The Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, , at sacred-texts.com
Vishńu as Brahmá creates the world. General characteristics of creation. Brahmá meditates, and gives origin to, immovable things, animals, gods, men. Specific creation of nine kinds; Mahat, Tanmátra, Aindríya, inanimate objects, animals, gods, men, Anugraha, and Kaumára. More particular account of creation. Origin of different orders of beings from Brahmá's body under different conditions; and of the Vedas from his mouths. All things created again as they existed in a former Kalpa.
MAITREYA.--Now unfold to me, Brahman, how this deity created the gods, sages, progenitors, demons, men, animals, trees, and the rest, that abide on earth, in heaven, or in the waters: how Brahmá at creation made the world with the qualities, the characteristics, and the forms of things 1.
PARÁŚARA.--I will explain to you, Maitreya, listen attentively, how this deity, the lord of all, created the gods and other beings.
Whilst he (Brahmá) formerly, in the beginning of the Kalpas, was. meditating on creation, there appeared a creation beginning with ignorance, and consisting of darkness. From that great being appeared fivefold Ignorance, consisting of obscurity, illusion, extreme illusion, gloom, utter darkness 2. The creation of the creator thus plunged in
abstraction, was the fivefold (immovable) world, without intellect or reflection, void of perception or sensation, incapable of feeling, and destitute of motion 3. Since immovable things were first created, this is called the first creation. Brahmá, beholding that it was defective, designed another; and whilst he thus meditated, the animal creation was manifested, to the products of which the term Tiryaksrotas is applied, from their nutriment following a winding course 4. These were called beasts, &c., and their characteristic was the quality of darkness, they being destitute of knowledge, uncontrolled in their conduct, and mistaking error for wisdom; being formed of egotism and self-esteem, labouring under the twenty-eight kinds of imperfection 5, manifesting inward sensations, and associating with each other (according to their kinds).
Beholding this creation also imperfect, Brahmá again meditated, and a third creation appeared, abounding with the quality of goodness, termed Úrddhasrotas 6. The beings thus produced in the Úrddhasrotas creation were endowed with pleasure and enjoyment, unencumbered internally or externally, and luminous within and without. This, termed the creation of immortals, was the third performance of Brahmá, who, although well pleased with it, still found it incompetent to fulfil his end. Continuing therefore his meditations, there sprang, in consequence of his infallible purpose, the creation termed Arváksrotas, from indiscrete nature. The products of this are termed Arváksrotasas 7, from the downward current (of their nutriment). They abound with the light of knowledge, but the qualities of darkness and of foulness predominate. Hence they are afflicted by evil, and are repeatedly impelled to action. They have knowledge both externally and internally, and are the instruments (of accomplishing the object of creation, the liberation of soul). These creatures were mankind.
I have thus explained to you, excellent Muni, six 8 creations. The first creation was that of Mahat or Intellect, which is also called the creation of Brahmá 9. The second was that of the rudimental principles (Tanmátras), thence termed the elemental creation (Bhúta serga). The third was the modified form of egotism, termed the organic creation, or creation of the senses (Aindríyaka). These three were the Prákrita creations, the developements of indiscrete nature, preceded by the indiscrete
principle 10. The fourth or fundamental creation (of perceptible things) was that of inanimate bodies. The fifth, the Tairyag yonya creation, was that of animals. The sixth was the Úrddhasrotas creation, or that of the divinities. The creation of the Arváksrotas beings was the seventh, and was that of man. There is an eighth creation, termed Anugraha, which possesses both the qualities of goodness and darkness 11. Of these creations, five are secondary, and three are primary 12. But there is a ninth,
the Kaumára creation, which is both primary and secondary 13. These are the nine creations of the great progenitor of all, and, both as primary
and secondary, are the radical causes of the world, proceeding from the sovereign creator. What else dost thou desire to hear?
MAITREYA. Thou hast briefly related to me, Muni, the creation of the gods and other beings: I am desirous, chief of sages, to hear from thee a more ample account of their creation.
PARÁŚARA.--Created beings, although they are destroyed (in their individual forms) at the periods of dissolution, yet, being affected by the good or evil acts of former existence, they are never exempted from their consequences; and when Brahmá creates the world anew, they are the progeny of his will, in the fourfold condition of gods, men, animals, or inanimate things. Brahmá then, being desirous of creating the four orders of beings, termed gods, demons, progenitors, and men, collected his mind into itself 14. Whilst thus concentrated, the quality of darkness
pervaded his body; and thence the demons (the Asuras) were first born, issuing from his thigh. Brahmá then abandoned that form which was, composed of the rudiment of darkness, and which, being deserted by him, became night. Continuing to create, but assuming a different. shape, he experienced pleasure; and thence from his mouth proceeded the gods, endowed with the quality of goodness. The form abandoned by him, became day, in which the good quality predominates; and hence by day the gods are most powerful, and by night the demons. He next adopted another person, in which the rudiment of goodness also prevailed; and thinking of himself, as the father of the world, the progenitors (the Pitris) were born from his side. The body, when he abandoned, it, became the Sandhyá (or evening twilight), the interval between day and night. Brahmá then assumed another person, pervaded by the quality of foulness; and from this, men, in whom foulness (or passion) predominates, were produced. Quickly abandoning that body, it became morning twilight, or the dawn. At the appearance of this light of day, men feel most vigour; while the progenitors are most powerful in the evening season. In this manner, Maitreya, Jyotsná (dawn), Rátri (night), Ahar (day), and Sandhyá (evening), are the four bodies of Brahmá invested by the three qualities 15.
Next from Brahmá, in a form composed of the quality of foulness, was produced hunger, of whom anger was born: and the god put forth in darkness beings emaciate with hunger, of hideous aspects, and with long beards. Those beings hastened to the deity. Such of them as exclaimed, Oh preserve us! were thence called Rákshasas 16: others, who cried out, Let us eat, were denominated from that expression Yakshas 17. Beholding them so disgusting, the hairs of Brahmá were shrivelled up, and first falling from his head, were again renewed upon it: from their falling they became serpents, called Sarpa from their creeping, and Ahi because they had deserted the head 18. The creator of the world, being incensed, then created fierce beings, who were denominated goblins, Bhútas, malignant fiends and eaters of flesh. The Gandharbas were next born, imbibing melody: drinking of the goddess of speech, they were born, and thence their appellation 19.
The divine Brahmá, influenced by their material energies, having created these beings, made others of his own will. Birds he formed from his vital vigour; sheep from his breast; goats from his mouth; kine from his belly and sides; and horses, elephants, Sarabhas, Gayals, deer, camels, mules, antelopes, and other animals, from his feet: whilst from the hairs of his body sprang herbs, roots, and fruits.
Brahmá having created, in the commencement of the Kalpa, various plants, employed them in sacrifices, in the beginning of the Tretá age. Animals were distinguished into two classes, domestic (village) and wild (forest): the first class contained the cow, the goat, the hog, the sheep, the horse, the ass, the mule: the latter, all beasts of prey, and many animals with cloven hoofs, the elephant, and the monkey. The fifth order were the birds; the sixth, aquatic animals; and the seventh, reptiles and insects 20.
From his eastern mouth Brahmá then created the Gayatrí metre, the Rig veda, the collection of hymns termed Trivrit, the Rathantara portion of the Sáma veda, and the Agnisht́oma sacrifice: from his southern mouth he created the Yajur veda, the Trisht́ubh metre, the collection of hymns called Panchadaśa, the Vrihat Sáma, and the portion of the Sáma veda termed Uktha: from his western mouth he created the Sáma veda, the Jayati metre, the collection of hymns termed Saptadaśa, the portion of the Sáma called Vairúpa, and the Atirátra sacrifice: and from his northern mouth he created the Ekavinsa collection of hymns, the At́harva veda, the Áptoryámá rite, the Anusht́ubh metre, and the Vairája portion of the Sáma veda 21.
In this manner all creatures, great or small, proceeded from his limbs. The great progenitor of the world having formed the gods, demons, and Pitris, created, in the commencement of the Kalpa, the Yakshas, Pisáchas (goblins), Gandharbas and the troops of Apsarasas the nymphs of heaven, Naras (centaurs, or beings with the limbs of horses and human
bodies) and Kinnaras (beings with the heads of horses), Rákshasas, birds, beasts, deer, serpents, and all things permanent or transitory, movable or immovable. This did the divine Brahmá, the first creator and lord of all: and these things being created, discharged the same functions as they had fulfilled in a previous creation, whether malignant or benign, gentle or cruel, good or evil, true or false; and accordingly as they are actuated by such propensities will be their conduct.
And the creator displayed infinite variety in the objects of sense, in the properties of living things, and in the forms of bodies: he determined in the beginning, by the authority of the Vedas, the names and forms and functions of all creatures, and of the gods; and the names and appropriate offices of the Rishis, as they also are read in the Vedas. In like manner as the products of the seasons designate in periodical revolution the return of the same season, so do the same circumstances indicate the recurrence of the same Yuga, or age; and thus, in the beginning of each Kalpa, does Brahmá repeatedly create the world, possessing the power that is derived from the will to create, and assisted by the natural and essential faculty of the object to be created.
34:1 The terms here employed are for qualities, Gunas; which, as we have already noticed, are those of goodness, foulness, and darkness. The characteristics, or Swabhávas, are the inherent properties of the qualities, by which they act, as, soothing, terrific, or stupifying: and the forms, Swarúpas, are the distinctions of biped, quadruped, brute, bird, fish, and the like.
34:2 Or Tamas, Moha, Mahámoha, Tamisra, Andhatamisra; they are the five kinds of obstruction, viparyyaya, of soul's liberation, according to the Sánkhya: they are explained to be, 1. The belief of material substance being the same with spirit; 2. Notion of property or possession, and consequent attachment to objects, as children and the like, as being one's own; 3. Addiction to the enjoyments of sense; 4. Impatience or wrath; and 5. Fear of privation or death. They are called in the Pátanjala philosophy, the five afflictions, Kleśa, but are similarly explained by Avidyá, 'ignorance;' Asmitá, 'selfishness,' literally 'I-am-ness;' Rága 'love;' Dwesha, 'hatred;' and Abhiniveśa, 'dread of temporal suffering.' Sánkhya Káriká, p. 148-150. This creation by Brahmá p. 35 in the Váráha Kalpa begins in the same way, and in the same words, in most of the Puráńas. The Bhágavata reverses the order of these five products, and gives them, Andhatamisra, Tamisra, Mahámoha, Moha, and Tamas; a variation obviously more immethodical than the usual reading of the text, and adopted, no doubt, merely for the sake of giving the passage an air of originality.
35:3 This is not to be confounded with elementary creation, although the description would very well apply to that of crude nature, or Pradhána; but, as will be seen presently, we have here to do with final productions, or the forms in which the previously created elements and faculties are more or less perfectly aggregated. The first class of these forms is here said to be immovable things; that is, the mineral and vegetable kingdoms; for the solid earth, with its mountains and rivers and seas, was already prepared for their reception. The 'fivefold' immovable creation is indeed, according to the comment, restricted to vegetables, five orders of which are enumerated, or, 1. trees; 2. shrubs; 3. climbing plants; 4. creepers; and 5. grasses.
35:4 Tiryak, 'crooked;' and Srotas, 'a canal.'
35:5 Twenty-eight kinds of Badhas, which in the Sánkhya system mean disabilities, as defects of the senses, blindness, deafness, &c.; and defects of intellect, discontent, ignorance, and the like. S. Káriká, p. 148, 151. In place of Badha, however, the more usual reading, as in the Bhágavata, Váráha, and Márkańd́eya Puráńas, is Vidha, 'kind,' 'sort,' as ###, implying twenty-eight sorts of animals. These are thus specified in the Bhágavata, III. 10: Six kinds have single hoofs, nine have double or cloven hoofs, and thirteen have five claws or nails instead of hoofs. The first are the horse, the mule, the ass, the yak, the sarabha, and the gaura, or white deer. The second are the cow, the goat, the buffalo, the hog, the gayal, the black deer, the antelope, the camel, and the sheep. The last are the dog, shacal, wolf, tiger, cat, hare, porcupine, lion, monkey, elephant, tortoise, lizard, and alligator.
36:6 Úrddha, 'above,' and Srotas, as before; their nourishment being derived from the exterior, not from the interior of the body: according to the commentator; ### as a text of the Vedas has it; 'Through satiety derived from even beholding ambrosia.'
36:7 Arvák, 'downwards,' and Srotas, 'canal.'
36:8 This reckoning is not very easily reconciled with the creations described; for, as presently enumerated, the stages of creation are seven. The commentator, however, considers the Úrddhasrotas creation, or that of the superhuman beings, to be the same with that of the Indriyas, or senses over which they preside; by which the number is reduced to six.
36:9 This creation being the work of the supreme spirit, ### according to the commentator; or it might have been understood to mean, that Brahmá was then created, being, as we have seen, identified with Mahat, 'active intelligence,' or the operating will of the Supreme. See p. 15, note 23.
37:10 The text is, ### which is, as rendered in the text, 'creation preceded by, or beginning with Buddhi, intelligence.' The rules of euphony would however admit of a mute negative being inserted, or 'preceded by ignorance;' that is, by the chief principle, crude nature or Pradhána, which is one with ignorance: but this seems to depend on notions of a later date, and more partial adoption, than those generally prevailing in our authority; and the first reading therefore has been preferred. It is also to be observed, that the first unintellectual creation was that of immovable objects (as in p. 35), the original of which is, ### and all ambiguity of construction is avoided. The reading is also established by the text of the Linga Puráńa, which enumerates the different series of creation in the words of the Vishńu, except in this passage, which is there transposed, with a slight variation of the reading. Instead of ### it is ### 'The first creation was that of Mahat: Intellect being the first in manifestation.' The reading of the Váyu P. is still more tautological, but confirms that here preferred: See also n. 12.
37:11 The Anugraha creation, of which no notice has been found in the Mahábhárata, seems to have been borrowed from the Sánkhya philosophy. It is more particularly described in the Padma, Márkańd́eya, Linga, and Matsya Puráńas; as, 'The fifth is the Anugraha creation, which is subdivided into four kinds; by obstruction, disability, perfectness, and acquiescence.' This is the Pratyaya sarga, or intellectual creation, of the Sánkhyas (S. Káriká, v. 46. p.146); the creation of which we have a notion, or to which we give assent (Anugraha), in contradistinction to organic creation, or that existence of which we have sensible perception. In its specific subdivisions it is the notion of certain inseparable properties in the four different orders of beings: obstruction or stolidity in inanimate things; inability or imperfection in animals; perfectibility in man; and acquiescence or tranquil enjoyment in gods. So also the Váyu P.: ###
37:12 Or Vaikrita, derived mediately from the first principle, through its Vikritis, 'productions' or 'developements;' and Prákrita, derived more immediately from the chief principle itself. Mahat and the two forms of Ahankára, or the rudimental elements and the senses, constitute the latter class; inanimate beings, &c. compose the former: or the latter are considered as the work of p. 38 Brahmá, whilst the three first are evolved from Pradhána. So the Váyu: 'The three creations beginning with Intelligence are elemental; but the six creations which proceed from the series of which Intellect is the first are the work of Brahmá'.
38:13 We must have recourse here also to other Puráńas, for the elucidation of this term. The Kaumára creation is the creation of Rudra or Nílalohita, a form of Śiva, by Brahmá, which is subsequently described in our text, and of certain other mind-born sons of Brahmá, of whose birth the Vishńu P. gives no further account: they are elsewhere termed Sanatkumára, Sananda, Sanaka, and Sanátana, with sometimes a fifth, Ribhu, added. These, declining to create progeny, remained, as the name of the first implies, ever boys, kumáras; that is, ever pure and innocent; whence their creation is called the Kaumára. Thus the Váyu: ###. And the Linga has, 'Being ever as he was born, he is here called a youth; and hence his name is well known as Sanatkumára.' This authority makes Sanatkumára and Ribhu the two first born of all, whilst the text of the Hari Vanśa limits the primogeniture to Sanatkumára. In another place, however, it enumerates apparently six, or the above four with Sana and either. Ribhu or another Sanátana; for the passage is corrupt. The French translation ascribes a share in creation to Sanatkumára: 'Les sept Prajapatis, Roudra, Scanda, et Sanatkaumára, se mirent a produire les etres repandant partout l’inepuisable energie de dieu.' The original is, Sankshipya is not 'repandant,' but 'restraining;' and Tisht́hatah being in the dual number, relates of course to only two of the series. The correct rendering is, 'These seven (Prajápatis) created progeny, and so did Rudra; but Skanda and Sanatkumára, restraining their power, abstained (from creation).' So the commentator: ###. These sages, however, live as long as Brahmá, and they are only created by him in the first Kalpa, although their generation is very commonly, but inconsistently, introduced in the Váráha or Pádma Kalpas. This creation, says the text, is both primary (Prákrita) and secondary (Vaikrita). It is the latter, according to the commentator, as regards the origin of these saints from Brahmá: it is the former as affects Rudra, who, though proceeding from Brahmá, in a certain form was in essence equally an immediate production of the first principle. These notions, the birth of Rudra and the saints, seem to have been borrowed from the Saivas, and to have been awkwardly engrafted upon the Vaishńava system. Sanatkumára and his brethren are always described in the Saiva Puráńas as Yogis: as the Kúrma, after enumerating them, adds, 'These five, oh Brahmans, were Yogis, p. 39 who acquired entire exemption from passion:' and the Hari Vanśa, although rather Vaishńava than Saiva, observes, that the Yogis celebrate these six, along with Kapila, in Yoga works. The idea seems to have been amplified also in the Saiva works; for the Linga P. describes the repeated birth of Śiva, or Vámadeva, as a Kumára, or boy, from Brahmá, in each Kalpa, who again becomes four. Thus in the twenty-ninth Kalpa Swetalohita is the Kumára, and he becomes Sananda, Nandana, Viswananda, Upanandana; all of a white complexion: in the thirtieth the Kumára becomes Virajas, Viváhu, Visoka, Víswabhávana; all of a red colour: in the thirty-first he becomes four youths of a yellow colour: and in the thirty-second the four Kumáras were black. All these are, no doubt, comparatively recent additions to the original notion of the birth of Rudra and the Kumáras; itself obviously a sectarial innovation upon the primitive doctrine of the birth of the Prajápatis, or will-born sons of Brahmá.
39:14 These reiterated, and not always very congruous accounts of the creation are explained by the Puráńas as referring to different Kalpas, or renovations of the world, and therefore involving no incompatibility. A better reason for their appearance is the probability that they have been borrowed from different original authorities. The account that follows is evidently modified by the Yogi Saivas, by its general mysticism, and by the expressions with which it begins: 'Collecting his mind into itself,' according to the comment, is the performance of the Yoga (Yúyuje). The term Ambhánsi, lit. 'waters,' for the four orders of beings, gods, demons, men, and Pitris, is also a peculiar, and probably mystic term. The commentator says it occurs in the Vedas as a synonyme of gods. The Váyu Puráńa derives it from 'to shine,' p. 40 because the different orders of beings shine or flourish severally by moonlight, night, day, and twilight: &c.
40:15 This account is given in several other Puráńas: in the Kúrma with more simplicity; in the Padma, Linga, and Váyu with more detail. The Bhágavata, as usual, amplifies still more copiously, and mixes up much absurdity with the account. Thus the person of Sandhyá, 'evening twilight,' is thus described: "She appeared with eyes rolling with passion, whilst her lotus-like feet sounded with tinkling ornaments: a muslin vest depended from her waist, secured by a golden zone: her breasts were protuberant, and close together; her nose was elegant; her tongue beautiful; her face was bright with smiles, and she modestly concealed it with the skirts of her robe; whilst the dark curls clustered round her brow." The Asuras address her, and win her to become their bride. To the four forms of our text, the same work adds, Tandrí, 'sloth;' Jrimbhiká, 'yawning;' Nidrá, 'sleep;' Unmáda, 'insanity;' Antarddhána, 'disappearance;' Pratibimba, 'reflexion;' which become the property of Pisáchas, Kinnaras, Bhútas, Gandherbas, Vidyádharas, Sádhyas, Pitris, and Menus. The notions of night, day, twilight, and moonlight being derived from Brahmá, seem to have originated with the Vedas. Thus the commentator on the Bhágavata p. 41 observes, 'That which was his body, and was left, was darkness: this is the Śruti.' All the authorities place night before day, and the Asuras or Titans before the gods, in the order of appearance; as did Hesiod and other ancient theogonists.
41:16 From Raksha, 'to preserve'
41:17 From Yaksha, 'to eat'
41:18 From Srip, serpo, 'to creep,' and from Há, 'to abandon.'
41:19 Gám dhayantah, 'drinking speech.'
41:20 This and the preceding enumeration p. 42 of the origin of vegetables and animals occurs in several Puráńas, precisely in the same words. The Linga adds a specification of the Aranya, or wild animals, which are said to be the buffalo, gayal, bear, monkey, sarabha, wolf, and lion.
42:21 This specification of the parts of the Vedas that proceed from Brahmá occurs, in the same words, in the Váyu, Linga, Kúrma, Padma, and Márkańd́eya Puráńas. The Bhágavata offers some important varieties: "From his eastern and other mouths he created the Rich, Yajush, Sáma, and Atharvan vedas; the Śastra, or 'the unuttered incantation;' Ijyá, 'oblation;' Stuti and Stoma, 'prayers' and 'hymns;' and Práyaśchitta, 'expiation' or 'sacred philosophy' (Bráhma): also the Vedas of medicine, arms, music, and mechanics; and the Itihásas and Puráńas, which are a fifth Veda: also the portions of the Vedas called Sorasi, Uktha, Puríshi, 'Agnisht́ut, Áptoryámá, Atirátra, Vájapeya, Gosava; the four parts of virtue, purity, liberality, piety, and truth; the orders of life, and their institutes and different religious rites and professions; and the sciences of logic, ethics, and polity. The mystic words and monosyllable proceeded from his heart; the metre Ushnih from the hairs of his body; Gayatrí from his skin; Trisht́ubh from his flesh; Anusht́ubh from his tendons; Jagati from his bones; Pankti from his marrow; Vrihati from his breath. The consonants were his life; the vowels his body; the sibilants his senses; the semivowels his vigour." This mysticism, although perhaps expanded and amplified by the Pauráńics, appears to originate with the Vedas: as in the text, 'The metre was of the tendons.' The different portions of the Vedas specified in the text are yet, for the most part, uninvestigated.