The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 750,347 words

This page describes Shveta-Dvipa which is chapter 4 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the fourth chapter of the Vasudeva-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 4 - Śveta-Dvīpa

Skanda said:

1. He (Nārada) who was the greatest one among persons possessing knowledge of the soul, and who was thus spoken to by the Superme Person Nārāyaṇa, addressed the following words to that Acyuta, the greatest one among the worlds, the very abode of the welfare of the world.

Nārada said:

2. O Lord, whatever has been spoken by you, who have concealed your immense lustre within the form of a sage, has been heard by me completely. But I know in my mind that all this is the sport of you only, who are the Lord of all.

3. O Bhūman (Viṣṇu), I shall have all my wishes fulfilled by your sight only, which is earnestly desired by my heart. I, however, have a strong desire to see your previous (original) form. O Lord, I am curious (to see it),

Śrī Nārāyaṇa said:

4. That form of mine is not possible to be seen by acts of charity or religious gifts, performance of sacrifices, or practice of Yoga, or by study or recitation of the Vedas, or performance of penance, O Nārada.[1] It can be seen only by complete, undivided devotion unto me, by excellent devotees exclusively attached to me.

5. Your devotion unto me is undivided; your knowledge is strengthened with disinterestedness to worldly pleasures. That is your Dharma. Hence, you will have that vision which is very difficult to have even by deities including the Lord of gods.

6. I am extremely pleased with your devotion. Today, I assure you that vision. Go to Śveta-Dvīpa (lit. White Island). This desire of yours will be accomplished there, O excellent Brāhmaṇa.

7. Having heard the words, Nārada, the son of Brahmā, worshipped that ancient sage (Nārāyaṇa). On an excellent auspicious astrological yoga (astral combination), he flew up in the sky. He at once descended on (a peak of) Meru.

8. Finding a quiet solitary place, the sage stayed for a while on the peak of the mountain. While looking in ṃe north-western direction, he saw an extremely wonderful island.

9. To the northern side of the Milk Ocean (Kṣīrodadhi), there is a famous vast island known as White Island (Śveta-Dvīpa). It is ever-refulgent, radiating very bright, white mass of light spread all over its extent.

10-11. It was surrounded and covered over with innumerable mango trees, Terminalia tomentosa trees, Hogplumes (Spondias mangifera), Neem, Nauclea cadamba, Ixora Bandhucca (Species of Aśoka) Bilva (Bassia latifolia), divine trees, Ficus infectoria, Banyan trees, Kiṃśuka and sandal trees, Vatica robusta, Sāla trees, Bread-fruit trees, Tamāla (Agati grandiflora), Ketakas, Caṃpaka, Kunda trees, Jasmine trees, divine Jasminutn zambac trees—all of which were bent down with (the weight of) flowers and fruits.

12. It was covered with many clusters of wish-yielding trees, and with rows of golden banana trees and betel-nut trees. It was full of innumerable great and excellent parks and gardens, rivers and lakes, full of blooming lotuses and sweetly warbling excellent birds like swans and others, and with excellent fleeing deer.

13. There all living beings, both movable and immovable, lead a liberated life.

While he was observing, excellent devotees of the Supreme Lord were seen by him.

14-16. They were beyond the ken of sense-organs.[2] They were devoid of all sins and (bodily) discharges. They were sweet-smelling. They were two-handed and some of them were four-handed. Some were white, while others were like new clouds in complexion. Their eyes were like petals of lotuses. Their limbs were symmetrical. They were extremely powerful with beautiful heavenly limbs. Their hair were scattered. They were ever youthful and were characterised with all auspicious marks. Their palms and soles were marked with (the outlines of) lotus. They were devoid of six defects of life (hunger, thirst, decay, death, grief and illusion). They surpassed the Sun in lustre. They were clad in white. They were gentle and absorbed in meditation. Even the god of Death was always afraid of them.

Sāvarṇi said:

17. Who are those men who are beyond the range of sense-organs, free from diseases and discharges of the body, full of sweet fragrance? How are persons of such category born? What is their destiny?

18. Śveta-dvīpa is on the surface of this earth, (though) in an ocean of waters. How did you proclaim the state of being beyond the (ken of) sense-organs, in case of the inhabitants of Śveta-dvīpa?

19. Only those who are established in the imperishable Brahman of the form of existence, consciousness and bliss, full of (identical with) pure thought (Brahman), are the liberated ones and not others.

20. Be pleased to remove this doubt of mine. I have got great eagerness (to know). As you are expert in all sorts of discourses, I have resorted to you.

Skanda replied:

21-22. Those persons called imperishable ones (Akṣara) who, through their undivided propitiation solely of the consort of Ramā (i.e. Viṣṇu) during previous Kalpas, attained the state of Brahman and have attained agelessness and immortality, stay in this domain of Śvetadvīpa for serving Vāsudeva and are being watched by gods and sages.

23. When the time of world-destruction arrives, they will stay as independent beings in the eternal domain (Akṣara-dhāman), free from the fear of Kāla (Death, Time) and Māyā.

24. Even here, those persons as well, who are born of Māyā and hence are perishable, verily become similar to those (Akṣara Puruṣas) through pious adorations.

25-27. O excellent sage, persons really become like those (Akṣara Puruṣas) through (practice of) non-violence, penance, (by abiding) by one’s specific duties, through non-attachment to worldly objects, knowledge of the glory of Vāsudeva and steadiness in (devotion to) the Ātman, supreme devotion (to the Lord), and contacts with the noble-souled ones, even though (originally) they are devoid of service to Hari, have no desire for liberation, and are covetous of all super-natural powers like Aṇimā, but by hearing and describing to each other the birth and great deeds of Śrī Hari (they become so).

28. Even when the creation of the universe is under way, these are not born through the force of Time anywhere. Due to their independence they do not perish like others at the time of world-destruction.

29. Now, I shall narrate to you an ancient legend, O sage, whereby a person belonging to this world, reached that stage.

30. O Brāhmaṇa, the legend that I heard from my father was a long one. It is to be narrated to you today. It is only the summary of it that is remembered.

Footnotes and references:


Cf BG XI.47.


Cf. Mbh, Śānti 335.8-12 for the description of residents of Śveta-dvīpa. The Purāṇa-writer has idealized Śveta-dvīpa as compared with its description in Mbh. This Dvīpa is located on the earth but the residents are Akṣara-Puruṣas. This Dvīpa is a gateway lo Goloka and Vaikuṇṭha (infra Ch. 7.36-37).

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