The Brahmanda Purana

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

This page describes description of the netherworlds (patala) which is Chapter 20 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 20 - Description of the netherworlds (pātāla)

(also see notes on the fourteen worlds)

Sūta said:

l-2a. Understand the details of the earth, the wind, the ether, the water and the fire which is the fifth one—that are being recounted later on, that had been recounted earlier along with the proofs thereof.

These elements are proclaimed as constituted of infinite ingredients and they are all-pervading.

2b-4a The earth is the mother of all living beings. It sustains all animals and living beings. It is full of many kinds of rural regions and territories. It consists of many towns and places of shelter. It possesses many rivers, streams and mountains. It is crowded with many species of living beings.

The earth, the divine goddess, is sung about as infinite and extremely extensive.

4b. The waters also should be understood as infinite—the waters contained in the rivers, streams, oceans and small receptacles such as ponds and puddles, those situated on the mountains and in the firmament and those within the bowels of the earth.

5. Similarly, the element of fire pervades all the worlds. It is cited as infinite, all-pervasive and originating from everything.

6. Similarly, the Ether is remembered as unscrapable, beautiful, and accommodating all or various objects, endless and infinite.

7. The Vāyu (wind) originated from the Ether. The waters are stationed within and above the earth. The earth is established on the water.

8. The Ether or the sky is that which has nothing else greater than it. Then the earth and then the water. This is the opinion that there is no state of being endless in regard to the Bhautika (objects evolved of the elements)[1]

9-10a. Understand that the earth becomes developed due to the interaction (of. the elements), The sequence—the earth, the water and the Ether is well known. In the seventh (Netherworld) Rasātala this is the situation (?)

10b-11a. The nether-world called Rasātala has the land portion extending to ten thousand Yojanas. It has been reckoned by noble-souled persons that each of the netherlands is more extensive than the former.

11b-13a. The first one is Atala by name. Thereafter is Sutala. The next one, one should know, is Talātala. Atala (? or Vitala) is very extensive. Beneath that is the world named Tala (should be Mahātala?) and beyond that is Rasātala. Beneath all these, it is remembered, is the seventh world, the Pātāla.

13b-15a. The first portion of the ground is glorified as one with black soil.

The second world has pale white coloured ground. The third one has blue soil. The fourth one has yellow soil and the fifth one has a gravel-covered soil.

The sixth world should be known as (consisting of) rocky grounds and the seventh one is remembered as one with golden ground.

15b-20a. The well-known palace of the lord of the AsurasNamuci, the enemy of Indra is in the first nether-world. The following abodes too are in the first nether world, viz. the abode of Mahānāda, the city of Śaṅkukarṇa, the palace of Kabandha, Niṣkulāda’s town fully inhabited by delighted (jolly) people, the abode of the demon Bhīma, the abode of Śūladanta, the city of Lohitākṣas and Kaliṅgas, the town of Śvāpada, the city of Dhanañjaya and of the noble-souled Nāgendra (Lord of serpents), the city of Kāliya the serpent and that of Kauśika. Thus it should be known that there are thousands of cities (and abodes) of the serpents, Dānavas and Rākṣasas in the first Nether-world with black soil.

20b-25a. In the second nether-world Sutala, O Brāhmaṇas, are the abodes of the following, viz. the city of the first lord of the Daityas and Rākṣasas i.e. of Mahājambha, the palace of Hayagrīva, Kṛṣṇa and Nikumbha, the city of the Daitya named Śaṅkha and that of Gomukha, the abode of the demons Nīla, Megha and Kathana, the abode of Kukupāda and that of Mahoṣṇīṣa, the city of Kambala the serpent and that of Aśvatara and the city of Takṣaka the noble-souled son of Kadru. Thus there are, O Brāhmaṇa, thousands of cities belonging to the serpents, Dānavas and the Rākṣasas in the second nether-world of pale white coloured soil.

25b-31. In the third nether-world is the well known city of the noble-souled Prahlāda, Anuhrāda and Agnimukha, the city of (the Daitya) named Tāraka, the city of Triśiras, the city of Śiśumāra the city of Tripura, the demon Purañjana’s city full of commotion, due to the gay, well-nourished people, the palace of Cyavana the Rākṣasa, the city of Kumbhila and Khara the leading Rākṣasas, the city of the ruthless Virādha with fire-emitting mouth, the city of Hemaka the serpent as well as that of Pāṇḍuraka, the city of Maṇināga, the palace of Kapila, the palace of Nandaka the lord of the serpents, and that of Viśālāksa. Thus there are thousands of cities of the serpents, Dānavas and Rākṣasas, O Brāhmaṇas in the third netherworld with blue soil.

32-34. In the fourth netherworld is the city of Kālanemi the lion among Daityas, that of the noble-souled Gajakarṇa, the city of Kuñjara, the vast and extensive city of Sumāli the leading Rākṣasa, the abode of Muñja, Lokanātha and Vṛkavaktra and the city of Vainateya, that extends to many Yojanas and that is crowded with many birds. All these are in the fourth netherworld.

35-38. In the fifth netherworld that is covered with sand and full of gravel is the intelligent Virocana, the lion among Daityas, the abodes of Vaidyuta, Agni-Jihva and that of Hiraṇyākṣa, the city of the intelligent Vidyujjihva, the lord of Rākṣasa, the city of Sahamegha, that of Mālin, the leading Rākṣasa, the city of the serpent Kirmīra and those of Svastika and Jayā. Thus there are thousands of cities of the serpents, Dānavas and the Rākṣasas in the fifth netherworld full of gravel. This should be known (as the situation) for ever.

39-42a. In the sixth netherworld is the excellent city of Kesari, the lord of the Daityas, the cities of Suparvan, Puloman and Mahiṣa, and the city of the noble-souled Sureṣa, the leading Rākṣasa. It is there that Śataśīrṣa the son of Suramā lives joyfully. The king of serpents named Vāsuki, the affluent and glorious friend of Mahendra (stays there). Thus there are thousands of cities of the serpents, Dānavas and the Rākṣasas in the famous sixth netherworld, Rasātala with rocky ground.

42b-46a. It should be known that the city of Bali is in the seventh and the last netherworld Pātāla. It is beyond every world. It is gay and full of men and women. It is full of Asuras, serpents and the happy and joyous enemies of the Devas. There itself is the great city of Mucukunda, the Daitya. It is teeming with innumerable great cities of Daityas full of bustle and commotion, thousands of the brilliant cities of the serpents, the great rising (flourishing) cities of the Daityas and the Dānavas and the many flourishing abodes of the Rākṣasas.

46b-47. O leading Brāhmaṇas, at the extreme end of Pātāla that extends to many Yojanas resides Śeṣa the noble-souled (king of serpents). His eyes are like the red lotus. He is devoid of death and old age. His body is as white as the inner part of well-washed Śaṅkha (conchshell). He wears blue clothes. He is very powerful.

48-49. His physical body is huge. He is lustrous and mighty. He wears garlands of variegated colours. He has a thousand faces (hoods) with mouths shining and brilliant and resembling the golden-peaked (mountain) in purity (lustre). He has single Kuṇḍala (Ear-ring). He appears splendid with his thousand faces. He is refulgent, due to a series of tongues emitting sparks of waving flames of fire.

50-54. With his two thousand eyes that have the reddish splendour of the rising sun and with his body that is white and glossy, he appears like the mountain. Kailāsa surrounded by clusters of flames. He has the white complexion like the Moon as well as the Kunda flowers. Hence the cluster of his eyes shines like the cluster of midday suns on the peak of the white Mountain (Śveta Parvata).

He has a huge terrible body. With it (resting) in his Teclining pose on his couch, he appears like a thousand-peaked mountain of vast dimensions (resting) over the earth.

This (enormously) huge lord of serpents, himself of great splendour, is being attended upon by extremely wise and noble-souled great serpents of huge physique. He is the king of all serpents. He is Ananta, Śeṣa, of excessive brilliance.

55. That is the commandment (or act) of Viṣṇu. That is the final established boundary (of the Nether-world). Thus the seven netherworlds that could be discussed have been recounted.

56-58. They are always inhabited by the Devas, the Asuras, the great serpents and the Rākṣasas. Beyond this is total absence of light. It cannot be traversed by the Siddhas and the Sādhus (good people). It is unknown even to the Devas. With a desire to expatiate on the general position, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, the greatness of the earth, water, fire, wind and the ether is undoubtedly narrated thus. Hereafter, I shall recount the movement of the sun and the Moon.

Footnotes and references:


The text is a bit obscure. Vā.P.50.9 (corresponding verse) reads:

evan anto hyanantasya bhautikasya na vidyate.

“In this way, there is no end to the objects evolved from bhūtas—as they are infinite.”

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