Janamejaya said, ‘I have heard from thee the glory of the divine andSupreme Soul. I have heard also of the birth of the Supreme Deity in thehouse of Dharma, in the form of Nara and Narayana. I have also heard fromthee the origin of the Pinda from the mighty Baraha (Boar) (which formthe supreme Deity had assumed for raising by the submerged Earth). I haveheard from thee about those deities and Rishis that were ordained for thereligion of Pravritti and of those that were ordained for the religion ofNivritti. Thou hast also, O regenerate one, discoursed to us on othertopics. Thou hast said also unto us of that vast form, with the Equinehead, of Vishnu, that partaker of the libations and other offerings madein sacrifices,–.the form, viz., that appeared in the great ocean on theNorth-East. That form was beheld by the illustrious Brahman, otherwiseknown by the name of Parameshthi. What, however, were the exact features,and what the energy, the like of which among all great objects, had neverappeared before, of that form which Hari, the upholder of the universe,displayed on that occasion? What did Brahman do, O ascetic, after havingseen that foremost of deities, him whose likeness had never been seenbefore, him who was of immeasurable energy, him who had the Equine head,and him who was Sacredness itself? O regenerate one, this doubt hatharisen in our mind about this ancient subject of knowledge. O thou offoremost intelligence, for what reason did he supreme Deity assume thatform and display himself in it unto Brahman? Thou hast certainlysanctified us by discoursing unto us on these diverse sacredsubjects!'
Sauti said, I shall recite to thee that ancient history, which isperfectly consistent with the Vedas, and which the illustriousVaisampayana recited unto the son of Parikshit on the occasion of thegreat Snake-sacrifice. Having heard the account of the mighty form ofVishnu, equipt with the horse-head, the royal son of Parikshit too hadentertained the same doubt and put the same questions to Vaisampayana.
Janamejaya said, “Tell me, O best of men, for what reason did Hari appearin that mighty form equipt with a horse-head and which Brahma, theCreator, beheld on the shores of the great northern Ocean on the occasionreferred to by yourself?”
Vaisampayana said, “All existent objects, O king, in this world, are theresult of a combination of the five primal elements, a combination due tothe intelligence of the Supreme Lord. The puissant Narayana, endued withinfinity, is the supreme Lord and Creator of the universe. He is theinner Soul of all things, and the giver of boons. Divested of attributes,he is again possessed of them. Listen now, O best of kings, to me as Inarrate to thee how the Destruction is brought about of all things. Atfirst, the element of Earth becomes merged in Water and nothing then isseen save one vast expanse of Water on all sides. Water then merges intoHeat, and Heat into Wind. Wind then merges into Space, which in its turn,merges into Mind. Mind merges into the Manifest (otherwise calledConsciousness or Ego). The Manifest merges into the Unmanifest (orPrakriti). The Unmanifest (or Prakriti) merges into Purusha (Jivatman)and Purusha merges into the Supreme Soul (or Brahman). Then Darknessspreads over the face of the universe, and nothing can be perceived. Fromthat primal Darkness arises Brahma (endued with the principle ofCreation). Darkness is primeval and fraught with immortality. Brahma thatarises from primeval Darkness develops (by its own potency) into the ideaof the universe, and assumes the form of Purusha. Such Purusha is calledAniruddha. Divested of sex, it is called otherwise by the name ofPradhana (Supreme or Primary). That is also known by the name ofManifest, or the combination of the triple attribute, O best of kings. Heexists with Knowledge alone for his companion. That illustrious andpuissant Being is otherwise called by the name of Viswaksena or Hari.Yielding to Yoga-sleep, he lays himself down on the waters. He thenthinks of the Creation of the Universe of diversified phenomena andfraught with immeasurable attributes. While engaged in thinking ofCreation, he recollects his own high attributes. From this springs thefour-faced Brahma representing the Consciousness of Anirudha. Theillustrious Brahma, otherwise called Hiranyagarbha, is the Grandsire ofall the worlds. Endued with eyes like lotus petals, he takes birth withinthe Lotus that springs from (the navel of) Anirudha. Seated on thatLotus, the illustrious, puissant, and eternal Brahma of wonderful aspectsaw that the waters were on all sides. Adopting the attribute of SattwaBrahma, otherwise called Parameshthi, then commenced to create theuniverse. In the primeval Lotus that was endued with the effulgence ofthe Sun, two drops of water had been cast by Narayana that were fraughtwith great merit. The illustrious Narayana, without beginning and withoutend, and transcending destruction, cast his eyes on those two drops ofwater. One of those two drops of water, of very beautiful and brightform, looked like a drop of honey. From that drop sprang, at the commandof Narayana, a Daitya of the name of Madhu made up of the attribute ofTamas (Dullness). The other drop of water within the Lotus was very hard.From it sprang the Daitya Kaitabha made up of the attribute of Rajas.Endued thus with the attributes of Tamas and Rajas, the two Daityaspossessed of might and armed with maces, immediately after their birth,began to rove within that vast primeval Lotus. They beheld within itBrahma of immeasurable effulgence, engaged in creating the four Vedas,each endued with the most delightful form. Those two foremost of Asuras,possessed of bodies, beholding the four Vedas, suddenly seized them inthe very sight of their Creator. The two mighty Danavas, having seizedthe eternal Vedas, quickly dived into the ocean of waters which they sawand proceeded to its bottom. Seeing the Vedas forcibly taken away fromhim, Brahma became filled with grief. Robbed of the Vedas in this way,Brahma then addressed the Supreme Lord in these words.
“Brahma said, ‘The Vedas are my great eyes. The Vedas are my greatstrength. The Vedas are my great refuge. The Vedas are my high Brahman.All the Vedas, however, have been forcibly taken away from me by the twoDanavas. Deprived of the Vedas, the worlds I have created have becomeenveloped in darkness. Without the Vedas (beside me), how shall I succeedin causing my excellent Creation to start into existence? Alas, great isthe grief I suffer in consequence of the loss of the Vedas (through suchagency). My heart is very much pained. It has become the abode of a greatsorrow. Who is there that will rescue me from this ocean of grief inwhich I am sunk for the loss I have endured? Who is there that will bringme the Vedas I have lost? Who is there that will take compassion onme?–While Brahma was uttering these words, O best of kings, theresolution suddenly arose in his mind, O foremost of intelligent persons,for hymning the praises of Hari in these words. The puissant Brahma then,with hands joined in reverence, and seizing the feet of his progenitor,sang this highest of hymns in honour of Narayana.'”
“Brahma said, ‘I bow to thee, O heart of Brahman. I bow to thee that hastbeen born before me. Thou art the origin of the universe. Thou art theforemost of all abodes. Thou, O puissant one, art the ocean of Yoga withall its branches. Thou art the Creator of both what is Manifest and whatis Unmanifest. Thou treadest along the path whose auspiciousness is ofinconceivable extent. Thou art the consumer of the universe. Thou art theAntaralock (Inner Soul) of all creatures. Thou art without any origin.Thou art the refuge of the universe. Thou art self-born; for origin thouhest none that is not thyself. As regards myself, I have sprung throughthy Grace. From thee have I derived my birth. My first birth from thee,which is regarded sacred by all regenerate persons, was due to a fiat ofthy Mind. My second birth in days of yore was from thy eyes. Through thyGrace, my third birth was from thy speech. My fourth birth. O puissantLord, was from thy ears. My fifth birth, excellent in all respects, wasfrom thy nose. O Lord, My sixth birth was, through thee, from an egg.This is my seventh birth. It has occurred, O Lord, within this Lotus, andit is meant to stimulate the intellect and desires of all the beings. Ateach Creation I take birth from thee as thy son, O thou that art divestedof the three attributes. Indeed, O lotus-eyed one, I take birth as thyeldest son, made up of Sattwa the foremost of three attributes. Thou artendued with that nature which is Supreme. Thou springest from thyself. Ihave been created by thee. The Vedas are my eyes. Hence, I transcend Timeitself. Those Vedas, which constitute my eyes, have been taken away fromme. I have, therefore, become blind. Do Thou awake from this Yoga-sleep.Give me back my eyes. I am dear to thee and thou art dear to me. Thuspraised by Brahma, the illustrious Purusha, with face turned towardsevery side, then shook off his slumber, resolved to recover the Vedas(from the Daityas that had forcibly snatched them away). Applying hisYoga-puissance, he assumed a second form. His body, equipt with anexcellent nose, became as bright as the Moon. He assumed an equine headof great effulgence, which was the abode of the Vedas. The firmament,with all its luminaries and constellations, became the crown of his head.His locks of hair were long and flowing, and had the splendour of therays of the Sun. The regions above and below became his two ears. TheEarth became his forehead. The two rivers Ganga and Saraswati became histwo hips. The two oceans became his two eye-brows. The Sun and the Moonbecame his two eyes. The twilight became his nose. The syllable Om becamehis memory and intelligence. The lightning became his tongue. TheSoma-drinking Pitris became, it is said, his teeth. The two regions offelicity, viz., Goloka and Brahmaloka, became his upper and lower lips.The terrible night that succeeds universal destruction, and thattranscends the three attributes, became his neck. Having assumed thisform endued with the equine head and having diverse things for itsdiverse limbs, the Lord of the universe disappeared then and there, andproceeded to the nether regions. Having reached those regions, he sethimself to high Yoga. Adopting a voice regulated by the rules of thescience called Siksha, he began to utter loudly Vedic Mantras. Hispronunciation was distinct and reverberated through the air, and wassweet in every respect. The sound of his voice filled the nether regionfrom end to end. Endued with the properties of all the elements, it wasproductive of great benefits. The two Asuras, making an appointment withthe Vedas in respect of the time when they would come back to take themup again, threw them down in the nether region, and ran towards the spotwhence those sounds appeared to come. Meanwhile, O king, the Supreme Lordwith the equine head, otherwise called Hari, who was himself in thenether region, took up all the Vedas. Returning to where Brahma wasstaying, he gave the Vedas unto him. Having restored the Vedas untoBrahma, the Supreme Lord once more returned to his own nature. TheSupreme Lord also established his form with the equine head in theNorth-Eastern region of the great ocean. Having (in this way) establishedhim who was the abode of the Vedas, he once more became the equine-headedform that he was. The two Danavas Madhu and Kaitabha, not findingthe person from whom those sounds proceeded, quickly came back to thatspot. They cast their eyes around but beheld that the spot on which theyhad thrown the Vedas was empty. Those two foremost of mighty Beings,adopting great speed of motion, rose from the nether region. Returning towhere the primeval Lotus was that had given them birth, they saw thepuissant Being, the original Creator, staying in the form of Aniruddha offair complexion and endued with a splendour resembling that of the Moon.Of immeasurable prowess, he was under the influence of Yoga-sleep, hisbody stretched on the waters and occupying a space as vast as itself.Possessed of great effulgence and endued with the attribute of stainlessSattwa, the body of the Supreme Lord lay on the excellent hood of a snakethat seemed to emit flames of fire for the resplendence attaching to it.Beholding the Lord thus lying, the two foremost of Danavas roared out aloud laugh. Endued with the attributes of Rajas and Tamas, theysaid.–‘This is that Being of white complexion. He is now lying asleep.Without doubt, this one has brought the Vedas away from the netherregion. Whose is he? Whose is he? Who is he? Why is he thus asleep on thehood of a snake: Uttering these words, the two Danavas awakened Hari fromhis Yoga-slumber. The foremost of Beings, (viz., Narayana), thusawakened, understood that the two Danavas intended to have an encounterwith him in battle. Beholding the two foremost of Asuras prepared to dobattle with him, he also set his mind to gratify that desire of theirs.Thereupon an encounter took place between those two on one side andNarayana on the other. The Asuras Madhu and Kaitabha were embodiments ofthe attributes of Rajas and Tamas. Narayana slew them both for gratifyingBrahma. He thence came to be called by the name of Madhusudana (slayer ofMadhu). Having compassed the destruction of the two Asuras and restoredthe Vedas to Brahma, the Supreme Being dispelled the grief of Brahma.Aided then by Hari and assisted by the Vedas, Brahma created all theworlds with their mobile and immobile creatures. After this, Hari,granting unto the Grandsire intelligence of the foremost order relatingto the Creation, disappeared there and then for going to the place he hadcome from. It was thus that Narayana, having assumed the form equipt withthe horse-head, slew the two Danavas Madhu and Kaitabha (and disappearedfrom the sight of Brahma). Once more, however, he assumed the same formfor the sake of causing the religion of Pravritti to flow in theuniverse.’
“Thus did the blessed Hari assume in days of old that grand form havingthe equine head. This, of all his forms, endued with puissance, iscelebrated as the most ancient. That person who frequently listens ormentally recites this history of the assumption by Narayana of the formequipt with the equine head, will never forget his Vedic or other lore.Having adored with the austerest penances the illustrious deity with theequine head, the Rishi Panchala (otherwise known as Galava) acquired thescience of Krama by proceeding along the path pointed out by the deity(Rudra). I have thus recited to thee, O king the old story ofHayasiras, consistent with the Vedas about which thou hadst asked me.Whatever forms, the Supreme Deity desires to assume with a view toordaining the various affairs of the universe, he assumes those formsimmediately within himself by exercise of his own inherent powers. TheSupreme Deity, endued with every prosperity, is the receptacle of theVedas. He is the receptacle of Penances also. The puissant Hari is Yoga.He is the embodiment of the Sankhya philosophy. He is that Para Brahmanof which we hear. Truth has Narayana for its refuge. Rita has Narayanafor its soul. The religion of Nivritti, in which there is no return, hasNarayana for its high abode. The other religion which has Pravritti forits basis, has equally Narayana for its soul. The foremost of all theattributes that belong to the element of Earth is scent. Scent hasNarayana for its soul. The attributes of Water, O king, are called theTastes (of the various kinds). These Tastes have Narayana for their soul.The foremost attribute of Light is form. Form also has Narayana for itssoul. Touch, which is the attribute of Wind, is also said to haveNarayana for its soul. Sound, which is an attribute of space, has likethe others, Narayana for its soul. Mind also, which is the attribute ofthe unmanifest (Prakriti), has Narayana for its soul. Time which iscomputed by the motion of the celestial luminaries has similarly Narayanafor its soul. The presiding deities of Fame, of Beauty, and of Prosperityhave the same Supreme Deity for their soul. Both the Sankhya philosophyand Yoga have Narayana for their soul. The Supreme Being is the cause ofall this, as Purusha. He is, again the cause of everything, as Pradhana(or Prakriti). He is Swabhaba (the basis on which all things rest). He isthe doer or agent, and is the cause of that variety that is witnessed inthe universe. He is the diverse kinds of energy that act in the universe.In these five ways he is that all-controlling invisible influence ofwhich people speak. Those employed in investigating the several topics ofenquiry with the aid of such reasons as are of wide application, regardHari to be identical with the five reasons adverted to above and as thefinal refuge of all things. Indeed, the puissant Narayana, endued withthe highest Yoga puissance, is the one topic (of enquiry). The thoughtsof the denizen of all the worlds including Brahma and the high-souledRishis, of those that are Sankhyas and Yogins, of those that are Yatis,and of those, generally, that are conversant with the Soul are fullyknown to Kesava, but none of these can know what is thoughts are.Whatever acts are performed in honour of the gods or the Pitris, whatevergifts are made, whatever penances are performed, have Vishnu for theirrefuge,–who is established upon his own supreme ordinances. He is namedVasudeva because of his being the abode of all creatures. He isimmutable. He, is Supreme. He is the foremost of Rishis. He is enduedwith the highest puissance. He is said to transcend the three attributes.As Time (which runs smoothly without any sign) assumes indications whenit manifests itself in the form of successive seasons, even so He, thoughreally divested of attributes (for manifesting Himself). Even they thatare high-souled do not succeed in understanding his motions. Only thoseforemost of Rishis that have knowledge of their Souls, succeed inbeholding in their hearts that Purusha who transcends all attributes.”