The Mahabharata Home
"Dhritarashtra said,--'Thou hast, O Sanjaya, duly described Jamvukhanda to me. Tell me now its dimensions and extent truly. Tell me also, O Sanjaya, of the extent of the ocean of Sakadwipa, and Kusadwipa, of Salmalidwipa and Kraunchadwipa, truly and without leaving anything and tell me also, O son of Gavalgani, of Rahu and Soma and Surya.'
"Sanjaya said,--'There are, O king, many islands, over which the Earth extended. I will describe to thee, however, only seven islands, and the moon, and the sun, and the planet (Rahu), also. The Jamvu mountain, O king, extends over full eighteen thousand and six hundred Yojanas. The extent of the salt ocean is said to be twice this. That ocean is covered with many kingdoms, and is adorned with gems and corals. It is, besides, decked with many mountains that are variegated with metals of diverse kinds. Thickly peopled by Siddhas and Charanas, the ocean is circular in form.
"I will now tell thee truly of Sakadwipa, O Bharata. Listen to me, O son of Kuru's race, as I describe it to thee duly. That island, O ruler of men, is of twice the extent of Jamvudwipa. And the ocean also, O great king, is of twice the extent of that island. Indeed, O best of the Bharatas, Sakadwipa is surrounded on all sides by the ocean. The kingdoms there are full of righteousness, and the men there never die. How can famine take place there? The people are all endued with forgiveness and great energy. I have now, O bull of Bharata's race, given thee duly a brief description of Sakadwipa. What else, O king, dost thou wish to hear?'" 1
"Dhritarashtra said,--'Thou hast given me, O Sanjaya, a description of Sakadwipa in brief. O thou that art possessed of great wisdom, tell me now everything in detail truly.'
"Sanjaya said,--'In that island, O king, there are seven mountains that are decked with jewels and that are mines of gems, precious stones. There are many rivers also in that island. Listen to me as I recount their names. Everything there, O king, is excellent and delightful, The first of these mountains is called Meru. It is the abode of the gods, Rishis, and Gandharvas. The next mountain, O king, is called Malaya stretching towards the east. It is there that the clouds are generated and it is thence that they disperse on all sides. The next, O thou of Kuru's race, is the large mountain called Jaladhara. 1 Thence Indra daily taketh water of the best quality. It is from that water that we get showers in the season of rains, O ruler of men. Next cometh the high mountain called Raivataka, over which, in the firmament, hath been permanently placed the constellation called Revati. This arrangement hath been made by the Grandsire himself. On the north of this, O great king, is the large mountain called Syama. It hath the splendour of newly-risen clouds, is very high, beautiful and of bright body. And since the hue of those mountains is dark, the people residing there are all dark in complexion, O king.'
"Dhritarashtra said,--'A great doubt ariseth in my mind, O Sanjaya, from what thou hast said. Why, O Suta's son, would the people there be of dark complexion?'
"Sanjaya said,--'O great king, in all islands, O son of Kuru's race, men may be found that are fair, and those that are dark, and those also that are produced by a union of the fair and the dark races. But because the people there are all dark, therefore is that mountain called the Dark Mountain. After this, O chief of the Kurus, is the large mountain called Durgasaila. And then cometh the mountain called Kesari. The breezes that blow from that mountain are all charged with (odoriferous) effluvia. The measure of each of these mountains is double that of the one mentioned immediately before. O thou of Kuru's race, it hath been said by the wise that there are seven Varshas in that island. The Varsha of Meru is called Mahakasa; that of the water-giving (Malaya) is called Kumudottara. The Varsha of Jaladhara is called Sukumara: while that of Raivatak is called Kaumara; and of Syama, Manikanchana. The Varsha of Kesara is called Mandaki, and that called after the next mountain is called Mahapuman. In the midst of that island is a large tree called Saka. In height and breadth the measure of that tree is equal to that of the Jamvu tree in Jamvudwipa. And the people there always adore that tree. There in that island are, many delightful provinces where Siva is worshipped, and thither repair the Siddhas, the Charanas, and the celestials. The people there, O king, are virtuous, and all the four orders, O Bharata, are devoted to
their respective occupation. No instance of theft can be seen there. Freed from decrepitude and death and gifted with long life, the people there, O king, grow like rivers during the season of rains. The rivers there are full of sacred water, and Ganga herself, distributed as she hath been into various currents, is there, Sukumari, and Kumari, and Seta, and Keveraka, and Mahanadi, O Kauravya, and the river Manijala, and Chakshus, and the river Vardhanika, O thou best of the Bharatas,--these and many other rivers by thousands and hundreds, all full of sacred water, are there, O perpetuator of Kuru's race, from which Vasava draweth water for showering it as rain. It is impossible to recount the names and lengths of rivers. All of them are foremost of rivers and sin-cleansing. As heard by all men there, in that island of Saka, are four sacred provinces. They are the Mrigas, the Masakas, the Manasas, and the Mandagas. The Mrigas for the most part are Brahmanas devoted to the occupations of their order. Amongst the Masakas are virtuous Kshatriyas granting (unto Brahmanas) every wish (entertained by them). The Manasas, O king, live by following the duties of the Vaisya order. Having every wish of theirs gratified, they are also brave and firmly devoted to virtue and profit. The Mandagas are all brave Sudras of virtuous behaviour. In these provinces, O monarch, there is no king, no punishment, no person that deserves to be punished. Conversant with the dictates of duty they are all engaged in the practice of their respective duties and protect one another. This much is capable of being said of the island called Saka. This much also should be listened to about that island endued with great energy." 1
24:1 The Bombay text reads Kimanyat Kathayami te. The Bengal reading is Kimanyat srotumicchasi.
25:1 The Bombay text reads Tatas parena; the Bengal reading is Tatas purvena. I adopt the former.
26:1 Probably this mythical account of Sakadwipa embodies some vague tradition current in ancient India of some republic in Eastern Asia or Oceanic Asia (further east in the Pacific). Accustomed as the Hindus were to kingly form of government, a government without a king, would strike them exactly in the way described in the last two slokas.
Next: Section XII