Ugrasrava (Sauti), Romaharshana (Suta), Saunaka and Naimisaranya


Parentage :

Ugrasrava was the son of Romaharshana because of his thrilling and delightful way of narration. Romaharshana was also called Suta and his name is also sometimes spelled as Lomaharshana. Suta is the one who narrated the Srimad Bhagavatam to Saunaka and other at Naimsaranya. It was customary to hear itihasas at yajnas. Sri Rama heard Valmiki’s Ramayanam from Lava Kusa at the Aswamedha Yajna. Janamejaya heard the Mahabharatam at the Sarpa Yajna. (Even we hear Ganesa’s story every Ganesa Caturthi).

See Also :

Story from the Mahabharata, Adi Parva :

One day Ugrasrava came to Naimsaranya.

This means the forest of Nimi. (It is in modern Uttar Pradesh :  Map, Photos)

Nimi was Sita Devi’s Purvaja (ancestor, previous born. As per my calculations, he may have been her grandfather. (Please see Generations between Rama and Krishna. And Generations previous to Sri Rama. if you are interested.)

He came to Naimisaranya to tell the sages there the Puranas. The sages there were Saunaka and others, who had come there to perform a long 12 year yajna, to ward off the evil effects of Kaliyuga.

They believed that with Sri Krishna and Raja Parikshit gone, there would be no one to respect and protect the brahmans and Rishis.  By that time the most brahmans, following the Varna – Asrama – Dharma were completely into philosophy. It does look as if Aswatthama, the son of Drona and the grandson of Bharadwaja was the last brahman warrior for several centuries. (The Bhargavas (Parasurama) and the Bharadwajas were noted for their fighting skills.)

Saunaka received Ugrasrava with respect and Ugrasrava took his asana (easy sitting posture) humbly. Ugrasarava asked Saunaka and others how their penance was going and Saunaka asked Ugrasarava about his well being, travels and purpose. (See Also : Rg Vidhana – by Saunaka Maharshi, Saunaka Maharshi : Our Link to the Previous Yugas)

Ugrasrava said, “I heard the wonderful narrative composed by Krishna Dwaipayana (Veda Vyasa). Vaisampayana related it entirely at the Sarpa – Yajna (Naga – Yajna) of King Janamejaya. (Janamejaya was the son of Parikshit and the grandson of Abhimanyu.) I travelled to Samantha Panachaka (Kurukshetra), where the Pandavas and Kauravas fought with all the kings of the country on one side or the other. Shall I tell you the sacred stories collected in the Puranas containing precepts of Dharma and of worldly profit, or the acts of illustrious saints and sovereigns of mankind?”

To which Saunaka replied, ” Tell us that Purana, first composed by the great Rishi Dwaipayana, which was heard and esteemed both by the Devas and the Brahmarshis a was highly esteemed. It is the best narrative that exists,  possessing subtle meanings logically combined with knowledge gleaned from the Vedas. It is a sacred work. It is composed in elegant language, and it includes the subjects of other books. It explains the other Sastras and the Vedas.  Tell us  that itihasa also called Bharata, the holy composition of the wonderful Vyasa, which dispells the fear of evil, just as it was cheerfully recited by the Rishi Vaisampayana, under the direction of Dwaipayana himself, at the sarpa yajna of Raja Janamejaya!”

Sauti (Ugrasrava) then bowed and began to tell them about the Bharatam.

Pauloma Parva, Mahabharata : “‘UGRASRAVA SAUTI, the son of Lomaharshana, versed in the Puranas, while present in the forest of Naimisha, at the *twelve years’ sacrifice of Saunaka (*The Siva Puranam refers to a 1000 year yajnam.), surnamed Kulapati, stood before the Rishis in attendance. Having studied Puranas with meticulous devotion and thus being thoroughly acquainted with them, he addressed them with joined hands thus, ‘I have graphically described to you the history of Utanka which is one of the causes of King Janamejaya’s Snake-sacrifice. What, revered Sirs, do ye wish to hear now? What shall I relate to you?’ The holy men replied, ‘O son of Lomaharshana, we shall ask thee about what we are anxious to hear and thou wilt recount the tales one by one. Saunaka, our revered master, is at present attending the apartment of the holy fire. He is acquainted with those divine stories which relate to the gods and asuras. He adequately knoweth the histories of manavas, Nagas, and Gandharvas. Further, O Sauti, in this sacrifice that learned Brahmana is the chief. He is able, faithful to his vows, wise, a master of the Sastras and the Aranyaka, a speaker of truth, a lover of peace, a mortifier of the flesh, and an observer of the penances according to the authoritative decrees. He is respected by us all. It behoveth us therefore to wait for him. And when he is seated on his highly respected seat, thou wilt answer what that best of Dwijas shall ask of thee.’

“Sauti said, ‘Be it so. And when the high-souled master hath been seated I shall narrate, questioned by him, sacred stories on a variety of subjects.” After a while that excellent Brahmana (Saunaka) having duly finished all his duties, and having propitiated the gods with prayers and the manes with oblations of water, came back to the place of sacrifice, where with Sauti seated before was the assembly of saints of rigid vows sitting at ease. And when Saunaka was seated in the midst of the Ritwiks and Sadhyas, who were also in their seats, he spake …”

Suta, Sauti, Suta Putra

sūta is the narrator of the Bhagavatam and the father of Ugrasrava (sauti.)

Sūta jathi:  At the time of the MahabharatamSuta was name given to a specific mixed-jathiwhere the mother was a brahman and the father was a Kshatriya.  Charioteering and story telling were two of the occupations allowed to them. In fact Vyasa taught the Puranas and Itihasas to Romaharshana because he was a sūta. (Maybe he thought that fighting side of his nature would enjoy retelling stories of battles, while the contemplative side would make him wish to avoid an actual battle!)

Sūta Putra. All of us, without exception, have had our heart broken by the incident in Karna’s story, where his jathi as a Suta Putra (son of a suta), comes in the way of his resplendent merit and he is told to go pick up a whip to control horses instead of a bow.

During the time of Yayati’s (Kshatriya) marriage to Devayani (Brahman – Sukracharya’sdaughter), their son Yadu was never referred to as a Suta, nor his children as Suta Putras.There was no name for it, because there were no restrictions. Sri Krishna himself was a Yadava, a descendant of Yadu and his brother, Balarama was the king of Dwaraka.

Merit or Reservation. Vyasa (like Bharadwaja) was deeply sympathetic to *merit as opposed to jathi (race) as evident from his heart wrenching narration of Karna’s story. In modern times the “reservation vs merit” debate continues. Some people are pro-reservation and some people are anti-reservation., but the idea of reservations in some form or the other have been with us for 5000 years, since the end of Dwapara Yuga.

(sūta is not to be confused with sanskrit word suta which means son.)

*……..”Might is the cardinal virtue of a Kshatriya, and even a Kshatriya of inferior birth deserveth to be fought with. The lineage of heroes, like the sources of a lordly river, is ever unknown. The fire that covereth the whole world riseth from the waters. The thunder that slayeth the Danavas was made of a bone of (a mortal named) Dadhichi. The illustrious deity Guha, who combines in his composition the portions of all the other deities is of a lineage unknown. Some call him the offspring of Agni; some, of Krittika, some, of Rudra, and some of Ganga. It hath been heard by us that persons born in the Kashatriya order have become Brahmanas. Viswamitraand others (born Kshatriyas) have obtained the eternal Brahma. The foremost of all wielders of weapons, the preceptor Drona hath been born in a waterpot and Kripa of the race of Gotama hath sprung from a clump of heath. Your own births, ye Pandava princes, are known to me. Can a she-deer bring forth a tiger (like Karna), of the splendour of the Sun, and endued with every auspicious mark, and born also with a natural mail and ear-rings? This prince among men deserveth the sovereignty of the world, not of Anga only…….” from the Mahabharata…

sUta was described by s’aunaka and other maharSis as an ams’a of viSNu in the Kurma Puranam :

At the end of the satra (yaga, yagnya), the Rishis of naimis’AraNya, asked the pure sUta, Romaharshana to tell them all the purANAas.

They said, “Oh Suta! of great intellect! You served (sat near), that best among the knowers of the Brahman, Veda Vyasa, in order to learn the Puranas and Itihasas.

You learnt it so well that when you recited the stories, all the hair on dwaipayanA’s (Vyasa)’s body stood on end (horripilation). And thus you were named rOmaharSaNa!

So you were sent to us by that divine one to tell us all the puranas.

You were born of an ams’a (fraction) of s’rI mahA viSNu, to tell all these stories at the time of the yagnya of swayambhu (Brahma) himself.

So we ask you, the expert in the meanings of all the puranas, please tell us the wonderful story of the kUrma purANa.”

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