Essence of Brahmanda Purana


Essence Of
Brahmanda Purana


6    Sapta Dwipas with spot-light on Bharata, Sapta-Urthvalokas and Sapta-Adholokas

Priyavrata, the grand son of Swayambhu Manu appointed his sons as the Kings of Seven Dwipas viz. Agnidhra to Jambu Dwipa, Methatithi to Plaksha Dwipa, Vapushman or Vasu to Shalmala Dwipa,  Jyotishmaan to Kusha, Dyutmaan to Krouncha, Hayva to Shakha Dwipa, and Savana to Pushkara Dwipa. Referring about Jambu Dwipa specifically, Suta Muni explained that it had  an area of hundred thousand yojanas surrounded by salt sea with clusters of rocks full of  heavy deposits of minerals and precious stones with huge population and bountiful nature dotted by six major Mountain chains named Nila, Nishada, Sweta, Hema-kunta, Himavan and Shringaman. Himaalayas are always covered with snow, Hemakuta has abundant deposits of gold, Nila has blue sapphires, Nishadha is picturesque and awe-inspiring, Sweta is white and Shringaman is full of Mounts with peacock-feather colours and also deposits of gold. But Meru beyond  the King of Mountains in between two circular ranges was stated to be the visiting place of Deva ganaas, Gandharvas, Yakshas and Apsarasas; it is surrounded by four Bhuvanas or Deshas viz. Bhadrashwa to East, Bharata to South, Ketumala to West and Kurus to the North of Meru.

 Before elaborating on Jambu Dwipa, Suta Maha Muni provided a spotlight on Bharata Varsha where Swayambhu like Fourteen Manus appeared and extensive Praja-Srishti was facilitated. This indeed is popularly noted as Karma Bhumi  where the impact of Good and Bad deeds  is experienced and carried forward; this again is the Birth Place of Vedas, Vedangas like Astrology, Astronomy, various branches of Literature, ‘Chatusshaasthi Kalaas’or Sixty Four Kalas or Arts, etc. The uniqueness of Bharata Varsha is common Vedic culture and faith with marginal adaptations. The Original Bhrata Varsha was stated to comprise nine divisions viz. Indra Dwipa(Andamans?), Kesharumata (Malaya?), Tamravarna (Sri Lanka?), Gabhatimanta, Nagadwipa, Sowmya, Gandharva, and Varunya; the ninth part was stated to have been submerged in the Seas even at the time of conceiving Brahmanda Purana! Enclosed three sides with Oceans, Bharata Varsha has an estimated distance of Nine thousands of Yojanas  (1 yojana= 12km) from the Origin of Ganga to Kanyakumari at the southern tip of Bharat approx. Around the Bharata Varsha the surrounding Regions are stated to be  predominated by Mlecchas: Kiraataas to the East, Yavanas to the West, while the hinter land comprised Brahmana, Vaisya and Kshariyas and by and large Varnaashrma Policy of Brahmana- Kshatriyas-Vaishyas continued to be the pattern obtaining till date with Brahmanas engaged in Sacred Deeds like Yagjna-Yaagas, Vratas, and abstinence; Kshatriyas with defence and Order in the Society and Vaishyas with money accounting. There are seven Kula Parvatas viz.Mahendra, Sahya, Shuktimanta, Rishya, Vindhya and Pariyatra. Also thousands of other Mountains whose Shikhiraas or Mountains were peculiar such as Mandara, Vaihara, Durdura, Kolahala, Mainaka,Vaatamdhama, Nagagiri, Paandura, Tunga -prasta, Krishna Giri, Pushpagiri, Ujjayanta, Raivataka, Shri Parvata, Chitrakuta and Kuta shaila and innumerable smaller mountains. Also countless Rivers existed like Ganga, Sindhu, Saraswati, Shatadru, Chandrabhaga, Yamuna, Sarayu, Iravati, Vitasta, Gomati, Kausiki, Gandaki, Maha Nadi, Kshipra, Brahmaputra, Avanti, Narmada, Godavari, Krishnaveni, Tungabhadra, Kaveri, and thousands of others providing drinking water, bathing and enabling Yagjnas, Homas, Pitru Karyas,  Tirtha Yatras and incounty river-travel.

Quite a few legends abound about the significance of various Mountains and Rivers in Bharat. In fact historic and religious events were ascribed to most of the mountains and rivers such as Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Godavari and of Himalayas, Kailasa, Sahya, Vindhya, Rishyashringa and so on. The Epic Hero of Ramayana, Shri Rama was stated to have covered Dandakaranya in Mid-Bharat by foot and did miracles especially in killing Asuras and Rakshasas.To north of Sahya Mountain where River Godavari flowed, Shri Rama was reputed to have built Govardhana Nagar and planted plants of Aoushadhis especially near  Bharadwaja’s Ashram; this was just an example in the current Brahmanda Purana. The broad spectrum of population in the length and breadth of Bharat ranged from Anga-Vanga-Chola-Bahlika-Abhira- Panchalika- Gandhara-Yavana-Sindhu Souveera-Kekaya-Kambhoja-Kashmira-Chola-Pandya-Pulinda-Vaidarbha-Kakatiya-Andhra- Maharashtra-Kerala-Saraswata-Kirata- China- Tushara and so on and most of them governed by the Varaashrama of Brahmana-Kshatriya- Vaishya and others. All of them were motivated by the ‘Chaturvidha Purushaartthaas’ of Dharma, Artha, Kaama ans Mokshas or Virtuous Living, Earning Livelihood, Fulfillment of Desires and Salvation!

Bhugola s was mentioned above was divided into Seven Territories viz. Jambu, Plaksha, Shalmala, Kusha, Krouncha, Shaka and Pushkara surrounded by Sapta Samudras (Seven Seas), viz.Lavana (Salt), Ikshurasa (Sugar cane juice), Sura (Wine), Ghrita (Ghee), Dadhi (Curd), Dugdha (Milk) and Swadujala  (Sweet water).

Jambu Dwipa: To the Southern side of Meru Mountain and the North of Nishadha, there was a huge and age-long Jambu Tree called Sudarshana whose Jambu Fruits (Rose Apple) constantly trickled in a River which turned in the same colour and taste of water. The Tree was stated to be of eleven hundred Yojanas high. The signficance of that Tree, fruits and juice was such that Siddhas and Charunas got readily attracted  it and the juice bestowed to them the qualities of Youth and excellent health causing neither old age nor death. The fruit also produced a kind of Gold called Jambunada which was used as ornaments to Devas.The Jambu River flowed all around Meru and became the biggest attraction or Yaksha, Gandharva, Apsara, Rakshasa, Piscachaas too. Kailasa Mountain was another facsination of the Region. Kubera the Chief of Yakshas and Apsaras were stated to reside on the Mountain which was also the home of herbs and medicines, apart from wild and cruel animals. Parama Shiva is stated to reside on Kailasha along with Devi Parvati and had been a hallowed Parvata. Manasa Sarovara had been the most consecrated Lake where Siddha Ganas had always believed that bathing in the Lake and Parikrama of the Mountain were most certain steps to attaining Kailaasa / Ishwara Prapti.

Plaksha Dwipa:  is double the size of Jambu Dwipa’s one lakh yojanas under the Chief called Mehatidikh who had seven sons and the Kingship was surrounded by Seven major Mountains and Seven Rivers with the traits typical of Treta Yuga. Its inhabitants pray to Bhagavan Vishnu in the form of Chandra Deva. Compared to the salty taste of Sea water between Jambudwipa and Plaksha Dwipa, the taste was of Ikshu(Sugar cane juice) in the of intermediate region of Plaksha and Shalmala whose Chief was Vapushman and the latters’s size was double that of Plaksha. Here again there are seven mountains with mines of jewels / precious stones and seven Rivers and in this Dwipa Lord Vishnu is prayed in the form of Vayu Deva.

Like in Plaksha Dwipa, the inhabitants of Salmala Dwipa too, Varnashrama is followed and the colours of persons in these Varnas are Kapila, Aruna, Peeta and Krishna are for Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and the rest respectively. Sura (Wine) Samudra earmarks the inter-region of Salmala and Kusha Dwipa whose size was double that of Salmala and Kusha’s King is Jyotishman and the inhabitants are human beings practicing Varanashrama as also Daityas, Danavas, Devatas, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Kinnaras and a great mix of Brahma’s creation. They all pray to the Multi Faced Janardana. Ghrita Samudra (Classified Butter) partitions the Kusha and Krouncha Dwipas; the size of the Krouncha is double that of Kusha. Rituman is the King of Krouncha where again Varnashrama is observed and the counter-part Varnas are Pushkala, Pushkara, Dhanya and Khyata corresponding to Brahmanas etc. Rudra Swarupa Janardana is the Deity revered in this Dwipa. Between Krauncha and Shaka Dwipas is the Dadhimandoda Samudra and the King of Shaka is Mahatma Bhavya, again with Seven Mountains and Seven Major Rivers as also seven Princes, where Siddhas and Gandharvas inhabit. Maga, Mahadha, Manasa and Mandaga are the corresponding Chaturvarnas. All the inhabitants of this Dwipa pray to Surya Swarupi Vishnu.

From Shaka to Pushkara, the intermediate Samudra is of Ksheera and Pushkara which is double of Shaka is size is headed by Stravana and since it is a huge Dwipa, the King divided it to Mahavira Varsha and Dhataki varsha and the sons of the King awarded the two in their names after the two parts under his over-all control. These territories are mainly inhabited by human beings who have longevity of ten thousand years, devoid of illnesses and worries and of jealousies, fears, egos and crookedness; these humans as superior as Devas and Daityas and they are all devoid of Varnashrama as all the inhabitants are of equal status. The dividing line of Pushkara is surrounded by sweet water atop of which is Lokaloka  Parvata, beyond which is stated to be of complete darkness; in fact, the Border of Pushkara of ten thousand yojanas, there were neither species nor life.

 Urthwa Lokas: As a part of the Cosmic Egg beyond the Lokaloka, Suta Muni described as follows:

Lokaardha samhitaa Lokaa niraalokastu bhahyatah, 

Lokavistaaramatram tu dhyuloh sarvataa bahih/

Paricchinnah samantaascha udakenaavrutastu sah,

Alokaatparatas -chaapi hyandamaavrityatishthati/

Andastyaantastwamey Lokaah Saptadwipaascha Modini,

Bhurlokotha Bhuvarlokah Swarlokostha Mahastathaa/

Janastapastathaa Satyametaavaam lokasangrahah,,

Etavaaneva Vigjneyo Lokaantaschaiva yah Parah/

(All the Lokas which possess illuminaton are within the ambit of knowledge and the rest are all unkown and full of darkeness; that portion which is circumscribed all around by  water was within the Golden Egg and is stated to contain the Bhur-Bhuvar- Swar-Mahar-Jana-Satya-Tapo Lokas.  Knowledge of those Lokas is not clear. One could only guess that these Lokas were lit up by Chandra at the beginning of Shukla Paksha in the West in the shape of a Pot just as Brahmanda was also surmised as an Egg.)

 The Brahmanda was stated to have surrounded  by solidified water called ‘Ghanodadhi’ which was held by ‘Vanoda’or a mass of solidified water and was encircled by Illumination all round in the shape of a Fiery Iron Ball, and Akasha or Ether grasps the Ganodadhi.

Bhutaadischa tathaakaasham Bhutaadischyaapyasau Mahaan,

Mahamcha sopyanantena hyavaktena tu  dhaaryatey/

Anantamaparivyaktam dashadhaa Sukdshmamevacha,

Anantamakrutaa tmaanaadi nidhanam cha yat/

Anityam Parataghoram anaalambam -anaamayam,

Naikayojanasahaastram Vipakashtamanaavrutam/  

(The Bhutaadi or The Cosmic Ego or Maha Ahamkara or simply stated as Ghana Vaata or Solidified Air supported by Akaashaa was called the Infinite Principle or Mahaan; it was that Ayvakta or Unknown, Ananta or Endless, Aghora or Uncontaminated, Niraadhara or Unsupported, Avikara (Featureless), Sukshma (Subtle) and Avikarana (Unchanged and Undistorted).

Adholokas: As Bhu Devi the Divine Goddess is the Mother of all Living Beings, ‘Aapas’ or water is stated to be endless and so are Vayu,  Agni and Akasha. Underneath Bhumi are the Nether Worlds viz.  Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Talaatala, Rasatala, Mahatala and Patala. The soil in Atala is stated to be of black soil, of Vitala the ground was of palewhite, Sutala of blue, Talatala of yellow colour, Rasatala of gravel covered ground, Mahatala of Rocky Ground and of Patala of Gold. The Palaces of Asuras of Namuchi the enemy of Mahendra, besides of other demons like Mahananda, Kabandha, Bhima, Suladanta, Dhanjaya, Nagendra were all glittering exampes of opulence and material happiness in Atala  and other Lokas. In Sutala were the noted Daitya-Rakshasa-Serpent Kings like Mahajambha, Karbandha, Hayagriva, Nikumbha, Bhima, Suladanta, Dhananjaya, Nagendra, Kalia and so on. Shankha, Gomukha, Kakutpada, Asvatara, Kambala, Takshaka stayed at Vitala;  Prahlada, Taraka, Puranjana etc  were in Rasatala;  Kalanemi, Gajakarna were in Mahatala; and among other illustrious serpents Maha Sesha was in Patala.

Sesha Deva with his mighty and huge physique with thousand hoods ornamented with outstanding diamonds emitting unprecedented effulgence  is stated to bear the brunt of the Entire Universe from Urthva Lokas, Bhumi and the Nether worlds and  worshipped by Devas, Danavas, Siddhas and all other celestial beings alike!

The Adholokas are called Bilwa Swarga which provided unparalleled physical and material happiness unavailable in Swarga even. The invaluable ‘Manis’ (diamonds) like those worn on the hoods of the huge serpents provided such illumination to all Nether Lokas. The population of these Lokas are stated to lead such unbelievable luxuries and joy that Maharshi Narada who visited these Lokas were totally impressed. He stated that the most powerful Surya Deva bestowed only radiance and not his heat while Chandra gave only brightness but not chilliness. The inhabitants of Bilwa Swarga always revelled in delicacies of food and wine with  sophistication and style of living as they were least concerned of day-to- day difficulties; they spent long spells of time in bathing swimming in scented Sarovaras and Ponds  and   Narada stated thatVishnu’s Tamoguna was in full display at the Bilwa Swarga!

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