The Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, , at sacred-texts.com
Dominion over different provinces of creation assigned to different beings. Universality of Vishńu. Four varieties of spiritual contemplation. Two conditions of spirit. The perceptible attributes of Vishńu types of his imperceptible properties. Vishńu every thing. Merit of hearing the first book of the Vishńu Puráńa.
WHEN Prithu was installed in the government of the earth, the great father of the spheres established sovereignties in other parts of the creation. Soma was appointed monarch of the stars and planets, of Brahmans and of plants, of sacrifices and of penance. Vaisravańa was made king over kings; and Varuńa, over the waters. Vishńu was the chief of the Ádityas; Pávaka, of the Vasus; Daksha, of the patriarchs; Vásava, of the winds. To Prahláda was assigned dominion over the Daityas and Dánavas; and Yama, the king of justice, was appointed the monarch of the Manes (Pitris). Airávata was made the king of elephants; Garud́a, of birds; Indra, of the gods. Uchchaiśravas was the chief of horses; Vrishabha, of kine. Śesha became the snake-king; the lion, the monarch of the beasts; and the sovereign of the trees was the holy fig-tree 1. Having thus fixed the limits of each authority, the great progenitor Brahmá stationed rulers for the protection of the different quarters of the world: he made Sudhanwan, the son of the patriarch Viraja, the regent of the east; Sankhapáda, the son of the patriarch Kardama, of the south; the immortal Ketumat, the son of Rajas, regent of the west; and Hirańyaroman, the son of the patriarch Parjanya, regent of the north 2. By these the whole earth, with its seven continents and its
cities, is to the present day vigilantly protected, according to their several limits.
All these monarchs, and whatever others may be invested with authority by the mighty Vishńu, as instruments for the preservation of the world; all the kings who have been, and all who shall be; are all, most worthy Brahman, but portions of the universal Vishńu. The rulers of the gods, the rulers of the Daityas, the rulers of the Dánavas, and the rulers of all malignant spirits; the chief amongst beasts, amongst birds, amongst men, amongst serpents; the best of trees, of mountains, of planets; either those that now are, or that shall hereafter be, the most exalted of their kind; are but portions of the universal Vishńu. The power of protecting created things, the preservation of the world, resides with no other than Hari, the lord of all. He is the creator, who creates the world; he, the eternal, preserves it in its existence; and he, the destroyer, destroys it; invested severally with the attributes of foulness, goodness, and gloom. By a fourfold manifestation does Janárddana operate in creation, preservation, and destruction. In one portion, as Brahmá, the invisible assumes a visible form; in another portion he, as Maríchi and the rest, is the progenitor of all creatures; his third portion is time; his fourth is all beings: and thus he becomes quadruple in creation, invested with the quality of passion. In the preservation of the world he is, in one portion, Vishńu; in another portion he is Manu and the other patriarchs; he is time in a third; and all beings in a fourth portion: and thus, endowed with the property of goodness, Purushottama preserves the world. When he assumes the property of darkness, at the end of all things, the unborn deity becomes in one portion Rudra; in another, the destroying fire; in a third, time; and in a fourth, all beings: and thus, in a quadruple form, he is the destroyer of the world. This, Brahman, is the fourfold condition of the deity at all seasons.
Brahmá, Daksha, time, and all creatures are the four energies of Hari, which are the causes of creation. Vishńu, Manu and the rest, time, and all creatures are the four energies of Vishńu, which are the causes of duration. Rudra, the destroying fire, time, and all creatures
are the four energies of Janárddana that are exerted for universal dissolution. In the beginning and the duration of the world, until the period of its end, creation is the work of Brahmá, the patriarchs, and living animals. Brahmá creates in the beginning; then the patriarchs beget progeny; and then animals incessantly multiply their kinds: but Brahmá is not the active agent in creation, independent of time; neither are the patriarchs, nor living animals. So, in the periods of creation and of dissolution, the four portions of the god of gods are equally essential. Whatever, oh Brahman, is engendered by any living being, the body of Hari is cooperative in the birth of that being; so whatever destroys any existing thing, movable or stationary, at any time, is the destroying form of Janárddana as Rudra. Thus Janárddana is the creator, the preserver, and the destroyer of the whole world--being threefold--in the several seasons of creation, preservation, and destruction, according to his assumption of the three qualities: but his highest glory 3 is detached from all qualities; for the fourfold essence of the supreme spirit is composed of true wisdom, pervades all things, is only to be appreciated by itself, and admits of no similitude.
MAITREYA.--But, Muni, describe to me fully the four varieties of the condition of Brahma, and what is the supreme condition 4.
PARÁŚARA.--That, Maitreya, which is the cause of a thing is called the means of effecting it; and that which it is the desire of the soul to accomplish is the thing to be effected. The operations of the Yogi who is desirous of liberation, as suppression of breath and the like, are his means: the end is the supreme Brahma, whence he returns to the world no more. Essentially connected with, and dependant upon, the means employed for emancipation by the Yogi, is discriminative knowledge; and this is the first variety of the condition of Brahma 5. The second
sort is the knowledge that is to be acquired by the Yogi whose end is escape from suffering, or eternal felicity. The third kind is the ascertainment of the identity of the end and the means, the rejection of the notion of duality. The last kind is the removal of whatever differences may have been conceived by the three first varieties of knowledge, and the consequent contemplation of the true essence of soul. The supreme condition of Vishńu, who is one with wisdom, is the knowledge of truth; which requires no exercise; which is not to be taught; which is internally diffused; which is unequalled; the object of which is self-illumination; which is simply existent, and is not to be defined; which is tranquil, fearless, pure; which is not the theme of reasoning; which stands in need of no support 6. Those Yogis who, by the annihilation of ignorance, are resolved into this fourfold Brahma, lose the seminal property, and can no longer germinate in the ploughed field of worldly existence. This is the supreme condition, that is called Vishńu, perfect,
perpetual, universal, undecaying, entire, and uniform: and the Yogi who attains this supreme spirit (Brahma) returns not to life again; for there he is freed from the distinction of virtue and vice, from suffering, and from soil.
There are two states of this Brahma; one with, and one without shape; one perishable, and one imperishable; which are inherent in all beings. The imperishable is the supreme being; the perishable is all the world. The blaze of fire burning on one spot diffuses light and heat around; so the world is nothing more than the manifested energy of the supreme Brahma: and inasmuch, Maitreya, as the light and heat are stronger or feebler as we are near to the fire, or far off from it, so the energy of the supreme is more or less intense in the beings that are less or more remote from him. Brahma, Vishńu, and Śiva are the most powerful energies of god; next to them are the inferior deities, then the attendant spirits, then men, then animals, birds, insects, vegetables; each becoming more and more feeble as they are farther from their primitive source. In this way, illustrious Brahman, this whole world, although in essence imperishable and eternal, appears and disappears, as if it was subject to birth and death.
The supreme condition of Brahma, which is meditated by the Yogis in the commencement of their abstraction, as invested with form, is Vishńu, composed of all the divine energies, and the essence of Brahma, with whom the mystic union that is sought, and which is accompanied by suitable elements, is effected 7 by the devotee whose whole mind is addressed to that object. This Hari, who is the most immediate of all the energies of Brahma, is his embodied shape, composed entirely of his essence; and in him therefore is the whole world interwoven; and from him, and in him, is the universe; and he, the supreme lord of all, comprising all that is perishable and imperishable, bears upon him all material and spiritual existence, identified in nature with his ornaments and weapons.
MAITREYA.--Tell me in what manner Vishńu bears the whole world, abiding in his nature, characterised by ornaments and weapons.
PARÁŚARA.--Having offered salutation to the mighty and indescribable Vishńu, I repeat to you what was formerly related to me by Vaśisht́ha. The glorious Hari wears the pure soul of the world, undefiled, and void of qualities, as the Kaustubha gem. The chief principle of things (Pradhána) is seated on the eternal, as the Srivatsa mark. Intellect abides in Mádhava, in the form of his mace. The lord (Íśwara) supports egotism (Ahankára) in its twofold division, into elements and organs of sense, in the emblems of his conch-shell and his bow. In his hand Vishńu holds, in the form of his discus, the mind, whose thoughts (like the weapon) fly swifter than the winds. The necklace of the deity Vaijayantí, composed of five precious gems 8, is the aggregate of the five elemental rudiments. Janárddana bears, in his numerous shafts, the faculties both of action and of perception. The bright sword of Achyuta is holy wisdom, concealed at some seasons in the scabbard of ignorance. In this manner soul, nature, intellect, egotism, the elements, the senses, mind, ignorance, and wisdom, are all assembled in the person of Hrishikeśa. Hari, in a delusive form, embodies the shapeless elements of the world, as his weapons and his ornaments, for the salvation of mankind 9. Puńd́arikáksha, the lord of all, assumes nature, with all its products, soul and all the world. All that is wisdom, all that is ignorance, all that is, all that is not, all that is everlasting, is centred in the destroyer of Madhu, the lord of all creatures. The supreme, eternal Hari is time, with its divisions of seconds, minutes, days, months, seasons, and years: he is the seven worlds, the earth, the sky, heaven, the world of patriarchs,
of sages, of saints, of truth: whose form is all worlds; first-born before all the first-born; the supporter of all beings, himself self-sustained: who exists in manifold forms, as gods, men, and animals; and is thence the sovereign lord of all, eternal: whose shape is all visible things; who is without shape or form: who is celebrated in the Vedanta as the Rich, Yajush, Sáma, and Atharva Vedas, inspired history, and sacred science. The Vedas, and their divisions; the institutes of Manu and other lawgivers; traditional scriptures, and religious manuals 10; poems, and all that is said or sung; are the body of the mighty Vishńu, assuming the form of sound. All kinds of substances, with or without shape, here or elsewhere, are the body of Vishńu. I am Hari. All that I behold is Janárddana; cause and effect are from none other than him. The man who knows these truths shall never again experience the afflictions of worldly existence.
Thus, Brahman, has the first portion of this Puráńa been duly revealed to you: listening to which, expiates all offences. The man who hears this Puráńa obtains the fruit of bathing in the Pushkara lake 11 for twelve years, in the month of Kártik. The gods bestow upon him who hears this work the dignity of a divine sage, of a patriarch, or of a spirit of heaven.
153:1 These are similarly enumerated in the Váyu, Bráhma, Padma, Bhágavata, &c., with some additions; as, Agni, king of the Pitris; Váyu, of the Gandharbas; Súlapáni (Śiva), of the Bhútas; Kuvera, of riches, and of the Yakshas; Vásuki, of the Nágas; Takshaka, of serpents; Chitraratha, of the Gandharbas; Kámadeva, of the Apsarasas; Viprachitti, of the Dánavas; Ráhu, of meteors; Parjanya, of clouds; Samvatsara, of times and seasons; Samudra, of rivers; Himavat, of mountains, &c.
153:2 We have already had occasion to notice the descent of these Lokapálas, as specified in the Váyu P.; and it is evident, although the Vishńu does not supply a connected series of generations, yet that both accounts are derived from a common source.
155:3 Vibhúti, superhuman or divine power or dignity.
155:4 The question, according to the commentator, implies a doubt how the supreme being, who is without qualities, can be subject to specific variety, or to existence in divided and different conditions.
155:5 Of Brahmabhúta; of him who, or that which, becomes identified with the supreme spirit, which is the same respectively with absolute wisdom, Jnána, and discriminative wisdom, Vijnána; leading to felicity, or the condition of Brahma, expressed by the words, p. 156 Sat chit ánandam, 'entire tranquillity of mind,' or 'internal enjoyment:' the same also with the combination of wisdom and tranquillity, which the devotee believes to exist in Adwaita, 'non- duality,' or unity of god and himself: and finally, the same with the aggregate of these three processes, or the conviction that spirit is one, universal, and the same.
156:6 The epithets of Jnyána, 'wisdom,' here employed, are taken from the Yoga philosophy. 'Requires no exercise,' Nirvyápára, is explained, 'without the practice of abstract contemplation,' &c. . 'Not to be taught,' Anákhyeyam; 'not capable of being enjoined.' 'Internally diffused,' Vyáptimátram, means 'mental identification of individual with universal spirit' . The phrase translated 'the object of which is self-illumination,' is explained ###. 'Simply existent' is said to mean, 'being unmodified by the accidents of happiness,' &c.; consequently it is not to be defined . So the Yoga Pradípa explains Samádhi, or contemplation, to be the entire occupation of the thoughts by the idea of Brahma, without any effort of the mind. It is the entire abandonment of the faculties to one all-engrossing notion. 'Tranquil,' Praśántam, is, 'being void of passion,' &c. 'Fearless; not dreading agitation or perplexity by ideas of duality. 'Pure;' undisturbed by external objects. 'Not the theme of reasoning'; that is, 'not to be ascertained by logical deduction.' 'Stands in no need of support'; not resting or depending upon perceptible objects.
157:7 The great Yoga is produced. This great Yoga, or union, is to have its relation or dependance, which is Vishńu; and its seed, or mystical ejaculations; and to be accompanied with Mantras and silent repetitions, or Japa.
158:8 Or of pearl, ruby, emerald, sapphire, and diamond.
158:9 We have in the text a representation of one mode of Dhyána, or contemplation, in which the conception of a thing is attempted to be rendered more definite by thinking upon its types; or in which, at least, the thoughts are more readily concentrated by being addressed to a sensible emblem, instead of an abstract truth. Thus the Yogi here says to himself, "I meditate upon the jewel on Vishńu's brow, as the soul of the world; upon the gem on his breast, as the first principle of things;" and so on: and thus through a perceptible substance proceeds to an imperceptible idea.
159:10 Ákhyánáni is said to denote the Puráńas, and Anuváda the Kalpa, Sara, and similar works, containing directions for supplementary rites.
159:11 The celebrated lake Pokher in Ajmer.