SHRIMAD DEVI BHAGAVATAM | BOOK 8 CHAPTER 7
THE EIGHTH BOOK
On the Ganges and the Varṣas
1-37. Nārāyaṇa said:
Jaṭhara and Devakūta are the two mountains situated on the east of Śumeru; their dimensions towards the north are eighteen thousand Yojanas wide and two thousand Yojanas high.
On the west of Meru, are situated the two famous lofty mountains Pavamāna and Pāriyātra; their length and height are well known.
On the south of Meru are situated the two lofty mountains Kailāśa and Karavīra. On the north, again, of the Śumeru mountain, are situated the mountains Śrīngagiri and Makaragiri.
Thus the golden Śumeru mountain, shines like the Sun, surrounded by these eight mountains.
In the centre of the Śumeru, there is a Divine city built of the Creator Brahmā, ten thousand Yojanas in dimensions. The learned sages that know everything from the highest to the lowest, describe that as square in dimensions and all made of gold.
On the top of the Śumeru, are situated the world-known eight golden cities, subservient to the Brahmapurī, for the eight Lokapālas.
The Lords of the four directions, east, west, north and south and of the four corners, north-east, north-west, south-west, south-east, occupy these. The dimensions of each of these eight cities are two thousand Yojanas and a half.
In fact, there are nine cities there including the Brahmapurī. Now hear the names of these nine cities in due order:
The First is Manovatī, the second is Amarāvatī, the third is Tejovatī, next come in order Samyamanī, Kṛṣṇānganā, Śraddhāvatī, Gandhavatī, and Mahodayā, the ninth is Yaśovatī.
The Lords of the Purīs are Brahmā, Indra, Fire and the other Dikpālas in due order.
When Viṣṇu Bhagavān assumed the Tri Vikramā Form in His Dwarf Incarnation and went at the sacrifice, to get back the Kingdom of the Heavens from the demon Vali,
there was created one hole or cavity over this Brahmāṇḍa Kaṭāha (skull) by the nails of the toes of that foot that went up towards his left;
and through that cavity, the famous river Bhagavatī Ganga flowed on the top of those heavenly Kingdoms, the clear waters of which are ever ready to destroy the sins of the whole people. For this reason, She is known in the three Lokas as the Viṣṇupādī manifested.
This took place long long ago, many thousand Yugas ago, a period difficult to determine. The Ganges fell first on the top of the Indra's Heavens, near the place called Viṣṇudhāma, known in the three worlds.
Here the pure-souled Dhruva, the son of Uttānapāda, observed within his heart the lotus-feet of Sri Viṣṇu Bhagavān and exists still there taking refuge on that immoveable position.
There the high-souled Seven Riṣis, knowing the highest purifying influence of the Ganges, circumambulate the river, wishing for the welfare of all the Lokas.
This is the great place where one gets success, and final liberation, the success-giving place of the ascetics and where the Munis with clots of hairs on their heads daily take their dip in the Ganges with the greatest pleasure and admiration.
The Ganges flows thence from the Dhruva Mandala, the abode of Viṣṇu, in Koṭis and Koṭis of Divine Channels, interspersed with many Vimānas or carriages, deluges the Chandra Mandala (the Moon Sphere), comes gradually to the Brahmā Loka.
Here She is divided into the four channels, Sītā, Alakanandā, Bhadrā, and Chaturbhadrā and irrigating many countries, mountains, and forests ultimately falls in the oceans.
The Sītā, the famous Dhārā, purifying all, while falling down from the Brahmāloka, passes round the mountains that form as it were the filaments of the flower-like Śumeru mountain, and falls on the top of the Gandhamādana range.
Thence She, worshipped by the Devas, irrigates the Bhadraśvavarṣa and falls eastward into the salt ocean.
The second Dhārā (stream), named Chakṣu, getting out of the Mālyavān range, gradually gains strength and assumes great force and flows by Ketumāla Varṣā to the western ocean.
The third Dhara (stream), the very pure Alakanandā, getting out of the Brahmā Loka, passes through the Girikūta mountain and other forests, falls to Hemakūṭa; next She flows through the Bhārata Varṣā and meets with the southern ocean.
No words can describe the glory and the purifying effect of this river; suffice it to say that those who march out to bathe in this river get at each of their steps, the fruits of doing the great sacrifices, Rājasūya and Aśva Medhā, etc.
The fourth Dhara of the Trailokyapavanī Ganga Devī, named Bhadrā, falling from the mountain Śrīngavan, become swift and capacious, flows by the Northern Kuru country and satisfying the people there flows down into the ocean.
Many other rivers, flowing out from the mountains, Meru, Mandāra and others, flow through the various Varṣas or continents, but of all the Varṣas, continents, this Bhārata Varṣā is called the Karma Kṣettra (or the field of actions).
The other eight Varṣas, though on earth, give the pleasures of the Heavens. The reason for this is that when the period of the persons’ enjoyments in the Heavens cease, they come and take their birth in the one or other of these eight Varṣas.
The people here live for ten thousand years; their body is hard like thunderbolt and all are endowed with powers of Ayuta elephants. No one is satisfied with a little of the pleasures of sexes; so all men live happily with their wives, etc.
It is not that the males alone are so happy; the females also are full of youth throughout their lives and become pregnant, when they are less than one year old. In short, the inhabitants of the Varṣas enjoy forever as the persons of Trētā Yuga do.
Hear ends the Seventh Chapter of the Eighth Book on the story of the Ganges and the continents in Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam, the Mahā Purāṇam, of 18,000 verses, by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.