LORD VISHNU'S INCARNATIONS
Sutji once reached Naimisharanya in course of his pilgrimage. There he found numerous sages engaged in austerities and penance. All of them were delighted to find Sutji in their midst and considered it as a God sent opportunity to get their doubts related with religious topics cleared. Sage Shaunak was also present there and he asked Sutji --' O revered sage! Who is the creator of this world? Who nurtures it and who annihilates it in the end? How can one realize the supreme Almighty? How many incarnations the Almighty has taken till now? Please enlighten us on all these things, which are shrouded in mystery.'
Sutji replied--' I am going to reveal to you the contents of Garuda Puran, which contains the divine tales of Lord Vishnu. This particular Puran is named after Garuda because he was the one who first narrated these tales to sage Kashyap. Kashyap subsequently narrated them to sage Vyas. I came to know about these divine tales from sage Vyas. Lord Vishnu is the supreme almighty and the source of all creations. He is the nurturer of this world and the annihilator as well. Though he is beyond the bondage of birth and death yet he takes incarnations to protect the world from the tyranny of sinners. His first incarnation was in the form of the eternal adolescent Sanat kumar and others who were all celibates and extremely virtuous.'
'Lord Vishnu took his second incarnation in the form of a boar (Varah) to protect the Earth from the mighty demon named Hiranyaksha, who had abducted her to Patal loka (Nether world). In his third incarnation as Narad, he propagated the virtues of 'nishkaam karma' (performing one's duties without bothering about the results). In his fourth incarnation as Nar-Narayan, he performed arduous austerities for the protection and propagation of Dharma or religiousness.
Lord Vishnu's fifth incarnation was as Kapil, which he took to protect the Saankhya shashtra, which was on the verge of becoming extinct. He took his sixth incarnation in the house of Atri and Anusuya as Dattatreya with the specific objective of propagating the most secret Brahma vidya to worthy people. His disciples included virtuous souls like Prahalad and others. Lord Vishnu took his seventh incarnation as the son of Ruchi Prajapati and Aakuti and was known as Yagya deva. His eighth incarnation was as Rishabh deva- the son of sage Naabhi and Merudevi.
In this incarnation he established the norms for Grihashtha ashram, which later on became the guidelines for every householders. Lord Vishnu took his ninth incarnation as Prithu and 'milked'(extracted) various nutrients (cereals, pulses etc.) from the Earth who had disguised herself as a cow and thus protected the populace from getting starved to death.
In his tenth incarnation as Matsya (fish), he protected the life of Vaivaswat Manu, who would not have survived otherwise. Lord Vishnu took his eleventh incarnation in the form of a tortoise (kurma) and held the Mandarachal mountain on his back at the time when the ocean was being churned. His twelfth incarnation was as Dhanvantari and thirteenth as the most enchanting beauty- Mohini to retrieve the ambrosia pot from the possession of the demons. He subsequently distributed it among the deities as the result of which they became immortal.
In his fourteenth incarnation, Lord Vishnu manifested himself as 'Nrisimha' (partly human and partly lion) and to protect his devotee- Prahlad killed the wicked demon Hiranyakashipu by tearing apart his abdomen with his sharp claws. His fifteenth incarnation was as Vaman (dwarf) in which he demanded all the three worlds from Bali-the most benevolent demon king and then sent him to Patal loka. In his sixteenth incarnation as Parshuram, he wiped out the whole caste of kshatriyas from the face of the earth for twenty-one times, as they had all become immoral.
In his seventeenth incarnation he was born as Vyas to Parashar and Satyavati and accomplished his mission of propagating the knowledge of Vedas by categorizing them into four parts. In his eighteenth incarnation he manifested himself as Sri Ram. His nineteenth incarnation was as Krishna and his twentieth incarnation as Balram. He will take his twenty-first incarnation as Buddha to bring the mankind back to virtuous path by preaching against the rituals and proving that it is not proper for a seeker to get bound by them. Lord Vishnu would take incarnation as Kalki and will be born to a Brahmin named Vishnuyasha to liberate the earth from the sinners.'
HOW GARUDA PURAN WAS PROPAGATED
On being asked by the sages as to how did he come to know about the contents of Garuda Puran, Sutji told them--' Once, I had gone to Badrikashram, where I met sage Vyas. I requested him to enlighten me on various spiritual matters to which he agreed saying that he was going to narrate the tales of Garuda Purana which was first told by Lord Brahma to Narad, Daksha Prajapati and myself. Sage Vyas then told Sutji how once he along with Narad, Daksha and Bhrigu had gone to Brahmaloka to see Lord Brahma. After reaching there, all three of them requested Lord Brahma to shed light on the essence of the real knowledge.
Lord Brahma revealed to them that Garuda Puran contained the essence of all the scriptures and Lord Vishnu himself had narrated its divine tales to him (Brahma). Describing the incident when Lord Vishnu had told the divine tales of Garuda Puran to him as well as Shiva, Lord Brahma said--
' I once went to Kailash mountain accompanied by Indra and other deities. We found Shiva engrossed in his meditation. We were amazed and asked him as to who was he meditating upon.
Lord Shiva told us that he was meditating upon the omnipresent, omniscient and the omnipotent Vishnu- in whom the entire universe exists. Lord Shiva also revealed to us that this was all he knew of Vishnu's power and also that if we wanted to know more about him then we will have to ask Lord Vishnu himself. So, all of us including Shiva went to Vishnu loka and requested Lord Vishnu to clear our doubts on various topics which confused us. Lord Vishnu gave a long discourse covering all the major religious topics.
LORD VISHNU REVEALS HIS OMNIPOTENT NATURE
Dwelling on length about his power, Lord Vishnu told Shiva-- ' O Rudra! I am the lord of all the deities. I am the one who controls each and every event that occurs in the Universe. I am the one whom mortals worship with the desire of attaining salvation. The universe would have ceased to exist but for me. I am the creator, the nurturer as well as the supreme annihilator. I manifest myself in the sacred mantras as well as their meanings. People meditate on me. Matter is nothing but a medium through which I manifest myself.'
LORD VISHNU BLESSES GARUDA
Describing how Garuda pleased him with his deep devotion, Lord Vishnu said-- 'During ancient times Garuda once did an austere penance to please me. I appeared before him and expressed my willingness to fulfil anything that he wished for. Garuda wanted to liberate his mother, Vinta from the slavery of Kadru-the mother of serpents. He also wanted to avenge his mother's humiliation at their hands. He also expressed his desire of becoming immortal by having a Purana credited to his name and finally he requested me to give him the privilege of becoming my mount. I blessed Garuda as the result of which all his wishes were fulfilled. Once, on being requested by sage Kashyap, Garuda narrated the divine tales of Garuda Puran to him. Sage Kashyap had once brought back a dead tree back to life with the help of Garudi Vidya- a sacred mantra found in Garuda Puran. Similarly, Garuda too had brought numerous dead creatures back to life with the help of same mantra.'
THE BEGINNING OF CREATION
Lord Shiva requested Vishnu to shed light on different topics like Sarga (world), Pratisarga, Vansh (dynasties), Manvantar (fourteenth part of Brahma's day) and Vanshanucharit (genealogy). Lord Vishnu replied--' O Rudra! Lord Vasudeva in his incarnation of Nara-Narayan performs his responsibilities of the creator, protector as well as the annihilator. Each particle that is found in this universe whether perceptible or imperceptible is nothing but the medium through which the Almighty makes his presence felt. In the beginning of the creation, on account of HIS will subtle matter of nature (imperceptible) came into being. HE is the one to whom 'Atma' or 'Purush' owe its existence. Subsequently, intelligence or 'Buddhi' manifested itself from the subtle matter of nature, mind or 'Mun' from intelligence, space or 'Aakash' from mind, air or 'Vayu' from Space, Fire or 'Teja' from air, water from 'Teja' and finally the earth manifested itself from water.'
' O Rudra! Then came into existence an enormous sized egg. I dwell within that egg and so do all the other deities. In fact, the whole universe is situated within that egg. The almighty Vishnu creates in the form of Brahma, nurtures in the form of Vishnu and annihilates in the form of Shiva at the end of each kalpa. The creations of the almighty are known as 'Sargas'. First of all, the almighty creates the Mahat tatva, which symbolizes his gross quality.
Since it was his first creation therefore it was called the first Sarga. The second Sarga consisted of the creation of the Panch-Tanmatras or the five basic elements- Earth (Prithvi), Water(Jala), Fire(Teja), Air(Vayu) and Sound(Shabda). These five basic elements are the stuffs from which matter is made. The third Sarga namely Vaikarik sarga comprising the creation of all the sense organs and the organs of the actions, is basically intelligence oriented, because the sense organs can not function without intelligence. All these above mentioned three sargas come under the category of Prakrit sarga or natural creation.'
' The fourth sarga is known as Mukhya sarga or the main creation and consisted of immovable things like mountains, trees, etc. The fifth Sarga is known as Tiryak sarga and consisted of animals and birds. The sixth sarga comprised the creation of the deities and other celestial beings and hence it is also known as Deva sarga. The seventh sarga comprised the creation of human beings and hence it was called Maanush sarga. The eighth sarga, which is also called Anugrah sarga, consisted of creations that are both 'satvik' (pure) and 'tamasik'(dark) in nature. The ninth sarga is called Kaumar sarga.'
' Lord Brahma commenced his creation of supreme entities by expressing his will resulting into the manifestation of all the ten Manasputras. Subsequently, Lord Brahma created different other entities like deities (deva), demons (danav), ancestors (pitra) and human-beings (manushya). He then created the Ashuras from his thighs and subsequently abandoned his body. The dark qualities emanating from the body resulted into the creation of night, a creation that immensely pleased the demons.'
' Lord Brahma then attained a new physical form, which was pure (satvik) in nature. He created the deities from his mouth and once again abandoned his body resulting into the creation of day this time. All the deities became extremely pleased by this particular creation of Brahma. Once again Lord Brahma attained another form and created the 'pitras' and when he abandoned that body, 'sandhya' (evening) manifested from it.'
'Lord Brahma then attained a form that was 'Rajomaya' in nature and created human beings. His abandoning that particular form resulted into the creation of 'Pratahkaal'(dawn). Subsequently, Lord Brahma created the different species like 'yaksha', 'sarpa', 'Gandharva' and 'Apsaras' and many more creatures from the different parts of his body. All the four Vedas namely Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samveda and Atharvaveda manifested themselves from each of Brahma's four mouths. Similarly, all the four castes such as Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra manifested from Brahma's mouth, arms, thighs and feet respectively.'
THE BEGINNING OF COPULATIVE CREATION
'Having created Daksha Prajapati and his wife Prasuti from his right and left thumb respectively, Lord Brahma instructed both of them to make their contribution in increasing the population with the help of copulative creation. In course of time, Daksha Prajapati begot numerous daughters all of whom were given in marriage to ten Manasputras.'
'Once, Daksha Prajapati had organized a grand Ashwamedha Yagya to which he had invited all his daughters and son-in-laws except Sati and Rudra. Sati eventually reached her father's place much against the advise of Shiva, who was strictly against going to a place uninvited. Shiva's apprehensions were not unfounded supposition, as Sati was indeed humiliated by Daksha in front of all the esteemed guests. Sati was so deeply hurt by her father's rude behaviour and the manner in which he made fun of her husband that she gave up her life by jumping into the sacrificial fire. When Rudra learnt about Sati's death he cursed Daksha by saying that he would loose his divine status and would be born as a human being in the lineage of Dhruva. In her next birth, Sati was born as the daughter of Himalaya and Mainak. She was once again successful in getting Shiva as her husband by virtue of her deep devotion towards Shiva.'
THE DHRUVA DYNASTY
Lord Vishnu, continuing with the tales of Garuda Puran told Shiva-' Uttanpad had two wives-Suruchi and Suniti. From his former wife he begot a son named Uttam, while Suniti gave birth to Dhruva, who became immortal because of his unflinching devotion in me. Dhruva had a mighty son named 'Shlishta'. Prachinvarhi was Shlishta's son and Dhruva's grandson. Few other prominent personalities coming from the lineage of Dhruva were- Udardhi, Divanjaya, Ripu, Chakshush, Ruru, Anga, Ven etc. Ven was an atheist and was eventually killed by sages for his immoral deeds. Since Ven had no progeny, his death put a question mark on his successor. Sages tried to solve this problem by churning his thighs, which resulted into the emergence of Nishad. But, Nishad went to Vindhyachal to do penance. Seeing their whole effort go in vain, all the sages once again churned Ven's hands. This time Lord Vishnu himself incarnated as Prithu.'
' Prithu was an extremely kind hearted king and cared for his subjects. Once, when his kingdom was experiencing an acute famine, he successfully extracted the essential nutrients from the earth and thus saved his subjects from starvation. Prithu had ten sons prominent among whom were Antardhan, Havirdhan, Prachinvarhi and Praachetas. In course of time Praachetas married Marisha.'
' Just according to the curse of Shiva, Daksha Prajapati was reborn in the clan of Dhruva. His father's name was Praachetas and his mother was Marisha. In the beginning, Daksha Prajapati tried to do creation by merely expressing his will but his efforts went futile because of Shiva's curse. So, he had no option but to take the help of copulative creation and to meet his objective he married Asikni- the daughter of Viran.
In course of time he became the father of one thousand sons, all of whom perished while on their impossible mission of finding out the circumference of the earth. Actually sage Narad had incited all of them to undertake this impossible mission. Daksha though angry did not loose heart and in course of time he once again fathered one thousand sons. Once again, Narad was successful in convincing them to emulate the deeds of their elder brothers. All of them set out on an impossible mission never to return. Now, Daksha's anger crossed all limits and he cursed Narad by saying that he would take birth as a human for inciting his sons' to death. This is the reason why Narad was born as Kashyap's son.'
' In the years to follow, Daksha Prajapati begot sixty beautiful daughters from Asikni among whom he gave away two daughters in marriage to sage Angira, two to sage Krishashva, ten to Dharma, fourteen to sage Kashyap and twenty-eight daughters to Chandrama. The names of Krishashva's wives were Supragya and Jaya while Dharma's wives were Arundhati, Vasu, Yami, Lamba, Bhanumati, Marutvati, Sankalpa, Muhurta, Saadhya and Vishva. The names of Kashyap's wives were Aditi, Diti, Danu, Kala, Anayu, Sinhika, Muni, Kadru, Saadhya, Ira, Krodha, Vinta, Surabhi and Khaga.'
Dharma's wives Vishva and Saadhya gave birth to the Vishvedevas and Saadhyaganas respectively. Similarly, Marutvati gave birth to Marutvaans and Vasu to Vasuganas. Dharma's wife named Bhanu gave birth to twelve Bhanus while Muhurta gave birth to Muhurtaganas. Lamba gave birth to Ghosh while Yami gave birth to Naagvithi. Sankalpa gave birth to Sankalpa.
Kashyap's wife Aditi gave birth to twelve Aadityas while Diti gave birth to two sons (demons)- Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha. Diti also had a daughter named Sinhika, who was married to Viprachiti. Hiranyakashipu had four sons- Anuhlad, Hlad, Prahlad and Sanhlad. Aayushman, Shibi and Bashkal were the sons of Sanhlad. Prahlad had a mighty son named Virochan who himself had a son named Bali. Bali had one hundred sons in all and Baan was the eldest among them. Hiranyaksha had six sons all of whom were very brave and valiant. Their names were Utkur, Shakuni, Bhutsantapan, Mahanam, Mahabahu and Kaalnaam.
Danu had numerous sons who were all very brave-Dwimurdha, Shankar, Ayomukh, Shankushira, Kapil, Shambar, Ekachakra, Mahabahu, Tarak, Mahabal, Swarbhanu, Vrishaparva, Puloma, Mahasur and the mightiest among them-Viprachiti.
Puloma and Kalka, both daughters of Vaishwanar were married to sage Kashyap. Kashyap had sixty thousand sons (demons) from both of them. Demons such as Nighat Kavach came from the lineage of Prahlad. Tamra had six daughters and their names were Shuki, Shyeni, Masi, Sugrivi, Shuchi and Gridhika. Shuki gave birth to numerous species of birds like Shuka (Parrot), Uluka (owls) and Kaak(crows). Similarly Shyeni gave birth to Shyen (hawks) and Gridhika to Gridh (vultures). Shuchi was the mother of aquatic birds while Sugrivi gave birth to various animals like, horses, camels, donkeys, etc.'
Arun and Garuda were born to Vinta while Sursa and Kadru gave birth to serpents. Krodha gave birth to powerful Pishachas, Surabhi to cows and buffaloes, Era to various vegetation like, creepers and grass, Khaga to Yakshas and Rakshas, Muni to Apsaras and Arishta gave birth to Gandharvas. Diti gave birth to fourty-nine Marutganas, all of whom are in fact the incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
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