Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17

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Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17

Srimad Bhagavatam 5 Chapter 17 The Descent of the River Ganges

Srimad Bhagavatam
SB 5.17 The Descent of the River Ganges

The Seventeenth Chapter describes the origin of the Ganges River and how it flows in and around Ilāvṛta-varṣa. There is also a description of the prayers Lord Śiva offers to Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa, part of the quadruple expansions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Viṣṇu once approached Bali Mahārāja while the King was performing a sacrifice. The Lord appeared before him as Trivikrama, or Vāmana, and begged alms from the King in the form of three steps of land. With two steps, Lord Vāmana covered all three planetary systems and pierced the covering of the universe with the toes of His left foot. A few drops of water from the Causal Ocean leaked through this hole and fell on the head of Lord Śiva, where they remained for one thousand millenniums. These drops of water are the sacred Ganges River. It first flows onto the heavenly planets, which are located on the soles of Lord Viṣṇu’s feet. The Ganges River is known by many names, such as the Bhāgīrathī and the Jāhnavī. It purifies Dhruvaloka and the planets of the seven sages because both Dhruva and the sages have no other desire than to serve the Lord’s lotus feet. 

The Ganges River, emanating from the lotus feet of the Lord, inundates the heavenly planets, especially the moon, and then flows through Brahmapurī atop Mount Meru. Here the river divides into four branches (known as Sītā, Alakanandā, Cakṣu and Bhadrā), which then flow down to the ocean of salt water. The branch known as Sītā flows through Śekhara-parvata and Gandhamādana-parvata and then flows down to Bhadrāśva-varṣa, where it mixes with the ocean of salt water in the West. The Cakṣu branch flows through Mālyavān-giri and, after reaching Ketumāla-varṣa, mixes with the ocean of salt water in the West. The branch known as Bhadrā flows onto Mount Meru, Mount Kumuda, and the Nīla, Śveta and Śṛṅgavān mountains before it reaches Kuru-deśa, where it flows into the ocean of salt water in the north. The Alakanandā branch flows through Brahmālaya, crosses over many mountains, including Hemakūṭa and Himakūṭa, and then reaches Bhārata-varṣa, where it flows into the southern side of the ocean of salt water. Many other rivers and their branches flow through the nine varṣas. 

The tract of land known as Bhārata-varṣa is the field of activities, and the other eight varṣas are for persons who are meant to enjoy heavenly comfort. In each of these eight beautiful provinces, the celestial denizens enjoy various standards of material comfort and pleasure. A different incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead distributes His mercy in each of the nine varṣas of Jambūdvīpa. 

In the Ilāvṛta-varṣa, Lord Śiva is the only male. There he lives with his wife, Bhavānī, who is attended by many maidservants. If any other male enters that province, Bhavānī curses him to become a woman. Lord Śiva worships Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa by offering various prayers, one of which is as follows: “My dear Lord, please liberate all Your devotees from material life and bind all the nondevotees to the material world. Without Your mercy, no one can be released from the bondage of material existence.”

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.1

śrī-śuka uvāca:
tatra bhagavataḥ sākṣād yajña-liṅgasya viṣṇor vikramato vāma-pādāṅguṣṭha-nakha-nirbhinnordhvāṇḍa-kaṭāha-vivareṇāntaḥ-praviṣṭā yā bāhya-jala-dhārā tac-caraṇa-paṅkajāvanejanāruṇa-kiñjalkoparañjitākhila-jagad-agha-malāpahopasparśanāmalā sākṣād bhagavat-padīty anupalakṣita-vaco ‘bhidhīyamānāti-mahatā kālena yuga-sahasropalakṣaṇena divo mūrdhany avatatāra yat tad viṣṇu-padam āhuḥ

SB 5.17.1

śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; tatra—at that time; bhagavataḥ—of the incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; sākṣāt—directly; yajña-liṅgasya—the enjoyer of the results of all sacrifices; viṣṇoḥ—of Lord Viṣṇu; vikramataḥ—while taking His second step; vāma-pāda—of His left leg; aṅguṣṭha—of the big toe; nakha—by the nail; nirbhinna—pierced; ūrdhva—upper; aṇḍa-kaṭāha—the covering of the universe (consisting of seven layers-earth, water, fire, etc.); vivareṇa—through the bole; antaḥ-praviṣṭā—having entered the universe; yā—which; bāhya-jala-dhārā—the flow of water from the Causal Ocean outside the universe; tat—of Him; caraṇa-paṅkaja—of the lotus feet; avanejana—by the washing; aruṇa-kiñjalka—by reddish powder; uparañjitā—being colored; akhila-jagat—of the whole world; agha-mala—the sinful activities; apahā—destroys; upasparśana—the touching of which; amalā—completely pure; sākṣāt—directly; bhagavat-padī—emanating from the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; iti—thus; anupalakṣita—described; vacaḥ—by the name; abhidhīyamānā—being called; ati-mahatā kālena—after a long time; yuga-sahasra-upalakṣaṇena—consisting of one thousand millenniums; divaḥ—of the sky; mūrdhani—on the head (Dhruvaloka); avatatāra—descended; yat—which; tat—that; viṣṇu-padam—the lotus feet of Lord Viṣṇu; āhuḥ—they call.

Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: My dear King, Lord Viṣṇu, the enjoyer of all sacrifices, appeared as Vāmanadeva in the sacrificial arena of Bali Mahārāja. Then He extended His left foot to the end of the universe and pierced a hole in its covering with the nail of His big toe. Through the hole, the pure water of the Causal Ocean entered this universe as the Ganges River. Having washed the lotus feet of the Lord, which are covered with reddish powder, the water of the Ganges acquired a very beautiful pink color. Every living being can immediately purify his mind of material contamination by touching the transcendental water of the Ganges, yet its waters remain ever pure. Because the Ganges directly touches the lotus feet of the Lord before descending within this universe, she is known as Viṣṇupadī. Later she received other names like Jāhnavī and Bhāgīrathī. After one thousand millenniums, the water of the Ganges descended on Dhruvaloka, the topmost planet in this universe. Therefore all learned sages and scholars proclaim Dhruvaloka to be Viṣṇupada [“situated on Lord Viṣṇu’s lotus feet”].

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.2

yatra ha vāva vīra-vrata auttānapādiḥ parama-bhāgavato ‘smat-kula-devatā-caraṇāravindodakam iti yām anusavanam utkṛṣyamāṇa-bhagavad-bhakti-yogena dṛḍhaṁ klidyamānāntar-hṛdaya autkaṇṭhya-vivaśāmīlita-locana-yugala-kuḍmala-vigalitāmala-bāṣpa-kalayābhivyajyamāna-roma-pulaka-kulako ‘dhunāpi paramādareṇa śirasā bibharti.

SB 5.17.2

yatra ha vāva—in Dhruvaloka; vīra-vrataḥ—firmly determined; auttānapādiḥ—the famous son of Mahārāja Uttānapāda; parama-bhāgavataḥ—the most exalted devotee; asmat—our; kula-devatā—of the family Deity; caraṇa-aravinda—of the lotus feet; udakam—in the water; iti—thus; yām—which; anusavanam—constantly; utkṛṣyamāṇa—being increased; bhagavat-bhakti-yogena—by devotional service unto the Lord; dṛḍham—greatly; klidyamāna-antaḥ-hṛdayaḥ—being softened within the core of his heart; autkaṇṭhya—by great anxiety; vivaśa—spontaneously; amīlita—slightly open; locana—of eyes; yugala—pair; kuḍmala—from the flowerlike; vigalita—emanating; amala—uncontaminated; bāṣpa-kalayā—with tears; abhivyajyamāna—being manifested; roma-pulaka-kulakaḥ—whose symptoms of ecstasy on the body; adhunā api—even now; parama-ādareṇa—with great reverence; śirasā—by the head; bibharti—he bears.

Dhruva Mahārāja, the famous son of Mahārāja Uttānapāda, is known as the most exalted devotee of the Supreme Lord because of his firm determination in executing devotional service. Knowing that the sacred Ganges water washes the lotus feet of Lord Viṣṇu, Dhruva Mahārāja, situated on his own planet, to this very day accepts that water on his head with great devotion. Because he constantly thinks of Kṛṣṇa very devoutly within the core of his heart, he is overcome with ecstatic anxiety. Tears flow from his half-open eyes, and eruptions appear on his entire body.

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.3

tataḥ sapta ṛṣayas tat prabhāvābhijñā yāṁ nanu tapasa ātyantikī siddhir etāvatī bhagavati sarvātmani vāsudeve ‘nuparata-bhakti-yoga-lābhenaivopekṣitānyārthātma-gatayo muktim ivāgatāṁ mumukṣava iva sabahu-mānam adyāpi jaṭā-jūṭair udvahanti.

SB 5.17.3

tataḥ—thereafter; sapta ṛṣayaḥ—the seven great sages (beginning with Marīci); tat prabhāva-abhijñāḥ—who knew very well the influence of the Ganges River; yām—this Ganges water; nanu—indeed; tapasaḥ—of our austerities; ātyantikī—the ultimate; siddhiḥ—perfection; etāvatī—this much; bhagavati—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; sarva-ātmani—in the all-pervading; vāsudeve—Kṛṣṇa; anuparata—continuous; bhakti-yoga—of the mystic process of devotional service; lābhena—simply by achieving this platform; eva—certainly; upekṣita—neglected; anya—other; artha-ātma-gatayaḥ—all other means of perfection (namely religion, economic development, sense gratification and liberation); muktim—liberation from material bondage; iva—like; āgatām—obtained; mumukṣavaḥ—persons desiring liberation; iva—like; sa-bahu-mānam—with great honor; adya api—even now; jaṭā-jūṭaiḥ—with matted locks of hair; udvahanti—they carry.

The seven great sages [Marīci, Vasiṣṭha, Atri and so on] reside on planets beneath Dhruvaloka. Well aware of the influence of the water of the Ganges, to this day they keep Ganges water on the tufts of hair on their heads. They have concluded that this is the ultimate wealth, the perfection of all austerities, and the best means of prosecuting transcendental life. Having obtained uninterrupted devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they neglect all other beneficial processes like religion, economic development, sense gratification and even merging into the Supreme. Just as jñānīs think that merging into the existence of the Lord is the highest truth, these seven exalted personalities accept devotional service as the perfection of life.

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.4

tato ‘neka-sahasra-koṭi-vimānānīka-saṅkula-deva-yānenāvatar-antīndu maṇḍalam āvārya brahma-sadane nipatati.

SB 5.17.4

tataḥ—after purifying the seven planets of the seven great sages; aneka—many; sahasra—thousands; koṭi—of millions; vimāna-anīka—with contingents of airplanes; saṅkula—congested; deva-yānena—by the spaceways of the demigods; avatarantī—descending; indu-maṇḍalam—the moon planet; āvārya—inundated; brahma-sadane—to the abode of Lord Brahmā atop Sumeru-parvata; nipatati—falls down.

After purifying the seven planets near Dhruvaloka [the polestar], the Ganges water is carried through the spaceways of the demigods in billions of celestial airplanes. Then it inundates the moon [Candraloka] and finally reaches Lord Brahmā’s abode atop Mount Meru.

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.5

tatra caturdhā bhidyamānā caturbhir nāmabhiś catur-diśam abhispandantī nada-nadī-patim evābhiniviśati sītālakanandā cakṣur bhadreti.

SB 5.17.5

tatra—there (on top of Mount Meru); caturdhā—into four branches; bhidyamānā—being divided; caturbhiḥ—with four; nāmabhiḥ—names; catuḥ-diśam—the four directions (east, west, north and south); abhispandantī—profusely flowing; nada-nadī-patim—the reservoir of all great rivers (the ocean); eva—certainly; abhiniviśati—enters; sītā-alakanandā—Sītā and Alakanandā; cakṣuḥ—Cakṣu; bhadrā—Bhadrā; iti—known by these names.

On top of Mount Meru, the Ganges divides into four branches, each of which gushes in a different direction [east, west, north and south]. These branches, known by the names Sītā, Alakanandā, Cakṣu and Bhadrā, flow down to the ocean.

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.6

sītā tu brahma-sadanāt kesarācalādi-giri-śikharebhyo ‘dho ‘dhaḥ prasravantī gandhamādana-mūrdhasu patitvāntareṇa bhadrāśva-varṣaṁ prācyāṁ diśi kṣāra-samudram abhipraviśati.

SB 5.17.6

sītā—the branch known as Sītā; tu—certainly; brahma-sadanāt—from Brahmapurī; kesarācala-ādi—of Kesarācala and of other great mountains; giri—hills; śikharebhyaḥ—from the tops; adhaḥ adhaḥ—downward; prasravantī—flowing; gandhamādana—of Gandhamādana Mountain; mūrdhasu—on the top; patitvā—falling down; antareṇa—within; bhadrāśva-varṣam—the province known as Bhadrāśva; prācyām—in the western; diśi—direction; kṣāra-samudram—the ocean of salt water; abhipraviśati—enters.

The branch of the Ganges known as the Sītā flows through Brahmapurī atop Mount Meru, and from there it runs down to the nearby peaks of the Kesarācala Mountains, which stand almost as high as Mount Meru itself. These mountains are like a bunch of filaments around Mount Meru. From the Kesarācala Mountains, the Ganges falls to the peak of Gandhamādana Mountain and then flows into the land of Bhadrāśva-varṣa. Finally it reaches the ocean of salt water in the west.

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.7

evaṁ mālyavac-chikharān niṣpatantī tato ‘nuparata-vegā ketumālam abhi cakṣuḥ pratīcyāṁ diśi sarit-patiṁ praviśati.

SB 5.17.7

evam—in this way; mālyavat-śikharāt—from the top of Mālyavān Mountain; niṣpatantī—falling down; tataḥ—thereafter; anuparata-vegā—whose force is uninterrupted; ketumālam abhi—into the land known as Ketumāla-varṣa; cakṣuḥ—the branch known as Cakṣu; pratīcyām—in the West; diśi—direction; sarit-patim—the ocean; praviśati—enters into.

The branch of the Ganges known as Cakṣu falls onto the summit of Mālyavān Mountain and from there cascades onto the land of Ketumāla-varṣa. The Ganges flows incessantly through Ketumāla-varṣa and in this way also reaches the ocean of salt water in the West.

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.8

bhadrā cottarato meru-śiraso nipatitā giri-śikharād giri-śikharam atihāya śṛṅgavataḥ śṛṅgād avasyandamānā uttarāṁs tu kurūn abhita udīcyāṁ diśi jaladhim abhipraviśati.

SB 5.17.8

bhadrā—the branch known as Bhadrā; ca—also; uttarataḥ—to the northern side; meru-śirasaḥ—from the top of Mount Meru; nipatitā—having fallen; giri-śikharāt—from the peak of Kumuda Mountain; giri-śikharam—to the peak of Nīla Mountain; atihāya—passing over as if not touching; śṛṅgavataḥ—of the mountain known as Śṛṅgavān; śṛṅgāt—from the peak; avasyandamānā—flowing; uttarān—the northern; tu—but; kurūn—the land known as Kuru; abhitaḥ—on all sides; udīcyām—in the northern; diśi—direction; jaladhim—the ocean of salt water; abhipraviśati—enters into.

The branch of the Ganges known as Bhadrā flows from the northern side of Mount Meru. Its waters fall onto the peaks of Kumuda Mountain, Mount Nīla, Śveta Mountain and Śṛṅgavān Mountain in succession. Then it runs down into the province of Kuru and, after crossing through that land, flows into the saltwater ocean in the north.

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.9

tathaivālakanandā dakṣiṇena brahma-sadanād bahūni giri-kūṭāny atikramya hemakūṭād dhaimakūṭāny ati-rabhasatara-raṁhasā luṭhayantī bhāratam abhivarṣaṁ dakṣiṇasyāṁ diśi jaladhim abhipraviśati yasyāṁ snānārthaṁ cāgacchataḥ puṁsaḥ pade pade ‘śvamedha-rājasūyādīnāṁ phalaṁ na durlabham iti.

SB 5.17.9

tathā eva—similarly; alakanandā—the branch known as Alakanandā; dakṣiṇena—by the southern side; brahma-sadanāt—from the city known as Brahmapurī; bahūni—many; giri-kūṭāni—the tops of mountains; atikramya—crossing over; hemakūṭāt—from Hemakūṭa Mountain; haimakūṭāni—and Himakūṭa; ati-rabhasatara—more fiercely; raṁhasā—with great force; luṭhayantī—plundering; bhāratam abhivarṣam—on all sides of Bhārata-varṣa; dakṣiṇasyām—in the southern; diśi—direction; jaladhim—the ocean of salt water; abhipraviśati—enters into; yasyām—in which; snāna-artham—for bathing; ca—and; āgacchataḥ—of one who is coming; puṁsaḥ—a person; pade pade—at every step; aśvamedha-rājasūya-ādīnām—of great sacrifices like the Aśvamedha yajña and Rājasūya yajña; phalam—the result; na—not; durlabham—very difficult to obtain; iti—thus.

Similarly, the branch of the Ganges known as Alakanandā flows from the southern side of Brahmapurī [Brahma-sadana]. Passing over the tops of mountains in various lands, it falls down with fierce force upon the peaks of the mountains Hemakūṭa and Himakūṭa. After inundating the tops of those mountains, the Ganges falls down onto the tract of land known as Bhārata-varṣa, which she also inundates. Then the Ganges flows into the ocean of salt water in the south. Persons who come to bathe in this river are fortunate. It is not very difficult for them to achieve with every step the results of performing great sacrifices like the Rājasūya and Aśvamedha yajñas.

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.10

anye ca nadā nadyaś ca varṣe varṣe santi bahuśo merv-ādi-giri-duhitaraḥ śataśaḥ.

SB 5.17.10

anye—many others; ca—also; nadāḥ—rivers; nadyaḥ—small rivers; ca—and; varṣe varṣe—in each tract of land; santi—are; bahuśaḥ—of many varieties; meru-ādi-giri-duhitaraḥ—daughters of the mountains beginning with Meru; śataśaḥ—in the hundreds.

Many other rivers, both big and small, flow from the top of Mount Meru. These rivers are like daughters of the mountain, and they flow to the various tracts of land in hundreds of branches.

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.11

tatrāpi bhāratam eva varṣaṁ karma-kṣetram anyāny aṣṭa varṣāṇi svargiṇāṁ puṇya-śeṣopabhoga-sthānāni bhaumāni svarga-padāni vyapadiśanti.

SB 5.17.11

tatra api—out of all of them; bhāratam—known as Bhārata-varṣa; eva—certainly; varṣam—the tract of land; karma-kṣetram—the field of activities; anyāni—the others; aṣṭa varṣāṇi—eight tracts of land; svargiṇām—of the living entities elevated to the heavenly planets by extraordinary pious activities; puṇya—of the results of pious activities; śeṣa—of the remainder; upabhoga-sthānāni—the places for material enjoyment; bhaumāni svarga-padāni—as the heavenly places on earth; vyapadiśanti—they designate.

Among the nine varṣas, the tract of land known as Bhārata-varṣa is understood to be the field of fruitive activities. Learned scholars and saintly persons declare the other eight varṣas to be meant for very highly elevated pious persons. After returning from the heavenly planets, they enjoy the remaining results of their pious activities in these eight earthly varṣas.

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.12

eṣu puruṣāṇām ayuta-puruṣāyur-varṣāṇāṁ deva-kalpānāṁ nāgāyuta-prāṇānāṁ vajra-saṁhanana-bala-vayo-moda-pramudita-mahā-saurata-mithuna-vyavāyāpavarga-varṣa-dhṛtaika-garbha-kalatrāṇāṁ tatra tu tretā-yuga-samaḥ kālo vartate.

SB 5.17.12

eṣu—in these (eight) varṣas, or tracts of land; puruṣāṇām—of all the men; ayuta—ten thousand; puruṣa—by the measure of men; āyuḥ-varṣāṇām—of those whose years of life; deva-kalpānām—who are like the demigods; nāga-ayuta-prāṇānām—having the strength of ten thousand elephants; vajra-saṁhanana—by bodies as solid as thunderbolts; bala—by bodily strength; vayaḥ—by youth; moda—by abundant sense enjoyment; pramudita—being excited; mahā-saurata—a great deal of sexual; mithuna—combinations of man and woman; vyavāya-apavarga—at the end of their period of sexual enjoyment; varṣa—in the last year; dhṛta-eka-garbha—who conceive one child; kalatrāṇām—of those who have wives; tatra—there; tu—but; tretā-yuga-samaḥ—exactly like the Tretā-yuga (when there is no tribulation); kālaḥ—time; vartate—exists.

In these eight varṣas, or tracts of land, human beings live ten thousand years according to earthly calculations. All the inhabitants are almost like demigods. They have the bodily strength of ten thousand elephants. Indeed, their bodies are as sturdy as thunderbolts. The youthful duration of their lives is very pleasing, and both men and women enjoy sexual union with great pleasure for a long time. After years of sensual pleasure—when a balance of one year of life remains—the wife conceives a child. Thus the standard of pleasure for the residents of these heavenly regions is exactly like that of the human beings who lived during Tretā-yuga.

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.13

yatra ha deva-patayaḥ svaiḥ svair gaṇa-nāyakair vihita-mahārhaṇāḥ sarvartu-kusuma-stabaka-phala-kisalaya-śriyānamyamāna-viṭapa-latā-viṭapibhir upaśumbhamāna-rucira-kānanāśramāyatana-varṣa-giri-droṇīṣu tathā cāmala-jalāśayeṣu vikaca-vividha-nava-vanaruhāmoda-mudita-rāja-haṁsa-jala-kukkuṭa-kāraṇḍava-sārasa-cakravākādibhir madhukara-nikarākṛtibhir upakūjiteṣu jala-krīḍādibhir vicitra-vinodaiḥ sulalita-sura-sundarīṇāṁ kāma-kalila-vilāsa-hāsa-līlāvalokākṛṣṭa-mano-dṛṣṭayaḥ svairaṁ viharanti.

SB 5.17.13

yatra ha—in those eight tracts of land; deva-patayaḥ—the lords of the demigods, such as Lord Indra; svaiḥ svaiḥ—by their own respective; gaṇa-nāyakaiḥ—leaders of the servants; vihita—furnished with; mahā-arhaṇāḥ—valuable gifts, such as sandalwood pulp and garlands; sarva-ṛtu—in all seasons; kusuma-stabaka—of bunches of flowers; phala—of fruits; kisalaya-śriyā—by the opulences of shoots; ānamyamāna—being bent down; viṭapa—whose branches; latā—and creepers; viṭapibhiḥ—by many trees; upaśumbhamāna—being fully decorated; rucira—beautiful; kānana—gardens; āśrama-āyatana—and many hermitages; varṣa-giri-droṇīṣu—the valleys between the mountains designating the borders of the tracts of land; tathā—as well as; ca—also; amala-jala-āśayeṣu—in lakes with clear water; vikaca—just fructified; vividha—varieties; nava-vanaruha-āmoda—by the fragrance of lotus flowers; mudita—enthused; rāja-haṁsa—great swans; jala-kukkuṭa—water fowl; kāraṇḍava—aquatic birds called kāraṇḍavas; sārasa—cranes; cakravāka-ādibhiḥ—by birds known as cakravākas and so on; madhukara-nikara-ākṛtibhiḥ—by the bumblebees; upakūjiteṣu—which were made to resound; jala-krīḍā-ādibhiḥ—such as water sports; vicitra—various; vinodaiḥ—by pastimes; su-lalita—attractive; sura-sundarīṇām—of the women of the demigods; kāma—from lust; kalila—born; vilāsa—pastimes; hāsa—smiling; līlā-avaloka—by playful glances; ākṛṣṭa-manaḥ—whose minds are attracted; dṛṣṭayaḥ—and whose vision is attracted; svairam—very freely; viharanti—engage in sportive enjoyment


In each of those tracts of land, there are many gardens filled with flowers and fruits according to the season, and there are beautifully decorated hermitages as well. Between the great mountains demarcating the borders of those lands lie enormous lakes of clear water filled with newly grown lotus flowers. Aquatic birds such as swans, ducks, water chickens, and cranes become greatly excited by the fragrance of lotus flowers, and the charming sound of bumblebees fills the air. The inhabitants of those lands are important leaders among the demigods. Always attended by their respective servants, they enjoy life in gardens alongside the lakes. In this pleasing situation, the wives of the demigods smile playfully at their husbands and look upon them with lusty desires. All the demigods and their wives are constantly supplied with sandalwood pulp and flower garlands by their servants. In this way, all the residents of the eight heavenly varṣas enjoy, attracted by the activities of the opposite sex.

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.14

navasv api varṣeṣu bhagavān nārāyaṇo mahā-puruṣaḥ puruṣāṇāṁ tad-anugrahāyātma-tattva-vyūhenātmanādyāpi sannidhīyate.

SB 5.17.14

navasu—in the nine; api—certainly; varṣeṣu—tracts of land known as varṣas; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; nārāyaṇaḥ—Lord Viṣṇu; mahā-puruṣaḥ—the Supreme Person; puruṣāṇām—unto His various devotees; tat-anugrahāya—to show His mercy; ātma-tattva-vyūhena—by expansions of Himself in the quadruple forms Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha; ātmanā—personally; adya api—until now; sannidhīyate—is near the devotees for accepting their services.


To show mercy to His devotees in each of these nine tracts of land, the Supreme Personality of Godhead known as Nārāyaṇa expands Himself in His quadruple principles of Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. In this way He remains near His devotees to accept their service.

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.15

ilāvṛte tu bhagavān bhava eka eva pumān na hy anyas tatrāparo nirviśati bhavānyāḥ śāpa-nimitta-jño yat-pravekṣyataḥ strī-bhāvas tat paścād vakṣyāmi.

SB 5.17.15

ilāvṛte—in the tract of land known as Ilāvṛta-varṣa; tu—but; bhagavān—the most powerful; bhavaḥ—Lord Śiva; eka—only; eva—certainly; pumān—male person; na—not; hi—certainly; anyaḥ—any other; tatra—there; aparaḥ—besides; nirviśati—enters; bhavānyāḥ śāpa-nimitta-jñaḥ—who knows the cause of the curse by Bhavānī, the wife of Lord Śiva; yat-pravekṣyataḥ—of one who forcibly enters that tract of land; strī-bhāvaḥ—transformation into a female; tat—that; paścāt—later; vakṣyāmi—I shall explain.


Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: In the tract of land known as Ilāvṛta-varṣa, the only male person is Lord Śiva, the most powerful demigod. Goddess Durgā, the wife of Lord Śiva, does not like any man to enter that land. If any foolish man dares to do so, she immediately turns him into a woman. I shall explain this later [in the Ninth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam].

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.16

bhavānī-nāthaiḥ strī-gaṇārbuda-sahasrair avarudhyamāno bhagavataś catur-mūrter mahā-puruṣasya turīyāṁ tāmasīṁ mūrtiṁ prakṛtim ātmanaḥ saṅkarṣaṇa-saṁjñām ātma-samādhi-rūpeṇa sannidhāpyaitad abhigṛṇan bhava upadhāvati.

SB 5.17.16

bhavānī-nāthaiḥ—by the company of Bhavānī; strī-gaṇa—of females; arbuda-sahasraiḥ—by ten billion; avarudhyamānaḥ—always being served; bhagavataḥ catuḥ-mūrteḥ—the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is expanded in four; mahā-puruṣasya—of the Supreme Person; turīyām—the fourth expansion; tāmasīm—related to the mode of ignorance; mūrtim—the form; prakṛtim—as the source; ātmanaḥ—of himself (Lord Śiva); saṅkarṣaṇa-saṁjñām—known as Saṅkarṣaṇa; ātma-samādhi-rūpeṇa—by meditating upon Him in trance; sannidhāpya—bringing Him near; etat—this; abhigṛṇan—clearly chanting; bhavaḥ—Lord Śiva; upadhāvati—worships.

In Ilāvṛta-varṣa, Lord Śiva is always encircled by ten billion maidservants of goddess Durgā, who minister to him. The quadruple expansion of the Supreme Lord is composed of Vāsudeva, Pradyumna, Aniruddha and Saṅkarṣaṇa. Saṅkarṣaṇa, the fourth expansion, is certainly transcendental, but because his activities of destruction in the material world are in the mode of ignorance, He is known as tāmasī, the Lord’s form in the mode of ignorance. Lord Śiva knows that Saṅkarṣaṇa is the original cause of his own existence, and thus he always meditates upon Him in trance by chanting the following mantra.

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.17

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
oṁ namo bhagavate mahā-puruṣāya sarva-guṇa-saṅkhyānāyānantāyāvyaktāya nama iti.

SB 5.17.17

śrī-bhagavān uvāca—the most powerful Lord Śiva says; om namo bhagavate—O Supreme Personality of Godhead, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You; mahā-puruṣāya—who are the Supreme person; sarva-guṇa-saṅkhyānāya—the reservoir of all transcendental qualities; anantāya—the unlimited; avyaktāya—not manifested within the material world; namaḥ—my respectful obeisances; iti—thus.

The most powerful Lord Śiva says: O Supreme Personality of Godhead, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You in Your expansion as Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa. You are the reservoir of all transcendental qualities. Although You are unlimited, You remain unmanifest to the nondevotees.

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.18

bhaje bhajanyāraṇa-pāda-paṅkajaṁ
bhagasya kṛtsnasya paraṁ parāyaṇam
bhakteṣv alaṁ bhāvita-bhūta-bhāvanaṁ
bhavāpahaṁ tvā bhava-bhāvam īśvaram

SB 5.17.18

bhaje—I worship; bhajanya—O worshipable Lord; araṇa-pāda-paṅkajam—whose lotus feet protect His devotees from all fearful situations; bhagasya—of opulences; kṛtsnasya—of all different varieties (wealth, fame, strength, knowledge, beauty and renunciation); param—the best; parāyaṇam—the ultimate shelter; bhakteṣu—to the devotees; alam—beyond value; bhāvita-bhūta-bhāvanam—who manifests His different forms for the satisfaction of His devotees; bhava-apaham—who stops the devotees’ repetition of birth and death; tvā—unto You; bhava-bhāvam—who is the origin of the material creation; īśvaram—the Supreme Personality of Godhead.


O my Lord, You are the only worshipable person, for You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the reservoir of all opulences. Your secure lotus feet are the only source of protection for all Your devotees, whom You satisfy by manifesting Yourself in various forms. O my Lord, You deliver Your devotees from the clutches of material existence. Nondevotees, however, remain entangled in material existence by Your will. Kindly accept me as Your eternal servant.

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.19

na yasya māyā-guṇa-citta-vṛttibhir
nirīkṣato hy aṇv api dṛṣṭir ajyate
īśe yathā no ‘jita-manyu-raṁhasāṁ
kas taṁ na manyeta jigīṣur ātmanaḥ

SB 5.17.19

na—never; yasya—whose; māyā—of the illusory energy; guṇa—in the qualities; citta—of the heart; vṛttibhiḥ—by the activities (thinking. feeling and willing); nirīkṣataḥ—of Him who is glancing; hi—certainly; aṇu—slightly; api—even; dṛṣṭiḥ—vision; ajyate—is affected; īśe—for the purpose of regulating; yathā—as; naḥ—of us; ajita—who have not conquered; manyu—of anger; raṁhasām—the force; kaḥ—who; tam—unto Him (the Supreme Lord); na—not; manyeta—would worship; jigīṣuḥ—aspiring to conquer; ātmanaḥ—the senses.

We cannot control the force of our anger. Therefore when we look at material things, we cannot avoid feeling attraction or repulsion for them. But the Supreme Lord is never affected in this way. Although He glances over the material world for the purpose of creating, maintaining and destroying it, He is not affected, even to the slightest degree. Therefore, one who desires to conquer the force of the senses must take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord. Then he will be victorious.

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.20

asad-dṛśo yaḥ pratibhāti māyayā
kṣībeva madhv-āsava-tāmra-locanaḥ
na nāga-vadhvo ‘rhaṇa īśire hriyā
yat-pādayoḥ sparśana-dharṣitendriyāḥ

SB 5.17.20

asat-dṛśaḥ—for a person with polluted vision; yaḥ—who; pratibhāti—appears; māyayā—the influence of māyā; kṣībaḥ—one who is inebriated or angry; iva—like; madhu—by honey; āsava—and liquor; tāmra-locanaḥ—having eyes reddish like copper; na—not; nāga-vadhvaḥ—the wives of the serpent demon; arhaṇe—in worshiping; īśire—were unable to proceed; hriyā—because of bashfulness; yat-pādayoḥ—of whose lotus feet; sparśana—by the touching; dharṣita—agitated; indriyāḥ—whose senses.

For persons with impure vision, the Supreme Lord’s eyes appear like those of someone who indiscriminately drinks intoxicating beverages. Thus bewildered, such unintelligent persons become angry at the Supreme Lord, and due to their angry mood the Lord Himself appears angry and very fearful. However, this is an illusion. When the wives of the serpent demon were agitated by the touch of the Lord’s lotus feet, due to shyness they could proceed no further in their worship of Him. Yet the Lord remained unagitated by their touch, for He is equipoised in all circumstances. Therefore who will not worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead ?

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.21

yam āhur asya sthiti-janma-saṁyamaṁ
tribhir vihīnaṁ yam anantam ṝṣayaḥ
na veda siddhārtham iva kvacit sthitaṁ
bhū-maṇḍalaṁ mūrdha-sahasra-dhāmasu

SB 5.17.21

yam—whom; āhuḥ—they said; asya—of the material world; sthiti—the maintenance; janma—creation; saṁyamam—annihilation; tribhiḥ—these three; vihīnam—without; yam—which; anantam—unlimited; ṝṣayaḥ—all the great sages; na—not; veda—feels; siddha-artham—a mustard seed; iva—like; kvacit—where; sthitam—situated; bhū-maṇḍalam—the universe; mūrdha-sahasra-dhāmasu—on the hundreds and thousands of hoods of the Lord.


Lord Śiva continued: All the great sages accept the Lord as the source of creation, maintenance and destruction, although He actually has nothing to do with these activities. Therefore the Lord is called unlimited. Although the Lord in His incarnation as Śeṣa holds all the universes on His hoods, each universe feels no heavier than a mustard seed to Him. Therefore, what person desiring perfection will not worship the Lord?

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.22-23

yasyādya āsīd guṇa-vigraho mahān
vijñāna-dhiṣṇyo bhagavān ajaḥ kila
yat-sambhavo ‘haṁ tri-vṛtā sva-tejasā
vaikārikaṁ tāmasam aindriyaṁ sṛje

SB 5.17.22

ete vayaṁ yasya vaśe mahātmanaḥ
sthitāḥ śakuntā iva sūtra-yantritāḥ
mahān ahaṁ vaikṛta-tāmasendriyāḥ
sṛjāma sarve yad-anugrahād idam

SB 5.17.23

yasya—from whom; ādyaḥ—the beginning; āsīt—there was; guṇa-vigrahaḥ—the incarnation of the material qualities; mahān—the total material energy; vijñāna—of full knowledge; dhiṣṇyaḥ—the reservoir; bhagavān—the most powerful; ajaḥ—Lord Brahmā; kila—certainly; yat—from whom; sambhavaḥ—born; aham—I; tri-vṛtā—having three varieties according to the three modes of nature; sva-tejasā—by my material strength; vaikārikam—all the demigods; tāmasam—material elements; aindriyam—the senses; sṛje—I create; ete—all of these; vayam—we; yasya—of whom; vaśe—under the control; mahā-ātmanaḥ—great personalities; sthitāḥ—situated; śakuntāḥ—vultures; iva—like; sūtra-yantritāḥ—bound by rope; mahān—the mahat-tattva; aham—I; vaikṛta—the demigods; tāmasa—the five material elements; indriyāḥ—senses; sṛjāmaḥ—we create; sarve—all of us; yat—of whom; anugrahāt—by the mercy; idam—this material world.


From that Supreme Personality of Godhead appears Lord Brahmā, whose body is made from the total material energy, the reservoir of intelligence predominated by the passionate mode of material nature. From Lord Brahmā, I myself am born as a representation of false ego known as Rudra. By my own power I create all the other demigods, the five elements and the senses. Therefore, I worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is greater than any of us and under whose control are situated all the demigods, material elements and senses, and even Lord Brahmā and I myself, like birds bound by a rope. Only by the Lord’s grace can we create, maintain and annihilate the material world. Therefore I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Being.

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.24

yan-nirmitāṁ karhy api karma-parvaṇīṁ
māyāṁ jano ‘yaṁ guṇa-sarga-mohitaḥ
na veda nistāraṇa-yogam añjasā
tasmai namas te vilayodayātmane

SB 5.17.24

yat—by whom; nirmitām—created; karhi api—at any time; karma-parvaṇīm—which ties the knots of fruitive activity; māyām—the illusory energy; janaḥ—a person; ayam—this; guṇa-sarga-mohitaḥ—bewildered by the three modes of material nature; na—not; veda—knows; nistāraṇa-yogam—the process of getting out of material entanglement; añjasā—soon; tasmai—unto Him (the Supreme); namaḥ—respectful obeisances; te—unto You; vilaya-udaya-ātmane—in whom everything is annihilated and from whom everything is again manifested.

The illusory energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead binds all of us conditioned souls to this material world. Therefore, without being favored by Him, persons like us cannot understand how to get out of that illusory energy. Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Lord, who is the cause of creation and annihilation.