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 43 - A Review of Past Incidents

The sages said:

1-2. O Lord, was there no idol of Viṣṇu in the excellent holy centre pertaining to Viṣṇu, formerly? Wherefore did that king go there with his army and vehicles, and established Kṛṣṇa, Rāma and Subhadrā, the bestower of auspicious things.

3. O lord of the universe, great indeed is our doubt in this matter and so also is our wonder. We wish to hear everything in detail. Tell us the reason thereof.

Brahmā said:

4. Listen you all. I shall succinctly mention the story of some past incidents. It is a story that destroys sins: Formerly, Lord Viṣṇu was asked by Lakṣmī.

5. On the wonder-inspiring golden peak of Sumeru, the lotus-born goddess bowed to the unchanging creator of all worlds, named Vāsudeva.

6-17. The peak of Meru is always rendered splendid by the presence of Siddhas, Vidyādharas, Yakṣas and Kinnaras, Devas, Dānavas, Gandharvas, Nāgas, Apsarās, sages, Guhyakas, Siddhas, Sauparṇas, Maruts and other people residing in the abode of Devas, Sādhyas, and Patriarchs viz. Kaśyapa and others. It was made charming by the presence of Bālakhilyas[1] and others.

The peak of the Meru mountain was adorned by the glowing Karṇikāra groves which abounded in flowers of all seasons that resembled gold and which shone in brilliance like the sun.

There were many other trees such as Śāla, Tāla, Punnāga, Aśoka, Sarala, Nyagrodha, Āmrātaka, Arjuna, Pārijāta, Āmra, Khadira, Nīpa, Bilva, Kadambaka, Dhava, Khādira, Pālāśa, Śīrṣāmalaka, Tinduka, Nāriṅga, Kola, Bakula, Lodhra, Dāḍima, Sarja, Tagara, Karṇa, Śiśi, Bhūrjava and Nimba trees; there were other trees golden in colour and bent under the weight of fruits. The peak of Meru was rendered splendid by Devas and adorned by many plants endowed with fragrant flowers. They were Mālatī, Yūthikā, Malli, Kunda, Bāṇa, Kuruṇṭaka, Karavīra, Ketaki, Kubja, Kiṃśuka, Pāṭala, Agastya, Kuṭaja and Mandāra flowering plants. There were other flowers too that yielded pleasure to the mind.

The peak was rendered beautiful by many flights and flocks of different birds that chirped sweetly. It was rendered resonant by the sweet cooings of cuckoo and the excited crowings of peacocks in an intoxicated state. Thus the peak was rendered resonant and beautiful by different birds, trees and flowers. It was frequented by Devas. The unchanging lord of the universe, the creator of the universe, the maker of the worlds stationed himself there. The lotus-born goddess lowered her head in his presence with a desire for the welfare of the world and put this great question to that excellent lord.

Śrī said:

18-20. Tell me, O lord of worlds, there is a great doubt lurking in my mind. The world of mortals is the land of holy rites. It is extremely inaccessible and excessively surprising; it is a great ocean of lust and fury where people are seized by the crocodiles of greed and delusion. O lord of Devas, if you consider me who have bowed down, as worthy of being blessed tell me how a devotee is liberated from this ocean of worldly existence. Excepting you, there is none else in the world who can clarify this doubt decisively.

21. On hearing those words of his consort, Viṣṇu the lord of Devas spoke with pleasure. What he said was nectarlike. It was the great essence.

The lord said:

22. O gentle lady, the well known deity Viṣṇu is stationed in the excellent holy centre. The deity is fascinating. The lord awards excellent benefits. He can be easily worshipped and propitiated.

23. There is no other God in the three worlds, on a par with him. By glorifying this lord one is liberated from all sins.

24-25. This leading holy centre has not been perfectly understood by the immortal beings, Daityas, and Dānavas. O fair-faced lady, this has been kept as a secret by me even from excellent sages Marīci and others. But I shall recount to you the leading holy centre. O fair-complexioned lady of fine buttocks, listen to it with a single-minded attention and emotional fervour.

26-27. (When the previous Kalpa comes to a close and the new) Kalpa[2] is about to begin, when the mobile and immobile beings have perished when Devas, Gandharvas, Daityas, Vidyādharas and Nāgas have been dissolved, everything was enveloped in darkness. Nothing could be seen or known. In that darkness the soul of the living beings, the Supreme Being, the preceptor of the universe is alone kept awake.

28. He is the lord and cause of Lord Śiva the three deities, viz. Brahmā the creator of the Universe, and Viṣṇu. The great lord of Yogic soul is known as Vāsudeva.

29. At the conclusion of his Yogic slumber he created Brahmā and unchanging being. He was in the midst of his umbilical lotus resembling the filament of the lotus.

30-36. Brahmā, lord of the world, who originated in that manner, slowly created the world constituted of five great elements. The gross elements that had their natural cause in the subtle elements were created by him. He created the mobile and immobile beings of four types viz. the oviparous, the viviparous, the sweat-formed (worms etc.) and the vegetables and trees that pierce the ground and grow. Brahmā, the patriarch, pondered over the Ātman in his mind and created the universe of mobile and immobile beings. He created different subjects. He created Marīci and other sages, Gandharvas, Nāgas, Rākṣasas, the fourteen worlds of seven heavens and the nether-worlds. He created continents, oceans, Gaṅgā and other rivers. He created Yakṣas, Vidyādharas, monkeys, lions and different sorts of birds. He created people of four castes viz. Brahmins, Kṣatriyas, Vaiśyas and Śūdras. He created alien tribes and last-born (outcastes) severally. He created the entire universe of mobile and immobile beings—whatever that can be termed as living being viz. the grass, the bushy hedge and ants.

37. After thinking, he created a manly being from his right side. He created a woman from his left. He created human beings from his two parts.

38-43. Since then, the subjects are being procreated by sexual intercourse.

After thinking deeply and creating diverse forms of living beings whether of low, middle or higher order and all of my shrines, the lotus-born deity meditated upon the physical form of Vāsudeva. Immediately after being meditated upon by that lord Vāsudeva revealed himself as the glorious being with thousand eyes, thousand legs and thousand heads. His eyes resembled the lotus. His body was dark-coloured like the rain-bearing cloud. The scar Śrīvatsa was his characteristic sign. Brahmā, the grandfather of the worlds saw him, all on a sudden. After offering seats, Arghya, Pādya etc without any omission, Brahmā eulogised him with concentration, by means of high class hymns of prayer.

Thereafter, I spoke thus to Brahmā the lotus-born lord:—“O dear one, tell me the reason why I have been meditated upon, now”.

Brahmā said:

44-46. O lord of the universe, tell me about the most excellent abode on the earth, greater than all other abodes and shrines. O lord of Devas, sacrifices, charitable gifts and holy rites are pathways leading to the portals of heaven. Similarly, Yogic practice, truthfulness, penance, faith and holy pilgrimages to the various holy centres are also the causes of heavenly pleasures. But they are difficult of access to ordinary mortals. For the welfare of the Universe, tell me the easiest means for some other centres than those mentioned above.

47-49. O beloved one, on hearing the words of Brahmā I said thus,—“Listen, O Brahmā, I shall mention the rarest of holy centres on the Earth. It is devoid of impurities. It is the most excellent of all holy centres. It is the blessed shrine that enables one to cross the ocean of worldly existence. It is conducive to the welfare of cows and brahmins. It is meritorious. It is conducive to the rise of happiness of all the members of four castes. The holy centre is extremely splendid and it yields worldly pleasures and salvation unto men. O great grandfather to all those who reside there, it is extremely meritorious.

50-52. The eternal lord of holy centres originated from Him. The great and well known holy centre is resorted to in the four Yugas. The lord is the most excellent being among all Devas, sages, religions students, Daityas, Dānavas, Siddhas, Gandharvas, Nāgas, Rākṣasas, and Vidyādharas, nay of all mobile and immobile beings. Hence, it is called the best of all.

53. On the shore of the Southern ocean a place extending to ten Yojanas all round the place where there stands a holy big tree, is the rarest of all holy centres.

54. This holy fig tree does not perish when the Kalpa comes to a close and the dissolution of all the worlds starts. It remains there as before.

55. Even the sin of brahmin slaughter is dispelled merely when the holy fig tree is seen and its shadow falls on one. What doubt then in the case of other sins?

56. All those creatures who circumambulate and make obeisance, shake off their sins and go to the abode of lord Viṣṇu.

57-58. To the north of the holy fig tree and to the south of the abode of lord Viṣṇu is a palace. It is a pious and victorious spot. The devotee should stop there. Men who visit my idol there made by the lord himself go to my world without any strain.

59. O my beloved, on seeing men (and women devotees) going thus, (God of death) came near me once, bowed to me with the bent head, and said thus:—

Yama said:

60-68. O lord, O lord of worlds, O lord of the universe, I am bowing down to the lord with all these characteristics. He stays in the milk ocean. He lies on the body of Śeṣa.[3] He is the most excellent bestower of boons. He is the lord and creator and is not created by anyone. He is the maker of all worlds. He is conducive to the happiness of all. He is the ancient Puruṣa. He is worthy of being known. He is the eternal lord manifest and unmanifest. He is the creator of the greater and lesser beings. He is the lord of worlds. He is the preceptor of the universe. There is the scar Śrīvatsa[4] on his chest. He is adorned by the garlands and sylvan flowers. He is clad in yellow robes. He has four arms in which he holds conch, discus, mace etc. He is bedecked in necklaces, shoulderlets, crown and armlets. He is fully endowed with all characteristic marks. He is devoid of all sense-organs. He stands motionless like the steady peak of a mountain. He is subtle and eternal in the form of luminary. He is devoid of both positive and negative aspects. He pervades (everything). He is greater than Prakṛti. I bow unto that lord of the universe, the lord who bestows happiness”.

In this manner, Lord Yama eulogised me formerly by the side of that holy fig tree by reciting different hymns and made obeisance.

69. O highly blessed lady, on seeing him standing outside with palms joined in reverence, I asked the (God of Death) about the purpose for which I had been eulogised.

70. O Vaivasvata of long brawny arms, indeed, you are the most excellent of all Devas. Why did you eulogise me? Tell me all in brief.

Yama said:

71. In this meritorious shrine known as Puruṣottama, there is an excellent idol made of sapphire. It bestows all cherished desires.

72. O lotus-eyed lord, by visiting it with emotional fervour and faith, even men devoid of desires go to the abode called Śveta.[5]

73. Hence, O slayer of enemies I am not able to carry on my activities. O great lord, be pleased. O lord, withdraw the idol.

74. On hearing the words of Yama I spoke to him: O Yama, I shall conceal it with sands all round.

75-76. Then, O gentle lady, that idol was concealed by me under the heap of Earth and creeping plants, so that men who seek for heavenly pleasures could not see it. O gentle lady, after covering it up with creeping plants with golden coverings and appendages, I sent Yama to his own city[6] in the South.

Brahmā said:

77-78. Every event that happened there, O brahmins, in that holy excellent shrine Puruṣottama, Janārdana, the lord of Devas, related fully to his splendid consort.

79-89. The lord mentioned everything immediately to her: viz. Indradyumna’s departure to that place, vision and description of the holy centre, building of the palace, performance of horse-sacrifìce, dream, sight of a log of wood on the shore of the briny sea; vision of Vāsudeva, the king of sculptors, O brahmins, the making of the idol with due colours in particular, the installation of idols in the palace that was most excellent in the world. O leading brahmins, glorification of Kalpa at the time of pilgrimage, episode of Mārkaṇḍeya, installation of Śaṅkara, glory of five holy centres, vision of the trident-bearing lord, that of the holy fìg tree, O brahmins, and its prosperous consequence, the vision of Baladeva, Kṛṣṇa, in particular and Subhadrā there itself. Vision of Narasiṃha and the glorification of its prosperity, vision of infinite Vāsudeva, glorification of the merit, greatness of Śvetamādhava, vision of heavenly portals, vision of wide ocean, the holy dip therein, the performance of Tarpaṇa rite, O brahmins, the efficacy of holy dip in the ocean by Indradyumna, benefit of five holy centres, Mahājyeṣṭha, abodes of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, the benefit of entire pilgrimage, description of the world of Viṣṇu and of holy centre once again.

The great lord mentioned all these to the Goddess.

Footnotes and references:


Bālakhilyas or Vālakhilyas—Sixty thousand hermits born to Kratu, a hermit, by his wife Santati. Everyone of them was of the size of half a thumb, but they were as bright as ṃe blazing sun and had attained control over their senses.


Kalpa—a period of one thousand yugas or fourteen Manvantaras.


Śeṣa—Ādiśeṣa, Chief of the Nāgas, is the reposing bed of Viṣṇu. But he is also represented as supporting the earth at the behest of Brahmā. According to a myth, Balabhadra Rāma, the elder brother of Śrīkṛṣṇa was born from a portion of Śeṣa.


Śrīvatsa—Once sage Bhṛgu went to the abode of Mahāviṣṇu. There he saw Mahāviṣṇu in deep slumber. Seeing Mahāviṣṇu whose task is to preserve the world, sleeping like the irresponsible person, Bhṛgu gave him a kick on his breast. Viṣṇu sprang up suddenly, saw Bhṛgu standing before him. He begged pardon of the sage. He declared that he would carry Bhṛgu’s footprint permanently on his chest as a sign of his repentence for having shown disrespect to him. This footprint still remains on Viṣṇu’a chest and is known as Śrīvatsa.


Śveta or Śvetadvīpa—Colonel Wilford identifies it with Britain—J. Dowson. Hindu Mythology and Religion p. 315.


The city of Yama is named Saṃyaminī.

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