This morning I was simultaneously reading and listening to this śloka from Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa and this question occurred to me.

येषां स सगरो नाम सागरो येन खानित: ।

षष्टि: पुत्रसहस्राणि यं यान्तं पर्यवारयन् ।।1.5.2।।

येन by whom, सागर: ocean, खानित: was made to be dug, यान्तम् while he was marching (to the battle), यम् whom, षष्टि: पुत्रसहस्राणि sixty thousand sons, पर्यवारयन् surrounded by, स: that, सगरो नाम king named Sagara, येषाम् amongst those.

Among them a king named Sagara got the ocean dug and his sixty thousand sons surrounded him whenever he went (to battle).

From above, it appears that King Sagara acquired the name because he (or his sons) dug up earth to create the ocean (sāgara). Is it not? If yes, what is King Sagara's real name i.e., birth name?

Or is it a pure coincidence that Sagara and the word sāgara are related?

PS. Does anyone know the female singer reciting the ślokas? Her voice is very melodious; almost divine!


3 Answers 3


Yes. The ocean (सागरः or Sāgara) is named after Sagara (सगर), a king of Ikshvaku dynasty. He is the son of king Asita. Ocean on the earth is formed by one of his deeds i.e., he dug the bed of ocean. Sagara's stepmother gives poison to Sagara's mother Kalindi out of jealousy. She was also pregnant. They both go to a sage Chyavana. As he was born from toxicity, he is named as Sagara (सगर).

Quoting from Valmiki Ramayana (Balakanda, Ch. 70):

सपत्न्या तु गरः तस्यैः दत्तो गर्भ जिघांसया | सह तेन गरेण एव संजातः सगरोइ अभवत् || १-७०-३७

37. sapatnyaa = by co-wife; tasyaiH = to her; garbha jighaamsayaa = for womb, ruination [for abortion]; garaH dattaH = poison, given; tena gareNa saha samjaataH = with that, poison, along with, who took birth; hence he; sagaraH abhavat = Sagara, became.

"Because he took birth along with the poison administered to his mother by her co-wife, he became Sagara, the emperor..." [1-70-37]

Here is the parable of Sagara's life.

There are a series of verses in the Sundara Kanda where the ocean god thinks that he should help the messenger of Rama, who is a descendent of Ikshvaku dynasty. It is because he was formed by a deed of King Sagara.

In Valmiki Ramayana, Sundarakanda, Ch. 1, sāgara, the ocean says:

While that best among vanaras, Hanuma, was flying, the god of ocean thought thus for the respect of Ikshvaaku dynasty: "If I do not help this best among vanaras Hanuma, I shall become prone to all kinds of ill-talk by those who want to speak against me. I was developed by Sagara of Ikshvaaku dynasty. This Hanuma who is helping a descendant of that dynasty should not become tired. I have to behave in such a way that Hanuma would take rest. After resting in me for a while, He can cross the remaining distance with comfort".

In chapter 31, Yuddhakanda of Valmiki Ramayana, Vibhishana suggests the same. The Vanaras ask Vibhishana a strategy to cross the mighty ocean. Then:

Hearing their words, the right minded Vibhishana replied as follows:

"It is apt if prince Rama seeks ocean as his refuge. This immeasurable great ocean was excavated by Sagara. Hence, this great ocean will be inclined to do the act for Rama, his kinsman".

It is mentioned in Goswami Tulasidas' Ramcharitamanas too. See here.

Further reference is found in the Brahma Purana chapter 8 about Sāgara named after the king Sagara.

प्रादाच्च तस्मै भगवन्हरिर्नारयणो वरम् |
त्प्रक्षयं वंशमिक्ष्वाकोः कीर्तिं चाप्यनिवर्तिनीम् || ५८

पुत्रं समुद्रं च विभुः स्वर्गे वासं तथाक्षयं |
समुद्राश्चार्घमादाय ववन्दे तं महीपतिम् || ५९

Lord Hari, Narayana granted him(Sagara) the boon that Ikshvāku's race will be everlasting and they would have unreceding fame. The lord said that the ocean will be known as his son and his residence in the heavenly world would be everlasting. Taking Arghya unto him ocean saluted the monarch. [58-59]

Is the ocean (sāgara) named after King Sagara or is it the other way round?

The above references prove that the ocean (Sāgara) is named after the Ikshvāku king Sagara and not the other way round.

  • Ok, so you are saying "ocean is named after Ikshvaku king Sagara", not the other way round? (see the question in the title) Dec 14, 2016 at 1:54
  • @sv. Yes one of its names. Other names are jaladhi, ambhudhi, payonidhi, payodhi, samudra etc., Dec 14, 2016 at 2:25
  • @Sreecharan this means there was no ocean before sagara?
    – user9554
    Jun 8, 2017 at 7:36
  • @Ajay It was there and aquatic animals were also there. But the king Sagara's sons dug up the ocean and by this, it got developed. Hence the ocean acquired the name sAgara. Jun 8, 2017 at 8:27
  • @SreeCharan where it is mentioned?
    – user9554
    Jun 8, 2017 at 10:59

King sagara's sons dug up the earth to create oceans. For the search operation of the Horse in his "Ashvamedh Yagna.This is also described in Shreemad Bhagavat Purana. (Skandha 9 Chapter 8 Gita press version) Sagar Charitra .King Sagar was said to be son of "Bahuka"

सगरश्चक्रवर्त्यासीत सागरो यत्सुतै: कृतः
यस्तालजंङ्गन यवनाञ्चकान हैहयबर्बरान॥5॥

sagaraś cakravarty āsīt sāgaro yat-sutaiḥ kṛtaḥ yas tālajaṅghān yavanāñ chakān haihaya-barbarān
Meaning -King Sagar was Chakrawarti King.His sons dug up the earth to creat ocean.He obeyed his gurudeva's (auvra) order of not to kill people from "Yawan ,Shaka ,Haihaya & Barbar" race.

वृद्वम तं पश्चतां प्राप्तं महिष्यनु मारिष्यति ।
और्वेण जानताss त्मानं प्रजावन्तम निवारिता॥3॥

vṛddhaṁ taṁ pañcatāṁ prāptaṁ mahiṣy anumariṣyatī  aurveṇa jānatātmānaṁ prajāvantaṁ nivāritā

Meaning -After retiring to forest Bahuka died of old age.When his wife was about to enter into fire (sati) , knowing she is pregnant Maharshi Aurva stoped her.

अज्ञायास्यै सपत्नीभिर्गरो दत्तोsन्धसा सह।
सह तेनैव संजात: सगराख्यो महायशा:॥4॥

ājñāyāsyai sapatnībhir garo datto ’ndhasā saha saha tenaiva sañjātaḥ sagarākhyo mahā-yaśāḥ

Meaning- When Bhauka's other wives came to know about this ,they gave poison to her from food.But the child was born with the poison.So by born with poison (gar गर in sanskrit) , his name became "Sagar" (sa=with , gar=poison)

अंशुमांरश्चोदितो राज्ञा तुरङ्गन्वेषणे ययौ ।
पितृव्यखातानुपथं भस्मन्ति ददृशे हयम ॥20॥

Meaning- Then by order of King Sagar Anshuman set out to search for the Horse He searched the oceans dug up by his uncles.Then he saw the horse near the pile of ash of his ancestors.

This passage from Vishnu Purana gives us the same story here is the excerpt.

This prince was vanquished by the tribes of Haihayas and Tálajanghas anti his country was overrun by them; in consequence of which he fled into the forests with his wives. One of these was pregnant, and being an object of jealousy to a rival queen, the latter gave her poison to prevent her delivery. The poison had the effect of confining the child in the womb for seven years. Báhu, having waxed old, died in the neighbourhood of the residence of the Muni Aurva. His queen having constructed his pile, ascended it with the determination of accompanying him in death; but the sage Aurva, who knew all things, past, present, and to come, issued forth from his hermitage, and forbade her, saying, "Hold! hold! this is unrighteous; a valiant prince, the monarch of many realms, the The sage then conducted, her to his abode, and after some time a very splendid boy was there born. Along with him the poison that had been given to his mother was expelled; and Aurva, after performing the ceremonies required at birth, gave him on that account the name of Sagara (from Sa, 'with,' and Gara, 'poison'). The same holy sage celebrated his investure with the cord of his class, instructed him fully in the Vedas, and taught him the use of arms, especially those of fire, called after Bhárgava.

So Yes , the ocean's ( Sagar सागर ) is named after the king Sagar.

Note - On Vedbase site it's not mentioned of King sagar was Chakravarti & his sons dug up the earth. So quoting from Gita Press version.

  • "Does anyone know the female singer reciting the ślokas? " -- Dr. Smt. Dwaram Lakshmi is the singer. In my Qn, I was referring to the audio on valmiki.iitk.ac.in :) Dec 13, 2016 at 18:13
  • "King Sagara acquired the name because he (or his sons) dug up earth to create the ocean (sāgara)." -- I think it's the other way round? See the title question and also @SreeCharan's answer (last line). Dec 14, 2016 at 1:57

Sagara is the name of the king and he was responsible for bringing the ocean so the name was brought as sagar or sagaram, it this was the reason that lord ram meditate and asked for help without evaporating the sagar ocean with bhramasthra in the first place


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