"Bhishma said, 'Thus hymned with names that were not known to others, the Divine Narayana having the universe for his form showed himself to the ascetic Narada. His form was somewhat purer than the moon and differed from the moon in some respects. He somewhat resembled a blazing fire in complexion. The puissant Lord was somewhat of the
form of Vishti. 1 He resembled in some respects the feathers of the parrot, and in some a mass of pure crystal. He resembled in some respects a hill of antimony and in some a mass of pure gold. His complexion somewhat resembled the coral when first formed, and was somewhat white. In some respects that complexion resembled the hue of gold and in some that of the lapis lazuli. In some respects it resembled the hue of the blue lapis lazuli and in some that of sapphire. In some respects it resembled the hue of the peacock's neck, and in some that of a string of pearls. Bearing these diverse kinds of hues on his person, the eternal Deity appeared before Narada. He had a thousand eyes and was possessed of great beauty. He had a hundred heads and a hundred feet. He had a thousand stomachs and a thousand arms. He seemed to be still inconceivable to the mind. With one of his mouths he uttered the syllable Om and then the Gayatri following Om. With mind under complete control, the great Deity, called by the names of Hari and Narayana, by his other mouths, multitudinous in number, uttered many mantras from the four Vedas which are known by the name of Aranyaka. The Lord of all the deities, the great God who is adorned in sacrifices, held in his hands a sacrificial altar, a Kamandalu, few white gems, a pair of sandal, a bundle of Kusa blades, a deer-skin, a toothstick, and a little blazing fire. 2 With cheerful soul, that foremost of regenerate persons, viz., Narada of restraining speech, bowed unto the great God and adored Him. Unto him whose head was still bent low in veneration, the first of all the deities, who is free from deterioration, said the following words.
"'The Holy one said, The great Rishis, Ekata, Dwita, and Trita, came to this realm from desire of obtaining a sight of me. They, however, were unable to have the fruition of their wishes. Nor can any one have a sight of 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 to me with all their souls. These are my bodies, the best ones that I assume. These were born, O regenerate one, in the house of Dharma. Do thou worship them always, and do thou perform those rites that are laid down in the ordinances with respect to that worship. O Brahmana, do thou ask of me the boons thou desirest. I am gratified with thee to-day, and I appear unto thee now in my universal form as freed from decay and deterioration.
"Narada said, Since, O holy one, I have today succeeded in obtaining a sight of thee. I regard that I have won without any delay the fruits of my penances, O God, of my self-restraint, and of all the vows and observances
that I have gone through. This, indeed, is the highest boon thou hast granted me for thou hast shown thyself to me today. O Eternal Lord, Thou, O holy one, hast the universe for thy eye. Thou art the Lion. Thy form is identifiable with everything. Possessed of puissance, thou, O Lord, art vast and infinite.
Bhishma continued, 'Having thus shown Himself unto Narada, the son of Parameshthi, the great God addressed that ascetic and said,--Go hence, O Narada, and do not delay! These worshippers of mine, possessed of lunar complexions, are divested of all senses and do not subsist upon any kind of food. They are, again, all Emancipate; with minds wholly concentrated upon Me, people should think of Me. Such worshippers will never meet with any impediments. These men are all crowned with ascetic success and are highly blessed. In ancient times they became entirely devoted to me. They have been freed from the attributes of Rajas and Tamas. Without doubt, they are competent to enter me and become merged into my Self.--He that cannot be seen with the eye, touched with the sense of touch, smelt with the sense of scent, and that is beyond the ken of the sense of taste. He whom the three attributes of Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas do not touch, who pervades all things and is the one Witness of the universe, and who is described as the Soul of the entire universe; He who is not destroyed upon the destruction of the bodies of all created things, who is unborn and unchangeable and eternal, who is freed from all attributes, who is indivisible and entire; He who transcends the twice twelve topics of enquiry and is regarded the Twenty-fifth, who is called by the name of Purusha, who is inactive, and who is said to be apprehended by Knowledge alone, He into whom the foremost of the regenerate persons enter and become emancipate. He who is the eternal Supreme Soul and is known by the name of Vasudeva. Behold, O Narada, the greatness and puissance of God. He is never touched by acts good or bad. Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas, are said to be the three (original) attributes. These dwell and act in the bodies of all creatures. The Jiva-soul, called Kshetrajna, enjoys and endorse the action of these three attributes. He, however, transcends them and they cannot touch Him. Freed from these attributes, He is again their enjoyer and endorser. Having created them Himself, He is above them all. O celestial Rishi, the Earth, which is the refuge of the universe, disappears 1 (when the hour for universal dissolution comes) into water, Water disappears into Light, and Light into Wind, Wind disappears into Space, and Space into Mind. Mind is a great creature, and it disappears into Unmanifest Prakriti. Unmanifest Prakriti, O Brahmana, disappears into inactive Purusha. There is nothing higher than Purusha which is Eternal. There is nothing among mobile and immobile things in the 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 primal elements of great puissance. Mingling together
they form what is called the body. Possessed of subtile prowess and invisible to all eyes, O Brahmana, the puissant Vasudeva then enter that combination of the five primal elements, called body. Such entrance is called his birth, and taking birth. He causes the body to move about and act. Without a combination of the five primal elements, no body can ever be formed. Without, again, the entrance of Jiva into the body, the mind dwelling within it cannot cause it to move and act. He that enters the body is possessed of great puissance and is called Jiva. He is known also by other names, viz., Sesha and Sankarshana. He that takes his rise, from that Sankarshana, by his own acts, Sanatkumara, and in whom all creatures merge when the universal dissolution comes, is the Mind of all creatures and 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 this last, everything, viz., the mobile and immobile universe, takes its rise. This one is called Aniruddha. He is otherwise called Isana, and He is manifest in all acts. 1 That illustrious one, viz., Vasudeva, who is called Kshetrajna, and who is freed from attributes, should, O king of kings, be known as the puissant Sankarshana, when he takes birth as Jiva. 2 From Sankarshana arises Pradyumna who is called 'He that is born as Mind.' From Pradyumna is He who is Aniruddha. He is Consciousness, He is Iswara (Supreme Lord). It is from me, that the entire mobile and immobile universe springs. It is from me, O Narada, that the indestructible and destructible, the existent and the non-existent, flow. They that are devoted to me enter into me and become emancipate. I am known as Purusha. Without acts, I am the Twenty-fifth. Transcending attributes, I am entire and indivisible. I am above all pairs of opposite attributes and freed from all attachments. This, O Narada, thou wilt fail to understand. Thou beholdest me as endued with a form. In a moment, if the wish arises, I can dissolve this form. I am the Supreme Lord and the Preceptor of the universe. That which thou beholdest of me, O Narada, is only an illusion of mine. I now seem to be endued with the attributes of all created things. Thou art not competent to know me. I have disclosed to thee duly my quadruple form. I am, O Narada, the Doer, I am Cause, and I am Effect. I am the sum-total of all living creatures. All living creatures have their refuge in me. Let not the thought be thine that thou hast seen the Kshetrajna. I pervade all things. O Brahmana, and am the Jiva-Soul of all creatures. When the bodies of all creatures, however, are destroyed, I am not destroyed.
[paragraph continues] Those highly blessed men who, having won ascetic success, become wholly devoted to me, become freed from the attributes of both Rajas and Tamas and succeeds, on that account, in entering me, O great ascetic. He who is called Hiranyagarbha, who is the beginning of the world, who has four faces, who cannot be understood with the aid of Nirukta, who is otherwise called Brahman, who is an eternal deity, is employed in attending to many of my concerns. The deity Rudra, born of my wrath, is sprung from my forehead. Behold, the eleven Rudras are swelling (with might) on the right side of my body. The twelve Adityas are on the left side of my body. Behold, the eight Vasus, those foremost of deities, are in my front, and see, Nasatya and Dasra, those two celestial physicians (Aswini Kumars), are in my rear. Behold also in my body all the Prajapatis and behold the seven Rishis also. Behold also the Vedas, and all the Sacrifices numbering by hundreds, the Amrita (nectar), and all the (medicinal) herbs and plants, and Penances, and vows and observances of diverse kinds. Behold also in me the eight attributes indicative of puissance, 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 as also the goddess, Saraswati, that mother of the Vedas, dwelling in me. Behold, O Narada, Dhruva, that foremost of luminaries ranging the firmament, as also all the Oceans those receptacles of water, and lakes, and rivers, dwelling in me. Behold also, O best of men, the four foremost ones amongst the Pitris in their embodied forms, as also, the three attributes (of Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas) which are formless dwelling in me. The acts done in honour of the Pitris are superior (in point of merit) to those done in honour of the deities. I am the Pitri of both the deities and the Pitris, and am existing from the beginning (that is, from a time when they were not). Becoming the Equine-head I rove through the Western and the Northern ocean and drink sacrificial libations duly poured with mantras and solid sacrificial food offered with reverence and devotion. In days of yore I created Brahman who himself adored me in sacrifices. Gratified with him on that account I granted him many excellent boons. I said unto him that in the beginning of the Kalpa he would be born unto me as my son, and the sovereignty of all the worlds would vest on him, coupled with diverse names being bestowed on diverse objects in consequence of the starting of Ahankara into existence. 1 I also told him that none would ever violate the limits and boundaries he would assign (for the observance of creatures) and, further, that he would be the giver of boons unto
persons that would (in sacrifices and by proper acts) solicit him for them. I further assured him that he would be an object of adoration with all the deities and Asuras, all the Rishis and Pitris, and the diverse creatures forming the creation. I also gave him to understand that I would always manifest myself for accomplishing the business of the deities and that for that matter I would suffer myself to be commanded by him even as a son by his sire. 1 Granting these and other highly agreeable boons unto Brahman of immeasurable energy in consequence of my being gratified with him I (once more) adopted the course dictated by Nivritti. The highest Nivritti is identical with the annihilation of all duties and acts. Hence, by adopting Nivritti one should conduct oneself in complete felicity. Learned preceptors, with settled convictions deducted from the truths of the Sankhya philosophy, have spoken of me as Kapila endued with the puissance of Knowledge, dwelling within the effulgence of Surya, and concentrated in Yoga. 2 In Chcchandas (Vedas) I have been repeatedly hymned as the illustrious Hiranyagarbha. In the Yoga scriptures, O Brahmana, I have been spoken of as one who takes a delight in Yoga. I am eternal. Assuming a form that is manifest, I dwell, at present, in the heavens. At the end of a thousand Yugas I shall once more with-draw the universe into myself. Having withdrawn all creatures, mobile and immobile into myself, I shall exist all alone with knowledge only for my companion. After the lapse of ages I shall again create the universe, with the aid of that knowledge. That which is my fourth form creates the indestructible Sesha. That Sesha is called by the name of Sankarshana. Sankarshana creates Pradyumna. From Pradyumna I take birth myself as Aniruddha. I create (myself) repeatedly. From Aniruddha springs Brahman. The latter takes birth from Aniruddha's navel. From Brahman spring all creatures mobile and immobile. Know that Creation springs in this way repeatedly at the beginning of every Kalpa. Creation and destruction succeed each other even as sunrise and sunset in this world. Then, again, as Time, endued with immeasurable energy, forcibly brings back the Sun after his disappearance, after the same manner I shall, assuming the form of boar and putting forth my strength, bring back the Earth with her belt of seas to her own position for the good of all creatures when she becomes submerged in water. I shall then slay the son of Diti,
named Hiranyaksha, filled with pride of strength. 1 Assuming the form then of a Man-lion (Narsingha), I shall, for benefiting the deities, slay Hiranyakasipu the son of Diti, who will be a great destroyer of sacrifices. Unto Virochana (the son of Prahlada) will be born a mighty son of the name of Vali. That great Asura will be unslayable in the whole universe consisting of deities, Asuras and Rakshasas. He will hurl Sakra from the sovereignty of the universe. When after routing the Lord of Sachi, that Asura will take unto himself the sovereignty of the three worlds, I shall take birth in Aditi's womb, by Kasyapa, as the twelfth Aditya. I shall (taking the sovereignty of the three worlds Vali) restore it 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 in the nether regions. In the Treta age I shall take birth as Rama in the race of Bhrigu, and exterminate the Kshatriyas who will become proud of their strength and possessions. Towards the close of Treta and the beginning of Dwapara, I shall take birth as Rama, the son of Dasaratha in Iskshaku's royal line. At that time, the two Rishis viz., the two sons of Prajapati, called by the names of Ekata and Dwita, will in consequence of the injury done by them unto their brother Trita, have to take birth as apes, losing the beauty of the human form. Those apes that shall take birth in the race of Ekata and Dwita, shall become endued with great strength and mighty energy and will equal Sakra himself in prowess. All those apes, O regenerate one, will become my allies for accomplishing the business of the deities. I shall then slay the terrible lord of the Rakshasas, that wretch of Pulastya's race, viz., the fierce Ravana, that throne of all the worlds, together with all his children and followers. Towards the close of the Dwapara and beginning of the Kali ages, I shall again appear in the world taking birth in the city of Mathura for the purpose of slaying Kansa. There, after slaying innumerable Danavas that will be thorns in the side of the deities, I shall take up my residence in Kusasthali at the city of Dwaraka. While residing in that city I shall slay the Asura Naraka, the son of 'the Earth,--him, that is, who will do an injury to Aditi, as also some 'other Danavas of the names of Muru and Pitha. Slaying also another foremost of Danavas, viz., the lord of Pragjyotisha, I shall transplant his delightful city furnished with diverse kinds of wealth into Dwaraka. I shall then subjugate the two gods worshipped of all the deities, viz., Maheshwara and Mahasena, who will become fond of the Danava Vana and do him diverse good offices and who will exert themselves vigorously for that worshipper of theirs. 2
[paragraph continues] Vanquishing next the son of the Danava Vali, viz., Vana, who will be endued with a thousand arms, I shall next destroy all the inhabitants of the Danava city called Saubha. 1 I shall next, O foremost of Brahmanas, compass the death of Kalayavana, a Danava who will be endued with great might in consequence of his being equipt with the energy of Gargya. 2 A proud Asura will appear as a king at Girivraja, of the name of Jarasandha, who will quarrel with all the other kings of the world. His death will be compassed by me through some one else guided by my intelligence. I shall next slay Sisupala in the sacrifice of king Yudhishthira, the son of Dharma, which sacrifice all the kings of the world will bring tribute. In some of these feats, only Arjuna, the son of Vasava, will become my assistant. I shall establish Yudhishthira with all his brothers in his ancestral kingdom. People will call me and Arjuna as Narayana and Nara, when, endued with puissance, we two, exerting our strength, shall consume a large number of Kshatriyas, for doing good to the world. Having lightened the burthen of the Earth according to our pleasure, I shall absorb all the principal Sattwatas as also Dwaraka, my favourite city, into my own self, recollecting my all-embracing Knowledge. Endued with four forms, I shall, in this way, achieve many feats of great prowess, and attain at last to those regions of felicity created by me and honoured by all the Brahmanas. Appearing in the forms of a swan, a tortoise, a fish, O foremost of regenerate ones, I shall then display myself as a boar, then as a Man-lion (Nrisingha), then as a dwarf, 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. When the auditions in the Vedas disappeared from the world, I brought them back. The Vedas with the auditions in them, were re-created by me in the Krita age. They have once more disappeared or may only be partially heard here and there in the Puranas. Many of my best appearances also in the world have become events of the past. Having achieved the good of the worlds in those forms in which I appeared, they have re-entered into my own Prakriti. Brahman (the Creator) himself never obtained a sight of me in
this form of mine, which thou, O Narada, hast seen today in consequence of thy entire devotion to me. I have now said everything, O Brahmana,--unto thee that art devoted to me wholly, I have disclosed to thee my ancient appearances and future ones also, O Best of men, together with all their mysteries. "Bhishma continued, The holy and illustrious deity, of universal and immutable form, having said these words unto Narada, disappeared there and then. Narada also, endued with great energy, having obtained the high favour that he had solicited, then proceeded with great speed to the retreat called Vadari, for beholding Nara and Narayana. This great Upanishad, perfectly consist with the four Vedas, in harmony with Sankhya-yoga, and called by him by the name of the Pancharatra scriptures, and recited by Narayana himself with his own mouth, was repeated by Narada in the presence of many hearers in the abode 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 in which 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 endued with intelligence that he heard it from the lips of Narada? Is the illustrious Grandsire of all the worlds any way different from or inferior to the great Narayana? How then is it that he was unacquainted with the puissance of Narayana of immeasurable energy?'
Bhishma continued, 'Hundreds and thousands of great-Kalpas, hundreds and thousands of Creation and Dissolutions, O king of kings, have been over and have become incidents of the past. 1 In the beginning of every cycle of Creation, Brahman, endued with great puissance and who creates all things, is remembered (by Narayana). Brahman knows well, O king, that Narayana, that foremost of all gods is very much superior to him. He knows 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 conclave of Rishis, crowned with ascetic success, that came to the abode of Brahman, that Narada recited his narrative which is a very ancient one, and which is perfectly consistent with the Vedas. The deity Surya, having heard that narrative from those Rishis crowned with ascetic
success, 1 repeated it to the six and sixty thousands of Rishis, O king, of cleansed souls, that follow in his train. And Surya, the deity that imparts heat unto all worlds, repeated that narrative unto those Beings also, of cleansed souls, that have been created (by Brahman) for always journeying in the van of Surya. 2 The high-souled Rishis that follow in Surya's train, O son, repeated that excellent narrative unto the 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 sire Santanu, O son, who recited it to me formerly. Myself having heard it from 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 adore the Supreme Soul. This narrative, belonging to the Rishis and thus handed down from one to another, should not, O king, be communicated by thee to any one that is not a worshipper of Vasudeva. This narrative, O king, is really the essence of the hundreds of other narratives that thou hast heard from me. In days of yore, O monarch, the deities and the Asuras, uniting together, churned the Ocean and t wised the Amrita. After the same manner, the Brahmanas, uniting together in days of yore, churned all the scriptures and raised this narrative which resembles nectar. He who frequently 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 the spacious island known by the name of White Island. Without doubt, such a man succeeds in entering into Narayana of a thousand rays. A sick person, by listening to this narrative from the beginning, becomes freed from his illness. The man that simply desires to read or listen to this narrative obtains the fruition of all his wishes. To devoted worshipper, by reading or listening to it, attains to the high end that is reserved for devoted worshippers. Thou also, O monarch, shouldst always adore and worship that foremost 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 the illustrious and Eternal God of the Brahmans, viz., Janarddana of high intelligence, be gratified with thee, O Yudhishthira of mighty arms!'"
Vaisampayana continued, "Having listened to the best of narratives, O Janamejaya, king Yudhishthira the just and all his brothers became
devoted to Narayana. And all of them, O Bharata, betaking themselves to the practice of silently meditating upon Narayana (from that day), uttered these words for His glorification, viz., 'Victory to that holy and illustrious Being.' He, again, who is our best of preceptors, viz., the Island-born Krishna, devoted to penances, sung uttering the word Narayana that high mantra which is worthy of being recited in silence. Sojourning through the welkin to the Ocean of Milk which is always the abode of nectar, and worshipping the great God there, he came back to his own hermitage.
"Bhishma continued, '1 have now repeated to thee the narrative that was recited by Narada (unto the conclave of Rishis assembled in the abode of Brahman). That narrative has descended from one person to another from very ancient times. I heard it from my sire who formerly repeated it to me.'"
Suta continued, I have now told you all that Vaisampayana recited to Janamejaya. Having listened to Vaisampayana's narration, king Janamejaya properly discharged all his duties according to the ordinances laid down in the scriptures. Ye have all undergo very severe penances and observed many high and excellent vows. Residing in this sacred forest that is known by the name of Naimisha, ye are foremost of all persons conversant with the Vedas. Ye foremost of regenerate ones, ye all have come to this great sacrifice of Saunaka. Do ye all adore and worship that Eternal and Supreme Lord of the universe in excellent sacrifices, properly pouring libations of clarified butter into the fire with the aid of mantras and dedicating the same unto Narayana. As regards myself, I heard this excellent narrative that has descended from generation to gene-ration, from my sire who recited it to me in former times.