As I discuss in the this question, by far the most popular school of Hindu philosophy is the Vedanta school, which bases its tenets on the doctrines laid out in the Brahma Sutras, a work by the sage Vyasa which summarizes and systematizes the philosophical teachings of the Upanishads. You can read the Brahma Sutras here. In any case, Adhyaya 3 Pada 3 of the Brahma Sutras describes the Brahma Vidyas, 32 lessons found in the various Upanishads which can each lead you to Brahman if you meditate upon them. You can see the full list of 32 Vidyas here.

One of these Brahma Vidyas is known as the Panchagni Vidya, and it's found in the Brihadaranyaka and Chandogya Upanishads. It deals with the transmigration of souls in the afterlife, both for souls that reincarnate and for souls that go to Brahmaloka. It was imparted to the sage Uddalaka Aruni and his son Shwetaketu by Pravahana Jaibili, king of Panchala (the kingdom where Draupadi was from).

But my question isn't about the Panchagni Vidya itself, but rather it's origins. In this chapter of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Pravahana tells the sage Uddalaka Aruni that this Vidya has never before been in the possession of Brahmins:

The king said: 'Do not be offended with us, neither you nor your forefathers, because this knowledge has before now never dwelt with any Brâhmana. But I shall tell it to you, for who could refuse you when you speak thus?

Pravahana's statement is given a bit more specificity in this chapter of the Chandogya Upanishad:

As (to what) you have said to me, [Uddalaka Aruni], this knowledge did not go to any Brâhmana before you, and therefore this teaching belonged in all the worlds to the Kshatra class alone.

So my question is, where did Pravahana learn the Panchagni Vidya? He says that it belonged to the Kshatriyas alone, so was it passed down among the kings of Panchala (similar to how the Bhagavad Gita was orignally passed down among the kings of Ayodhya in the Treta Yuga), or did he get it from some other king, or what? Are there any scriptures that mention Pravahana's guru? It would be nice to see Pravahana's whole Guru Paramapara, to trace the exact origins of the Panchagni Vidya.

  • It was passed down among the kings. There is a lot of references for this. I will look up a few. Commented Apr 5, 2015 at 15:51
  • @SwamiVishwananda Yeah, but I'd like to know what specific kings passed it down. Was it passed down along the generations of the kings of Panchala? If possible I'd like to trace back the origins as far as I can; like presumably someone originally got the Panchagni Vidya from Narayana/Brahman, and then it was passed down by various kings until it reached Pravahana. Commented Apr 5, 2015 at 15:54
  • @SwamiVishwananda Were you able to find anything? Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 8:36
  • No, sorry I found nothing. In the subsequent chapter with the list of the lineage of teachers for how the prior chapters were handed down, there is no mention of Pravahana's name. Sankara has said that not all the stories need to be taken literally, that they can be thought of as parables to teach a specific lesson. Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 14:27
  • @SwamiVishwananda Are you talking about the lineage of teachers given in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad or the lineage given in the Chandogya Upanishad? Because for some reason the Chandogya Upanishad translation I have omits the lineage of teachers. What translation are you using? Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 2:58


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