Śrīmad Bhāgavatam|Canto 12 Chapter 4
The Four Categories of Universal Annihilation
kālas te paramāṇv-ādir
kathito yuga-mānaṁ ca
śṛṇu kalpa-layāv api
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca — Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; kālaḥ — time; te — to you; parama-aṇu — (the smallest fraction of time measured in terms of) the indivisible atom; ādiḥ — beginning with; dvi-para-ardha — the two halves of Brahmā’s total life span; avadhiḥ — culminating in; nṛpa — O King Parīkṣit; kathitaḥ — has been described; yuga-mānam — the duration of the millennia; ca — and; śṛṇu — now hear; kalpa — Brahmā’s day; layau — annihilation; api — also.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: My dear King, I have already described to you the measurements of time, beginning from the smallest fraction measured by the movement of a single atom up to the total life span of Lord Brahmā. I have also discussed the measurement of the different millennia of universal history. Now hear about the time of Brahmā’s day and the process of annihilation.
brahmaṇo dinam ucyate
sa kalpo yatra manavaś
catuḥ-yuga — four ages; sahasram — one thousand; tu — indeed; brahmaṇaḥ — of Lord Brahmā; dinam — the day; ucyate — is said; saḥ — that; kalpaḥ — a kalpa; yatra — in which; manavaḥ — original progenitors of mankind; caturdaśa — fourteen; viśām-pate — O King.
One thousand cycles of four ages constitute a single day of Brahmā, known as a kalpa. In that period, O King, fourteen Manus come and go.
tad-ante pralayas tāvān
brāhmī rātrir udāhṛtā
trayo lokā ime tatra
kalpante pralayāya hi
tat-ante — after those (thousand cycles of ages); pralayaḥ — the annihilation; tāvān — of the same duration; brāhmī — of Brahmā; rātriḥ — the nighttime; udāhṛtā — is described; trayaḥ — the three; lokāḥ — worlds; ime — these; tatra — at that time; kalpante — are prone; pralayāya — to annihilation; hi — indeed.
After one day of Brahmā, annihilation occurs during his night, which is of the same duration. At that time all the three planetary systems are subject to destruction.
eṣa naimittikaḥ proktaḥ
pralayo yatra viśva-sṛk
śete ’nantāsano viśvam
eṣaḥ — this; naimittikaḥ — occasional; proktaḥ — is said; pralayaḥ — annihilation; yatra — in which; viśva-sṛk — the creator of the universe, the Supreme Lord, Nārāyaṇa; śete — lies down; ananta-āsanaḥ — upon the snake-bed of Ananta Śeṣa; viśvam — the universe; ātma-sāt-kṛtya — absorbing within Himself; ca — also; ātma-bhūḥ — Lord Brahmā.
This is called the naimittika, or occasional, annihilation, during which the original creator, Lord Nārāyaṇa, lies down upon the bed of Ananta Śeṣa and absorbs the entire universe within Himself while Lord Brahmā sleeps.
dvi-parārdhe tv atikrānte
tadā prakṛtayaḥ sapta
kalpante pralayāya vai
dvi-parārdhe — two parārdhas; tu — and; atikrānte — when they have become completed; brahmaṇaḥ — of Lord Brahmā; parame-sthinaḥ — the most highly situated living entity; tadā — then; prakṛtayaḥ — the elements of nature; sapta — seven; kalpante — are subject; pralayāya — to destruction; vai — indeed.
When the two halves of the lifetime of Lord Brahmā, the most elevated created being, are complete, the seven basic elements of creation are annihilated.
eṣa prākṛtiko rājan
pralayo yatra līyate
aṇḍa-koṣas tu saṅghāto
eṣaḥ — this; prākṛtikaḥ — of the elements of material nature; rājan — O King Parīkṣit; pralayaḥ — the annihilation; yatra — in which; līyate — is dissolved; aṇḍa-koṣaḥ — the egg of the universe; tu — and; saṅghātaḥ — the amalgamation; vighāte — the cause of its disruption; upasādite — being encountered.
O King, upon the annihilation of the material elements, the universal egg, comprising the elemental amalgamation of creation, is confronted with destruction.
bhūmau rājan na varṣati
tadā niranne hy anyonyaṁ
kṣayaṁ yāsyanti śanakaiḥ
parjanyaḥ — the clouds; śata-varṣāṇi — for one hundred years; bhūmau — upon the earth; rājan — my dear King; na varṣati — will not give rain; tadā — then; niranne — with the coming of famine; hi — indeed; anyonyam — one another; bhakṣyamāṇāḥ — eating; kṣudhā — by hunger; arditāḥ — distressed; kṣayam — to destruction; yāsyanti — they go; śanakaiḥ — gradually; kālena — by the force of time; upadrutāḥ — confounded; prajāḥ — the people.
As annihilation approaches, O King, there will be no rain upon the earth for one hundred years. Drought will lead to famine, and the starving populace will literally consume one another. The inhabitants of the earth, bewildered by the force of time, will gradually be destroyed.
sāmudraṁ daihikaṁ bhaumaṁ
rasaṁ sāṁvartako raviḥ
raśmibhiḥ pibate ghoraiḥ
sarvaṁ naiva vimuñcati
sāmudram — of the ocean; daihikam — of living bodies; bhaumam — of the earth; rasam — the juice; sāṁvartakaḥ — annihilating; raviḥ — the sun; raśmibhiḥ — with its rays; pibate — drinks up; ghoraiḥ — which are terrible; sarvam — all; na — nothing; eva — even; vimuñcati — gives.
The sun in its annihilating form will drink up with its terrible rays all the water of the ocean, of living bodies and of the earth itself. But the devastating sun will not give any rain in return.
tataḥ saṁvartako vahniḥ
śūnyān bhū-vivarān atha
tataḥ — then; saṁvartakaḥ — of destruction; vahniḥ — the fire; saṅkarṣaṇa — of the Supreme Lord, Saṅkarṣaṇa; mukha — from the mouth; utthitaḥ — arisen; dahati — burns; anila-vega — by the force of the wind; utthaḥ — raised; śūnyān — empty; bhū — of the planets; vivarān — the crevices; atha — after that.
Next the great fire of annihilation will flare up from the mouth of Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa. Carried by the mighty force of the wind, this fire will burn throughout the universe, scorching the lifeless cosmic shell.
upary adhaḥ samantāc ca
dahyamānaṁ vibhāty aṇḍaṁ
upari — above; adhaḥ — and below; samantāt — in all directions; ca — and; śikhābhiḥ — with the flames; vahni — of the fire; sūryayoḥ — and of the sun; dahyamānam — being burned; vibhāti — glows; aṇḍam — the egg of the universe; dagdha — burned; go-maya — of cow dung; piṇḍa-vat — like a ball.
Burned from all sides — from above by the blazing sun and from below by the fire of Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa — the universal sphere will glow like a burning ball of cow dung.
varṣāṇām adhikaṁ śatam
paraḥ sāṁvartako vāti
dhūmraṁ khaṁ rajasāvṛtam
tataḥ — then; pracaṇḍa — terrible; pavanaḥ — a wind; varṣāṇām — of years; adhikam — more than; śatam — one hundred; paraḥ — great; sāmvartakaḥ — causing annihilation; vāti — blows; dhūmram — gray; kham — the sky; rajasā — with dust; āvṛtam — covered.
A great and terrible wind of destruction will begin to blow for more than one hundred years, and the sky, covered with dust, will turn gray.
tato megha-kulāny aṅga
citra varṇāny anekaśaḥ
śataṁ varṣāṇi varṣanti
tataḥ — then; megha-kulāni — the clouds; aṅga — my dear King; citra-varṇāni — of various colors; anekaśaḥ — numerous; śatam — one hundred; varṣāṇi — years; varṣanti — they pour down rain; nadanti — they thunder; rabhasa-svanaiḥ — with tremendous sounds.
After that, O King, groups of multicolored clouds will gather, roaring terribly with thunder, and will pour down floods of rain for one hundred years.
tata ekodakaṁ viśvaṁ
tataḥ — then; eka-udakam — a single body of water; viśvam — the universe; brahma-aṇḍa — of the egg of creation; vivara-antaram — within.
At that time, the shell of the universe will fill up with water, forming a single cosmic ocean.
tadā bhūmer gandha-guṇaṁ
grasanty āpa uda-plave
grasta-gandhā tu pṛthivī
tadā — then; bhūmeḥ — of the earth; gandha-guṇam — the perceptible quality of fragrance; grasanti — takes away; āpaḥ — the water; uda-plave — during the flooding; grasta-gandhā — deprived of its fragrance; tu — and; pṛthivī — the element earth; pralayatvāya kalpate — becomes unmanifest.
As the entire universe is flooded, the water will rob the earth of its unique quality of fragrance, and the element earth, deprived of its distinguishing quality, will be dissolved.
apāṁ rasam atho tejas
tā līyante ’tha nīrasāḥ
grasate tejaso rūpaṁ
vāyus tad-rahitaṁ tadā
līyate cānile tejo
vāyoḥ khaṁ grasate guṇam
sa vai viśati khaṁ rājaṁs
tataś ca nabhaso guṇam
śabdaṁ grasati bhūtādir
nabhas tam anu līyate
taijasaś cendriyāṇy aṅga
devān vaikāriko guṇaiḥ
mahān grasaty ahaṅkāraṁ
guṇāḥ sattvādayaś ca tam
grasate ’vyākṛtaṁ rājan
guṇān kālena coditam
na tasya kālāvayavaiḥ
anādy anantam avyaktaṁ
nityaṁ kāraṇam avyayam
apām — of water; rasam — the taste; atha — then; tejaḥ — fire; tāḥ — that water; līyante — dissolves; atha — after this; nīrasāḥ — deprived of its quality of taste; grasate — takes away; tejasaḥ — of fire; rūpam — the form; vāyuḥ — the air; tat-rahitam — deprived of that form; tadā — then; līyate — merges; ca — and; anile — in wind; tejaḥ — fire; vāyoḥ — of the air; kham — the ether; grasate — takes away; guṇam — the perceptible quality (touch); saḥ — that air; vai — indeed; viśati — enters; kham — the ether; rājan — O King Parīkṣit; tataḥ — thereupon; ca — and; nabhasaḥ — of the ether; guṇam — the quality; śabdam — sound; grasati — takes away; bhūta-ādiḥ — the element of false ego in the mode of ignorance; nabhaḥ — the ether; tam — into that false ego; anu — subsequently; līyate — merges; taijasaḥ — false ego in the mode of passion; ca — and; indriyāṇi — the senses; aṅga — my dear King; devān — the demigods; vaikārikaḥ — false ego in the mode of goodness; guṇaiḥ — along with the manifest functions (of false ego); mahān — the mahat-tattva; grasati — seizes; ahaṅkāram — false ego; guṇāḥ — the basic modes of nature; sattva-ādayaḥ — goodness, passion and ignorance; ca — and; tam — that mahat; grasate — seizes; avyākṛtam — the unmanifest original form of nature; rājan — O King; guṇān — the three modes; kālena — by time; coditam — impelled; na — there are not; tasya — of that unmanifest nature; kāla — of time; avayavaiḥ — by the segments; pariṇāma-ādayaḥ — transformation and the other changes of visible matter (creation, growth and so on); guṇāḥ — such qualities; anādi — without beginning; anantam — without end; avyaktam — unmanifest; nityam — eternal; kāraṇam — the cause; avyayam — infallible.
The element fire then seizes the taste from the element water, which, deprived of its unique quality, taste, merges into fire. Air seizes the form inherent in fire, and then fire, deprived of form, merges into air. The element ether seizes the quality of air, namely touch, and that air enters into ether. Then, O King, false ego in ignorance seizes sound, the quality of ether, after which ether merges into false ego. False ego in the mode of passion takes hold of the senses, and false ego in the mode of goodness absorbs the demigods. Then the total mahat-tattva seizes false ego along with its various functions, and that mahat is seized by the three basic modes of nature — goodness, passion and ignorance. My dear King Parīkṣit, these modes are further overtaken by the original unmanifest form of nature, impelled by time. That unmanifest nature is not subject to the six kinds of transformation caused by the influence of time. Rather, it has no beginning and no end. It is the unmanifest, eternal and infallible cause of creation.
na yatra vāco na mano na sattvaṁ
tamo rajo vā mahad-ādayo ’mī
na prāṇa-buddhīndriya-devatā vā
na sanniveśaḥ khalu loka-kalpaḥ
na svapna-jāgran na ca tat suṣuptaṁ
na khaṁ jalaṁ bhūr anilo ’gnir arkaḥ
saṁsupta-vac chūnya-vad apratarkyaṁ
tan mūla-bhūtaṁ padam āmananti
na — not; yatra — wherein; vācaḥ — speech; na — not; manaḥ — the mind; na — not; sattvam — the mode of goodness; tamaḥ — the mode of ignorance; rajaḥ — the mode of passion; vā — or; mahat — the mahat-tattva; ādayaḥ — and so on; amī — these elements; na — not; prāṇa — the vital air; buddhi — intelligence; indriya — the senses; devatāḥ — and the controlling demigods; vā — or; na — not; sanniveśaḥ — the particular construction; khalu — indeed; loka-kalpaḥ — of the arrangement of the planetary systems; na — not; svapna — sleep; jāgrat — waking condition; na — not; ca — and; tat — that; suṣuptam — deep sleep; na — not; kham — ether; jalam — water; bhūḥ — earth; anilaḥ — air; agniḥ — fire; arkaḥ — the sun; saṁsupta-vat — like one who is fast asleep; śūnya-vat — like a void; apratarkyam — inaccessible to logic; tat — that pradhāna; mūla-bhūtam — serving as the basis; padam — the substance; āmananti — great authorities say.
In the unmanifest stage of material nature, called pradhāna, there is no expression of words, no mind and no manifestation of the subtle elements beginning from the mahat, nor are there the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. There is no life air or intelligence, nor any senses or demigods. There is no definite arrangement of planetary systems, nor are there present the different stages of consciousness — sleep, wakefulness and deep sleep. There is no ether, water, earth, air, fire or sun. The situation is just like that of complete sleep, or of voidness. Indeed, it is indescribable. Authorities in spiritual science explain, however, that since pradhāna is the original substance, it is the actual basis of material creation.
layaḥ prākṛtiko hy eṣa
layaḥ — the annihilation; prākṛtikaḥ — of the material elements; hi — indeed; eṣaḥ — this; puruṣa — of the Supreme Lord; avyaktayoḥ — and of His material nature in its unmanifest form; yadā — when; śaktayaḥ — the energies; sampralīyante — merge totally; vivaśāḥ — helpless; kāla — by time; vidrutāḥ — disarrayed.
This is the annihilation called prākṛtika, during which the energies belonging to the Supreme Person and His unmanifest material nature, disassembled by the force of time, are deprived of their potencies and merge together totally.
jñānaṁ bhāti tad-āśrayam
ādy-antavad avastu yat
buddhi — of intelligence; indriya — the senses; artha — and the objects of perception; rūpeṇa — in the form; jñānam — the Absolute Truth; bhāti — manifests; tat — of these elements; āśrayam — the basis; dṛśyatva — because of being perceived; avyatirekābhyām — and because of being nondifferent from its own cause; ādi-anta-vat — which has a beginning and an end; avastu — is insubstantial; yat — whatever.
It is the Absolute Truth alone who manifests in the forms of intelligence, the senses and the objects of sense perception, and who is their ultimate basis. Whatever has a beginning and an end is insubstantial because of being an object perceived by limited senses and because of being nondifferent from its own cause.
dīpaś cakṣuś ca rūpaṁ ca
jyotiṣo na pṛthag bhavet
evaṁ dhīḥ khāni mātrāś ca
na syur anyatamād ṛtāt
dīpaḥ — a lamp; cakṣuḥ — a perceiving eye; ca — and; rūpam — a perceived form; ca — and; jyotiṣaḥ — from the original element fire; na — not; pṛthak — distinct; bhavet — are; evam — in the same way; dhīḥ — intelligence; khāni — the senses; mātrāḥ — the perceptions; ca — and; na syuḥ — they are not; anyatamāt — which is itself completely distinct; ṛtāt — from the reality.
A lamp, the eye that views by the light of that lamp, and the visible form that is viewed are all basically nondifferent from the element fire. In the same way, intelligence, the senses and sense perceptions have no existence separate from the supreme reality, although that Absolute Truth remains totally distinct from them.
buddher jāgaraṇaṁ svapnaḥ
suṣuptir iti cocyate
māyā-mātram idaṁ rājan
buddheḥ — of intelligence; jāgaraṇam — waking consciousness; svapnaḥ — sleep; suṣuptiḥ — deep sleep; iti — thus; ca — and; ucyate — are called; māyā-mātram — merely illusion; idam — this; rājan — O King; nānātvam — the duality; pratyak-ātmani — experienced by the pure soul.
The three states of intelligence are called waking consciousness, sleep and deep sleep. But, my dear King, the variegated experiences created for the pure living entity by these different states are nothing more than illusion.
yathā jala-dharā vyomni
bhavanti na bhavanti ca
brahmaṇīdaṁ tathā viśvam
yathā — just as; jala-dharāḥ — the clouds; vyomni — in the sky; bhavanti — are; na bhavanti — are not; ca — and; brahmaṇi — within the Absolute Truth; idam — this; tathā — similarly; viśvam — universe; avayavi — having parts; udaya — because of generation; apyayāt — and dissolution.
Just as clouds in the sky come into being and are then dispersed by the amalgamation and dissolution of their constituent elements, this material universe is created and destroyed within the Absolute Truth by the amalgamation and dissolution of its elemental, constituent parts.
satyaṁ hy avayavaḥ proktaḥ
satyam — real; hi — because; avayavaḥ — the ingredient cause; proktaḥ — is said to be; sarva-avayavinām — of all constituted entities; iha — in this created world; vinā — apart from; arthena — their manifest product; pratīyeran — they can be perceived; paṭasya — of a cloth; iva — as; aṅga — my dear King; tantavaḥ — the threads.
My dear King, it is stated [in the Vedānta-sūtra] that the ingredient cause that constitutes any manifested product in this universe can be perceived as a separate reality, just as the threads that make up a cloth can be perceived separately from their product.
upalabhyeta sa bhramaḥ
ādy-antavad avastu yat
yat — whatever; sāmānya — in terms of general cause; viśeṣābhyām — and specific product; upalabhyeta — is experienced; saḥ — that; bhramaḥ — is illusion; anyonya — mutual; apāśrayāt — because of dependence; sarvam — everything; ādi-anta-vat — subject to beginning and end; avastu — unreal; yat — which.
Anything experienced in terms of general cause and specific effect must be an illusion, because such causes and effects exist only relative to each other. Indeed, whatever has a beginning and an end is unreal.
vikāraḥ khyāyamāno ’pi
na nirūpyo ’sty aṇur api
syāc cec cit-sama ātma-vat
vikāraḥ — the transformation of created existence; khyāyamānaḥ — appearing; api — although; pratyak-ātmānam — the Supreme Soul; antarā — without; na — not; nirūpyaḥ — conceivable; asti — is; aṇuḥ — a single atom; api — even; syāt — it is so; cet — if; cit-samaḥ — equally spirit; ātma-vat — remaining as it is, without change.
Although perceived, the transformation of even a single atom of material nature has no ultimate definition without reference to the Supreme Soul. To be accepted as factually existing, something must possess the same quality as pure spirit — eternal, unchanging existence.
na hi satyasya nānātvam
avidvān yadi manyate
nānātvaṁ chidrayor yadvaj
jyotiṣor vātayor iva
na — there is no; hi — indeed; satyasya — of the Absolute Truth; nānātvam — duality; avidvān — a person not in true knowledge; yadi — if; manyate — he thinks; nānātvam — the duality; chidrayoḥ — of the two skies; yadvat — just as; jyotiṣoḥ — of the two celestial lights; vātayoḥ — of the two winds; iva — as.
There is no material duality in the Absolute Truth. The duality perceived by an ignorant person is like the difference between the sky contained in an empty pot and the sky outside the pot, or the difference between the reflection of the sun in water and the sun itself in the sky, or the difference between the vital air within one living body and that within another body.
yathā hiraṇyaṁ bahudhā samīyate
nṛbhiḥ kriyābhir vyavahāra-vartmasu
evaṁ vacobhir bhagavān adhokṣajo
vyākhyāyate laukika-vaidikair janaiḥ
yathā — just as; hiraṇyam — gold; bahudhā — in many forms; samīyate — appears; nṛbhiḥ — to men; kriyābhiḥ — in terms of different functions; vyavahāra-vartmasu — in ordinary usage; evam — similarly; vacobhiḥ — in varying terms; bhagavān — the Personality of Godhead; adhokṣajaḥ — the transcendental Lord, who is inconceivable to material senses; vyākhyāyate — is described; laukika — mundane; vaidikaiḥ — and Vedic; janaiḥ — by men.
According to their different purposes, men utilize gold in various ways, and gold is therefore perceived in various forms. In the same way, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is inaccessible to material senses, is described in various terms, both ordinary and Vedic, by different types of men.
yathā ghano ’rka-prabhavo ’rka-darśito
hy arkāṁśa-bhūtasya ca cakṣuṣas tamaḥ
evaṁ tv ahaṁ brahma-guṇas tad-īkṣito
yathā — as; ghanaḥ — a cloud; arka — of the sun; prabhavaḥ — the product; arka — by the sun; darśitaḥ — made visible; hi — indeed; arka — of the sun; aṁśa-bhūtasya — which is the partial expansion; ca — and; cakṣuṣaḥ — of the eye; tamaḥ — darkness; evam — in the same way; tu — indeed; aham — false ego; brahma-guṇaḥ — a quality of the Absolute Truth; tat-īkṣitaḥ — visible through the agency of that Absolute Truth; brahma-aṁśakasya — of the partial expansion of the Absolute Truth; ātmanaḥ — of the jīva soul; ātma-bandhanaḥ — serving to obstruct perception of the Supreme Soul.
Although a cloud is a product of the sun and is also made visible by the sun, it nevertheless creates darkness for the viewing eye, which is another partial expansion of the sun. Similarly, material false ego, a particular product of the Absolute Truth made visible by the Absolute Truth, obstructs the individual soul, another partial expansion of the Absolute Truth, from realizing the Absolute Truth.
ghano yadārka-prabhavo vidīryate
cakṣuḥ svarūpaṁ ravim īkṣate tadā
yadā hy ahaṅkāra upādhir ātmano
jijñāsayā naśyati tarhy anusmaret
ghanaḥ — the cloud; yadā — when; arka-prabhavaḥ — the product of the sun; vidīryate — is torn apart; cakṣuḥ — the eye; svarūpam — in its real form; ravim — the sun; īkṣate — sees; tadā — then; yadā — when; hi — indeed also; ahaṅkāraḥ — false ego; upādhiḥ — the superficial covering; ātmanaḥ — of the spirit soul; jijñāsayā — by spiritual inquiry; naśyati — is destroyed; tarhi — at that time; anusmaret — one gains his proper remembrance.
When the cloud originally produced from the sun is torn apart, the eye can see the actual form of the sun. Similarly, when the spirit soul destroys his material covering of false ego by inquiring into the transcendental science, he regains his original spiritual awareness.
yadaivam etena viveka-hetinā
tam āhur ātyantikam aṅga samplavam
yadā — when; evam — in this way; etena — by this; viveka — of discrimination; hetinā — sword; māyā-maya — illusory; ahaṅkaraṇa — false ego; ātma — of the soul; bandhanam — the cause of bondage; chittvā — cutting off; acyuta — of the infallible; ātma — Supreme Soul; anubhavaḥ — realization; avatiṣṭhate — develops firmly; tam — that; āhuḥ — they call; ātyantikam — ultimate; aṅga — my dear King; samplavam — annihilation.
My dear Parīkṣit, when the illusory false ego that binds the soul has been cut off with the sword of discriminating knowledge and one has developed realization of Lord Acyuta, the Supreme Soul, this is called the ātyantika, or ultimate, annihilation of material existence.
nityadā — constantly; sarva-bhūtānām — of all created beings; brahma-ādīnām — beginning with Lord Brahmā; param-tapa — O subduer of the enemies; utpatti — creation; pralayau — and annihilation; eke — some; sūkṣma-jñāḥ — expert knowers of subtle things; sampracakṣate — declare.
Experts in the subtle workings of nature, O subduer of the enemy, have declared that there are continuous processes of creation and annihilation that all created beings, beginning with Brahmā, constantly undergo.
pariṇāminām avasthās tā
kāla — of time; srotaḥ — of the mighty current; javena — by the force; āśu — rapidly; hriyamāṇasya — of that which is being taken away; nityadā — constantly; pariṇāminām — of things subject to transformation; avasthāḥ — the various conditions; tāḥ — they; janma — of birth; pralaya — and annihilation; hetavaḥ — the causes.
All material entities undergo transformation and are constantly and swiftly eroded by the mighty currents of time. The various stages of existence that material things exhibit are the perpetual causes of their generation and annihilation.
avasthā naiva dṛśyante
viyati jyotiṣām iva
anādi-anta-vatā — without beginning or end; anena — by this; kālena — time; īśvara — of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; mūrtinā — the representation; avasthāḥ — the different stages; na — not; eva — indeed; dṛśyante — are seen; viyati — in outer space; jyotiṣām — of the moving planets; iva — just as.
These stages of existence created by beginningless and endless time, the impersonal representative of the Supreme Lord, are not visible, just as the infinitesimal momentary changes of position of the planets in the sky cannot be directly seen.
nityo naimittikaś caiva
tathā prākṛtiko layaḥ
ātyantikaś ca kathitaḥ
kālasya gatir īdṛśī
nityaḥ — continuous; naimittikaḥ — occasional; ca — and; eva — indeed; tathā — also; prākṛtikaḥ — natural; layaḥ — annihilation; ātyantikaḥ — final; ca — and; kathitaḥ — are described; kālasya — of time; gatiḥ — the progress; īdṛśī — like this.
In this way the progress of time is described in terms of the four kinds of annihilation — continuous, occasional, elemental and final.
etāḥ kuru-śreṣṭha jagad-vidhātur
līlā-kathās te kathitāḥ samāsataḥ
kārtsnyena nājo ’py abhidhātum īśaḥ
etāḥ — these; kuru-śreṣṭha — O best of the Kurus; jagat-vidhātuḥ — of the creator of the universe; nārāyaṇasya — of Lord Nārāyaṇa; akhila-sattva-dhāmnaḥ — the reservoir of all existences; līlā-kathāḥ — the pastime narrations; te — to you; kathitāḥ — have been related; samāsataḥ — in summary; kārtsnyena — entirely; na — not; ajaḥ — unborn Brahmā; api — even; abhidhātum — to enumerate; īśaḥ — is capable.
O best of the Kurus, I have related to you these narrations of the pastimes of Lord Nārāyaṇa, the creator of this world and the ultimate reservoir of all existence, presenting them to you only in brief summary. Even Lord Brahmā himself would be incapable of describing them entirely.
saṁsāra-sindhum ati-dustaram uttitīrṣor
nānyaḥ plavo bhagavataḥ puruṣottamasya
puṁso bhaved vividha-duḥkha-davārditasya
saṁsāra — of material existence; sindhum — the ocean; ati-dustaram — impossible to cross; uttitīrṣoḥ — for one who desires to cross; na — there is not; anyaḥ — any other; plavaḥ — boat; bhagavataḥ — of the Personality of Godhead; puruṣa-uttamasya — the Supreme Lord; līlā-kathā — of the narrations of the pastimes; rasa — to the transcendental taste; niṣevaṇam — the rendering of service; antareṇa — apart from; puṁsaḥ — for a person; bhavet — there can be; vividha — various; duḥkha — of material miseries; dava — by the fire; arditasya — who is distressed.
For a person who is suffering in the fire of countless miseries and who desires to cross the insurmountable ocean of material existence, there is no suitable boat except that of cultivating devotion to the transcendental taste for the narrations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s pastimes.
ṛṣir nārāyaṇo ’vyayaḥ
nāradāya purā prāha
purāṇa — of all the Purāṇas; saṁhitām — the essential compendium; etām — this; ṛṣiḥ — the great sage; nārāyaṇaḥ — Lord Nara-Nārāyaṇa; avyayaḥ — the infallible; nāradāya — to Nārada Muni; purā — previously; prāha — spoke; kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyanāya — to Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Vedavyāsa; saḥ — he, Nārada.
Long ago this essential anthology of all the Purāṇas was spoken by the infallible Lord Nara-Nārāyaṇa Ṛṣi to Nārada, who then repeated it to Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Vedavyāsa.
sa vai mahyaṁ mahā-rāja
imāṁ bhāgavatīṁ prītaḥ
saḥ — he; vai — indeed; mahyam — to me, Śukadeva Gosvāmī; mahārāja — O King Parīkṣit; bhagavān — the powerful incarnation of the Supreme Lord; bādarāyaṇaḥ — Śrīla Vyāsadeva; imām — this; bhāgavatīm — Bhāgavata scripture; prītaḥ — being satisfied; saṁhitām — the anthology; veda-sammitām — equal in status to the four Vedas.
My dear Mahārāja Parīkṣit, that great personality Śrīla Vyāsadeva taught me this same scripture, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which is equal in stature to the four Vedas.
imāṁ vakṣyaty asau sūta
imām — this; vakṣyati — will speak; asau — present before us; sūtaḥ — Sūta Gosvāmī; ṛṣibhyaḥ — to the sages; naimiṣa-ālaye — in the forest of Naimiṣa; dīrgha-satre — at the lengthy sacrificial performance; kuru-śreṣṭha — O best of the Kurus; sampṛṣṭaḥ — questioned; śaunaka-ādibhiḥ — by the assembly led by Śaunaka.
O best of the Kurus, the same Sūta Gosvāmī who is sitting before us will speak this Bhāgavatam to the sages assembled in the great sacrifice at Naimiṣāraṇya. This he will do when questioned by the members of the assembly, headed by Śaunaka.