Home page Up (parent) Next (right) Previous (left) Abbreviations

Page last updated on 8 October, 2020

Association for Insight Meditation Home Page


Ten brothers, sons of Devagabbhā and Upasāgara. As it had been foretold at Devagabbhā’s birth that one of her sons would destroy the lineage of Kaṃsa, each time a son was born to her, fearing lest he be put to death, she sent him secretly to her serving-woman, Nandagopā; the latter had married Andhakaveṇhu and, by good fortune, daughters were born to her at the same time as sons to Devagabbhā; these daughters she sent to Devagabbhā in exchange for the latter’s sons.

The ten sons were named Vāsudeva, Baladeva, Candadeva, Suriyadeva, Aggideva, Varuṇadeva, Ajjuna, Pajjuna, Ghatapaṇḍita, and Aṅkura.¹ They had also a sister, Añjanadevī. When they grew up they became highway robbers, seizing even a present sent to their uncle, King Kaṃsa. Thus they became notorious as the Andakaveṇhudāsaputtā. The king, having learnt of their true descent, devised various plans for their destruction. Two famous wrestlers, Cānura and Muṭṭhika, were engaged to have a public wrestling match with them. The brothers accepted the challenge and looted several shops for clothes, perfumes, etc., to be used for the occasion. Baladeva killed both the wrestlers. In his death-throes Muṭṭhika uttered a prayer to be born as a yakkha; his wish was fulfilled and he was born as such in the Kāḷamattiya forest. When the king’s men attempted to seize the brothers, Vāsudeva threw a wheel, which cut off the heads of both the king and his brother the viceroy, Upakaṃsa.

The populace, terrified, begged the brothers to be their guardians. Thereupon they assumed the sovereignty of Asitañjana. From there they set out to conquer the whole of Jambudīpa, starting with Ayojjhā (whose king, Kāḷasena, they took prisoner) and Dvāravatī, which they captured with the help of Kaṇhadīpayana.

They made Dvāravatī their capital and divided their kingdom into ten shares, forgetting their sister, Añjanadevī. When they discovered their mistake, Aṅkura gave her his share and took to trade

In course of time the brothers had many sons and daughters, the average human age at that time being 20,000 years. Later their sons annoyed the sage Kaṇhadīpāyana by dressing up a lad as a woman and asking him what child she would bring forth. “A knot of acacia wood,” he answered, “with which will be destroyed the line of Vasudeva.”

They laughed at the sage and kicked him. On the seventh day the lad voided from his belly a knot of acacia wood which they burnt, casting the ashes into the river. From those ashes, which stuck near the city-gate, an Eraka-plant sprang up. One day, while disporting themselves in the water, the kings, with their families and followers, started a sham quarrel and plucked leaves from the Eraka-plant to use as clubs. The leaves turned into weapons in their hands, and they were all killed except Vāsudeva, Baladeva, Añjanadevī, and their chaplain, all of whom fled in a chariot. Thus were the words of the sage fulfilled.

In their flight they reached the Kāḷamattiya forest in which Muṭṭhika had been born as a yakkha. When Muṭṭhika saw Baladeva he assumed the shape of a wrestler and challenged him to a fight. Baladeva accepted the challenge and “was gobbled up like a radish-bulb.”

Vāsudeva proceeded on his way with the others and at night lay in a bush for shelter. A huntsman, mistaking him for a pig, speared him; when Vāsudeva heard that the huntsman’s name was “Jarā” (Old Age) he reconciled himself to death. Thus they all perished except Añjanadevī,³ of whose later history nothing is mentioned.

In the Kumbha Jātaka ⁴ it is suggested that the Andhakaveṇhuputta were destroyed as a result of indulging in drink. This story was evidently well-known to tradition as it is so often referred to.⁵

¹ Cowell sees in this story the kernel of a nature-myth (Jātaka, trans. iv. 51 n.); cf. with this the Kṛṣna legend in the Harivaṃsa; see also Wilson’s Visṇu Purāṇa (Hall’s Ed.), v. 147 f; and the article on Kṛṣna in Hopkins’ Epic Mythology, pp.214 f.

² Aṅkura’s later history is found in PvA.111 ff. See Aṅkura.

³ J.iv.79 ff. J.v.18. E.g., in the Saṅkicca Jātaka (v. 267) and in Vv., p.58.