Chapter 22 — Further Memories of Past Ages, Gods and Scriptures

Bhushunda continued:—

Moreover sage, I will tell you many other things that I remember occurred in the course of the world in bygone times. I remember the births of the seers Bharadwaja, Pulasta, Atri, Narada, Indra, the Marichis and you also. I bear in my mind the venerable Pulaha, Uddalaka, Kratu, Bhrigu, Angiras, Sanatkumara, Bhringi, Ganesha, Skanda and others in their retinue who were known as the Master Rishis of yore. I retain the memory of Gauri, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Gayatri and many more who are reckoned as the female personifications of divine attributes.

I have seen the mountains Meru, Mandara, Kailash, Himalayas and the Dardura hills. I carry in my memory the exploits of the demons Hiranyaksha, Kalanimi, Hayagriva, Hiranyakashipu, Vati and Prahlada and many others of the Danava and other demonic races. 5 I keep in my mind the memories of the renowned Sibi, Nyanku, Prithu, Vainya, Nala, Nabhaga, Mandhata, Sagara, Dilipa and Nahusa, kings of men and rulers of earth. I know by heart the names of Atriya, Vyasa, Valmiki, Sukadeva, Vatsyayana and other sages, and the names of Upamanyu, Manimanki, Bhagiratha and other pious princes of old.

So there are many things of remote past times, and others of later ages, and some relating to the present time, all of which are imprinted in the memory. It is needless to recount them over again.

O sagely son of Brahma, I remember your eight births in the eight different epochs of the world. This is your eighth birth in which you have come as a guest to my nest. At one time you were born of air, and at another of heavenly fire. One time you were produced from water, and at others from emptiness and of solid rock.

10 The constitution of created bodies conforms us to the nature of the principle elements of which they are formed. The positions of heavenly bodies have a great influence on their production. I have witnessed three such formations of the world composed of fiery, watery and earthly substances at different times. 11 I remember ten repeated creations in which the usages of people were uniform and alike and the gods were settled in their homes. They were contemporary with the asuras whom they braved in battle and were located in their homestead. 12 I saw the earth sinking five times under, and lifted up as many times from the ocean by the divine Kurma Manvantara, the incarnation of Vishnu in the form of the tortoise.

13 Twelve times I have witnessed the great battle of gods and demigods, uprooting and uplifting Mandara Mountain to churn out the last ambrosia from underneath the ocean. 14 Thrice I have seen the tyrant Hiranyaksha levy his tax upon the gods in heaven, hurling the fruitful earth with all her healing and medicinal plants underneath the ocean. 15 I saw Hari (Vishnu) come down six times in the shape of Renuka’s son, Parashurama, and remove the kshatriya warrior caste for very long periods. 16 O sage, I remember the return of a hundred Kali Yuga ages and a hundred incarnations of Hari in the form of Buddha and as the son of royal Suka or Suddhadana in the land of Kirata.

17 I bear in my memory the overthrow of the demon Tripura by Shiva thirty times, and the disruption of King Daksha’s yagna more than once by the angry Hara (Shiva). I recall the downfall of ten Indras by the offending god who bears the crescent moon on his forehead. 18 I recollect the battle fought eight times between Hari and Hara, and the first appearance of Vishnu and Shiva, and the cold typhoid fevers in these conflicts.

19 I remember, O silent sage, the difference in the intellects of men at every succeeding age and the various readings of Vedas at the ceremonial observances of mankind. 20 O sinless saint, the Puranas, though they agree in the main substance, are so full of interpolations that they have been greatly multiplied in successive ages. 21 I remember also many historical works composed in succeeding ages by authors learned in the Vedas.

22 I remember the wonderful composition of legendary accounts under the title of the Maharamayana, a work comprising one hundred thousand couplets (slokas) full of sound wisdom. 23 This work presents the conduct of Rama for the imitation of men and sets the misbehavior of Ravana as an example for the reproach of mankind. This teaching contains the essence of all wisdom and serves as the luscious fruit of the tree of knowledge placed in the hands of all people. 24 This work is composed by Valmiki, who in time will compose some others also. These you will come to know when they are presented to the world in time. 25 This work, whether it is a composition of Valmiki or of some other person, has been published twelve times and is now going to be almost forgotten by men.

26 The other work of similar importance is known under the name of Mahabharata. I remember it was first written by Vyasa, but it is becoming obsolete at present. 27 Whether it is the composition of a person known by the name of Vyasa or a compilation of some other person, up to this time it has undergone its seventh edition and is now quickly being forgotten.

28 I remember also, O chief of sages, many tales and novels and other scriptures composed in every age and yuga which have been written in a variety of styles and diction. 29 O good sage, I also remember having seen many new productions and inventions following one another in succeeding ages. It is impossible to enumerate this innumerable series of things.

30 I remember Lord Vishnu descending many times on earth to destroy ferocious rakshasa demons, and is now to appear here the eleventh time under the name of Rama. 31 I know Lord Hari (Vishnu) has come down three times in his form of the half lion half man Narasimha to thrash the demon Hiranyakashipu as many times like a lion killing an elephant. 32 Vishnu is yet to be born in his sixteenth incarnation at Vasudeva’s abode for the purpose of rescuing the earth from the burden of the oppression of its tyrant lords and despots.

33 This cosmic phenomenon is no reality, nor it is even in existence. It is only a temporary illusion. It appears like a bubble of water to disappear in the next moment. 34 This temporary illusion of phenomena rises and sets of its own accord in the conscious soul, just as boisterous waves rise and subside of themselves in the bosom of waters.

35 I have known the world to be sometimes uniform in its course and in its state of things. At others, there is a partial difference in their nature and order. At other times also, I observed total change take place in the constitution of things. 36 I remember the former nature and state of things, and the manner and actions of former people and the customs of those times. I saw them give room to others in their turn, and those again to be displaced by others.

37 O brahmin, every revolution of time (manvantara) is attended with a reversion in the course of the world. A new generation is born to supplant the old men of renown. 38 Then I have a new set of friends and a new retinue of relatives. I get a new batch of servants and a new house for my dwelling.

39 Sometimes I had to remain in my solitary retreat by the side of the Vindhya range, and sometimes on the ridge of Sahya Mountain. At other times I had my residence on the Dardura Hills, so my lodging is ever shifting from one place to another and never fixed in any spot forever. 40 I often have been a resident of the Himalayas, of Malaya Mountain in the south of India, then led by destiny, as I described before, I found my last abode on this Mount Meru. 41 By getting to it, I built my nest on the branch of a mango tree and continued to live there, O chief of the munis, for ages and time without end.

42 It is by my pristine destiny that this tree has grown here for my residence. Therefore, O sage, I can have no release from my body to come to my desirable end. 43 By appointment of predestination, the same tree has grown here in the form of the wish-fulfilling kalpa tree. It preserves its beauty even now as it did when my father Chanda was living.

44 Being thus preordained by destiny, I settled in this place when there was no distinction of the quarters of heaven as north or east, nor of the sky or mountain. 45 Then the north was on another side and this Meru was in another place. I was then one and alone, devoid of any form or body and bright as the essence which is never shrouded by the darkness of night. 46 After awaking from the unconsciousness of my trance, I saw and recognized all the objects of creation. I knew the locations of Meru and other hills and valleys from the positions of the stars and the motions of heavenly bodies. 47 The site of the polar circle of Meru and the course of the planets being changed in different creations, there follows an alteration of the points of the compass and a difference in the sides of the quarters. Therefore there is nothing as a positive truth except our conception of it as such and such.

48 The vibration of the soul displays these wonderful conceptions in the mind and excites the various phenomena in nature. It converts a son to a father and makes a son of the father. It represents friend as foe and again shows a foe in the light of a friend. 49 I remember many men became effeminate and many women grew quite masculine. I have seen the good manners of the Satya golden age prevail in the Kali Yuga iron age, and those of Kali gaining ground in its preceding ages. 50 I also have seen many men in the Treta and Dwapara Yugas ages of the world who were ignorant of the Vedas and unacquainted with their precepts. They followed the fictions of their own invention which led them to heterodoxy.

51 I also remember, O brahmin, the laxity of manners and morals among the gods, demigods and men since the beginning of the world. 52 I remember, after the lapse of a thousand cycles of the four yuga ages, that Brahma created from his mind some aerial beings of unearthly forms. These spiritual beings occupied a space extending over ten cycles of creations. 53 I remember likewise the varying positions and boundaries of countries, and also the very changing and diverse actions and occupations of their people. I remember too the various costumes and fashions and amusements of men during the ceaseless course of days and nights in the endless duration of time.