An ancient sage-king. Most Purāṇas (puranas) have identified him as a descendant of Svāẏambhuva Manu (Swayambhubha Manu). Aṅga (Anga) was the child of Ulmuka of Svāẏambhuva Manu’s lineage, conceived by Puṣkariṇī (Pushkarini). Another version, however, recognises Aṅga as the child borne of Agneẏī (Agneyi) and Uru. Some Purāṇas, on the other hand, identify him as a descendant of the sage Atri. Vāyupurāṇa (Vayupurana) chronicles the reason behind this interpretation. The great sage Atri had imagined Uttānpāda (Uttanpad), the youngest son of Svāẏambhuva Manu, as his own. Therefore, while descendants of Uttānpāda are considered as belonging to the lineage of Svāẏambhuva Manu, they are also thought of as belonging to the Atri lineage.
Aṅga was a great disciple of Viṣṇu (Vishnu). According to Padmapurāṇa (Padmapurana), once, when Aṅga was engaged in deep meditation on the Sumeru mountains, Viṣṇu failed to hinder his meditation despite numerous attempts. Eventually, He was satisfied and appeared before his disciple. Aṅga, worn out from his meditation wished for a son as powerful as Indra. Viṣṇu granted him this boon and advised him to wed a virtuous woman.
According to Bhāgavatapurāṇa (Bhagavatpurana), once, when the sage-king Aṅga performed the sacred Aśvamedha yajña (Ashwamedha yajna) ceremony, the gods rejected his offerings. Even priests and scholars could not fathom the reason behind this. King Aṅga summoned a court session. After much deliberation, the scholars and intellectuals present there told the king— “You are still without an heir due to some previously committed sin. Hence, try to find a way by which you can have a child. Pray to Viṣṇu for a son; only when he is appeased, you shall be able to conceive.”
King Aṅga’s wife was Sunītha, daughter of Mṛtyu (Mrityu; ‘death’). His son Veṇa (Ben) was borne of her. Although Aṅga was granted a son from worshiping Viṣṇu, his child turns out to be malicious and cruel like his grandfather Mṛtyu. Irked by the behaviour of his impious son, Aṅga gradually developed an apathy towards the world. He left his kingdom and went on a self-imposed exile in the forest. Although royal messengers were sent to bring him back, he did not return. He devoted the remainder of his life in praying to . He has been acknowledged with reverence in the Purāṇas as a great devotee of Lord Viṣṇu. He gains more venerability especially because it is in his lineage that the legendary good king Pṛthu (Prithu), Veṇa’s son, was born later on.
Sañjaya (Sanjay) mentions to Dhṛtarāsṭra (Dhritarashtra) the names of those kings who ruled the world in the ancient times and left the mortal world in accordance with the laws of time. In this connection comes up the name of Aṅga, an ancient king. It is likely that it is the same sage-king Aṅga belonging to the lineage of Uttānpāda, who has been alluded to here by Sañjaya.