Srishtikhand contains an explanation of metaphysical knowledge in a dialogue style between Bheeshma and the sage Pulastya. It contains a description of Pushkar Tirth. Surprisingly, this part ridicules the worship of the planets (Grahas).
Bhumikhand has a description of the earth, besides the tales of the kings like Prithu, Nahush, Yayati, Prabhriti and the sages like Shiva Varma, suvrata and Chyvan. For its description of the earth and archaic matter, this part is often regarded as the geography and the history of a period.
Swargakhand describes the sequence of creation first and then the glory of the holy places as well as the geographical expansion of India along with her mountains, rivers and the people.
In the Patalkhand, Sutaji narrates the tales related to the life and plays of Lord Rama in an assembly of the sages. This part also contains a description about the life and plays of Lord Krishna.
Uttarkhand contains a discussion about the metaphysical knowledge of religion presented in a dialogue style between Lord Shiva and Parvati. This part also contains thousand names of Lord Vishnu and one hundred names of Lord Rama.
Having revealed the contents of all the Puranas to his son Ugrashrava, Sage Lomaharshan instructed him to go to ‘Naimisharanya’ and spread it among the sages doing penance over there.
There is an interesting tale how this sacrosanct forest of Naimish derived it’s name —
Once, the sages sought Lord Vishnu’s help in finding a suitable place, where they could perform their religious activities unhindered. Lord Vishnu released his chakra and instructed them to follow it. ‘This chakra had many circumferences (Nemi) and all of you can commence your penance at the place where one of them gets detached from the chakra’ —said Lord Vishnu.
The Sages followed the chakra as per the instruction of Lord Vishnu. Once of the circumferences of chakra got detached and fell at a place called Gangavarta. In course of time this particular place was famous as ‘Naimish’ because the term ‘Nemi’ in Sanskrit means circumference. When Ugrashrava who was popularly known as ‘Sutji’ reached ‘Naimisharnya’ all the sages received him with enlighten all the sages on the divine tales of Padma Puran.
Sutji replied— Padma Puran consists of five sections and fifty-five thousand shlokas. The names of these sections are Shrishti-Khand, Bhumi-Khand, Swarg Khand, Patal Khand and Uttam-Khand. The tales of Padma-Puran praise the glory of Lord Vishnu. These tales were narrated to Lord Brahma by Lord Vishnu himself, who in turn propagated them in this world through various sages.
THE BEGINNING OF CREATION
The Sages requested Sutji to narrate about the incident when sage Pulastya had met Bhishma. Sutji replied—- Bhishma was doing penance at a place called Gangadwar. Being pleased by his austere penance, Lord Brahma instructed Pulastya to go to Gangadwar and bless Bhishma.
After reaching there, Pulastya told Bhishma that Lord Brahma was pleased by his penance. ‘Ask any boon you wish for’ said Pulastya. Bhishma thanked his good fortune of getting a chance to meet Sage Pulastya. He requested Pulastya to reveal how Lord Brahma had created the world.
Pulastya replied— During the initial phase of his creation, Lord Brahma created the Mahattatva first of all. After that he created the three types of Ego from the Mahattatva—Satva, Rajas and Tamas. These three types of Ego are the origins of all the five sense-organs, organs of action and all the five basic elements–space, water, fire, air & earth.
An enormous egg came into existence with the permutation and combination of these five basic elements. Within this egg exists the whole universe including the mountains, islands, oceans, planets, deities, demons and the human beings. The layers of water, fire, air, space and darkness envelop this enormous egg. These elements are once again covered by the ‘Mahattatva’, which in turn is enveloped by the ‘Prakriti’ (nature). Lord Vishnu himself does creation in the form of Lord Brahma and also takes various incarnations to protect the mankind. At the end of the Kalpa, it is only He, who annihilates in the form of Rudra. After the end of Kalpa, he takes rest on the back of Sheshnag for the full period of deluge.
LORD BRAHMA’S LIFE-SPAN AND THE CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER OF THE ‘ERAS’
Pulastya says—Lord Brahma, the embodiment of Lord Vishnu has a life-span of one hundred years. His life-span is also called ‘Par’, and half of its period is known as ‘Parardha’. One ‘Kashtha’ consists of 15 Nimesha while a Kala consists of 30 ‘Kashthas’. A muhurta consists of 30 Kalas. The periods of 30 muhurtas are equal to one day and Night of the human beings. A month of this world is equivalent to 30 days and nights. Six months make an ‘Ayan’ and a year consists of two ‘Ayans’. These two ‘Ayans’ are also known by two other names—Dakshinayan and Uttarayan. Dakshinayan is the night of the deities where as Uttarayan is their day.
Four yugas are equivalent to twelve thousand years of the deities, which occur in a cyclic order—Satya, Treta, Dwapar and Kaliyuga. The periods of these yugas are as follows—
Satya Yuga = 4000 years
Treta Yuga = 3000 years
Dwapar Yuga = 2000 years
Kali Yuga = 1000 years
Total = 10,000 years
Each yuga is followed by the hibernation periods of ‘Sandhya’ and Sandhyansh, which are as follows– Sandhya Sandhyansh
Satya Yuga 400 400
Treta Yuga 300 300
Dwapar Yuga 200 200
Kali Yuga 100 100
Total 1000 years 1000 years
Four Yuga are collectively known as ‘Chaturyuga’. A Brahma’s day consists of one-thousand such ‘Chaturyugas’. Altogether, fourteen Manu appear during this whole period of 1000 Chaturgas or in other words a day of Lord Brahma. Each ‘Manvantar’ is named after a Manu and is equivalent to little more than 71 Chaturyugas. It also has its own Indra, Saptarishis and other deities. This way, a manvantar is also equivalent to 8,52,000 years of the deities or divine years. Going by the standard of the years of this world a manvantar is equivalent to 30,67,20,000 years. On the basis of the years of this world, a Brahma’s day is equivalent to 30,67,20,000 x 14 = 4,29,40,80,000 yrs. This is the period after which a Brahma’s day is over and a deluge takes place when all the three worlds becomes devoid of life due to unbearable heat. Lord Brahma then takes rest for the same period (4,29,40,80,000 yrs) which is his night.
After the night is over, Lord Brahma again commences his creation. So, this process continues for the whole period of Brahma’s life span, i.e. 100 yrs.” Bheeshma requested Sage Pulastya to describe how Lord Brahma created life in the beginning of the present Kalpa.
Pulastya replied— At the end of the previous kalpa when Lord Brahma awakened from his sleep, he found the whole earth submerged in water. He meditated on Lord Vishnu, who took the incarnation of ‘Varah’ and retrieved the earth and established it in its original position. Lord Brahma then created all the four worlds–Bhurloka, Bhuvarloka, Swargloka and Maharloka and divided the earth into seven islands.
First of all, Lord Brahma created the ‘Mahattatva’. After that he created the ‘Tanmatras’, Indriyas (sense-organs), the immovable things like mountains, rivers, animals, deities, demons, human beings etc.
THE FOUR PROMINENT CASTES
On being asked by Bhishma about the origin of the four prominent castes, Sage Pulastya said— Lord Brahma created the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas from his mouth and chest respectively. Similarly, Vaishyas and Shudras manifested from Lord Brahma’s thigh and feet respectively.Lord Brahma had created his ‘manasputras’ with the objective of increasing the population and their names were Bhrigu, Pulah, Kratu, Angira, Marichi, Daksha, Atri and Vashishth. But all of them were free from worldly desires and extremely virtuous. Seeing his effort go in vain, Lord Brahma became furious, as a result of which Rudra manifested from his forehead. Half of Rudra’s body resembled like a male while the remaining half appeared like a female.Lord Brahma instructed Rudra to detach the female form from his body and commence copulative creation. Following his advice, Rudra detached the female part of his body and created eleven male entities. Similarly he created various female entities from the female part of his body.
This way, the first human pair-Manu and Shatarupa came into existence. In course of time four children were born to them—Priyavrata, Uttanpad, Prasuti and Aakuti. Prasuti was married to Daksha Prajpati, while Aakuti became the wife of Ruchi-Prajapati. Prasuti gave birth to 24 daughters– Shraddha, Laxmi, Dhriti, Pushti, Tushti, Medha, Kriya, Buddhi, Lajja, Vapu, Shanti, Keerti, Khyati, Sati, Sambhuti, Smriti, Preeti, Kshama, Santati, Ansuya,Urja, Swaha and Swadha. Out of them, the former thirteen were the wives of Dharma and the rest were married to various sages like Bhrigu, Shiv, Marichi, Angira, myself (Pulastya), Pulaha, Kratu, Atri, Vashishth Agni, etc.Shraddha gave birth to ‘Kaam’, Laxmi to ‘Daarpa, Dhriti to Niyam, Tushti to Santosh, Pushti to Lobha, Medha to Shrut, Kriya to Dand, Nay and Vinay, Buddhi to Bodh, Lajja to Vinay, Vapu to Vyavasay, Shanti to Kshama, Siddhi to Sukh and Keerti gave birth to Yash. All of them were the sons of Dharma.
Kaam had a son named Harsh from his wife Nandi, Bhrigu’s wife Khyati gave birth to a daughter named Laxmi–the consort of Lord Vishnu. Lord Rudra accepted Sati–the daughter of Daksha Prajapati as his wife. Hinsa was the wife of Adharm and gave birth to Anrit and Nikriti. Anrit had two sons—Maya and Narak, while Nikriti had two daughters–Maaya and Vedana. Maaya married Maya while Vedana became the wife of Narak. Maaya had a son named Mrityu–the lord of death and Vedana gave birth to Dukh. Five children were born to Mrityu–Vyadhi, Jara, Shok, Trishna and Krodha. All of them were celibates and had no progeny.