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MARKANDEYA PURANA

Bhagwan Shiv

Outlines of Manvantaras, Prithvi (Earth) and of Sapta (Seven) Dwipas

In one Manvantara, there are thirty crore sixty six lakh twenty thousand human years. The first Manvantara was of Swayambhu, followed by Swarochisha, Uttama, Tamasa, Chakshusha, and the current one is of Vivaswata. Swayambhu had ten sons and among the decsendants was the illustrious Priyavrata who ruled Sapta Dwipas and in turn, who was responsible for meauring and dividing the ‘Sapta Dwipas’ named seven of ten sons(as three others opted out) vix.

Agnirgha to Jambu Dwipa, Meghadhiti to Pluksh Dwipa, Vapushyaman to Shasmali Dwipa, Jyotishman to Kusha Dwipa, Rithuman to Krouncha Dwipa, Avyaya to Shaaka Dwipa and Saavan to Pundarikaa Dwipa. Jambu Dwipa’s Prajapati Agnirgha had nine sons viz. Naabhi, Kimpurusha, Hari, llavrita, Ramya, Hiranya, Kuru, Bhadra and Ketumala. The Region beyond Himalayas was given to Kimpurusha whose residents were all happy, devoid of fear of death or disease; Naabhi’s son Rishabh whose son was Bharat and thus the Region under his rule was Bharata. Sumati was the name of Bharata’s son but the former retired to forest life and gave the Kingdom to the descendants of Priyavrata.

The entire Bhuvana loka (Earth) is stated to occupy an area of fifty crore Yojanas (Approx. 15 km one Yojana), comprising Jambu Dwipa, Pluksha Dwipa, Shalmali Dwipa, Kusha Dwipa, Krouncha Dwipa, Shaaka Dwipa, and Pushkara Dwipa, each approximately double the size of the previous Dwipas and surrounded by Oceans of Lavana (Salt), Ikshu (Sugarcane juice), Sura (Amrit), Sarpi / Ghrita (Ghee / Classified Butter ), Dadhi ( (curd), Dugdha (Milk) and Jala (Water). Jambu Dwipa has an area of one lakh Yojanas by way of area, length and roundness, containing the mountains of Himavaan, Hemakut, Trishabh, Meru, Nila, Shweta, and Shringi. While these mountain ranges are governed by the Dikpalakas like Indra, the middle region sparkles with the prominent presence of Brahma with the four directions being blessed by Mandara, Gandhamaadan, Vipul and Suparshva Mountains on top of which are situated by the famous Trees of Kadamba, Jambu, Aswatthha and Vata respectively. On the Eastern side are the Jathar and Devakutha Mountains, which are mutually spread out as far as Nila and Nishadh, on the Meru’s western side are Nishadh and Paariyaatra, Southern side are Nila and Nishadh and on the Southern side are Kailash and Himalayas. It is this Jambu Dwipa sanctified with Great Mountains, Oceans, Rivers, Sarovars, Holy Trees and fantastic range of Natural Magnificence that is known as Punya Bhumi of which Bharata is popular as Karma Bhumi, which is the springboat of Swarga, Apavarga that is the opposite, Manushyata (humanness), Naraka (Hell) and innumerable possibilities of rebirth from flies to Devas, where Karma or Action- be it Virtuous or Vicious- secures the opposite reaction.

Holy River Ganga originated from Maha Vishnu’s sacred feet at Dhruva Loka, passing through Chandra Mandal which was the ‘Adhara’ or the hold of water of the Universe.The River Water was sactified by the hot and radiant Sunrays, fell on the Sumeru Mountain top and divided as four forceful flows and got distributed on Mandara and other Mountains. Gradually, the surging currents of Ganga occupied several Regions, breaking Mountain boulders and travelling towards ‘Chaitraratha Vana’ known as Sita. It was that Sita Ganga which fell on Gandhamadana Parvat as Alaknanda and gladdened the nearby Devatas at Nandanavana, from there reached Manasarovar and fell on Himalayas where in response to the prayers of King Bhagiratha, Shambhu Deva performing ‘Tapas atop Mahadri, withstood the force of the flood to fall on his head and released just a stream from His Jatajut (knotted hair). As Ganga fell on the Earth, it got divided as seven flows, three of which travelled southwards as Mahanadi and merged with the Ocean, one stream followed King Bhagiratha’s chariot to sanctify the ashes of his ancestors and three more parts fell on the western foothills of Meru called ‘Vipul paad’ at Suchakshu Sub Mountain; one part moved on to Ketumala Varsha and finally into the Southern Sea, another part on  Rishabhadika Mountain travelling northen side and yet another part as Bhadrasoma River as also as Mahanadi on Shankhakuta Mountain from where via Vrishabhadri to Kurukshetra. Thus the Holy Ganga got spread across the entire length and breadth of ‘Aryavarta’ and even far beyond.

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