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 53 - Mārkaṇḍeya’s Vision of the Holy Lord

Brahmā said:

1. Thus eulogised by Mārkaṇḍeya, O brahmins, the lord became pleased. He said in a voice as majestic as the rumbling sound of clouds.

The Lord said:

2. O excellent sage, tell me freely what you have in your mind. O brahmanical sage, I shall give you everything, whatever you may desire from me.

Brahmā said:

3. O brahmins, on hearing the words of that noble infant, the sage became extremely delighted. With his mind dwelling on him he said:

Mārkaṇḍeya said:

4. O lord, I wish to know you. O bestower of salvation, I wish to know your Māyā (Illusion). O lord of Devas, by your favour, my power of memory is not impaired.

5. I have hurriedly wandered through your body. O lord, I entered your body through your mouth. O lord, I saw all worlds in your belly.

Extra verses

[O lord, the following are stationed within your body viz.—Devas, Dānavas, Rākṣasas, Yakṣas, Gandharvas and Nāgas. Indeed, I saw the whole universe consisting of mobile and immobile beings. I saw the border lands of the mountain Sumeru thronged by sages and beautified by minerals. The place was full of trees and creepers of all kinds; fountains and springs there were many, it was full of animals of all kinds; it was wonderfully charming and beautified by animals such as tigers, lions, boars, Samara deer, buffaloes, elephants, antelopes, monkeys, and other animals. It was occupied by Indra and other Devas, Siddhas, Cāraṇas, Nāgas, Sages, Yakṣas, Apsaras and other dwellers of heaven. Such was the borderland of the mountain Sumeru. I, an excellent sage and a brahmin, wandered further on in your belly, as a boy.

I saw the Himavān, Hemakūṭa, Niṣadha, Gandhamādana, Śveta, Kaṅkanīla, Kailāsa, Dardura, Mahendra, Malaya, Vindhya, Pāriyātra, Arbuda, Sahya, Śuktimān, Maināka, Cakra and many other mountains. O lord, I, the excellent sage, saw all those mountains adorned by gems and jewels.

I saw Kurukṣetra, Pañcāla, Matsya, Madras, Kaikayas, Bāhlīkas, Śūrasenas, Kāsmīras, Kirātas, Karṇaprāvaraṇas, Ekapādas, Dvipādas, Tripādas, Bahunetrakas, Aindras, Prāgjyotiṣas, Kambojas, Tāmraliptakas, Aṅgas, Vaṅgas, Suhmas, Kalāpas, Utkalas, Mahoragas, Nāgas, Kaliṅgas, Koṅkaṇas, Arbudas, Mālavas, Draviḍas, Saurāṣṭras, Navanas and many other lands. Wandering through your body I saw these and many other lands, O noble-souled one.

I saw the following holy centres:—Prayāga, Kurukṣetra, Puṣkara, Naimiṣa, Gayā, Gaṅgādvāra, Kubjāmra, Badarī, Sindhusāgara, Kokāmukha, Śuddhatīrtha, Brahmāvarta, Kuśasthalī, Lauhajaṅgha, Aśvatīrtha that rids one of all sins, Kardamāla, Agnitīrtha, Amarakaṇṭaka, Lohārgala, Jambūmārga, Bhogatīrtha of much holy water, Utpalāvartaka, the holy centre Śrīpuruṣottama, Ekamukha, Kedāra, Kāśī, Viraja, Kālañjara, Gokarṇa, Śrīśaila and Gandhamādana. O Lord I saw these and other holy centres, shrines and temples in your body, as a boy.

I saw the following holy rivers:—Gaṅgā, Śatadrū, Yamunā, Kauśikī, Carmaṇvatī, Vetravatī, Candrabhāgā, Sarasvatī, Vipāśā, Vitastā, Sindhu, Godāvarī, Vasvokasāra, Nalinī, Payoṣṇī, Narmadā, Aparṇā, Tuṅgabhadrā, Karatoyā, Mahānadī, Suvarṇā, Kṛṣṇā, Śibirā the great river, Vaitaraṇī, Kāverī, Śoṇa, Bhīmarathī, Viśālā, Śiprā and Vetravatī. These and other rivers I saw while wandering through your belly entirely, the belly of a noble soul. I saw the sky beautified by the moon and sun. It was shining with its own refulgence similar to that of fire and sun. O boy, I saw the earth too, rendered splendid by the forests. There the brahmins performed various sacrifices. The Kṣatriyas were engaged in the activities of pleasing and humouring the people of all castes. The Vaiśyas performed the agricultural operations. O Puruṣottama, all these and many other things were seen.]

6. O lotus-eyed one, I wish to know you, the unchanging one.

Why have you swallowed this universe and why do you stay here in the form of an infant? It behoves you to expound all this to me.

7. O sinless one, what for is the entire universe stationed in your body? O suppressor of enemies, how long have you to stay here? O lord of Devas, I wish to know. Tell me everything in detail.

8. O lotus-eyed one, I wish to hear everything in detail and in the precise manner. O lord, what I have seen is immense and inconceivable.

Brahmā said:

9. Thus requested by him, the lord of Devas of great refulgence, the foremost among the eloquent ones spoke the following words to Mārkaṇḍeya.

The Lord said:

10. Admittedly, O brahmin, Devas do not know me in reality. Out of affection for you I shall tell you how I create this universe and discharge it.

11. O brahminical sage, you are one with great filial affection. You have sought refuge in me alone. Your celebacy is great. Hence, I have seen directly.

12. Formerly, the term ‘Nāra’ was given by me to the waters. They are my perpetual resort. Hence, I am called Nārāyaṇa.

13. I am Nārāyaṇa; I am the permanent unchanging, source of origin, the dispenser of destiny and the annihilator of all living beings.

14. O excellent brahmins, I am Viṣṇu, I am Brahmā, I am Indra too. I am king Vaiśravaṇa[1] and Yama the Lord of ghosts.

15. O excellent brahmin, I am Śiva, Soma and patriarch Kaśyapa. I am creator and dispenser of destiny and I am sacrifice too.

16-17, The fire god is my mouth, the earth is my foot, the moon and sun constitute my eyes; heaven is my head. The hollow space and quarters are my ears, the waters originate from my sweat, the firmament constitutes my body, the wind is stationed in my mind. I have performed hundreds of sacrifices with the requisite monetary gifts.

18-21. Those who have learned the Vedas worship me at the sacrifìcial altar. The leading Kṣatriyas and the rulers of the earth, desirous of attaining heaven also worship me. Similarly, the Vaiśyas desirous of conquering upper regions, worship me.

It is I who assume the form of Śeṣa and hold aloft the earth having the mountains Meru and Mandara as its ornaments and extending as far as the four oceans.

O brahmin, formerly, this earth was about to sink under water. Assuming the form of boar, it was lifted up by me with my strength.

O excellent brahmin, I have become the submarine fire Vaḍavā[2] and entering the ocean I drink up waters and let them out as well.

22-27. The brahmins form my face, Kṣatriyas my arms, Vaiśyas my thighs and Śūdras my feet. They become thus by their exploits gradually. The Ṛgveda, Sāmaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda spring up from me and re-enter me alone.

It is me alone that the brahmins, ascetics, those who value peace very much, those who have restrained themselves, those who are desirous of gaining perfect knowledge, those who are devoid of lust and wrath, those who are unattached, those who are bereft of sins, those who adhere to Sattva quality, those who have no arrogance or egotism and those who are experts in spiritual matters for ever worship and meditate upon.

I am the luminary named Saṃvartaka. I am the fire called Saṃvartaka. I am the sun called Saṃvartaka. I am the wind called Saṃvartaka.

O excellent brahmin, what appear like the forms of stars in the firmament are the pores of my hairs. Understand this.

28-33. Understand that all oceans, the storehouses of gems and jewels, and the four quarters are my robes, bed-sheets, and abode. Lust, fury, delight, fear and delusion, O excellent one, understand that all these constitute my forms.

O brahmin, by performing splendid actions men attain me. Adhering to truthfulness, charitable gifts, severe penance and nonviolence towards all creatures, performing holy rites laid down in accordance with my injunctions (people attain me). Those who ponder over my body are active, only because I prompt their knowledge and conscience and not in accordance with their love.

The twice-born, those who learn the Vedas well, those who worship by holding different sacrifices, those who have restrained themselves and those who have conquered anger—attain me. I cannot be attained at all by men of evil actions.

34-39. (I cannot be attained) by persons overwhelmed by greed, by miserly persons, by ignoble persons and those who have not regulated their life actions too.

Know that this is the benefit of men who have purified their souls inasmuch as I am inaccessible to those of confused state or deluded mind, who have recourse to deceptive Yogic path.

O excellent one, whenever virtue is afflicted or fades away and evil rises up, I create myself then.

When the terrible Daityas and Rākṣasas who are fond of violence and who cannot be killed by excellent Devas come to be born in this world, I take birth in the houses of meritorious persons entering human bodies and suppress every evil. I create Devas, human beings, Gandharvas, Nāgas, Rākṣasas, the mobile and immobile beings and then I annihilate them by my own Māyā. At the time of Karman or realization of their fruits, I think about proper bodies and create them.

Additional verses

[I create them by permeating into human bodies for fixing up the bounds of decency.

My virtue is white in colour in Kṛta age, it is dark in Tretā, red in Dvāpara and black in Kali age. At that time (i.e. in Kali age) there will be three parts of evil.

When the hour of destruction arrives I adopt the extremely terrible form of Kāla (God of Death) and destroy the set of three worlds. Alone, I destroy everything mobile and immobile. I have three duties, viz., creation, sustenance and dissolution. I am the soul of Universe. I am conducive to the happiness of all worlds. I am unbroken (i.e. not divisible). I am all-pervasive, infinite, Hṛṣīkeśa of great strides. Alone I lead the wheel of time (I make it move and whirl). That is my form as Brahman. It suppresses all living beings and it endeavours for all living beings.]

40. Thus, O excellent sage, my soul is well embedded in all living beings. O leading brahmin, still no one knows me.

41-44. All devotees in the whole of the universe worship me in every way.

O sinless brahmin, whatever of painful nature has been experienced by you in me, is entirely for the rise of happiness and welfare.

All mobile and immobile beings seen by you in the world have been evolved by me. My soul is the conceiver and creator of all living beings.

I am named Nārāyaṇa. I hold conch, discus and iron-club. I am the soul of the universe. Fascinating all the worlds, I sleep, O brahminical sage, till a thousand sets of four Yugas pass off completely.

45. Thus, O excellent sage, for the duration of the period till Brahmā rises up I remain in the form of an infant though I am not an infant.

46. O leading brahmin, honoured and worshipped by brahminical sages, boon has been granted to you by me in the form of Brahmā. I have been propitiated many times.

47. When the mobile and immobile beings had perished you set out. Seeing everything in a vast sheet of water you were bewildered. It was observed by me and hence you were shown the universe.

48-52 When you entered my body you saw the universe and were surprised. You could not understand the real nature behind it. Then, O brahminical sage, you have been disgorged through the mouth immediately by me. My own soul incomprehensible to Devas and Asuras was revealed to you by me.

O brahminical sage, till Brahmā of great penance wakes up, move about here comfortably and confidently.

O excellent brahmin, after the grand-father of the universe has woken up, I shall singly create elements, physical bodies—viz. ether, earth, fire, wind, and water. Indeed, I shall create mobile and immobile creatures.

Brahmā said:

53. O brahmins, after saying this, when the period of a thousand sets of four Yugas was completed the lord again spoke to him in a voice as majestic as the sound of rumbling cloud.

The Lord said:

54-55. O sage, tell me the real truth. What did you eulogise me for? Choose the most excellent boon. Ere long, I shall give it to you. You are more long-lived than Devas. You are my devotee of steady holy rites thereby, O leading brahmin. Now obtain a still longer life.

Brahmā said:

56. On hearing that splendid speech of the lord and glancing at him, the sage bent down his head, made obeisance and spoke thus again:

Mārkaṇḍeya said:

57-60. O lord of Devas, O most excellent of the twice-born, since your form has been seen, O Hari, when you are seen, my delusion has gone away. It is the truth. Similarly, O lord of the Universe, I wish for the welfare of all worlds. I wish for the toning down of diversity by your favour. In this holy and pure shrine of Puruṣottama, O lord, I shall build a big temple for Śiva. It shall resolve the dispute between the devotees of Śiva and the devotees of Viṣṇu. In your place, let me instal Śaṅkara.

61. Thereby the people in the world will know Lord Viṣṇu and Lord Śiva as the same form.

Then the lord of the universe replied to the great sage.

The Lord said:

62-63. This Liṅga is the greatest cause, the lord of the worlds. It is for the sake of propitiation and for toning down the rigour of diversity.

O leading brahmin, at my behest, build the Śiva temple instantaneously. By virtue of power stay in the world of Śiva.

64. O brahmin, when Śiva is installed it is I who am installed. There is no difference between us two. We are one in (emotional fervour) but split into two forms externally.

65. He who is Rudra is himself Viṣṇu. He who is Viṣṇu is himself Rudra. There is no difference between the two as in regard to the Wind and Ether.

66-69. Only childish men do not know that he who is Garuḍa-emblemed is the full-emblemed three-eyed lord who slew the Tripuras. Hence, O brahmins, build a temple of Śiva, named after you. To the north of the lord of Devas make the holy reservoir very splendid. It will be well known in the mortal worlds by the name Mārkaṇḍeya Hrada. O excellent brahmin, he will dispel all sins.

Brahmā said:

O excellent sages, after saying this to Mārkaṇḍeya the all-pervading lord Janārdana vanished there itself.

Footnotes and references:


Vaiśravaṇa: Kubera, king of Yakṣas.


Baḍavā: the fire of sage Aurva’s penance which started to burn the world but which, at the request of pitṛs he threw down into the sea where it took the shape of a horse-head and living beneath the sea continued vomiting heat at all times.

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