Śrīmad Devi Bhāgavatam | Book 3 Chapter 1
THE THIRD BOOK
On the questions put by Janamejaya
1-10. Janamejaya said:
“O Bhagavān! What is that great Yajña (sacrifice) named Ambā Yajña about which you referred just now? Who is the Ambā? Where was She born? From whom and what for did Her birth take place? What are Her qualities? What is Her form and nature?
O Ocean of mercy! You are all-knowing; kindly describe everything duly. Along with this, describe in detail the origin of Brahmāṇḍa.
O Brāhmaṇa! You know every thing of this whole Universe. I heard that Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Rudra are the three Devatās, who are successively originated to create, preserve, and destroy this Universe. Are these three high-souled entities independent? Or Do they do their respective duties, being subservient to another Person?
Now I am very eager to know all these. So Parāsara's son! Describe all these to me. Are these highly powerful Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Mahēśvara subject to Death like ordinary beings? Or are they of the nature of everlasting Existence, Intelligence and Bliss? Are they subject to the three fold pains arising from their own selves from elements and from those arising from gods? Are they subject Time? How and wherefrom were they originated? Do they feel the influence of pleasure, pain, sleep or laziness?
O Muni! Do their bodies consist of seven Dhātus? (blood, etc.) Or are they of some other kinds? A great doubt has arisen in me on all these points.
If these bodies be not made up of five elements, then of what substance are they built of? And of what Guṇas are their senses built also? How do they enjoy objects of enjoyments? How long is their longevity?
O Brāhmaṇa! Where do they, Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Mahēśvara, the best of the gods live? And of what nature are their powers and prosperities? I like very much to hear all these. So describe all these in detail to me.”
11-24. Vyāsa said:
“O highly intelligent king! The questions that you have asked me today whence and how Brahmā, etc., were born? etc., are very difficult. In ancient days, once, on an occasion, I asked many questions like you to the Muni Nārada. At first he was greatly surprised to hear my queries, afterwards he gave due replies to them.
O king! I will answer to you in the same way; listen:
Once I saw that the all-knowing, peaceful Nārada, the knower of the Vedas was sitting on the banks of the Ganges. I became very glad and fell at his feet. By his order I took one excellent seat. Hearing, then, of his welfare and seeing him sitting on the sands I asked him:
“O highly intelligent One! Who is the Supreme Architect of this widely extended Universe? Whence is this Brahmāṇḍa born? Is it eternal or temporary? When it is an effect, then it is natural that it cannot be created without a cause. Now when the cause, the creator, is certain, is he one or many?
O sage! Regarding this immeasurable Samsāra, I have expressed my doubt; now answer me what is the Real and True, and thus remove my doubts.
Many believe Mahā Deva, the Lord of all the other Devas as the Supreme God, the Cause of all. He is the source of deliverance to all the Jīvas; devoid of birth and death; always auspicious; peaceful in Himself and the controller of the three Guṇas. He is the one and only cause of creation, preservation and destruction.
Some Pundits believe Viṣṇu as the God of all and praise Him as such. It is Viṣṇu that is the powerful Supreme Self, the Lord of all and the First Person Ādi-Puruṣa. It is He that has neither birth nor death, the Deliverer of the whole Jīvas, Omnipresent; His faces are everywhere; He is the Granter of enjoyments and liberation to the devotees.
Some others call again Brahmā, the Cause of all. It is He that is omniscient and the Stimulator of all beings.
The four-faced Brahmā, the best of all the Devas is born from the navel lotus of some One of endless force. He resides in Satyaloka; He is the Creator of all and the Lord of all the Devas.
Again some other Pundits call the Sun, Sūrya as God. In the morning and in the evening they chant His hymns, without any lack of slackness and laziness.
Again there are some others, who say that Indra is the lord of all the Jīvas; He is thousand-eyed; it is Indra, the husband of Śachi, that is the God of all.
Those who perform Yajñas (sacrifices) worship Vāsava, the king of the Devas. He drinks Soma juice Himself and those who drink Soma are his beloved. He is the one and only Lord of Sacrifices.
Thus all men worship, according to their respective wishes, Varuṇa, Soma, Agni, Pavana (wind), Yama (the god of Death), Kubera, the lord of wealth; there are some again who worship the elephant-faced Ganapati, the Fructifier of all actions, the Granter of desires of all the devotees, and the Giver of success to all in all enterprises, no sooner He is remembered.
Some Acharyas (professors) say again that the All auspicious the Ādi Māyā, the Great Śaktī Bhavāni, the Giver of everything, Who is the nature of with and without attributes, Who is not different from Brahmā, who is both Puruṣa and Prakriti, the Creatrix, the Preservatrix and the Destructrix of all, the Mother of all the gods, beings and lokas, is the Great Goddess of this Brahmāṇḍa. She is without beginning and end, full, present in all the beings and everywhere. It is this Bhavāni that assumes the various endless forms such as Vaiṣṇavī Śānkarī, Brāhmī, Vāsavī, Vāruṇī, Vārāhī, Nara Simhī, Mahā Lakṣmī the one and secondless Vedamātā, and others. It is this Vidyā nature that is the One and the only Root of this tree of Samsara (universe).
The mere act of remembering Her destroys heaps of afflictions of the devotees and fulfils all their desires. She gives Mokṣa to those who are desirous of liberation and gives rewards to those who want such. She is beyond the three Guṇas and still She emanates them. Therefore the Yogis that want rewards meditate Her, Who is of the nature of Vidyā and Who is devoid of attributes. The best Munis, the knowers of the truths of Vedānta meditate on Her as formless, immutable, stainless, omnipresent Brahmā devoid of all Dharma. She is described in some Vedas and Upanishads as full of Light (Tejas). Some intelligent persons describe God as of infinite hands, infinite ears, infinite legs, infinite faces, peaceful, Virāt Puruṣa and describe sky as the Pāda (place) of Viṣṇu.
Other knowers of the Puranas describe Him as Puruṣottama. There are some others again who declare that this creation cannot be done by a single individual.
Some atheists say that this inconceivable infinite Universe can never be created by one God. So there is no such definite God that can be called its Creator. Though without any creator, this Brahmāṇḍa is sprung from the Nature and conducted by Her.
The followers of the Sānkhya system say that Puruṣa is not the creator of this Universe; they declare that Prakriti is the Mistress of this Universe O Muni! Thus I have expressed to you what the Muni Kapila, the Āchārya of the Sānkhyas and the other philosophers declare as their opinions; various doubts, thus, reign always in my breast.
Owing to these doubts my mind is so confused that I cannot arrive at any definite conclusion. My mind is very much unsettled as to what is Dharma and what is Adharma. What are the characteristics of Dharma? I cannot make out them. For the Devas are all sprung from the Sattva Guṇa and are always attached to the true Dharma; yet they are frequently troubled by the sinful Dānavas. How, then, can I place my confidence on the permanence of the Dharma? My forefathers, the Pāṇḍavas were always endowed with good behaviours and good actions and they remained always in the path of the Dharma; yet they suffered a good deal of troubles and sufferings. In these cases it is very difficult understand the greatness of Dharma. So, O Father!
Seeing all these, my mind is thrown into a sea of doubts and troubles. O Great Muni!
There is nothing impracticable with you; so remove my doubts. O Muni! I am always plunged and raised and plunged again in this sea of delusion. So save me by lifting me on a boat of wisdom and carry me across this ocean of samsara (this world).
Thus ends the first chapter on the third Skandha on the questions put by Janamejaya in the Mahāpurāṇa Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam of 18,000verses by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.