The Brahmanda Purana

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

This page describes description of the jambudvipa which is Chapter 18 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 18 - Description of the Jambūdvīpa

Summary: The Description of the Jambūdvīpa; The Bindu Lake—source of the Gaṅgā; Its four streams.

1. In the midst of the Himalayan ridges, there is a mountain named Kailāsa.{GL_NOTE::} The glorious and prosperous Kubera lives there along with the Rākṣasas.

2-3. The king, the overlord of Alakā, rejoices (there) with the celestial damsels attending on him. The sacred splendid and chill water originating from the foot of the Kailāsa mountain has formed a lake named Mada[2] (Manda, in Vā.P. 47.2). It abounds in white lilies and it resembles a sea. The auspicious river Mandākinī[3] (the Gaṅgā) rises from that divine (lake).

4-5. On its banks there is the great divine park called Nandanavana. To the North-east of the Kailāsa, in front of that divine mountain of all medicinal herbs, the mountain full of jewels and minerals, the powerful mountain of wonderful mysteries, there is a mountain named Candraprabha.[4] It is perfectly white and it resembles splendid jewels.

6. At its foot there is a great divine lake named Svacchoda. From that divine lake rises a river named Svacchodā.

7-8a. There is a great splendid divine park on its banks called Caitraratha. On that mountain lives Maṇibhadra along with his followers. He is the ruthless lord of the armies of Yakṣas. He is surrounded by the Guhyakas.

8b-9a. The holy rivers the Mandākinī and the Svac-chodakā enter the great ocean through the middle of the sphere of the earth.

9b-10. To the south-east of the Kailāsa, in front of the mountain abounding in medicinal herbs and auspicious animals, the divine mountain of diversified and wonderful components, the mountain full of red arsenic, there is the great mountain Sūryaprabha (having the lustre like that of the sun). It is red in colour and it has golden peaks.[5]

11. At its foot there is a great divine lake named Lohita. The great holy river named Lauhitya rises from that (lake).

12-13a. On its bank is the great park named Devāraṇya which is devoid of sorrow. On that mountain lives Maṇidhara, the Yakṣa of good self-control. He is surrounded by the Guhyakas who are gentle and highly virtuous.

13b-14. To the southern side of the Kailāsa is the mountain abounding in medicinal herbs and cruel, wild animals. In front of the three peaked Añjana that originated from the body of Vṛtra, there is that very great mountain Vaidyuta[6] possessing all sorts of minerals.

15. At its foot is the holy lake Mānasa, frequented by the Siddhas. From it rises the holy river Sarayū that is well, known in all the worlds.

16-17. On its banks is the well-reputed divine forest named Vaibhrāja. There lives the son of Praheti, who is a Rākṣasa of self-control, a follower of Kubera, and of unlimited exploits (but) who is Brahmāpeta (far removed from the Vedas). He is surrounded by hundreds of Yātudhānas (demons) who are very terrible and who can traverse the skies.

18. To the west of the Kailāsa is the mountain abounding in medicinal herbs and auspicious animals, Aruṇa[7] (Pink in colour) the splendid and excellent mountain full of gold and minerals.

19. This glorious mountain is a favourite resort of Bhava. It resembles clouds (in colour). It is covered with splendid clusters of cliffs of gold.

20. The mountain Muñjavān is highly divine. It appears to scrape the heaven by means of its hundreds of golden peaks. It is very difficult to climb or pass through as it is enveloped by show.

21-22. There stands Girīśa (King of mountains), called Dhūmralocana[8] (of smoke-coloured eyes). The Lake named Śailoda[9] is at its foot.

It enters the briny sea in between the (rivers) Cakṣus and Sītā.

23-24. On its banks is the well known divine forest ‘Surabhi’.

To the left and to the north of the Kailāsa is (he auspicious mountain abounding in medicinal herbs and animals. In front of the excellent mountain named Gaura, full of Haritāla (yellow orpiment) there is the mountain Hiraṇmaya.[10] This mountain is divine, very great and full of precious gems and jewels.

25-26a. At its foot is the highly divine, splendid and charming lake named Bindusara.[11] It has golden sandy bed. For the sake of getting the Gaṅgā, king Bhagīratha, the saintly king spent many years near it.

26b. He thought—“My ancestors will go to heaven on being bathed in the waters of the Gaṅgā.” After determining thus, he performed penance with the concentration of his mind in Śiva.

27. The divine river Tripathagā (the Gaṅgā) (lit. the river with three courses) was at the outset established there as the deity. That river originating from the foot-hills of Soma flows in seven channels.

28. Golden sacrificial posts studded with jewels have been scattered there. Śakra performed a sacrifice there along with all the Devas and attained Siddhi (spiritual enlightenment).

29. The luminous Milky way that is seen at night in the firmament near clusters of stars is the divine goddess, the Tripathagā[12] (the Gaṅgā).

30. Sanctifying the heaven and the firmament, the celestial river fell on the head of Bhava (god Śiva) and got blocked up by means of his Yogic Māyā.

31. The lake Bindusaras was formed by those few drops of water that fell from the infuriated Gaṅgā. Therefore it is remembered as Bindusaras.

32. Being impeded smilingly by Bhava (Śiva), the river goddess mentally thought of hurling down Śaṅkara.

33-34. “I shall pierce (the earth)”, she thought (to herself), “and enter the netherworlds taking Śaṅkara too along with my current”. He understood what she was desirous of doing and having realized her cruel intention, he intended to conceal (absorb) the river within his limbs.

35-38. He blocked the river on his head as it fell on the ground with great force and velocity.

In the meantime he saw the king (i.e. Bhagīratha) in front of him, weary with protruding network of veins and with all his sense-organs overtaken by hunger. Then he remembered the boon granted to him. He thought—“I have been propitiated by this king earlier for the sake of the river (Gaṅgā)”. Then he recollected the words of Brahmā that he had heard—“Hold the celestial river”; thereupon he controlled his anger. On being propitiated by means of severe penance, he set river free for the sake of Bhagīratha. He released the river that had been blocked by his own prowess.

39-41. On being released, the river began to flow in seven channels.[13] Three of them flowed towards the east and three to the west. The river Gaṅgā flows through seven channels. The Nalinī, Hrādinī and Pāvanī are those which flow towards the east. The Sītā, the Cakṣus and the Sindhu flow towards the west. The seventh among them followed Bhagiratha towards the south.

42. Hence that river is Bhāgīrathī. It joined the salt sea. All these seven (channels, rivers) sanctify the sub-continent named Hima.

43-45. Originating from the lake Bindusaras, those seven splendid rivers flow over different climes almost all of them being the lands of the Mlecchas (Barbarous tribes) and reach the place where Vāsava (Indra) showers, namely the lands of Śilīndhras, Kuntalas, Cīnas, Barbaras, Yavanas. Andhakas, Puṣkaras, Kulindas and Añcoladvicaras[14](?). After dividing the land of siṃhavān in three parts, the river Sītā flowed into the western ocean.

46-47a. The river Cakṣus flows over the following climes viz. Cīnamarus, the Tālas, the Camasamūlikas, the Bhadras, the Tuṣāras, the Lāmyākas, the Bāhlavas, the Pāraṭas and the Khaśas. Then it falls into the sea.

47b-49a. The Sindhu flows over the following territories, viz. the Daradas, along with the Kaśmīras, the Gandhāras, the Raurasas, the Kuhas, the Śivaśailas, the Indrapadas, the Vasati, (?) the Visarjamas[15] (?), the Saindhavas, the Randhrakarakas, the Śamathas, the Ābhīras, the Rohakas, the Śunāmukhas and the Ūrddhvamarus.

49b-52. The Gaṅgā sanctifies the following praiseworthy countries (climes) viz. the lands of the Gandharvas, Kinnaras, Yakṣas, Rākṣasas, Vidyādharas and the Nāgas, the residents of Kalāpagrāma, the Pāradas, the Tadgaṇas (their cousin tribes), the Khaśas, the Kirātas, the Pulindas, the Kurus, the Bharatas, the Pāñcālas, the Kāśis, the Matsyas, the Magadhas, the Aṅgas, the Suhmottaras, the Vaṅgas and the Tāmraliptas. Thereafter, obstructed by the Vindhya (?) it falls into the briny sea.

53-55. Then the sacred Hrādinī flows towards the east flooding the banks on either side, the territories of the Naiṣadhas, the Trigartakas, the Dhīvaras (fishermen), the Ṛṣīkas, the Nīlamukhas (bluefaced) the Kekaras, the Auṣṭrakarṇas, the Kirātas, the Kālodaras, the Vivarṇas (outcastes), the Kumāras and the Svarṇabhūmikas[16] (the golden grounds) that had been covered up to the extent as far as the sea shore on. the east.

56-57. Then, the river Pāvanī too flows towards the east flooding the Supathas, the Indradyumna lake, the Kharapathas and the Vetraśaṅkupathas. Through the middle of Jānakī[17] it flows over the Kuthaprāvaraṇas. It enters the ocean of Indradvīpa, the briny sea.

58-61a. Then the river Nalinī flows rapidly towards the east sanctifying the countries of the Tomaras, the Haṃsamārgas and the Haihayas; piercing through the mountains in various places it flows over various eastern territories. After reaching the Karṇaprāvaraṇas, it flows over the Śvamukhas because they are contiguous. After flowing over desert regions abounding in sand dunes, it flows over the Vidyādhara lands. It enters the briny sea after flowing through the mountainous territories.

61b-62. These rivers have hundreds and thousands of tributaries. All of them flow there where Vāsava showers. There is a well-known fragrant (Surabhi) forest on the banks of the Vasvaukasā (?)

63. The scholarly Kauberaka (son of Kubera) of great self-control stays on Hiraṇyaśṛṅga (Golden Peak). He practises the performance of Yajñas. He is very great and valorous and his strength and splendour cannot be measured.

64. He is surrounded by those scholarly Brahma-Rākṣasas who stay there. It is declared that these four followers of Kubera are on a par with one another.

65. The prosperity of the residents of the mountain should also be known in the same manner. In regard to virtue, love and wealth each is double than the former (?)

66-67a. On the top of the Hemakūṭa there is a lake named Varcovān.[18] Two rivers viz. the Manasvinī and the Jyotiṣmatī rise from it and they flow on either side falling into the eastern and the western seas.

67b-68a. There is a lake named Viṣṇupada[19] on the excellent mountain. Niṣadha.

Two rivers rise from it. They are the Gāndharvī and the Nākulī.

68b-69a. There is a great deep lake at the side of the Meru called Candra-Prabha.

The sacred river Jambū rises from it. It is remembered that Jāmbūnada (gold) is obtained from it. (The gold obtained from it is called Jāmbūnada).

69b-70a. The lake Payoda[20] is on the mountain Nīla. It is very clear and it abounds in lotuses. Two rivers rise from it, viz. the Puṇḍarīkā and the Payodā.

70b-71a. The sacred Sarayū flows from the mountain Śveta.

It is indeed from the Mānasa lake that the two rivers Jyotsnā and Mṛgakāmā have originated.

71b-73. In the Kurus is the lake well known as Rudrakānta.[21] It abounds in lotuses, fishes and (aquatic) birds—It is created by Bhava. There are twelve other deep lakes here. They are well known by the name Jaya. They abound in lotuses, fishes and (aquatic) birds and they are like seas.

From them two rivers, the Śāntā and the Mādhvī have originated.

74. In the sub-continents Kimpuruṣa etc., the lord does not shower rains. Excellent rivers flow here with waters that pierce through the ground.

75. The following three mountains of great knotty ridges extend towards the east. They are immersed under the briny sea. They are the Ṛṣabha, the Dundubhi and the great mountain Dhūmra.

76. The mountains of great lofty cliffs—the Candra, the Kāka and the Droṇa extend towards the north. In the northern end they are immersed under the salt sea.

77. The mountains Somaka, Varāha and the Nārada extend towards the west where they have entered the briny sea.

78. These great mountains—the Cakra, the Balāhaka and the Maināka, extend towards the southern sea.

79-81. In between the Cakra and the Maināka in the south-east quarter, there is the fire named Saṃvartaka. It drinks the water. This sub-marine fire is known by the name Aurva. It has the face of a mare. These twelve mountains had entered the briny sea formerly because of the fear of getting their wings chopped. They were terrified by Mahenḍra. This is seen in the white (i.e. circular moon on the full Moon night) moon in the shape of a black rabbit (or deer and a rabbit).

82-84. The different divisions of Bhārata have been recounted. They are nine. What has been narrated here is seen elsewhere too. The sub-continents vie with one another in regard to good qualities, health, span of life, piety, love and wealth. The living beings are endowed with merits. In the different sub continents different classes of people live in the different parts. Thus this earth sustains the cosmos stationed in the universe (i.e. the whole of this universe).

Footnotes and references:


The description of mount Kailāsa, though a poetic one, shows that the Purāṇa writer was conversant with the topographical features of the Mānasa-sarovara basin.—vide M. Ali. op.cit., pp. 55-58.


For understanding the Purāṇic presentation of the ancient river-system, the following points are to be noted:

(1) According to Purāṇas, a river normally originates from a lake either over-ground or under-ground and is associated with a mountain.

(2) They believed that rivers can penetrate through subterranean channels, mountain-ranges and can flow in more than one current, if intervened by ridges.

(3) A river with all its tributaries is sometimes treated as one river.


Unless mentioned otherwise all the references are to M. Ali’s. Geog. of Purāṇas.

Probatly this is the river Umā and the Zhong Chhu which flows through Gaurī Kuṇḍa on the eastern flank of Kailāsa into the Rākṣasa Tāl (the twin-lake of Mānasa Sarovara)—M. Ali, p. 65.


This is probably the Surange La, the north-east range of Kailāsa from which water flows into Lake Kongys Tso or Lake Gounche—M. Ali. p.65.


This red-coloured mountain is Kanglung Kangri (a south-east range of Kailāsa) and the river Lauhitya is the Brahmaputra. From a smalt lake at the foot of the mountain, the Brahmaputra enters Tamchok Khambah, the headwater of the Brahmaputra.—M. Ali.—p.66.


This is the peak Gurla Māndhātā, since Lake Mānasa Sarovara lies below its northern face and the river Karnālī (Map Chhu of Tibetans)—a major tributary of the Sarayū rises here—M. Ali.—p. 66.


This is the Ladakh or Leh range—(Ibid).


This is Nanga Parbat. (For details vide M. Ali.—Op. cit. p. 66-67)


The lake Śailoda seems to be the Wular lake which once covered the whole of Kashmir valley. The river Śiloda is the Jhelum which still flows through it and runs towards the west between the Indus and the Sutlej (the Cakṣu and Sītā in the Purāṇa)—M. Ali. p. 67.


Gaura, Hiraṇmaya and Soma (mentioned later in v.27 and in Vā.P.) are the Tibetan ranges north of Kailāsa and are called now Tanglha, Aling Kangri and Nychenthangla—M. Ali. (p.68).


Bindusara can be explained in two ways:

(1) a collection of drops of water: The basin between Mt. Aling Kangri and Kailāsa Tanglha is dotted with innumerable small and large lakes.

(2) a lake of frozen particles of snow. In the past , the basin Aling-Kangri and Kailāsa—Tanglha was an extensive snow-field. The Purāṇa writer must have known it through hearsay etc. According to De (p.38) it is on the Rudra Himalaya, two miles south of Gangotrī.


Are the three ways of Gaṅgā its three stages?

(1) Milky way in the sky, (2) Snowy or glacial Gaṅgā. (3) Fluvial Gaṅgā.

These are the three stages of the formation of that river which are symbolised in the legend of the descent of Gaṅgā (Gaṅgāvataraṇa). The heavenly Ganges (Ākāśa Gaṅgā) is a poetic name for the galaxy in the north. But the blocking up of the Gaṅgā in the tresses of Śiva (mentioned in V.30 and 35) is the Snowy or glacial stage and the melting of the snow-fields and glaciers is the release of the Gaṅgā. The legendary part played by king Bhagīratha in bringing the Gaṅgā to the scorched plains of northern Bharata is still shrouded in mystery.


M. Ali. (p. 69) identifies Nalinī, Hrādinī and Pāvanī—the eastflowing rivers—with the Yangtse, Mekong and Salween, the rivers flowing to the west, viz. the Sītā, the Cakṣus and the Sindhu with the Yarkand, the Shyok and the Indus, while the southern river Bhāgīrathī is the Gaṅgā. De however identifies Sītā with the Jazartes (p. 181) and the Cakṣus with the Oxus or Amudaria (p. 43).


Aṅga-loka-varāś ca ye, in Vā.P.48, 43a.


Vā.P.48.45 reads: vadātīṃśca visarjayan /


Vā.P.48.52: Svarṇabhūṣitān, ‘who are beautified with gold ornaments.


Vā.P.48.55a. Madhyenodyāna-makarān


Noted as Lake Śayanā or Nāga in other Purāṇas is the Lake ‘Nāk Tso’ which with Pangong Tso forms an extensive water-sheet—M.Ali.p,71.


Modern Lake Chakmaktin, the source of the Wakhan river which flows west in the land of Gandharvas. It is in the Wakhan region that Meru and Niṣadha come closest to each other.—M. Ali. (p. 71).


M.Ali. (p.71) identifies it with the Kara Kul of northern Pamirs. It is a twin-lake mentioned as Payoda and Puṇḍarīka (like lakes Mānasasarovara and Rākṣasa Tāl in the Kailāsa region).


These are lakes in Siberia. It shows that the Puranic authors had some idea that there were big lakes in that region. I doubt Ali’s identification of the Balkash and the Baikal with the Jaya lake.

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