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The first two of three books of Harivamsa
are largely dedicated to Krishna, described as the eighth incarnation of Hindu deity Vishnu. The stories about Krishna's birth to youth, told in these two books, are widely followed by Vaishnavism
sect of Hinduism.[1][2]

The Harivamsa
(pronounced Harivamsha in Sanskrit
(Harivaṃśa, हरिवंश), the lineage of Hari
(Vishnu)) is an important work of Sanskrit
literature, containing 16,374 shlokas, mostly in Anustubh metre. The text is also known as the Harivamsha Purana. This text is believed to be a khila (appendix or supplement) to the Mahabharata[3] and is traditionally ascribed to Veda Vyasa. The most celebrated commentary of the Mahabharata
by Neelakantha Chaturdhara, the Bharata Bhava Deepa also covers the Harivamsha. According to Adi Parva,[4] the Harivamsha is divided into two parvas or books and had 12, 000 verses. The manuscripts found in the 19th century in different parts of India included three portions known as parvas - the Adi Parva, the Vishnu
Parva and the Bhavishya Parva. These are included with the eighteen parvas of the Mahabharata.[3] The Adi Parva
Adi Parva
of Harivamsa
describes the creation of the cosmos and the legendary history of the kings of the Solar and Lunar dynasties leading up to the birth of Krishna. Vishnu
Parva recounts the history of Krishna
up to the events prior to the Mahabharata.[1] Bhavishya Parva, the third book, includes two alternate creation theories, hymns to Shiva and Vishnu
and provides a description of Kaliyuga.[5] While the Harivamsha has been regarded as an important source of information on the origin of Vishnu's incarnation Krishna, there has been speculation as to whether this text was derived from an earlier text and what its relationship is to the Brahma Purana, another text that deals with the origins of Krishna.[6]


1 Chronology 2 Editions 3 Contents 4 Translations 5 See also 6 Notes 7 References 8 External links



is the setting for many chapters in Harivamsa.[7] The city is described as near the sea, in modern era Gujarat; a painting of the city in the 19th century (lower).

The bulk of the text is derived from two traditions, the pañcalakṣaṇa tradition, that is, the five marks of the Purana corpus one of which is vaṃśa genealogy and stories about the life of Krishna
as a herdsman. The text is complex, containing layers that goes back to the 1st or 2nd centuries BCE. The origin of this appendix is not precisely known but it is apparent that it was a part of the Mahabharata
by the 1st century CE because "the poet Ashvaghosha quotes a couple of verses, attributing them to the Mahabharata, which are now only found in the Harivamsa" (Datta 1858). Hopkins considers Harivaṃśa the latest parva of Mahabharata. Hazra has dated the Purana
to the 4th century CE on the basis of the description of Rasa lila
Rasa lila
in it. According to him, the Visnu Purana
and the Bhagavata Purana
Bhagavata Purana
belong to the 5th century CE and 6th century CE respectively. According to Dikshit, the date of Matsya Purana
Matsya Purana
is 3rd century CE. When we compare the biography of Krishna, the account of Raji and some other episodes as depicted in the Harivaṃśa, it appears to be anterior to the former. Therefore, the Viṣṇu parva and the Bhaviṣya parva can be dated to at least the 3rd century CE. By its style and contents, the Harivaṃśa parva appears to be anterior to the Viṣṇu parva and Bhaviṣya parva. The verses quoted by Asvaghosa
belong to this parva. On this basis, we can safely assume the Harivaṃśa parva(except for the later interpolations) to be at least as old as the 1st century CE. Editions[edit] The Hariva śa is available in two editions. The vulgate text of the Hariva śa has total 271 adhyāyas (chapters), divided into three parvas, Harivaṃśa parva (55 chapters), Viṣṇu parva (81 chapters) and Bhaviṣya parva (135 chapters). The Critical Edition or CE (1969–71, Ed. P.L.Vaidya) is around a third (118 chapters in 6073 slokas) of this vulgate edition. Like the vulgate, the chapters in the CE are divided into three parvas, Harivaṃśa parva (chapters 1-45), Viṣṇu parva (chapters 46-113) and Bhaviṣya parva (chapters 114 -118). Vaidya suggests that even the CE represents an expanded text and proposes that the oldest form of Hariva śa probably began with chapter 20 (which is where Agni Purana
Agni Purana
12 places its start) and must have ended with chapter 98 of his text.[8] Contents[edit] The last chapter of the text gives a brief description of the subjects narrated in it as follows: Harivaṃśa parva

Chapter Content

1-3 Janamejaya asks Vaisampayana to narrate the genealogy of the Vrisni race from the beginning. Vaisampayana begins with the description of the origin of the creation.

4-6 The story of Prithu, the son of Vena

7-8 The description of the reigns of Manus

9-10 Origin of the dynasty of Vaivasvata

11 The history of Dhundumara

12 The story of Galava

13-15 The history of the family of Ikshvaku and Sagara

16-24 Pitrkalpa(the beautification of the manes); includes the story of Brahmadatta and his seven sons

25-27 The story of Soma, Budha and Pururava

27-28 The dynasty of Amavasu and Raji

29 The race of Kshatravriddha and the legend of Divodasa

30 The legend of Yayati

31-32 The family of Puru

33-39 The history of the Yadavas; includes the tale of Syamantaka gem(Chapters 38-39)

40-41 The history of the incarnations of Visnu

42-48 The Tarakamaya battle between the gods & the titans

49-52 The plea of Brahma and Goddess Earth

53-55 The partial incarnation of the gods

Viṣṇu parva

Chapter Content

1 Narada’s warning to Kamsa

2-3 Kamsa gives orders to guard Devaki and kill all children born to her

4-5 The birth of Krishna
and his exchange for the daughter of Nanda and Yashoda; description of the cowherds’ camp

6-7 The overturning of the cart; killing of Putana; uprooting of the two Arjuna

8-10 Migration to Vrindavana

11-12 The victory over Kaliya

13-14 The slaying of Dhenuka the donkey and Pralamba

15-19 The lifting of Mount Govardhana in defiance of Indra

20 The Rasa dance

21 The slaying of Arishta, the bull

22-23 The Council of Kamsa

24 The slaying of Keshi, the steed

25-28 The journey of Krishna
and Samkarsana to Kamsa’s court accompanied by Akrura

29-30 The death of the elephant Kuvalayapida; the slaying of Chanura and Andhra; the death of Kamsa

31-32 The lament of Kamsa’s wives; the funeral of Kamsa and the consecration of Ugrasena on the throne of Mathura

33 The education of Krishna
and Balarama
under Sandipani and the rescue of his children

34-36 The attack on Mathura by Jarasandha
of Magadha and his defeat

37-38 The discourse of Vikadru

39-42 The meeting of Krishna
and Balarama
with Parasurama; the ascension on Mount Gomanta; the burning of Gomanta

43-44 The end of Srigala

45 The return to Mathura

46 Samkarsana dragging the Yamuna river with his ploughshare

47-54 The swayamvara of Rukmini and the conspiracy of Jarasandha
and his allies

55-56 The migration from Mathura to Dwarka

57 Kalayavana’s attack on Krishna
and his death

58 The foundation of Dwarka

59-61 Krishna’s abduction of and marriage with Rukmini and their progeny

62 The exploits of Balarama

63-64 The slaying of Naraka

65-76 The stealing of Parijata
tree from Indra’s heaven

77-81 On the observance of Punyakavidhi, i.e. ceremonies, celebrations and vows by means of which a wife can make her body pleasant to her husband and ensure his favour to herself

82-85 The slaying of the demons of Shatpura

86-87 The slaying of Andhaka by Mahadeva

88-89 The sports of the Yadavas in ocean

90 The abduction of Bhanumati

91-97 The marriage of Pradyumna and Prabhavati.

98-100 The rebuilding of Dwarka; the entry into Dwarka; the entry into the hall

101-102 The discourse of Narada

101-102 The tradition of the dynasty of Vrishnis

104-109 The legend of Pradyumna and the slaying of Sambara

110 The tale of Samba

111-115 Krishna
recovers the four dead sons of a brahman

111-115 Krishna’s fight with Bana and the marriage of Bana’s daughter, Usa with Aniruddha, the grandson of Krishna

† These pieces definitely appear to be interpolations into the text. Bhaviṣya parva

Chapter Content

1-2 The genealogy of Janamejaya and his performance of an aswamedha

3-4 The characteristics of Kaliyuga

5 The reconciliation between Janamejaya and his queen, following Indra’s intervention in the aswamedha

6 The formal benediction

7-28 The origin of creation from the lotus

29-72 The account of the boar, the man-lion and the dwarf incarnations of Visnu

73-90 Krishna’s journey to Kailasa

91-102 The slaying of Paundraka

103-129 The tale of Hamsa and Dimbhaka

130-131 Krishna
meets the cowherds of Vrindavana on Mount Govardhana and returns to Dwaraka

132 The religious merit of reading the Mahabharata
and the Harivaṃśa

133 The legend of the destruction of the three heavenly fortresses of the demons by Shiva

134 A short summary of the contents of Harivaṃśa

135 An enumeration of the religious merits that one acquires by hearing this Purana

† This suggests that at some point of time this chapter used to close the text(which is what the CE does, i.e. the narrative comes to an end at this chapter). Translations[edit]

City of Dwarka
in Harivamsa, as painted for the Mughal emperor Akbar

There have been translations of the Harivamsa
in many Indian vernacular languages, English (Manmatha Nath Dutt, 1897), French (M. A. Langlois, Paris, 1834–35) and other languages.[9] See also[edit]

First book of Mahabharata: Adi Parva Previous book of Mahabharata: Svargarohana Parva


^ a b Maurice Winternitz (1981), History of Indian Literature, Vol. 1, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-0836408010, pages 426-431 ^ Edwin Francis Bryant (2007), Krishna: A Sourcebook, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195148923, Chapters 4-21 ^ a b The Mahabharata
in Sanskrit: Book I: Chapter 2 in sacred-texts.com website ^ The Mahabharata, Book 1, Chapter 2, Verses 377-378; M.N. Dutt Adi Parva, page 21 ^ Maurice Winternitz (1981), History of Indian Literature, Vol. 1, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-0836408010, pages 432-435 ^ Ruben 115. ^ Manmatha Nath Dutt, Vishnu
Purana, Harivamsa
(1896), pages 283-286 ^ [Harivaṃśa 1969-71: 785, XXX and 795] ^ Translations of the Harivamsa


Bowker, John, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, New York, Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 410 Winternitz, Maurice (1981) History of Indian Literature Vol. I. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Ruben, Walter (1941) "The Krsnacarita in the Harivamsa
and Certain Puranas.” Journal of American Oriental Society. Vol. 61, No.3. pp. 115–127. Lorenz, Ekkehard (2007) The Harivamsa: The Dynasty of Krishna, in Edwin F. Bryant (ed.), Krishna, A Source Book, Oxford University Press. Shastri, Rajendra Muni, Jaina Sahitya mein Sri Krishna
Charita, Jaipur, Prakrit Bharati Akademi, 1991.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Harivamsa.

Original Sanskrit
text online with English translation Manmatha Nath Dutt, Vishnu
Purana, English Translation of Book 2 of Harivamsa
(1896) Alexandre Langlois, Harivansa: ou histoire de la famille de Hari, French Translation of Harivamsa
(1834) Discourse on Harvamsha by Dr Vyasanakere Prabhanjanacharya

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Books (parvas)

Adi Sabha Vana Virata Udyoga Bhishma Drona Karna Shalya Sauptika Stri Shanti Anushasana Ashvamedhika Ashramavasika Mausala Mahaprasthanika Svargarohana Harivamsa

Kuru Kingdom

Shantanu Ganga Bhishma Satyavati Chitrāngada Vichitravirya Ambika Ambalika Vidura Dhritarashtra Gandhari Pandu Kunti Madri Pandavas

Yudhisthira Bhima Arjuna Nakula Sahadeva

Draupadi Kauravas

Duryodhana Dushasana Vikarna Yuyutsu Dushala

Hidimbi Ghatotkacha Ahilawati Subhadra Uttarā Ulupi Chitrāngadā Abhimanyu Iravan Babruvahana Barbarika Upapandavas Parikshit Janamejaya

Other characters

Amba Ashwatthama Balarama Bhagadatta Brihannala Chekitana Chitrasena Dhrishtadyumna Drona Drupada Durvasa Ekalavya Hidimba Jarasandha Jayadratha Kali (demon) Karna Kichaka Kindama Kripa Krishna Kritavarma Mayasura Sanjaya Satyaki Shakuni Shalya Shikhandi Shishupala Bahlika Sudeshna Uttara Kumara Virata Vrishasena Vyasa

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