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The birth of Lord Brahma. The Creation of the Kumaras and others.
Vidura was certainly very anxious to hear about the pastimes of Lord Krishna from Maitreya. Due to humility, however, he first inquired about preliminary spiritual topics that are especially beneficial for the common man. Still, after making such inquiries, Vidura admitted that these lesser subjects of mundane religiosity had never satisfied him, despite repeated hearing. Thus, he next requested Maitreya to discuss Krishna-katha, which is the real benefit of hearing Mahabharata.
Persons who are unaware of the value of transcendental topics are pitied by the pitiable. In other words, impersonalists, who are pitied by the devotees, pity those who waste their valuable time in useless fruitive work, while absorbed in the bodily concept of life. To give Maitreya a hint as to where he could begin his narrations, Vidura suggested that he first describe the Lord’s pastimes in His purusha incarnations.
Maitreya then said, “O Vidura, all glory unto you, for you have inquired about the absolute good of all persons. It is not surprising that you have accepted the Supreme Lord without deviation of thought, for you were born from the semen of Shrila Vyasadeva. I know that you were formerly Yamaraja, but due to Mandavya Muni’s curse, you were born from the womb of a shudra maidservant. You are one of the eternal associates of the Lord. While returning to His eternal abode, He left me instructions for your sake.”
Once upon a time, the king’s agents caught some thieves that had hidden in Mandavya Muni’s ashram. Along with the thieves, the agents arrested Mandavya, considering him to be an accomplice, and just as they were about to impale him with a lance, news of this reached the king. The king at once forbade the killing of the brahmana, and then he came and begged for Mandavya’s forgiveness.
After being released, Mandavya at once approached Yamaraja, who prescribes the destinies of all living beings, and inquired about the cause of his brush with death. In reply, Yamaraja explained to Mandavya how, in his childhood, he had pierced an ant with a sharp straw. Upon hearing this, the rishi became enraged to think that Yamaraja would punish him for such an act of childish innocence. In retaliation, the rishi cursed Yamaraja to be born as a shudra, and this is the mystery of Vidura’s birth.
Maitreya first described Lord Maha-Vishnu’s primary creation, and then the subsequent manifestation of the Universal Form. After hearing these topics, Vidura requested the rishi to explain the creative process in more detail.
Maitreya said, “I shall now recite to you the Bhagavata Purana that was directly spoken by the Supreme Lord to great sages for the benefit of those persons who are entangled in extreme miseries, for the sake of very little pleasure.
Long ago, great rishis headed by Sanat-kumara came to the bottom of the universe from the highest planets by traveling through the waters of the Ganga. With wetted hair, they touched the lotus feet of Lord Sankarshana, who was engaged in meditation upon Lord Vasudeva, of whom He is a plenary expansion. As the great sages glorified the Lord with words full of transcendental affection, He opened His eyes slightly as jewels on His thousands of hoods began to radiate a glowing effulgence.
Lord Sankarshana then spoke the purport of Shrimad-Bhagavatam to Sanat-kumara, and he, in turn, explained it to Sankhyayana Muni. Later, when Sankhyayana Muni repeated the message of Shrimad-Bhagavatam, my spiritual master, Parashara, heard him, along with Brihaspati. Then, at Pulastya’s advice, Parashara spoke this foremost of Puranas to me. Now, my dear son, I shall describe the same thing to you, for you are always my faithful follower.”
A Rakshasa had devoured Parashara’s father and so, to retaliate, he began a sacrifice in which all of the man-eaters would be burnt to death. Then, when Vasishtha came to the sacrificial arena and ordered his grandson to put a stop to it, Parashara did so out of respect for his superior. At this, Pulastya, the father of the Rakshasas, became very pleased and so he blessed Parashara to become a great reciter of the Puranas.
Maitreya then spoke at great length to Vidura.
At the end of Brahma’s day, the dissolution of the three worlds took place due to a fire emanating from the mouth of Lord Sankarshana. Because of the heat created by this fire, which raged throughout the three worlds, great sages like Bhrigu, and other inhabitants of Maharloka, went to reside at Janaloka. This fire continued burning for one hundred celestial years, which is equivalent to 36,000 solar years. Then, for another one hundred celestial years there were torrents of rain, accompanied by violent winds, and this caused the oceans to overflow. When the three worlds thus became inundated, the Lord lay down in the water of devastation upon the bed of Ananta, and while partially closing His eyes, He rested in yoga-nidra. During this time, when the sun and moon existed beyond the three worlds without glare, the inhabitants of Janaloka offered prayers unto the Lord with folded hands, and the conditioned living entities remained within the body of the Lord, covered by their subtle bodies.
After one thousand yuga cycles, when the aggregate of living entities came out for further engagement in fruitive activities, they appeared bluish due to their polluted mentalities. While the Lord’s attention was fixed upon the combined karma of the conditioned souls, which is also referred to as the subtle form of creation, it pierced through His abdomen and took the shape of a lotus flower. Then, as that universal lotus, or virat-rupa, illuminated all directions and dried up the water of devastation, Garbhodakashayi Vishnu expanded Himself as the Paramatma and entered into it. Thereafter, Lord Brahma made his appearance, and being unable to see any cosmic manifestation, he moved his eyes in all directions, so that, as a result he achieved four heads.
Being bewildered about his existence, and considering that there must be something downward from which the lotus had sprouted, Brahma entered the water through the hollow of the lotus stem. And yet, in spite of going nearer to the navel of Lord Vishnu, Brahma could not discover his origin. After reaching his ultimate time, which is the wheel in the hand of the Lord, Brahma returned to the top of the lotus flower, where he began to meditate upon the Supreme Lord. Then, at the end of one hundred celestial years, Brahma was able to see the Supreme Lord, whom he had previously not been able to see even with the greatest endeavor.
Lord Brahma could see Garbhodakashayi Vishnu lying upon the gigantic white bed of Sesha-naga, whose bejeweled hoods illuminated the surrounding regions. The Lord’s enormous body extended the entire length and breadth of the three worlds, and its luster mocked the beauty of a coral mountain. Although the coral mountain is very beautifully dressed by the evening sky, the yellow dress of the Lord derided that beauty. The Lord’s golden helmet, which was bedecked with jewels, mocked the gold on the mountain’s summit, and the waterfalls, foliage and panorama of flowers that seem to garland the mountain were derided by the Lord’s decorations of jewels, pearls, tulasi leaves and flower garlands.
When the Lord showed His lotus feet to Brahma by raising them, the splendor of the transcendental rays emanating from His moonlike toenails and fingernails appeared to be like the petals of a flower. As the Lord beautifully smiled, to acknowledge the service of His devotees and vanquish their distress, Brahma concluded that He Whom he was seeing must be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then, while glancing over the lake in Lord Vishnu’s navel, the lotus flower, the devastating water, as well as the drying wind and the sky- which are referred to as the five causes of creation, Brahma became surcharged with the mode of passion.
Brahma thus became inclined to create the universe as it had been before, and in that mood, he offered the following prayers unto the Lord, for achieving His merciful guidance: “O my Lord, after many, many years of penance, I have come to know about You, Who are the only knowable object, since there is nothing beyond You.”
“My Lord, persons who smell the aroma of Your lotus feet, carried by the air of Vedic sound through the holes of their ears, find that You are never separated from the lotus of their hearts. Your devotees can see You through the ears by the process of bona-fide hearing, and thus their hearts become cleansed and You take Your seat there.”
“O object of my worship, I have been born from Your lotus navel for the purpose of creating the universe, by Your mercy. Therefore, please mercifully empower me with sufficient understanding so that I may properly fulfill my duty, for I am a soul surrendered unto You. I also pray that while being engaged in Your service, I may not become materially affected by my work and thus fall prey to false ego, thinking myself to be the creator. During the course of my activities, I will certainly come in contact with many vicious living entities, and so I pray that I may not fall down from my position due to their association.”
“My Lord, please smilingly bestow your benediction upon me by opening Your eyes, and remove my dejection by giving me Your direction.”
Seeing Brahma’s anxiety about the construction of the universe and his depression caused by the devastating water, the Lord spoke to him in a deep and grave voice: “O Brahma, do not be anxious or depressed, because that which you are begging for has already been granted. Situate yourself in devotional service by meditating upon Me, and in this way you will be able to understand everything within your heart. While absorbed in your service, you will be able to see Me within yourself and throughout the universe, and you will also see that you, the universe, and all other living beings are in Me.”
“By possessing this transcendental vision, you will become freed from all illusion and thus you will have no cause for fear. Because you have desired to serve Me by increasing the universal population, by My causeless mercy you shall never be defeated in you activities. Rest assured that if you always keep your mind fixed upon Me, then even while engaging in so-called material activities, the vicious mode of passion will not be able to overwhelm you.”
“O Brahma, the prayers that you have chanted to glorify Me, the austerities that you have undergone, and your firm faith in Me- all of these are to be considered My causeless mercy. I have become very pleased by your prayers and so, by My benediction, your activities will come out successful,”
After speaking, Lord Narayana disappeared, and thereafter, Brahma engaged in austerities for one hundred celestial years, as he had been instructed. At the end of that period, Brahma could see that the lotus, upon which he was seated, as well as the water below, was trembling due to the violent wind. Having become very powerful due to his long practice of penance, however, Brahma easily drank up both the wind and the water. Then, while observing how the planets were merged within the lotus, which spread throughout the universe, Lord Brahma began to contemplate how they could be re-situated as before. For this purpose, he entered into the whorl of the lotus and then divided it into three parts and, later on, into fourteen, for the inhabitation of the various grades of living entities that he would create.
In the beginning, there were six creations by the Lord, through the agency of His external energy- (1) the mahat-tattva, or sum total of material ingredients, wherein the modes of nature interact, (2) the false ego, (3) sense perceptions, (4) knowledge and the working capacity, (5) the controlling deities, and (6) the ignorant darkness of the living entities, whereby they act as fools. Then, there were four creations of Brahma- (1) the immovable living entities of six varieties, (2) the lower animals, in eight divisions (3) the human beings, in whom the mode of passion is prominent; (4) and the eight varieties of higher beings- the demigods; Pitris; Asuras; Gandharvas and Apsaras; Yakshas and Rakshasas; Siddhas, Charanas and Vidyadharas; Bhutas, Pretas and Pisachas; and the superhuman beings, such as Kinnaras.
Before creating these varieties of living entities, Lord Brahma created the five kinds of nescience under which they would live- (1) moham, the illusory bodily conception of life that causes forgetfulness of one’s real identity (2) andha-tamishram, the sense of death and its resultant fear, (3) maha-moham, the sense of false ownership, (4) tamah, self-deception, and (5) tamishram, anger after frustration. Brahma did not feel happy after performing such activity, however, for he considered these misleading creations to be sinful. Therefore, to purify himself, he sat down and meditated upon the Supreme Lord before continuing his work of creation.
Thereafter, Brahma created the four great sages named Sanaka, Sananda, Sanatana and Sanat-kumara, and ordered them, “My dear sons, now generate progeny.”
However, being highly elevated due to their semen flowing upward, and due to their having aimed at liberation, the four Kumaras were unwilling to accept household life and so they refused their father’s order. At this, Brahma’s mind became filled with anger, and this was certainly natural, considering the disobedience of his sons. Still, Brahma knew that the Kumaras were very spiritually advanced, and so he tried his best to surpress his anger. Being unable to do so, however, the anger came out from between his eyebrows, and instantly generated a child of mixed red and blue complexion.
Upon his birth, this child began crying out, “O teacher of the universe and maker of destiny, please designate a name and residence for me.”
Brahma pacified the child and said, “Do not cry. I shall certainly do as you wish. You will be called Rudra because you have cried so anxiously. I have already selected the following places for your residence- the heart, senses, air of life, sky, air, fire, water, earth, sun, moon, and austerity. Besides Rudra, you will have eleven other names- Manyu, Manu, Mahinasha, Mahan, Shiva, Ritadhvaja, Ugrareta, Bhava, Kala, Vamadeva and Dhirtavrata. You will also have eleven wives called Rudraranis, and their names will be Dhi, Dhriti, Rasala, Uma, Niyut, Sarpi, Ila, Ambika, Iravati, Svadha, and Diksha. Since you are one of the prajapatis, you may now begin to increase the population on a large scale.”
Thereafter, the sons and grandsons of Rudra, who all resembled him in bodily features and furious nature, became practically unlimited, and after assembling, they attempted to devour the entire universe.
When Brahma saw this he became very afraid and so ordered Rudra, “My dear son, there is no need to generate living entities like this. With the fire emanating from their eyes they have begun to devastate all directions, and indeed, they have not even hesitated to attack me. You had better perform penance so that you can approach the Supreme Lord and thus become empowered to properly re-create the universe as it was before. For the time being you should patiently wait for the period of dissolution, at which time your services will be called for.”
Rudra circumambulated his father and then entered the forest to perform austerities. When Lord Brahma once again turned his attention to the matter of creation, he begot ten sons- Marichi, Atri, Angira, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Bhrigu, Vasishtha, Daksha and Narada. These sons were born from Lord Brahma’s mind, eyes, mouth, ears, navel, hand, touch, breathing, thumb and deliberation, respectively. Since Lord Brahma’s intelligence is the best part of his body, Narada, who is able to deliver the Supreme Lord to anyone, is considered to be his foremost son.
Next, religion became manifest from Brahma’s chest, and from his back, where horrible death takes place- irreligion appeared. Lust and desire (kama) became manifest from Brahma’s heart, and anger (krodha) came out from between his eyebrows. Greed (lobha) emerged from between Brahma’s lips, and the power of speaking (vak), was generated from his mouth. The oceans came out from Brahma’s penis and low and abominable activities became manifest from his anus. Kardama was then born from Brahma’s shadow, and there was also a daughter born named Vak, who sexually aroused his mind, although she was not sexually inclined towards him.
Upon seeing their father so deluded that he was chasing his own daughter, the sages, headed by Marichi, respectfully addressed him, knowing that there must be some great purpose behind his extraordinary behavior.
The rishis said, “O father, the act that you are contemplating was never performed by you in any previous kalpa, nor by any other Brahma. Nor in the future will any Brahma attempt such a thing. Since you are the supreme being within the universe, how is it that you want to have sex with your daughter and cannot control your desire? This act does not befit you because people in general emulate your character, for spiritual improvement. Let us offer our obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, so that He may protect you from this degradation.”
After hearing his sons speak like this, Lord Brahma became very ashamed, and gave up his body at once. Later on, that body appeared as the dangerous fog in darkness that covers all directions.
Thereafter, when Brahma once again thought about how to resume creating, the four Vedas became manifest from his four mouths. Then, the paraphernalia for sacrificial performance, the four principles of religion, and the duties of the four social orders became manifest. The Puranas and histories, which are called the fifth Veda also became manifest from all four of Brahma’s mouths. Then, gradually, the divisions of Vedic supplementary knowledge, including the Sanskrit alphabet and musical scale, as well as the military and medical sciences, and those of logical argument and literary expression were also created, along with the four ashrams for understanding them.
Brahma then accepted another body in which sex-life was not forbidden, so that he could engage in further activities of creation. Later on, however, when he saw that there was still not sufficient population, he began to seriously consider what could be done to remedy the situation.
While Brahma was thus absorbed in contemplation, two forms separated from his body and they were united in a sexual relationship. The male form became known as Svayambhuva Manu, and the female form was named Shatarupa. By means of sex indulgence, they produced five children- two sons named Priyavrata and Uttanapada, and three daughters named Akuti, Devahuti, and Prasuti. The eldest, Akuti, was handed over to the sage Ruchi; the middle daughter, Devahuti, was given to Kardama; and the youngest, Prasuti, became the wife of Daksha. It is from them that the world gradually became filled with population.
After his appearance, Svayambhuva Manu offered obeisances to Lord Brahma, along with his wife. Then, while standing before him with folded hands, Manu requested, “O father of all living entities, please order us so that we can render service unto you.”
Lord Brahma replied, “My dear son, I am very pleased with you because you have surrendered yourself unto me without reservation, and thus I desire all blessing for you and your wife. Your example is quite befitting for a son, because this kind of adoration of a superior is required. Any sane and non-envious person will accept his father’s order with great delight and then execute it to his full capacity. Since you are my very obedient son, I request you to beget children that are qualified like yourself. Rule the world according to religious principles and worship the Supreme Lord by performance of sacrifice. When the Supreme Lord sees that you are properly protecting the living beings, He will certainly become very pleased with you.”
Manu then said, “O lord, I shall abide by your order. Now, please attempt to lift up the earth, which is the dwelling place for all kinds of living entities, since it has fallen down into the Garbhodaka Ocean.”
When Lord Brahma saw how the earth had become submerged within the water, he contemplated for a long time about how it could be lifted. When Brahma came to the conclusion that only the Supreme Lord could help in this situation, a small white boar came out from his nostril, and it was no bigger than the size of the tip of a thumb. As the astonished Brahma looked on, the boar expanded in the sky so that soon He became as large as a great elephant.
Lord Brahma and his sons, such as the Kumaras, Manu and Marichi began to argue amongst themselves in various ways. Then, as Brahma guessed that the extraordinary being must be the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Varaha repeatedly roared like a great mountain, to enliven His devotees and openly challenge any demons that might want to oppose His omnipotency. When the rishis residing in Janaloka, Tapaloka and Satyaloka heard the Lord’s tumultuous voice, which echoed in all directions, they responded by glorifying Him with the chanting of the Vedic hymns.
While flying through the sky, Lord Varaha slashed His tail, and scattered the clouds with His hooves and glittering white tusks. Illuminating the sky with His glance, Lord Varaha roared once again, to reply to the sages, and then He dove deep into the water. The two huge waves that were created appeared to be like arms, and the ocean cried out as if praying, “O Lord, do not cut me in half! Kindly give me protection!”
Due to having accepted the form of a hog, the Lord searched for the earth with his sense of smell. At last, after penetrating down to the limit of the ocean with His sharp hooves, Lord Varaha came upon the earth lying at the bottom, just as it had been in the beginning of creation. The Lord very easily placed the earth upon His tusks and lifted it out from the water, and upon seeing this wonderful act, Brahma and his sons glorified Him with prayers. After receiving the worship of the great sages, Lord Varaha took the earth in His hooves and placed it in its proper position upon the water, before at last, returning to His eternal abode.