The Narada Purana (abridged)

2010 | 18,115 words

The Narada Purana (Nārada Purāṇa) is one of the major eighteen Mahapuranas, a genre of Hindu religious texts. It deals with the places of pilgrimages and features a dialogue between the sage Narada, and Sanatkumara. During the course of the dialogue between the two, Narada explains to Sanatkumara the major places of piligrimages, their location, ...

Sudharma and the Manvantaras

Once, Indra went to Brishaspati, the teacher of the gods, and asked, “I have heard that the gods change from manvantara (era) to manvantara. Can you please tell me the names of the gods who have ruled earlier?”

“I am not that old,” replied Brihaspati. “I do not know the answer to your question. But there is a holy man named Sudharma. He knows everything and is bound to know the answer to your question. Let us go up to him and ask.”

Accompanied by the other gods, Indra and Brihaspati went to visit Sudharma. After they had worshipped the learned man, Indra asked, “Tell me, what is the secret of your knowledge? Have you donated a lot of alms or performing many yajnas? Or does the secret lie in visiting tirthas and peforming tapasya? Please also tell us about the various manvantaras.”

“I will first tell you about the manvantaras,” replied Sudharma.

There are fourteen such eras in one of Brahma’s days. Each such era is ruled over by a Manu. And the gods also change from one manvantara to another. In addition, the title of Indra changes hands.

The first Manu was Svayambhuva. The gods were then the yamas and the Indra was Shachipati.,

The second Manu was Svarochisha. The gods were the paravatas and tushitas and the Indra was Vipashchita.

The third Manu was Uttama. The gods were the sudhamas, satyas, shivas and pratardanas and the Indra was Sushanti.

The fourth Manu was Tamasa. The gods were the surupas, haris, suptas and sudhis and the Indra was Shibi.

The fifth Manu was Raivata. The gods were the amitabhas and the Indra was Ribhu

The sixth Manu was Chakshusha. The gods were the adyas and the Indra was Manojava.

The seventh manu was Vaivasvata. This is the manvantara that is now current. The gods are the adityas, vasus and rudras and the Indra is Purandara.

There will be seven more manvantaras before the destruction.

The eighth Manu will Suryasavarni. The gods will be the sutapas and the Indra will be Vali.

The ninth manu will be Dakshasavarni. The gods will be the paravatas and the Indra will be Adbhuta.

The tenth manu will be Brahmasavarni. The gods will be the vamanas and the Indra will be Shanti.

The eleventh Manu will be Dharmasavarni. The gods will be the vihangamas and the Indra will be Vrisha.

The twelfth manu will be Rudrasavarni. The gods will be the haritas and the Indra will be Ritadhama.

The thirteenth Manu will be Rouchya. The gods will be the sutramas and the Indra will be Divaspati.

The fourteenth Manu will be Bhoutya. The gods will be the chakshushas and the Indra will be Shuchi.

(All the Puranas agree that there are fourteen manvantaras. They also agree that the gods and the name of the person who holds the title of Indra change from one manvantara to another. But the names of the fourteen manvantaras often vary from one Purana to another. So do the names of the gods and the name of Indra. Thus the list from the Narada Purana given above will not necessarily tally with the list given in another Purana.)

“You also asked about the source of my punya,” continued Sudharma. “I used to be a vulture and lived on carrion. Once I was sitting on a wall that surrounded a temple of Vishnu. Suddenly a hunter arrived and shot me dead with his arrow. My dead body fell down on the ground and a dog picked it up in the mouth. Pursued by other dogs, the dog circled the temple. This act of piety freed me and the dog of all illusions and gave us a lot of punya. It is my secret.”

Indra wondered at this story and himself became a devotee of Vishnu.