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As I discuss in 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.

Now one of the 32 Brahma Vidyas is known as the Madhu Vidya, or "honey wisdom". It's found in the Brihadaranyaka and Chandogya Upanishads, and it has the power to bring a person back from the dead. The story of the Madhu Vidya is described in this chapter of the Shatapatha Brahmana of the Yajur Veda. The sage Dadhichi, whom I discuss here, knew the Madhu Vidya, and Indra threatened to cut off his head if he ever revealed it to anyone else. But the Ashwini Kumaras, the twin gods who were the fathers of Nakula and Sahadeva, were eager to learn it, so they conspired with Dadhichi to replace Dadhichi's head with a horse head. Then Dadhichi with a horse head taught the Ashwini Kumaras the Madhu Vidya. When Indra found out about this he was furious, so he cut off Dadhichi's horse head. Then the Ashwini Kumaras replaced it with his human head, using the Madhu Vidya to bring him back to life. It is ultimately because of the Ashwini Kumaras that the Madhu Vidya became publicly available in the Upanishads.

But my question is about how the Madhu Vidya was passed down before Dadhichi. Here is what the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says:

  1. Dadhyak [Dadhichi] Âtharvana [learned it] from Atharvan Daiva,
  2. Atharvan Daiva from Mrityu Prâdhvamsana,
  3. Mrityu Prâdhvamsana from Prâdhvamsana,
  4. Prâdhvamsana from Ekarshi,
  5. Ekarshi from Viprakitti
  6. Viprakitti from Vyashti,
  7. Vyashti from Sanâru,
  8. Sanâru from Sanâtana,
  9. Sanâtana from Sanaga,
  10. Sanaga from Parameshthin,
  11. Parameshthin from Brahman,
  12. Brahman is Svayambhu, self-existent.

Adoration to Brahman.

So it looks like Dadhichi learned the Madhu Vidya from his ancestor Atharvan, another name for the sage Bhrigu. But who is this "Mrityu Pradhavamsana" that Bhrigu learned it from? Mrityu means death and Pradhavamsana means destroyer, so did Bhrigu learn it from Yama god of death? And who is this "Ekarishi", which means "one sage", that Pradhvamsana learned it from?

And then Ekarishi learned it from Viprachitti, who was a demon that Indra killed. And Viprachitti learned it from someone named "Vyashti", who learned it from the Sanatkumaras, who learned it from Brahma, who learned it from Vishnu. But who is this Vyashti who learned it from the Sanatkumaras and taught it to the demon Viprachitti?

Are there any scriptures that describe who all these people are?

  • Isn't Atharvan - the composer Atharvana Veda, a Asura reincarnated? Why is he associated with Sage Bhrigu? – Naveen Jul 9 '15 at 5:34
  • @Naveen Where did you hear that the compiler of the Atharvana Veda was a rebirth of an Asura? The Atharvana Veda was compiled by the sages Bhrigu and Angiras. Atharvana is just a patronymic name for the descendants of Bhrigu. – Keshav Srinivasan Jul 9 '15 at 6:01
  • Why have you linked Mahamrityunjaya mantra and Madhu Vidya? Are they somehow related or it is just for information of sage Dadhichi ?...... – Tejaswee Jul 1 '16 at 1:51
  • Yeah, I just said "Dadhichi, whom I discuss here" so people know who Dadhichi is. In any case, the only relation I know of between the Mrityunjaya Mantra story and the Madhu Vidya story is the story of Indra using Dadhichi's old horse head to kill demons, which I discuss here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/12006/36 – Keshav Srinivasan Jul 1 '16 at 2:56
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    @Tezz But now that you mention it, there do seem to be some similarities between the Mrityunjaya mantra and the Madhuvidya: both are connected to overcoming death, and both were things that Dadhichi learned from his ancestors. I'm not sure if they have some connection. – Keshav Srinivasan Jul 1 '16 at 3:27
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Brahma created vama deva,vama deva is one of the five faces of shiva,vama deva learned MADHU VIDHYA in his dream"told by God in the form of a hawk in a flash of light".

Dadhichi Rishi is the son of atharvan Rishi,dadichi told the MADHU VIDHYA to Ashwini kumaras

MADHU VIDHYA:EXPLANATION "God or Ishwara in the form of this logical universe is Madhu or honey or nectar or ambroisia to all creatures and for all creatures this universe is Madhu,this is all,this is brahma loga,this is Amirtham"

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    Welcome to Hinduism.SE! You should cite sources. Also, your answer doesn't address the list of people given in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. – Keshav Srinivasan Oct 2 '15 at 14:16

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