The Markandeya Purana

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

This page relates “the story of the svayambhuva manvantara” which forms the 53rd 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 53 is included the section known as “exposition of the manvantaras”.

Canto LIII - The Story of the Svāyambhuva Manvantara

Mārkaṇḍeya states the duration of the Manvantaras, and mentions the names of the Manus past, present and future—He mentions the descendants of Manu Svāyambhuva and his son Priyavrata, and explains how the whole world with its seven continents was peopled by them and divided among themJambudvīpa was assigned to Priyavrata’s son Agnīdhra, and was portioned out among Agnīdhra’s sons—His eldest son Nābhi begot Ṛṣabha, and Ṛṣabha begot Bharata, to whom India was assigned.

Krauṣṭuki spoke:

Adorable Sir! I wish to hear fully of this Svāyambhuva Manvantara also which thou hast mentioned. Tell me of it, and also of the duration of this Manvantara, and its gods and ṛṣis, and the kings who ruled during it, and also who was the lord of the gods during it, adorable Sir!

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

The duration of the Manvantaras has been declared to be the four yugas multiplied by seventy-one and a fraction.[1] Hear the duration of a Manvantara from me in human reckoning. Thirty times ten millions are announced, and twenty thousands, and sixty-seven lakhs[2] more by computation—this is the length of the Manvantara in human years, omitting the fraction: it is known to be eight hundreds of thousands and fifty two thousands more besides of years by the divine reckoning.

At first was the Manu Svāyambhuva, then the Manu Svārociṣa, Auttama,[3] and Tāmasa, Raivata, and Cākṣuṣa; these six Manus have passed, and Vaivasvata is the Manu now. These are to come, the five Sāvarṇas and Raucya, and Bhautya.[4] Of these I will tell thee fully afterwards in connexion with their respective Manvantaras, and of their gods and ṛṣis, and the lords of the Yakṣas and the Pitṛs who lived during each, of their commencement and end, O brahman.

Hear who were his offspring, and who were the wives of those their high-sonled sons.

Now Manu Svāyambhuva had ten sons equal to himself, by whom all this tributary earth with its seven continents, with its mountains, and with its oceans was peopled according to its countries. It was first peopled in the Svāyambhuva period in the Kṛta and Tretā ages by the sons of Priyavrata and the grandsons of Svāyambhuva.

A daughter was begotten of Prajāvatī by the hero Priyavrata. Now that illustrious daughter gave birth through the Prajāpati Kardama to two daughters and ten[5] sons; those two daughters were Saṃrāj[6] and Kukṣi; their ten brothers were warriors equal to the Prajāpati their father. Agnīdhra, and Medhātithi, and Vapuṣmat[7] the next, Jyotiṣmat, Dyutimat. Bhavya, Savana, they were seven of them indeed. Priyavrata anointed those seven as kings over the seven continents. According to that his statute, hear their continents also from me.

Their father made Agnīdhra thus king over Jambudvīpa; and he made Medhātithi lord over Plakṣadvīpa; and he made Vapuṣmat lord of Śālmali, Jyotiṣmat lord over Kuśadvīpa, Dyutimat lord over Krauñcadvīpa, Bhavya lord over Śakadvīpa, and his son Savana ruler over Puṣkaradvīpa.

Mahāvīta and Dhātaki were the two sons of Savana, the ruler over Puṣkaradvīpa; he divided the Puṣkara[8] land into two parts, and assigned to them one part each.

Bhavya had seven sons, hear them by name from me; both Jalada, and Kumāra, Sukumāra, Manīvaka, and Kuśottara, Medhāvin, and Mabādruma the seventh. He portioned out for them countries in Śākadvīpa, which were named after them.

Moreover Dyutimat had seven sons; hear them also from me; Kuśala, and Manuga, Uṣṇa, and Prākara, Arthakāraka, and Muni, and Dundubhi who was famed as the seventh. And they had countries in Krauñcadvīpa, which were named after them.

In Kuśadvīpa itself also there were seven countries called by the names of the sons of Jyotiṣmat; hear their names from me—Udbhida, and Vaiṇava, Suratha, and Lambana, Dhṛtimat, and Prākara, and Kāpila the seventh.

And Vapuṣmat the lord of Śālmali had seven sons, both Śveta, and Harita, Jīmūta, and Rohita, Vaidyuta, and Mānasa, and Ketumat the seventh. And they had seven countries in Śālmali, which bore the same names.

Medhātithi, the lord of Plakṣadvīpa had seven sons, and Plakṣadvīpa was divided into seven parts by the countries which were named after them, first the Śākabhava country, then Śiśira, Sukhodaya, and Ānanda, and Śiva, and Kṣemaka, and Dhruva.

In the five continents, which begin with Plakṣadvīpa and end with Śākadvīpa, righteousness also must be known as arising from the divisions of the castes and the several stages of a brāhman’s life. The righteousness which is settled,[9] and springs from one’s natural disposition, and is exempt from the rules of harmlessness is well-known to be universal in these five continents.

His father Priyavrata gave Jambudvīpa to Agnīdhra at the first, O brāhman. He had nine sons indeed, who were equal to the Prajāpati Priyavrata. The eldest was named Nābhi; his younger brother was Kimpuruṣa; the third son was Havirvarṣa; the fourth was Ilāvṛta; and the fifth son was Yaśya; the sixth was called Hiraṇya: the seventh of them was Kuru; the eighth was known as Bhadrāśva; and the ninth was Ketumāla. Designated by their names was the arrangement of their countries.

Perfection exists naturally in Kimpuruṣa, and the other continents[10] with the exception of that named from the mountain Hima[11]; and the perfection is almost complete happiness which comes without exertion. There is no adversity there, nor old age, death or fear; neither righteousness nor unrighteousness existed there, nor had the people differences of position, such as high, low or middling; nor have the four ages existed there, nor periodic times, nor the seasons of the year.

Now Agnīdhra’s son Nābhi had a son Ṛṣabha, O brāhman. Ṛṣabha begot Bharata, a hero, the best among his hundred sons. Ṛṣabha having anointed his son in his stead betook himself to the strictest life of a wandering religions mendicant, and devoted himself to austerities, an illustrious hermit, dwelling in Pulaha’s hermitage. His father gave Bharata the southern country named after the mountain Him[12]; hence the country is called Bhārata after the name of that high-souled king. Bharata also had a righteous son called Sumati; and Bharata transferred the kingdom to him and departed to the forest.

Now during the Svāyambhuva period Priyavrata’s sons, and their sons and grandsons enjoyed[13] the earth with its seven continents. This was the Svāyambhuva creation; I have narrated it to thee, O brāhman. What else shall I fully tell thee of in the first Manvantara?

Footnotes and references:


See Canto XLVI, verses 34—38.


Niyuta. Verses 4, 5 and 6 agree with Canto XLVI, verses 35—37.


For auttamas read auttamis.


The text appears to be wrong. For Sāvarṇiḥ pañca raucyāśca bhautyaś read Sāvarṇāḥ pañca raucyaśca bhautyaś. The five Sāvarṇa or Sāvarṇi Manus


Only seven are mentioned in verse 15.


This name as a feminine is not in the Dictionary.


Vapuṣyat in the text seems incorrect. Vapuṣmat is given correctly in verses 18 and 26.


For puṣkaraḥ read puṣkaraṃ?




For kimpuruṣākhyāni read kimpuruṣādyāni ?


Himāhvaya. See also verses 40 and 41 where this is said to be a name for India. This meaning is not in the dictionary.


Himāhva ; this meaning, “India,” is not in the dictionary.


For bhuktvā read bhuktā.

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