Devi Bhagvatam-FIRST BOOK – CHAPTERS I to V

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Chapter II

On the questions by Saunaka and others

1-5. Sri Suta said :– “I am highly fortunate; I consider myself blessed and I am purified by the Mahatmas (high souled persons); inasmuch as I am questioned by them about the highly meritorious Purana, famous in the Vedas. I will now speak in detail about this Purana, thebest of the Agamas, approved of by all the Vedas and the secret of all the Sastras.

O Brahmins ! I bow down to the gentle lotus feet, known in the three Lokas, of the Devi Bhagavati, praised by Brahma and the other devas Visnu, MaheSa and others, meditated always by the Munindras and which the Yogis contemplate as their source of liberation. Today I will devotedly describe, in detail and in plain language, that Purana which is the best of all the Puranas, which gives prosperity and contains all the sentiments (Rasas) that a human being can conceive, the Srimad Devi Bhagavatam.

May that Highest Primal Sakti who is known as Vidya in the Vedas; who is omniscient, who controls the innermost of all and who is skilled in cutting off the knot of the world, who cannot be realised by the wicked and the vicious, but who is visible to the Munis in their meditation, may that Bhagavati Devi give me always the buddhi fit to describe the Purana !

I call to my mind the Mother of all the worlds who creates this universe, whose nature is both real (taking gross, practical point of view) and and unreal (taking a real point of view),

preserves and destroys by Her Rajasik, Sattvik and Tamasik qualities and in the end resolves all these into Herself and plays alone in the period of Dissolution – at this lime, I remember my that Mother of all the worlds.

6-10. It is commonly known that Brahma is the creator of this universe; and the knowers of the Vedas and the Puranas say so; but they also say that Brahma is born of the navel-lotus of Visnu. Thus it appears that Brahma cannot create independently. Again Visnu, from whose navel lotus Brahma is born, lies in Yoga sleep on the bed of Ananta (the thousand headed serpent) in the time of Pralaya; so how can we call Bhagavan Visnu who rests on the thousand headed serpent Ananta as the creator of the universe? Again the refuge of Ananta is the water of the ocean Ekarnava; a liquid cannot rest without a vessel; so I take refuge of the Mother of all beings, who resides as the Sakti of all and thus is the supporter of all; I fly for refuge unto that Devi who was praised by Brahma while resting on the navel lotus of Visnu who was lying fast asleep in Yoga nidra. O Munis ! meditating on that Maya Devi who creates, preserves and destroys the universe who is kuown as composed of the three gunas and who grants mukti, I now describe the whole of the Puranas; now you all better hear.

11-16. The Purana Srimad Bhagavat (Devi Bhagavat) is excellent and holy; eighteen thousand pure Slokas are contained in it. Bhagavan Krisna Dvaipayan has divided this Purana into twelve auspicious Skandhas (Books) and three hundred and eighteen chapters. Twenty chapters compose the first Skandha; twelve chapters in the second Skandha; thirty chapters in the the third Skandha; twenty-five chapters in the fourth Skandha, thirty-five, in the fifth; thirty-one, in the sixth; forty, in the seventh; twenty-four, in the eighth; fifty chapters in the ninth; thirteen, in the tenth; twenty-four in the eleventh and fourteen chapters are contained in the twelfth Skandha, O Munis ! Thus the Dvaipayan Muni has arranged his chapters in each Skandha.

17-20. Thus the Mahatma Veda Vyas has divided this Bhagavata Purana. into so many Skandhas and into so many chapters; and that the number of verses is eighteen thousand is already stated. That is denominated as Purana which contains the following five characteristics :– (1) Creation of the universe, (2) Secondary creation, (3) Dynasties (4) Manvantaras and (5) The description of Manus and other kings.

Siva is beyond Prakritic attributes, eternal and ever omnipresent; She is without any change, immutable, unattainable but by yoga; She is the refuge of the universe and Her nature is Turiya Chaitanya. Maha Lakshmi is Her Sattviki Sakti; Sarasvati is Her Rajasik Sakti and Maha Kali is Her Tamasik Sakti; these are all of feminine forms.

21-25. The assuming of bodies by these three Saktis for the creation of this universe is denominated as “Sarga” (creation) by the high souled persona (Maharpurusa), skilled in Sastras. And the further resolution of these three Saktis into Brahma, Visnu and MaheSa for the creation, preservation, and destruction of this universe is denominated (in this Purana) as Pratisarga (secondary ereation.) The description of the kings of the solar and lunar dynasties and the families of Hiranya Kasipu and others is known as the description of the lineages of kings and their dynasties. The description of Svayambhuva and, other Manus and their ruling periods is known as Manvantaras. And the description of their descendants is known as the description of their families. (Thus these are the five characteristics in the Puranas.) O best of Munis ! all the Puranas are endowed with these five characteristics.

26-32. So is Mahabharata writen by Vedavyasa, characterised by these five things. This is known as the fifth Veda and Itihasa (history.) In this are something more than one lakh

slokas. Saunaka said :– “O Suta ! What are those Puranas and how many verses are contained in each? Speak all those in detail in this holy Ksettra; we, the residents of Naimisaranya are all very eager to hear this. (Why we call ourselves as the residents of Naimisaranya, hear; you will realise then that no other place exists in this Kali age for hearing the holy discourses on religion) :– When we were afraid of the Kali age, Brahma gave us a Manomaya Chakra (wheel) and I said to all of us :– Follow this wheel, go after it and the spot where the felly of the wheel will become thin (so as to break) and will not roll further, that country is the holy place; Kali will never be able to enter there; you all better remain there until the Satya age comes back. Thus, acording to the saying of Brahma, we have got orders to stay here. On hearing the words of Brahma, wo went out quickly keeping the wheel go on, our object being to determine which place is best and holiest. When we came here, the felly of the wheel become thin and shorn before my eyes; hence this Ksettra is called Naimis; it is the most sanctifying place.

Kali cannot enter here; hence the Mahatmas, Munis and Siddhas, terrified by the Kali age, have followed me and resorted to this place. We have performed yajñas with Purodasa (clarified butter as is offered in oblations to fire) where no animals are sacrificed; now we have no other important work to do except to pass our time here until the arrival of Satyayuga. O Suta ! we are extremely fortunate in all respects that you have come here; purify us to-day by narrating to us the names of the Puranas equivalent to the Vedas. O Suta ! you are also a learned orator; we, too, are ardent listeners, with no other works to bother our heads; narrate to us to-day the auspicious holy Bhagavata Purana. O Suta ! Long live you; and no ailings, internal, external, or from the Devas torment you. (this is our blessing to you). We have heard that in the most sanctifying Purana, narrated by Maharsi Dvaipayan, all about Dharma (religion), Artha (Wealth) and Kama (desires) are duly described as well the acquiring of Tattvajñan and liberation are also spoken of. O Suta ! our desires are not satisfied the more we hear of those beautiful holy words. Now describe to us the highly pure Srimad Devi Bhagavatam where all the Lilas (the dramatic acts) of the Mother of the three worlds purifying the sins, adorned with all the qualifications are described as yielding all the desires like the Kalpa Vriksa (the celestial tree yielding all desires).

Thus ends the second chapter of the first Skandha on the description of the Purana (the text) in Maha Purana Srimad Devi Bhagavatam of 18,000 verses by Maharsi Veda Vyas.