The Brahmanda Purana

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

This page describes parashurama’s penance (a) which is Chapter 22 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 22 - Paraśurāma’s penance (a)

Summary: Dialogue between Paraśurāma and Śiva—the Hunter.

Vasiṣṭha said:—

1. On being advised by Bhṛgu thus, Rāma bowed down to him saying, “so be it.” He was permitted to do so by him. and so he decided to go.

2. He duly circumambulated Bhṛgu and Khyāti and bowed to them. He was embraced and greeted with blessings by both of them.

3. He bowed down to those sages and was permitted by all of them. With a determination to perform penance, he went out of that hermitage.

4. Thereafter, at the behest of his sire, Rāma of exalted mind, went to the Himavān, the most excellent among mountains, along the path mentioned by Bhṛgu.

5. He crossed different countries, mountains, rivers and forests. He gradually passed by the residences of important sages.

6. On the way he halted and stayed at the abodes of sages here and there. Or on other occasions he stayed in the holy centres and shrines of great importance. Thus, he went along slowly.

7. Passing over and surveying many pleasing territories, he reached the excellent Himavān[1], the most important of all mountains.

8. After reaching that place, he saw the excellent mountain abounding in different trees and creepers. It appeared to scrape the sky by its huge peaks.

9. It was embellished with various spots rendered lovely, due to different minerals. All round, it was rendered splendid by the brilliant jewels and medicinal herbs.

10. In some places the forests were blazing due to the fire originating from the friction of dry trees clashing together on account of violent gusts of wind. The flame was further enhanced due to the blowing winds.

11. In some places, the sun-stone came into contact with the rays of the sun and began to emit fires. Due to these fires the snow and bitumen got melted and the water thus formed quelled the forest fires.

12. In some places, the forests got illuminated through beams of light reflected from crystalline collyrium, silver and heaps of gold through the rays of the sun. Their mutual rays of light came into contact with one another and a brilliant gleam spread everywhere.

13. In some places, the forests were brightened by groups of Siddhas who had been, wet due to snowfall and so were basking in the early morning sunlight over the rocks, at the feet of the mountain.

14. In some places, the borderland was brightened up by Yakṣas who were seated on golden rocks over which fell the rays of the sun and so the Yakṣas appeared to enter fire.

15. In some places, the caves were filled with the piteous cries of herds of deer that had been agitated when hyaenas jumped up after coming out of the caves.

16. In some places the huge shining rocks and sloping sides of the trees had been scraped suddenly when the leaders of the herds of boars and tigers fought each other.

17. In some places, the slopes of rocky ridges had been scraped and dug up by the hoofs of the Gavayas (A species of wild ox) as they were chased by the elephants attracted by the resemblance of their own young ones. [The idea seems to be this—the Gavayas were mistaken to be the young cubs of elephants by their mother elephants. Hence, they pursued the Gavayas.]

18. In some places the forests abounded in smashed pieces of rocky boulders, because the highly excited elephants in their rut had been fighting one another for the sake of a female elephant.

19. In some places, the rocky slabs had been split by the claws of lions treading upon them, as they pursued the elephants, when their anger had been roused on hearing the roaring trumpeting sound of those elephants.

20. In some places, the forests were filled with the loud lamenting cries of elephants whose temples had been pierced by the claws of the lions suddenly pouncing upon them.

21. In some places, there were deep caves, the rocks of which appeared to be split by the terrible cries of the lions whose manes had been violently pulled by the eight-footed (fabulous animal) Śarabha.

22. In some places, the rocks and pebbles had been broken up as the excited and infuriated hosts of Śabaras (hillmen) and the leaders of the herds of bears had been engaged in mutual struggle.

23. In some places, the female elephants and tuskers were found sporting about in the bower-like bushes on the mountain. In some places the excited elephants in rut were seen pursuing the she-elephānts throughout the forests.

24. The mountain Himālaya had hundreds of caves filled with gusts of wind formed by the breaths of sleeping lions. In the forests of that mountain deer wandered about despite their great fear being suspicious of danger.

25. Herds of Camarī dear moved about here and there very slowly while sporting, because they were afraid of their tail getting split as a result of being entangled in the thorny bushes.

26. The entire face of all the quarters was filled with the utterances and the sounds of beating time by the Kinnarīs residing in the caves of the mountains.

27. The ground had been marked by the red-lac-dyed wet feet of the sylvan deities moving about here and there.

28. All round activities of dance had been initiated by groups of peacocks and pea-hens, whose notes were musically sweet and whose plumes had been raised up and spread.

29. It appeared that the mountain was being fanned gently by the breezes in the forest, which were extremely pleasing to the bodies and which shed showers of flowers blooming in water as well as on the ground.

30. The region bordering upon the mountain had been abounding in the Mango trees and they were filled with the tumultuous cooing of male cuckoos that had become excessively elated by tasting the juice of the season Spring.

31. The mountain had been resonant with the musical notes of bees that had been maddened by imbibing nectar from different kinds of flowers. The forests therein had become deafened, due to the chirping sounds of many birds.

32. The surface of the ground had become filled and thickly bedecked with a number of fresh flowers wet with honey. They had been blown therein by the breezes of the forest and scattered about:

33. The region all round had been deafened by the loud sound of springs and water-falls that cascaded down from great heights upon narrow defiles abounding in rugged rocky pebbles.

34-39. The forests on the mountain abounded in all the following trees viz. Pāṭala (Bignonia suaveolons), Kadamba (anthocephalus Indicus), Nimba (the Neem tree), Hintāla (the marshy date tree), Sarja (Vatica robusta), Bandhūka (Pentapetes phoenicea), Tinduka (Diospyros embryopteris), Kapittha (Feronia elephantum), Panasa (the bread-fruit tree), Aśoka, the mango tree, Iṅguda (Terminalia catappa—a medicinal tree), Asana (Terminalia tomentosa), Nāga, Campaka, Punnāga, Kovidāra (Kacanār in Hindi), Priyaṅgu (Setaria italica Beauy, Hindi-Kangun) Priyāla (the tree Buchanania latifolia), Nīpa (a tree of Kadamba family) Bakula, Akṣa, Tamalaka, the grape vine, Madhūka (Bassia latifolia), Āmalaka (Emblic myrobalan), Jambū (Engenia jambolana), Kaṅkola, Rose tree, Bilva (Aegle marmelos gorr, Fam, Rutaceae), Arjuna, Mango tree, Bījapūra (citron?), Picula, Ambaṣṭha (Oxalis corniculato), Kanaka, Vaikaṅkata, Śamī, Dhava, Putrajīva (H. Jiyāpota), Abhaya (A fragrant grass), Ariṣṭa (The soap berry-tree), Loha (aloe wood), Uudmbara (Ficus glomerata), Pippala (H. Pīpal) and other trees. It was beautified on all sides by other trees of various kinds. Their innumerable branches spread all round. They grew so close together that they appeared to be overlapping one another.

40a. The leaves too clustered together without leaving any gap in between. The surface of the ground on all sides was inaccessible' (due to the impenetrable thick leaves) to the rays of the sun.

40b-41a. Hundreds of rows of jungles were occupied and as if trembling with monkeys who grew fat and strong by eating different kinds of ripe fruits.

41b-42a. Here and there hundreds of rivulets could be seen gushing out of the rocky crevices. They were extremely charming, O king, as they produced roaring sound in view of their falling over rugged rocky basin.

42b-43a. It was beautified all round by excellent large lakes adorned with lilies and lotuses and resonant (with the cries of) different aquatic birds.

43b-44a. After reaching the lordly mountain, the mountain with its peaks capped with sṇo\v, the excellent (descendant) of Bhṛgu climbed on to it immediately with great joy.

44b-45a. After entering the dense forest full of trees growing in the open spaces, Rāma of noble mind, walked about slowly to a tree grown in the open spaces, O King.

45b-46a. As he moved about in the different quarters, he was glanced at on all sides with suspicion and awe by the female deer, with lovely eyes. Being glanced at thus, he became delighted.

46b-47a. Being fanned by the sylvan breezes fragrant due to the sweet smell of diverse flowers and seeing the splendid sylvan glory, he became delighted.

47b-49. The descendant of Bhṛgu carefully scrutinized different spots and moved about. Seeing the mutually antagonistic things (such as heat, cold etc.) as well as the minerals, he thought thus “O this mountain has been crowned as the overlord of all mountains by Brahmā. It is but proper that he has been made a partaker of the benefits of Yajñas. The fact that thís mountain is the overlord of all mountains is obviously demonstrated.

50-53a. He has rendered the whole forest sweet through the whistling sound of the hollow bamboos.

Through the clusters of snow drops clinging to its ridges, this mountain appears as one who has put on and covered himself with a white cloth.

Due to the thick clusters of snow-flakes sticking to its top, this mountain appears like one who has covered his limbs with an upper garment of diverse colours.

With his body bedecked with sandal paste, fragrant aloe, camphor, musk, saffron etc. he cleaṛly looks like a graceful elegant sensualist.

53b-54a. Piles of big pearls are scattered all round, from the foreheads of lordly elephants struck down by lions and this adds to the beauty of this mountain.

54b-56a. Its tops are embellished with the flowers of various trees, creepers and winding plants. He is adorned by means of the canopy of closely spread layers and layers of beautiful clouds.

His body is variegated by means of different minerals. He is bedecked in all sorts of gems and jewels.

56b. The Kailāsa peak serves the purpose of the white umbrella and renders it splendid. He is surrounded on all, sides by herds of elephant-faced and horse-faced semi-divine beings.

57-58. His palace is a rocky cave with a great gate-way illuminated by gems and jewels. He resorts to his throne in the middle of his abode which is an isolated cave with the trees all round, performing in due order, the duties of the mace-bearers. Like an imperial Majesty he could be seen by the people, but is inaccessible to them.

59-60. The royal insignia of the fluffy Camara-hair is being waved aloft by the Camarī deer moving about here and there. He shiṇes on being served by many types of animals by the peacocks who dance in his honour and by the Kinnaras who sṃg his praise. It is clearly manifest that this (mountain) is installed in the office of the overlord of lordly mountains.

61-62a. After occupying the Earth, he enjoys the entire glory by means of his powers. Thinking thus, Rāma who was extremely delighted, moved about for a long time in the forests and caves of the mountain Himālaya.

62b-64. The scion of the family of Bhṛgu, O great king, reached an excellent lake in that extensive forest.

The lake was vast and its waters were free from impurities. It was beautified by lilies, lotuses and clusters of Kalhāra flowers, (a variety of white lotus). It was rendered splendid all round by red and yellow, white and blue lotuses, lilies and other kinds of aquatic plants.

65-67. It was vibrant and resonant on account of hundreds of aquatic birds and insects, birds such as swans, Sārasa birds, water-crows, Kāraṇḍavas (a variety of ducks), Jīva-Jīvakas, Cakravākas, ospreys and bees. It was served by gentle breeze.

It appeared to be dancing about as waves and ripples were produced within them when shoals of Śapharī and other types of fish swam about here and there. The most excellent scion of the family of Bḥṭgu reached that excellent lake.

68-69a. It had rendered melodious the quarters through, the chirpings of different birds.

Rāma the most excellent one among intelligent men made a splendid and spacious hermitage on its bank and decided to perform penance.

69b-70. Invariably, he sustained himself on a diet of greens, roots and fruits. He had perfect control on his sense-organs. Keeping the lord of.Devas in his own mind, he performed penance along the path initiated by Bhṛgu. He was endowed with great devotion.

71-72a. He worshipped the lord of Devas, O king, with intense mental concentration. During the rainy season he had neither abode nor a shelter. During the winter he resorted to chill water. During the summer he stayed among five fires (i.e. four fires on four sides and the blazing sun above). He performed penance in this manner for a long time.

72b-73. He vanquished Kāma (Lust) and other enemies. He discarded Ūrmiṣaṭka[2] (sixfold distress and anxiety). His intellect was not stirred up or agitated by the Dvandvas (mutually antagonistic pairs of feelings, heat-cold, pleasure-pain etc). He was little excited by the defects of Tāpa (heat or agonizing experience). He had his physical body as well as mind purified by means of Yamas (five moral restraints in Yoga) and Niyamas (observances prescribed in Yoga).

74. The sage of great self-control rendered the vital airs steady within the physical body by means of Prāṇāyāma (Breath-control). He was able to seat himself in the lotus pose with great ease. He observed perfect silence. The great sage kept his mind steady and stabilised.

75. Devoted to the practice of Pratyāhāra (withdrawing the sense-organs from external stimulii, sensual feelings and objects), he controlled the sense-organs. Self-possessed that he was, he could stabilise the usually unsteady mind by means of Dhāraṇā (Retention of perception of the supreme deity).

76. He had the vision of Parameśvara, the lord of Devas, by means of meditation. His inner mind was in a stable quiet state. He was a Maitra (an exalted Brāhmaṇa who had arrived at the highest state of human perfection due to close contact with the supreme Being). He was free from all sorts of obstacles.

77-78. After perceiving the preceptor of the universe (i.e. Supreme Lord) in his contemplation, he pondered over the lord of Devas. The supreme soul stayed in his mind as an object of meditation His senses and the physical body became motionless.

Performing the repetition of the mantra of the lord of the chief of Devas and meditating on him in accordance with his own intellect, he remained through the duration of penance motionless like a lamp in a place where there is no wind.

79-81. That sage of unmeasurable soul propitiated the lord stationed in all living beings. Thereafter, he meditated, upon the Niṣkala, the whole form of the lord which is unsullied, the greatest luminosity which cannot be thought of clearly, the excellent one that could be meditated upon by the Yogins, the eternal one, the pure one that which is tranquil forever; that which is beyond the pale of the sense-organs; that which is incomparable and is solely comprised of bliss; that which is steady, that which pervaded the entire living world, the mobile and immobile.

82. The scion of the family of Bhṛgu meditated upon that aspect of the lord of the Devas, O mighty king. For a long time he had the feeling “I am He (i.e. the Supreme Lord.)”

Footnotes and references:


VV.8-43 constitute a beautiful description of the Himālayas.


The six distressful ‘waves’ in the life are: hunger, thirst, decay, death, grief and illusion (MW 222.3). ŚKD.I.282 enumerates the following ‘waves of existence’ viz. old age and death (of the body), greediness and vision of the mind and hunger and thirst (of life).

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