In the forest known as naimisharanya.
The sages (maharshis) arranged for a sacrifice (yajna) in this forest and the ceremony went on for twelve years. Naimisharanya forest was a wonderful place to arange sacrifices in. The climate was pleasant. There were trees full of flowers and fruit. There was no shortange of food in the forest, and animals, birds and sages lived there happily.
Many sages ame to attend the sacrifice that had been arranged in naimisharanya. With them was Romaharshana (alternatively Lomaharshana). Vedavyasa’s disciple. Vedavyasa had instructed this disciple of his in the knowledge of the Puranas. The assembled sages worshipped the learned Romaharshana and said, Please tell us the stories of the Puranas. Who created the universe, who is its preserver and who will destroy it? Please instruct us in all these mysteries.
Romaharshana replied, Many years ago, Daksha and the other sages had asked Brahma these very questions. I have learnt about Brahma’s replies from my guru (teacher) Vedvyasa. I will relate to you what I know.
In the beginning , there was water everywhere and the brahman (the divine essence) slept on this water in the form of Vishnu. Since water is called nara and since ayana means a bed, Vishnu is known as Narayana.
In the water there emerged a golden egg (anda). Brahma was born inside the egg. Since he created himself, he is called Svayambhu, born (bhu) by himself (svayam). For one whole year, Brahma lived inside the egg. He then split the egg into two and created heaven (svarga) and the earth (prithivi) from the two parts of the egg. Skies, directions, time, language and senses were created in both heaven and earth.
From the powers of his mind, Brahma gave birth to seven great sages. Their names were Marichi, Atri, Angira, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu and Vashistha. Brahma also created the god Rudra and the sage Santhkumara.
To continue with the process of creation, Brahma gave birth to a man and a woman from his own body. The man was named Svayambhuva Manu and the woman was named Shatarupa. Humans are descended from Manu. That is the reason they are known as manava. Manu and Shatarupa had three sons named Vira, Priyavarata and Uttanapada.
Uttanapada’s son was the great Dhruva, Dhruva performed very difficult meditation (tapasya) for three thousand divine years. Brahma was so pleased at this that he granted Dhruva an eternal place in the sky, near the constellation that is known as saptarshi or the seven sages. This is the constellation Ursa Majoris and Dhruva is the Pole Star.
In Dhruva’s line there was a king named Prachinavarhi. Prachinavarhi had ten sons, known as the Prachetas. These Prachetas were supposed to look after the world and rule over it, but they were not interested in such mundane matters. They went off instead to perform tapasya under the ocean. The tapasya went on for ten thousand years. The upshot was that the earth had no ruler and began to suffer. People started to die and thick forests sprouted everywhere. So thick were the forests that even the winds could not blow.
News of this catastrophe reached the Prachetas. They were furious with the trees and created wind (vayu) and fire (agni) from their mouths. The wind dried up the trees and the fire burnt them, so that, very soon, there were very few trees left on earth.
Everyone was alarmed at the effects of the Prachetas’ anger. The moon-god Soma (or Chandra) came to the Prachetas with a beautiful woman and said, Prachetas, please control your anger. You need someone to rule over the world so that you can concentrate on your tapasya. This beautiful woman is named Marisha, she is the daughter of the trees. Marry her and you will have a son named Daksha. He will rule over the world.
The Prachetas agreed to this proposal and Daksha was born. The word praja means subject and the word pati means master. Since Daksha ruled over the world and its subjects, Daksha came to be known as Prajapati.
The sages interrupted Romaharshana. They said, Sage, we are completely confused. We have heard that Daksha was born from Brahma’s toe. And yet you have told us that Daksha was the son of the Prachetas. How is this possible?
Romaharshana replied, There is no reason for bewilderment. Many Dakshas have been born to rule over the world. One was born from Brahma’s toe, yet another was the son of the Prachetas.
Daksha’s wife was named Asikli and Asikli gave birth to five thousand sons. They were known as the Haryashvas. The Haryashvas were destined to rule over the world. But the sage Narada went to the Haryashvas and said, How can you rule over the world if you don’t even know what the world looks like? Are you familiar with its geography and its limits? First find out about these things, before you contemplate ruling ove the world.
The Haryashvas went off to explore the world and never returned.
Daksha and Asikli then had another thousand sons who were named the Shavalashvas. Narada told them what he had told the Haryashvas and the Shavalashvas also went off to explore the world and never returned.
Daksha and Asiki were distressed that their children should disappear in this manner. Daksha blamed Narada for the instigation and proposed to kill him. But Brahma intervened and persuaded Daksha to control his anger. This Daksha agreed to do, provided that his conditions were met. Brahma must marry my daughter Priya, he said. And Narada must be born as Priya’s son.
These conditions were accepted.
In fact, Daksha and Asikli had sixty daughters. (Elsewhere, the Brahma Purana mentions fifty daughters.) Ten of these daughters were married to the god Dharma and thirteen to the sage Kashyapa. Twenty-seven daughters were married to Soma or Chandra. The remaining daughters were married to the sages Arishtanemi, Vahuputra, Angirasa and Krishashva.
The ten daughters who were married to the god Dharma were named Arundhati, Vasu, Yami, Lamba, Bhanu, Marutvati, Sankalpa, Muhurta, Sadhya and Vishva, Arundhati’s children were the objects (vishaya) of the world. Vasu’s children were the eight gods known as the Vasus. Their names were Apa, Dhruva, Soma, Dhara, Salila, Anala, Pratyusha and Prabhasa. Anala’s son was Kumara. Because Kumara was brought up by goddesses known as the Krittikas, he came to be called Kartikeya. Prabhasa’s son was Vishvakarma. Vishvakarma was skilled in architecture and the making of jewellery. He became the architect of the gods. Sadhya’s children were the gods known as Sadhyadevas and Vishva’s children were the gods known as Vishvadevas.
The twenty-seven daughters of Daksha who were married to Soma are known as the nakshatras (stars).
As you have already been told, Kashyapa married thirteen of Daksha’s daughters. Their names were Aditi, Diti, Danu, Arishta, Surasa, Khasa, Surabhi, Vinata, Tamra, Krodhavasha, Ida, Kadru and Muni.
Aditi’s sons were the twelve gods known as the adityas. Their names were Vishnu, Shakra, Aryama, Dhata, Vidhata, Tvashta, Pusha, Vivasvana, Savita, Mitravaruna, Amsha and Bhaga.
Diti’s sons were the daityas (demons). They were named Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakshipu, and amongst their descendants were several other powerful daityas like Vali and Vanasura. Diti also had a daughter named Simhika who was married to a danava (demon) named Viprachitti. Their offsprings were terrible demons like Vatapi, Namuchi, Ilvala, Maricha and the nivatakavachas.
The hundred sons of Danu came to be known as danavas. The danavas were thus cousins to the daityas and also to the adityas. In the danava line were born demons like the poulamas and kalakeyas.
Arishta’s sons were the gandharvas (singers of heaven).
Surasa gave birth to the snakes (sarpa).
Khasa’s children were the yakshas (demi-gods who were the companions of Kubera, the god of wealth) and the rakshasas (demons).
Surabhi’s descendants were cows and buffaloes.
Vinata had two sons named Aruna and Garuda.
Garuda became the king of the birds.
Tamara had six daughters. From these daughters were born owls, eagles, vultures, crows, water-fowl, horses, camels and donkeys.
Krodhavasha had fourteen thousand children known as nagas (snakes).
Ila gave birth to trees, creepers, shrubs and bushes.
Kadru’s sons were also known as nagas or snakes. Among the more important of Kadru’s sons were Ananta, Vasuki, Takshaka and Nahusha.
Muni gave birth to the apsaras (dancers of heaven).
Diti’s children (daityas) and Aditi’s children (adityas) continually fought amongst themselves. On one particular occasion, the gods succeeded in killing many of the demons. Thirsting for revenge, Diti began to pray to her husband, Kashyapa that she might give birth to a son who would kill Indra, the king of the gods.
Kashyapa found it difficult to refuse his wife outright. All right, he said. You will have to bear the son in your womb for a hundred years. And throughout this period, you will have to observe various rites of cleanliness. If you can successfully do this, your son will indeed kill Indra. But if you do not observe these instructions to the letter, your desire will not be satisfied.
Diti resolved to do as her husband had bidden her. But Indra had got to know about Diti’s resolve and was waiting for an opportuniy to save himself. There was an occasion when, tired after her prayers. Diti went to sleep without first washing her feet. This was an unclean act and it gave Indra the required opportunity. He adopted a miniscule form and entered Diti’s womb. With his weapon vajra, he sliced up the baby inside the womb into seven parts. The baby naturally began to cry at the pain.
Indra kept on saying, ma ruda, that is, don’t cry. But the baby, or rather its seven parts, would not listen. Indra thereupon sliced up each of the seven parts into seven more sections, so that there were forty-nine sections in all. When these forty-nine sections in all. When these forty-nine sections were born, they came to be known as the Maruts, from the words that Indra had addressed them. Since Diti had not been able to adhere to the conditions her husband had set, the Maruts did not kill Indra. They instead became Indra’s followers or companions, and were treated as gods.