Rigveda alludes a story of Bhujyu who happened to be a son of king Tugra. The king got to know about some enemies planning to attack his kingdom so he sent Bhujyu along with his few confederates on a ship/boat to neutralize the attack.

As they traveled, it turned out that the confederates were moles and they drowned/abandoned Bhujyu in the middle of sea/river. Bhujyu did not learn how to swim so he prayed to Ashvins and he was rescued by the later but he drowned so deep in the sea that Ashvins had to swim for 3 days.

RV 1.182 (5-7)

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Recently this story has been of interest because the verses mention of a large body of water (samudra) which has become a topic of debate whether samudra mean ponds/ocean/river/sea. The summary of the debate can be read here. Philosopical side also much has been written about on Bhujyus incident as people claim that this is the first instance in RV which talks about punishment given by Varuna or Mitra where sinner falls in an abyss till eternity. However, like the story of Shunahshepa Bhujyu's sin was absolved by praying to Indra.

My question is - do we know about Bhujyu's incident in details in later texts?

1 Answer 1


Vedacharya David Frawley explains the above issue in his book Gods, Sages and Kings: Vedic Secrets of Ancient Civilization, as follows:

The symbolism of ships is as pervasive in the Vedas as that of the sea, which it tends to reinforce. The saving action of Agni, the sacred fire, is frequently compared to a ship that carries us across the river or sea.

As a ship across the river (or sea), Agni, take us across to safety (I.97.8).29

Agni will deliver us across all difficulties, as a ship across the river (or sea; I.99.1).30

Agni, destroyer of difficulties, deliver us across all danger as a ship across the river (or sea; V.5.9).31

This image of wisdom, symbolized by fire, taking us across the river or ocean of worldly difficulties, remains in all Indian philosophy and is found in both Hindu and Buddhist works.

Other Vedic Gods save their worshippers from across the sea through a ship. The Ashwins are the main saviours and miracle workers of the Gods and this is one of their most famous actions.

When he was lost in the supportless, foundationless, ungraspable ocean, you put forth your strength, oh Ashwins. You bore Bhujyu home, mounted on a ship with a hundred oars (I.116.5).32

Earlier in this hymn we read:

For three nights and three days, oh Ashwins, you carried Bhujyu with your swift birds. To the other shore of the wet ocean, with three vehicles with a hundred feet and six horses (I.116.4).33

This is not a confused image of ocean travel. Bhujyu stands for the Sun. The three vehicles with a hundred feet and six horses are the 360 days of the year or degrees of the zodiac. The three days and three nights are a period at the end of the year wherein the Sun renews its light. Ocean travel is thus interwoven with the solar myth. The yearly return of the Sun follows the myth of crossing the ocean - an apt symbol for a maritime people. The sunset on the sea would give rise to such an image.

These ships that travel in the atmosphere and are often compared to birds or horses must be sailing vessels. The poetic vision of sailing ships would see them as birds flying in the blue of the sea, like the blue of the sky. We read of Bhujyu's rescue:

With ships of the nature of the wind that travel through the atmosphere and keep the water away (I.116.3).34

This story of Bhujyu and his rescue from the ocean by the Ashwins and their mystic ship is a common Vedic myth.

Ashwins, you bore Bhujyu from the flooding ocean with straight moving birdhorses (I.117.14).35

Ashwins, you delivered Taugrya (Bhujyu) across the ocean (I.118.6).36

You carried Bhujyu, the son of Tugra, from the watery ocean by birds, through the air (VI.62.6).37

Ashwins, Bhujyu cast in the ocean, you bore across the floods with your unfailing horses (VII.69.7).38

When the son of Tugra served you, abandoned in the sea, then with wings your vehicle flew (VIII.5.22).

Bhujyu is also one of the main mythic ancestors of the Vedic people, who call themselves 'Tugra' or 'Taugra' after his ancestry. The implication is that the Vedic people in part were refugees from some hostile land across the sea.

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