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The Vishnu Purana

Priyavrata and Bharata

Maitreya told Parashara, “Sage, I have learnt that Manu had two sons, Priyavrata and Uttanapada. You have already told me about Uttanapada’s son Dhruva. But what about Priyavrata?” And this was Parashara’s reply. And this was Parashara’s reply.

Priyavrata married the daughter of Kardama and had ten sons. Their names were Agnidhra, Agnivahu, Vapushmana, Dyutimana, Medha, Medhatithi. Bhavya, Savana, Putra and Jyotishmana. Medha, Agnivahu and Putra were not interested in becoming kings, they became sages. The world is divided into seven regions or dvipas. Priyavrata gave each of the remaining seven sons a dvipa to rule over. Agnidhra got Jambudvipa, Vapushmana, Shalmalidvipa, Dyuti mana Krounchadvipa, Medhatithi Plakshadvipa, Bhavya Shakadvipa, Savana Pushkaradvipa and Joytishmana Kushadvipa. King Agnidhhra had nine sons, Nabhi, Kimpurusha, Ilavrita, Ramya, Shashtha, Hiranvana, Hari, Kuru and Bhadrashva. Jambudvipa was divided up by Agnidhra among these sons. Nabhi got the region that was to eventually became Bharatavarsha. Nabhi had a son called Rishabha. Rishabha had a hundred sons, the eldest of whom was Bharata. It is after Bharata that the country was called Bharatavarsha.

Some Geography

You have already been told that the world is divided into seven dvipas, Jambu, Shalmali, Krouncha, Palksha, Shaka, Pushkara and Kusha. The seven dvipas are surrounded by seven oceans. Their names are Lavana, Ikshu, Sura, Sarpi, Dadhi, Dugdha and Jala. Jambudvipa is right in the middle. And in the middle of Jambudvipa is the golden-hued Mount Meru. If the earth were to be a lotus flower, Mount Meru would be the stamen.

To the south of Mount Meru lies first Bharatavarsha, then Kimpurushavarsha and eventually Harivarsha. To the north lies first Ramyaka, then Hiranmaya and eventually the northern part of Kuruvarsha. Mount Meru is actually in Ilavritavarsha. And on four sides of Mount Meru are four mountains. To the east is Mandras, to the south Gandhamadna, to the west Vipula and to the north Suparshva. These mountains have a lot of jambu or jamum trees. That is why the region is known as Jambudvipa. There are four beautiful lakes around Mount Meru. Their names are Arunoda, Mahabhadra, Asitoda and Namasa. On the peak of Mount Meru is Brahma’s famous city.

The river Ganga originates from the feet of Lord Vishnu. It flows around the moon and then falls on Brahma’s city. It then divides into four rivers, Sita, Alakanada, Chakshu and Bhadra. Sita flows eastwards, Alakanada southwards into Bharatavarsha, Chakshu westwards and Bhadra northwards. In Bharatavarsha, Alakananda divides into seven rivers.

The region around Mount Meru is regarded as a svarga on earth. Here live the gods, goddesses, gandharvas, yakshas, rakshasas, daityas and danavas. Only the righteous people can go there, the sinners are not permitted to enter.

The sons of Bharata live in Bharatavarsha. There are seven major mountains in Bharatavarsha and their names are Mahendra, Malaya, Sahya, Shuktimana, Riksha, Vindhya and Paripatra. To the east of Bharatavarsha live the kirtas or hunters and to the west live the yavanas. The rivers Shatadru and Chandrabhaga flow out of the Himalayas, the main rivers mentioned in the Vedas from Mount Paripatra and the rivers Narmada and Surasa from Mount Vindhya.

Jambudvipa is surrounded by the ocean named Lavana. The people of Jambudvipa worship Vishnu. In other dvipas, other gods are worshipped. Bharatavarsha is the best part of Jambudvipa.

There are seven underworlds (patala) on earth. Their names are Atala, Vitala, Nitala, Gabhastimata, Mahatala, Sutala and Patala. Here live the danavas, daityas, yakshas and nagas. Narada once went on a trip to patala and discovered that patala was more beautiful than svaraga. It was a place full of jewels. During the day, the sun only provided light, but no heat. And during the night, the moonbeams provided light, but no cold. Patala was full of rivers, forests and lakes. The inhabitants of patala wore beautiful clothes, rubbed scented paste on their bodies and loved music. At the bottom of patala was Vishnu in the form of a thousand-headed snake. This snake was known as Shesha.

Under the earth and the water are several hells (naraka). They form the kingdom that Yama rules over. There are different narakas for different types of sinners. Those who lie and bear false witness go to Rourava. Those who kill cows go to Rodha. Those who drink, kill brahmanas or steal gold go to Shukara. Those who kill kshatriyas or vaishyas go to Tala. Those who treat their teachers’ wives badly go to Taptakunda. Those who kill messengers or sell women or horses go to Taptalouha. Those who treat their daughters and daughters-in-law badly go to Mahajvala. Those who show disrespect to their seniors or those who criticize the Vedas go to Lavana. Thieves go to Vimohana. Those who criticize good things, Vedas or brahmanas and those who hate their fathers go to Krimibhaksha.

Those who eat before their fathers, gods or guests go to Lalabhaksha. Those who make arrows go to Vedhaka. Those who make swords go to Vishasana. Astrologers go to Adhomukha. Fathers who eat sweets without offering them to their children and brahmanas who sell meat, milk or salt to go to Puyavaha. This is also the naraka that is reserved for brahmanas who keep cats, hens, goats, dogs, pigs or birds to make a living. Brahmanas who make a living as actors or fishermen and poisoners and arsonists go to the naraka known as Rudhirandha. Those who destroy villages go to Vaitarani. The unclean go to the naraka kown as Krishna. Those who destroy forests for no reason go to Asipatravana. Those who make a living by keeping sheep or those who kill deer go to Vanhijvala. Fathers who study under their sons go to Shvabhojana. Those who oppose the law of the four classes go to Niraya.

Apart from these narakas, there are thousands of others. Apart from the sins mentioned earlier, there are thousands of other sins. In the narakas, sinners suffer for their sins. They are hung upside down. Once they have spent the time in naraka and have paid for their sins, they are born again. Depending on how they have behaved, people are born as trees, creepers, worms, fish, birds, animals, human religious people or gods. A sinner does not however have to go to naraka if he repents for his sins. And the best way to repent is to think of Vishnu.

Some Astronomy

Many miles above the earth is the world of the sun. Then come the several worlds of the moon, the Stars, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the saptarshis (the Great Bear constellation) and Dhruva respectively. Dhruva is the centre of all the stars. Above it is Janaloka, where Brahma’s sons live. Gods live in Tapoloka, above Janaloka. Satyaloka is still higher up. It is divided into Brahmaloka and Vaikunthaloka, abodes of Brahma and Vishnu respectively.

The inhabitants of Dhruvaloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka are not destroyed at the end of each cycle of creation. But the inhabitants of the other three lokas are destroyed. The first of these lokas is of course the earth or bhurloka. The second is bhuvarloka, where live the sages, the region between the earth and the sun. And the third is svaroka, the region from the sun to Dhruva. There are thus seven lokas in all.

Actually, the universe consists of fourteen regions, the seven lokas and seven patalas. A loka or a patala is called a bhuvana and there are fourteen such buvanas in the universe. The first of these lokas is of course the earth or bhurloka. The second is bhuvarloka, where live the sages, the region between the earth and the sun. And the third is svarloka, the region from the sun to Dhruva. There are thus seven lokas in all.

Actually, the universe consists of fourteen regions, the seven lokas and seven patalas. A loka or a patala is called a bhuvana and there are fourteen such burvanas in the universe. The bhuvanas are surrounded by darkness on all sides. Around the darkness is water. And around the water is fire. Beyond the fire is the wind and beyond the wind there is the sky.

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