Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana Book 5 Chapter 17:1-10

Book 5: Chapter 17

Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana: Book 5: Chapter 17: Verses 1-10
An account of the descent of the holy Ganga and a song of praise to Lord Sankarsana by the divine Sankara

Sri Suka continued : (Standing) on this terrestrial globe (referred to in the foregoing discourse) when Lord Visnu Himself, appearing in the form of Trivikrama[1] at the sacrificial performance of Bali, raised His (left) foot (in order to measure the heavenly regions after having measured the earth including the subterranean worlds with His right foot), a stream from the (immaterial) waters existing outside the egg-like cosmos, which rushed inside through a breach made in the upper shell of the cosmic egg as a result of its being pierced by the nail of His left big toe, flowed down to the realm of Dhruva (forming the crest of the starry heavens)-which they call Visnupada (the abode of Lord Visnu)-after a very long (measure of) time covering a thousand revolutions of the four Yugas (Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali). While washing the lotus-foot of the Lord (on which it fell in the very first instance), it got coloured by its red pollen-like dust and thus acquired the virtue of wiping out by its very touch the dirt of sin of the whole world, itself remaining untouched by the sin, and was (thenceforth) expressly and directly called by the (sacred) appellation of "Bhagavatpadi" (that which proceeds from the foot of the Lord Himself)-to the exclusion of other names (Jahnavi, Bhagirathi etc., suggesting other later and less momentous associations). In the aforesaid realm indeed that foremost devotee of the Lord, Dhruva (the celebrated son of Uttanapada), steadfast in his vow (of devotion), bears (sprinkles) on his head even to this day (the water of) the (holy) Bhagavatpadi (later known as the Ganga) with supreme reverence, remembering that it has washed the lotus- foot of his family Deity, his heart deeply saturated with an incessant flow of constantly growing devotion, with tears of pure love escaping from his eyes-resembling a pair of lotus buds-half-closed in a fit of self-forgetfulness induced by ardent longing (for his beloved Lord), and the hair on his body standing on their end. Further on (in the next stages of the descent of this stream) the seven seers (responsible for the maintenance of the world order and having their abode immediately below the realm of Dhruva, where the seven stars of the Ursa major are located), who know the greatness of this (holy) stream, receive (sprinkle) it with great reverence even to the present day on the tuft of their matted locks-in the same way as the seekers of liberation would hail final beatitude coming to them (in a concrete form of its own accord), accounting it the supreme reward of their austerities-having spurned (all) other objects of human pursuit including Self-Realization, simply due to their having achieved the boon of unceasing devotion to Lord Vasudeva, the Soul of the universe.

Descending thence through the heavens (the passage of the gods), crowded with many billions of aerial cars, the stream washes the lunar sphere and comes down to the city of Brahma (on the summit of Mount Meru). Branching forth into four streams there, the Bhagavatpadi flows in four directions under four (different) appellations-Sita, Alakananda, Caksu and Bhadra -and (finally) enters the ocean (the lord of streams and rivers). Passing through the city of Brahma and gradually descending from the principal summits of one of the many mountains represented (in XVI. 26 above) as so many filaments surrounding the pericarp-like Mount Meru, the Sit& falls on the peaks of Mount Gandhamadana and, coursing through Bhadraswavarsa, enters the salt ocean on the east. Likewise, reaching Mount Malyavan and descending from it, the Caksu flows with unabated speed in the direction of (the land of) Ketumala and enters the ocean on the west. Descending from the summit of Mount Meru in a northerly direction and leaving one mountain-peak after another, the Bhadra flows from the peak of Srngavan in the direction of the northern Kurus and enters the ocean in the north. Even so flowing to the south of Brahma's city (on Mount Meru) and passing through many a mountain-peak the Alakananda reaches the mountain-range of Hemakuta and, rolling down from Hemakuta to the peaks of the Himalaya mountain with a tremendous speed and coursing through Bharatavarsa, enters the ocean in the south. And for a man who goes forth to bathe in this river, the reward of Aswamedha, Rajasuya and other (great) sacrifices becomes easy of access at every step. There are in every Varsa (subdivision of Jambudwipa) hundreds of other rivers, both big and small, having their source in Mount Meru and other mountains.



  1. For an account of the Lord's descent as Vamana (the divine Dwarf) and His assuming a cosmic form (as Trivikrama) at the sacrificial performance of Bali, the celebrated demon king and a great devotee of the Lord, see dis courses XVIII-XX of Book VIII.

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