The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'O Kauravya, that which is heard about the islands in the north, I will recount to thee, O Great king. Listen to me now. (Thither in the north) is the ocean whose waters are clarified butter. Then is the ocean whose waters are curds. Next cometh the ocean whose waters are wine, and then is another ocean of water. The islands, O king, are double in area of one another as they proceed further and further towards the north. And they are surrounded, O king, by these oceans. 2 In the island that is in the middle, there is a large mountain called Goura made of red arsenic; on
the western island, O king, is the mountain Krishna that is the favourite (abode) of Narayana. There Kesava guardeth celestial gems (in profusion), and thence, inclined to grace, he bestoweth happiness on creatures. Along with the kingdoms there, O king, the (celestial) clump of Kusa grass in Kusadwipa, and the Salmali tree in the island of Salmalika, are adored. In the Krauncha island also, the mountain called Maha-krauncha that is a mine of all kinds of gems is, O king, always adored by all the four orders of men. (There), O monarch, is the mountain called Gomanta that is huge and consists of all kinds of metals, and whereon always resideth, mingling with those that have been emancipated, the puissant Narayana, otherwise called Hari, graced with prosperity and possessed of eyes like lotus leaves. In Kusadwipa, O king of kings, there is another mountain variegated with corals and called after the name of that island itself. This mountain is inaccessible and made of gold. Possessed of great splendour, O Kauravya, there is a third mountain there that is called Sumida. The sixth is called Harigiri. These are the six principal mountains. The intervening spaces between one another of these six mountains increaseth in the ratio of one to two as they proceed further and further towards the north. The first Varsha is called Audhido; the second is Venumandala; the third is called Suratha; the fourth is known by the name of Kamvala; the fifth Varsha is called Dhritimat; and the sixth is named Prabhakara; the seventh Varsha is called Kapila. These are the seven successive Varshas. In these, gods and Gandharvas, and other creatures of the universe, sport and take delight. In these Varshas the inhabitants never die. There, O king, are no robbers, nor any tribes of Mlecchas. All the residents are almost white in complexion, and very delicate, O king.
"'As regards the rest of the islands, O ruler of men, I will recount all that hath been heard by me. Listen, O monarch, with an attentive mind. In the Krauncha island, O great king, there is a large mountain called Krauncha. Next to Krauncha is Vamanaka; and next to Vamanaka is Andhakara. And next to Andhakara, 1 O king, is that excellent of mountains called Mainaka. After Mainaka, O monarch, is that best of mountains called Govinda; and after Govinda, O king, is the mountain called Nivida. O multiplier of thy race, the intervening spaces between one another of these mountains increaseth in the ratio of one to two. I will now tell thee the countries that lie there. Listen to me as I speak of them. The region near Krauncha is called Kusala; that near Vamanaka is Manonuga. The region next to Manonuga, O perpetuator of Kuru's race, is called Ushna. After Ushna is Pravaraka; and after Pravaraka is Andhakaraka. The country after Andhakaraka is named Munidesa. After Munidesa the region is called Dundubhiswana teeming with Siddhas and Charanas. The people are almost white in complexion, O king. All these countries, O monarch, are the habitations of gods and Gandharvas. In
[paragraph continues] (the island of) Pushkara is a mountain called Pushkara that abounds with jewels and gems. There always dwelleth the divine Prajapati himself. Him all the gods and great Rishis always adore with gratifying words and worship reverently, O king. Diverse gems from Jamvudwipa are used there. In all these islands, O king, Brahmacharyya, truth, and self-control of the dwellers, as also their health and periods of life, are in the ratio of one to two as the islands are more and more remote (northwards). O king, the land in those islands, O Bharata, comprises but one country, for that is said to be one country in which one religion is met with. The Supreme Prajapati himself, upraising the rod of chastisement, always dwelleth there, protecting those islands. He, O monarch, is the king. He is their source of bliss. He is the father, and he is the grand-father. He it is, O best of men, that protecteth all creatures there, mobile or immobile. Cooked food, O Kauravya, cometh there of itself and the creatures eat it daily. O mighty-armed one. After these regions is seen a habitation of the name of Sama. It is of a starry-shape having four corners, and it hath, O king, thirty-three mandalas. There dwell, O Kauravya, four princely elephants adored by all. 1 They are, O best of the Bharatas, Vamana, and Airavata, and another, and also Supratika. 2 O king, with rent cheeks and mouth, I do not venture to calculate the proportions of these four elephants. 3 Their length, breadth and thickness have for ever remained unascertained. There in those regions, O king, winds blow irregularly from all directions. 4 These are seized by those elephants with the tips of their trunks which are of the complexion of the lotus and endued with great splendour and capable of drawing up everything in their way. And soon enough after seizing them they then always let them out. The winds, O king, thus let out by those respiring elephants, come over the Earth and in consequence thereof creatures draw breath and live.'
"Dhritarashtra said,--'Thou hast, O Sanjaya, told me everything about the first subject very elaborately. Thou hast also indicated the positions of the islands. 'Tell now, O Sanjaya, about what remains.'
"Sanjaya said,--'Indeed, O great king, the islands have all been described to thee. Listen now to what I truly say about the heavenly bodies and about Swarbhanu, O chief of the Kauravas, as regards its dimensions. It is heard, O king, that the planet Swarbhanu is globular. Its diameter is twelve thousand Yojanas, and its circumference, because
it is very large, is forty-two thousand Yojanas, O sinless one, 1 as said by the learned of olden times. The diameter of the moon, O king, is stated to be eleven thousand Yojanas. Its circumference, O chief of the Kurus, is stated to be thirty-eight thousand nine hundred Yojanas of the illustrious planet of cool rays. It hath been heard that the diameter of the beneficent, fast going and light-giving Sun, O thou of Kuru's race, is ten thousand Yojanas, and his circumference, O king, is thirty-five thousand eight hundred miles, in consequence of his largeness, O sinless one. These are the dimensions reckoned here, O Bharata, of Arka. The planet Rahu, in consequence of his greater bulk, envelops both the Sun and the Moon in due times. I tell thee this in brief. With the eye of science, O great king, I have now told thee all that thou hadst asked. Let peace be thine. I have now told thee about the construction of the universe as indicated in the Shastras. Therefore, O Kauravya, pacify thy son Duryodhana. 2'
"Having listened to this charming Bhumi Parva, O chief of the Bharatas, a Kshatriya becometh endued with prosperity, obtaineth fruition of all his desires, and winneth the approbation of the righteous. 3 The king who listeneth to this on days of the full-moon or the new-moon, carefully observing vows all the while, hath the period of his life, his fame and energy, all enhanced. His (deceased) sires and grandsires become gratified. Thou hast now heard of all the merits that flow from this Varsha of Bharata where we now are!'"
26:2 The second line of the 3rd sloka is read variously. The Bombay edition incorrectly reads 'Parvataccha' etc. etc.,; the Bengal reading is evameva etc. etc. The Bengal reading is better, although the true reading, I apprehend, is Evametais &c., &c.
27:1 Vamanaka and Vamana are the same words the final ka being a suffix causing no difference of meaning. So Andhakaraka and Andhakara are the same.
28:1 Dig-gaja, i.e. an elephant supporting the globe. There are four such in Hindu mythology or ten according to some accounts.
28:2 i.e., with the juice trickling down from their cheeks and mouth. In the season of rut, a peculiar kind of juice issues from several parts of an elephant's body. It is believed to be the temporal-juice. The stronger and fierce the elephant, the greater the quantity of the juice that issues out its body.
28:3 Tasya (singular of Tad) and sa (masculine singular of Tad) both refer to the four elephants, Gaja-chatushtaya in singular.
28:4 Asamyadha lit. "Unbound" or "unrestrained," i.e. freely or irregularly.
29:1 It is a remarkable fact that the ratio between the diameter and the circumference of a circle was roughly known to the ancient Hindus. The circumference is nearly, as stated here, three times and a half of the diameter. The next ratio, of course, is slightly less, being three and one-seventh.
29:2 The first word of this sloka is variously read. 'Yathadishtam' is the Bengal reading, while the Bombay reading 'Yathoddishtam.' If the latter reading were adopted, the meaning would be as indicated (in the Sastras). The second line literally rendered, is "pacify thy son Duryodhana." But how Dhritarashtra is to pacify his son having listened to the geographical digression, is not easy to see.
29:3 For Sadhusattamas of the Bengal texts, the Bombay edition reads Sadhusammatas. I adopt the last.
Next: Section XIII