Bhrigu, the Sage Who Cursed Brahma and Shiva

Bhrigu Maharshi

Bhrigu, teaching astrology to students. This is a modified version of original graphic by Aloizio Ribeiro License: CCASA 4.0

by Jayaram V

Sage Bhrigu or Maharshi Bhrigu was one of the seven great seers (saptarishis) who played an important role in the propagation and popularity of the Vedic Dharma, especially a special type of predictive astrology. In the Bhagavadgita(10.25), Lord Krishna identified him as one of his divine manifestations (vibhutis). According to the Manusmriti (1.35), he was one of the ten sages1 who emanated from the mind of Brahma, who were entrusted with the task of creation and serve as Prajapatis or rulers of the beings whom they created. Being a direct descendent of Brahma, Bhrigu might have been a contemporary of Svayambhu Manu, the first Manu of the present time-cycle, another mind-born son of Brahma. However, due to lack of information and proper records it is difficult to separate the Puranic version of Bhrigu from his historical version.

It is very probable that a historic Bhrigu actually lived in the Vedic period and played an important role in the creation of Vedic literature and propagation of the Vedic Dharma. His name appears in the Taittiriya Upanishad as the heading of a chapter named Bhriguvalli, which contains a dialogue between Varuna (according to some Varuni), the teacher (and father) and Bhrigu, the student and the son. According to the Upanishad, Bhrigu approached his father and requested him to teach him about Brahman. However, we do not know whether the Bhrigu of the Upanishad was the same as the Bhrigu, the mind born son of Brahma. The question is if Bhrigu was a Prajapati and a mind born son of Brahma and was endowed with the power of creation from birth, why would he approach a teacher or his father to teach him the knowledge of Brahman. It is possible that the Bhrigu of the Taittiriya Upanishad was a descendent of sage Bhrigu rather than the sage himself, or he may be an entirely different person.

However, Bhriguvalli is an interesting discourse and probably contains the wisdom and philosophy of Bhrigu or the teacher tradition represented by him although he may not necessarily be the same sage but someone by the same name. The Chapter elucidates in stages how food is verily Brahman and how through austerity and contemplation one should realize that life, breath, mind, intelligence and bliss are manifestations of food (Brahman) only. Since food is Brahman and the source and support of all the tattvas and elements in the body, one should respect food and not speak ill of it. One should also generously offer it to others and earn merit, name and fame, peace and prosperity. By contemplating upon it as mind, one becomes a thinker. By contemplating upon it as a wish-fulfiller, one’s desires are fulfilled. By knowing that as Brahman, one realizes Brahman.

Although he was a seer, the historic Bhrigu led a married life. He had a son named Chyavana and a daughter named Lakshmi. Some other historic personalities are also identified as his children. The lineage (gotra) of Bhargava, to which Lord Parashurama belonged, said to have originated from him. Shukracharya, the teacher of demons was said to be one of his students. According to the Puranas, he married a daughter of Prajapati Daksha named Khyati. Daksha was also the father of Sati, who married Shiva against her father’s wishes. It appears that in the conflict between Daksha and Shiva, Bhrigu was sympathetic to Daksha. He advised him to continue the sacrifice although Daksha refused to make an offering to Shiva, ignoring the tradition and the consequences which might arise.

From the Puranic accounts one may conclude that Bhrigu was not on good terms with Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva because of his egoistic nature and his habit of cursing gods. He said to have cursed Brahma not to receive any worship and Shiva to be worshipped only as a lingam. According to one account he subsequently repaired his relationship with Vishnu, although initially he did not like him, and acknowledge him as the best of the three and the most qualified to receive the offerings and honors in a sacrifice.

Bhrigu is credited with the authorship of Bhrigu Samhita, a treatise on Indian astrology (jyotisha). Although not highly popular, his method is still practiced in some parts of India, and several techniques which he suggested have been integrated into Vedic astrology. After studying hundreds and thousands of horoscopes of various people and planetary positions, he formulated an intuitive method of predictive astrology to determine the events in the life of a person after identifying the particular horoscope that matched his birth chart (kundali), his answers to a few questions and the lines in his palm. As can be seen the method proposed by Bhrigu requires intuition as well as a thorough knowledge of birth charts, planetary positions, personality types and horoscopes. Hence, only a few gifted people can successfully practice it.

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Suggestions for Further Reading


1. The ten great sages were Marichi, Atri, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Praketas, Vasishtha, Bhrigu, and Narada.

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