“Then the virtuous king Yudhishthira in all humility again enquired ofthe illustrious Markandeya, saying, ‘O great Muni, thou hast seen manythousands of ages pass away. In this world there is none so longlived asthou! O best of those that have attained the knowledge of Supreme Spirit,there is none equal to thee in years except the great-minded Brahmaliving in the most exalted place. Thou, O Brahmana, worshippest Brahma atthe time of the great dissolution of the universe, when this world iswithout sky and without the gods and Danavas. And when that cataclysmceaseth and the Grandsire awaketh, thou alone, O regenerate Rishi,beholdest Brahma duly re-create the four orders of beings after havingfilled the cardinal points with air and consigned the waters to theirproper place. Thou, O great Brahmana, hast worshipped in his presence thegreat Lord and Grandsire of all creatures with soul rapt in meditationand entirely swallowed up in Him! And, O Brahmana, thou hast many a timewitnessed with thy eyes, the primeval acts of creation, and, plunged insevere ascetic austerities, thou hast also surpassed the Prajapatisthemselves! Thou art esteemed as one who is nearest to Narayana, in thenext world. Many a time in days of yore hast thou beheld the SupremeCreator of the universe with eyes of spiritual abstraction andrenunciation, having first opened thy pure and lotus-like heart–the onlyplace where the multiform Vishnu of universal knowledge may be seen! Itis for this, O learned Rishi, by the grace of God neither all-destroyingDeath, nor dotage that causeth the decay of the body, hath any power overthee! When neither the sun, nor the moon, nor fire, nor earth, nor air,nor sky remains, when all the world being destroyed looketh like one vastocean, when the Gods and Asuras and the great Uragas are annihilated, andwhen the great-minded Brahma, the Lord of all creatures, taking his seaton a lotus flower, sleepeth there, then thou alone remainest to worshiphim! And, O best of Brahman as thou hast seen all this that occurredbefore, with thy own eyes. And thou alone hast witnessed many things bythe senses, and never in all the worlds hath there been any thing unknownto thee! Therefore do I long to hear any discourse explaining the causesof things!”
“Markandeya replied, ‘Indeed, I shall explain all, after having boweddown to that Self-existent, Primordial Being, who is eternal andundeteriorating and inconceivable, and who is at once vested with anddivested of attributes. O tiger among men, this Janardana attired inyellow robes is the grand Mover and Creator of all, the Soul and Framerof all things, and the lord of all! He is also called the Great, theIncomprehensible, the Wonderful and the Immaculate. He is withoutbeginning and without end, pervades all the world, is Unchangeable andUndeteriorating. He is the Creator of all, but is himself uncreate and isthe Cause of all power. His knowledge is greater than that of all thegods together. O best of kings and pre-eminent of men, after thedissolution of the universe, all this wonderful creation again comes intolife. Four thousand years have been said to constitute the Krita Yuga.Its dawn also, as well as its eve, hath been said to comprise fourhundred years. The Treta-Yuga is said to comprise three thousand years,and its dawn, as well as its eve, is said to comprise three hundredyears. The Yuga that comes next is called Dwapara, and it hath beencomputed to consist of two thousand years. Its dawn, as well as its eve,is said to comprise two hundred years. The next Yuga, called Kali, issaid to comprise one thousand years and its dawn, as well as eve, is saidto comprise one hundred years. Know, O king, that the duration of thedawn is the same as that of the eve of a Yuga. And after the Kali Yuga isover, the Krita Yuga comes again. A cycle of the Yugas thus comprised aperiod of twelve thousand years. A full thousand of such cycles wouldconstitute a day of Brahma. O tiger among men, when all this universe iswithdrawn and ensconced within its home–the Creator himself–thatdisappearance of all things is called by the learned to be UniversalDestruction. O bull of the Bharata race, towards the end of the lastmentioned period of one thousand years, i.e., when the period wanted tocomplete a cycle is short, men generally become addicted to falsehood inspeech. O son of Pritha, then sacrifices and gifts and vows, instead ofbeing performed by principals are suffered to be performed byrepresentatives! Brahmanas then perform acts that are reserved for theSudras, and the Sudras betake themselves to the acquisition of wealth.Then Kshatriyas also betake themselves to the practice of religious acts.In the Kali age, the Brahmanas also abstain from sacrifices and the studyof the Vedas, are divested of their staff and deer-skin, and in respectof food become omnivorous. And, O son, the Brahmanas in that age alsoabstain from prayers and meditation while the Sudras betake themselves tothese! The course of the world looketh contrary, and indeed, these arethe signs that foreshadow the Universal Destruction. And, O lord of men,numerous Mleccha kings then rule over the earth! And those sinfulmonarchs, addicted to false speech, govern their subjects on principlesthat are false. The Andhhas, the Sakas, the Pulindas, the Yavanas, theKamvojas, the Valhikas and the Abhiras, then become, O best of men,possessed of bravery and the sovereignty of the earth. This, O tigeramong men, becometh the state of the world during the eve, O Bharata, ofthe Kali age! Not a single Brahmana then adhereth to the duties of hisorder. And the Kshatriyas and the Vaisyas also, O monarch, followpractices contrary to those that are proper for their own orders. And menbecome short-lived, weak in strength, energy, and prowess; and enduedwith small might and diminutive bodies, they become scarcely truthful inspeech. And the human population dwindles away over large tracts ofcountry, and the regions of the earth, North and South, and East andWest, become crowded with animals and beasts of prey. And during thisperiod, they also that utter Brahma, do so in vain. The Sudras addressBrahmanas, saying, Bho, while the Brahmanas address Sudras, sayingRespected Sir. And, O tiger among men, at the end of the Yuga, animalsincrease enormously. And, O king, odours and perfumes do not then becomeso agreeable to our sense of scent, and, O tiger among men, the verytastes of things do not then so well accord with our organs of taste asat other periods! And, O king, women then become mothers of numerousprogeny, endued with low statures, and destitute of good behaviour andgood manners. And they also make their very mouths serve the purposes ofthe organ of procreation. And famine ravages the habitations of men, andthe highways are infested by women of ill fame, while females in general,O king, become at such periods hostile to their lords and destitute ofmodesty! And, O king, the very kine at such periods yield little milk,while the trees, sat over with swarms of crows, do not produce manyflowers and fruits. And, O lord of the earth, regenerate classes, taintedwith the sin of slaying Brahmanas, accept gifts from monarchs that areaddicted to falsehood in speech. And filled with covetousness andignorance, and bearing on their persons the outward symbols of religion,they set out on eleemosynary rounds, afflicting the people of the Earth.And people leading domestic lives, afraid of the burden of taxes, becomedeceivers, while Brahmanas, falsely assuming the garb of ascetics, earnwealth by trade, with nails and hair unpared and uncut. And, O tigeramong men, many of the twice-born classes become, from avarice of wealth,religious mendicants of the Brahmacharin order. And, O monarch, men atsuch periods behave contrary to the modes of life to which they betakethemselves, and addicted to intoxicating drinks and capable of violatingthe beds of their preceptors, their desires are all of this world,pursuing matters ministering to the flesh and the blood. And O tigeramong men, at such period the asylums of ascetics become full of sinfuland audacious wretches ever applauding lives of dependence. And theillustrious chastiser of Paka never showers rain according to the seasonsand the seeds also that are scattered on earth, do not, O Bharata, allsprout forth. And men, unholy in deed and thought, take pleasure in envyand malice. And, O sinless one, the earth then becometh full of sin andimmorality. And, O lord of the earth, he that becometh virtuous at suchperiods doth not live long. Indeed, the earth becometh reft of virtue inevery shape. And, O tiger among men, the merchants and traders then fullof guile, sell large quantities of articles with false weights andmeasures. And they that are virtuous do not prosper; while they that aresinful proper exceedingly. And virtue loseth her strength while sinbecometh all powerful. And men that are devoted to virtue become poor andshort-lived; while they that are sinful become long-lived and winprosperity. And in such times, people behave sinfully even in places ofpublic amusements in cities and towns. And men always seek theaccomplishment of their ends by means that are sinful. And having earnedfortunes that are really small they become intoxicated with the pride ofwealth. And O monarch, many men at such periods strive to rob the wealththat hath from trust been deposited with them in secrecy. And wedded tosinful practices, they shamelessly declare–there is nothing in deposit.And beasts of prey and other animals and fowl may be seen to lie down inplaces of public amusement in cities and towns, as well as in sacrededifices. And, O king girls of seven or eight years of age do thenconceive, while boys of ten or twelve years beget offspring. An in theirsixteenth year, men are overtaken with decrepitude and decay and theperiod of life itself is soon outrun. And O king, when men become soshort-lived, more youths act like the aged; while all that is observablein youth may be noticed in the old. And women given to impropriety ofconduct and marked by evil manners, deceive even the best of husbands andforget themselves with menials and slaves and even with animals. And Oking, even women that are wives of heroes seek the companionship of othermen and forget themselves with these during the life-time of theirhusbands.
“O king, towards the end of those thousands of years constituting thefour Yugas and when the lives of men become so short, a drought occursextending for many years. And then, O lord of the earth, men andcreatures endued with small strength and vitality, becoming hungry die bythousands. And then, O lord of men, seven blazing Suns, appearing in thefirmament, drink up all the waters of the Earth that are in rivers orseas. And, O bull of the Bharata race, then also everything of the natureof wood and grass that is wet to dry, is consumed and reduced to ashes.And then, O Bharata, the fire called Samvartaka impelled by the windsappeareth on the earth that hath already been dried to cinders by theseven Suns. And then that fire, penetrating through the Earth and makingits appearance, in the nether regions also, begetteth great terror in thehearts of the gods, the Danavas and the Yakshas. And, O lord of theearth, consuming the nether regions as also everything upon this Earththat fire destroyeth all things in a moment. And that fire calledSamvartaka aided by that inauspicious wind, consumeth this worldextending for hundreds and thousands of yojanas. And that lord of allthings, that fire, blazing forth in effulgence consumeth this universewith gods and Asuras and Gandharvas and Yakshas and Snakes and Rakshasas.And there rise in the sky deep masses of clouds, looking like herds ofelephants and decked with wreaths of lightning that are wonderful tobehold. And some of those clouds are of the hue of the blue lotus; andsome are of the hue of the water-lily; and some resemble in tint thefilaments of the lotus and some are purple and some are yellow asturmeric and some of the hue of the crows’ egg. And some are bright asthe petals of the lotus and some red as vermillion. And some resemblepalatial cities in shape and some herds of elephants. And some are of theform of lizards and some of crocodiles and sharks. And, O king, theclouds that gather in the sky on the occasion are terrible to behold andwreathed with lightnings, roar frightfully. And those vapoury masses,charged with rain, soon cover the entire welkin. And, O king, thosemasses of vapour then flood with water the whole earth with her mountainsand forests and mines. And, O bull among men, urged by the Supreme Lordthose clouds roaring frightfully, soon flood over the entire surface ofthe earth. And pouring in a great quantity of water and filling the wholeearth, they quench that terrible inauspicious fire (of which I havealready spoken to thee). And urged by the illustrious Lord those cloudsfilling the earth with their downpour shower incessantly for twelveyears. And then, O Bharata, the Ocean oversteps his continents, themountains sunder in fragments, and the Earth sinks under the increasingflood. And then moved on a sudden by the impetus of the wind, thoseclouds wander along the entire expanse of the firmament and disappearfrom the view. And then, O ruler of men, the Self-create Lord–the firstCause of everything–having his abode in the lotus, drinketh thoseterrible winds and goeth to sleep, O Bharata!
“And then when the universe become one dead expanse of water, when allmobile and immobile creatures have been destroyed, when the gods and theAsuras cease to be, when the Yakshas and the Rakshasas are no more, whenman is not, when trees and beasts of prey have disappeared, when thefirmament itself has ceased to exist, I alone, O lord of the earth,wander in affliction. And, O best of kings, wandering over that dreadfulexpanse of water, my heart becometh afflicted in consequence of my notbeholding any creature! And, O king, wandering without cessation, throughthat flood, I become fatigued, but I obtain no resting place! And sometime after I behold in that expanse of accumulated waters a vast andwide-extending banian tree, O lord of earth! And I then behold, OBharata, seated on a conch, O king, overlaid with a celestial bed andattached to a far-extended bough of that banian, a boy, O great king, offace fair as the lotus or the moon, and of eyes, O ruler of men, large aspetals of a full blown lotus! And at this sight, O lord of earth, wonderfilled my heart. And I asked myself, ‘How doth this boy alone sit herewhen the world itself hath been destroyed?’ And, O king, although I havefull knowledge of the Past, the Present, and the Future, still I failedto learn anything of this by means of even ascetic meditation. Enduedwith the lustre of the Atasi flower, and decked with the mark ofSreevatsa, he seemed to me to be like the abode of Lakshmi, herself. Andthat boy, of eyes like the petals of the lotus, having the mark ofSreevatsa, and possessed of blazing effulgence, then addressed me inwords highly pleasant to the ear, saying, ‘O sire, I know thee to befatigued and desirous of rest. O Markandeya of Bhrigu’s race, rest thouhere as long as thou wishest. O best of Munis, entering within my body,rest thou there. That hath been the abode assigned to thee by me. I havebeen pleased with thee.’ Thus addressed by that boy, a sense of totaldisregard possessed me in respect both of my long life and state ofmanhood. Then that boy suddenly opened his mouth, and as fate would haveit, I entered his mouth deprived of the power of motion. But O king,having suddenly entered into the stomach of that boy, I behold there thewhole earth teeming with cities and kingdoms. And, O best of men, whilewandering through the stomach of that illustrious one, I behold theGanga, the Satudru, the Sita, the Yamuna, and the Kausiki; theCharmanwati, the Vetravati; the Chandrabhaga, the Saraswati, the Sindhu,the Vipasa, and the Godavari; the Vaswokasara, the Nalini and theNarmada; the Tamra, and the Venna also of delightful current and sacredwaters; the Suvenna, the Krishna-venna, the Irama, and the Mahanadi; theVitasti, O great king, and that large river, the Cavery; the one also, Otiger among men, the Visalya, and the Kimpuna also. I beheld all theseand many other rivers that are on the earth! And, O slayer of foes, Ialso beheld there the ocean inhabited by alligators and sharks, that mineof gems, that excellent abode of waters. And I beheld there the firmamentalso, decked with the Sun and the Moon, blazing with effulgence, andpossessed of lustre of fire of the Sun. And I beheld there, O king, theearth also, graced with woods and forests. And, O monarch, I beheld theremany Brahmanas also, engaged in various sacrifices; and the Kshatriyasengaged in doing good to all the orders; and the Vaisyas employed inpursuits in agriculture; and the Sudras devoted to the service of theregenerate classes. And, O king, while wandering through the stomach ofthat high-souled one, I also beheld the Himavat and the mountains ofHemakuta. And I also saw Nishada, and the mountains of Sweta abounding insilver. And, O king, I saw there the mountain Gandhamadana, and, O tigeramong men, also Mandara and the huge mountains of Nila. And, O greatking, I saw there the golden mountains of Meru and also Mahendra andthose excellent mountains called the Vindhyas. And I beheld there themountains of Malaya and of Paripatra also. These and many other mountainsthat are on earth were all seen by me in his stomach. And all these weredecked with jewels and gems. And, O monarch, while wandering through hisstomach, I also beheld lions and tigers and boars and, indeed, all otheranimals that are on earth, O great king! O tiger among men, havingentered his stomach, as I wandered around, I also beheld the whole tribeof the gods with their chief Sakra, the Sadhyas, the Rudras, the Adityas,the Guhyakas, the Pitris, the Snakes and the Nagas, the feathery tribes,the Vasus, the Aswins, the Gandharvas, the Apsaras, the Yakshas, theRishis, the hordes of the Daityas and the Danavas, and the Nagas also. Oking, and the sons of Singhika and all the other enemies of the gods;indeed what else of mobile and immobile creatures may be seen on earth,were all seen by me, O monarch, within the stomach of that high-souledone. And, O lord, living upon fruits I dwelt within his body for manycenturies wandering over the entire universe that is there. Never did Iyet, O king, behold the limits of his body. And when, O lord of earth, Ifailed to measure the limits of that high-souled one’s body, even thoughI wandered within him continuously in great anxiety of mind. I then, inthought and deed sought the protection of that boon-giving andpre-eminent Deity, duly acknowledging his superiority. And when I haddone this, O king, I was suddenly projected (from within his body)through that high-souled one’s open mouth by means, O chief of men, of agust of wind. And, O king, I then beheld seated on the branch of thatvery banian that same Being of immeasurable energy, in the form of a boywith the mark of Sreevatsa (on his breast) having, O tiger among men,swallowed up the whole universe. And that boy of blazing effulgence andbearing the mark of Sreevatsa and attired in yellow robes, gratified withme, smilingly addressed me, saying, ‘O Markandeya, O best of Munis,having dwelt for some time within my body, thou hast been fatigued! Ishall however speak unto thee.’ And as he said this to me, at that verymoment I acquired a new sight, so to speak, in consequence of which Ibeheld myself to be possessed of true knowledge and emancipated from theillusions of the world. And, O child, having witnessed the inexhaustiblepower of that Being of immeasurable energy, I then worshipped his reveredand well-shaped feet with soles bright as burnished copper andwell-decked with toes of mild red hue, having placed them carefully on myhead and joining my palms in humility and approaching him with reverence.I beheld that Divine Being who is the soul of all things and whose eyesare like the petals of the lotus. And having bowed unto him with joinedhands I addressed him saying, ‘I wish to know thee, O Divine Being, asalso this high and wonderful illusion of thine! O illustrious one, havingentered into thy body through thy mouth, I have beheld the entireuniverse in thy stomach! O Divine Being, the gods, the Danavas and theRakshasas, the Yakshas, the Gandharvas, and the Nagas, indeed, the wholeuniverse mobile and immobile, are all within thy body! And though I haveceaselessly wandered through thy body at a quick pace, through thy grace,O God, my memory faileth me not. And, O great lord, I have come out ofthy body at thy desire but not of mine! O thou of eyes like lotus leaves,I desire to know thee who art free from all faults! Why dost thou stayhere in the form of a boy having swallowed up the entire universe? Itbehoveth thee to explain all this to me. Why, O sinless one, is theentire universe within thy body? How long also, O chastiser of foes, wiltthou stay here? Urged by a curiosity that is not improper for Brahmanas,I desire, O Lord of all the gods, to hear all this from thee, O thou ofeyes like lotus leaves, with every detail and exactly as it all happens,for all I have seen, O Lord, is wonderful and inconceivable!’ And thusaddressed by me, that deity of deities, of blazing effulgence and greatbeauty, that foremost of all speakers consoling me properly, spoke untome these words.”