The Vishnu Purana (abridged)

27,616 words

The Vishnu Purana (Viṣṇu Purāṇa) is a religious Hindu text and one of the (most important) eighteen Mahapuranas. It is also known as Puranaratna ("gem of Puranas"). Presented as a dialogue between Parashara and his disciple Maitreya, the major topics discussed include creation, stories of battles fought between asuras and devas, the Avat...

The Manvantaras

The manvantara is a cycle of creation and destruction. A Manu rules over each such manvantara. There have been six manvantaras till now and the names of the respective Manus were Svayambhuva, Svarochasha, Outtami, Tamasa, Raivata and Chakshusha. Vaivasvata, the son of the sun, rules over the present and seventh manvantara. Each manvantara has its own gods and rishis. The gods of the present manvantara are the adityas, the vasus and the rudra and Purandara holds the title of Indra, the king of the gods. The names of the seven rishis of the present manvantara are Vashistha, Kashyapa, Atri, Jamadagni, Goutama, Vishvamitra and Bharadvaja.

These were the seven manvantaras that have passed. But there are seven manvantaras yet to come.

Vishvakarma had a daughter named Samjna who was married to Surya, the sun. Their children were called Manu, Yama and Yami. After some time, Samjna found that she could no longer bear the energy of her husband. So she created a woman known as Chhaya who looked exactly like her. She left Chhaya to look after her husband and went off to meditate in a forest. Surya did not know that this was Chhaya and not Samjna. Surya and Chhaya had two sons called Shanaishchara and Savarni Manu and a daughter called Tapati.

One day, for some reason, Chhaya became very angry and cursed yama. Both Yama and Surya then understood that this woman could not be Yama’s mother Samjna and must be someone else. Chhaya told them what had happened. And Surya learnt that Samnjna was performing tapasya in a forest in the form of a mare. Surya himself adopted the form of a horse and joined his wife. As horses, they had three sons, the two Ashvinis and Revanata.

Surya wanted to bring Samjna back to his home. The problem however was Surya’s energy, which Samjna could not stand. Therefore, Vishvakarma sliced off Surya’s energy and the sliced off part fell on the earth. With this energy Vishvakarma made Vishnu’s chakra, Rudra’s trishula, Kubera’s palanquin, Kartikeya’s spear and other weapons of the other gods.

As mentioned earlier, Surya and Chhaya had a son called Savarni Manu. This would be the Manu in the eighth manvantara and Indra would then be Vali, the son of Virochana. The ninth Manu would be Dakshasavarni, the tenth Brahmasavarni, the eleventh Dharmasavarni, the twelfth Savarna, the thirteenth Rouchya and the fourteenth Bhoutya. At the end of each four cycle of yugas, the Vedas are destroyed and in each satya yuga, the respective Manu rewrites the sacred shastras. In each manvantara, Manu, the seven rishis, Indra the gods and the kings are created afresh. Fourteen manvantaras make a kalpa comes Brahma’s night. During that night, Vishnu in his form of Brahma sleeps on the waters that are everywhere.

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