Varuthini and Pravara (वरूथिनी प्रवरश्च)

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The legend of Varuthini and Pravara, is mentioned in Markandeya Purana while describing the origin of the Svarochisa Manvantara. The second Manvantara, after Svayambhuva Manvantara, Svarochi was the mulapurusha for this Manvantara whose son was Svarochisa Manu. Varuthini was the daughter of Menaka, the celestial apsara, and Pravara was a pious Brahmana who lived in Arunaspada, a janapada on the banks of Varuna. This story is alluded here to depict the impressionable nature of a young woman's mind and the role it has in shaping the personality of her children.

द्विजातिप्रवरः ॥ Pravara - The Brahman

Pravara (प्रवरः), was learned Brahmana who surpassed the Asvini devatas in beauty of form. He was gentle in disposition, upright in conduct, he had studied all the Vedas and Vedangas; always gracious to guests, he was the refuge to all those who arrived at night to his residence.

कश्चिद् द्विजातिप्रवरः पुरेऽभूदरुणास्पदे । वरुणायास्तटे विप्रो रूपेणात्यश्विनावपि॥६१.५॥

मृदुस्वभावः सद्वृत्तो वेदवेदाङ्गपारगः । सदातिथिप्रियो रात्रावागतानां समाश्रयः॥६१.६॥

तस्य बुद्धिरियं त्वासीदहं पश्ये वसुन्धराम् । अतिरम्यवनोद्यानां नानानगरशोभिताम्॥६१.७॥ (Mark. Pura. 61.5-7)[1]

Now he had this intention, to see the world which has most charming forests and gardens, and is embellished with many a towns and cities.

He was always busy in activities of a grhastha - with seva (सेवा | selfless service) to parents, atithis, bhutas, teaching students and maintaining agni. Very devoted to his family he was immersed in his activities for the welfare of his parents, wife, children and students. Yet he nursed the prospect of traveling and seeing the forest filled lands and beautiful cities. He would greatly respect travelers who come from distant lands on pilgrimage and hear all details of their yatras with rapt attention.

हिमवत्पर्यटनम् ॥ Visit to the Himavat Parvata

Once a Siddhapurusha visited Arunaspada after visiting many places on a long yatra. Seeing the Siddha who travelled far and wide at such a young age , Pravara expresses his heart's longing wish to visit the beautiful teerthas and kshetras of importance in the vast expanse of this earth, but due to his grhastha duties he is unable to do so. He asks him to show the way to overcome this predicament allowing him to go on a pilgrimage. The Siddha, who had some shaktis, lauded Pravara's commitment to grhastha dharmas and gives him a divya pada-lepanam (पादलेपः) or a medicinal herbal application to the feet which gives the power to travel anywhere in short time to any direction or place of his wish.

प्रादात् स ब्राह्मणश्चास्मै पादलेपमुदारधीः । अभिमन्त्रयामास दिशं तेनाख्याताञ्च यत्नतः॥६१.१५॥

Delighted that his wish to undertake visits to divyakshetras of the Himalayas will be fulfilled, he completes all his duties towards his parents for the day, asks his wife, a pious lady to take care of Atithisatkara and with the permission of his family he started to see different lands of and teerthas, the beautiful forests, waterfalls and cities by travelling on the Akasha marga or the skies. With an intent to visit to the Himalayas, Pravara thinks he can return soon in time for his evening duties.

सम्प्राप्तो हिमवत्पृष्ठं नातिश्रान्ततनुर्द्विज । विचचार ततस्तत्र तुहिनाचलभूतले॥६१.१८॥

पादाक्रान्तेन तस्याथ तुहिनेन विलीयता । प्रक्षालितः पादलेपः परमौषधिसम्भः॥६१.१९॥

Without any strain, Pravara reaches Himalayas and was walking around, due to ice on the mountains, his medicinal application gets washed away. After walking around watching the beautiful mountains, the places where the Gandharvas, Kinnaras played, where devatas roamed about and celestial dancers sat on the mountain tops, he wished to go back to his home with an intent to return again to see the rest of the places.

However, once Pravara realised that the lepana got washed away in his walks and he cannot go back home. He started to think that all the Dharma and Karmanistha with which he performed his duties will not be in vain if he does not reach home in time. He was aware of the melodious music by the Kinnaras, the pleasant and sweet fragrances of the flowers, the soft soothing winds where all inviting him but being duty bound he wanted to seek any Tapasvi, to help him reach home.[2]

वरूथिनीं ददर्श ॥ Seeing Varuthini

Roaming around in the mountains, Pravara was looking for help to reach home. In this anxious state of mind he happened to meet Varuthini, a beautiful celestial dancer. Varuthini was a Gandharva lady who was instantaneously attracted to Pravara when he was roaming in the Himalayan forests.

तं ददर्श भ्रमन्तञ्च मुनिश्रेष्ठं वरूथिनी । वराप्सरा महाभागा मौलेया रूपशालिनी॥६१.३५॥

तस्मिन् दृष्टे ततः साभूद् द्विजवर्ये वरूथिनी । मदनाकृष्टहृदया सानुरागा हि तत्क्षणात्॥६१.३६॥

Seeing him, Varuthini was instantly drawn to Pravara, and her heart longed for his company. She was attracted to his bright appearance and was distressed at the thought that her life is futile if such a person is not favourably inclined towards her. She watched in amazement at his divine form and gracious movements which were exceptional in comparison to the devatas, kinnaras, gandharvas and other deities. After a short conversation with him she understood his predicament of not being able to reach home and perform his nitya and naimittika karmas because of his desire to see various places. He requests her to help him reach his home before sunset so as to enable him to perform his dharma.

Varuthini, instead, pleads with him to stay with her on the Himalayas as it was the abode of beautiful things not found even in the Svargaloka. She goes on to describe the natural resources of the Himalayas, the sweet music of the mountains, the soft breezes and fresh food and pure waters which will make them ever youthful. In her deep attachment for him she implores him to stay there with her. Pravara, however, getting angry at her advancements, explains that the morning and evening offerings in Agni give the benefit of ever lasting worlds and even the three worlds are held by the power of Agni devata. She further asks him to enjoy with her at least for sometime, in the lands of Gandharvas and Kinnaras which are filled with the pleasures of the material worlds. He forbids her and explains that to him the Yajnashala is the most divine place, his desire is to be with the Three Agnis (garhapatya, ahvaniya and dakshinagni) and explains his Brahmana Dharmas and good conduct of a Brahmana. So saying he invokes the Agni devata and prays to get back his siddhi which will help him reach home. Instantly, Garhapatya Agni enters him, making him shine with the tejas and he is transported back to his home where he finishes his evening ablutions. Dumbstuck at his divine brilliant form, Varuthini enamoured by him spent her days and nights thinking of him constantly and cursing herself at not being able to win Pravara's affection. She laments that not even her beauty nor that of the Himalayas could keep Pravara with her and that Dharma was his great strength.

कलिर्नाम्ना गन्धर्वः ॥ Kala - The Gandharva

She was sadly and slowly roaming on the mountains when, a Gandharva named Kala, who was previously rejected by her, saw her in this state of a dejected lover. Upon knowing her affections for Pravara, he desires to take advantage of her situation and to win her love and affection by deceit. So he assumes the form of Pravara and starts roaming in the forest to be seen by her. In her dejected state she comes across Pravara, who is none other than Kala the Gandharva. Thinking him to be the real Pravara who was not able to reach home, she again implores him to spend sometime with her enjoying sensual pleasures in the beautiful mountains and the caves there. Acting as though he is disturbed at the thought of being away from his nitya and naimittika karmas, the Maya Pravara tells her that if she wishes to enjoy sensual pleasures with him, she should close her eyes at the time of sexual intercourse with him.

नाद्य संभोगसमये द्रष्टव्योऽहं त्वया वने । निमीलिताक्ष्याः संसर्गस्तव सुभ्रु मया सह॥६२.३०॥

Varuthini, pleased at the words that Pravara (विप्ररूपधरि Kali who took the form of Pravara) agreed to stay with her for enjoying sensual activities, agrees to the condition that she will not open her eyes to see him at the time of sexual pleasure. Then on both of them enjoyed happily on the mountains filled with rivers, lakes and waterfalls, forests and caves for sometime. During sexual union she was thinking of Pravara (Brahmana) filled with the brilliance of Agnideva while the person who was with her was not the real Pravara, but Kala the Gandharva who deceived her.

वह्निनाधिष्ठितस्यासीद् यद्रूपन्तस्य तेजसा । अचिन्तयद्भोगकाले निमीलितविलोचना॥६३.३॥

ततः कालेन सा गर्भमवाप मुनिसत्तम । गन्धर्ववीर्यतो रूपचिन्तनाच्च द्विजन्मनः॥६३.४॥

With passage of time Varuthini became pregnant due to seed from Kala, the Gandharva (who achieved his desire of her sensual company) but she was meditating on the form and tejas (brilliance) of Pravara in her mind. As Varuthini's pregnancy was increasing, Pravara (Kala) convinced her with kind words that it was time for him to reach his home. So saying he left her and went on his way.

स्वरोचिष॥ Svarochisha

As Varuthini was meditating on the brilliance of Pravara, she gave birth to a radiant son whose brilliance was like that of the Sun. As he was having self-effulgence since birth he was known as Svarochisha.

जज्ञे स बालो द्युतिमान ज्वलन्निव विभावसुः । स्वरोचिभैर्यथा सूर्यो भासयन् सकला दिशः॥६३.६॥

स्वरोचिभिर्यतो भाति भास्वानिव स बालकः । ततः स्वरोचिरित्येवं नाम्ना ख्यातो बभूत सः॥६३.७॥

Svarochisha soon grew up having dharmik qualities and valour. He studied vedas and Dhanurveda along with all vidyas. As he reached his youthful stage, he was once roaming on the Mandhara mountains when he heard the cries of help from lady perched on the trees with fear. She was being chased by a rakshasa from whom Svarochisa protects her. Later on he married Manorama, the daughter of Vidhyadhara (a class of demigods) called Indivara (son of Nalanabha). He learnt Ayurveda from Indivara. He also marries her friends Vibhavari and Kalavati who gives him Padmini-vidya. Later Svaarochisha, the son of Svarochisha by Vana devata went on to become the Manu (स्वरोचिष-मन्वन्तरम्) after Svayambhuva Manu.[2]

सम्वादः ॥ Discussion

The above legend is of interest to explain some important concepts related to women, their psychological state of mind and its impact on future generations. It is amply clear that Varuthini, who had her heart set on Pravara and was constantly meditating on his brilliant form (due to Agni devata's radiance) at the time of conjugal union has given birth to a being having the same qualities. This also explains why our ancients treated the period of Rajadharma of a woman as an important time to meditate on her husband and his good qualities. It is a time of austerity, of a penance, to beget progeny of good mental and physical attributes.[3][4]


  1. Markandeya Purana (Adhyaya 61)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Singh. Dr Satyavrata (1985) Srimarkandeya-Mahapuranam, Part Two, (Chapters 46-93) Sitapur: Institute for Puranic and Vedic Studies and Research (Pages 181-205)
  3. Nithin, Sridhar. (2019) The Sabarimala Confusion: Menstruation Across Cultures: A Historical Perspective. New Delhi: Vitasta Publishing Pvt. Ltd.
  4. Sanskarprakash by Gita Press, Gorakhpur. (Pages 493-509)