The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'O grandsire, O thou of great wisdom, I desire to hear in detail, O chief of the Bharatas, of that lotus-eyed and indestructible one, who is the Creator of everything but who has been created by none, who is called Vishnu (in consequence of his pervading everything), who is the origin of all creatures and unto whom all creatures return, who is known by the names of Narayana and Hrishikesa and Govinda and Kesava, and who is incapable of being vanquished by any one.'
"Bhishma said, 'I have heard of this subject from Jamadagni's son Rama, while he discoursed on it, from the celestial Rishi Narada, and from Krishna-Dwaipayana. Asita-Devala, O son, Valmiki of austere penances, and Markandeya, speak of Govinda as the Most Wonderful and the Supreme. Kesava, O chief of Bharata's race, is the divine and puissant Lord of all. He is called Purusha, and pervades everything, having made himself many. Listen now, O Yudhishthira of mighty arms, to those attributes which great Brahmanas say are to be met with in the high-souled wielder of Saranga. I shall also, O prince of men, recite to thee those acts which persons conversant with old histories ascribe to Govinda. He is said to be the Soul of all creatures, the high-souled one, and the foremost of all beings. He created (by his will) the five-fold elements, viz., Wind, Light, Water, Space, and Earth. That puissant Lord of all things, that high-souled one, that foremost of all beings, having created the earth, laid himself down on the surface of the waters. While thus floating upon the waters, that foremost of all beings, that refuge of every kind of energy and splendour, created Consciousness,
the first-born of beings in the universe. We have heard that He created Consciousness along with the Mind,--Consciousness which is the refuge of all created things. That Consciousness upholds all creatures and both the past and the future. After that great Being, O mighty-armed one, viz., Consciousness, had sprung, an exceedingly beautiful lotus, possessed of effulgence like the Sun's, grew out of the navel of the Supreme Being (floating on the waters). Then, O son, the illustrious and divine Brahman, the Grandsire of all creatures, sprang into existence from that lotus, irradiating all the points of the horizon with his effulgence. After the high-souled Grandsire had, O mighty-armed one, thus sprung from the primeval lotus, a great Asura of the name of Madhu, having no beginning, started into birth, springing from the attribute or Darkness (Tamas). The foremost of all Beings, (viz., the Supreme Divinity), for benefiting Brahman, slew that fierce Asura of fierce deeds, engaged even then in the fierce act (of slaying the Grand-sire). From this slaughter, O son, (of the Asura named Madhu), all the gods and the Danavas and men came to call that foremost of all righteous persons by the name of Madhusudana (slayer of Madhu). 1 After this, Brahman created, by a flat of his will, seven sons with Daksha completing the tale. They were Marichi, Atri, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, (and the already mentioned Daksha). The eldest born, viz., Marichi, begat, by a fiat of his will, a son named Kasyapa, full of energy and the foremost of all persons conversant with Brahma. From his toe, Brahman had, even before the birth of Marichi, created a son. That son, O chief of Bharata's race, was Daksha, the progenitor of creatures. 2 Unto Daksha were first born three and ten daughters, O Bharata, the eldest of whom was called Diti. Marichi's son Kasyapa, O sire, who was conversant with all duties and their distinctions, who was of righteous deeds and great fame, became the husband of those thirteen daughters. The highly-blessed Daksha (besides the three and ten already spoken of) next begat ten other daughters. The progenitor of creatures, viz., the righteous Daksha, bestowed these upon Dharma. Dharma became father of the Vasus, the Rudras of immeasurable energy, the Viswedevas, the Sadhyas, and the Maruts, O Bharata. Daksha next begat seven and twenty other younger daughters. The highly-blessed Soma became the husband of them all. The other wives of Kasyapa gave birth to Gandharvas, horses, birds, kine, Kimpurushas, fishes, and trees and plants. Aditi gave birth to the Adityas. the foremost ones among the gods, and possessed of great strength. Amongst them Vishnu took birth in the form of a dwarf. Otherwise called Govinda, he became the foremost of them all. Through his prowess, the prosperity of the gods increased. The Danavas were vanquished. The offspring of Diti were the Asuras. Danu gave birth to the Danavas having Viprachitti for their foremost. Diti gave birth to all the Asuras of great strength.
"The slayer of Madhu also created the Day and the Night, and the Season in their order, and the Morn and the Even. After reflection, he also created the clouds, and all the (other) immobile and mobile objects. Possessed of abundant energy, he also created the Viswas and the earth with all things upon her. Then the highly blessed and puissant Krishna, O Yudhishthira, once again created from his mouth a century of foremost Brahmanas. From his two arms, he created a century of Kshatriyas, and from his thighs a century of Vaisyas. Then, O bull of Bharata's race, Kesava created from his two feet a century of Sudras. Possessed of great ascetic merit, the slayer of Madhu, having thus created the four orders of men, made Dhatri (Brahman) the lord and ruler of all created beings. Of immeasurable effulgence, Brahman became also the expositor of the knowledge of the Vedas. And Kesava made him, called Virupaksha, the ruler of the spirits and ghosts and of those female beings called the Matrikas (mothers). And he made Yama the ruler of the Pitris and of all sinful men. 1 The Supreme Soul of all creatures also made Kuvera the lord of all treasures. He then created Varuna the lord of waters and governor of all aquatic animals. The puissant Vishnu made Vasava the chief of all the deities. In those times, men lived as long as they chose to live, and were without any fear of Yama. Sexual congress, O chief of the Bharatas, was then not necessary for perpetuating the species. In those days offspring were begotten by flat of the will. In the age that followed, viz., Treta, children were begotten by touch alone. The people of that age even, O monarch, were above the necessity of sexual congress. It was in the next age, viz., Dwapara, that the practice of sexual congress originated, O king, to prevail among men. In the Kali age, O monarch, men have come to marry and live in pairs.
"I have now told thee of the supreme Lord of all creatures. He is also called the Ruler of all and everything. I shall now, O son of Kunti, speak to thee about the sinful creatures of the earth. Listen to me. 2 Those men, O king, are born in the southern region and are called Andrakas, Guhas, Pulindas, Savaras, Chuchukas, Madrakas. 3 Those that are born in the northern region, I shall also mention. They are Yamas, Kamvojas, Gandharas, Kiratas and Barbaras. All of them, O sire, are sinful, and move on this Earth, characterised by practices similar to those of Chandalas and ravens and vultures. In the Krita age, O sire, they were nowhere on earth. It is from the Treta that they have had their origin and began to multiply, O chief of Bharata's race. When the terrible period came, joining Treta and
the Dwapara, the Kshatriyas, approaching one another, engaged themselves in battle. 1
"Thus, O chief of Kuru's race, this universe was started into birth by the high-souled Krishna. That observer of all the worlds, viz., the celestial Rishi Narada, has said that Krishna is the Supreme God. 2 Even Narada, O king, admits the supremacy of Krishna and his eternity, O mighty-armed chief of Bharata's race. 3 Thus, O mighty-armed one, is Kesava of unvanquishable prowess. That lotus-eyed one, is not a mere man. He is inconceivable.'"
82:1 Rishavam sarvattwam literally means 'the bull of Sattwatas'. Ordinarily, it is an appellation of Krishna, the prince of the Sattwatas or Yadavas. Here, however, the word is used to signify persons prizing the attribute of Goodness; hence righteous persons.
82:2 Prajapati literally means 'lord of creatures.' It is a name applied to those sons of Brahman who begat children.
83:1 Samavartin is another name for Yama the punisher of the wicked.
83:2 Nirapekshan is explained by Nilakantha as nirayameva ikshante tan, i.e., those who have their gaze directed towards hell alone. The Burdwan translator takes it as indicative of houseless or nomadic habits, upon what authority, it is not plain.
83:3 K.P. Singha takes Naravara as the name of a tribe. Of course, it is a careless blunder.
Next: Section CCVIII