The Brahmanda Purana

by G.V. Tagare | 1958 | ISBN-10: 8120838246 | ISBN-13: 9788120838246

This page describes the kalpas and manvantaras: their duration which is Chapter 6 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 6 - The Kalpas and Manvantaras: their duration

Notes: Description of Manvantaras is one of the main characteristics of a Purāṇa. We have a description of these Manvantaras in Bh.P. VIII.1.1-29. KP.I.51, NP.I.40-17-37, VP.III. 1.1-9 and others. But this chapter like Vā.P. 7 describes the Kalpas and the interim period joining the Kalpas. A number of verses are common to Vā.P.7 and this chapter.

Sūta said:

1. On hearing the first Pāda (section) the main theme of which is the Prakṛti, thus recounted, Kāpeya (Kāśyapeya in Vā.P.) who was delighted had some doubts.

2-3. After propitiating the Sūta by means of words (and desirous of hearing) another story for that purpose, (he said)—“Hereafter O Sage conversant with the Kalpa, recount Pratisandhi to me. I wish to know this, viz.: the interim period between the two Kalpas i.e. the Kalpa that has passed and the Kalpa that is current. I wish to know the Pratisandhi (the period of transit) between these two. Indeed, you are sufficiently well-versed.”

4. On being thus requested by Kāpeya, Sūta, the most excellent among eloquent men, began to narrate the origin of the three worlds entirely.

Sūta said:

5. Now I shall describe factually, O men of holy vows, the Kalpa of the past and the Kalpa of the future and the period of transit that is between these two.

6. (I shall also describe) O men of holy rites, the different Manvantaras in the Kalpas. The Kalpa that is current now is Varāha—an auspicious Kalpa.

7. Understand the intervening transitional stage between this Kalpa and the old (ancient) Kalpa that preceded this and passed away.

8. When the previous Kalpa recedes without a Pratisandhi (intermediate period), another Kalpa begins again with Janaloka and others.

9. Two (consecutive) Kalpas have a transitional stage separating them mutually. All beings are completely annihilated at the end of a Kalpa.

10a. The Period intervening between the end of that Kalpa is called[1] Pratisandhi.[2]

10b-11. In a Manvantara, the junctions of those periods of time called Yugas are unbroken. The Manvantaras function with interconnections of the Yugas. The previous Kalpas have been recounted briefly (?) in the Prakriyā-pāda.

12-14. Each Kalpa has a Pūrva-Ardha (former half) and Para-Ardha (latter half). Therefore, when a Kalpa passes by, its latter-half is followed by the former half of the next Kalpa. The other Kalpas also will follow suit with their latter halves increased(?). O Brāhmaṇas, the Kalpa that is present now is the first among them. It has a Pūrva-Ardha and a Para-Ardha. The second one is called Para. This is the period of sustenance. It is remembered that the period of dissolution is thereafter.

15. Prior to this Kalpa was the ancient Kalpa that had passed by at the end of a thousand sets of four Yugas along with the Manvantaras.

16-18. When the Kalpa comes to a close and the time of universal burning arrives (?), the Devas moving about in the aerial chariots, the stars, planets and the constellations, the moon, the sun etc.—all these meritorious souls were twenty-eight crores in number. Their number in all the fourteen Manvantaras is the same. Therefore their total number in all the Manvantaras together was (14 x 28 =) 392 crores.

19. Further, in everyone of the Kalpas, the Devas moving about in aerial chariots are remembered to be seventy thousand more.

20. In the fourteen Manvantaras there were the Devas, the Pitṛs and the sages imbibing nectar (Amṛtapās) in the firmament and heaven.

21. They had their servants (followers), wives and sons. At that time, the Devas in the firmament were beyond the discipline of the Varṇas (castes) and the Āśramas (stages in life).

22. Thereafter, when the annihilation of all living beings along with objects approached, all of them became persons of equal position and condition with those that had attained Sāyujya (the salvation of merging with the divinity).

23-25. Thereafter, due to the inevitability of the recurrence of the intellect[3] of the soul (?) the Devas, the residents of the three worlds, become persons identifying with and taking pride in the different positions here.

When the time of sustenance was complete, when the Paścimottara (the latter and later period) was imminent, when the annihilation arrived, the enthusiasic Devas in the last days of the Kalpa, partially abandoned their abodes.[4] Thereafter, they became excited and directed their minds towards the Maharloka.

26. (Defective text). They practise Yoga and make use of the great (thing) in the body[5] (?) All of them abound in purity. They have achieved the mental Siddhi (achievement).

27. The Mahar-loka was attained by Brāhmaṇas, Kṣatriyas, Vaiśyas and other people born of them, along with those residents of Kalpa.

28. After going to Maharloka, the fourteen groups of the Devas become agitated. Thereafter, they directed their mind towards Janaloka.

29. In this order the residents of the Kalpa mutually(?) proceeded for thousands of Yugas according to the reckoning of the Devas.

30. All of them abounded in purity. They have achieved the mental Siddhi (achievement of spiritual powers), the Jana (Loka) was attained by those residents of Kalpa together.

31. After staying there for ten Kalpas, they go to the Satya (Loka) once again. After going to the world of Brahmā, they attain a goal from where there is no return.

32. Except the overlordship, they become equal to Brahmā.[6] They are equal to Brahmā in regard to features and object (of the sense organs) (i.e. Viṣaya).

33. There they stay with pleasure in the Saṃyamas[7] (? worlds of that name). After attaining bliss from Brahman, they become liberated along with Brahmā.

34. In view of the inevitability of affairs concerning (the course of) Prakṛti, they remain (bound along) with honour, worship etc. as is produced at the same time.[8]

35. Just as in the case of a sleeping person the faculty of knowledge functions without (clearcut) perceptions (Abuddhi-pūrva), so also when they are purified and rendered service, the bliss begins to function.

36. (The bliss begins to function) by the withholdings of differences. These are different in regard to lustrous ones. Along with them their effects and instruments (sense organs) also develop.

37-38. Of those residents of Brahma’s region who observe multiplicity (and separateness) and whose authority has been withdrawn and who abide by their righteous duties. Those Siddhis have similar characteristics. They are of pure souls and are unsullied. In their Prākṛta form they are equipped with sense organs but they are stabilised in their own souls.

39. After proclaiming itself (or the soul), the Prakṛti is factually observed as different from Puruṣa and as multifarious and as such it functions.

40. Again when the creation begins to function, Prakṛti should be known in its connection with the liberated (?) souls who perceive reality, and who are identical with the existent causes.

41. There, those persons attaining salvation do not return by the same path (of Saṃsāra). There non-existence had been caused once again like that of the blazing flames that had been extinguished.[9]

42. While those noble souls had gone far above the three worlds along with these, the Maharloka is not occupied by them.

43. When the burning of Kalpa is imminent, the Gandharvas and others, the Piśācas (vampires), the Brāhmaṇas and other human beings become their disciples.[10]

44-45. (So also) the animals and birds, the immobile beings and the reptiles. While those residents of the surface of the earth stand there at that time, the thousand rays that manifest themselves become (combined and concentrated into) seven rays and each one of the rays becomes a Sun.[11]

46-48. Rising up gradually, they bum the three worlds. The mobile and the immobile beings, the rivers and all the mountains that had already been dried up due to absence of rain are inflamed and afflicted by the suns. Completely burnt by the rays of the suns, they become helpless. The mobile and the immobile beings of the nature of virtue as well as evil get their bodies burned. In the interval between the two Yugas, they get rid of their sins.

49. They are well known[12] and freed from the sunshine by the auspicious (rain) that has great continuity showering incessantly. Thereafter, those people are joined with other people of similar forms and features.

50. After staying there during the night of Brahmā born of the unmanifest one, they become the mental sons of Brahmā at the time of subsequent creation.

51-56. Then, when the residents of the three worlds had become proper[13](?) (or equipped) with people, when the worlds had been completely burned down by the seven suns, when the earth had been flooded with rain, when the seas had become desolate, all the waters of the oceans, clouds and the earth move ahead scattered (like arrows). They have the name Salīla. They followed (one after the other). That flood of water gathered together in abundance. When that vast sheet of water covered the earth, it became known by the name Arṇava (sea). This water is called Ambhas because it shone and spread. The water reached everywhere. The root ^Bhā has the sense of Vyāpti (spreading) and Dīpti (shining).

Since it spread over the entire earth all round within itself, water is remembered as Tanus. The root ^Tan is used in the sense of extension. The root ^Śar i.e. Śṛ has different meanings. It means “to become shattered or scattered”.

57-62. In the vast sheet of water, the waters are not quick in motion (śīghrāḥ) therefore, they are called Nāras. At the end of the thousand Yugas, when the day of Brahmā had come to a close, when the night of so much (= the same) duration had been present within the watery expanse, when the surface of the earth had become lost within that water, when all fires were extinguished, when the wind had become totally calm and motionless, when there had been darkness all round without any light, this (universe) had been presided over by this person. He is Brahmā, the lord. He wished again to divide this world. In that vast sheet of water where the mobile and the immobile beings have perished, Brahmā becomes a person with thousand (i.e. innumerable) eyes, thousand feet, thousand heads one who has conquered all the sense-organs and one with golden complexion.

They cite this verse regarding Nārāyaṇa in this connection.

“The waters are Nāras. We have heard that they constitute his bodies. They are being filled in. Since he stays therein, he is remembered as Nārāyaṇa.

63. The first Prajāpati (lord of subjects) is a person of good mind.[14] He has a thousand heads, a thousand feet, a thousand eyes, a thousand faces (mouths) and a thousand arms. He performs a thousand acts. He is explained as a person identical with the three Vedas.

64. He has the lustre and colour of the sun. He is the protector of the universe. He is single. He is the first Virāṭ (cosmic personage). He is Hiraṇyagarbha of noble soul. He is beyond the Ken of mind.

65. In the beginning of the Kalpa, the Lord abounds in Rajas quality and after becoming Brahmā, he brought about the creation of the world. In the end of the Kalpa, he abounds in Tamas, and after becoming Kāla, he devoured it again.

66. It is reported that in the cosmic ocean, Nārāyaṇa with the preponderance of Sattva guṇa divides himself threefold and abides in the three worlds.

67-68. By means of the three (qualities or forms), he creates, devours and sees or protects (the world). In the vast sheet of water, when the mobile and the immobile beings have perished, at the end of a thousand sets of four Yugas, when (the earth) is covered on all sides with water, Brahmā named Nārāyaṇa shines himself in the universe.

69. All the subjects of the four types (i.e. Svedaja, Aṇḍaja, Udbhijja and Jarāyuja) are covered with Tamas, due to the Śūkti of Brahmā. In the Maharloka, the great sages see Kāla (God of death) sleeping.

70. At that time the great sages referred to above are Bḥrgu and others.[15] The great sages, when the Kalpa comes to a close, are the eight sages, Satya and others. The great thing that is surrounded by them when they revolve is the Mahat[16] (?)

71. The root ^Ṛṣ the sense of Gati (movement). The above name (i.e. Ṛṣi) is derived from that root.[17] Since they move about with their Sattva and since they are great, they are called Maharṣis (Great sages).

72. The sleeping Kāla was then seen by those seven great sages, viz. Sattva (? Satya) and others who are stationed in the Maharloka in the previous Kalpa.

73. Thus Brahmā (continues to function) in thousands of nights. The great sages who were brought by him then saw the sleeping Kāla.

74. Since, in the beginning of the Kalpa, Brahmā evolved fourteen assemblages (worlds)(?) of diverse forms, it is defined as Kalpa.[18]

75. He is the creator of all living beings again and again, in the beginnings of the Kalpas. The great lord is both Vyākta (manifest) and Avyakta (unmanifest). This entire universe is evolved by him.

76. Thus the inter-relation between two Kalpas has been recounted. The present has become the antecedent state in between the two.

77. Everything has been recounted briefly in the previous Kalpa in the manner as it was factually. Now I shall recount the current Kalpa. Understand the same.

Footnotes and references:

1.

The reading: na vidyate ‘The Pratisandhi does not exist between the past and the present Kalpa’ is obviously wrong. Hence the reading of Vā.P. 7.9 (=this verse in Bd.P.) is accepted.

2.

This is the definition of Pratisandhi. In Manvantaras, the yuga period connecting two manvantaras is unbroken but at the end of the Kalpa, the universe gets destroyed as described in VV.16 ff below.

3.

Vā.P.8.23 (= Bd.P. present verse) reads buddhvā ‘Having understood the inevitability.’

4.

VV. 24-31 describe the progress of gods upto Satya-loka, the region of god Brahmā.

5.

The first line in the corresponding Vā.P. verse (8.26) reads:

te yuktā upapadyante mahasi-sthaiḥ Śarīrikaiḥ’ /

“with their bodies stationed in mahas (Maharloka) they practise etc.”

6.

Cf. Brahma-sūtra IV.4.17-18 where the released soul is stated to have all the Lordly powers except the power of creation of the universe. The powers of the released soul are not unlimited.

7.

Vā.P.8.33b reads: Prasaṃgamāt—‘due to their close contact (with Brahmā)’.

8.

They remain (bound) in their separateness produced (retained) at that time.

9.

Cf. the concept of Brahma-nirvāṇa in the BG. VV.24-26.

10.

Śiṣyāḥ in Bd.P. is probably a misprint for Śiṣṭāḥ ‘remaining ones’ (found in Vā.P. in corres. verse 8.43b).As this is description of the Kalpānta, Śiṣṭa is a better reading.

11.

VV. 43-60. This description of the Kalpa-dāha and the end of the universe is a verbatim repetition of VV.121-138 of the last chapter. The popular etymologies of ambhas, salila, Nara or Nāra all meaning ‘water’ and the derivation of Nārāyaṇa have been noted there.

12.

Yonyā tayā hyanirmuktāḥ ‘freed from that species’ in Vā.P.7.49 is a better reading.

13.

apravṛtteṣu (Vā.P.7.52a) ‘when all the people, residents of the three worlds are extinct’. This reading is more suitable in the context than upapanneṣu of the Bd.P. here.

14.

Cf. Puruṣa Sūkta (ṚV.X.90). The Vedic concept regarding Virāj, Hiraṇya-garbha. here identified with Brahmā or Puruṣa of the Puruṣasūkta are the different stages in the evolution. That Puruṣa is credited with three guṇas for the creation, sustenance and destruction of the universe.

15.

The concept of Saptarṣis (seven sages) ursa major is astronomical in the Vedic period. Varāhamihira in Bṛhat-saṃhitā also treats them from astronomical point. In the Mbh. and the Purāṇas, their status as “mind-born sons” of Brahmā becomes prominent. But their survival after deluges as stated here, hints at their original astronomical aspect.

16.

This verse is obscure. The correspondence V. in Vā.P.8.83 reads: [?]

17.

A correct etymology.

18.

Definition of Kalpa; cf. Vā.p.7.77.