The Bhagavata Purana

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

This page describes Description of Sankarshana—the Serpent Shesha which is chapter 25 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 twenty-fifth chapter of the Fifth Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 25 - Description of Saṅkarṣaṇa—the Serpent Śeṣa

Śrī Śuka said:

1. At the lowest extreme below Pātāla, at a distance of thirty thousand Yojanas, abides a part-manifestation of the Lord which is dominated by the Tamas only. It is also well- known as Ananta. Followers of the Sātvata School call it Saṅkarṣaṇa as, being characterised by ego and presiding over by ‘I’-ness, it brings about the unification between the subject (the Seer) and the object (the seen).

2. This terrestrial globe, supported on one out of the thousand heads of the Lord who manifested himself as Ananta, appears like a mustard seed.

3. It is said that when He desires to withdraw (destroy) this world at the (predestined) time, from between his agitated eyebrows knit in wrath, yet charming, was manifested Rudra (god of destruction) called Saṅkarṣāṇa (one born of Saṅkarṣaṇa). He manifested his eleven forms, each three-eyed and holding a trident.

4. When the kings of serpents along with prominent devotees (Sātvatas) bow down with intense and unswerving devotion (his feet), they certainly look with an overjoyed mind, their most attractive faces with cheeks beautified with the splendour of their refulgent ear-rings, in the reddish, spherical nails, shining like rubies, on his pair of lotus-like feet.

5. Seeking blessings from him only, they say, that unmarried Nāga princesses besmear with pigment of aguru, sandal wood and saffron, his bright, long, fair-complexioned, beautiful, charming arms like silver-pillars, beautifully set up in the sphere of his beautiful body. Their minds being agitated with the touch of his body, they put on winsome smiles as the god of Love stealthily enters their hearts. They really cast bashful glances al his lotus-like face as his reddish eyes swim with inebriation and cast a merciful glance at them.

6. He is that very glorious Lord Ananta, the ocean of infinite excellences, the primeval Deity. Restraining the vehemence of His impetuosity and wrath (as it is inappropriate and unnecessary for the maintenance of the worlds), he abides for the well-being of all the worlds.

7. He is being contemplated upon by hosts of gods, demons, reptiles (Nāgas), Siddhas, Gandharvas, Vidyādharas and sages. Due to continuous exhilaration under intoxication his eyes were swimming restlessly. He was giving delight (lit. feeding) the leaders of His attendants and gods with his nectar- like winning speech. Clad in blue garments and wearing only one ear-ring, he has placed his blessed, beautiful hand on the top of (his special weapon) the plough. Just as the majestic elephant (Airāvata) of the great Indra is decorated with a girth of gold, the glorious Lord of gracious and beneficient deeds wears his Vanamālā (a wreath of forest flowers) called Vaijayantī[1], the charm and gracefulness of which was heightend with the melodious humming of the bees inebriated with the sweet scented honey of fresh and new Tulasī blossoms of unfading beauty.

8. When this (Saṅkarṣaṇa) (as traditionally described by one’s spiritual guide) is listened to and meditated upon, he enters the hearts of those who seek Liberation (from Saṃsāra). He instantly cuts asunder the knot of ignorance (avidyā), fored [?] at (his devotee’s) heart, due to the impressions created in the sub-conscience by the beginningless karmas and consisting of the attributes (or modes of Prakṛti) viz. sattva, rajas and tamas. The venerable sage Nārada, the son of god Brahmā, accompanied by Tumburu (the famous celestial singer), described (in a musical composition his glorious prowess, in the assembly of god Brahmā.

9. Who can comprehend the way[2] (the truth) of the Lord (who is Brahmā himself)—the Lord by whose glance (i.e. desire to create) sattva and other attributes of Prakṛti[3] which are respectively the cause of the creation, preservation and destruction (of the universe) became capable (of executing their function); whose form is eternal (infinite) and beginningless, for One as he is, he contains in himself the universe characterised by many-ness.

10. Out of unlimited grace for us, he assumed a form consisting of (pure) sattva unalloyed with rajas and tamas, wherein appears the unmanifest and manifest[4] universe. The Lord who possesses unbounded energy like a lion, exhibited his faultless sports (e.g. creation of the universe etc.) for attracting the minds ofhis devotees.

11. Even if a person either in distress or fallen from the righteous path accidentally or in joke utters his name as heard (from the spiritual teacher or any other person), he instantly annihilates completely the sins of (other) men. Hence to whom else than the glorious Lord Śeṣa, will a man desirous of Liberation, resort?

12. On one of the heads of the thousand-headed Lord lies like an atom, the terrestrial globe with all its mountains, rivers, seas and the living beings (inhabiting it), owing to the infiniteness of the immeasurable and innumerable exploits of the Almighty Lord, who can, even if endowed with a thousand tongues, hope to count completely all his heroic acts?

13. Of such prowess is the glorious Lord Ananta. His energy and excellent attributes and potencies are limitless. Unsupported by anyone else, he stays at the bottom of the earth bearing it easily for the preservation and well-being of the entire creation.

14. These are, verily, the regions to be attained to by people desirous of enjoying pleasures. These are created to accord with their respective karmas. These are described to you as it was traditionally taught to me (by my preceptor).

15. Oh King! I have described to you according to your queries, these various, high and low regions attained by men as a fruit of the karmas performed by them. On what other topic should I discourse now?

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Vaijavantī wreath consists of the shoots of the Tulasī (Basil) plant, flowers of Kunda, Mandāra, Pārijāta and lotuses.

tulasī-kunda-mandāra-pārijātāmbujais tu yā /
pañcabhir grathitā mālā vaijayantīti kathyate //

[2]:

vartman—(i) The truth about—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā

(ii) The working of—Padaratnāvalī

(iii) The reality about or the way of attaining to—Sārārthadarśinī, Bālaprabodhini

[3]:

Bhāgavata Candrikā, Bhaktamanorañjanī note that the factual order implied herein is rajas, sattva and tamas as the creation, maintenance and destruction of the universe are mentioned in a series in the text.

[4]:

Sadasad (idam): (i) Intelligent and unintelligent—Bhāgavata Candrikā

(ii) Subtle and gross—Padaratnāvalī

(iii) Manifest and unmanifest.

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