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Brahmananda Purana

It is the eighteenth Purana. It has 1200 verses. Presently available in separate parts. We do not have the full text. Hence we have given the three important ones which we have:

1. About the Mokshada Ekadasi.

2. The Lalitopakhyanam about Devi Lalita Tripura Sundari. This also contains the Lalita Sahasranama Stotra and the Lalita Trishati Stotra, both of which are in our Stotras section.

3. Also included is the The Sons of Sagara section – an interesting story by Rishi Jaimini according to which they dug into the earth to find a horse in Patala loka. A lot of people site this as an example to support the “hollow earth theory”.

This Purana has four parts- Prakriya, Anushanga, Upotaghat and Upasamhar. This Purana is said to be narrated by Sutaji on the bank of the river Drishdvati in Yaksh kshetra (identified with Sutlej in modern Himachal Pradesh). From his narration, it is clear that Sutaji had heard the Purana from Veda Vyasa who, in his turn, received it from Vayudev.

Creation of the universe, determination of Kalpa, differentiation of Yugas, description of Manvantaras, description of Jambudweep and Bharatvarsh, description of Kimpurush. Anudweep, Ketumaal varsh etc. and description of Bharat vansha, Prithu vansha, Dev vansh, Rishi vansh, Agni vansh and preceptors are the main topics of Brahmand Purana. Sages, the dynasties of rulers and the legends of Pitas and their propitiation, the conflict between Karttikeya, King of Hihayas and Bhargava Parasurama.. Subsidiary episodes as that of Sagara, the lineage of Vaivasvata Manu and the dissolution of universe, the ultimate annihilation.

Described in the Purana, Adhyatma Ramayana has seven parts. First part describes the Brahmaswarup (cosmic appearance) of Shri Rama. Incarnation of Lord Rama to relieve the earth from the atrocities of the demons. Baal-leela (childhood plays). Emancipation of Ahilya. Removal of Bhargava’s (Parashuram’s) ego. Second part contains: Lord Rama going into exile. Demise of Dashrath. Aranyakanda describes killing of the illusionary deer and abduction of Sita. Kishkindha khand describes the killing of Baali. Search of Sita. Sundar Khand has the tales of Hanuman’s entry into Lanka. Lanka kanda contains the description of killing of Ravana and coronation of Lord Rama upon his return to Ayodhya. In Uttar Khand reasons for Ravana’s birth have been described. It also contains the description of Sita?s desertion by Rama. Desertion of Lakshmana. Coronation of Luv and Kush and departure of Rama to his original Vaikunth loka.


Lalitopakhyanam

It is the most important section of this Purana. The narration is written in the form of conversation between Hayagreeva and the sage Agastya. Hayagreeva in this context is a seer. There is a celestial of the same name. Who are they? We get the reply for this also in the text.There is a detailed description in the book establishing the harmonious synthesis of the aspects of the three deities Shiva, Vishnu and the Divine Mother. In the past several devotees used to daily recite Lalitopakhyana, the detailed story of Lalita. This pious story contains the inner meanings of the several technical terms of the spiritual science and the finer aspects of the Mantra Shastra (the science of holy chants). Let us enjoy the feast of nectar by listening to this pious story with deep devotion.

Penance of Agastya. Long ago, the mountain Vindhya (central India) started growing upward in gigantic proportion due to egoism. The sage Agastya decided to subdue the pride of Vindhya. For this purpose, he came from Varanasi (Uttara Pradesh, India) and settled in South India. By the divine presence of the sage Agastya, the entire SouthIndia gradually became prosperous and pious. Eventually the Kali Yuga started (As per the tradition of India, Kali Yuga is the fourth Age, the others being Kruta, Treta and Dvapara). In spite of the severe inspection ofthe sage Agastya, the evil traits of the Kali Yuga started sprouting slowly. Noting this trend, the sage felt sad and proceeded on a pilgrimage. The strange and unrighteous ways of the people made him quite unhappy. There was rampant selfishness and sensuousness prevalent everywhere. “How can thesepeople attain liberation?” – This was his nagging grief. After reaching Kanchi (Tamil Nadu – South India) he was unable to bear the burden of the grief, and performed severe penance meditating on Varadaraja (The Best of the boon givers – a synonym of Vishnu). God’s ways are mysterious! His power of illusion is incomprehensible! Vishnu appeared to the sage in the form of Hayagreeva.

Agastya asked Hayagreeva “OhLord! What is the path of salvation to these ignorant people”?

Hayagreeva replied “There are two paths for this. They are:

a) After renouncing everything, one can attain the knowledge of the, attributeless aspect of God. This is a very difficult way.

b) The second method is to worship the Divine Mother who is the form of Vishnu with attributes. Even a sinner can do the worship. There is another advantage in this type. The devotee can simultaneously get enjoyment and salvation by following this path”. Further, Vishnu ordered to the sage Agastya “You have to propagate this divine secret in the entire world”.

The sage asked, “Lord Vishnu! Kindly narrate the story of Para Shakti (The UltimatePower, the Divine Mother) who is your aspect with attributes ”.

At this stage, Vishnu asked sage Hayagreeva (born with the Lord’s aspects) to tell the detailed story to Agastya.

“The Divine Mother emanated from meditation of Brahma (the Creator). Her name then was Prakruti (The nature). Mohini Avatara. For the second time, the Divine Mother manifested as Mohini at the time of the churning the ocean by the celestials and the demons (to obtain Amruta-nectar). Let us see how it happened.

Once upon a time, Indra (the Lord of the Heaven was overpowered by the pride of his prosperity. His reverence to even Shiva gradually diminished. Observing this, Shiva asked the sage Durvasa to meet Indra in the Heaven. The sage started taking the path of Gandharvas (the celestial singers), which was very beautiful. The sage appeared uglier than a beggar. Anyway he proceeded ahead pompously. On the way the sage saw a celestial lady holding a fragrant garland of divine flowers. The ugly looking sage asked the beautiful lady, “Where did you get this garland”?

She observed him keenly and realised that he was a sage. She prostrated to him and replied humbly “Sir! I am just now returning after doing the worship of the Divine Mother, who manifested and gave me this garland as Prasadam”. Jumping joyously, the sage asked her to give the garland to him. She happily handed it over to the sage and, prostrated to him. The sage blessed her “May your devotion to the Divine mother be firm”. Taking leave of the sage, she went away. By this incident, the sage realised that it was not difficult to others to recognise him, even if he was in any ugly appearance. He was satisfied with this thought and proceeded further.

After a while, he saw Indra riding the elephant Iravata. The sage approached Indra, who did not appear to recognise and prostrate to the sage. However, the sage did not get angry and said, “Indra! This is the garland given by the Divine Mother Herself. Take it. Saying so, the sage presented the garland to Indra. Indra didn’t refuse. He received the garland with disgust and threw the same on the head of the elephant, which proceeded ahead. A little latter, the elephant threw down the garland with its trunk and trampled over it. Looking at this, the sage Durvasa became very furious and cursed Indra, “Oh! Egoistic fellow! You have not recognised me. Not only that. You have not even respected the Prasadam of the Divine mother. Due to this, May your prosperity vanish!” With these words, Indra’s pride was humbled. He got down the elephant and prostrated to the feet of the angry sage Durvasa. However, the sage went away silently.

Then Indra’s troubles started one by one. He saw bad omens in the Heaven. Afraid of them, Indra asked the sage Bruhaspati (the Spiritual Master of the celestials) to reveal the cause of the bad omens. The sage replied, “The effect of your sins follows you as a shadow. Saying so, the sage narrated a fine story.

Long long ago, there was a thief by name Vajra in Kanchipuram (Tamil Nadu, South India). He used to steal small things and gradually amassed large quantum of money. As the wealth accumulated considerably, he wanted to hide it safely and went to the nearby forest to do so. In a dense part of the forest, he dug a deep pit and secured the money there in. However, a hunter by name Veeradanta, sitting on a tall tree observed all this, quite unexpectedly. After the thief has left the place, the hunter dug out the pit and after taking only one tenth of the money, he covered the pit, without causing any doubt to anyone. The hunter’s wife saw the money and knowing how her husband got it, she said, “It is customary that many Brahmanas visit the home of my parents. Whenever they saw me, they used to forecast “You will get rich quite suddenly. Their prediction came true now”. The hunter Veeradanta planned to purchase meat and wine with the money. However his wife said, “The Brahmana visitors of my parents’ home used to tell something more. They cautioned that hard-earned money only will give durable enjoyment and that the easy money was sinful. Hence let us use this unexpected and unearned money for charities. After prolonged discussions, the wife’s opinion won. Then Veeradanta selected a place of water scarcity and arranged the digging a big water tank for public use. While the work was in progress, further plans were made and accordingly, he started the construction of temples for Vishnu and Shiva by the side of the tank. When the projects were half way, the money was exhausted. Hence Veeradanta started spying to find out the several places at which the thief Vajra was hiding the stolen wealth. Without causing any doubt to the thief, the hunter used to take out money little by little from the pits and continued the construction without interruptions. Along with this, he started to donate the money. However the hunter did not use the money for himself or his family. Thus, constantly encouraged by his wife, his charities developed. The Brahmanas of Kanchi were glad and gave the titles “Dvijavarma” and “Shilavati” to the hunter and his wife.

These titles eventually became their names in vogue. Some time later, the hunter planned and constructed a city. Instead of giving it his own name, the hunter named it as “Devaratapura”, as a mark of respect to his guru “Devarata”. After a few years, the hunter and his wife died at the same time. The messengers of Yama (The God of death and the Lord of Hell), and Shiva and Vishnu arrived to takeaway the Jivas (the subtle form of life of the dead). Their debate as to who can take the Jivas could not be settled. At that time, the sage Narada arrived there. He asked the three groups of messengers to stop the arguments and revealed another aspect of the code of righteousness thus, “The hunter has performed the deeds of merit (Punya) like charities, with the money stolen by him. Hence as per the rules of righteousness, he must move about in the form of a ghost until the death of all the owners of the stolen wealth. Hence none of you have the right to take away the Jiva. “Next, his wife was great. She didn’t commit any sin. As she was a devotee of Shiva, the messengers of the Lord can take away her Jiva. ”Listening to this ruling, Shilavati’s Jiva sat down obstinately, saying “I won’t go to Kailasha, the abode of Shiva, leaving my husband in the form of a ghost”. She prayed to the sage Narada, “Sir! Kindly direct me what I have to do to unburden my husband’s sins”.

Narada was very much pleased with her chastity and fidelity and gave initiation of Shiva mantra (chant) to her. By her penance, the husband and wife attained the grace of Shiva and were accepted to stay in Kailasha (Shiva’s abode). Sometime later, the thief Vajra and the persons from whom he stole the money died. All the Jivas reached the Hell, the abode of Yama, the god of death, He asked all of them to assemble and said, “Though you did not intend to do the acts of Punya (merit), they were performed with your money. Hence you are eligible to stay in Kailasha (abode of Shiva) for sometime. Hence I ask you whether you choose to experience either the effect of Punya (merit) or Papa (sin) in the first instance. They replied in chorus “we opt to experience the effect of merit first. By doing so, we will have a chance of association with the pious which in turn will wipe out past sins”. Yama felt glad by their choice and sent them all as the attendants of Dvijavarma at Kailasha. By his good association, all their sins were washed off and they settled in Kailasha happily.

Preaching of Bruhaspati. After narrating the story, Bruhaspati said, “Indra! Now you think of your sins”. Indra once again prostrated to the sage and requested. “Sir! I am unable to realise my sins. Kindly give me details”.

Bruhaspati replied “In the distant past, ‘Diti’, the second wife of Kashyapa gave birth to a son by name Danu and a daughter named Rupavati. Danu is the predecessor of the race of Danavas (demons). Rupavati was married to Brahma (the Creator). Her son was Vishwarupa. He did severe penance. He had many divine aspects. However he was a nephew of the demons. He was affectionate towards both the races – the celestials and the demons. After a while, Indra chose Vishwarupa as his Guru (at that time, Bruhaspati was not the Guru of the celestials). Indra expected that Vishwarupa would be partial towards the celestials and that he would destroy the demons. However Vishwarupa was friendly towards all. Observing this, Indra suspected that being a friend of the demons, Vishwarupa was harming the celestials. One day, Indra suddenly went to Vishwarupa and cut off all his three heads. By doing so, Indra was afflicted by the sin of Brahmahatya (killing Brahmana). Not only that. Aggrieved by the death of His son, Brahma (the Creator) cursed Indra.

Terrified by these two (Brahmahatya and curse of Brahma), Indra accompanied by all the celestials, sought refuge at the feet of Vishnu, who contemplated deeply and allocated the effect of Indra’s sins to the earth, the trees and the women. As compensation, Vishnu gave the power that the pits of earth could be filled up, the power that even the trees once cut off could revive and the power of women to beget children. Thus Indra was relieved of the effect of the sin of Brahmahatya (killing a Brahmin).

However, the curse of Brahma (the Creator) still persisted. Vishnu called for Brahma and requested Him on behalf of Indra for relief from the curse. Brahma thought over the same and said, “OK. For the present my curse won’t take effect”. Vishnu said nothing. Again Indra became prosperous. However, very soon his pride increased. This time, Indra was affected by the anger of Shiva and so he was cursed by the sage Durvasa”.

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