The Padma Purana

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

This page describes the birth of the lotus (padma) which is chapter 39 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 thirty-ninth 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.

Chapter 39 - The Birth of the Lotus (padma)

Bhīṣma said:

1. You have narrated in detail the importance of Vāmana. Tell me again any other (point of) importance than this, pertaining to Viṣṇu.

2. How did the lotus arise in the lord’s navel from which the world sprang up? How did the creation of Viṣṇu formerly take place in the lotus?

3-4a. How was the world of lotus formed in the great cycle of time (Mahākalpa) called Padma in the navel of Viṣṇu, who had entered the ocean and slept there?

4b. How did the groups of sages come up at Puṣkara in olden times?

5. O you lord of those who know Yoga (i.e. abstract meditation), tell me all about that. How did (the lord) fashion there this eternal world?

6-8. How indeed did the lord of the universe, of great lustre and brilliance, well-versed in abstract meditation, stable in contemplation, remain doing action, when there was a void, when (the whole world was) but one ocean, when the immobile and the mobile had vanished, when the globe had been scorched, when reptiles and demons had vanished, when fire, wind and others had disappeared, when piety had vanished from the earth, when there was a vacuity, and when the gross elements had undergone a change?

9-10a. O brāhmaṇa, please tell fully about the success of Nārāyaṇa to me who am listening devoutly. O revered one, please tell it to me who have faith in you and who am well-posed (to listen to it).

Pulastya said:

10b-14a. O you perpetuator of the Kuru family, it is proper for you purified by (being born in) a good family that you have a desire to listen to (the account of) the glory of Nārāyaṇa. I shall devoutly tell you as I heard what the great preceptor Dvaipāyana, Parāśara’s son, lustrous like Bṛhaspati, said, after he had heard it in (i.e. from) the old Purāṇas, from gods, and from great-souled brāhmaṇas who narrated it, and after he had seen (i.e. known) it through penance. (And also I shall tell you,) O best one, what I properly learnt through the sages.

14b-15a. Who dares to know the supreme spirit of the form of Nārāyaṇa, whom—the permanent among all—even Brahmā does not know truly.

15b. (Even) all gods (do not know) his acts; among sages (also) his secret (is not known).

16-20. He is the one to whom all sacrifices are offered; he is the truth that is seen by those who know the truth (i.e. the First Principle); he is the supreme spirit for those who are well-versed in metaphysical knowledge; he is the deity which is the presiding deity called Adhidaivata; he is the being that is the highest being; he is the highest object for those who have the spiritual knowledge; he is the sacrifice, indicated by the Vedas; him (alone) the wise know to be the penance. (It is he) who is the doer, the cause, the intellect and the individual soul. He is praṇava (i.e. the sacred syllable Om); he is the supreme being; he is the ruler (of all); he (alone) is contemplated on; he is the five vital airs[1]; he is fixed and unchangeable; he is destiny; he is the completion; he is the sacrifice; he is what is studied; that highest one is described as being in various conditions.

21. The revered one alone does and (at the same time) does not do everything. In this (world) he gets everything done; by him are the actions of those, who occupy place, performed.

22. We offer sacrifice to him, who is the first one; he is satisfied with the rise (i.e. creation). He is who is the speaker, what is spoken and also what I am speaking to you.

23. He is that which is heard and which is fit to be caused to be heard (i.e. which is told); (he is) whatever else is spoken; he is whatever is (called) a story, or whatever the scriptures are; he is whatever has attributes; he is the one who is intent on righteousness.

24-25a. That Nārāyaṇa is said to be the universe and its lord. He, the highest being, the chief one is whatever is truth, whatever is falsehood, whatever is in the beginning or in the middle, whatever is terminal, whatever is limitless and whatever is future; whatever moves in the end and whatever else there is (in the world).

25b-26. O descendant of Kuru, that which is said to be (a period) of four thousand years is Kṛtayuga[2]; the period intervening between its expiration and the commencement of the next is double hundred years of this (i.e. eight hundred years) where (i.e. in which period) Dharma (i.e. piety) is four-footed while Adharma (i.e. impiety) has one foot.

27-28. There (i.e. in this period) men, who are engrossed in their duties and who are tranquil are born brāhmaṇas are attached to moral virtue and kings remain in (i.e. follow) the course of conduct meant for kings; vaiśyas are engaged in agriculture and śūdras desire to serve. At that time (i.e. in this period) truth, goodness and piety increase.

29-30a. The good practise (that) virtue by which the world proceeds. O king, in Kṛtayuga this (mode of behaviour) happens in the case of all beings who have the knowledge of moral virtue and men of a mean birth.

30b-31. It is said that Tretāyuga (lasts for a period) of three thousand years. The period succeeding it and preceding the next yaga is supposed to double hundred years of this (i.e. six hundred years). (In this period) Adharma (i.e. impiety) stands on two feet and Dharma (i.e. piety) on three.

32-33. There (i.e. in this period) truth, goodness and (good) acts are said to be Dharma, In Tretāyuga, the castes, connected with (i.e. full of) greed, undergo a change from their natural state. The woeful plight of the four castes is forbearance and weakness. This is the strange course of Tretāyuga as created (i.e. decided) by god.

34. O you descendant of Kuru, Dvāparayuga (lasts for a period) of two thousand years. The period coming between it and the next yūga is double hundred years of this (i.e. four hundred years).

35. There (i.e. in that period) too beings intent on gaining wealth and overcome with activity, O descendant of Kuru, rogues and wicked and mean persons are born.

36. Dharma stands on two feet, and Adharma on three. In Kaliyuga, Dharma perishes due to hundreds of errors.

37. Brāhmaṇa-hood falls off (i.e. brāhmaṇas swerve from their duties) and belief in God is abandoned. In Kaliyuga, a changed yuga, vows and fasts are given up.

38. Then the (Kali)yuga (lasts for a period of) one thousand years, and the intervening period between it and the next yuga is two hundred years. There (i.e. in this period) Adharma is (just) four-footed and Dharma stands on one foot


39. There (i.e. in this period) lustful men, ascetics and mean men are born. No man has a firm resolve, no one is good and no one speaks the truth.

40. The brāhmaṇas (posing) to be devotees are atheists; men are overcome by pride, and have their ties of love very fragile.

41. In Kaliyuga all brāhmaṇas behave like śūdras. In Kaliyuga the (various) stages of life are reversed.

42. O you descendant of Kuru, there is a danger to the castes also at the end of the period (called Kaliyuga). This period of twelve thousand (years) called the (four) yugas has been fashioned in old time.

43-47. The duration of a thousand yugas is called the day of Brahmā. When that (day) is over, O king, Kāla[3], i.e. Brahman the lord of beings, becoming the five elements, seeing the (imminent) death of all beings, of deities, of all brāhmaṇas, of Daityas (i.e. sons of Diti) and of demons, of Yakṣas, goblins and birds, of Gandharvas, celestial nymphs and serpents, of mountains, rivers and birds, O best one, and also of lower animals, insects and flies, brings about a great destruction for ending the world.

48. He, taking the eyes, becomes the sun; he becomes Vāyu, taking the entire vital airs of living beings; he becomes fire, burning all the worlds; he becomes a terrible cloud and (sends down) showers.

49. The lord of abstract meditation, Nārāyaṇa, turning himself into the sun, dries the oceans with his bright rays.

50-51. The one well-versed in abstract meditation, then drinks all oceans, rivers and wells, and taking the water of the mountains on all sides, and turning himself into a thousand-rayed one, and having broken the earth, enjoys at the Rasātala[4], drinking an excellent drink.

52. The lotus-eyed supreme being takes (up) all that is material and immaterial, and other than that in the beings.

53. Hari, becoming a strong wind and shaking the entire world, obtaining respiration, fills (the world) with wind.

54-58. Then the lord destroyed in a short time, all the qualities apprehended by the five sense organs of the groups of gods and human beings and also all the beings, as well as that which is smelt, that which smells, the body, the qualities residing in the earth and the course of worldly life; taste and viscidity—the qualities residing in water; colour, sight, distinction (between one object and another)—qualities residing in the lustre of the eyes (i.e. the faculty of seeing); touch, breath, movements—qualities residing in wind (i.e. air); sound, ears, what is heard—qualities residing in ether; mind, intellect, reason—qualities residing in the individual soul; and also the highest lord (—all these) finally taking resort to Viṣṇu.

59. Then (they), surrounded by the rays of that lord and impelled by wind resorted to various sections of the earth.

60. Fire, risen due to their being collected together, blazing in a hundred ways, and burning the entire universe, became the destructive fire (at the time of universal destruction).

61-63a. It profusely burnt mountain-trees, thickets, creeping and winding plants, grass, divine palaces and various cities, and all asylums. He, the lord of the lords of worlds, having reduced all the worlds to ashes, applied to himself the ashes born of the consumption of the world.

63b-64a. Becoming a great cloud he sent down thousand showers in a hundred ways. He gratified the earth with the oblation of divine water.

64b-65a. Then the earth became pacified with that cool, auspicious, sweet and superior water resembling milk.

65b-66a. Sprinkled with that water resembling milk, the earth became inundated with water like one ocean, void of all the beings.

66b-70a. Even great beings entered the lord of unlimited prowess. The eternal one resorting to his ancient form, sleeps all alone, contracting himself, after having burnt all the worlds and after having himself dried up all the beings in the oceans and when (thus) the Sun, wind and ether had perished, and when the world had become subtle. He possessed of wonderful powers, who had gone into the water of the only ocean, is worshipped in a sacrifice. (He resides) in the water of that only ocean for many thousand yugas. No individual is able to know the unmanifest one.

70b-71. Who is this Puruṣa (i.e. Primordial Being)? What is deep and abstract meditation? Who possesses it? Nobody knows him from behind, from his vicinity, from his side or from his front. The best of gods is not seen.

72. Having accomplished the sky, the earth, the wind, the water the illuminating one, the lord of the beings, the support of the world, the lord of gods, the grandsire, the abode of scriptures, the lord made the bed agreeable.

73. Thus the very lustrous one sleeps (on the bed) where the world has become one ocean. The supreme soul having covered the earth with water acts like Nārāyaṇa.

74-75. The lotus-eyed lord of great arms, whom they know as inexhaustible Brahman, (remains) in the great Rajas resembling a great ocean; (is) surrounded by Tamas having the same form as himself, and has his good mind placed in that Sattva (i.e. goodness),

76. The correct and highest knowledge (leads to) the (chief) being, viz. Brahman; the secret about (Brahman) is also said to be like that in the Upaniṣads.

77. The highest principle is termed as Puruṣa (the Primordial Being) or Yajña (sacrifice). The other one who is called Puruṣa is the same Viṣṇu.

78. It is learnt that those brāhmaṇas performing sacrifices who are known as ṛtvij (i.e. priests officiating at sacrifice), have in ancient days, sprung up from his mouths.

79-83a. From his mouth he first created Brahmā[5] (priest), then Udgātṛ, the singer of sāman; the lord created Hotṛ and Adhvaryu from his two arms; also Brahman (priest) and Brahmaṇācchaṃsi (priest), and stotṛ (priests); from his organ of generation (he created) Maitrāvaruṇa and Pratiṣṭhātṛ and O king, from his belly (he created) Pratihartṛ and Potṛ; from his hands (he created) Agnidhra and Unnetṛ of the Yajurveda; from his thighs (he created) Subrahmaṇya, the singer of sāmans. Thus the revered lord of the world, the self-born one, created the sixteen best priests at (i.e. for) all sacrifices.

83b-84. Then he, the highly powerful supreme being, known as yajña slept in (that) ocean—so (say) the Vedas and the Vedāṅgas and the same acts are described in the Upaniṣads; when, at that ancient time, a wonder took place.

85-88a. Listen to it: Mārkaṇḍeya, the great sage, who had obtained a (long) life of many thousand years, and who had been swallowed by the revered one through curiosity (shown by Mārkaṇḍeya) (saw, in the lord’s belly), while going to various sacred places on pilgrimage, auspicious hermitages and temples of gods, countries, nations, wonderful cities of various kinds, where (people were) intent on muttering prayers and (performing) sacrifices, and which were said to be tranquil and pure on account of penances.

88b-89a. Then Mārkaṇḍeya slowly got out of his mouth; and due to the illusion (created) by the lord he did not realise that he was going out.

89b-90a. Mārkaṇḍeya, having got out of his belly saw the world that was but one ocean and veiled with darkness everywhere.

90b-9l. It caused him great fear and hindrance to his life. He who was delighted by seeing the god, was very much amazed. That Mārkaṇḍeya of an infallible mind, being afraid, thought:

92. ‘Is it the bewilderment of my mind or am I experiencing a dream? Certainly I am experiencing one of the two conditions.

93-94a. This is not a dream, since here truth is accompanied by (i.e. depends upon) facts’. He became distressed with the thought: ‘Which world can this be from which the moon, the sun, the air and the mountains have vanished?’

94b-96. He also saw a man, like a mountain, sleeping, half-drowned in the water like a cloud in the ocean; he was as it were blazing with great lustre due to having put on (his person) the moon and the sun; due to his prowess he appeared like the ocean on account ofits depth. ‘Who are you that have come to see the god?’ (He asked) through wonder.

97-98. Then the sage again entered the belly (of Viṣṇu). That Mārkaṇḍeya with amazement again entered the belly (of Viṣṇu). Again realising that he saw a dream he, as before, wandered on the earth through forests.

99-101a. He saw sacred places with water, various hermitages and sacrificers with (i.e. performing) sacrifices accomplished with big gifts and hundreds of brāhmaṇas at sacrifices—(all) remaining in the belly (of Viṣṇu). He duly saw, as before, all the castes led by brāhmaṇas behaving virtuously, and the four stages.

101b-102a. In this way, that intelligent Mārkaṇḍeya, wandering over the earth for a full hundred years saw it in (Viṣṇu’s) belly itself.

102b-103. Then some time he again got out of the belly. When the world, the sport of the Unmanifest, was void of beings, the sage, full of wonder, saw a child sleeping on a branch of fig-tree in the water of the only ocean, covered over with


104-107a. He could not look at the child resembling the sun. He too, sitting all alone near the water thought: ‘I have seen this (child) before; I have been bewildered by the supernatural power of the lord. The (child) is sleeping in the unfathomable water’. Mārkaṇḍeya with amazement and with his eyes frightened again went to see it as before.

107b-108. The lord said to him: “O boy, welcome to you”. The supreme being spoke with a voice like that of a cloud (i.e. with a deep and pleasant voice): “Mārkaṇḍeya, do not be afraid; come near me”.

Mārkaṇḍeya said:

109. Who addresses me by my name and insults me treating with indignity my age of a thousand divine years?

110. This is not the proper mode of behaviour; even among gods I have not seen it. Even Brahmā addresses me as ‘long-lived (one)’ with affection.

111. Who, today, having terrible mortification, having cast his life (i.e. not caring for his life), addressing me as ‘Mārkaṇḍeya’ sees his death (to be imminent)?

112. Thus the great sage Mārkaṇḍeya became disturbed through anger. Revered Madhusūdana again spoke to him:

The revered one (i.e. Viṣṇu) said:

113. O boy, I am Viṣṇu, your great father, who created you. I gave you life. I am the Primeval (Being). Why do you not approach me?

114. O son, your father, viz. the sage Āṅgirasa, resorting to severe penance, first propitiated me.

115. Seeing him performing severe penance and possessing lustre like the best of gods, I gave the great sage a son, viz. you of unlimited prowess.

116. Who else is able to see me of the nature of one having supernatural power, and playing, having entered the only ocean, by means of my divine wonderful power?

117-118. Then Mārkaṇḍeya, pleased in heart and with his eyes dilated with wonder, having joined and put the palms of his hands in obeisance on his (fore-) head (and) who lived long and was adored by the world, announced his name and family and devoutly saluted the revered one.

Mārkaṇḍeya said:

119. O sinless one, I desire to know correctly this wonderful power of yours, since, taking the form of a child, you are sleeping in this only ocean.

120. O lord, by what name are you known in the world? I guess you are the supreme soul. Who else can remain (like this)?

The lord said:

121. I am Nārāyaṇa, O brāhmaṇa, the destroyer of all beings. I am the one having a thousand heads and faces. I have a thousand feet.

122. I am the supreme being of the complexion of the sun and am having Brahman in my mouth. I am fire, carrying oblations, accompanied by the sun.

123. I am Śakra, (seated on) Indra’s seat; I am the year (consisting) of the seasons. Among the ascetics I am (the ascetic) called Sāṃkhya; and am the eddy at the end of a yuga.

124. I am all beings and all deities. I am Śeṣa among the snakes; I am Garuḍa[6] among all the birds.

125. I should be known as Yama, the god of death called Kāla. I am the moral virtue and the penance of all the hermits.

126. I am the prescribed course of conduct based on compassion; I am the ocean (called) the milky ocean. I am that which is the highest truth; I alone am the lord of beings.

12 7. I am the Sāṃkhya (school of philosophy); I am the Yoga (school of philosophy). I am that highest position (reached by devotees). I am the sacrifice, I am the rite, I am known to be the Lord of Knowledge.

128. I am lustre, I am the wind, I am the earth, I am the water. I am the sky, and the seas and the stars and the ten quarters.

129. I am the shower, I am Soma (the moon), I am the rain, and the sun. I am the most ancient (being); similarly I am the highest object.

130-131a. I shall be everywhere and be the collection of all (the future objects). O brāhmaṇa, whatever you see or hear or experience in the world, know all that to be me.

131b-132. I formerly created the universe, and even now I am creating (it). Look at me. O Mārkaṇḍeya, in every yuga I protect the entire world. O Mārkaṇḍeya, know accurately all this that is told to you.

133. Desirous of hearing about the prescribed course of conduct, move happily in my belly. Brahmā remains in my body, and also gods with the sages.

134. Know me, the enemy of Mura, to be the manifest, unmanifest and the abstract meditation. I am the mono-syllabled and tri-syllabled prayer (viz. Om); I am the grandsire.

135. I am the highest states (of loss, stability and increase); I am the highest soul manifesting (myself). O you highly intelligent one, thus the first Purāṇa describes me.

136. The sage went through the mouth of the lord; then the best sage entered his belly.

137. (Mārkaṇḍeya) desirous of listening to the unchangeable supreme soul, remained facing Nārāyaṇa in solitude. The inexhaustible one was variously resorted to in the great ocean when the moon and the sun had disappeared.

138. The lord called Haṃsa (i.e. the supreme being), moving slowly and creating the world at the change of the time, enjoyed (there). Then being pure, he chose (to practise) penance.

139. The one born in the lotus, having covered his body with water—the very powerful lord—thought of everything about the great beings at the time of the creation of the mortal world.

140-141. When he was thus thinking, when the ocean had remained restrained, when the world had become skyless, full of water and subtle at the time of destruction, the lord, having gone into the water, agitated the ocean.

142. Then from within the water first a cleft appeared. Then the wind, produced from the cleft, went to (i.e. made) a sound.

143. The wind, receiving the internal agitation, increased. The ocean was greatly agitated by the powerful wind.

144. From the agitated ocean (being thus) churned, the lord, the great fire, Vaiśvānara, sprang up in the water.

145. Then the fire very much dried the water. The entire cleft in the ocean became the extensive sky.

146. Water, resembling nectar, rose from his lustre. The sky sprang up from the cleft; and the wind sprang up from the sky.

147-148. Then seeing the fire caused by friction from it, the father, the great god, of many forms, clearly seeing the gross elements, seeing the elements, thought of the excellent things along with the birth of Brahman.

149-150. At the expiration of ayaga a thousand catur-yugas (i.e. the four yugas) are counted, when Hari is said to belong, on the earth, to best brāhmaṇas, whose souls are purified by penance during many existences. The universal soul, attains capacity after having observed the knowledge of those who resort to abstract meditation.

151. He, knowing the concentration of mind, knowing the one having abstract meditation, having complete grandeur and being the best, relying on him, fixed (i.e. put) him in the position of brahman.

152. Then the great god, the creator of all the worlds, i.e. Acyuta, Hari, duly sported in that great water.

153-154. Then he fashioned a lotus coming out from his navel, which was having a thousand colours, was without pollen, bright like the sun, made of gold, bright like the blazing flames of fire, prominent and like the clear autumnal sun (i.e. not covered with clouds). The very bright lotus, the charming moss, growing on his body, shone.

Footnotes and references:


Pañcavidha prāṇa—The five life-winds or vital airs: prāṇa, apāna, vyāna, udāna and samāna.


Kṛtayuga—For the yugas, sandhyās etc. see Chapter 3, where a detailed description of these is given.


Kāla—The supreme spirit regarded as the destroyer of the universe, being a personification of the destructive principle.


Rasātala—One of the seven regions below the earth; the other six are: Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Talātala, Mahātala and Pātāla.


Brahmā etc.—See notes on 34,7 and ff.



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