"Yudhishthira said, 'Whence has this universe consisting of mobile and immobile creatures been created? Whom does it go to when destruction sets in? Tell me this, O grandsire! Indeed, by whom has this universe with its oceans, its firmament, its mountains, its clouds, its lands, its fire, and its wind, been created. How were all objects created? Whence this division into separate orders of existence? Whence are their purity and impurity, and the ordinances about virtue and vice? Of what kind is the life of living creatures? Where also do they go who die. Tell us everything about this and the other world.'
"Bhishma said, 'In this connection is cited the old narrative of the sacred words that Bhrigu said in reply to the questions of Bharadwaja. Beholding the great Rishi Bhrigu blazing with energy and splendour, seated on the Kailasa summit, Bharadwaja addressed him in the following words.'
"Bharadwaja said, 'By whom was this world with its ocean, its firmament, its mountains, its clouds, its lands, its fire, and its wind, created? How were all creatures first created? Whence this distinction of castes? Whence the purity and the impurity of (behaviour), and whence the ordinances about virtue and vice, for living creatures? Of what kind is the life of living creatures? Where do they go who die? It behoveth thee to tell me everything about this and the other world.' Thus addressed about his doubts by Bharadwaja, the illustrious and regenerate Rishi Bhrigu who resembled Brahma itself, replied unto him, saying these words.'
"Bhrigu said, 'There is a Primeval Being, known to the great Rishis, of the name of Manasa. He is without beginning and without end. That Divine Being is incapable of being penetrated by weapons. He is without decay and is Immortal. He is said to be Unmanifest. He is Eternal, Undecaying, and Unchangeable. Through Him are creatures born and through Him they die. He first created a Divine Being known by the name of Mahat. 2 Mahat created Consciousness. That Divine Being created Space. That puissant
[paragraph continues] Being is the holder of all created objects. From Space was born Water, and from Water were born Fire and Wind. Through the union of Fire and Wind was born the Earth. Self-born Manasa then created a divine Lotus pregnant with Energy. From that Lotus sprang Brahman, that Ocean of Veda. 1 The Srutis say that as soon as born, that divine Being uttered the words, 'I am He!' For this He came to be called by the name of Consciousness. He has all created things for his body and He is their Creator. 2 These five elements that we see are that Brahman of great energy. The mountains are his bones. The earth is his fat and flesh. The oceans are his blood. Space is his stomach. The Wind is his breath. Fire is his energy. The rivers are his arteries and veins. Agni and Soma, otherwise called the Sun and the Moon, are called his eyes. The firmament above is his head. The earth is his two feet. The cardinal and subsidiary points of the horizon are his arms. Without doubt, He is incapable of being known and His Soul is inconceivable by even persons crowned with ascetic success. The Divine Being, who pervades the whole universe, is also known by the name of Ananta (Infinite). He lives in Consciousness, and is incapable of being known by persons of uncleansed souls. Asked by thee I have now told thee of Him who created Consciousness for evoking into existence all created objects, and from whom this universe has sprung.'
"Bharadwaja said, 'What is the extent of the firmament, of the points of the horizon, of the surface of this earth, and of the Wind? By telling me the truth, solve my doubts.'
"Bhrigu said, 'The sky thou seest above is Infinite. It is the abode of persons crowned with ascetic success and of divine beings. It is delightful, and consists of various regions. Its limits cannot be ascertained. The Sun and the Moon cannot see, above or below, beyond the range of their own rays. There where the rays of the Sun and the Moon cannot reach are luminaries 3 which are self-effulgent and which possess splendour like that of the Sun or the fire. Know this, O giver of honours, that possessed of far-famed splendour, even these last do not behold the limits of the firmament in consequence of the inaccessibility and infinity of those limits. This Space which the very gods cannot measure is fall of many blazing and self-luminous worlds each above the other. Beyond the limits of land are oceans of water. Beyond water is darkness. Beyond darkness is water again, and beyond the last is fire. Downwards, beyond the nether regions, is water. Beyond water is the region belonging to the great snakes. Beyond that is sky once more, and beyond the sky is water again. Even thus there is water and sky alternately without end. Even such are the limits of the Divinity represented by water. The very gods are unable to ascertain limits of fire and wind and
water. The nature of fire, wind, water, and land, is like that of space. They are distinguished through want of true Knowledge. Sages read in diverse scriptures the limits that have been declared of the three worlds and the ocean. Who is there, however, that would set limits to what cannot be grasped by vision and what is inaccessible (in all its parts)? If even it becomes possible to ascertain the limits of the firmament which is the track of the gods and beings crowned with ascetic success, it can never be possible to set limits to that which is limitless and known by the name of the Infinite, to that which correspond with the name by which it is known, viz., what has been called the high-souled Manasa? When again His form is sometimes contracted and sometimes expanded, how can any one else except one that is equal to Him, be able to comprehend His limits? From the Lotus (of which I have already spoken) was first created the Omniscient lord, Brahman, endued with form, of essence comprised of Righteousness, and the Creator of all mobile and immobile things.
"Bharadwaja said, 'If Brahman sprang from the Lotus, then it is the Lotus that should be regarded as the First-born and not Brahman. Why, however, is Brahma said to be the first? Do thou remove that doubt of mine.'
"Bhrigu said, 'The Earth it is that is called the Lotus. It was created for giving a seat unto that form of Manasa which became Brahman. Reaching up to heaven itself, the Sumeru became the pericarp of the Lotus. Remaining within it, the puissant Lord of the Universe created all the worlds.'"
22:1 This verse occurs in the Santi Parva. It is difficult to understand in what sense it is said that the track of the virtuous cannot be marked. Perhaps, it is; intended that such men do not leave any history or record behind them, they having abstained from all kinds of action good or bad.
22:2 Manasa means 'appertaining to the mind,' or rather, the Will. Mahat literally means great.
23:1 Veda is here used in the sense of Knowledge and Power.
23:2 Sarvabhutatmakrit is explained by Nilakantha thus. He who is Sarvabhutatman is again bhutakrit. On the authority of the Srutis the commentator adds,--ye ete pancha akasadayodhatavo-dharana-karmanah sa eva Brahma.
23:3 The word Devah here is evidently used in the sense of luminous or shining ones and not in that of gods or deities.