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Pur?ravas in sadness
Family Il? (mother), Budha (father)

Pururavas (Sanskrit?, Pur?ravas) was the first king of the Aila dynasty or the chandravamsha. According to the Vedas, he is a mythological entity associated with Surya (the sun) and Usha (the dawn), and is believed to reside in the middle region of the cosmos. The Rig Veda (X.95.18) states that he was a son of Il?[1] and was a pious king. However, the Mahabharata states that Ila was both his mother and his father. According to the Vishnu Purana, his father was Budha, and he was ancestor of the tribe of Pururavas, from whom descended the Kauravas and Pandavas.

Narrative of Urvashi and Pur?ravas

Urvashi and Pururavas, a painting by Raja Ravi Varma

The earlier version of the narrative of Urvashi and Pururavas is found in the Rigveda (X.95.1-18) and the ?atapa?ha Br?hma?a (XI.5.1). The later versions are found in the Mah?bh?rata, the Hariva?sa, the Viu Pura, the Matsya Pura,[2] and the Bh?gavata Pura.

In Vedic literature

The ?g-veda, X.129 contains a conversational fragment, written in a highly wrought poetic style. The hymn suggests that U?as (also known as Urva?i) is a Gandharvi or Apsara (an aquatic nymph). Having been united with a human king, Pur?ravas, and after living together for four autumns, suddenly left him on his unintentional violation of the stipulated conditions of the union. Later Pur?ravas made futile entreaties to her to return to him.[2]

The narrative displays multiple levels of symbolism by playing on the multiplicity of meanings in the Vedic Sa?sk?t terms. While it is a love poem, expressing the conflict of interest between a lover and his beloved, who spurns his love, it also expresses the immortal relationship between the Sun (Pur?ravas) and the Dawn (U?as). In addition to these two levels of meaning, it also offers mantric prescriptions for a ritual activity bent on taking rebirth as a Gandharva or Apsaras.

In classical Sanskrit literature

The love story of king Pururavas and celestial nymph Urvashi is found in the Sanskrit drama, Vikram?rvayam, written by the celebrated poet Kalidasa.

Life and descendants


Pururavas was born in Treta Yuga as the son of Budha and Ila. Budha was the son of Chandra, the moon god and thus Pururavas was the first Chandravanshi King. Since he was born on Mount Puru, he was called Pururavas.


According to the Puranas, Pururavas reigned from Pratisthana (Prayag[3]). He performed a penance to Lord Brahma and as a reward, he was made the sovereign of the whole earth. Pururavas celebrated a hundred Ashwamedha Yajnas. The Asuras were his followers while, the Devas were his friends. He had six (or seven or eight according to different accounts) sons. The names of these sons are: Ayu (or Ayus), Amavasu,[4] Vishvayu, Shrutayu, Shatayu (or Satayu), and Dridhayu. Nahusha, the son of Ayu, is a well-known name in the Rigveda.[5]


  1. ^ Misra, V.S. (2007). Ancient Indian Dynasties, Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, ISBN 81-7276-413-8, p.57
  2. ^ a b Dandekar, R.N. (1962). Indian Mythology in S. Radhakrishnan ed. The Cultural Heritage of India, Calcutta: The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, ISBN 81-85843-03-1, pp.229-30, 230ff
  3. ^ Wilson, H.H. (1840). The Vishnu Purana, Book IV, Chapter I, footnote 7.
  4. ^ Pargiter, F.E. (1972). Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, pp.85-6.
  5. ^ Misra, V.S. (2007). Ancient Indian Dynasties, Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, ISBN 81-7276-413-8, pp.59-61


  • A Dictionary of Hindu Mythology & Religion by John Dowson

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