The Padma Purana

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

This page describes various mountains and regions of the earth which is chapter 3 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 third chapter of the Svarga-khanda (section on the heavens) of the Padma Purana, which contains six books total consisting of at least 50,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.

Disclaimer: These are translations of Sanskrit texts and are not necessarily approved by everyone associated with the traditions connected to these texts. Consult the source and original scripture in case of doubt.

Chapter 3 - Various Mountains and Regions of the Earth

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The sages said:

1-2. O best one, tell us fully the names of the rivers, mountains of the countries, and of those who have resorted to (i.e. are living on) the earth, O you who know the measures, the full measure of the earth, and about the forests also.

Sūta said:

3-10. O very wise one, the gross elements in the universe are five in all; and the wise say that they are equal. (They are:) earth, water, and air, fire and ether. All of them are attended with attributes. Earth is the chief of them. The sages knowing the essential nature (of things) have said that the attributes of earth are sound, touch, colour, taste and smell. O brāhmaṇas, four attributes are (found) in water. It does not have smell. Fire (or light) has three attributes: sound, touch and colour. Air has (two attributes, viz.) sound and touch. Ether has (the attribute of) sound only. O brāhmaṇas, in the five elements these five attributes (are found), and (depending) on them the creatures in all the worlds exist. There is homogeneity when they do not overcome one another; but when they, becoming uneven, enter one another, then the beings spring up (into life) with bodies. This is not otherwise. They are destroyed in order. They come into existence in order (i.e. they are destroyed in the same order as they come into existence). All of them are immeasurable. Their form is the lord (himself).

11-17. Wherever the creatures consisting of the five elements are seen running about, men speak about their measures with (the help of their) reason. One should not, however, (seek to) understand matters that are inconceivable by reason. O best sages, (now) I shall describe to you the island of (i.e. called) Sudarśana. O illustrious ones, this island is circular—has the form of a wheel. It is covered with river waters, and with mountains resembling oceans, also with cities of various sizes and delightful countries; it is full of trees endowed with flowers and fruits; is having grains and (other) wealth. It is surrounded on all sides by the salt ocean. As a man would see his own face in a mirror, in the same way the circular Sudarśana island can be seen (in the ocean). Two of its parts (appear) like a pippala tree and two like a large hare. On all its sides it is surrounded by all (kinds of) herbs. Other than this (portion) all else should be known to be water. I shall describe the rest in brief.

The sages said:

18-20a. O intelligent one, you have briefly and duly given an exposition of it. You know the essential nature of all things. (Now) O Sūta, tell us (about it) in detail. (First) tell us about dimension of the space which looks like a hare. Then you will describe (the land resembling) the pippala (tree).

Thus asked by them Sūta said (these) words:

Sūta said:

20b-24. O very wise ones, these six jewelled mountains stretching (from) east (to west) have gone into the eastern and western oceans. (They are:) Himavat, Hemakūṭa, the best mountain Niṣadha; so also Nila abounding in lapis lazuli, Śveta resembling the moon; and the mountain named Śṛṅgavat covered with all (kinds of) metals. O brāhmaṇas, these mountains are resorted to by siddhas and cāraṇas. The distance between them measures thousands of yojanas. There are many kingdoms. O best ones, they are called Varṣa. Beings of various species live in them at all places.

25-3la. This is (called) Bhāratavarṣa. Beyond it is Haimavat. The land beyond Hemakūṭa is called Harivarṣa. To the south of Nīla, and to the north of Niṣadha, there is a mountain called Mālyavat stretching from the east. Beyond Mālyavat there is the mountain Gandhamādana. Between the two (i.e. Mālyavat and Gandhamādana) there is the golden mountain Meru globular in shape. It is bright like the (young) morning sun, and like fire without smoke. It is eighty-four thousand yojanas high. O best brāhmaṇas, its depth(also) is eighty-four thousand yojanas. It stands covering the worlds lying above, below and in the horizontal direction. By its side these four islands are situated, O brāhmaṇas: Bhadrāśva, Ketumāla and Jambudvīpa, O best ones; so also Uttarakuru which is resorted to by men who have practised virtuous deeds.

31b-41a. The bird Sumukha, the son of Supārśva, on seeing the big birds of golden colour (on Meru) thought: ‘I shall abandon this mountain Meru since the birds there have no difference among them like good, middling and bad ones.’ The Sun, the best among the luminaries, constantly goes round it. So also the Moon with the constellations, and Vāyu go round it. O very wise ones, the mountain is endowed with divine flowers, it is covered with all auspicious golden houses. On that mountain hosts of gods, gandharvas, deities and demons always sport, accompanied by the bevies of celestial nymphs. Brahmā, Śiva and Śakra, the lord of gods gather there, and perform various sacrifices with munificent gifts. (The gandharva) Tumbura, Nārada, (and the two gandharva brothers) Hāhā and Hūhū, having gone there, praise with various hymns the best (of the gods). Well-being to you; the seven high-souled sages and Kaśyapa, the lord of created beings always go there on a parvan-day (i.e. the full-moon day or the new-moon day). On the summit of that mountain only Uśanas or Kavi (i.e. Śukra) is honoured by the demons. It has jewels with gold; so also other jewelled mountains are (parts) of Meru. The lord Kubera gets the fourth part of it. Of that wealth he gives the sixteenth part to human beings.

41b-45a. Adjacent to this mountain is the Karṇikāra grove, which is divine, which is full of flowers of all seasons, which is charming and is elevated with a mass of rocks. There the revered lord Śiva himself, the cause of beings, surrounded by divine beings and accompanied by Umā, and wearing a garland of Karṇikāra flowers reaching his feet, and shining with his three eyes resembling three risen suns, sports. Truthful siddhas, practising severe penance and of good vows (alone can) see him. The great god cannot be seen by those of a wicked conduct.

45b-48. From the peak of the mountain, O best brāhmaṇas, flows, like a stream of milk, the pious, auspicious Ganges, also called Bhāgirathī, of a universal form, immeasurable, flowing out with a fearful noise, resorted to by the most pious beings, (and falls) with a great speed into the charming lake of Candramas. She has produced that auspicious lake resembling an ocean. The bearer of Pināka (i.e. Śiva) held on his head for a hundred thousand years that Ganges which was incapable of being borne even by the mountains.

49-54. O best brāhmaṇas, Ketumāla is on the western side of Meru; (and) O brāhmaṇas, the country called Jambukhaṇḍa is there only. O best ones, there the span of human life is ten thousand years. The men are of golden complexion and the women resemble celestial nymphs. Human beings there are healthy, free from sorrow and always of cheerful minds. Men born there are of the brightness of heated gold. Kubera, the lord of guhyakas, surrounded by groups of the celestial nymphs, rejoices with the demons on the peaks of Gandhamādana. By the side of Gandhamādana (there live) other (people) with their sin destroyed. They have a long span of life of eleven thousand years. O brāhmaṇas, the men there are dark in complexion, lustrous and very strong. All the women have the complexion of lotus and are very beautiful.

55-67a. Śveta has blue lotuses; beyond Śveta is the excellent country called Hairaṇyaka. (Beyond that) is Airāvata having several countries, O brāhmaṇas. O glorious ones, there are two countries, of the form of a bow on the south and the north. Ilāvṛtta is in the middle. (Thus) there are five divisions. Of these the succeeding country excels (preceding ones) in attributes like span of life, health, righteousness, desirable objects and material things. (In spite of differences) O best ones, beings in all these countries live together (amicably). O glorious ones, this earth is covered with mountains. The great Hemakūṭa is (also) the mountain called Kailāsa. There god Vaiśravaṇa (i.e. Kubera) rejoices with guhyakas. To the north of Kailāsa and near the Maināka mountain there is the very great, divine mountain called Maṇimaya having golden peaks. By its side there is a large, divine, bright, charming lake called Viṣṇusaras, with golden sands (on its banks), where Bhagīratha, having seen Gaṅgā, (also called) Bhāgīrathī, lived for many years. There are sacrificial pillars decked with gems, and lands full of gold. The very glorious thousand-eyed (god, i.e. Indra) performed sacrifices there, and attained perfection. The eternal creator, of a bright lustre, and the lord of beings, is worshipped there by (beings in) all the worlds. There (reside) Nara, Nārayaṇa, Brahmā, Manu and Sthāṇu (i.e. Śiva) as the fifth. The celestial (Gaṅgā) taking three paths, first appeared there after moving from Brahmā’s heaven, and flowed in seven streams: Vaṭodakā, Sarasvatī, Pārvatī, Jambūnadī, Sītā, Gaṅgā and Sindhu as the seventh. She is inconceivable, has a divine appellation, and is endowed with prowess.

67b-71a. There, at the end of the yuga (i.e. at the time of creation), a thousand sacrifices are performed (by gods and sages). Sarasvatī (in her course) appears at places and disappears at (other) places. These seven (streams of) Gaṅgā are well-known in the three worlds. Demons live on Himavat and guhyakas on Hemakūṭa. Serpents and snakes reside in Niṣadha; and Gokarṇa is a penance-grove. The mountain Śveta is said to be (the abode) of gods and demons. Gandharvas always live on Niṣadha, and the brāhmaṇic sages on Nīla. O glorious ones, Śṛṅgavān is (said to be) a place where gods move.

71b-75. O illustrious ones, these are the seven countries according to the division (of the world). Mobile and immobile creatures have encamped here. Prosperity of various kinds—both providential and human—of these (creatures) is seen (there). It cannot be enumerated. The graceful ones are to be believed. O brāhmaṇas, (I have told you) about the divine form of the hare about which you had asked me. I have also told you about the two countries lying adjacent to the country (having the form like that) of a hare in the south and in the north. They are (the hare’s) ears. They are Karṇadvīpa and Kāśyapadvīpa. O Brāhmaṇas, the beautiful Malaya mountain has rocks of (as in) Karṇadvīpa. This other country looks like the hare’s form.

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