The Brahmanda Purana

by G.V. Tagare | 1958 | 319,243 words | ISBN-10: 8120838246 | ISBN-13: 9788120838246

This page describes description of evolution of the universe which is Chapter 3 of the English translation of the Brahmanda Purana: one of the oldest puranas including common Puranic elements such as cosmogony, genealogy, ethics, geography and yoga. Traditionally, the Brahmandapurana is said to consist of 12,000 verses metrical Sanskrit verses.

Chapter 3 - Description of Evolution of the Universe

Summary: Description of Evolution of the Universe: The Creation of Hiraṇyagarbha.

Sūta narrated:

1. Listen to their divine story that rids one of all sins. It is being narrated by me. It is wonderfully variegated. It has many topics (under discussion); it is esteemed by the Vedas.

2. He who retains this (in mind) permanently or listens to this frequently maintains his family (or propagates his race) and he is honoured in the heavenly world.

3. Listen to the topic being recounted in the manner it had been heard and it had occurred. Listen to the five Tārās (stars)[1] that are five in number. Listen to this narrative that is conducive to the increase of the fame of the ancestors.

4. The glorification of all these persons of meritorious deeds and of everlasting fame is conducive to wealth, fame, longevity and heaven. It destroys enemies.

5-7. I bow down to Hiraṇyagarbha, the lordly Puruṣa who is unborn, who is the first creator of subjects, who is the most excellent one, through whom the Kalpa has been competent to have its characteristics; through whom the fire has been capable of being a purifying factor; and who is the self-born Brahmā administering all the worlds. After bowing down to Brahmā, I shall recount the excellent creation of living beings, that begins with Mahat (the great First Principle) and ends with Viśeṣa (special created things),[2] that has its own characteristic features and diversities, that has five authorities (testimonies); that calmly rests in the six ones (?) and that which is presided over by Puruṣa.

8-9. Through concentration of mind, I shall describe to you the excellent creation of Bhūtas. Avyakta (the unmanifest one) which is of the nature of Sat and Asat (Existent and nonexistent) is the eternal cause. Persons who discuss and ponder over the Principles (reality) call it Pradhāna and Prakṛti. It is devoid of odour, colour and taste; it is without the qualities of sound and touch.

10. It is the source of origin of the universe; it is the great Bhūta (living entity); the supreme and eternal Brahman. It is the (cosmic) body of all living beings; the unmanifest one has become so.

11. The Brahman has neither beginning nor end; it is unborn and subtle; it has three Guṇas, it is the source of origin and place of ultimate merging and rest. It is Asāmpratika (does not belong to the present time), it is Ajñeya (i.e. cannot be comprehended. It is the Brahman which is beyond Sat and Asat.

12. This entire dark world was pervaded by his Ātman (soul). As the Guṇas were in a state of equilibrium, this world full of darkness had not yet been evolved.

13. At the time of creation, Pradhāna is presided over by Kṣetrajña and since the Guṇas become uneven (due to loss of their equilibrium), the great Principle (Mahat) was evolved.

14. That Mahat (Great Principle) is subtle and at the outset it was enveloped by Avyakta. The Mahat wherein there is a predominance of Sattva Guṇa displays Sattva guṇa alone.

15. It should be known as Mahat on account of its Sattva quality. That is remembered as its sole reason. The Liṅga (Śarira) (i.e. the internal body or the psychic mechanism) alone is evolved and it is presided over by Kṣetrajña (individual soul).

16. Saṃkalpa (Wishful thought) and Adhyavasāya (Determination) are remembered as its two functions. With a desire to create he who is beyond measures, creates the great creation.

17-18. (Defective Text)[3] Virtue etc. and the elements are the causes of the principles of the worlds. The mind in the great Ātman is Brahman. The discrimination of wicked knowledge is through Īśvara (Lord). The Prajñāsandhi (the junction of intellect) is everything that is under possession. He considers all living beings through Saṅkhyāyatanaraśmis (?) (the rays that are the abode of the number?). Therefore the lord attains the desired fruit.

19-20. The Manas (Mind) is called Bhoktṛ (Enjoyer) and Trātṛ (Protector) and it remains as separated soul. (The Mahat is so called) because it falls within the collection of principles and it is great in magnitude. The Mahat principle is remembered as one having physical body that is greater than the remaining Guṇas and Tattvas (Principles). The mind is called Manas because it thinks or considers the division (or separateness) or it is thought of as a part.

21-22. The (individual soul) is remembered as Puruṣa because of its relationship with Sat (the Existent i.e. the Brahman) by way of enjoyment of worldly pleasures. Also the supreme soul is called Brahman because it is Bṛhat (very huge) and because it causes all the living beings to increase in size (Bṛṃhaṇatva). (It is possible) because it is the basis of everything. It is defined as Brahmā because it causes the liviṇg beings to increase in size and because it fills all the bodies with blessings.

23. The Puruṣa understands all the Bhavas (beings and things) separately. It is through it (i.e. Puruṣa) that the Brahman achieves all its tasks (lit. doing of the work) at the outset.

24. Know that the Prākṛta (the creation of Prakṛti) is the Vivarta (transformation) (of Brahman).[4] The Kṣetrajña is on a par with Brahman. Indeed it is called the first embodied being and Purāpuruṣa (the ancient person).

25. That Brahmā is the primordial creator of the living beings, that existed at the outset.[5]

26-27. That Hiraṇyagarbha with four faces appeared in the Aṇḍa (Cosmic egg). In the primary creation as well as in the secondary creation, the Kṣetrajñais on a par with Brahman. The (Individual souls) are asked along with the Karaṇas (sense organs). They abandon (them) along with the dissolutions. Again they assume physical bodies during the junctions of the yugas.

28. (Defective text) Those five (?) who are enlightened may take away the water of the depression (pit) of that noble-souled one who uplifts the golden Meru. (?)

29-31. These seven worlds are well established in this cosmic egg; the whole earth along with the seven continents, the seven oceans, the great mountains and thousands of rivers are established in the very same cosmic egg. These worlds are situated within (the cosmic egg). This universe is within the cosmos. Everything is established in that cosmic egg—viz. the moon and the sun along with the stars, planets and the wind as well as the mountain Lokāloka.

32.[6] The waters are externally surrounded by the Tejas (fiery element) ten times as big as themselves. The Tejas is externally surrounded by Vāyu (wind) ten times as big as itself.

33. Vāyu is externally surrounded by the Nabhas (Ether) ten times as big as itself. In the same manner the entire ether is externally surrounded by Bhūtādi (the Ahaṃkāra or ego).

34. The Bhūtādi is enveloped by Mahat and the Mahat is enveloped by Pradhāna. The cosmic egg is thus enveloped by the seven Āvaraṇas (coverings) pertaining to the Prakṛti.

35-37. Thus willingly these Prakṛtis (evolutes of Prakṛti) are stationed ready in destroying mutually. They stand ready at the time of creation; they sustain, mutually and they devour mutually. Those Vikāras (effects) abide in the Vikārins (causes) by way of the supporter-supported relationship. The Avyakta (the unmaṃfest one) is called Kṣetra and Brahman is called Kṣetrajñia.

Thus the Prākṛta Sarga (creation of the Prakṛti) (has been explained). It is presided by Kṣetrajña.

38. This is the first creation and it is unpremedited. It appeared just like the lightning. Undoubtedly he who factually understands this birth of Hiraṇyagarbha shall become long-lived, famous, blessed and intelligent.

Footnotes and references:


For the above reading (Viśva-tārā ca yā pañca), Vā.P.4.7a (a corresponding verse) reads: vistārāvayavaṃ teṣām:—(Listen to the narration of) the detailed parts (of the Purāṇa).


The Sāṅkhya theory of evolution of the universe is accepted in Purāṇas. Compare the account of creation of the Brahmāṇḍa in NP. 1.3. 1-45; 42.1-115; Bh.P. III.20.12-53; KP. 1.2.3 ff.; AP. 17.2-16.


The text from verse 17-28 is corrupt and the corresponding text of the Vā.P. Ch. 4 has little in common with these verses and is of no help in interpretation. Hence reconstruction of emendations could not be hazarded. But Vā.P. 4.76b-79 bear some correspondence to Bd.P. The Vā.P. verses may be summarised here as follows: “The Kṣetrajña called Brahmā who awoke in The egg of Prakṛti (Cosmic egg) is the first embodied being and he is called Puruṣa (one lying in the abode of the cosmic egg.) This god Brahmā, the first creator of Bhūtas (elements or beings) existed first. This four-faced Hiraṇya-garbha appeared at first in this (cosmic egg). Both at the time of creation and re-creation (after destruction), he is the Kṣetrajña called Brahmā.


This purāṇa supports Vivarta-vāda as distinguished from Pariṇāma-vāda in explaining the Brahma-world relation.


From this verse onwards the Prākṛta sarga, the first creation of god Brahmā, is described. It takes place without pre-planning or is unpremeditated (abuddhipūrva) “like the sudden flash of lightning” as the Bd.P. puts it. While the Vaikṛta creations (five in number) are planned—buddhipūrvaka.


From this verse the elemental sheaths that envelop the cosmic egg are enumerated. As verses 29-38 in Bd.P. here and Vā.P. 4.81-91 are identical, we can substitute the missing line in Bd.P. 32. by Vā.P. 84a as follows:

adbhir daśa-guṇābhis tu bāhyato’ ṇḍaṃ samāvṛtam /

“The cosmic egg is enveloped from outside with (the sheath of) ten times (larger) water”.

This additional line is essential to make up the number seven of these Prākṛtic sheaths mentioned below in verse 34 as:

ebhir āvaraṇair aṇḍaṃ saptabhiḥ prākṛtair vṛtam /

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