Chyavana (Sanskrit: च्यवन, Cyavana) was a maharshi (great sage) in Hindu mythology. He was son of sage Bhrigu and known for his rejuvenation after penances for several years. According to the Mahabharata, he was powerful enough to oppose the Vajra of Indra and was responsible for the Ashvins getting their share of the sacrificial offerings. He created a demon, Mada to achieve it.[1]

Chyavana is mentioned in the Rigveda as Chyavāna (च्यवान). He is described as an aged and feeble person whose youth and strength was restored by the Ashvins. According to a hymn of this text (X.61.1-3), Chyavāna seems to be opposed to Turvayana, an Indra worshipper Paktha king as he was closer to the Ashvins.[2]

According to one tradition, he married Vaivasvata Manu's daughter Arushi and their son was Aurva. According to another tradition, he married Sukanya, daughter of Sharyati and granddaughter of Vaivasvata Manu. They had two sons Apnavana and Dadhicha.[3] He is also considered as father of Harita.[1]



According to an account found in the Mahabharata (Adi Parva, Ch.5-6), when Bhrigu's wife Puloma was pregnant, a Rakshasa fell in love with her and carried her off. Puloma's child slipped from her womb and thus received his name Chyavana. The Rakshasa, seeing the child drop released his mother[4] but immediately converted in to 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 found in the Bhagavata Purana and the Padma Purana.[5]

In the Brahmanas

In a narrative found in the Satapatha Brahmana (IV.1.5.1-13), Chyavana is mentioned as a descendant of Bhrigu or Angirasa. While, all the Bhrigus, the descendants of the Angirasas, left for heaven, Chyavana with senile body was abandoned. Once, Sharyata, son of Manu came near Chyavana's hermitage with his sons. Sharyata's sons pelted lumps of earth on Chyavana's senile body. Chyavana became furious and his curse created discord amongst Sharyata's sons. When Sharyata found the cause of his misfortune, he offered his daughter Sukanya for marriage to Chayavana. Later, the Ashvins came to seduce Sukanya. Sukanya refused to leave her husband and instead asked the Ashvins to restore Chyavana's youth. Following their advice, Chyavana's youth was restored by immersion in a certain pond.[6] In return, the Ashvins obtained a share in the sacrificial offerings in Kurukshetra on her suggestion. In the Aitareya Brahmana (VIII.21.4), the inauguration of Sharyata by him is compared with the Indra's coronation.[2]

In the Mahabharata

According to the narrative found in the Vana Parva (Ch.122-5) of the Mahabharata, Chyavana was so absorbed in practising austerities on the side of a lake that white ants built up their nests all over his body and only his eyes were left. Once, Sharyati along with his army and the harem came to visit the place. Sukanya, daughter of king Sharyati, seeing only two bright eyes in what seemed to be an anthill, poked them with a stick. Chyavana felt excessive pain and became furious. He obstructed the calls of nature of Sharyati's army. He was pleased only after the king gave her daughter in marriage.[7] Subsequently, the Ashvins came to the hermitage of Chyavana. They saw Sukanya while she was bathing and tried to convince Sukanya to reject old and ugly Chyavana and accept one of them as her husband. They also promised to restore the youth of Chyavana first so that she could make an unbiased choice amongst Chyavana and one of them. Sukanya rejected their proposal and informed Chyavana. Later, at the behest of Chyavana, Sukanya requested the Ashvins to do so. All three took bath in the lake and came out with the same youthful divine look. Each of them requested Sukanya to be his bride, but she identified Chyavana and selected him only. In gratitude, Chyavana assured the Ashvins that he will ensure that the Ashvins get shares of the sacrificial offerings.[8] Accordingly Chyavana, while officiating as a priest of Sharyati in a soma sacrifice, offered the share of the sacrifice to the Ashvins. Indra objected to it as the Ashvins wandered amongst men as physicians. He tried to hurl his vajra towards Chyavana, but his arms were stayed by Chyavana, before he could do so. Chyavana by virtue of his ascetic energy, created a huge demon, Mada, with four fangs.[9] Mada was on the point of devouring Indra, when he became afraid and finally accepted the right of the Ashvins to have share of the offerings.[10]

Chyavana and Kushika

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 endued with great energy, Vishvamitra, who would attain to the status of a Brahmana.[1][11]


According to the Skanda Purana (Avanti Khanda, Ch.57), Chyavana's ashrama (hermitage) was located in the present-day Chausa in Buxar district. According to the Padma Purana (Patala Khanda, Ch.8), his hermitage was on the Satpura Range, near the river Payoshni. According to another tradition, his hermitage was in Dhosi Hill near Narnaul in Mahendragarh district. [12] According to another tradition, his hermitage is located near Ankleshwar in Bharuch District of Gujarat.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Dowson, John (2004). A classical dictionary of Hindu mythology, and religion, geography, history. Delhi: Asian Educational Services. pp. 73–5. ISBN 9788120617865. 
  2. ^ a b Macdonnel, Arthur Anthony; Keith, Arthur Berriedale (1912, reprint 1985). Vedic Index of Names and Subjects. Vol. 1. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 264–5. ISBN 81-208-1332-4. 
  3. ^ Pargiter, F.E. (1922, reprint 1972). Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, pp.193-7
  4. ^ O'Flaherty, Wendy Doniger (1988). The Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. p. 304. ISBN 81-208-0386-8. 
  5. ^ Wilson, Horace Hayman (tr.) (1840). The Vishnu Purana. London: John Murray. p. 354fn29. 
  6. ^ O'Flaherty, Wendy Doniger (1981). Śiva, the Erotic Ascetic. London: Oxford University Press. pp. 57-€“61. ISBN 0-19-520250-3. 
  7. ^ Ganguli, Kisari Mohan (1883-1896). "Ch.CXXII". The Mahabharata: Book 3: Vana Parva. Sacred texts archive. 
  8. ^ Ganguli, Kisari Mohan (1883-1896). "Ch.CXXIII". The Mahabharata: Book 3: Vana Parva. Sacred texts archive. 
  9. ^ Ganguli, Kisari Mohan (1883-1896). "Ch.CXXIV". The Mahabharata: Book 3: Vana Parva. Sacred texts archive. 
  10. ^ Ganguli, Kisari Mohan (1883-1896). "Ch.CXXV". The Mahabharata: Book 3: Vana Parva. Sacred texts archive. 
  11. ^ Ganguli, Kisari Mohan (1883-1896). "Ch.LV". The Mahabharata: Book 13: Anusasana Parva. Sacred texts archive. 
  12. ^ Kapoor, Subodh (ed.) (2002). Indian Encyclopaedia. Biographical, Historical, Religious, Administrative, Ethnological, Commercial And Scientific. Vol.V. New Delhi: Cosmo Publications. p. 1539. ISBN 8177552570. 

External links

  • 1, 2 - Stories of Chyavana maharshi.

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