The Brahma Purana

by G. P. Bhatt | 1955 | 243,464 words

This is the Brahma Purana in English (translation from Sanskrit), which is one of the eighteen Maha Puranas. The contents of this ancient Indian encyclopedic treatise include cosmology, genealogy (solar dynasty etc.), mythology, geology and Dharma (universal law of nature). The Brahma Purana is notable for its extenstive geological survey includin...

Chapter 19 - The Magnitude of Netherworlds

Lomaharṣaṇa said:

1. O excellent sages, the extent of the Earth has been related. Its height (above the lowermost of the nether worlds) is said to be seventy-thousand Yojanas.

2-8. O excellent sages, each one of the nether worlds is a thousand Yojanas above the lower one. The seven netherworlds are—Atala, Vitala, Nitala, Sutala, Talātala, Rasātala and Pātāla.

The grounds of these nether worlds are black, white, pink, yellow, gravelled, rocky and golden. O leading brahmins, excellent palaces adorn them.

In them the communities of Dānavas, Daityas and kins, men of Nāgas of huge bodies live, O excellent brahmins:

Nārada who entered the heavenly assembly coming straight to heaven from the nether regions said that the nether worlds were more charming than the heavenly world.

There are pure jewels of brilliant lustre which delight the onlookers. The ornaments of the Nāgas, the residents of the nether regions shine splendidly in heaven; there is nothing that is equal to it.

Who is not attracted and delighted by the right of nether regions which are rendered splendid by the lasses of Daityas and Dānavas? Even a liberated soul is drawn to it. During daytime, rays of the sun spread diffused light but not the glaring sunlight.

9-20. During the night the light of the moon is not utilised for its coolness but only for illumination.

Since that passes away is not taken notice of by the Nāgas who enjoy with gaiety the foodstuffs and the edibles they consume and the great beverages they drink. Nor are Danujas and others aware of it.

O brahmins, the forests, rivers, lakes, and lotus ponds, the cooing of the cuckoo and other sweet birds, the pleasing skies, the unguents and the continuous notes and sounds of musical instruments such as the lute, flute and Mṛdaṅga drums, O brahmins—all these and other beautiful things are enjoyed by virtue of their good luck by Dānavas, Daityas and Nāgas residing in Pātāla. The Tāmasī form of Viṣṇu, named Śeṣa is beneath the lower regions.

Daityas and Dānavas are not capable of recountig his good qualities. He is honoured by Devas and celestial sages. He is spoken of as Ananta. He has a thousand hoods and he is clearly bedecked in Svastika ornaments devoid of impurities. He illuminates all quarters by thousand jewels on his hoods.

For the welfare of the universe he deprives the Asuras of their prowess. His eyes whirl and rove due to intoxication. He has only one earring at all times.

Wearing a crown and garlands he shines like a white mountain aflame with fire.

He is clad in blue garments. He is intoxicated with pride. He is resplendent with white garlands. He is lofty like the mountain of Kailāsa where the celestial Gaṅgā falls. He has placed his hand on the plough-share; he holds an excellent iron club. He is attended upon by the embodied splendour of Varuṇa.

At the end of the Kalpa, Rudra in the form of Saṅkarṣaṇa comes out of his mouth, blazing like the flame of poisonous fire and devours the three worlds.

He holds the entire sphere of the world rising above like a peak.

21-27. Worshipped by the entire hordes of Devas Śeṣa is stationed at the root of Pātāla. His prowess, power, form and features cannot be described or known even by the gods. The whole of the Earth is turned into pink by the flames of jewels on his hoods. It acts as a floral garland for Śeṣa. Who will be able to recount his prowess? When Śeṣa with his eyes rolling and roving due to intoxication, yawns and stretches himself, the whole of the Earth along with its rivers, forests and mountains, quakes and moves.

The Gandharvas, Apsaras, Siddhas, Kinnaras, Nāgas and Rākṣasas never reach the end of his good qualities. Hence, he is Ananta. He is unchanging. The Nāga lasses apply red sandal paste on him as unguent. Wafted by the wind of respiration it acts as the perfumed powder for the quarters. It was by propitiating him that the ancient sage Garga understood the luminaries factually and the predictive astrology based on omens.

The Earth is thus held on his head by the noble Nāga. He holds universe including Devas, Asuras and human beings.