Chyavana Rishi

BY: SUN STAFF

Sage Chyavana
Pahari, c. 1650


Aug 24, 2014 — CANADA (SUN) — A study of the famous Rishis and Munis of Vedic literature.

Chyavana Rishi was the son of Sage Bhrigu, progenitor of the great lineage of descendants known as the Bhargavas (or Dhusars). The Mahabharata states that Chyavana was powerful enough to oppose the Vajra of Indra. He created the Mada demon to help the Ashvins get their fair share of the sacrificial offerings.

Rishi Chyavana is also known for his rejuvenation, achieved through a special herbal paste known as Chyawanprash. This medication was first prepared for him some 10,000 years ago at his ashram on Dhosi Hill, in the Aravali mountains along the border of Haryana and Rajasthan.

The hermitage of Bhrigu Rishi is also located near Dhosi Hill, in the state of Brahmavarta on the confluence of the sacred Saraswati and Drishadwati rivers. The Padma Purana (Patala Khanda, Ch.8) puts the Rishi's hermitage along the Satpura Range, near the river Payoshni.

Chyavana is mentioned in the Rigveda, which describes him as an aged and feeble person whose youth and strength was restored by the twin Ashvini Kumar brothers, who were the Rajya Vaids or 'State Doctors'. According to a hymn of this text (Rg X.61.1-3), Because he was closer to the Ashvins, Chyavana was apparently opposed to Turvayana, a Paktha king and Indra worshipper of the day.

According to one tradition, Chyavana married Vaivasvata Manu's daughter Arushi and their son was Aurva. According to another tradition, he married Sukanya, daughter of the Vedic king Sharyati and granddaughter of Vaivasvata Manu. They had two sons, Apnavana and Dadhicha. Of course, both could be correct. He is also noted as the father of Harita.

Mahabharata Adi Parva 5-6 narrates that when Bhrigu's wife Puloma was pregnant and lived in her hermitage, a Rakshasa harassed her there. Puloma's child slipped from her womb, a condition producing what in Sanskrit is called a chyut (premature) child. This child was given the name Chyavana. The Rakshasa, seeing the child drop released his mother but immediately converted into ashes.

Penance and rejuvenation

The earliest version of the narrative of Chyavana's practice of austerities and subsequent restoration of youth is found in the Brahmanas. A later version of this narrative is found in the Mahabharata. More later versions are also found in the Bhagavata and Padma Puranas.

The Satapatha Brahmana (IV.1.5.1-13) states that while all the Bhrigus, the descendants of the Angirasas, were away, Chyavana with his senile body was living in his ashram at Dhosi Hill. King Sharyati, the son of Manu once came near the hermitage while hunting with his army. Sharyati's daughter Sukanya along with friends were also with him. She went to Chyavana Rishi's Ashram, where the Rishi was in meditation. White ants had covered his body and only his eyes were visible. Not knowing it was a human, Sukanya pierced the Rishi's eyes. Chyavana was in pain and became furious, and his curse created discord amongst Sharyati's army. When Sharyati found the cause of his misfortune, he offered his daughter Sukanya in marriage to Chayavana, so that she could take care of the Rishi.


Sukanya appeals to the Aswini Kumaras


Later on, the Ashvins came to Chayavana's ashram and tried to entice Sukanya, who refused to leave her husband. She instead asked the Ashvins to restore Chyavana's youth. Following their advice, Chyavana's youthful health was restored by a combination of three treatments. Certain herbs were put into a pond and the Rishi was asked to have a dip in that pond, known as Chandra Koop. Even today, this theertham is found at Dhosi Hill. One herbal paste was prepared for application on the Rishi's body and another, Chyawanprash, was prepared for the Rishi to take as medicine.

In return for their ministrations, the Ashvins obtained a share in the sacrificial offerings in Kurukshetra, on Sukanya's suggestion. In the Aitareya Brahmana (VIII.21.4), the inauguration of Sharyata by him is compared with Indra's coronation.

In a narrative found in the Anushasana Parva (Ch.52-56) of the Mahabharata, Chayvana exacted many menial offices from king Kushika and his queen for 21 days. Later, he was pleased by their devotion and rewarded them by creating a magical palace of gold and predicting the birth of their grandson Vishvamitra, who would be endued with great energy, and would attain the status of a Brahmana.


Sources: Mahabharata, Padma Purana, Wiki


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