The Brahmanda Purana

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

This page describes constitution of the world (the cosmic egg) which is Chapter 4 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 4 - Constitution of the world (The Cosmic Egg)

Summary: The creation due to disequilibrium of guṇas—the three states of the self-born god Brahmā—Description of Kalpas.

Sūta said:

1. When the unmanifest one is stationed within, itself and when the effect (universe) had been withdrawn, the Pradhāna and Puruṣa remain with their similarity of characteristics (retained).

2. These two have Tamas and Sattva guṇas. They are stationed on a par with each other. Hence they are said to be mutual pursuers. They are not excessive (in the manifestation of the Guṇas).

3. Laya (Dissolution) should be understood to occur when Guṇas are in equilibrium. It is called creation when there is predominance (of one Guṇa over the other.)

The Sthili (Sustenance) was at the time when Sattva was predominant. Certainly, the lotus is stationed at the top (?)

4. When Rajas closely follows and stations itself in Tamas and Sattva, it is the Rajas that causes the other things to function in the same way as in the case of the water causing the seeds to function.

5. The Guṇas assume inequality and they become stabilized casually. It should be known that three (divinities) were born out of the Guṇas which are agitated.[1]

6. They are eternal, extremely mysterious; the souls of everyone and embodied; the Sattva qualily is Viṣṇu; the Rajas is Brahmā and the Tamas is Rudra, the Prajāpati.

7. Viṣṇu the enlightener and revealer of the Rajas becomes Brahmā, and attains the status of the creator. It is from him that being of great vitality that the variety of creation of the worlds, takes its origin.

8. Viṣṇu as the enlightener and revealer of the Tamas stands separate in the from of Kāla (Time).

Viṣṇu as the enlightener and revealer of the Sattva stands separate as sustenance (i.e. one who sustains).

9. These alone are the three worlds; these alone are the three Guṇas; these alone are the three Vedas; these alone are the three sacred fires.

10. These have mutual inter-association; these are mutually attached; they exist by mutual help and they impel inter se.

11. These are mutually coupled; these are mutually interdependent; these do not become separated even for a moment; they do not abandon each other.

12. As a result of the unevenness of the Guṇas, the Pradhāna begins to function at the time of creation. At the outset it begins to function (from that Avyakta) of the nature of Sat and Asat and presided over by Adṛṣṭa (the unmanifest).

13. The pair Brahmā and Buddhi (Cosmic intellect) took their origin simultaneously from that (Pradhāna) of the nature of Tamas and unmanifestness[2]. The Kṣetrajña (and) that which is (also) named Brahmā (was born from that pair).

14. Fully equipped with Kārya (effect?) and Karaṇa (the instruments; the sense-organs) Brahmā appeared (existed) at the outset. He was unparalleled in lustre, intelligent, unmanifest but excellent enlightener (revealer).

15. (Defective text). He is the first embodied being stabilised in retention. He is endowed with unequalled knowledge and absence of passionate attachment.

16. On account of his being unmanifest and because he had kept (everything) under control, since these are three Guṇas and because all evolved beings are interdependent, (Brahmā attains) whatever he desires mentally.

17. The self-born deity has three states: He has four faces as Brahmā; as Kāla (God of Death) he is Bhava, the destroyer; (as Viṣṇu) he is the Puruṣa with thousand heads.

18. As Brahmā, he creates the worlds; as Kāla, he annihilates them; as Puruṣa, he is indifferent: these are the three states of the self-born deity.[3]

19. As Brahmā, he possesses Rajas exclusively; as Kāla he has Rajas and Tamas and as Puruṣa (i.e. Viṣṇu) he is exclusively Sāttvika;—this is the position of the Guṇas in the case of the self-born deity.

20. Brahmā has eyes like lotus-petals[4]; Kāla has the lustre of collyrium ever since his origin. Puruṣa is lotuseyed with the form of the supreme Ātman.

21. He is single. He is two-fold. He is three-fold. Again he is multifold. The lord of Yogins makes and un-makes the physical bodies.

22. The physical bodies adopt different kinds of shapes, activities, colours and features. Since he has the pastime of remaining threefold in the world, he is called Triguṇa[5] (one that has three Guṇas).

23-24. Since he is divided into four, he is glorified as Caturvyūha (one with four arrays). Since at the end of a Parārdha, the lord lies down (sleeps); since the lord enjoys the pleasures of the world, since all living beings always take rest (lie down) normally and comfortably in him, he is defined as Ātman, He is Ṛṣi because he goes everywhere and since the lord enters the physical body.

25. He is Sarva (all), because he is the master of all; he is Viṣṇu because he permeates everything. He is Bhagavān, (since) he devoured the Bhāvas (living beings). He is Nāga because no Āgas (i.e. sin) abides in him,

26. He is Parana, because he is extremely delighted. Since he has Devatva (state of being God), he is remembered as OM. He is Sarvajña (omniscient) because he knows everything perfectly. He is Sarva because everything originates from him.

27. Brahmā causes the sleep (i.e. perfect rest) of Maras (men), hence he is remembered as Nārāyaṇa. He functions after dividing himself into three. He is Sakala (having the full complement of digits and parts).

28. By means of the three (Guṇas), he himself creates, devours and protects. The Prabhu (Lord) himself became Hiraṇyagarbha at the outset and manifested himself.

29. Indeed he is Ādya (First, foremost) and Svavaśa (having himself under control). He is remembered as Aja because he is not born. Hence he is defined as Hiraṇyagarbha in the Purāṇas.

30. He is self-born and receding (?), he is Kāla and the foremost among all the castes. It is not possible to specify him exclusively in the course of hundreds of Manu’s years.[6]

31. The Parārdha of Brahmā is remembered as being reckoned is so many Kalpas. He has another period of the same duration and he wakes up at the end of that period.

32. Thousands and crores of years that had been the abode of Kalpas have passed by. As many are yet to come.

33-34. The Kalpa that is current now, is Vārāha, know ye all. It is the first Kalpa and it is the present Kalpa. The Kings should govern till thousand Yugas are completed.

Footnotes and references:


Though this Purāṇa accepts the Sāṅkhya theory regarding the creation of the universe being due to the imbalance of the three Guṇas, the personification of the Guṇas in Brahmā (Rajas), Viṣṇu (Sattva) and Rudra (Tamas) is the puranic way of presentation for the understanding of the process by the masses.


Vā.P.?.23: From that (Pair of Brahmā & Buddhi) was born Kṣetrajña designated as Brahmā, full of tamas and unmanifestness.


The trinity of gods carrying out the functions of creation, sustenance and destruction of the universe but the three states of one and the same self-born deity.


Kamalapatrākṣa should be emended as Kamalapatrābha as in Vā.P. 5.31b, as it is the description of the complexions of three deities.


The author of Bd.P. seems to be fond of giving popular etymologies. The etymologies of Triguṇa, Caturvyūha, Ātmā, Ṛṣi, Viṣṇu, Nārāyaṇa etc. are interesting. Some of these are however grammatically correct e.g., Viṣṇu—viś—‘to pervade’, ṛṣi—ṛ ‘to go’.


For Varṇāgratas, Vā.P. 5.46b reads Varṣāgrajas. If this is accepted as emendation, the verse would mean: “It is not possible to calculate even with hundreds of Maṇvantaras as a unit of the time etc.

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