A sage king hailing from the Ikṣvāku (Ikshvaku) lineage. The ancestral trees of this lineage found in Rāmāyaṇa (Ramayana) and the purāṇas (puranas) have considerable differences regarding the identity of Anaraṇya (Anaranya). According to Bhāgavatapurāṇa (Bhagavatapurana), Anaraṇya was the son of Kind Trasadasyu of the Ikṣvāku line.
But, in the genealogical charts found in Vāyupurāṇa (Vayupurana), Brahmāṇḍapurāṇa (Brahmandapurana) and Viṣṇupurāṇa (Vishnupurana), place Ananraṇya as the grandson of Trasadasyu, not as his son. Sambhūta (Sambhuta) identified as Trasadayu’s son. Sambhūta, in fact, was Anaraṇya’s father.
Matsyapurāṇa (Matsyapurana), on the other hand, mentions that Sarvakarmā was the son of King Kalmāṣapāda (Kalmashapada) of the Ikṣvāku lineage. King Anaraṇya was Sarvakarmā’s son. The name of Anaraṇya’s son also varies in different purāṇas. According to Matsyapurāṇa, Anaraṇya’s son was Nimna. However, in other purāṇas, his son has been identified as Pṛṣadaśva (Prishadashwa) or Tradaśva (Tradashwa).
Before Rāma (Rama) and Sītā’s (Sita’s) wedding, Sage Vaśiṣṭha (Vashistha), the representative priest of the Ikṣvāku clan narrated the glory and the ancestral bloodline of the Ikṣvāku lineage. According to the family tree found in Rāmāyaṇa Anaraṇya was the son of the Ikṣvāku king, Vāṇa (Vana). Pṛthu (Prithu) was Anaraṇya’s son.
It is chronicled in Rāmāyaṇa that Rāvaṇa (Ravana), while on a conquest of the world, had once challenged Anaraṇya to a battle. Anaraṇya gathered all his soldiers and set out to face Rāvaṇa in war. The description of this war spans an entire chapter in Uttarakāṇḍa (Uttarakanda) of Rāmāyaṇa. Eventually, Anaraṇya lost his life at Rāvaṇa’s hands in that battle. At the time of his death, he had placed a curse upon Rāvaṇa, “In the future, Daśaratha’s (Dasharatha’s) son Rāma will be born in my line. You shall die by his hands.” As he slowly edged towards defeat in the battle of Laṃkā (Lanka), a fearful Rāvaṇa was reminded of Anaraṇya’s curse.
- In Mahābhārata (Mahabharata), Anaraṇya has been remembered many a times as an eminent sage king. At the beginning of Ādiparva (Adiparva), to console a grieving Dhṛtarāṣtra (Dhritarashtra) devastated by the death of his sons, Sañjaya (Sanjaya) gave an account of many ancient kings who savoured their royal life for a long time before meeting death/passing away by the order of time. In this regard, King Anaraṇya was also mentioned.
In Anuśāsanaparva (Anushasanaparva) of Mahābhārata, Anaraṇya was recalled as one of the memorable sage kings. Apart from this, he is also known to be one of those kings who did not consume meat during the Śārada-Kaumuda (Sharada Kaumuda) month, that is, during the month of Kārthika (Kartika).