The Padma Purana

by N.A. Deshpande | 1951 | 1,261,945 words | ISBN-10: 8120838297 | ISBN-13: 9788120838291

This page describes introductory which is chapter 1 of the English translation of the Padma Purana, one of the largest Mahapuranas, detailling ancient Indian society, traditions, geography, as well as religious pilgrimages (yatra) to sacred places (tirthas). This is the first chapter of the Srishti-khanda (section on creation) of the Padma Purana, which contains six books total consisting of at least 50,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

1. May the water of the Puṣkara lake purify you—the water which is clean; which is clear like the moon; in which foam is produced by the commotion of elephants’ trunks and of crocodiles; which is frequented by the chief Brāhmaṇas engaged in the (observance of) vows and restraints for the realisation of Brahman; which is sanctified by the sight of Brahmā adorned by Oṃkāra and the Lord of the three worlds; which is delightful due to (its being fit for) enjoyment; and which removes evil.

2. Lomaharṣaṇa[1] said to Ugraśravas, Vyāsa’s highly intelligent pupil (well known as) Sūta who was sitting alone:

3. “O son, go to the hermitages of the sages and explain in brief to them, who will (i.e. when they) ask you, the duties (Dharmas) which you have heard from me in detail.

4. O son, I have narrated to you all the Purāṇas which I had obtained (i.e. heard) from Veda-Vyāsa; narrate them in detail to the sages.

5-6a. (Tell them) how at Prayāga the great sages asked the Lord (about Dharma); (how) on being asked by them who were desirous of knowing Dharma and of going to an auspicious country they were advised by the Lord desiring (their) welfare:

6b-7. ‘Go carefully and with restraint after this rotating, matchless wheel, of a good nave, of a divine form, moving effectually [or (capable of) going (even) to Satya Loka], of an auspicious pace, and you will reach the place that is beneficial.

8. That region in which the rim of the wheel wears out should be regarded as holy.’ Thus spoke the Lord.

9a. Having thus spoken to all the sages, he again disappeared.

9b. It was Gaṅgāvartasamāhāra (in the place where there was a group of the eddies of the Ganges), where the rim (of the wheel) wore out.

10. At that time the sages were performing a sacrificial session in the Naimiṣa forest. Go there and speak to the sages who (will) ask you to clear their doubts about Dharma.”

11-12a. Having gone from that place and having approached the best sages, bowing to them respectfully with palms joined in reverence and adoring them, that wise and intelligent Ugraśravas pleased the sages by salutation.

12b-13a. Those sacrificers too, along with their colleagues, were pleased with the magnanimous one, and together duly offered him homage.

The sages said:

13b-14a. O Sūta, whence have you come? From which country have you come here? O lustrous one like the gods, tell us the purpose of your arrival.

Sūta said:

14b. I was ordered by my father, the intelligent pupil of Vyāsa (thus):

15-16a. ‘Going to the sages wait upon them and tell them whatever they ask you.’ The revered ones (therefore) may tell me which story I (should) narrate—Purāṇa or Itihāsa, or if I should describe the various kinds of duties (dharmas).

16b. The best sages heard the sweet words uttered by him.

17a. Then in them arose a desire to listen to Purāṇa.

17b-19a. Seeing that very confident learned Laumaharṣaṇī, the chief of the sages, Śaunaka by name, adept in all branches of knowledge, an intelligent teacher of profane knowledge and (the philosophical treatises viz.) the Āraṇyakas, depending upon their intention (anticipating what the sages wished), and desiring to hear the religious observances, said:

19b-20. “O highly intelligent Sūta, for (learning) Itihāsa and Purāṇas, you had properly waited upon revered Vyāsa, the best among those who know Brahman. You drew (towards you) his auspicious mind attached to the Purāṇas.

21-23. O highly intelligent one, these eminent brahmins have now a desire to listen to the Purāṇa. Please, therefore, narrate it to them; for all these noble ones belonging to different families have gathered here. Let these teachers of Veda hear their own portions (of history) narrated in the Purāṇa. During this entire lengthy sacrificial session narrate them to the sages. O you very intelligent one, narrate the Padma Purāṇa to all of them:

24. How was the lotus produced? How did Brahmā come into being there? Narrate, in due order, how, He, after having sprung up (from the lotus) effected the creation?”

25. Thus asked, he replied to them in sweet words: Ugraśravas, the son of Romaharṣaṇa spoke to them exquisitely and logically:

26. “By this encouragement of yours, I am pleased. I am favoured by you who are conversant with Purāṇa and who have mastered the entire Dharma.

27a. I shall narrate to you the entire well-known significance of the Purāṇa as I learnt it (from my father).

27b-29. This is the Sūta’s duty from primeval times as perceived by the good to record the genealogies of gods, sages and kings of unlimited prowess and the eulogies of the noble who are seen in Itihāsa and Purāṇas to be the declarers of sacred lore. The sūta has no authority whatsoever over (the teaching or reciting of) Vedas.

30. When the sacrifice of the noble Pṛthu, son of Vena, was in progress, Māgadha and Sūta praised that king.

31a. Being pleased (with them), the large-hearted king granted them a boon:

31b. (He gave) the Sūta-country to Sūta and the Magadha (country) to Māgadha.

32-33a. The one born of Sūti is known here as Sūta. When a sacrificial session in honour of Indra proceeded, and Bṛhaspati was conjoined with (other) planets, that (offering) to Indra (was mixed up with that meant for) Bṛḥaspati (and) there Sūta was born.[1]

33b-34a. As the preceptor’s powerful offering got mixed up with the offering in the pupil’s hand there arose the mixed castes due to the mixing up of lower and higher streams.

34b-35. Those here who were born of a Kṣatriya father and a brahmin mother formed a different group though (having) similarity with the former (i.e. Sūta).[3] To subsist on a Kṣatriya’s profession is the secondary duty of a Sūta.

36. Here (in this world) Brahmins have delegated to me authority over the Purāṇas. Having perceived Dharma, you, the declarers of Veda, have asked me thus.

37a. Therefore, I shall narrate to you properly the Purāṇa revered by the sages on the earth.

37b-38. The mind-born daughter of the Pitṛs[4] got united with Indra and was cursed by the Pitṛs. Resembling Araṇi, the cause of holy fire, she got into the womb of a fish.

39-42a. From her by Parāśara the purified soul, Vyāsa, was born. I salute that Real one, the Creator, Viṣṇu, the Ancient Puruṣa, who conforms to the Vedic words, who had taken a human form, and who was extolled; whom, as soon as He was born, the Veda with all its collection stood by; who employing the churning-rod of his intellect produced in the world the light, viz. the moon in the form of the Mahābhārata from the ocean of the sacred lore.

42b-43a. If these three, viz. Bhārata, the sun and Viṣṇu were not there, what would have been the plight of the world blind with the darkness of ignorance?

43b. Know Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana to be the Lord, viz., Nārāyaṇa.

44a. Who else but the Lotus-eyed one (i.e. Viṣṇu) would be the author of the Mahābhārata?

44b-46. From that teacher of the Veda, the Omniscient one of bright lustre and revered in all the worlds, I learnt the Purāṇa. Of all the branches of knowledge, Brahmā first called to His mind Purāṇa—the best in all the worlds, the cause of all knowledge, the means to the three goals of human life (viz. Dharma, Artha and Kāma), and of an expanse of a hundred crores (of verses).

47. At the order of Brahmā, Keśava in the form of a horse, brought back the Vedas when all the worlds had nothing left in them.

48. The Asura had kept to himself after having snatched away the Vedāṅgas, the four Vedas, the entire religious literature with the extensive Purāṇa and Nyāya (treatises).

49. At the beginning of Kalpa, Keśava in the form of Fish snatched it back in the ocean of water; (and) remaining in the water, the Omnipresent one narrated the whole of it (to Brahmā).

50. The Four-faced one (i.e. Brahmadeva) having heard it (from Keśava) narrated the Vedas to the sages. Then, Purāṇa became the source of all the sciences.

51-52. Then Brahmā, the Supreme Ruler, seeing after (a lapse of) time the lack of apprehension of the Purāṇa (by people), sang it, in the form of Vyāsa at the measure of four lakhs (of verses) in every Dvāpara Yuga to (re-) collect it; then dividing it into eighteen parts He brought it to light in this world.

53. Even now in the worlds of gods its expanse is a hundred crores (of verses); the same is put here in an abridged form in four lakhs (verses).

54. I shall narrate the greatly meritorious Purāṇa called Pādma having fifty-five thousand (verses) having (i.e. divided in) five Khaṇḍas.

55-56. There (i.e. in the Purāṇa) would be (i.e. there is) Sṛṣṭi-khaṇḍa at the beginning; after that (there is) Bhūmi-khaṇḍa; after that (follows) Svarga-khaṇḍa; then (comes) Pātāla-khaṇḍa; after that comes the fifth khaṇḍa known as Uttara-khaṇḍa (which is) the best. This alone is Mahā Padma that has come up and full of which is the world.

57-60. Because the Purāṇa is based on the account of it (i.e. the Padma), it is therefore called Pādma. This Purāṇa is pure and spotless due to the greatness of Viṣṇu; (and) which, Hari, the God of gods first narrated to Brahmā; and whichever portion Brahmā had formerly narrated to Marīci that (much) alone Brahmā narrated as Padma in the world. That (Purāṇa), the refuge of all beings, is called Pādma by the wise. That is Pādma; in it fifty-five thousand verses are read (i.e. form the text). It is narrated in five Parvans in an abridgement made by Vyāsa.

61-63a. The first Parvan is ‘Pauṣkara’ in which Virāṭ Himself is (described to be) born; the second is ‘Tīrthaparvan’ based on (the accounts of) the groups of planets. The third Parvan records the (accounts of) kings (giving) ample gifts (to brāhmaṇas). In the fourth is narrated the history of dynasties. In the fifth the essential nature of final Bliss and of everything (else) is narrated.

63b-64a. In the Pauṣkara (Parvan the description of) the creation of nine kinds and of Brahmā’s being the Creator of all gods and sages (is given); and also (the description of) the matchless creation of the fathers (is given).

64b. In the second (Parvan) the mountains and the seven islands with the seas (are described).

65. In the third one the creation of Rudra and Dakṣa’s curse (are described); while in the fourth one the creation of kings and the narration of all genealogies (find a place).

66. In the last one the characteristic sign of absolution and the description of the science of final emancipation (occur); all this (is to be found) in this Purāṇa. O Brāhmaṇas, I shall recount it to you.

67. This (Purāṇa) is sacred; is the treasure of glory; it is (i.e. would be) extremely dear to the ancestors; it always makes God happy and destroys (even) the great sin(s) of men.”

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Lomaharṣaṇa: also Romaharṣaṇa; the pupil of Vyāsa, who taught him the entire Itihāsa and Purāṇa, in which he earned great proficiency (Mbh. Adi. l; Vāyu 1.45, 2.4). He propagated the knowledge of Itihāsa and Purāṇa that he obtained from Vyāsa (Bhāgavata 1.4. 22; Viṣṇu 3.4.10; Vāyu 1.60.16; Brahmāṇḍa 2.34 etc. Vāyu 1.1.13 gives the derivation of his name).

[2]:

Vāyu 6.136.137 and Brahmāṇḍa 6.161, 162b, 163a tell how the offering meant for Indra got mixed up with the one intended for Bṛhaspati.

[3]:

“The Sūta mentioned here is not the caste that was described as the offspring of a kṣatriya father and brāhmaṇa mother; that was a later application of the term. This Sūta was a bard like a Magadha....” (Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, F.E. Pargiter, p. 16). Vāyu 1.31-32 and Padma 1.1.27-28 state the duties of the Sūta. They were required to preserve the genealogies of gods, sages and illustrious kings, and also the ballads about famous men, belonging to olden times.

[4]:

‘The mind-born daughter...’ According to the Mbh (Adi. 63) she is not the mind-born daughter of the Pitṛs, but the daughter of Uparicara Vasu and Girikā. An Apsarā named Adrīkā, who, as a result of a curse, had turned into a female fish swallowed the semen of the king. The daughter that was born of her was named Kāli, Satyavatī etc.

Vyāsa was the son of this Satyavatī and Parāśara. He was born in Yamunā-dvīpa; so he came to be called Dvaipāyana (Mbh. Adi. 60.2). He is called Purāṇa-pravaktā (Vāyu. 1.1; 1.60 etc.). In every Dvāpara one Vyāsa is born. He composed 17 Purāṇas, but not being content with this feat, he, at the behest of Nārada, composed Bhāgavata, and taught it to Sūta (Padma, Uttara-khaṇḍa 198).

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