Markandeya Puranam

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Jaimini said: – O foremost of the twice-born one you should describe to me the two-fold Vaidika rites – Pravritti and Nivritti. (Or leading to the knowledge of the means of success and the discountenance of the worldly acts.) What a wonder, that by the grace of your sire you have obtained such a knowledge, by which although born as birds you have dispelled ignorance. (2) Blessed are you since your minds are in their pristine state and have not been agitated by ignorance begotten by worldly objects. (3) Fortunately the revered and intelligent Markandeya spoke of you, the dispeller all doubts and ignorance. (4) While roving in this greatly perilous world men cannot get the company of ascetics like yourselves. (5) If I cannot accomplish my object in the company of such wise persons as yourselves, where can I then meet with success? (6) I do not think any one else has that clear understanding which you have in the two-fold actions of knowledge namely that of the means of success and the discontinuance of the worldly acts. (7) O foremost of the twice-born one, if your mind is bent upon showing me favour do you describe to me in full all these subjects. (8) How has this universe, composed of the mobile and the immobile has originated? And where does it go again at the time of universal dissolution, O great one. (9) How from the various families originate the celestials, the Rishis, the Pitris and other creatures? What are the Manwantaras and the accounts of the various families. (10) All the various creations, all the various dissolutions, all the various Manwantaras. (11) The position of the earth, the extent of the earth as well as the situations of oceans, mountains, rivers, and forests. (12) The account of the regions of Bhu and celestials, and of Patala and the movements of the even, the moon, the stars, the planets and other luminous bodies. (13) I wish to hear of them all from the origin to the dissolution. I wish to know also what will remain after the dissolution of this universe.


THE BIRDS said: – O foremost of sages, fearless are the questions you have put to us. Hear, we shall describe them at length, O Jaimini. (15) This was formerly described by Markandeya to the son of the twice-born one Kraushtu, intelligent, of a quiescent soul and who had just completed the period of his studentship. (16) O lord, this very question was put by Kraushtuki to the high-souled Markandeya when he sat encircled by the leading twice-born ones. (17) Hear, O foremost of the twice-born, we shall recount what was said by the son of the Bhrigu.

(18) Having saluted the lord of the universe, the lotus-sprung Brahma the origin of the world, who protects the creation in the form of Vishnu and destroys it in the form of the dreadful Rudra. (19)

Markandeya said: – As soon as the uncreate Brahma came into being there came out from his four mouths all these Puranas and Vedas. (20) The superior sages compiled many ancient Samhitas, and made a thousand-fold division of the Vedas. (21) Righteousness or Dharma, divine knowledge, renunciation, and power over the elements, these four can never be had except through his (Brahma’s) instructions. (22) The seven primal Rishis (sages), the spiritual offsprings of Brahma, received the Vedas from him, while his other spiritual sons the primal Munis received from him the Puranas. (23) Chyabana had those Puranas from Bhrigu, and by him were the twice-born sages instructed in them; by these high-souled Rishis again were these communicated to Daksha. (24) By Daksha again they were related to me in those days. I shall relate that to you to-day which destroys the sins peculiar to this Kali-Yuga or dark-age.

(25) Do you, Oh highly fortunate one, hear all this from me with undivided attention. I shall relate it to you even as I myself heard it, of old, from Daksha. (26) Having saluted Brahma, who is himself unborn, and without decay, but from whom has sprung this world, who is the refuge of all the moving and immoveable creation, the stay of the universe, the most superior

abode (of the spirit), the primal person, from whom is the birth, stay, and final dissolution of the world, – having saluted Hiranya-garvha the guide of all beings, and the inspirer of intelligence, I shall duly relate to you the nature of the superior elements. (27-29) This creation,

– from the unmanifested source of matter and mind – the Mahat of the Sankhya philosophy, down to the Bishesha of Kanad, with all its changes and properties, that which can only be established by the fivefold forms of testimony, and which is joined with the five avenues of the senses, which though in a state of flux is yet, on account of the presence of the Purusha in it, in the main, beyond change, – hear all about it, O thou highly fortunate one, with superior concentration of the mind. (30-31) The unmanifested cause, called the Pradhana by the Sankyas, which is named by the Maharshis or great sages, as Prakriti – subtle of nature, composed of both that which is, and that which is not but simply appears to be, – which is everlasting, – which is subtle, is indestructible, not subject to old age, which cannot be measured, which is unrelated, devoid of smell, form, and taste, and is without sound and touch; which is the source of this world, born of the three qualities – Sattva, Raja, and Tama; which is above loss or decay; which is not joined to anything else, which is beyond comprehension, – which, in fact, is Brahman and existed from the beginning: – by him is all this endless creation pervaded after each Pralaya or elemental dissolution. Afterwards from this harmony of the three qualities owing to the presence in them, of the soul, O Muni! at the time of creation again, through the movement of the qualities for purposes of creation, does the essence of the Pradhana arise and cover the unmanifested Mahat. (32-36) Even as the kernel of a seed is encased in its shell, so his Mahat enveloped by the unmanifested Pradhana. This Mahat manifests itself in a three-fold form according as one or other of the three qualities of Satva, Raja, and Tama predominates over the others. (37) From this Mahat, then, arises the threefold consciousness, named Baikarika, Taijasa and Tamasa; which is the source of all the elements. (38) Even as the Mahat is enveloped by the unmanifested Pradhana this Ahankara or consciousness is enveloped by the Mahat; and from this, through the changes wrought upon it by this origin of all elements – the Mahat, proceed the primary elements of sound. (39) He then created from the primary element of sound, ether or Akasa, of which the property is sound; and Ahankara then enveloped this Akasa, of which the measure is simple sound. (40) There is no doubt of it that from this is born the primary element of touch; then arose air, which is full of force, and it is known that touch is the property of air. Akasa or ether of which the measure is sound, enveloped the air of which the measure is touch. (41) Air by undergoing change sent forth the primary element of sight. Air generates light, and of this, form – visibility – is said to be the property. (42) Air of which the measure is touch, enveloped that of which the measure is visibility, and light again undergoing change sent forth the primary element of taste. (43) From that is born water of which the essential property is taste, and the water of which the measure is taste covered light of which the measure is form. (44) Water again undergoing change sent forth the primary element of smell; – from that is born the earth, of which the principal property is known to be smell. (45) In this manner by the respective elementals of the primary element, they are said to be measured. There can be no other specification of them, therefore are they called Abishesha. (46) Owing to this want of any specification, these elementals, thus produced from ignorant consciousness, Ahankara, are neither tranquil nor disturbed, nor inert. (47) From the Ahankara that is moved by the quality of Sattva and that is of the nature of that quality, and undergoes evolution, all this evolving creation is simultaneously proceeded. (48) The five senses and the five organs of action, these senses full of light are called the ten evolved Devas, of these the mind is the eleventh; – all these are taken as the evolved Devas. (49) The ear, the tactile nerves, the eye, the palate, and the nose, these obtain knowledge of sound and touch &c, therefore are they said to be joined with intelligence. (50) The two feet, the arms the generative organ, the two hands and the organ of speech, these are the five organs of action; for by these are the functions of walking, discharging the faeces, generation, manufacturing various articles, and that of speech are performed. (51) Akasa of which the measure is sound, entering into that of which the measure is touch, the tri-qualitative air is brought forth; of this air touch is said to be the elemental property. (52) Both the qualities of sound and touch entered in the same way into the elemental of visibility, whence is produced the tri-qualitative fire. It has the three properties of sound, touch, and visibility. (53) Sound,

touch, and visibility entered into the elemental of taste, from that is produced water, which has four properties, and which is known to be of the nature of taste. (54) Sound, touch, visibility, and taste entered into the elemental of smell and this elemental of smell being condensed composed and covered this earth. (55) That earth possessing the five qualities of sound, touch, visibility, taste, and smell becomes visible among the gross objects; therefore are these specified elements, – the Bisheshas are specified as tranquil, disturbed, and inert.

(56) These enter into one another, and hold up one another; all this crowded world as far as the region of the sun has this earth as its stay and basis. (57) Owing to their persistence the specified elements are declared to be the objects of the senses, and the succeeding elements receive the qualities of the proceedings ones. (58) When existing unconnected with one another, and with their energies independent of one another, they cannot bring forth any of the objects of creation. (59) Entering into mutual relation, and being interdependent upon one another, and thus coming into a mysterious union with one another, through the favour of the unmanifested, these elementals become the seat of the Purusha, or soul, and give birth to the egg of this universe, containing all objects from the Mahat to the Bishesha. (60-61) Like a bubble of water is this egg, and produced from the elements, the great egg, Oh highly intelligent one! sleeps in that very water (i.e. exists in those elements). (62) The soul, whose consciousness is that of the Brahman grows in this Nature’s egg; he is called the owner of the body, the First, and the Purusha. (63) He is the first master of the elements, he is Brahma, who existed before everything else, by him is all this world both that moves and that moves not, pervaded. (64) The poles came into existence after him, as also the mountains Jarayu; the oceans are as it were the inner waters of that infinitely capacious egg. (65) All this world with the gods, the men, and the Asuras that inhabit it, the islands, the mountains, the oceans, and all the multitudes of the celestial bodies, are contained in the egg, while water, air, fire, the sky and the earth cover the outside of this egg by the ten properties, (the five subtle and the five gross properties of sound, touch visibility, taste and smell), severally and jointly. (67) It is also covered, along with these, with Mahat, which stand as their measure and proof; and with all this, including the Mahat itself, it is covered by the unmanifested Prakriti. (68) This egg is covered by these seven-fold Prakritis, and the eight Prakritis (including the egg which is the eighth) exist entering into one another. (69) This (collectively) is that Prakriti which is everlasting, and he is the Purusha, who inheres in it; of whom, called Brahma I have already spoken to you. Hear of him once more from me in greater details. (70) Just as a man getting drowned in water throws up while getting out of it, both the things that are born in the water and the water itself, in the same manner is Brahma the author of the Prakriti. (71) The Unmanifested is designated as the Kshetra or the field, and Brahma is called the knower and owner of the field. Know all these to be the specification of the properties of the Kshetra and the Kshetrajna. (72) This natural creation, presided over by the Kshetrajna, first came into being, without any premeditation, like a flash of lightening. (73)