Śrīmad Devi Bhāgavatam | Book 1 Chapter 2
THE FIRST BOOK
On questions put by Śaunaka and other Rishis.
1-5. Śrī Sūta said:
“I am highly fortunate; I consider myself blessed and I am purified by the Mahātmās (high souled persons);
inasmuch as I am questioned by them about the highly meritorious Purāṇa, famous in the Vedas. I will now speak in detail about this Purāṇa, the best of the Agamas, approved of by all the Vedas and the secret of all the Śāstras.
O Brahmins! I bow down to the gentle lotus feet, known in the three Lokas, of the Devī Bhagavatī, praised by Brahmā and the other devas Viṣṇu, Maheśa and others, meditated always by the Munindras and which the Yogis contemplate as their source of liberation.
Today I will devotedly describe, in detail and in plain language, that Purāṇa which is the best of all the Purāṇas, which gives prosperity and contains all the sentiments (Rasas) that a human being can conceive, the Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam.
May that Highest Primal Śakti who is known as Vidyā in the Vedas; who is omniscient, who controls the innermost of all and who is skilled in cutting off the knot of the world, who cannot be realised by the wicked and the vicious, but who is visible to the Munis in their meditation, may that Bhagavatī Devī give me always the buddhi fit to describe the Purāṇa!
I call to my mind the Mother of all the worlds who creates this universe, whose nature is both real (taking gross, practical point of view) and unreal (taking a real point of view), preserves and destroys by Her Rājasic, Sāttvic and Tāmasic qualities and in the end resolves all these into Herself and plays alone in the period of Dissolution - at this time, I remember that Mother of all the worlds.
6-10. It is commonly known that Brahmā is the creator of this universe; and the knowers of the Vedas and the Purāṇas say so;
but they also say that Brahmā is born of the navel-lotus of Viṣṇu.
Thus it appears that Brahmā cannot create independently.
Again Viṣṇu, from whose navel lotus Brahmā is born, lies in Yoga sleep on the bed of Ananta (the thousand headed serpent) in the time of Pralaya;
so how can we call Bhagavan Viṣṇu who rests on the thousand headed serpent Ananta as the creator of the universe?
Again the refuge of Ananta is the water of the ocean Ekārṇava; a liquid cannot rest without a vessel; so I take refuge of the Mother of all beings, who resides as the Śakti of all and thus is the supporter of all;
I fly for refuge unto that Devī who was praised by Brahma while resting on the navel lotus of Viṣṇu who was lying fast asleep in Yoga ṇidrā.
O Munis! Meditating on that Maya Devī who creates, preserves and destroys the universe who is known as composed of the three Guṇas and who grants Mukti, I now describe the whole of the Purāṇas; now you all better hear.
11-16. The Purāṇa Śrīmad Bhagavatī (Devī Bhagavatī) is excellent and holy; eighteen thousand pure Ślokas are contained in it.
Bhagavan Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana has divided this Purāṇa into twelve auspicious Skandhas (Books) and three hundred and eighteen chapters.
Twenty chapters compose the first Skandha; twelve chapters in the second Skandha; thirty chapters in the third Skandha; twenty-five chapters in the fourth Skandha, thirty-five, in the fifth; thirty-one, in the sixth; forty, in the seventh; twenty- four, in the eighth; fifty chapters in the ninth; thirteen, in the tenth; twenty-four in the eleventh and fourteen chapters are contained in the twelfth Skandha,
O Munis! Thus the Dvaipāyana Muni has arranged his chapters in each Skandha.
17-20. Thus the Mahātmā Veda Vyāsa has divided this Bhāgavata Purāṇa, into so many Skandhas and into so many chapters; and that the number of verses is eighteen thousand is already stated.
That is denominated as Purāṇa which contains the following five characteristics (1) Creation of the universe, (2) Secondary creation, (3) Dynasties (4) Manvantaras and (5) The description of Manus and other kings.
Śiva is beyond Prakṛti attributes, eternal and ever omnipresent; She is without any change, immutable, unattainable but by yoga; She is the refuge of the universe and Her nature is Turīya Chaitanya.
Maha Lakshmi is Her Sāttvic Śakti; Saraswati is Her Rājasic Śakti and Mahā Kālī is Her Tāmasic Śakti; these are all Her feminine forms.
21-25. The assuming of bodies by these three Śaktis for the creation of this universe is denominated as "Sarga" (creation) by the high souled persona (Mahārpuruṣa), skilled in Śāstras.
And the further resolution of these three Śaktis into Brahma, Viṣṇu and Mahesh for the creation, preservation, and destruction of this universe is denominated (in this Purāṇa) as Pratisarga (secondary creation.)
The description of the kings of the solar and lunar dynasties and the families of Hiraṇya Kasipu and others is known as the description of the lineages of kings and their dynasties.
The description of Svāyambhūva and, other Manus and their ruling periods is known as Manvantaras. And the description of their descendants is known as the description of their families. (Thus these are the five characteristics in the Purāṇas.)
O best of Munis! All the Purāṇas are endowed with these five characteristics.
26-32. So is Mahābhārata written by Vēda Vyāsa, characterised by these five things. This is known as the fifth Veda and Itihāsa (history.) In this are something more than one lakh Ślokas.
“O Sūta! What are those Purāṇas and how many verses are contained in each? Speak all those in detail in this holy Kṣettra; we, the residents of Naimisāraṇya are all very eager to hear this.
(Why we call ourselves as the residents of Naimisāraṇya, hear; you will realise then that no other place exists in this Kali age for hearing the holy discourses on religion)
When we were afraid of the Kali age, Brahma gave us a Manomaya Chakra (wheel) and I said to all of us:
Follow this wheel, go after it and the spot where the felly of the wheel will become thin (so as to break) and will not roll further, that country is the holy place; Kali will never be able to enter there; you all better remain there until the Satya age comes back.
Thus, according to the saying of Brahmā, we have got orders to stay here. On hearing the words of Brahmā, we went out quickly keeping the wheel go on, our object being to determine which place is best and holiest.
When we came here, the felly of the wheel become thin and shorn before my eyes; hence this Kṣettra is called Naimis; it is the most sanctifying place.
Kali cannot enter here; hence the Mahātmās, Munis and Siddhas, terrified by the Kali age, have followed me and resorted to this place.
We have performed Yajñas with Purodāsa (clarified butter as is offered in oblations to fire) where no animals are sacrificed; now we have no other important work to do except to pass our time here until the arrival of Satyayuga.
O Śūta! We are extremely fortunate in all respects that you have come here; purify us today by narrating to us the names of the Purāṇas equivalent to the Vedas.
O Śūta! You are also a learned orator; we, too, are ardent listeners, with no other works to bother our heads; narrate to us today the auspicious holy Bhāgavata Purāṇa.
O Śūta! Long live you; and no ailing, internal, external, or from the Devas torment to you. (this is our blessing to you).
We have heard that in the most sanctifying Purāṇa, narrated by Mahaṛṣi Dvaipāyana, all about Dharma (religion), Artha (Wealth) and Kama (desires) are duly described as well the acquiring of Tattva jñāna and liberation are also spoken of.
O Śūta! Our desires are not satisfied until we hear of those beautiful holy words. Now describe to us the highly pure Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam where all the Lilas (the dramatic acts) of the Mother of the three worlds purifying the sins, adorned with all the qualifications are described as yielding all the desires like the Kalpa Vrikṣa (the celestial tree yielding all desires).
Thus ends the second chapter of the first Skandha on the description of the Purāṇa (the text) in Maha Purāṇa Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam of 18,000 verses by Mahaṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.
Her ends the Second Chapter of Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam on questions put by Saunaka and other Rishis.