The Markandeya Purana

by Frederick Eden Pargiter | 1904 | 247,181 words | ISBN-10: 8171102237

This page relates “the creation from prakrti and the vikaras” which forms the 47th chapter of the English translation of the Markandeya-purana: an ancient Sanskrit text dealing with Indian history, philosophy and traditions. It consists of 137 parts narrated by sage (rishi) Markandeya: a well-known character in the ancient Puranas. Chapter 47 is included the section known as “exposition of the manvantaras”.

Canto XLVII - The Creation from Prakṛti and the Vikāras


Mārkaṇḍeya continues—After the Pādma Mahākalpa Brahmā awoke, and as Nārāyaṇa raised the earth out of the sea of dissolution and fashioned it in its present shape—Then he created, first, the vegetable worldsecondly, the animal world— thirdly, the godsfourthly, mankindfifthly, Anugraha—and sixthly, the bhūtas—Markaṇḍeya summarizes the nine creations, viz., these six, and the three described in Canto XLV.

Krauṣṭuki spoke:

Tell me fully how Brahmā, the adorable, the creator, the lord of all creatures, the master, the divine, created all creatures.

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

Here I tell thee, O brahman, how the adorable eternal framer of the worlds created all the universe moveable and immoveable.

At the dissolution which followed the Pādma[2] Mahākalpa, the lord Brahmā awoke after having slept through the night. Then with goodness predominating in him he gazed on the empty world. And here men utter this verse to Nārāyaṇa, who has Brahmā’s own form, god of the universe, changeless in might. “Nārā means water and bodies”[3]—we have thus heard it is a name for water; and in it he lies, hence he is called Nārāyaṇa.

On awaking he knew that the earth had disappeared within that water, and then became desirous through reflection to deliver[4] the earth therefrom. He assumed as of old in the kalpas and other times, other bodies such as those of a fish, a tortoise and other animals, and likewise he took the body of a hoar. The lord who is composed of the Vedas and sacrifices assumed a heavenly form composed of the Vedas and sacrifices, and entered the water; he reached everywhere and existed everywhere. And the lord of the world raised the earth out of the lower regions, and set it free in the water, while the Siddhas who abode in Janaloka bent their thoughts on him. The earth floated like an immense boat on that ocean, but does not sink by reason of the amplitude of its size. Then he made the earth level and created the mountains on the earth. Formerly when creation was burnt up by the then world-destroying fire, those mountains on the earth were totally consumed by that fire. The rocks were engulphed in that one ocean, and the water was driven together by the wind; wherever they adhered and remained, there the mountains grew into being. Then he divided the earth, adorned with seven dvīpas; and he fashioned the four worlds, the Bhurloka and the others, as before.

While he pondered on creation, as of old in the kalpas and other times, he next became manifested as devoid of intelligence, as enveloped in darkness. Darkness, folly, infatuation, gloominess, and blind consciousness—ignorance,[5] composed of these five, became manifested out of the Supreme Soul. Creation irrational became established in five ways while he was meditating. Externally and internally it was destitute of light,[6] its soul was concealed, it consisted of vegetation;[7] and since vegetation is declared to be “primary,”[8] hence this is indeed the Mukhya creation.

He considered that creation incapable of causation,[9] and thought of creating another yet. While he was meditating on its creation, the animal world, in which the stream of life[10] is horizontal,[11] came next into existence. Since its activities are displayed horizontally, hence it[12] is known as the “tiryak-srotas.” Cattle and other quadrupeds are well-known as being of that kind; they are indeed characterized chiefly by ignorance and are unintelligent; and they stray in wrong courses, and in their ignorance are subservient to knowledge; they are self-swayed, and devoted to self; they comprise twenty-eight classes. They all possess light[6] internally, but they are mutually circumscribed.[13]

He thought even that creation was incapable of causation, and while he meditated, another came into existence; now this, the third, was the group of beings in which the stream of life passed upwards;[14] it was characterized chiefly by goodness. Those beings abound in pleasure and affection; they are uncircumscribed outwardly and inwardly; and possess light[6] externally and internally; they originated from an upward stream of life. Now that third creation of the Supreme Being who was satisfied in soul thereat is known as the creation of the gods. When that creation came into being, Brahmā was pleased.

Then he meditated further on another creation which should he capable of causation and be the highest. While he meditated so, and meditated on truth, the group of beings in which the stream of life passes downwards,[15] and which is capable of causation,[16] next became manifest out of the Imperceptible. Since the streams of life in them moved downwards, hence they[17] are “arvāk-srotasand they possess light[18] copiously; they are characterized chiefly by ignorance and passion. Hence they have abundance of suffering, and are continuously engaged in action; and they possess light externally and internally. They are mankind and are capable of causation.

Anugraha[19] was the fifth creation; it is disposed in four ways, by contrariety,[20] and by perfection,[21] bytranquillity,[22] and by satisfaction[23] likewise. The objects of this creation moreover have knowledge of the past and of the present.

The creation of the origins of the gross elements[24] and the gross elements[25] is called the sixth; they all possess comprehensiveness,[26] and are prone to mutual division;[27] and the origins of the gross elements are to be known as both impulsive and devoid of propensities.

Now the creation of “mahat” is to be known as the first by Brahmā; and the second of the “tan-mātras” is called the creation of the “bhūtas and the third creation is that of the “vikāras,”[28] and it is perceptible by the senses. So was produced the creation from Prakṛti wherein Intelligence preceded. The “mukhya” creation was the fourth, the mukhya things are known as immoveable. The fifth was that called “tiryak-srotas”[29] and “tairyag-yonya.” Next was the sixth creation, that of the “ūrdhva-srotas”;[30] it is known as the creation of the gods. Then the creation of the “arvāk-srotas” is the seventh; it is that of mankind. The eighth creation is “anugraha”; it is characterized by goodness and ignorance. These last five creations are known as those which were evolved from the Vikāras,[31] and the first three as those evolved from Prakṛti.[32] The ninth creation was Prākṛta and also Vaikṛta; it is known as “Kaumāra.”[33] Thus these nine creations of the Prajāpati have been declared.

Footnotes and references:


The products evolved from Prakṛti.


For padmāvasāne read pādmdvasāne?




Sam-ud-dhāra; not in the dictionary.




Prakāśa. This is defined by Śrī-dhara Svāmī to mean “clear knowledge” (prakṛṣṭam jñānam). It had no clear external perception of sound &c., or clear internal feeling of happiness, &c.






For dṛṣṭvā sādhakam read dṛṣṭvāsādhakam; see the second line of verse 21.


Srotas ; or the current of nutriment.




Por read saḥ ?


Ā-vṛta. Śrī-dhara explains this as, ‘‘mutually ignorant of their birth, nature, &c.”






For sādhakaḥ read sādhakam?


For ta read te?


Prakāśa, see note * p. 230.


This is the Pratyaya-sarga or intellectual creation of the Sāṅkhya philosophy. But Śrī-dhara explains it as an inferior creation of gods (deva-sarga), who are characterized by both goodness and ignorance. It is characterized by ignorance because it is nourished by the ignorance among immoveable objects and the animal creation; it is characterized by goodness, because it harmonizes with and thrives upon the perfection and satisfaction among mankind and the gods; and it is called Anugraha, because it favours (anugrahaka) the several natural dispositions of those objects.


















The products evolved from Prakṛti.


For tiryak-srotas read tiryah-srotās?


For tato’rddha-srotasāṃ read tathorddhva-srotasāṃ?






This is the creation of Nīla-lohita Rndra (see Canto LII) and of Sanat-kumāra and the other mind-born sons of Brahmā, the Kumāras. This creation is called prākṛta because Rūdra sprang into existence by himself, as mentioned in that canto, verse 3. It is also called vaikṛta, because the Kumāras were created by Brahmā in the form he assumed of a vikāra (vikṛti-bhūta).

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