The Brahmanda Purana

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

This page describes description of the dissolution of the universe (b) which is Chapter 3 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 3 - Description of the dissolution of the Universe (b)

Sūta continued:

1. I shall explain the process of dissolution at the end of a Para (? i.e. one full day and night) of the Self-born Lord (Brahmā), when the period of existence of the Lord lapses.

2. During the process of Pratyāhāra (dissolution) the Avyakta (the unmanifest one) swallows the Vyakta (the manifest one—the whole Universe) entirely in the same way as Īśvara creates the manifest Universe which is extremely subtle.

3-4. When the extremely dreadful destruction of everything beginning with Dvyaṇuka (molecule of two atoms) and ending with Para (the greatest thing) is imminent at the end of Kalpa, and is not visible to any one, at the close of Manvantara, of the last Manu, at the end of Kaliyuga when everything is dissolved, it is called Saṃhāra (Annihilation).

5-7. When the great “Washing off” begins to take place,[1] when the Pratyāhāra (lit. withdrawal i.e. dissolution of the Universe) is imminent, when in the course of that dissolution, the Elements both gross and subtle (Bhūtas and Tanmātras) are annihilated, when Vikāras (Evolutes of Prakṛti) beginning with Mahat and ending with Viśeṣa are destroyed) when the Pratisañcara (R.e-absorption and dissolution) caused by its own characteristic nature has begun to function, the waters at the very outset swallow Gandha (smell) the quality of Earth. Thereafter, the Earth from which the quality of smell has been taken away, becomes fit for destruction.

8-9. When the Gandha (smell, the subtle essence of the earth) is destroyed, the Earth transforms itself into the state of Water. Waters then permeate everything and move about here and there. Rasa (taste), the quality of the waters, gets merged with Joytis (the fiery element).

10. Along with the destruction of Rasatanmātra (the subtle element of rasa) waters become destroyed. When the Rasa is taken away by the fierce fiery element, waters assume the state of Jyotis (the element called Fire).

11. When the water is swallowed, Tejas (fiery element) looks around on all sides. Then Agni (The Fiery element) pervading everywhere evaporates that water.

12-13. Then this entire universe is gradually filled with flames. Then the flames spread on all sides, above and below, Vayu (the wind element) swallows up Rūpa (colour of form) the luminous quality of Jyotis. It then gets merged therein like the flame of lamp in the gust of wind.

14. When Rūpatanmātra (form of colour, the essential quality of Fire) is destroyed the fiery element calms down bereft of its quality of colour. The great element Vāyu then blows off and destroys Tejas (the fiery element).

15-16. When, the world has become devoid of light, when Tejas has merged into and has become identified with Vāyu, Vāyu resorts to its root cause with which it has connection, below and on all sides. Ākāśa (Ether) swallows Sparśa (the quality of touch), the quality of Vayu.

17-19. Then Vayu calms down and the Ether remains behind bare, possessing no form, no colour, no taste, no touch, and no smell.

Filling up every thing with sounds, that great (element) shines. When that becomes dissolved, only the Ether charaterised by sound remains behind. Its subtle essence, the Śabda-Tanmātra then covers the entire Ether and stands by. There the Bhūtādi (the Cosmic Ego—Ahaṃkāra) swallows the quality Śabda.

20-22. All the Bhūtas (Elements) and the Indriyas (Sense-Organs) become merged into Bhūtādi simultaneously. This Bhūtādi is of the nature of Abhimāna (or Ahaṃkāra—Cosmic Ego). It is remembered as being of the nature of Tamas quality.

The principle Mahat characterised by Buddhi (Cosmic intellect) swallows Bhūtādi. Mahan (Mahat) should be known as Ātman. Those who ponder over reality call it by the following synonyms viz. Saṃkalpa (Conception), Vyavasāya (Resolution, determination), Buddhi (Intellect), Manas (Mind), Liṅga (Emblem), Mahān (Great) and Akṣara (Imperishable).

23-24. When the Bhūtas get merged into Guṇasāmya (equilibrium of Guṇas), the Mahat also becomes dissolved and Guṇasāmya (the equilibrium of three Guṇas) abides within its Self. The causes of all Bhūtas get dissolved in the cause of Prasaṃyama (complete restraint).

Thus there is the restraint (and Re-absorption) of the Tattvas (Principles) along with their causes.

25-26. This Tattvaprasaṃyama (Re-absorption of the Principles), O Brāhmaṇas, is remembered as being recurrent. It is repeated often.

Dharma (virtue), Adharma (sin), Tapas (penance), Jñāna (knowledge), Śubha (auspiciousness) Satyānṛte (Truth and falsehood), the states of being up or beneath, happiness and sorrow, pleasure and displeasure—all these current in the worldly existence are remembered as of the nature of Guṇas.[2]

27. The auspiciousness and inauspiciousness of men of knowledge devoid of (adherence to) the Organs of Sense—all their merits and sins get merged into Prakṛti.

28-30. The merits and demerits of the living beings that have been stabilised in Prakṛti, are declared to be congenital to the embodied beings. The same merits and evils in different situations join the soul and bodies. Virtue and Sin, are merely the two qualities of creatures. They flourish through their causes along with the creatures as though through the state of being the effect.

31-34, The sentient Guṇas (i.e. Sattva etc.) presided over by the Kṣetrajña (individual soul) get dissolved at the time of Primary Creation, Secondary Creation and worldly existence and the creatures come into contact with or get separated from each other or move about here and there due to their own respective causes.

These Vṛttis (functions—causes of activity) are threefold according as they are of the nature of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. They function on being presided over and activised by Puruṣa.

The Sattva is of the nature of attaining the Upper part and Tamas is of the nature of (falling off) to the lower part. The activiser of the two, in the middle is Rajas which moves about itself repeatedly.

Thus they function as the three qualities of the mind.

35. In all the worlds, among all living beings, all activities are begun by human beings through their reliance on Avidyā.[3] But that should not be pursued by one who possesses knowledge of reality.

36. These three courses of expedients are remembered as inauspicious and sinful by nature. When overwhelmed with Tamas, the creature does not get at the true state of affairs.

37-38. By not perceiving the reality, he under-goes bondage in different ways. He is bound by the Prākṛta Bandha (Bondage of Prakṛti), by Vaikārika Bandha (Bondage of its evolutes) and the third bondage through Dakṣiṇas[4]. On being bound thus the creature turns round and round (in worldly existence). Thus these three bondages caused by ignorance have been recounted.

39-40. The following are the defects of the mind viz. (false) perception of eternity in what is transient; perception of happiness in what is misery, the knowledge that what is not one’s own is one’s own and the decisive knowledge that what is not pure is pure. Those who have these mental defects do have the defects of knowledge through misapprehension. If Rāga (attachment) and Dveṣa (hatred) recede, that is cited as true knowledge.

41. Ajñāna (ignorance) is the cause of Tamas and Rajas. It has two-fold Karmans (i.e. the auspicious and inauspicious) as its result. The resumption of the physical body once again is the result of Karman—Thus great misery begins to function.

42. Tṛṣā (Desire) is born of ears, eyes, skin, tongue and nose. This is the cause of rebirth. It is produced through Karma (results of the acts done).

43. A man with a desire is said to be a Bāla (child i.e. immature). As a result of actions committed by himself the-individual soul moves round and round there itself like the oil-pressing machine.

44. Hence, it is taught that Ajñāna (ignorance) is the root cause of all calamities and misfortunes. Coming to a decisive conclusion that it is the sole enemy, one shall endeavour to active knowledge.

45. Through perfect knowledge, one becomes ready to renounce everything. Through renunciation and sacrifice the intellect becomes detached. Through detachment, one becomes pure. Having become pure one is liberated through Sattva quality.

46. Henceforth, I shall recount Rāga (attachment) that destroys living beings. In regard to one who has not controlled himself, the contact with the sensual objects brings about intense attachment.

47-48. What is desirable and undesirable that which is liked or disliked that which causes unhappiness, pleasure, displeasure, affliction etc., excessive distress on account of the onset of misery and recollection of (previously experienced) happiness—all these constitute sensual attachment. This is remembered as the cause of re-birth in the material world in the case of everyone beginning with Brahmā and ending with immobile beings.

49-50. This has Ajñāna as the precondition. Hence, one should avoid ignorance. If any one does not accept the words of sages as authority, nor values good manners and breeding as practised by wise men, if any one is opposed to the discipline of four castes and stages of life and if one is antagonistic towards wise men and scriptural injunctions—that is the path leading to hell,—that is the cause of birth in the lower species of animals.

51-52. Birth among the lower creatures -is spoken of by good people as the cause of the place of torment and torture of three kinds.

There is obstacle everywhere in regard to the cause and object of knowledge in the six types of Tiryagyoni (animal creations). Anaiśvarya (absence of divine or controlling power) is remembered as the obstacle.

53-55. Thus in the case of living beings and others, the Tāmasī Vṛtti (base predication) is four-fold (?). The mind is solely dependent on the intrinsic strength of its Sattva because it is observed to reveal itself in accordance with the Sattva.

Tattvas can be comprehended only after viewing them in accordance with reality. The multiplicity of Sattvas (? living beings) and Kṣetrajñas (individual souls) is termed Nānārtha-Darśana (vision of different objects). The observation of multiplicity is Jñāna (knowledge). Yoga is said to have come out of Jñāna. Bondage is for him who is bound by it and salvation is for him who is free from it.

56-57. When the Saṃsāra (cycle of worldly existence recedes, one becomes free from the Liṅga (subtle psychic body) and gets released.

(?) Devoid of Sambandha (contact) and Caitanya (consciousness), he remains within his own self. Even while remaining within his own self, he is contaminated by what is called diversity and multiplicity.

Thus the characteristic feature of Jñāna and Mokṣa is succinctly recounted.

58-60. That Mokṣa (salvation) is said to be three-fold by persons who see the reality.

The first one is the Separation due to Ajñāna. In the second one, the Salvation is on account of Rāga-Saṃkṣaya (destruction of intimate attachment). The third one is due to Trṣṇākṣaya (destruction of thirst i.e. intense attachment). The cause of Salvation has thus been explained. Kaivalya (Absolution) is due to Liṅgābhāva (Absence of the minute body called Liṅgaśarīra) and through Kaivalya there is Nirañjana (pure and unsullied state), and through the unsullied nature one becomes pure. There is no cither leader (Netā). Henceforth, I shall mention Vairāgya (absence of attachment) by exposing their blemishes.[5]

61-62. With respect to the fivefold sense-objects whether divine or human, one should pursue an attitude of non-hatred (apradveṣa) as well as of non-attachment (anabhiṣvaṅga) due to observation of defects and blemishes.

One should avoid completely, distress, pleasure and sorrow. After adopting Vairāgya (absence of attachment) in this way, the embodied being should be free from the feeling of mine-ness (to objects in the external world).

63-65. One should ponder over, by means of intellect. Thus: “This world is not eternal; it is misery (incarnate). Thereafter, by resorting more to the Sattva guṇa he should sanctify his manner of carrying out his activities. Only a person who has completely kept under his control all his passionate attachments becomes capable of observing defects and blemishes entirely.

Then at the time of departure (death)[5], the Uṣmā (bodily heat) becomes virulent on account of Daśās (humours of the body in disorderly state (produced occasionally by causes dependent on particular circumstances. Urged by a violent gust of wind in the body, it pervades the whole and obstructs the blemishes:

66. Due to the chilliness, the virulently excited Vāyu (Life-breath) pierces the centres of Prāṇas (vital airs) and cuts off vulnerable parts of the body and rises up.

67-69. It is the breath stationed in the abodes of vital airs of all living beings. By contraction, the Jñāna becomes covered up and the activities also are enshrouded. The Jīva, having the navel as its stable seat, is induced by its own actions committed before. It then dislodges the Prāṇas from the eight limbs and upsets their activities. In the end, abandoning the body, it ceases to have breathing activity. Being abandoned by the vital airs thus, the person is called Dead.

70. (Defective) Just as, in this world, during a dream it is observed that the individual is being led here and there. It is gratifying to one who is subjected to it but actually there no other leader[6].

71-72. The third viz. the elimination of thirst or covetousness is spoken as the characteristic of Liberation. It is the observation of defects in five objects of sensual pleasures such as sound and others. Absence of hatred, absence of intense attachment, avoidance of pleasure and agony (about objects of sensual pleasures)—these are the desolations of eight-fold Prakṛtis (Primary essences which evolved the whole visible world.)

73. It should be known that these Prakṛtis are the eight causes mentioned before in due order. They are those beginning with Avyakta the Unmanifest one) and ending with Bhūtas (Elements) evolved out of Prakṛti.

74.[7] A Śiṣṭa (or a wise man) is one who does not come into clash with the scriptural injunctions. He is endowed with the disciplinary conventions and consists of different castes and stages of life. The characteristic of the observance of the Varṇas and Āśramas is that it causes the attainment of godly abodes.

75. The eight abodes of gods are those beginning with that of Brahmā and ending with Piśāca. The supernatural powers beginning with Aṇimā (State of being very minute) are the causes characterised as eight.

76-80a. (These divine powers called Aṇimā etc.) are seen as the cause in the unobstructed objects of the sense characterised by Sound etc. These eight forms evolved by Prakṛti become attached to Kṣetrajñas (individual souls) in due order in the forms of Guṇas.[8]

Those who are endowed with eyes can see the cloud separately during the rainy season. In the same way the Siddhas (persons with spiritual attainments) see the Jīvas with their divine vision, even as they take food and drinks, enter different wombs and run about in a definite order (in various directions such as) along the sides, above or below.

The same individual Soul is mentioned by means of four different worlds that are synonyms and so have the same connotations viz. Jīva, Prāṇa, Liṅga and Karaṇa.

80b-81. This is of the nature and magnitude of Vyakta and Avyakta. It enjoys everything entirely ending with Avyakta and Anugraha[9] (? Blessing) presided over by Kṣetrajña. After realizing this and becoming pure, he is liberated through knowledge (Jñāna.)

82-84a. When the truth is realized, the principle that is lost comes out clearly. But in the different bodies that have completely ceased to exist, the Karaṇa (i.e. Individual Soul) differs from Avyakta and Jñānin (one with knowledge). One who is completely liberated from the body in the form of Guṇas as well as Prāṇa etc. does not take up another body, just as the sprout (never comes out) when the seed is burnt.

84b-87. A Jñānī (one endowed with knowledge) has the mind and body not conversant with the entire Universe. Due to knowledge, he is enlightened of the four Dośās (situations, conditions). He recedes when stationed in Prakṛti (i.e. natural posture).

They say that Prakṛti is real truth. Vikāra (Evolute) is called unreal.

Asadbhāva (State of being non-existent) should be known as Anṛta (unreal). Sadbhāva (state of beiṇg existent) is called Satya (truth or reality). This Satya (Brahman) is without name and form. They call Kṣetrajña as one with name and form. He is called Kṣetrajña because he knows the Kṣetra (field or his body). Since Kṣetrajña passes on towards the Kṣetra, it is said to be Śubha (auspicious).

88. (?) Kṣetrajña is remembered. Hence it is mentioned as Kṣetra by those who know it. Kṣetra is seen to be without intelligence, but Kṣetrajña is always endowed with consciousness and intelligence.

89. Those who are conversant with Kṣetra, know it as Kṣetra because of its impurity, defilement, destruction, Kāraṇa (cause) Kṣatatrāṇa (protection form wounds or loss), Bhojyatva (worthy of being enjoyed), Viṣayatva (being the object of Senses).

90. All the objects beginning with Mahat and ending with Viśeṣa, possess variety of form and they are characterised by Vikāra (change, evolute). Hence they are Vilakṣaṇa (peculiar). Hence, verily, the Akṣara (imperishable) approaches the Kṣara (perishable).

91. It is called Kṣara for the reason that it wastes away along with the Vikāra (change of form).

92. It is called Kṣetra because it saves the person from worldly existence and hells. It is also called so as it saves from misery.

93. Sukha (happiness) and Duḥkha (sorrow) are called Bhojya (that which can be enjoyed) because of Ahambhāva (Egotism). It is Viṣaya (object) since it is Acetana (non-sentient). That which has the opposite qualities is remembered as Vibhu.

94. It is called Akṣara for the following reasons too—na kṣīyate (It is not wasted), na kṣarati (It does not perish). It does not spread from Vikāra. It is not diminished (Akṣīṇa).

95. It is called Puruṣa because it has within the (subtle) body. It is called Puruṣa also because it has Pura i.e. the body as the place of resort.

96.[10] (?) If it is said by an ignorant person like this—‘Describe the person’. He is described (as follows).[10] He is pure. He shines unsullied. He is the knower. He is devoid of ignorance.

97. He is other than what could be called existent and non-existent, bound and liberated, mobile and stable. As he is devoid of any cause he cannot be pointed out. There is no sin[11] in him.

98-100. Due to his purity, he is not a Dṛśya (a perceivable object). Due to his state of being the Seer, he is of impartial vision. Due to his buddhi (consciousness of being the Self) it is never deficient. It is spontaneous (without any cause or external stimulant. One does not lose sense (or err), by thinking through inference, what could be grasped only by imagination. When one perceives the knower of the nature of Direct Vision, with all the object quiescent (Śāntārtha) which cannot be specifically pointed out among the Dṛśyas, and Adṛśyas (Visible and Invisible), then it is difficult to hold. It is excellent. The knower cannot be seen as separate entirely.

101. The seer in the nature and capacity of the cause restrains himself by means of his own self. He remains within his own self, in the cause, in the Prakṛti.

102-105. Whether the Ātman is one[12], other than existent or non-existent, (whether) it is here or elsewhere, (whether) it is one, it is separate, (whether) it is Kṣetrajña or it is Puruṣa, whether it is Soul, or devoid of Soul, whether it is sentient or non-sentient, whether it is doer or non-doer, whether it is the enjoyer or one being enjoyed (object of enjoyment) that being is the Unsullied Kṣetrajña. After attaining it, they do not return (to Saṃsāra). It cannot be expressed in words because of the impossibility of its being described. It cannot be grasped by means of arguments and reasoning processes. It is undefinable because it cannot be thought of or warded entirely. The truth and reality cannot be expressed by means of words; it cannot be attained even by the mind.

106-108. There is neither expressibility nor non-expressibility (in words) in regard to Kṣetrajña, which is devoid of qualities, is pure, quiescent, unsullied and undiminished. It is devoid of both happiness and unhappiness. It is restrained (?) and tranquil. It is Nirātmaka (? ít has no other Ātman for itself). These are Saṃhāra (withdrawal) and Vistāra (expansion). They are becoming manifest and unmanifest. Everything presided over by Kṣetrajña stands manifest, when created; or, it becomes unmanifest) when it is swallowed. Again it begins to function in creation.

109. At its end, it consciously resorts to the Adhiṣṭhāna (Sub-stratum?). Their mutual contact is known as being brought about by Sādharmya and Vaidharmya (similarity; and dissimilarity. The Saṃyoga (contact) of the great Puruṣa is proclaimed as beginningless.

110. As long as the period of Primary and Secondary creations lasts, the Universe continues to exist. At the outset, it restrains (?) everything and functions consciously for the sake of Puruṣa.

111-113. This (? Prakṛti) is the cause of creation and annihilation or it is caused by Īśvara. It has neither beginning nor end. It approaches the universe frightening it arrogantly.

Thus, the third creation of Prakrṭi characterised by causation has been recounted. One is liberated after understanding the ultimate period.

Thus the three types of dissolutions have been recounted to you by me in detail and in the proper order.

What else shall I begin?

Footnotes and references:


VV. 5-25 describe the process of involution of Tattvas (Tattva-Prasaṃyama) after the end of Kalpa. Thus the element Pṛthvī is swallowed up by water as it (Pṛthvī) loses its peculiar characteristic viz. smell. The process may be indicated thus:

The Element Pṛthvī Water Fire Wind Ether (Ākāśa) Bhūtādi Buddhi Mahat Guṇa-sāmya (equilibrium of Guṇas, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas) or Prakṛti.


VV. 26-96 describe the nature of Guṇas.


VV. 35-53 describe the nature of Ignorance (Ajñāṇa). It causes three types of bondages (VV. 37-38), creates different defects such as Rāga (Attachment), Dveṣa (Hatred in the mind (VV. 39-46) and leads to hell and birth in lower species.


Technical name in Sāṅkhya System for the 3rd Bandha (Bondage).


VV. 61-72 teach how to cultivate Vairāgya (non-attachment).


70b is obscure, Vā. P. 102.92 corresponding verse reads:

rañjanaṃ tadvadhe yas tu vettā netā na vidyate /

“one who derives diversion in killing it (the glow-worm) ceases to be a leader”.


As Śāstrāvirodhinaḥ is in plural, so yukta and śiṣṭa should also be in plural number.


VV. 76-95 give a desultory treatment of Kṣetra and Kṣetrajña. In the course of discussion, various terms e.g. Avyakta, Karaṇa, Akṣara Puruṣa, Sadbhāva, Asadbhāva and others are explained.


Vā. P. 102.81a reads avyaktāntagṛhīta ‘ending with Avyakta’.


VāP. 102.118 reads:

puruṣaṃ kathayasvā’tha kathaṃ tajjñair vibhāṣyate /

“‘Describe the Puruṣa’ (If requested thus) how he will be described by those who have realized him.”


ahas’ (in ‘ahas tasmin na vidyate’ is emended as ‘aṃhas’.


VV. 102-108 discuss the nature of Ātman.

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