras, Kratu, Narada, Daksha, Bhrigu, and Vashishta. Each of these sons was born from a different part of Brahma’s body. Bhrigu was created from the tvak (skin) of Lord Brahma. Daksha became a king, while the rest of the Manasputras including Bhrigu took the spiritual path.
The Famed Bhriguvansha
This story is in the Vishnu Purana, Book I, Chapter 10
Bhrigu soon became a famous and very powerful rishi throughout the world. At this time, Daksha and his wife Prasuti were marrying off their twenty-four daughters. Bhrigu obtained Daksha’s daughter Khyati’s hand in marriage. After they were married, Bhrigu and Khyati had a daughter who became one of the most famous women in Hinduism: Lakshmi. Worshipped today as the goddess of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi eventually married Lord Vishnu. Bhrigu and Khyati also had two sons named Dhata and Vidhata. They married Ayati and Niyati, the daughters of Meru, respectively. Dhata and Ayati had a son named Prana, whose son Dyutiman and grandson Rajavan eventually led to the famed Bhrigu Vansha. Meanwhile, Vidhata and Niyati’s son was Mrikandu, whose son was none other than the great Markandeya Rishi. According to the Anushasana Parva of the Mahabharata, Bhrigu and Khyati also had a third son named Kavi.
This story is in the Shiva Purana, Rudra Samhita, Sati Khanda
Daksha conducted a grand yagna and invited all of the devas, rishis, and other important people in the Universe. Bhrigu was one of the main priests of the yagna. However, because of Daksha and Shiva’s enmity, Shiva and Sati were not invited to the yagna. Sati was enraged and she went to the yagna site, committing suicide in the sacrificial fire. The ganas (Shiva’s soldiers) that had accompanied Sati were infuriated and started causing havoc. Some even killed themselves. Sage Bhrigu then created beings which countered the attacks of the ganas. These powerful beings created by Bhrigu’s mantras defeated the ganas. The remaining ganas fled to Lord Shiva and told him what had happened.
When Lord Shiva learned about the death of his wife, he was infuriated. He created the monster spirits Virabhadra and Mahakali from his matted hair. Virabhadra and Kali ravaged the yagna and killed many of its guests. Virabhadra approached Bhrigu and threw him on the ground. Manibhadra kicked him and plucked off his moustache. Later, after the yagna was destroyed and Daksha was killed, all the gods prayed to Shiva to resuscitate Daksha. Shiva was pleased. He forgave them and revived Daksha. Shiva then said that Vashishta, Atri, Pulastya, Angiras, Pulahu, Kratu, Bhrigu, and Marichi would be reborn in Chakshusha Manvantara.
Read the full story of Daksha’s Yagna at my post on Daksha
Brahmayagna: Bhrigu Reborn
This story is in the Brahmanda Purana, Section 3, Chapter 1
At the end of the first Manvantara (Swayambhava Manvantara), Vashishta, Atri, Pulastya, Angiras, Pulahu, Kratu, Bhrigu, and Marichi passed away. They were transported to Janaloka, the heavenly realm of sages. Vashishta and the others remained at Janaloka for many Manvantaras. Finally, at the end of the Chakshusha Manvantara, Varuna performed a massive “Brahmayagna”. He invited all of the eminent devas and rishis. During the yagna, Brahma fell in love with some damsels, causing his semen to be discharged. Brahma put it in the sacrificial fire, and one by one, the eight sages were reborn from the fire. Lord Shiva’s words had come true! Bhrigu was adopted by Varuna and his wife Charsni. Thus, Bhrigu was also called Varuni Bhrigu in this birth.
The Second Bhriguvansha
In this birth, Bhrigu married Puloma, a daughter of Kashyapa Rishi. They had six sons named Bhuta, Chyavana, Vajrasirsa, Suchi, Shukra, and Savana. Bhuta and his first wife, also named Bhutā, gave birth to the Ekadasa Rudras (eleven Rudras) and the Rudra Parsadas (attendants of Shiva). Bhuta’s second wife Sarupa gave birth to ten million Rudras. Meanwhile, Chyavana, who became a famous rishi, had two wives: Sukanya and Arusi. Arusi’s son Aurva gave birth to Richika, who’s son Jamadagni was the father of the famous Parshuram. Meanwhile, Sukanya’s son was Pravati. Pravati’s son Ruru married Pramadvara, and his son was Saunaka. Bhrigu’s other son Shukra had two sons named Chanda and Alarka, and a daughter Devayani. Shukra became the guru of the Asuras.
The Birth of Chyavana
This story is in the Mahabharata, Adi Parva Chapters 5-7
As I said in the previous section, in this second birth, Bhrigu married Puloma. After they got married, Puloma soon became pregnant. One day, Bhrigu went out for his morning ablutions (to wash himself) and left Puloma in the hermitage. At that time, a Rakshasa came to Bhrigu’s hermitage. Puloma welcomed the Rakshasa as a guest. She served him fruits and berries from the forest. But the Rakshasa had different intentions.
This Rakshasa was no ordinary Rakshasa. His name was Puloman and he had been betrothed to Puloma before she married Bhrigu. This Rakshasa ex-fiancé was however still in love with Puloma. He marveled at her beauty as she served him food. He decided to abduct her and take her back to his house.
The Rakshasa saw the sacrificial fire burning in one corner of the house. He approached the fire and said, “Agni, as the lord of fire, you observe everything. Years ago, Puloma had been betrothed to me. But then her father cheated me and took her away from me. Thus, hasn’t Bhrigu stolen her from me! Isn’t she rightfully mine!”
Agni remained silent. He was scared of both Bhrigu and Puloman, so he didn’t want to get caught in their conflict. But the Rakshasa repeated his questions, growing impatient. Finally, Agni said, “It is true that a long time ago, you were engaged to her. However, her father chose to marry her to Bhrigu. She is Bhrigu’s wife now, not yours.” Hearing this, Puloman was enraged. She should be his wife, not Bhrigu’s, he thought. He assumed the form of a boar and carried her away from the hermitage. While the Rakshasa was still running, Puloma’s child slipped out of her womb and fell on the ground. Divine rays illuminated from the infant boy. He literally blazed like the sun. This heat and light overwhelmed the Rakshasa. He tried to run away, but he was burnt to death.
Fire: Impartial Devourer of Everything
The traumatized Puloma picked up her newborn son. She wiped the tears from the corner of her eyes. When she returned to the hermitage, she told her husband about what had happened. Bhrigu was delighted at the birth of their first child, but he was enraged when he was told that Agni had revealed her identity as Bhrigu’s wife to the Rakshasa. In a fit of rage, Bhrigu cursed, “Agni! You will become the consumer of all things!”
The angry Agni said, “I have done nothing wrong. I was just doing my job as a witness and telling the truth. Where is the fault in that? I could curse you in return, but I’m not going to because I respect all Brahmins. The rishis and men on Earth use me for their yagnas and give me offerings. I am the link between men and gods. How will I fulfill these duties with the curse you have given me?”
But Bhrigu didn’t take back his curse. So Agni withdrew from his duties. Without fire, people on Earth couldn’t perform any yagnas or light up their houses. The gods were also in a plight, because they needed yagnas from men to sustain them. The sages and gods went to Lord Brahma and told him about the problem. Brahma called Agni and modified the curse: even though he will consume everything, anything his flames touch will become pure, so his body will remain pure. Satisfied, Agni went back to his duties.
Testing the Trimurti
This story is from the Bhagavata Purana, Canto 10, Chapter 89
Once, a group of sages were performing a sacrifice (yagna) on the banks of the Saraswati River. A dispute arose as to who was the most superior from the Trimurti (Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva). Some of them believed Vishnu to be the superior one, while others supported Brahma or Shiva. To settle the matter, they sent Bhrigu to go find out the truth.
Bhrigu first went to Satyaloka, Brahma’s abode. There, he tested his father Brahma’s humility. When he entered the court, Bhrigu did not bow down, nor did he offer any prayers. Brahma was offended by Bhrigu’s lack of respect and became angry.
Bhrigu then arrived at Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva. Shiva rose to his feet to embrace his friend, but Bhrigu stepped back and said, “You are adharmic. Don’t touch me.” Shiva was enraged. He picked up his trident, ready to end Bhrigu’s life. But fortunately, Parvati was able to pacify her husband Shiva.
Bhrigu Kicks Vishnu
Lastly, Bhrigu went to Vaikuntha and saw Vishnu sleeping on his wife Lakshmi’s lap. Bhrigu kicked Vishnu in the chest. With a startle, both Vishnu and Lakshmi woke up. Bhrigu expected Vishnu to do the same as the others: feel insulted. But instead, Vishnu said, “Welcome, great Brahmin. Please forgive us for not having noticed your arrival. I am blessed to have your footprint on my chest.”
Bhrigu was amazed. His eyed teared up as he bowed to Vishnu with devotion. Bhrigu then returned to other sages and told them about his findings. The sages concluded that Vishnu is the greatest of the Trimurti.
This story is in the Matsya Purana, Part 1, Chapter 47
The Devas and Asuras are perennial enemies. They are always fighting. Once, in the midst of a war between the Devas and the Asuras, the Asuras had been completely routed. Shukracharya, the preceptor of the Asuras, decided to do penance to acquire powerful boons from Lord Shiva. Shukra planned to use these boons to defeat the Devas once and for all. Meanwhile, with Shukracharya away, the Asuras were even more vulnerable to attacks from the Devas. So the Asuras went to Bhrigu’s ashram for refuge and lived under the protection of Puloma, Bhrigu’s wife.
The Devas once again attacked the Asuras. However, the Devas underestimated Puloma’s strength. Through intense penance, Puloma had gathered immense powers. Using these yogic powers, Puloma defeated Indra. Seeing their king helpless and trapped under the effect of Puloma’s spells, the Devas fled. They went to Vishnu for help. Vishnu knew that Puloma’s capabilities were unsurpassed. There was only one way to rescue Indra: he would have to kill Puloma. So Vishnu went to the hermitage and using his Sudarshan Chakra, severed Puloma’s head from her body. Bhrigu was so devastated when he heard of his wife’s murder that he immediately cursed Vishnu.
Bhrigu then muttered some incantations and connected his wife’s head with her body. After sprinkling some water on her, the corpse miraculously came back to life. Puloma was reborn! But this incident is very important in Hindu mythology: because of Bhrigu’s curse, Vishnu was born on Earth repeatedly whenever there was evil on Earth. This led to avatars of Rama, Krishna, Parshuram, and countless others.
The Holy Spot of Bhrigu Tirtha
This story is in the Padma Purana, Swarga Khanda, Chapter 20
Bhrigu once performed penance to worship Lord Shiva for one thousand years. Because of the severity of his penance, his hair become discolored and his body was covered by a dirt mound heaped up by termites and ants. Once, Parvati saw this tall figure covered with dirt. She asked her husband who it was.
“It is the sage Bhrigu who is meditating. He seeks to please me and ask for a boon,” Shiva responded.
“Look at him! His skin and hair have rotten away. He has surely been meditating for centuries, yet you are not pleased! You are very hard to please,” Parvati commented.
“His swabhavs still control him. He behaves with anger. Let me show you!” Shiva said. “Nandi!” Instantly, Shiva’s bull Nandi appeared in front of him, ready to follow Shiva’s command. “Nandi, you see this Brahmin who is covered by an anthill. Push him down onto the ground.”
Shiva Tests Bhrigu
Nandi charged towards Bhrigu and knocked him over. Bhrigu awoke with a jolt from his deep meditation and opened his eyes. He saw Nandi standing over him and he was enraged: “You bull! How dare you push me! I’m going to kill you right now, right here!” Nandi rose into the air and vanished. As Bhrigu helplessly watched the bull leave, he saw Shiva standing there. He immediately fell to Shiva’s feet with shame. He repented for his mistake and praised Shiva.
Shiva smiled and said, “I am pleased with you. Ask for any boon and I will give it to you.” Bhrigu prayed that the place in which he was performing penance should become a holy spot. From that day, the place became known as “Bhrigu Tirtha”. When one goes there, all of their sins are abolished and they became sanctified.
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