The Bhagavata Purana

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

This page describes Description of the remaining six Dvipas which is chapter 20 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 twentieth chapter of the Fifth Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 20 - Description of the remaining six Dvīpas

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

[Note: Some commentators like Bālaprabodhini seem to have followed a text with different order of verses. Here the text adopted by Bhāvāratha Dīpikā is accepted.]

Śrī Śuka said:

1. Hereafter the division of Plakṣa and other Dvīpas into Varṣas is being detailed, with special reference to their dimensions, distinguishing characteristics and relative position.

2. Just as mount Meru is surrounded by Jambūdvīpa, this Jambūdvīpa is engirdled by the salt sea of the same dimension as the dvīpa itself. Just as a moat is surrounded by an outlying garden, the Salt Sea is enclosed by a dīñpa called Plakṣa, which is double in dimension of the Salt Sea. There stands the great Plakṣa (the Indian fig) tree equal to the Jambū (Rose apple) tree (in Jambūdvīpa). It is of gold and it gave its name to the dvīpa. At its foot, dwells the god of fire, of seven tongues. Its ruler is Idhmajihva, the son of Priyavrata. He divided his dvīpa into seven continents. Having entrusted them to his sons bearing the same name as that of the Seven Varṣas, he became liberated from saṃsāra by practising union with the Soul.

3. The continents (Varṣas) are called Śiva, Yavasa, Subhadra, Śānta, Kṣema, Amṛta and Abhaya. It is said that there are seven well-known mountains and seven famous rivers in each (continent).

4. The seven mountains forming the borders of the Varṣas are Maṇikūṭa, Vajrakūṭa, Indrasena, Jyotiṣmān, Suparṇa, Hiraṇyaṣṭhīva and Meghamāla. The principal rivers are Aruṇā Āṅgirasī, Sāvitrī, Suprabhātā, Ṛtambharā and Satyambharā. The four classes of people (varṇas), called Haṃsa, Pataṅga, Urdhvāyana [Ūrdhvāyana?], (and) Satyāṅga use the waters of these rivers and wash away (the effects of) their rajas and tamas. They live a thousand years; their form is (free from fatigue, sweat etc.) like that of gods, and they beget progeny like them. With the rituals prescribed in the three Vedas, they worship the Ātman, the glorious Lord—Sun, the gate of heaven, who is described in the three Vedas.

5.[1] (They meditate upon him as follows:) “We resort to the Sun-god who is the manifestation of the ancient god Viṣṇu; who is the presiding deity of Satya (righteousness to be practised) and Ṛta (the divine law), the Vedas, the dispenser of good and evil fruits.”

6. In the five continents (dvīpas) commencing with Plakṣa, all persons, without any distinction are, from their very birth, blessed with long life, soundness (conative and cognitive) of sense-organs, virility, lustre, physical power, intellectual capacity and bravery.

7. Plakṣadvīpa is encircled by a sea of sugar-cane juice equal in extent to the (Plakṣa-dvīpa) itself. So also Śālmalī-dvīpa, double in dimension (of the sea of the sugarcane juice) stands shining with the sea of wine equal to Śālmalī-dvīpa in width, surrounding it.

8. Here (in Śālmalīdvīpa) stands the Śālmalī (the silk cotten) tree which has the same dimension as that of the Plakṣa tree. The sages proclaimed that on that tree is the nest (abode) of the worshipful Garuḍa, the King of birds who praises the Lord with his wings consisting of the Vedas. And this tree is regarded as the origin of the name of the dvīpa.

9. The Lord of the dvīpa, Yajñabāhu, the son of Priyavrata, divided the seven subdivisions (Varṣas) of that dvīpa among his seven sons who gave their names severally to the (seven) Varṣas, viz. Surocana, Saumanasya, Ramaṇaka, Devavarṣa, Pāribhadra Āpyāyana and Avijñāta

10. In those Varṣas (continents), the continental mountains (forming the boundaries) and the rivers are seven each. (The names of the boundary-mountains are:) Svarasa, Śataśṛṅga, Vāmadeva, Kunda, Mukunda, Puṣpavarṣa and Sahasraśruti. And names of the rivers are: Anumati, Sinivālī, Sarasvatī, Kuhū, Rajanī, Nandā and Rākā.

11. Men in this Varṣa are divided in classes designated as Śrutadhara, Vīryadhara, Vasundhara and Īṣandhara; with Vedic hymns they worship the glorious ātman, the Moon-god who is Veda incarnate.

12. “May the Moon-god who, dividing (the month into) dark and bright fortnights, by his rays distributes food to the manes, gods (respectively in the dark and bright fortnight) and to all created beings, be our ruler”[2].

13. Likewise beyond the Sea of Wine (Suroda) and double its size, lies Kuśa-ḍvīpa which, like the previous (Śālmalī) dvīpa, is surrounded on the other side by the Ocean of Ghee of dimension equal to it (Kuśadvīpa). In that dvipa stands a dump of Kuśa grass planted therein by the Lord. It has given its name to the dvīpa. It (the clump of Kuśa grass) is refulgent like another Fire-god, and it illuminates all directions by the lustre of its tender shoots.

14. The (first) ruler of that dvīpa was the son of Priyavrata, Hiraṇyaretas by name. Dividing his dvīpa proportionately (in seven parts) he distributed them to his seven sons namely Vasu, Vasudāna, Dṛḍharuci, Nābhigupta, Stutyavrata, Vivikta and Vāmadeva, and he himself took to austere penance.

15. In those Varṣas the boundary mountains and rivers are well-known to be severally seven: Cakra, Catuḥśṛṅga, Kapila, Citrakūṭa, Devānīka, Ūrdhvaroma, Draviṇa mountains, and the Rasakulyā, Madhukulyā, Mitravindā, Śrutavindā, Devagarbhā, Ghṛtacyutā and Mantramālā rivers.

16. With the waters of these rivers, the inhabitants of Kuśadvīpa denoted by (the classes—Varṇas) Kuśala, Kovida, Abhiyukta, Kulaka (corresponding to our Varṇas like Brāhmaṇa etc.) worship the glorious Loṛd in the form of Fire by their proficiency in sacrificial rituals(or skilfulness in work).

17.[3] (They pray) Oh Fire-god! You are the carrier of oblations directly to the Supreme Brahman (Lord Hari). Worship the Supreme person by sacrifice (sacrificial oblations) offered to gods who are the limbs of the body of the Cosmic Man (just as what is offered to the part of the body e.g. a hand is as good as given to the person himself)

18. Similarly, beyond the Sea of Ghee (Ghṛtoda). there is the Krauñcadvīpa twice as extensive (as Ghṛtoda) and encircled by the Ocean of Milk (Kṣīroda) equal to it (Krauñca- dvīpa) in dimension, just like Kuśa-dvīpa by the Sea of Ghee (Ghṛtoda). Here the chief mountain is called Krauñca which gives its name to the dvīpa.

19. Though the projecting ridges and bowers were devastated by the weapon (javelin) of Kārttikeya, it (Krauñca) became free from fear as it was sprayed over by the surges of the ocean of Milk and was protected on all sides by god Varuṇa.

20. Even in that Dvīpa was its (first) ruler, a son of Priyavrata, Ghṛtapṛṣṭha by name. He divided his (Krauñca) dvīpa in seven continents. In those continents bearing the names of his sons, he installed his seven heirs (sons) as the rulers of those Varṣas, and he himself resorted to the lotus-like feet of the glorious Lord Hari (the destroyer of the Bondage of Saṃsāra) who was his Antarātman (Inner Controller) and whose glory was supremely auspicious.

21. The sons of Ghṛtapṛṣṭha are: Āma, Madhuruha, Meghapṛṣṭha, Sudhāman, Bhrājiṣṭha, Lohitārṇa and Vanaspati. The mountains demarcating the Varṣas are seven, viz. Śukla, Vardhamāna, Bhojana, Upabarhin, Nanda, Nandana, and Sarvatobhadra. And the rivers are known to be seven only, viz. Abhayā, Amṛtaughā, Āryakā, Tīrthavatī, Vṛttirūpavatī, Pavitravatī and Śuklā.

22. The inhabitants of that Varṣa (classified into Varṇas) called Puruṣa, Ṛṣabha, Drayiṇa and Devaka (corresponding to the Varṇas such as Brāhmaṇa, Kṣatriya) use the sacred, purifying waters of those rivers, and propitiate the Lord in the form of water, by offering water with the hollow of their joined palms filled with water.

23. (They pray the waters thus:) “Oh waters! You are endowed with powers by the Supreme God. Hence, you purify the three worlḍs, viz. the heaven, the earth and the intervening space. As you are naturally capable of destroying all sins, purify our bodies as we touch you.”

24. Similarly beyond the ocean of milk (Kṣīroda) and surrounding it lies the Śākadvīpa, thirty-two lakh Yojanas in extent. It is encircled by the sea of liquid curds equal to it in length. Herein stands a tree called Śāka which has given its appellation to the dvīpa. And its extremely fragrant smell perfumes the (whole of the) dvīpa.

25. Even of that dvīpa also, a son of Priyavrata named Medhātithi is the (first) ruler. He also divided it in seven continents (Varṣas) bearing the names of his sons. In them, he installed, as rulers, his sons, viz. Purojava, Manojava, Pavamāna, Dhūmrānīka, Citrarepha, Bahurūpa, Viśvadhara by name. And concentrating his mind on Lord Ananta, he himself entered Penance-forest (for performing austerities).

26. In these continents, the boundary-mountains and (main) rivers are only seven each. The mountains are Īśāna, Uruśṛṅga, Balabhadra, Śatakesara, Sahasrasrota, Devapāla and Mahānasa. The rivers are Anaghā, Āyurdā, Ubhayaspṛṣṭi, Aparājitā, Pañcapadī, Sahasrastuti, Nijadhṛti.

27. The inhabitants of that continent, (classified in Varṇas) called Ṛtavrata, Satyavrata, Dānavrata and Anuvrata who have washed off their rajas and tamas by Prāṇāyāma (breath-control) propitiate the glorious Lord in the form of Vāyu through perfect concentration of mind.

28. (They pray as follows:) “May the glorious Lord who is the Inner Controller of all beings, and who, entering (the body in the form of the chief vital breath), sustains all the beings by his five functions of inhalation and exhalation, and under whose control the whole of the universe exists, protect us.”

29. So also beyond the ocean of (liquid) curds is situated Puṣkaradvīpa which is double the extent (of the ocean of curds), and which is encircled by the sea of sweet water equal in dimension to it (Puṣkara-dvīpa). Herein grows a gigantic lotus of hundred million petals of burnished gold, shining like the flames of fire. It was intended to be the throne of Lord Brahmā (who has a lotus-flower as his seat).

30. In the middle of the dvīpa, stands only one mountain called Mānasottara. It demarcates the boundary between the eastern and western continents (Varṣas). It is ten thousand Yojanas in its height and length. Here (on this mountain), in the four directions, are built the four capital cities of Indra (and other) guardians of the world. Over it (the Mānasottara mount) revolves the (other) wheel, in the form of a year (Saṃvatsara,) of the chariot of the Sun-god. It goes round mount Meru within the limit of a day and night of gods (each of which consists of six months of human beings).

31. The ruler of that continent was the Prince of Priyavrata, named Vītihotra. He had two sons Ramaṇaka and Dhātaki by name. He installed them as the rulers and protectors of the Varṣas, and like bis elder brothers, he devoted himself solely to the service (worship) of the Lord.

32. The inhabitants of that continent propitiate the Lord in the form of god Brahmā, with (mental) acts leading to the region of Brahmā (the Sālokya type of liberation) and recite the following (Mantra):

33.[4] “We pay obeisance to that serene glorious Lord who is (regarded as) the fruit of all righteous actions, and a concrete means which leads to (the knowledge of) the Brahman; whom all people should adore (with the master-servant relation); who is established in the one Supreme Reality (Brahman) and is (hence) one without a second.”

The sage (Śuka) continued:

34. Beyond that sea of sweet water and encircling it, is a ring of mountain-range called Lokāloka which divides the Loka i.e. the region illuminated by the light of the Sun, and the Aloka—the region which gets no light of the Sun.

35. Beyond the ocean of Fresh water, there is a tract of land which is in extent as wide as the distance between the mountains Mānasottara and Meru. Beyond that stretches a land of gold which is (shining) like a sheet of mirror. Nothing that goes or is dropped there ever returns and hence it is avoided by all living beings (as it is reserved for gods).

36. The mountain is called Lokāloka, as this mountain stands between the regions lighted by the Sun (Loka), and those not lighted by him (Aloka).

37. The mountain-chain has been laid beyond and round all the three worlds, by the Almighty Lord. It is so high and extensive that rays of the innumerable heavenly luminaries from the Sun to the Pole-star illuminate only the three worlds on this side (of the mountain), but cannot penetrate to the other side.

38. This much disposition of the world with reference to its (details of) dimensions, characteristics and relative position has been considered by sages. The whole of the terrestrial globe is calculated as fifty crore Yojanas in extent, out of which the land from Meru to the Lokāloka mountain occupies onefourth (i.e. twelve and half crores of Yojanas).

39. The Lords of elephants viz. Ṛṣabha, Puṣkaracūḍa, Vāmana and Aparājita have been posted in four cardinal points over (and beyond) that (Lokāloka mountain), by the Self-born god (Brahmā), the preceptor (or the elḍermost one) of the whole of the world. They are the cause of (i.e. have the responsibility of) maintaining the stability and balance of all the worlds.

40. For infusing and increasing the various powers of the elephants and the guardian deities (like Indra) who are (the manifestations of) his own part, and for the welfare of all the worlds around, the glorious Lord, the supremely Exalted Person, the Lord of all great Powers, the Inner Controller (of all), abides on all sides on the great mountain (Lokāloka.) He manifests his form of pure (unalloyed with rajas and tamas) sattva distinguished by (his excellences like) Supreme righteousness, knowledge, renunciation, sovereignty and the great eight-fold mystic powers. With his powerful arms adorned with his superb weapons, he stays surrounded by his prominent attendants like Viśvaksena and others.

41. It seems that the Lord has assumed the above-described form to the end of this Kalpa, for the protection and maintenance of the careers of the different worlds evolved by his Yoga-māyā (mystical creative potency).

42. By the extent of the area falling with (i.e. on this side of) the Lokāloka mountain, the extent of Aloka (regions not receiving solar light) which is beyond the Lokāloka mountain, is explained. The sages say that the extremely holy region lying beyond Aloka can be travelled only by masters of Yoga (as was done by Kṛṣṇa to bring back the dead son of a Brāhmaṇa—vide infra Bhāgavata Purāṇa X).

43. The Sun is located in the middle position of the great Egg of the universe which is at the centre of the space between the earth and the vault of the sky. The distance between the Sun and the circumference of the universe is twenty-five crore of Yojanas.

44. As the Sun was in this inanimate egg of the universe, he got the epithet Mārtaṇḍa. He is also called Hiraṇyagarbha as he was born of the golden Egg (of the universe).

45. It is by the Sun really, that the cardinal points, the sky, the celestial region, the earth, regions of pleasure (bhuvar- loka and svar-loka) and Liberation, the infernal regions and the nether worlds (e.g. Atala, Vitala etc.) and all others, are divided.

46. The Sun god is the Soul, and the deity presiding over the eyesight of gods, sub-human beings, men, reptiles and plants as well as of all species of living beings.

Footnotes and references:


Bhāgavata Candrikā: ṛta—meritorious act. mṛtyu and amṛta—Bondage and Liberation. pratna—the beginningless cause of the universe. This excludes īvas [jīvas?] etc. which have a beginning. Satya—unchangeable.

Translation: “We take asylum with the unchangeable Sun-god who forms the body of Viṣṇu who is the beginningless cause of the universe and the cause of bondage and liberation and leads jīvas to the course of dharma.”


(i) Bhāgavata Candrikā emphasizes that but for the division into dark and bright fortnights by the Moon-god, there would have been no food-offerings to the manes and gods. May the Moon-god bring happiness (amṛtam [amṛta] = sukham [sukha]) to us.

(ii) Padaratnāvalī: May the inner controller of the Moon-god whose rays are full of nectar, distribute Soma to manes and gods and food to us all in both dark and bright fortnights. May he bring happiness (somam [soma] = sukham [sukha]) to us.

(iii) Bhaktamanorañjanī attributes the division into dark and bright fortnights to the Moon-god. By his rays he distributes food to the manes (in the dark fortnight) and to gods (in the bright fortnight). May that Moon-god be our king and bring us happiness.


Other interpretations are: (i) Bhāgavata Candrikā: “Oh Fire-god! You form a part of the body of the transcendental Brahman. You are the carrier of sacrificial oblations to gods and thereby to the Inner Controller in the bodies of gods. Convey our sacrificial oblations offered to gods who are but limbs of the body of the Supreme Man, to him who is also the Antarātman (Inner Controller)”.

(ii) Padaratnāvalī: “Oh Omniscient (Fire-God)! You are the carrier of sacrificial oblations to Śrī Nārāyaṇa as well as to gods who are members of his Person. Staying near us, you make us worship Śrī Hari (called Yajña) by the performance of the act called Sacrifice.”


(i) Bhāgavata Candrikā: Salutations to Lord Hiraṇyagarbha! May people differentiated by castes (varṇas) and stage? in life (āśramas) worship with unswerving devotion (ekāntam [ekāntam] =avyabhicaritam [avyabhicarita]) that which forms the body of the Supreme Brahman, and is known through Vedas, and which is full of activities like the creation of the world etc., as the one reality.

(ii) Padaratnāvalī: Oh Lord! Your form, possessing all auspicious characteristics, is realized by the performance of sacrifices. People adore your being manifested in the form of Brahmā, as distinct from the rest of the world, and absolutely one without a second.

(iii) VC.: ekānta: One whose absolute devotion is in the Lord.

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