“Bhishma said, ‘Thus hymned with names that were not known to others, theDivine Narayana having the universe for his form showed himself to theascetic Narada. His form was somewhat purer than the moon and differedfrom the moon in some respects. He somewhat resembled a blazing fire incomplexion. The puissant Lord was somewhat of the form of Vishti.He resembled in some respects the feathers of the parrot, and in some amass of pure crystal. He resembled in some respects a hill of antimonyand in some a mass of pure gold. His complexion somewhat resembled thecoral when first formed, and was somewhat white. In some respects thatcomplexion resembled the hue of gold and in some that of the lapislazuli. In some respects it resembled the hue of the blue lapis lazuliand in some that of sapphire. In some respects it resembled the hue ofthe peacock’s neck, and in some that of a string of pearls. Bearing thesediverse kinds of hues on his person, the eternal Deity appeared beforeNarada. He had a thousand eyes and was possessed of great beauty. He hada hundred heads and a hundred feet. He had a thousand stomachs and athousand arms. He seemed to be still inconceivable to the mind. With oneof his mouths he uttered the syllable Om and then the Gayatri followingOm. With mind under complete control, the great Deity, called by thenames of Hari and Narayana, by his other mouths, multitudinous in number,uttered many mantras from the four Vedas which are known by the name ofAranyaka. The Lord of all the deities, the great God who is adorned insacrifices, held in his hands a sacrificial altar, a Kamandalu, few whitegems, a pair of sandal, a bundle of Kusa blades, a deer-skin, atoothstick, and a little blazing fire. With cheerful soul, thatforemost of regenerate persons, viz., Narada of restraining speech, bowedunto the great God and adored Him. Unto him whose head was still bent lowin veneration, the first of all the deities, who is free fromdeterioration, said the following words.
“‘The Holy one said, The great Rishis, Ekata, Dwita, and Trita, came tothis realm from desire of obtaining a sight of me. They, however, wereunable to have the fruition of their wishes. Nor can any one have a sightof me save those persons that are devoted to me with their whole hearts.As regards thee, thou art verily the foremost of all persons devoted tome with all their souls. These are my bodies, the best ones that Iassume. These were born, O regenerate one, in the house of Dharma. Dothou worship them always, and do thou perform those rites that are laiddown in the ordinances with respect to that worship. O Brahmana, do thouask of me the boons thou desirest. I am gratified with thee to-day, and Iappear unto thee now in my universal form as freed from decay anddeterioration.
“Narada said, Since, O holy one, I have today succeeded in obtaining asight of thee. I regard that I have won without any delay the fruits ofmy penances, O God, of my self-restraint, and of all the vows andobservances that I have gone through. This, indeed, is the highest boonthou hast granted me for thou hast shown thyself to me today. O EternalLord, Thou, O holy one, hast the universe for thy eye. Thou art the Lion.Thy form is identifiable with everything. Possessed of puissance, thou, OLord, art vast and infinite.
Bhishma continued, ‘Having thus shown Himself unto Narada, the son ofParameshthi, the great God addressed that ascetic and said,–Go hence, ONarada, and do not delay! These worshippers of mine, possessed of lunarcomplexions, are divested of all senses and do not subsist upon any kindof food. They are, again, all Emancipate; with minds wholly concentratedupon Me, people should think of Me. Such worshippers will never meet withany impediments. These men are all crowned with ascetic success and arehighly blessed. In ancient times they became entirely devoted to me. Theyhave been freed from the attributes of Rajas and Tamas. Without doubt,they are competent to enter me and become merged into my Self.–He thatcannot be seen with the eye, touched with the sense of touch, smelt withthe sense of scent, and that is beyond the ken of the sense of taste. Hewhom the three attributes of Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas do not touch, whopervades all things and is the one Witness of the universe, and who isdescribed as the Soul of the entire universe; He who is not destroyedupon the destruction of the bodies of all created things, who is unbornand unchangeable and eternal, who is freed from all attributes, who isindivisible and entire; He who transcends the twice twelve topics ofenquiry and is regarded the Twenty-fifth, who is called by the name ofPurusha, who is inactive, and who is said to be apprehended by Knowledgealone, He into whom the foremost of the regenerate persons enter andbecome emancipate. He who is the eternal Supreme Soul and is known by thename of Vasudeva. Behold, O Narada, the greatness and puissance of God.He is never touched by acts good or bad. Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas, aresaid to be the three (original) attributes. These dwell and act in thebodies of all creatures. The Jiva-soul, called Kshetrajna, enjoys andendorse the action of these three attributes. He, however, transcendsthem and they cannot touch Him. Freed from these attributes, He is againtheir enjoyer and endorser. Having created them Himself, He is above themall. O celestial Rishi, the Earth, which is the refuge of the universe,disappears (when the hour for universal dissolution comes) intowater, Water disappears into Light, and Light into Wind, Wind disappearsinto Space, and Space into Mind. Mind is a great creature, and itdisappears into Unmanifest Prakriti. Unmanifest Prakriti, O Brahmana,disappears into inactive Purusha. There is nothing higher than Purushawhich is Eternal. There is nothing among mobile and immobile things inthe universe that is immutable, except Vasudeva, the eternal Purusha.Endued with great puissance, Vasudeva is the Soul of all creatures.Earth, Wind, Space, Water, and Light forming the fifth, the primalelements of great puissance. Mingling together they form what is calledthe body. Possessed of subtile prowess and invisible to all eyes, OBrahmana, the puissant Vasudeva then enter that combination of the fiveprimal elements, called body. Such entrance is called his birth, andtaking birth. He causes the body to move about and act. Without acombination of the five primal elements, no body can ever be formed.Without, again, the entrance of Jiva into the body, the mind dwellingwithin it cannot cause it to move and act. He that enters the body ispossessed of great puissance and is called Jiva. He is known also byother names, viz., Sesha and Sankarshana. He that takes his rise, fromthat Sankarshana, by his own acts, Sanatkumara, and in whom all creaturesmerge when the universal dissolution comes, is the Mind of all creaturesand is called by the name of Pradyumna. From Him (i.e., Pradyumna),arises He who is the Creator, and who is both Cause and Effect. From thislast, everything, viz., the mobile and immobile universe, takes its rise.This one is called Aniruddha. He is otherwise called Isana, and He ismanifest in all acts. That illustrious one, viz., Vasudeva, who iscalled Kshetrajna, and who is freed from attributes, should, O king ofkings, be known as the puissant Sankarshana, when he takes birth asJiva. From Sankarshana arises Pradyumna who is called ‘He that isborn as Mind.’ From Pradyumna is He who is Aniruddha. He isConsciousness, He is Iswara (Supreme Lord). It is from me, that theentire mobile and immobile universe springs. It is from me, O Narada,that the indestructible and destructible, the existent and thenon-existent, flow. They that are devoted to me enter into me and becomeemancipate. I am known as Purusha. Without acts, I am the Twenty-fifth.Transcending attributes, I am entire and indivisible. I am above allpairs of opposite attributes and freed from all attachments. This, ONarada, thou wilt fail to understand. Thou beholdest me as endued with aform. In a moment, if the wish arises, I can dissolve this form. I am theSupreme Lord and the Preceptor of the universe. That which thou beholdestof me, O Narada, is only an illusion of mine. I now seem to be enduedwith the attributes of all created things. Thou art not competent to knowme. I have disclosed to thee duly my quadruple form. I am, O Narada, theDoer, I am Cause, and I am Effect. I am the sum-total of all livingcreatures. All living creatures have their refuge in me. Let not thethought be thine that thou hast seen the Kshetrajna. I pervade allthings. O Brahmana, and am the Jiva-Soul of all creatures. When thebodies of all creatures, however, are destroyed, I am not destroyed.Those highly blessed men who, having won ascetic success, become whollydevoted to me, become freed from the attributes of both Rajas and Tamasand succeeds, on that account, in entering me, O great ascetic. He who iscalled Hiranyagarbha, who is the beginning of the world, who has fourfaces, who cannot be understood with the aid of Nirukta, who is otherwisecalled Brahman, who is an eternal deity, is employed in attending to manyof my concerns. The deity Rudra, born of my wrath, is sprung from myforehead. Behold, the eleven Rudras are swelling (with might) on theright side of my body. The twelve Adityas are on the left side of mybody. Behold, the eight Vasus, those foremost of deities, are in myfront, and see, Nasatya and Dasra, those two celestial physicians (AswiniKumars), are in my rear. Behold also in my body all the Prajapatis andbehold the seven Rishis also. Behold also the Vedas, and all theSacrifices numbering by hundreds, the Amrita (nectar), and all the(medicinal) herbs and plants, and Penances, and vows and observances ofdiverse kinds. Behold also in me the eight attributes indicative ofpuissance, viz., those particularly called the attributes of Lordship,all dwelling together in my body in their united and embodied form.Behold also Sree and Lakshmi, and Kirti, and the Earth with her hump asalso the goddess, Saraswati, that mother of the Vedas, dwelling in me.Behold, O Narada, Dhruva, that foremost of luminaries ranging thefirmament, as also all the Oceans those receptacles of water, and lakes,and rivers, dwelling in me. Behold also, O best of men, the four foremostones amongst the Pitris in their embodied forms, as also, the threeattributes (of Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas) which are formless dwelling inme. The acts done in honour of the Pitris are superior (in point ofmerit) to those done in honour of the deities. I am the Pitri of both thedeities and the Pitris, and am existing from the beginning (that is, froma time when they were not). Becoming the Equine-head I rove through theWestern and the Northern ocean and drink sacrificial libations dulypoured with mantras and solid sacrificial food offered with reverence anddevotion. In days of yore I created Brahman who himself adored me insacrifices. Gratified with him on that account I granted him manyexcellent boons. I said unto him that in the beginning of the Kalpa hewould be born unto me as my son, and the sovereignty of all the worldswould vest on him, coupled with diverse names being bestowed on diverseobjects in consequence of the starting of Ahankara into existence.I also told him that none would ever violate the limits and boundaries hewould assign (for the observance of creatures) and, further, that hewould be the giver of boons unto persons that would (in sacrifices and byproper acts) solicit him for them. I further assured him that he would bean object of adoration with all the deities and Asuras, all the Rishisand Pitris, and the diverse creatures forming the creation. I also gavehim to understand that I would always manifest myself for accomplishingthe business of the deities and that for that matter I would suffermyself to be commanded by him even as a son by his sire. Grantingthese and other highly agreeable boons unto Brahman of immeasurableenergy in consequence of my being gratified with him I (once more)adopted the course dictated by Nivritti. The highest Nivritti isidentical with the annihilation of all duties and acts. Hence, byadopting Nivritti one should conduct oneself in complete felicity.Learned preceptors, with settled convictions deducted from the truths ofthe Sankhya philosophy, have spoken of me as Kapila endued with thepuissance of Knowledge, dwelling within the effulgence of Surya, andconcentrated in Yoga. In Chcchandas (Vedas) I have been repeatedlyhymned as the illustrious Hiranyagarbha. In the Yoga scriptures, OBrahmana, I have been spoken of as one who takes a delight in Yoga. I ameternal. Assuming a form that is manifest, I dwell, at present, in theheavens. At the end of a thousand Yugas I shall once more with-draw theuniverse into myself. Having withdrawn all creatures, mobile and immobileinto myself, I shall exist all alone with knowledge only for mycompanion. After the lapse of ages I shall again create the universe,with the aid of that knowledge. That which is my fourth form creates theindestructible Sesha. That Sesha is called by the name of Sankarshana.Sankarshana creates Pradyumna. From Pradyumna I take birth myself asAniruddha. I create (myself) repeatedly. From Aniruddha springs Brahman.The latter takes birth from Aniruddha’s navel. From Brahman spring allcreatures mobile and immobile. Know that Creation springs in this wayrepeatedly at the beginning of every Kalpa. Creation and destructionsucceed each other even as sunrise and sunset in this world. Then, again,as Time, endued with immeasurable energy, forcibly brings back the Sunafter his disappearance, after the same manner I shall, assuming the formof boar and putting forth my strength, bring back the Earth with her beltof seas to her own position for the good of all creatures when shebecomes submerged in water. I shall then slay the son of Diti, namedHiranyaksha, filled with pride of strength. Assuming the form thenof a Man-lion (Narsingha), I shall, for benefiting the deities, slayHiranyakasipu the son of Diti, who will be a great destroyer ofsacrifices. Unto Virochana (the son of Prahlada) will be born a mightyson of the name of Vali. That great Asura will be unslayable in the wholeuniverse consisting of deities, Asuras and Rakshasas. He will hurl Sakrafrom the sovereignty of the universe. When after routing the Lord ofSachi, that Asura will take unto himself the sovereignty of the threeworlds, I shall take birth in Aditi’s womb, by Kasyapa, as the twelfthAditya. I shall (taking the sovereignty of the three worlds Vali) restoreit to Indra of immeasurable splendour, and replace the deities, O Narada,in their respective stations. As regards Vali, that foremost of Danavas,who is to be unslayable by all the deities, I shall cause him to dwell inthe nether regions. In the Treta age I shall take birth as Rama in therace of Bhrigu, and exterminate the Kshatriyas who will become proud oftheir strength and possessions. Towards the close of Treta and thebeginning of Dwapara, I shall take birth as Rama, the son of Dasaratha inIskshaku’s royal line. At that time, the two Rishis viz., the two sons ofPrajapati, called by the names of Ekata and Dwita, will in consequence ofthe injury done by them unto their brother Trita, have to take birth asapes, losing the beauty of the human form. Those apes that shall takebirth in the race of Ekata and Dwita, shall become endued with greatstrength and mighty energy and will equal Sakra himself in prowess. Allthose apes, O regenerate one, will become my allies for accomplishing thebusiness of the deities. I shall then slay the terrible lord of theRakshasas, that wretch of Pulastya’s race, viz., the fierce Ravana, thatthrone of all the worlds, together with all his children and followers.Towards the close of the Dwapara and beginning of the Kali ages, I shallagain appear in the world taking birth in the city of Mathura for thepurpose of slaying Kansa. There, after slaying innumerable Danavas thatwill be thorns in the side of the deities, I shall take up my residencein Kusasthali at the city of Dwaraka. While residing in that city I shallslay the Asura Naraka, the son of ‘the Earth,–him, that is, who will doan injury to Aditi, as also some ‘other Danavas of the names of Muru andPitha. Slaying also another foremost of Danavas, viz., the lord ofPragjyotisha, I shall transplant his delightful city furnished withdiverse kinds of wealth into Dwaraka. I shall then subjugate the two godsworshipped of all the deities, viz., Maheshwara and Mahasena, who willbecome fond of the Danava Vana and do him diverse good offices and whowill exert themselves vigorously for that worshipper of theirs.Vanquishing next the son of the Danava Vali, viz., Vana, who will beendued with a thousand arms, I shall next destroy all the inhabitants ofthe Danava city called Saubha. I shall next, O foremost ofBrahmanas, compass the death of Kalayavana, a Danava who will be enduedwith great might in consequence of his being equipt with the energy ofGargya. A proud Asura will appear as a king at Girivraja, of thename of Jarasandha, who will quarrel with all the other kings of theworld. His death will be compassed by me through some one else guided bymy intelligence. I shall next slay Sisupala in the sacrifice of kingYudhishthira, the son of Dharma, which sacrifice all the kings of theworld will bring tribute. In some of these feats, only Arjuna, the son ofVasava, will become my assistant. I shall establish Yudhishthira with allhis brothers in his ancestral kingdom. People will call me and Arjuna asNarayana and Nara, when, endued with puissance, we two, exerting ourstrength, shall consume a large number of Kshatriyas, for doing good tothe world. Having lightened the burthen of the Earth according to ourpleasure, I shall absorb all the principal Sattwatas as also Dwaraka, myfavourite city, into my own self, recollecting my all-embracingKnowledge. Endued with four forms, I shall, in this way, achieve manyfeats of great prowess, and attain at last to those regions of felicitycreated by me and honoured by all the Brahmanas. Appearing in the formsof a swan, a tortoise, a fish, O foremost of regenerate ones, I shallthen display myself as a boar, then as a Man-lion (Nrisingha), then as adwarf, then as Rama of Bhrigu’s race, then as Rama, the son of Dasaratha,then as Krishna the scion of the Sattwata race, and lastly as Kalki. Whenthe auditions in the Vedas disappeared from the world, I brought themback. The Vedas with the auditions in them, were re-created by me in theKrita age. They have once more disappeared or may only be partially heardhere and there in the Puranas. Many of my best appearances also in theworld have become events of the past. Having achieved the good of theworlds in those forms in which I appeared, they have re-entered into myown Prakriti. Brahman (the Creator) himself never obtained a sight of mein this form of mine, which thou, O Narada, hast seen today inconsequence of thy entire devotion to me. I have now said everything, OBrahmana,–unto thee that art devoted to me wholly, I have disclosed tothee my ancient appearances and future ones also, O Best of men, togetherwith all their mysteries. “Bhishma continued, The holy and illustriousdeity, of universal and immutable form, having said these words untoNarada, disappeared there and then. Narada also, endued with greatenergy, having obtained the high favour that he had solicited, thenproceeded with great speed to the retreat called Vadari, for beholdingNara and Narayana. This great Upanishad, perfectly consist with the fourVedas, in harmony with Sankhya-yoga, and called by him by the name of thePancharatra scriptures, and recited by Narayana himself with his ownmouth, was repeated by Narada in the presence of many hearers in theabode of Brahman (his sire) in exactly the same way in which Narayana(while that great god had showed himself unto him) had recited it, and inwhich he had heard it from his own lips.
“Yudhishthira said, ‘Was not Brahman, the Creator of all things,acquainted with this wonderful narrative of the glory of Narayana enduedwith intelligence that he heard it from the lips of Narada? Is theillustrious Grandsire of all the worlds any way different from orinferior to the great Narayana? How then is it that he was unacquaintedwith the puissance of Narayana of immeasurable energy?’
Bhishma continued, ‘Hundreds and thousands of great-Kalpas, hundreds andthousands of Creation and Dissolutions, O king of kings, have been overand have become incidents of the past. In the beginning of everycycle of Creation, Brahman, endued with great puissance and who createsall things, is remembered (by Narayana). Brahman knows well, O king, thatNarayana, that foremost of all gods is very much superior to him. Heknows that Narayana is the Supreme Soul, that he is the Supreme Lord,that He is the Creator of Brahman himself. It was only unto that conclaveof Rishis, crowned with ascetic success, that came to the abode ofBrahman, that Narada recited his narrative which is a very ancient one,and which is perfectly consistent with the Vedas. The deity Surya, havingheard that narrative from those Rishis crowned with asceticsuccess, repeated it to the six and sixty thousands of Rishis, Oking, of cleansed souls, that follow in his train. And Surya, the deitythat imparts heat unto all worlds, repeated that narrative unto thoseBeings also, of cleansed souls, that have been created (by Brahman) foralways journeying in the van of Surya. The high-souled Rishis thatfollow in Surya’s train, O son, repeated that excellent narrative untothe deities assembled on the breast of Meru. That best of ascetics, viz.,the regenerate Asita, then having heard the narrative from the deities,repeated it unto the Pitris, O king of kings. I heard it from my sireSantanu, O son, who recited it to me formerly. Myself having heard itfrom my sire. I have repeated it to thee, O Bharata. Deities and Munis,who have heard this excellent old narrative, which is a Purana–all adorethe Supreme Soul. This narrative, belonging to the Rishis and thus handeddown from one to another, should not, O king, be communicated by thee toany one that is not a worshipper of Vasudeva. This narrative, O king, isreally the essence of the hundreds of other narratives that thou hastheard from me. In days of yore, O monarch, the deities and the Asuras,uniting together, churned the Ocean and t wised the Amrita. After thesame manner, the Brahmanas, uniting together in days of yore, churned allthe scriptures and raised this narrative which resembles nectar. He whofrequently reads this narrative, and he who frequently listens to it,with concentrated attention, in a retired spot, and filled with devotion,succeeds in becoming a denizen, possessed of lunar complexion, of thespacious island known by the name of White Island. Without doubt, such aman succeeds in entering into Narayana of a thousand rays. A sick person,by listening to this narrative from the beginning, becomes freed from hisillness. The man that simply desires to read or listen to this narrativeobtains the fruition of all his wishes. To devoted worshipper, by readingor listening to it, attains to the high end that is reserved for devotedworshippers. Thou also, O monarch, shouldst always adore and worship thatforemost of all Beings. He is the father and the mother of all creatures,and He is an object of reverence with the entire universe. Let theillustrious and Eternal God of the Brahmans, viz., Janarddana of highintelligence, be gratified with thee, O Yudhishthira of mighty arms!'”
Vaisampayana continued, “Having listened to the best of narratives, OJanamejaya, king Yudhishthira the just and all his brothers becamedevoted to Narayana. And all of them, O Bharata, betaking themselves tothe practice of silently meditating upon Narayana (from that day),uttered these words for His glorification, viz., ‘Victory to that holyand illustrious Being.’ He, again, who is our best of preceptors, viz.,the Island-born Krishna, devoted to penances, sung uttering the wordNarayana that high mantra which is worthy of being recited in silence.Sojourning through the welkin to the Ocean of Milk which is always theabode of nectar, and worshipping the great God there, he came back to hisown hermitage.
“Bhishma continued, ‘1 have now repeated to thee the narrative that wasrecited by Narada (unto the conclave of Rishis assembled in the abode ofBrahman). That narrative has descended from one person to another fromvery ancient times. I heard it from my sire who formerly repeated it tome.'”
Suta continued, I have now told you all that Vaisampayana recited toJanamejaya. Having listened to Vaisampayana’s narration, king Janamejayaproperly discharged all his duties according to the ordinances laid downin the scriptures. Ye have all undergo very severe penances and observedmany high and excellent vows. Residing in this sacred forest that isknown by the name of Naimisha, ye are foremost of all persons conversantwith the Vedas. Ye foremost of regenerate ones, ye all have come to thisgreat sacrifice of Saunaka. Do ye all adore and worship that Eternal andSupreme Lord of the universe in excellent sacrifices, properly pouringlibations of clarified butter into the fire with the aid of mantras anddedicating the same unto Narayana. As regards myself, I heard thisexcellent narrative that has descended from generation to gene-ration,from my sire who recited it to me in former times.