Everything about Aniruddha: Avatar of Vishnu

Aniruddha was the son of Pradyumna, himself the child of the Hindu gods Krishna and Rukmini. In Hindu mythology, he is usually seen as an avatar or form of Vishnu.

The story of Aniruddha is that he married Asura Baza’s daughter Usha under strange circumstances. The story is a long one extending over twelve Adhyayas.

Summarized, Aniruddha’s story is this:

Bana, son of the good Asura King Bali – who was bound and placed in the nether world by Vishnu as Trivikrama (another Avatar of Visnu) – was a devotee of the god Rudra.

At the request of Bana, Rudra treated him as his own son. His town was Sonitapura, or “town of blood”. He had a thousand shoulders. With them he was like another Arjuna Kartavirya (legendary Hindu conqueror king).

Bana conquered the Devas again and again, and then not liking to keep his warlike shoulders idle, he solicited Rudra, to find work for them.

Rudra said that he would in the near future get a strong, worthy adversary for Bana to fight with.

Bana’s daughter Usha is a beautiful young woman. She hears from her goddess Uma that a young man whom she would see and love in her dream on the night of the 12th of the bright half of the month of Vaisakha would become her husband.

Accordingly, she sees and loves him in her dream on that night, and describes his beauty to her maid, Kitralekha, who is an Apsaras nymph, the daughter of Baza’s minister Kumbhanda, and who within seven days draws the pictures of all the beautiful youths in the world.

Seeing one picture after another, that of Aniruddha enables Usha to at once recognise him as the youth seen by her in the dream.

Aniruddha also sees and loves Usha in a simultaneous dream. Not knowing who and where she is, he is pining, and getting thin and absent-minded.

Usha’s main Kitralekha then travels in the sky to Dvaraka (a sacred, history Hindu city), and announcing herself to Aniruddha as having come from Usha, and telling him that Usha would die of love-sickness if he does not see her at once. So Kitralekha carries him in the sky to Usha’s mansion, and the couple are wedded at once according to the Gandharva form of marriage.

The guards discovering him there with Usha reported it to the king, who sent an army of his followers to seize the prince ; but the valiant Aniruddh slew his assailants, on which Bana advanced against him and endeavoured to kill him.

Finding however that Aniruddha was not to be subdued by might alone, Bana brought his magical abilities into the conflict, by which he succeeded in capturing the Yadu prince and binding him in serpent bonds.

Thus the youth who by name is Aniruddha, “never restrained”, becomes samniruddha, “well restrained”.

The wise sage Narada communicates this to Krishna, who, accompanied by the Yadava army, travels 11,000 Yojanas (a Yojana is about 8 miles) in no time on the wings of his bird Suparna, and besieges Bana’s town which is guarded by Bana’s Agnis, sacrificial fires, of whom Angiras is the most valiant.

Krishna conquers them. Then Rudra’s three-headed Jvara (fever personified) who is under the command of Bana weakened and flattened the Yadava army, but Krishna overpowers him by the fire of his own Kakra weapon.

Rudra himself takes part in the battle on behalf of his devotee Bana, but Krishna knocks him out, and the god Brahma induces him to keep quiet and allow Bana to fight for himself, as it was he (Rudra) himself that had provided martial work for the shoulders of Bana, his devotee.

Then Rudra and Krishna embrace each other, and Brahma praises them as being both one in reality without any distinction, as being Agnishomau (Agni and Soma).

At last, as Bana is immortal by reason of his being the adopted son of Rudra, Krishna lops off all the shoulders of Bana excepting two, and dismisses him as Jivanmukta (liberated while living), spared with bare life, bleeding very much.

Krishna then marries Aniruddha in the formal manner to Usha. Rudra renders Bana free from the pain of the cutting off of his shoulders, and appoints him to be commander of his Pramathagana army under the title of Mahakala.

Later on, it was said that Bana had excellent milch cows, the drinking of whose nectar-like milk would make one very strong and unconquerable. Their guardian is the god Varuna himself.

Krishna goes to fight with Varuna in order to obtain them for the Yadavas (a people descended from the King Yadu). But as Varuna says that he has pledged his word to Bana to guard them for him, Krishna allows them to continue to be Bana’s cows.

The meaning of Aniruddha (stellar and cosmic interpretation)

Aniruddha, “unobstructed, free” is one of the names of Vishnu, and so Krishna’s grandson Aniruddha seems to be Krishna himself reproduced as grandson so that he may thereby be shown to have become a grandfather in his incarnation.

It’s possible that this grandson, Aniruddha could be phenomenally a metamorphosis of the Moon as the regent of the Mrigasiras asterism (star pattern, but not constellation) of Orion.

Thus, Bana, meaning the Arrow, is clearly the arrow-like Belt of Orion. The same Belt which in the Vedic story is Rudra’s Arrow, shot by Rudra’s starry form Sirius into the body of Orion, the stag form of Prajapati (the creator lord of all beings), is personified in this story as Rudra’s adopted son Bana.

Usha means the Dawn, but since there’s a distinction between the Dawn of the atmosphere and the Dawn celestial, Bana’s daughter Usha seems to be the same star Rohini (Aldebaran) who in the Vedic story figures as Orion Prajapati’s daughter, whom the Aitareya Brahmana clearly identifies with that star saying that some call the daughter of Prajapati Usha or Divam (Heaven).

It is evident from this that in the days of that Brahmana that star was called not only Rohini, but also Usha and Divam. The reason for naming that star after the Dawn Usha may have been that in the olden, ancient time the Day half of the year was being reckoned to begin when the Sun came to that star.

The marriage of Usha with Aniruddha simply means that the Moon, as the regent of Orion Head Mrigasiras is fondly attached to the neighbouring star Rohini.

At the same time, the paradox of Bana’s binding and restraining Aniruddha in his town means that although the Moon is swift and unrestrained in its constant journey from star to star in the sky, still, when viewed as the regent of Mrigasiras, the Moon is fixed – restrained as it were in – Bana’s Orion town.

Taking Krishna to be represented by the Sun, he overpowers both Bana, the Belt, and his lord Rudra, the Star Sirius, when he passes through the region of these stars in his annual career.

At that time of the year there is the heat of the Dog days, and so Rudra’s Jvara seems to be that heat fancied to be caused by Sirius Rudra, while really it is the heat of the solar disc as Krishna’s Kakra.

The sacrificial fires of Bana may be explained by Orion being the starry form of Prajapati as Sacrifice.

The Sun’s conjunction with a star may be poetically described in two contrary ways: one is that he overpowers or kills it by his superior light, the other that he embraces it as his friend. So Krishna overpowers Rudra, and also embraces him.

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