Srimad Bhagavatham – What is a Purana

Till now, we have seen about Rama from different perspectives – that of his family to friends and enemies, as told in the Ramayana. The next progressive Avatar of Vishnu is Krishna.

Many of us have this understanding that if the Itihaasa Ramayana was for Rama, then obviously the other Itihaasa which is the Mahabaratha is for Krishna. While Mahabaratha features Krishna, contrary to what many think it is not the life story of Krishna. Krishna is just a part of Mahabaratha. if an avatar of Vishnu is just a part of the story, then can you imagine the magnitude of that story called Mahabaratha?

Anyway, if Mahabaratha does not chronicle Krishna, then what does?

Bhagavatha Purana or Srimad Bhagavatham does.

Before we get into the Bhagavatham, let us understand what does the term Purana means. The Puranas, along with the Vedas and Itihaasas form the massive religious bedrock of the ancient Indian tradition. They go back in time to perhaps more than five millennia. The bulk of them is said to have been compiled from an existing ancient tradition by Vyasa whose birth is dated by one perceptive scholar at 3374 BC. The Puranas present the activities of gods, super-men, and humans in a human setting, to illustrate vividly, how the purpose of life is to help the human to rise to the level of the super-human and the divine, and prevent them from descending to the level of the sub-human. The setting is human, and the question is whether it is realistic or real, though of course, there is a larger philosophical question whether this really matters, or what reality is. Yet there is, in the narratives of the Itihasas and Puranas a vast measure of internal, consistent detail, in respect of human dynasties that simply clamors to be recognized as real.

As readers, we can ascertain the genealogies of Rishis and Kings including Krishna and Yudhishtira, since Yudhishtira was a peer who lived at the same time as Krishna. Let us look at these genealogies in more detail when we progressively elaborate on the Puranas in general and Srimad Bhagavatham in particular in the coming posts.

Dissolution and Us

I ended the last post with some lingering questions about the first half of Brahma’s life and about the previous Manus. If you wonder what happened to them, Pralayam or Layam or dissolution – is what happened.

There are 4 types of Pralaya that is mentioned in our scriptures like Vishnu Puranam and Srimdad Bhagavatham. They are

  1. Prakritika or Elemental dissolution
  2. Naimittika or Occasional dissolution
  3. Atyantika or Absolute or Ultimate
  4. Nithya or Perpetual

In this post, let us see about the last 2. I will take a bottom up approach and start with Nithya Pralayam.

Nitya Pralayam – is the constant and perpetual destruction of all that is born(everything that is born has to die). This happens on a daily basis to all living things. This is the opposite of Nitya Sarga or constant creation. We all undergo this dissolution. This is the Pralayam that is closest to us and the one that we experience the most.

Next is the Atyantika or Absolute Dissolution – This happens when the atman is finally dissolved and cut-off from the cycle of birth and death. An atman that attains Moksha undergoes the ultimate annihilation of the bondage of the soul and develops a firm realization of the unfailing supreme soul.

Nitya and Atyantika Pralays are directly related to us-the Atmans. It is clear that while Nitya takes place automatically depending on our Karmas and deeds, Atyantika is something that we should work towards attaining and can only be achieved by the direct knowledge of the Supreme Being.

But, either of these 2 dissolution happened when Brahma’s first 50 years (Padma Kalpa) ended. What happened then is what we will see in the next post.

Time travel in Srimad Bhagavatham

People who saw the movie Looper went all agog with the concept of time-travel used in the movie( When the mob wants to eliminate someone, it sends the target into the past, where a hit man known as a looper lies in wait to finish the job)

Something of the same sort happened to Markandeya once- which is described in Srimad Bhagavatham. As we all know, He is the immortal sage who gets his immortality from Lord Siva. He is the only survivor at the end of Brahma’s day when Pralayam happens due to this immortality. Pleased with his austerity and discipline in his immortal life, Lord Narayan appears before him. Markandeya is actually pleased, just to see Lord Narayan, but then wants to see a glimpse of His illusionary Potency (or Maya). Lord Narayan grants his wish and sends him off to his ashram.

One day Markandeya is doing his Sandhya Vandan in the evening, when suddenly there is a big deluge all around him. Water engulfs all that is existent around him. He realizes that it is the Pralayam. He is wandering in this Pralayam Ocean for millions of years. Suddenly he sees a small baby floating towards him in a big banyan leaf, with his toe in his mouth. The baby takes out his toe and inhales, drawing Markandeya into Him.

Inside the baby’s stomach, Markandeya sees the entire universe: the sky, heavens and earth, the stars, mountains, oceans, great islands and continents, the expanses in every direction, the saintly and demoniac living beings, the forests, countries, rivers, cities and mines, the agricultural villages and cow pastures, and the occupational and spiritual activities of the various social divisions. He also sees the basic elements of creation along with all their by-products, as well as time itself, which regulates the progression of countless ages within the days of Brahma. In addition, he sees everything else created for use in material life. All this he sees manifested before him as if it were real.

In this entire melee, he also sees himself in his ashram and performing his daily rituals! This is a completely different and a very advanced time travel concept, where HIS PAST is sent to ITS FUTURE for him to see IT from HIS PRESENT state.

WOW!

Let us see what happens to our beloved Markandeya.

The baby exhales and throws him out and at that moment, everything around him vanishes and he realizes that he is still in his ashram doing his daily evening rituals. He realizes that Lord Narayan just displayed his illusionary powers, showing Markandeya what actually happens during the Pralayam, at the same time.

The simple truth that Time travel was not thought of as an advanced concept back then, but something that was normal, shows how advanced our ancestors were.(Srimad Bhagavatham which tells this story-is of primordial origins).

PS – If You want to see this baby in the banyan leaf, search for Gokul Santol powder Logo. He is Vada Badra Sayee.

We are not alone!

When NASA says  “We are not alone” what do we think? Would your interest be spiked if I tell that the same thing has been said thousands of years ago by a sage called parasarar?

Read on…

We all live on Earth which is called “Bhúr-loka” (or Bhu-Loka). There are 6 more lokas above us which form a higher level of existence. They are

  1. Bhur-Loka – Inhabited by us-Humans
  2. Bhuvar-Loka – Sphere of Sky right above us
  3. Swar-Loka – Planetary sphere where Devas and Indira live
  4. Mahar-Loka – inhabited by saintly souls – This is the intermediary Loka in between the lower 3 lokas and the upper 3 lokas.
  5. Jana-Loka – Sanandana and other pure minded sons of Brahma reside here
  6. Tapo-Loka – inhabited by the deities called Vaibhrájas
  7. Satya-Loka – This is inhabited by souls which never again know death and Brahma

The Vishnu Puranam dwells in detail about the distances between each loka and what actually exists in between them. That’s for another post though.

Now below us, we have

  1. Atala
  2. Vitala
  3. Sutala
  4. Talatala
  5. Mahatala
  6. Rasatala
  7. Patala

These are the regions that are inhabited by Yakshas, Rakshasas, Pisasas, Pretas and Bhutas. Then we have Naraka(m) or hell.

That is not all. If you consider this whole system as an egg (or Andam) then there are the following  layers of coatings, starting with Water and encompassed by layers of Agni(fire), Air(Vayu), Mind and Intellect. AND there ends the boundaries of one egg.

There are thousands and thousands of such eggs in the cosmos, with each egg having its own Brahma for creation and other celestial beings for performing their own duties.

The next time we hear someone say “We are not alone”, let us not laugh at that, but introspect a little to see how small a speck we are in the whole scheme of things.