Chapter 21 — Explanation of Bushunda’s Longevity; His Memories of the Past

Bhushunda continued:—

This kalpa tree where we live remains firm and unshaken amidst the revolutions of ages and the blasts of all destroying cyclones and hurricanes. This tree of desire is inaccessible to other people dwelling in all worlds. Therefore we reside here in perfect peace and delight without disturbance of any kind.

When Hiranyakha, the gigantic demon of the antediluvian race, strove to hurl this earth with all its seven continents into the lowest abyss, even then did this tree remain firm on its roots on the summit of this mountain. When the mountainous home of the gods trembled with all other mountains of this earth, even then this tree remained unshaken on its firm basis. 5 When Narayana held the seat of the gods with two of his arms and lifted Mandara Mountain with the other two, even then this tree remained unshaken.

When the sun and the moon shook with fear at the tremendous warfare between gods and demons, and the whole earth was in a state of commotion and confusion, even then this tree stood firmly on its root. When mountains were uprooted by hailstorms blowing with tremendous violence, sweeping away the huge forest trees of this Mount Meru, even then this tree was unshaken by the blast. When Mount Mandara rolled into the Milky Ocean and gusts of wind filling its caves bore it afloat on the surface of the water, and great masses of flood clouds rolled about in the dome of heaven, even then this tree remained steadfast as a rock.

When this Mount Meru was under the grasp of Kalanemi who was going to crush it by his gigantic might, even then this tree remained steady on its roots. 10 When the spiritual masters were blown away by the flapping wings of Garuda, the king of birds, in their warfare with each other for this ambrosial food, even then this remained unmoved by the wind. 11 When the snake that upholds the earth was attacked by Rudra in the form of Garuda, who shook the world by the blast of his wings, even then this tree was unshaken by the wind. 12 When the flame of the last conflagration threatened to consume the world with its seas and mountains, and made the snake which supported the earth on his hoods throw out living fire from all his many mouths, even then this tree was neither shaken nor burnt down by the gorgeous and all-devouring fire.

13 Such being the stability of this tree, O sage, there is no danger that can take us here, just as there is no evil that can ever befall the inhabitants of heaven. How can I, O great sage, ever be exposed to any danger when I am situated in this tree which defies all casualties? I am out of all fear and danger as those who are situated in heaven.

14 Vasishta replied, “But tell me, O sagely bird who has borne the blasts of dissolution, how could you remain unhurt and unimpaired when many suns, moons and stars have fallen and faded away?”

15 Bhushunda said:—

The order of the world and the laws of nature are broken and dissolved at the end of a kalpa period. Then I am compelled to forsake our nest as an ungrateful man alienates his best friend. 16 Then I remain in the air freed from my fancies, the members of the body become defunct of their natural functions, and the mind is released from its acts of willing. 17 When the zodiacal suns shine in their full vigor and melt down the mountains by their intense heat, I remain with my understanding under the influence of the power of the Varuna mantra. 18 When the doomsday flood winds blow with full force, shattering and scattering huge mountains everywhere, then by remembering the Parvati mantra I remain as fixed as a rock. 19 When the earth with its mountains is dissolved in water and presents the face of a universal ocean over its surface, then by virtue of the flying power of the Vayu mantra I keep myself aloft in the air.

20 Then I convey myself across this visible world and rest in the holy state of the spotless spirit. I remain in a state of profound sleep without any agitation of body or mind. 21 I remain in this mentally tranquil state until the lotus-born Brahma is again employed in his work of creation. Then I reenter into the limits of the re-created world, where I again settle on this tree of desire.

22 Vasishta said, “Tell me, O lord of birds, why don’t other yogis remain as steady as you by the fixed attention of your dhyana meditation?”

23 Bhushunda replied:—

O venerable sage, the inseparable and overruling power of destiny that nobody can prevent or set aside dooms me to live this way, as it does others in their own particular modes of life. 24 None can oppose or remodel what must come to pass on him. It is nature’s law that all things must be as they are ordained to be. 25 Because of my firm desire things are so fixed and allotted to my share that they must so come to pass as my fate at each kalpa and over again, that this tree must grow on the summit of this mountain, and that I must have my nest in its hollow.

26 Vasishta said, “Sage, you are as long-lived as our salvation is lasting. You are able to guide us in the paths of truth because you are wise in true wisdom and calm in your purpose of yoga of deep meditation. 27 Sage, you have seen the many changes of the world, and have been experienced in all things in the repeated course of creations. You must be best able to tell me the wonders that you have witnessed during the revolution of ages.”

28 Bhushunda replied:—

O great sage, I remember that the earth beneath this Mount Meru was once a desolate land without a hill, rock, trees, plants or even grass upon it. 29 I also remember the earth under me was full of ashes for a period of numberless centuries of years. 30 I remember a time when the lord of day, the sun, was unproduced, when the moon was not yet known, and when the earth under me was not divided by day and light but was lit by the light of this Mount Meru. 31 I remember this mountain throwing the light of its gems on one side of the valley below and leaving the other in utter darkness. It resembled Lokaloka Mount presenting its light and dark side to people on either side of the horizon.

32 I remember seeing war between gods and demons and the flight and slaughter of people on all sides of the earth. 33 I remember witnessing the revolution of the four yuga ages of the world, and the revolt of the haughty and giddy asuras all along. I also have seen Daitya demons driven back to the wall. 34 I remember the spot of the earth carried beyond the boundaries of the universal flood, and I recollect how the cottage of this world had only the uncreated three (Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva) left in it. 35 I remember seeing no other creature on earth except plants for the long duration of half of the four yuga ages. 36 I also remember this earth full of mountains for the space of four full yugas when there were no men on earth and their customs and usages had no ground in it.

37 I remember seeing this earth filled with the bones of dead Daityas and other fossil remains rising in heaps like mountains and continuing in their dilapidated and crumbling state for myriads of years. 38 I remember the formless state of the world when darkness prevailed over the face of the deep, when the serpentine support of the earth fled for fear, the celestials left their ethereal courses, and the sky presented neither a bird or a tree top. 39 I remember the time when the northern and southern divisions (of India), were both included under the one boundary mountain (of Himalaya). I remember also when the proud Vindhya Hills contended as equals with the great Mount Meru.

40 I remember these and many other events which will be too long to relate. But what is the use of long narrations if you listen to me describing the main substance in brief?

41 I have seen innumerable munis and primogenitors (manvantaras) pass away before me. I have known hundreds of the quadruple yugas glide away, one after the other, all of which were full of great deeds and events but which are now buried in oblivion.

42 I remember the creation in this world of one sole body named Virat, when the world was entirely devoid of men and asuras. 43 I remember that age of the world when brahmins were addicted to wine and drunkenness, when the shudras (the lowest caste) were cast out by the suras (gods), and when women had the privilege of marrying many men, 44 when the surface of the earth was one great sheet of water entirely devoid of any vegetation, and when men were produced without men knowing women. 45 I remember that age of the world when it was a void. There was no earth or sky or any of their inhabitants. No men and no mountains were in existence, nor were there the sun and moon to divide the days and nights.

46 I remember the sphere of heaven shrouded under a sheet of darkness when there was no Indra or other king to rule in heaven or earth, which had not yet its high and low and middle classes of men. 47 It was after that when Brahma thought of creating the worlds and divided them into the three spheres of upper, lower and intermediate regions. Then he settled the boundary mountains and distinguished Asia from the rest. 48 Then the earth was not divided into different countries and provinces, nor were there distinctions of caste and creed or institutions for the various orders of its people. Then there was no name for the starry frame or any name for the polar star or its circle. 49 It was then that the sun and moon had their birth and the gods Indra and Upendra had their dominions. After this occurred the slaughter of Hiranyakashipu and the restoration of the earth by the great Varaha, the boar-like incarnation of Vishnu.

50 Then there was the establishment of kings over the peoples on earth and the revelation of the Vedas given to mankind. After this Mandara Mountain was uprooted from the earth and the ocean was churned by the gods and giant races of men. 51 I have seen the birth of the garuda bird of heaven that bore Vishnu on his back. I have seen the seas breaking in bays and gulfs. I remember all these events as if they were the latest occurrences in the course of the world, like the memories of my youngsters and yourself likewise. 52 In former ages I have known the god Vishnu with his vehicle of garuda to have become Brahma with his vehicle of the swan, and the same transformed to Shiva having the bull for his vehicle, and vice-versa.