Śrīmad Bhāgavatam|Canto 12 Chapter 7
The Purāṇic Literatures
atharva-vit sumantuś ca
śiṣyam adhyāpayat svakām
saṁhitāṁ so ’pi pathyāya
sūtaḥ uvāca — Sūta Gosvāmī said; atharva-vit — the expert knower of the Atharva Veda; sumantuḥ — Sumantu; ca — and; śiṣyam — to his disciple; adhyāpayat — instructed; svakām — his own; saṁhitām — collection; saḥ — he, the disciple of Sumantu; api — also; pathyāya — to Pathya; vedadarśāya — to Vedadarśa; ca — and; uktavān — spoke.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Sumantu Ṛṣi, the authority on the Atharva Veda, taught his saṁhitā to his disciple Kabandha, who in turn spoke it to Pathya and Vedadarśa.
vedadarśasya śiṣyās te
pathya-śiṣyān atho śṛṇu
kumudaḥ śunako brahman
jājaliś cāpy atharva-vit
śauklāyaniḥ brahmabaliḥ — Śauklāyani and Brahmabali; modoṣaḥ pippalāyaniḥ — Modoṣa and Pippalāyani; vedadarśasya — of Vedadarśa; śiṣyāḥ — the disciples; te — they; pathya-śiṣyān — the disciples of Pathya; atho — furthermore; śṛṇu — please hear; kumudaḥ śunakaḥ — Kumuda and Śunaka; brahman — O brāhmaṇa, Śaunaka; jājaliḥ — Jājali; ca — and; api — also; atharva-vit — full in knowledge of the Atharva Veda.
Śauklāyani, Brahmabali, Modoṣa and Pippalāyani were disciples of Vedadarśa. Hear from me also the names of the disciples of Pathya. My dear brāhmaṇa, they are Kumuda, Śunaka and Jājali, all of whom knew the Atharva Veda very well.
babhruḥ śiṣyo ’thāṅgirasaḥ
saindhavāyana eva ca
adhīyetāṁ saṁhite dve
babhruḥ — Babhru; śiṣyaḥ — the disciple; atha — then; aṅgirasaḥ — of Śunaka (also known as Aṅgirā); saindhavāyanaḥ — Saindhavāyana; eva — indeed; ca — also; adhīyetām — they learned; saṁhite — collections; dve — two; sāvarṇa — Sāvarṇa; ādyāḥ — headed by; tathā — similarly; apare — other disciples.
Babhru and Saindhavāyana, disciples of Śunaka, studied the two divisions of their spiritual master’s compilation of the Atharva Veda. Saindhavāyana’s disciple Sāvarṇa and disciples of other great sages also studied this edition of the Atharva Veda.
nakṣatrakalpaḥ śāntiś ca
śṛṇu paurāṇikān mune
nakṣatrakalpaḥ — Nakṣatrakalpa; śāntiḥ — Śāntikalpa; ca — also; kaśyapa-āṅgirasa-ādayaḥ — Kaśyapa, Āṅgirasa and others; ete — these; ātharvaṇa-ācāryāḥ — spiritual masters of the Atharva Veda; śṛṇu — now hear; paurāṇikān — the authorities of the Purāṇas; mune — O sage, Śaunaka.
Nakṣatrakalpa, Śāntikalpa, Kaśyapa, Āṅgirasa and others were also among the ācāryas of the Atharva Veda. Now, O sage, listen as I name the authorities on Purāṇic literature.
trayyāruṇiḥ kaśyapaś ca
ṣaḍ vai paurāṇikā ime
trayyāruṇiḥ kaśyapaḥ ca — Trayyāruṇi and Kaśyapa; sāvarṇiḥ akṛta-vraṇaḥ — Sāvarṇi and Akṛtavraṇa; vaiśampāyana-hārītau — Vaiśampāyana and Hārīta; ṣaṭ — six; vai — indeed; paurāṇikāḥ — spiritual masters of the Purāṇas; ime — these.
Trayyāruṇi, Kaśyapa, Sāvarṇi, Akṛtavraṇa, Vaiśampāyana and Hārīta are the six masters of the Purāṇas.
saṁhitāṁ mat-pitur mukhāt
ekaikām aham eteṣāṁ
śiṣyaḥ sarvāḥ samadhyagām
adhīyanta — they have learned; vyāsa-śiṣyāt — from the disciple of Vyāsadeva (Romaharṣaṇa); saṁhitām — the collection of the Purāṇas; mat-pituḥ — of my father; mukhāt — from the mouth; eka-ekām — each learning one portion; aham — I; eteṣām — of these; śiṣyaḥ — the disciple; sarvāḥ — all the collections; samadhyagām — I have thoroughly learned.
Each of them studied one of the six anthologies of the Purāṇas from my father, Romaharṣaṇa, who was a disciple of Śrīla Vyāsadeva. I became the disciple of these six authorities and thoroughly learned all their presentations of Purāṇic wisdom.
kaśyapo ’haṁ ca sāvarṇī
kaśyapaḥ — Kaśyapa; aham — I; ca — and; sāvarṇiḥ — Sāvarṇi; rāma-śiṣyaḥ — a disciple of Rāma; akṛtavraṇaḥ — namely Akṛtavraṇa; adhīmahi — we have assimilated; vyāsa-śiṣyāt — from the disciple of Vyāsa (Romaharṣaṇa); catvāraḥ — four; mūla-saṁhitāḥ — basic collections.
Romaharṣaṇa, a disciple of Vedavyāsa, divided the Purāṇas into four basic compilations. The sage Kaśyapa and I, along with Sāvarṇi and Akṛtavraṇa, a disciple of Rāma, learned these four divisions.
śṛṇuṣva buddhim āśritya
purāṇa-lakṣaṇam — the characteristics of a Purāṇa; brahman — O brāhmaṇa, Śaunaka; brahma-ṛṣibhiḥ — by great learned brāhmaṇas; nirūpitam — ascertained; śṛṇuṣva — please hear; buddhim — intelligence; āśritya — resorting to; veda-śāstra — the Vedic scriptures; anusārataḥ — in accordance with.
O Śaunaka, please hear with attention the characteristics of a Purāṇa, which have been defined by the most eminent learned brāhmaṇas in accordance with Vedic literature.
sargo ’syātha visargaś ca
saṁsthā hetur apāśrayaḥ
daśabhir lakṣaṇair yuktaṁ
purāṇaṁ tad-vido viduḥ
kecit pañca-vidhaṁ brahman
sargaḥ — the creation; asya — of this universe; atha — then; visargaḥ — the secondary creation; ca — and; vṛtti — maintenance; rakṣā — protection by sustenance; antarāṇi — the reigns of the Manus; ca — and; vaṁśaḥ — the dynasties of great kings; vaṁśa-anucaritam — the narrations of their activities; saṁsthā — the annihilation; hetuḥ — the motivation (for the living entities’ involvement in material activities); apāśrayaḥ — the supreme shelter; daśabhiḥ — with the ten; lakṣaṇaiḥ — characteristics; yuktam — endowed; purāṇam — a Purāṇa; tat — of this matter; vidaḥ — those who know; viduḥ — they know; kecit — some authorities; pañca-vidham — fivefold; brahman — O brāhmaṇa; mahat — of great; alpa — and lesser; vyavasthayā — according to the distinction.
O brāhmaṇa, authorities on the matter understand a Purāṇa to contain ten characteristic topics: the creation of this universe, the subsequent creation of worlds and beings, the maintenance of all living beings, their sustenance, the rule of various Manus, the dynasties of great kings, the activities of such kings, annihilation, motivation and the supreme shelter. Other scholars state that the great Purāṇas deal with these ten topics, while lesser Purāṇas may deal with five.
mahatas tri-vṛto ’hamaḥ
sambhavaḥ sarga ucyate
avyākṛta — of the unmanifest stage of nature; guṇa-kṣobhāt — by the agitation of the modes; mahataḥ — from the basic mahat-tattva; tri-vṛtaḥ — threefold; ahamaḥ — from the false ego; bhūta-sūkṣma — of the subtle forms of perception; indriya — of the senses; arthānām — and the objects of sense perception; sambhavaḥ — the generation; sargaḥ — creation; ucyate — is called.
From the agitation of the original modes within the unmanifest material nature, the mahat-tattva arises. From the mahat-tattva comes the element false ego, which divides into three aspects. This threefold false ego further manifests as the subtle forms of perception, as the senses and as the gross sense objects. The generation of all these is called creation.
visargo ’yaṁ samāhāro
bījād bījaṁ carācaram
puruṣa — of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His pastime role of creation; anugṛhītānām — which have received the mercy; eteṣām — of these elements; vāsanā-mayaḥ — consisting predominantly of the remnants of past desires of the living entities; visargaḥ — the secondary creation; ayam — this; samāhāraḥ — manifest amalgamation; bījāt — from a seed; bījam — another seed; cara — moving beings; acaram — and nonmoving beings.
The secondary creation, which exists by the mercy of the Lord, is the manifest amalgamation of the desires of the living entities. Just as a seed produces additional seeds, activities that promote material desires in the performer produce moving and nonmoving life forms.
vṛttir bhūtāni bhūtānāṁ
carāṇām acarāṇi ca
kṛtā svena nṛṇāṁ tatra
kāmāc codanayāpi vā
vṛttiḥ — the sustenance; bhūtāni — living beings; bhūtānām — of living beings; carāṇām — of those that move; acarāṇi — those that do not move; ca — and; kṛtā — executed; svena — by one’s own conditioned nature; nṛṇām — for human beings; tatra — therein; kāmāt — out of lust; codanayā — in pursuit of Vedic injunction; api — indeed; vā — or.
Vṛtti means the process of sustenance, by which the moving beings live upon the nonmoving. For a human, vṛtti specifically means acting for one’s livelihood in a manner suited to his personal nature. Such action may be carried out either in pursuit of selfish desire or in accordance with the law of God.
viśvasyānu yuge yuge
hanyante yais trayī-dviṣaḥ
rakṣā — protection; acyuta-avatāra — of the incarnations of Lord Acyuta; īhā — the activities; viśvasya — of this universe; anu yuge yuge — in each age; tiryak — among the animals; martya — human beings; ṛṣi — sages; deveṣu — and demigods; hanyante — are killed; yaiḥ — by which incarnations; trayī-dviṣaḥ — the Daityas, who are enemies of Vedic culture.
In each age, the infallible Lord appears in this world among the animals, human beings, sages and demigods. By His activities in these incarnations He protects the universe and kills the enemies of Vedic culture.
manvantaraṁ manur devā
ṛṣayo ’ṁśāvatārāś ca
hareḥ ṣaḍ-vidham ucyate
manu-antaram — the reign of each Manu; manuḥ — the Manu; devāḥ — the demigods; manu-putrāḥ — the sons of Manu; sura-īśvarāḥ — the different Indras; ṛṣayaḥ — the chief sages; aṁśa-avatārāḥ — the incarnations of portions of the Supreme Lord; ca — and; hareḥ — of Lord Hari; ṣaṭ-vidham — sixfold; ucyate — is said.
In each reign of Manu, six types of personalities appear as manifestations of Lord Hari: the ruling Manu, the chief demigods, the sons of Manu, Indra, the great sages and the partial incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
vaṁśas trai-kāliko ’nvayaḥ
vṛttaṁ vaṁśa-dharās ca ye
rājñām — of the kings; brahma-prasūtānām — born originally from Brahmā; vaṁśaḥ — dynasty; trai-kālikaḥ — extending into the three phases of time (past, present and future); anvayaḥ — the series; vaṁśa-anucaritam — histories of the dynasties; teṣām — of these dynasties; vṛttam — the activities; vaṁśa-dharāḥ — the prominent members of the dynasties; ca — and; ye — which.
Dynasties are lines of kings originating with Lord Brahmā and extending continuously through past, present and future. The accounts of such dynasties, especially of their most prominent members, constitute the subject of dynastic history.
nitya ātyantiko layaḥ
saṁstheti kavibhiḥ proktaś
naimittikaḥ — occasional; prākṛtikaḥ — elemental; nityaḥ — continuous; ātyantikaḥ — ultimate; layaḥ — annihilation; saṁsthā — the dissolution; iti — thus; kavibhiḥ — by learned scholars; proktaḥ — described; caturdhā — in four aspects; asya — of this universe; svabhāvataḥ — by the inherent energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
There are four types of cosmic annihilation — occasional, elemental, continuous and ultimate — all of which are effected by the inherent potency of the Supreme Lord. Learned scholars have designated this topic dissolution.
hetur jīvo ’sya sargāder
yaṁ cānuśāyinaṁ prāhur
hetuḥ — the cause; jīvaḥ — the living being; asya — of this universe; sarga-ādeḥ — of the creation, maintenance and destruction; avidyā — out of ignorance; karma-kārakaḥ — the performer of material activities; yam — whom; ca — and; anuśāyinam — the underlying personality; prāhuḥ — they call; avyākṛtam — the unmanifest; uta — indeed; apare — others.
Out of ignorance the living being performs material activities and thereby becomes in one sense the cause of the creation, maintenance and destruction of the universe. Some authorities call the living being the personality underlying the material creation, while others say he is the unmanifest self.
māyā-mayeṣu tad brahma
vyatireka — the presence as separate; anvayaḥ — and as conjoint; yasya — of which; jāgrat — within waking consciousness; svapna — sleep; suṣuptiṣu — and deep sleep; māyā-mayeṣu — within the products of the illusory energy; tat — that; brahma — the Absolute Truth; jīva-vṛttiṣu — within the functions of the living entities; apāśrayaḥ — the unique shelter.
The Supreme Absolute Truth is present throughout all the stages of awareness — waking consciousness, sleep and deep sleep — throughout all the phenomena manifested by the illusory energy, and within the functions of all living entities, and He also exists separate from all these. Thus situated in His own transcendence, He is the ultimate and unique shelter.
padārtheṣu yathā dravyaṁ
hy avasthāsu yutāyutam
pada-artheṣu — within material objects; yathā — just as; dravyam — the basic substance; sat-mātram — the sheer existence of things; rūpa-nāmasu — among their forms and names; bīja-ādi — beginning from the seed (ie, from the time of conception); pañcatā-antāsu — ending with death; hi — indeed; avasthāsu — throughout the various phases of bodily existence; yuta-ayutam — both conjoined and separate.
Although a material object may assume various forms and names, its essential ingredient is always present as the basis of its existence. Similarly, both conjointly and separately, the Supreme Absolute Truth is always present with the created material body throughout its phases of existence, beginning with conception and ending with death.
virameta yadā cittaṁ
hitvā vṛtti-trayaṁ svayam
yogena vā tadātmānaṁ
virameta — desists; yadā — when; cittam — the mind; hitvā — giving up; vṛtti-trayam — the functions of material life in the three phases of waking, sleep and deep sleep; svayam — automatically; yogena — by regulated spiritual practice; vā — or; tadā — then; ātmānam — the Supreme Soul; veda — he knows; īhāyāḥ — from material endeavor; nivartate — he ceases.
Either automatically or because of one’s regulated spiritual practice, one’s mind may stop functioning on the material platform of waking consciousness, sleep and deep sleep. Then one understands the Supreme Soul and withdraws from material endeavor.
munayo ’ṣṭādaśa prāhuḥ
kṣullakāni mahānti ca
evam — in this way; lakṣaṇa-lakṣyāṇi — symptomized by their characteristics; purāṇāni — the Purāṇas; purā-vidaḥ — those who are expert in such ancient histories; munayaḥ — the sages; aṣṭādaśa — eighteen; prāhuḥ — say; kṣullakāni — minor; mahānti — great; ca — also.
Sages expert in ancient histories have declared that the Purāṇas, according to their various characteristics, can be divided into eighteen major Purāṇas and eighteen secondary Purāṇas.
brāhmaṁ pādmaṁ vaiṣṇavaṁ ca
śaivaṁ laiṅgaṁ sa-gāruḍaṁ
vārāhaṁ mātsyaṁ kaurmaṁ ca
brahmāṇḍākhyam iti tri-ṣaṭ
brāhmam — the Brahma Purāṇa; pādmam — the Padma Purāṇa; vaiṣṇavam — the Viṣṇu Purāṇa; ca — and; śaivam — the Śiva Purāṇa; laiṅgam — the Liṅga Purāṇa; sa-gāruḍam — along with the Garuḍa Purāṇa; nāradīyam — the Nārada Purāṇa; bhāgavatam — the Bhāgavata Purāṇa; āgneyam — the Agni Purāṇa; skānda — the Skanda Purāṇa; saṁjñitam — known as; bhaviṣyam — the Bhaviṣya Purāṇa; brahma-vaivartam — the Brahma-vaivarta Purāṇa; mārkaṇḍeyam — the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa; sa-vāmanam — together with the Vāmana Purāṇa; vārāham — the Varāha Purāṇa; mātsyam — the Matsya Purāṇa; kaurmam — the Kūrma Purāṇa; ca — and; brahmāṇḍa-ākhyam — known as the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa; iti — thus; tri-ṣaṭ — three times six.
The eighteen major Purāṇas are the Brahma, Padma, Viṣṇu, Śiva, Liṅga, Garuḍa, Nārada, Bhāgavata, Agni, Skanda, Bhaviṣya, Brahma-vaivarta, Mārkaṇḍeya, Vāmana, Varāha, Matsya, Kūrma and Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇas.
brahmann idaṁ samākhyātaṁ
brahman — O brāhmaṇa; idam — this; samākhyātam — thoroughly described; śākhā-praṇayanam — the expansion of the branches; muneḥ — of the sage (Śrīla Vyāsadeva); śiṣya — of the disciples; śiṣya-praśiṣyāṇām — and the subsequent disciples of his disciples; brahma-tejaḥ — spiritual potency; vivardhanam — which increases.
I have thoroughly described to you, O brāhmaṇa, the expansion of the branches of the Vedas by the great sage Vyāsadeva, his disciples and the disciples of his disciples. One who listens to this narration will increase in spiritual strength.