Virochana (विरोचनः)

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Virochana (Samskrit : विरोचनः) was the son of Prahlada;

Introduction

To Kasyapa, the son of Marici and the grandson of Brahma, was born of Diti, Hiranyakasipu. From Prahlada, the son of Hiranyakasipu was born Virochana. Bali was the son of Virochana. (Page 82, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

According to the version of Bhagavata, Prahlada when he grew old, left his kingdom in the hands of his son Virochana and went to the forest for penance. Virochana was not as famous as Prahlada. After the period of Virochana, Mahabali came to the throne. He was a mighty king. Within a short time he became the emperor of the Asuras. It was during this period that the churning of the Milk Sea took place. (Page 103, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

Prahlada had, as conveyance a divine chariot of gold and silver yoked with eight white horses and elephant for Virochana. (Page 338, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

Family

Those born to Kasyapa of his wife Danu are called Danavas and those born of his wife Diti are called Daityas. They belong to the demoniac dynasty. Renowned among the asuras were the following : Prahlada, Samhlada, Anuhlada, Sibi, Baskala, Virochana, Kumbha, Nikumbha, Bali, Bana, Mahakala, Vipracitti, Sambara, Namuci, Puloma, Visruta, Asiloma, Kesi, Durjaya, Ayassiras, Asvassiras, Asva, Saiiku, Mahabala, Garga, Murdha, Vegavan, Ketuman, Svarbhanu, Asvapati, Vrsaparva, Ajaka, Asvagriva, Suksma, Tuhunda, Ekapad, Ekacakra, Vimpaksa, Harahara, Candra, Kupata, Kapata, Para, Sarabha, Salabha, Surya and Candramas. (Page 67, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

Three sons Virochana, Kumbha and Nikumbha were born to Prahlada by his wife Dhrti. Virochana had two wives called Visalaksi and Devi. Two children, Bala and Yasodhara were born by them. The wife of the famous Tvasta was this Yasodhara. (Brahmanda. 3: 1: 86; Narada Purana 2: 32 : Bhagavata, Skandha 9). Virochana had five brothers named Kumbha, Nikumbha, Ayusman, Sibi and Baskali and a sister named Virochanaa. (Vayu Purana. 84, 19). (Page 861-862, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi) Manthara was the daughter of Virochana. (Sarga 25, Balakanda, Valmiki Ramayana). Indra killed this Manthara. (Page 481, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

Philosophy of the Atman

Virochana is included among the ancient Kings of prominence. (M.B. Santi Parva, Chapter 227, Stanza 50). There is a story about the quest for knowledge about universal and individual souls, by Indra and Virochana, in Chandogyopanisad, as given below. Once the Devas and the asuras approached Prajapati to learn about Brahman, the impersonal God. Prajapati told them : "Atman (soul) is the first tattva (Essential being) which is sinless, eternal, desire-less and unimaginable in the earth." Having heard this philosophy about the soul, the Devas selected Indra, and the asuras selected Virochana. To know the details, they sent them to Prajapati as his disciples. Indra and Virochana stayed with Prajapati for several years to know more about Atman. But Prajapati did not reveal to them the secret about Brahman. At last to test them Prajapati said "Your reflection that you see in water or mirror is the Atman (soul)." Virochana, who mistook what the Prajapati said as truth immediately took his bath, put on costly dress and ornaments and stood near water and saw his reflection in water. After that, taking the reflection for soul, he spread this doctrine among his people. With this the asuras accepted body as soul. But the Devas did not recognize this philosophy. They accepted the doctrine that Atman is that essence of Nature which is alien to body and mind and which is pure.

Virochana gets boon from Sudhanva

Once there arose a quarrel between Sudhanva, the son of Angiras, and Virochana the son of Prahlada, because both wanted to marry the same girl named Kesini. Sudhanva was a Brahmin whereas Virochana was an Asura, who argued that Asura was nobler than Brahmin and Sudhanva said that it was the other way. There arose a contention between these two as to who was greater. They staked their lives on the issue. Then both of them together approached Prahlada and requested him to give a decision as to which of them was the elder. Thinking that Prahlada might side with Virochana his son, Sudhanva said to him, "Sir, you should not utter words of falsehood, nor should you abstain from speaking the truth. If you do so your head will be cut into a hundred pieces by Indra with his Vajrayudha (the weapon of thunderbolt)". Hesitating to take a decision, because of the words of Sudhanva, Prahlada went to Kasyapa to clear his doubts, and asked: "Lord, do you know which are the future worlds destined for those who utter words of falsehood or abstain from giving out the truth ?" Kasyapa said, "On him, who abstains from speaking truth knowingly a thousand cords of death will fall. He who tells falsehood will have to perform many a deed of duty to attain heaven." Having heard the words of Kasyapa, Prahlada said to Virochana, "Virochana, Sudhanva is greater than you. Angiras is greater than me. Likewise the mother of Sudhanva is nobler than your mother. So according to your bet you owe your life to Sudhanva." Pleased at the righteousness of Prahlada, Sudhanva gave Virochana a boon to live a hundred years more. (Mahabharata, Sabha Parva, Chapter 63) . (Page 40-41, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi) Because Prahlada said the truth Sudhanva did not kill Virochana. But Virochana had to wash the feet of Sudhanva in the presence of Kesini. Sudhanva married Kesini in the presence of Virochana. (M.B. Udyoga Parva, Chapter 35). (Page 406-407, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

Wars between the Devas and the Asuras

Altogether twelve wars were fought between the Devas and the asuras, viz. Narasimha, Vamana, Varaha, Amrtamathana, Tarakamaya, Adibaka, Traipura, Andhaka, Vadha, Vrtravadha, Dhvajapata, Halahala and Kolahala. Hiranyakasipu, the daitya was killed by Narasimha. Vamana took Mahabali captive after measuring the three worlds in one stride. Hiranyaksa was killed in fighting in the sea by Varaha with its tusks. Indra defeated Prahlada and in the Tarakamaya war also killed his son Virochana who had planned to kill him (Indra). As the Devas could not kill the danavas of Tripura, Trilocana killed them. Vrtra who was aided by the danavas was killed by Indra with the help of Visnu. Indra himself killed Vipracitti and his followers who became invisible by maya after the felling of the dhvaja (flag staff), and in the course of celebrating their victory the Devas defeated Sandamarka at the yajnavabhrtha (Bathing at the close of the yajna). Thus were waged twelve wars between the Devas and the Asuras. (Padma Purana, Part 4, Chapter 13). (Page 214, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

Pious activities

Virochana, though an asura, performed rites and rituals carefully. He was kind towards Brahmins. His son Bali became famous and got the name Mahabali. (M.B. Adi Parva, Chapter 65, Stanza 19). During the time of emperor Prthu, when the asuras milked the earth, Virochana stood as the calf. (M.B. Drona Parva, Chapter 69, Stanza 20).

Death

There are two different statements about the death of Virochana in the Puranas.

(1) In the battle with Tarakasura, Virochana was killed by Devendra. (M.B. Santi Parva, Chapter 99. Brahmanda 1.20.35; Matsya: 10: 11; Padma Purana, SrstiKhanda 16).

(2) The Sun God was pleased with Virochana and had given him a crown. The sun told him that death would come only if that crown was removed from the head by some body. Because of this boon Virochana became arrogant. So Mahavisnu took the form of a beautiful woman and enticed Virochana towards him and taking away the crown killed him.(Ganea Purana 2, 29).

(3) According to Narada Purana, Mahavisnu took the form of a Brahmin and reached the palace of Virochana. There changing the righteous wife of Virochana into a mad woman he killed Virochana. (Page 861-862, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

References