The Bhagavata Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 780,972 words | ISBN-10: 8120838203 | ISBN-13: 9788120838208

This page describes Brahma’s Prayer and Vishnu’s Boon which is chapter 9 of the English translation of the Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas containing roughly 18,000 metrical verses. Topics include ancient Indian history, religion, philosophy, geography, mythology, etc. The text has been interpreted by various schools of philosophy. This is the ninth chapter of the Third Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 9 - Brahmā’s Prayer and Viṣṇu’s Boon

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Brahmā said:

1. Oh Lord! It is after a penance for a very long time that you have been (luckily) realized by me today. It is indeed the defect of beings conditioned by body that your real essential nature is not understood by them. Nothing other than you, exists. (Anything else that appears to be) is not pure (is false) because it is you who appear to be many due to the intermixture of the guṇas of Māyā.[1]

2. This is your form from which, due to eternal manifestation of the power of intelligence, ignorance or tamas disappears,—form which, from the beginning, you have assumed for conferring (your) grace on the good; and which is the seed (source) of hundreds of incarnations. And from His region of the navel-lotus, I came into existence (lit. was manifested).

3. Most excellent Lord! I do not see any form of yours other than this beautiful one of manifest light, beyond (i.e. destitute of) differences, and full of bliss. Hence I resort to this one form of yours which creates the world but itself is different from it, and which is the source of the bhūtas (elements) and sense-organs[2].

4. Oh auspiciousness incarnate (i.e. God who is auspicious to the universe), you have really manifested this very (form) to your devotees in their meditation for their good (or prosperity), we offer obeisance to you (a gracious) Lord who is spurned by the atheists (like Mīmāṃsakas, Sāṅkhyas etc.) and believers in false logic and who therefore deserve (stay in) Hell.

5. Oh Lord, you do not go away from the lotus-like hearts of your men (devotees) who enjoy by the passage of their ears the fragrance of your īotus-bud-Iike feet which is carried (to them) by wind (in the form) of the Vedas and who clasped your feet with intense (and unswerving) devotion.

6. So long as the people do not resort to your feet which offer freedom from fear of saṃsāra, they face the fear pertaining to wealth, house and friends (and caused by) sorrow, desire, dishonour, covetousness and false sense of attachment to possessions (lit. ‘this is mine’) which is the cause of sorrow.

7. Those are verily deprived of their senses by their fate, whose senses (minds) are averse to (listening and eulogising) your deeds which remove all inauspiciousness (misery etc.). Those wretched ones, with minds overpowered with, avarice, continuously perform misdeeds for a very slight pleasure for gratifying their low desires.

8. Oh Acyuta, Lord of wide strides (as Trivikrama), my heart is deeply pained to see these (people) constantly afflicted by hunger, thirst and the disturbance of three bodily humours (viz. kapha, pitta and vāta), by heat and cold, by wind and rain and by other (ādhibhautika) factors and by unbearable fire of desires and anger.

9. Oh Lord, while (so long as) people will see (regard) this body (and other things) as different from the Soul (or God), due to the dominant influence of the Lord’s Māyā, appearing as the organs of senses and their objects, this worldly existence (saṃsāra), unreal as it is, will not disappear, but will bring a host of troubles (and miseries) as a result of karmas.

10. Oh God, even sages revolve in the course of worldly existence (saṃsāra) in this world, if they are averse to eulogizing your deeds (and such forms of devotion). They who by day, have their senses absorbed in doing actions (for getting worldly objects), and go to sleep with minds full of different desires, get their sleep disturbed every moment, and their endeavours after their objects are frustrated by Fate.

11. Oh Lord, you, path to whom is perceived by the (type of devotion called) śravaṇa (listening to the glories of the Lord)[3], really dwell in the lotus-like hearts of men (devotees) purified by Bhakti-yoga. Oh Lord of unbounded glory, in order to confer your grace on the devotees, you manifest yourself in whatever form they meditate upon you.

12.[4] The Lords dwells in all things. He is the only friend and ruler from within. He becomes extremely pleased by compassion to all beings which is impossible to be found in non-devotees. He is not so much pleased even though he is propitiated with rich articles of worship, (even) by gods who cherish some desires in their hearts. (God is easily attainable only to desireless devotees).

13. The righteous acts which are offered to you never perish. Hence your propitiation, Oh Lord, is the best fruit of all religious acts, such as various righteous deeds, performance of sacrifices, religious gifts, austere penance and observance of religious vows.

14. Salutations to (you) the Supreme Lord, who are eternally free from the illusion of difference,[5] by your own essential light of intelligence, and whose vidyā-śakti is knowledge itself[6]. We offer our homage to you, the controller (of the universe), whose sports and diversion are the Māyā, the cause of the origin, sustenance and destruction of the universe.

15. I resort to that unborn Being by uttering whose names signifying his incarnations (e.g. Devakī-nandana—‘Devaki’s son’), his attributes (e.g. sarvajña ‘Omniscient’), deeds (eg. kaṃsāri ‘Enemy or killer of Kaṃsa) (even) in an unconscious stage, at the time of death, people at once become free from the sins of many births, and attain to Brahman uncovered by (the veil of) Māyā.

16. Salutations to the Lord who is the universe-Tree which is the only one, but has three feet (branches) viz. Brahmā, I (Viṣṇu) and Śiva, each of which has numerous branches (e.g. the seven sages etc.)—the tree which has its roots in the Supreme Soul and has differentiated itself by three attributes (guṇas under the names of Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Rudra) who are the cause of the creation, sustenance and destruction of the universe.

17. Salutation to the all-powerful, ever-vigilant (unwinking god in the form of) Time who instantaneously cuts asunder the hope of life of this world as long as the people shirk[7] the performance of your worship which is conducive to their own good, and which has been directly ordained by you, and are engaged in the prohibited path of Karma.

18. Even though I have occupied a place (viz. Brahmāhood in Satya-Ioka) which lasts for a period of two parārdha years and which is bowed down by all the worlds, I am afraid of him (your form called Time). Hence with a desire to attain you, I practised penance for many years and performed many sacrifices. My salutations to you, the Almighty Lord of sacrifices.[8]

19. Salutations to Lord Puruṣottama who, with a view to observing the laws ordained by him, assumed of his own accord the bodies (avatāras or incarnations) in the various forms of living beings, such as sub-human beings (e.g. birds, beasts), human beings, gods etc. and enjoyed himself, though he is (absolutely) unattached to worldly pleasures.

20. Though he is never affected by the five varieties of Avidyā[9], he, who has conserved the universe in his belly with a view to increasing the pleasure of rest (for people who are exhausted by their activities in the previous kalpa—period, assumed on the waters, tossed with terrible waves, yogic sleep, for which the touch of the body of the Serpent Śeṣa was favourable.

21. Oh Praiseworthy Lord, I, who came into being in the lotus-mansion of your navel, and who became, through your favour, an instrument for the creation of the three worlds, bow to you in whose stomach lies the whole world, and who has opened his lotus-like eyes at the completion of your yogic sleep.

22. May the Lord furnish my intelligence with that knowledge and omnipotence with which he gladdens the world, so that I may be able to create this (universe) as it was in the previous kalpa—the Lord who is the friend of all the worlds, and dwells within them as the antaryāmin, is gracious (dear) to his devotees.

23. This (Lord) grants boons to those (devotees) who resort to him. He takes incarnations retaining (his original) qualities (like omnipotence, omniscience), along with his own (or soul-) power called Lakṣmī (and not his Māyā power). May he direct my mind to whatever he does while I create, by his order, this universe which is also his own glory, so that I can renounce my attachment to actions, and the consequent sin.

24. I am born here as the vijñāna-śakti[10] (the presiding deity over citta or the principle called mahat) from the deep lakelike navel of the Man of infinite powers, lying on the (cosmic) waters. May there be no loss of the utterance[11] of the Vedas, while I am detailing the wonderful form of this Man viz. the universe.

25. May this Lord, the most Primitive Man, of infinite grace, get up, opening his lotus-like eyes, and with profusely affectionate smiles. May he remove our dejection by his sweet words for the successful creation of the universe.

Maitreya said:

26. Thus having seen his own creator by his power of penance, knowledge and meditation, and having praised him to the best of the abilities of his mind and speech, the god Brahmā remained silent as if exhausted.

27-28. Then noting the difficulty of Brahmā who got nervous at (the lack of) his knowledge regarding (prospective) construction of the universe, and whose mind was dejected at the sight of the tumultuous deluvian waters, Madhusūdana (Viṣṇu) spoke to him in deep emphatic voice, as if to remove his dejection (lit. sin).

The Lord said:

29. Oh Vedagarbha (i.e. Brahmin), do not get lax (due to despair). Exert yourself for the creation (of the universe'). What you pray of me, has been already obtained for you.

30. Oh Brahman, perform penance again and practise the (yogic) lore of concentrating on me. You will find in your heart, the unfolding of (the plan of the creation of) the worlds, by both of these (tapas and samādhi).

31. Oh Brahman, when you are full of devotion and properly poised in meditation, you will see me pervading you and the world, and yourself and the world reposing in me.

32. When the people will realize me as dwelling within all beings like fire dormant in the wood, they will immediately shed off sins or misery.

33. When a person sees that his Self is free from bhūtas (elements), indriyas (sense-organs), guṇas (attributes) and antaḥkaraṇa (the mind), and is essentially one with me, he attains identification with Brahman.

34. It is my great blessing that your mind will never get despaired of this creation of the universe, while you desire to create innumerable subjects with various details of actions.

35. As your mind is firmly fixed on me, the evil attribute of rajas shall not bind you, the first-born sage, even while you indulge in procreating the beings.

36. Inasmuch as you realize me as unconnected with bhūtas, sense-organs, attributes and egohood (ahaṃkāra), I have been known by you today, though I am very difficult to be known by corporate beings (or beings attached to body).

37. When through the lotus-stalk you tried to find out the root of the lotus under water, and when a doubt as to my existence arose in your mind, my true self was revealed to you within you.

38. It was indeed my grace that you made the prayer composed of my glorious deeds, or that you had firm adherence to penance.

39. I am pleased with you. May you be prosperous, as you, desiring success (in the creation) of worlds, have praised my describing me as attributeless (though I appear to be full of attributes.

40. I, who am the Supreme God, the bestower of all desired boons, will immediately be pleased with a person who will always worship me, and pray to me with this prayer (which you have composed).

41. It is the considered opinion of the knowers of the Reality, that my grace is the summum bonum to be achieved by pūrta (acts for public welfare), penance, sacrifices, gifts and yogic meditation.

42. Oh Brahmā, I am the (Supreme) Soul of all beings, the most beloved of all the beloved objects. Hence one should concentrate his love in me, as body and its other belongings are loved for my sake.

43. By means of yourself who is the Veda incarnate, and is created by me, you create again as before (in the previous kalpa the beings that are lying within me.

Maitreya said:

44. Having explained this (the process of creating the universe) to the creator of the world (Brahmā), the Controller of Prakṛti and Puruṣa, with lotus-like navel disappeared in his own form (as Nārāyaṇa).

Footnotes and references:


According to Bhāgavata Candrikā: This verse expresses tḥe self satisfaction of Brahmā’s God-realization, viz. the whole of this universe consisting of cit and acit is the body of God, and it explains that there is nothing which is outside Brahman.

Oh Lord! Really it is after the acquisition (accumulation) of penance for a pretty long period that you have been now seen by me in your real form. The Kṣetrajñas (individual Souls) conditioned by physical body as a result of their karmas, do not know your real nature which fully possesses the six attributes of Bhagavān. Oh Lord, there is no such thing as is other than you. (You are its soul When you are realised everything is realized). Gods and other things which appear independent of (other than) you are not the objects of correct perception, due to the effect of the attribute of Māyā or Prakṛti. Though you are one, you shine (manifest yourself) as many.

nanu... avadyam etc.—Padaratnāvalī explains: That the real nature of the Lord is not realized by beings is erroneous, as the Lord, though invisible in form, is realized by devotion. It is due to sin that God is not realized by beings. Not that there is non-existence of things other than the Lord, but they do not exist independently, but owe their existence to him. But things other than you are impure, and you are absolutely pure. You are present by your incarnations in mahat and other principles. It is due to the guṇas of Prakṛti that things other than you are defective.

Kramasandarbha.: Though you are pure in your internal capacity of infinite glory, you appear many in the form of the world as a result of the intermixture of the attributes of your external power called Māyā.


Oh Supreme One, I do not see your essential form other than this form which is full of bliss (dispelling all miseries), devoid of the differences of jātis and guṇas, whose knowledge (or will—saṅkalpas) is unobstructed; which is different from the universe, yet it is the cause consisting of bhūtas and sense organs. I take shelter of this form—Bhāgavata Candrikā


Bhāgavata Candrikā takes śruta as ‘knowledge derived from Śāstras and īkṣita as ‘knowledge derived from deep thought about what is permanent and what is perishable’.

Padaratnāvalī takes īkṣita as ‘knowledge derived from meditation and interprets, ‘Those to whom the path of devotion to Viṣṇu is shown by study of śāstras under a pious and devout preceptor.’

VC.: The path which was first heard (learnt) from the preceptor, and then realized by meditation.


Bhāgavata Candrikā: You are not so much pleased (so as to favour the bliss of Liberation) with your devotees (suragaṇaiḥ) who cherish desire into their hearts and propitiate you with various articles (etc.) of worship, as you are pleased by that type of unselñsh compassion, which is based on the knowledge that ill feeling towards any being is ill feeling against you—a compassion impossible to be found in people who identify body with the Soul (asad-alabhyaya). Though present within all, you are not affected by their defects, as you support and control them as an antarātmā.

Bālaprabodhini: Just as God becomes extremely pleased by compassion to all beings (without any ulterior selñsh motive), he is not pleased by the rich worship even of gods who cherish some desire in their hearts, i.e. though the Lord grants the desired objects to his sakāma devotees, he does not bless them with self-realization. The Lord being present in all, the ill feeling of sakāma devotees against some persons is an ill feeling against the Lord whom they try to propitiate. Hence he is not much pleased with them as with desireless devotees.


bheda-moha: Bhāvārtha-dīpikā-prakāśa enumerates these misapprehensions—

(1) the notion of the Lord being imperfect: (2) Some other deity, other than Viṣṇu being the Supreme Ruler; (3) the distinctions (between the levels of) araiāras; (4) The notion that the individual Soul is the Supreme Being. (5) That the Supreme Soul is not the individual Soul. (6) That both the Supreme Soul and the individual Soul are distinct.

Bhāgavata Candrikā takes bheda as the difference in the categories of jīva, e.g. man, God and moha as the ignorance caused by the misapprehension of the identity of the Soul and the body.


VC. (i) Whose enjoyment (rasa) is the sportive looking at Māyā the cause of the origination etc. of the universe.

VC.: (ii) Oh cause of the creation etc. of the universe, whose sport is the special dance with gopīs known as rāsa.


Bhāgavata Candrikā reads an avagraha (i.e. a-) before vikarma-nirata [nirataḥ] and pramatta [pramattaḥ] and explains: Time severs shortly the attachment to saṃsāra of a man who is very careful in the performance of auspicious and sacred duties of propitiating God according to his caste (varṇa) and stage of life (āśrama)—duties prescribed by you in the Vedas—and who does not indulge in impious deed.


Siddhāntapradīpa construes differently: I bow to the presiding deity of sacrifices of whom I am afraid, though I occupy the post (Bahmāhooḍ) lasting for two parārdha years. With a desire to attain Vaikuṇṭha (your residence) which is honoured (bowed to) by all people, I performed penance for many long years.


Bhāgavata Purāṇa III. 12.2 enumerates the following vṛttis (powers) of Avidyā: viz. mahā-moha, moha, tāmisra, andha-tāmisra and tamas. As Pātañjala Yoga Pradīpa (Pātañjala-Yoga-Pradīpa [Pātañjalayogapradīpa]) points out, the hindrances (kleśas) in YS. II.3, viz. avidyā (= tamas), asmitā (=moha) rāga (=mahāmoha), dveṣa (=tāmisra) and abhiniveśa (=andhatāmisra) are known in the Sāṅkhya system by the names given in the brackets above (Classical Sāṃkhya. p. 295).

Īśvara Kṛṣṇa further classifies them as follows: “There are eight varieties of obscurity (tamas) and delusion (moha); ten kinds of extreme delusion (mahā-moha); both gloom (tāmisra) and utter darkness (andha-tāmisra) are 18 fold. G.J. Larson’s Classical Sāṃkhya, p. 275.


vijñāna-śakti—(i) The competence to utter the Veda—(Bhāvārtha-dīpikā-prakāśa) (ii) my knowledge-form—(Bhāgavata Candrikā) (iii) my knowledge of Vedas—(Padaratnāvalī) (iv) myself being the vijñāna; my being the presiding deity of the principle of intelligence (VC.).


visarga—(i) Contact of teaching and studying (the Vedas)—Bhāvārtha-dīpikā-prakāśa

(ii) utteranceBhāvāratha Dīpikā, Bhāgavata Candrikā, Bhāvāratha Dīpikā explains that as per the famous adage “The plough is the end of Vedic lore”, Brahmā was afraid that he would be out of touch with the Vedas while engaged in creation. Hence this prayer to retain his Vedic lore.

(iii) The definite conclusion (viz. Viṣṇu is the most supreme).—Padaratnāvalī

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