Śrīmad Devi Bhāgavatam | Book 1 Chapter 4
THE FIRST BOOK
On the Excellency of the Devī
1-3. The Rishis said:
O Saumya! How was Śuka Deva born? Who studied these Purāṇa Samhitās; by which wife of Vyāsa Deva? And How?
O highly intelligent one! You have just spoken that Śuka Deva was not born from womb, in the natural way; he was born of the dry pieces of wood for Homa sacrifice.
But we heard before that the great ascetic was Yogi even in his mother's womb, so a great doubt comes to our minds. You better remove that today; how he studied also these Purāṇas, as vast in their nature; say this.
4-5. Sūta said:
In long-past days, Satyavati's son Vedas Vyāsa, while in his own hermitage on the banks of the river Saraswati, was greatly wondered to see a pair of Chātakas (Sparrows). He saw the pair putting the beak of their young one, just born of the egg, of beautiful body, red mouth, and greasy body. They do not care at all for their own hunger and toil; all they are caring for is to nurture their young one. He said also that the pair are rubbing their bodies over the body and kissing lovingly the mouth of the young one and feeling the highest pleasure.
Seeing this wonderful affection of the two sparrows towards their young, Veda Vyāsa became very anxious and thought over the following in his mind.
9-14. Oh! What wonder is there, when the birds have so much filial affection towards their child, that men, who want services from their sons, would show their affection towards their sons!
This pair of sparrows will not perform the happy marriage of their young one and will not see the face of their son’s wife; nor when they will grow old, that their child would become very religious and serve them to attain great merits in Heaven.
Nor do they expect that their child would earn money and satisfy them nor the child would perform when they die, their funeral obsequies duly and help them in their sojourn in the next world; nothing of all these.
Nor will the child perform the Śrādh ceremony at Gayā; nor will the child offer the oblation of a blue bull on the day of offering the sacrifice to its ancestor (the bull is then let loose and held sacred); yet the pair of sparrows have so much affection towards their young one! Oh! in this world to touch the body of the son, especially to nurture the sons, is the highest happiness in life.
15-27. There is no prospect in the after birth of the sonless; never, never will Heaven be his. Without son, there is none other who can be of help in the next world.
Thus in the Dharma Śāstras, Manu and other Munis declare that the man who has sons goes to Heaven and the sonless one can never go to Heaven. The man possessing a son is entitled to the Heavenly pleasures can be vividly seen, rather than imagined.
The man with son is freed from sins; this is the word of the Vedas.
The sonless man becomes very much distressed even at the time of death and while lying on bed that is ground at that time, mournfully thinks: “This all my vast wealth, various things, this my beautiful house, who will enjoy all these?”
When the sonless man is thus perplexed in his mind at the time of his death and becomes restless, then it is sure that his future career is full misfortunes; unless one’s mind is calm and serene at the time of death, can never attain a good goal.
Thus thinking variously, the Satyavati's son Veda Vyāsa sighed heavily and became unmindful. He thought of various plans and at last, coming to a definite conclusion, went to the Śumeru Mountain to perform Tapasyā.
On reaching there, he thought which Deva he will worship! Viṣṇu, Śiva, Indra, Brahma, Surya, Ganeśa, Kārtikeya, Agni, or Varuṇa? Who will grant him boon quickly and thus satisfy his desires. While thus cogitating in his mind, came there the Muni Nārada, of one mind with lute in hand, accidentally in his course of travels.
Seeing Nārada, the Satyavati’s son Veda Vyāsa gave him a hearty welcome, with great gladness, offering him Arghya and Āsan (seat) and asked about his welfare. Hearing this question of welfare, Nārada Muni spoke:
“O Dvaipāyana! Why do you look so care worn! First speak this out to me”.
28-30. Veda Vyāsa said:
“The sonless man has no goal; therefore there is no happiness in my mind; I am always anxious to get a son and therefore I am very sorry.
Today my mind is sorely troubled with the one idea, which Deva I may satisfy by my tapasyā, who will grant me my desires; now I take your refuge.
O merciful Mahaṛṣi! You are omniscient; say this quickly; which Deva I will take for my refuge, who will grant me a son”.
31-37. Sūta said:
Thus questioned by Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Veda Vyāsa, the high souled Nārada Muni, well versed in the Vedas, became very glad and spoke thus: -
O highly fortunate Parāśarā’s son. The question that you have asked me today was formerly asked by my father to Nārāyana.
At this, Nārāyaṇa Vasudeva, the Deva of the Devas, the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer of the Universe, the husband of Lakṣmī, the four armed, wearing yellow garment, holding conch shell, discus, club and with the mark Śrīvatsa (a mark or curl of hair on the heart of Viṣṇu) adorning His breast and decorated with Kaustuvagem, the Divinity Himself, became merged in great Yoga; at this my Father became greatly surprised and said:
“O Janārdana! Thou art the Deva of the Devas; the Lord of the Present, the Past and the Future, the Lord of this Universe; why art thou meditating in Yoga? And what is it that Thou art meditating?
O best of the Devas! Thou art the Lord of the entire Universe and yet Thou art now merged in deep meditation. At this I am greatly surprised (my surprise is not without foundation; Thou canst Thyself see). What more wonderful than this can happen?
38-43. O Lord of Rama! I am sprung from the lotus from thy navel and have become the Lord of this whole universe; who is there in this universe that is superior to Thee; kindly say this to me.
O Lord of the world! Thou art the Origin of all, the Cause of all causes, the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer and the capable Doer of all actions.
O Maharaja! At Thy will, I create this whole universe and Rudra destroys in due time this world. He is always under Thy command.
O Lord! By Thy command the Sun roams in the sky; the wind blows in various auspicious or inauspicious ways and the fire is giving heat and the cloud showers rain.
I don’t see in the three Lokas any one superior to Thee. Then whom art Thou meditating while being questioned by his very intelligent son Śuka Deva!
Not born in the usual way from womb, Dvaipāyana expounded all the secret excellent meanings of the Purāṇa and thereby I also came to know them also.
O saintly persons! Thus Śuka Deva, sincerely earnest to cross this endless bottomless ocean of Samsāra, tasted of the wonderful traits of the Veda, the Kalpa tree, this Śrīmad Bhāgavata with its numerous stories and anecdotes with great eagerness and intense pleasure.
38-43. Oh! Who is there in this world that is not freed from this terror of Kali, after he has heard this Bhāgavata. Even if the greatest sinner, void of the right ways of living and Achara as ordained in the Vedas, hears on a pretence this excellent Devī Bhāgavata, the chief of the Purāṇas, he enjoys all the great enjoyments of this world and in the end attains the eternal place occupied by the Yogis.
She who is rare, in Her Nirguna aspect, to even Hari and Hara, who is very dear as Tattva Vidyā to the Jñānins whose real nature can be realised only in Samadhi, She resides always in the cavity of the heart of the hearers of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa.
He who getting the all qualified human birth and getting the reciter of this Purāṇa, the boat to cross, as it were, this world, does not hear this blissful Purāṇa, he is certainly deprived by the Creator.
How is it that the way-ward dull-headed persons, getting the vicious ears, can hear always the faults and calumnies of others, that are entirely useless, and cannot hear this pure Purāṇa that contains the four Vargas Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Mokṣa?
This is my main point of doubt. O One of good vows! I am Thy devotee; be merciful to me and speak this to me. There is almost nothing that is secret to Mahā Puruṣas; this is a well-known fact”.
44-50. Thus hearing Brahma's words, Bhagavan Nārāyana spoke:
“O Brahman! I now speak out my mind to you; listen carefully. Though the Devas, Dānavas and men and all the Lokas know that You are the Creator, I am the Preserver and Rudra is the Destroyer, yet it is to be known that the saints, versed in the Vedas, have come to this conclusion by inference from the Vedas that the creation, preservation, and destruction are performed by the creative force, preservative force and destructive force.
The Rājasic creative force residing in you, the Sāttvic preservative force residing in me, and the Tāmasic destructive force residing in Rudra are the all-in-all. When these Śaktis become absent, you become inert and incapable to create, I to preserve and Rudra to destroy.
O intelligent Suvrata! We all are always under that Force directly or indirectly; hear instances that you can see and infer. At the time of Pralaya, I lie down on the bed of Ananta, subservient to that Force; again I wake up in the time of creation duly under the influence of Time.
51-54.I am always subservient to that Mahā Śakti; (under Her command) I am engaged in Tapasyā for a long time; (By Her command) some time I enjoy with Lakshmi; some time I fight battles, terrible to all the Lokas, with the Dānavas, involving great bodily troubles.
O Knower of Dharma! It was before Your presence that I fought hand to hand fight for five thousand years before Your sight on that one great ocean in long-past days with the two demons Madhu and Kaiṭabha, sprung from the wax of my ear, maddened with pride; and by the grace of the Devī, successfully killed the two Dānavas.
55-61. O highly fortunate one! You realised then the great Śakti, higher than the highest and the cause of all causes; then why are you asking again and again that question.
By the will of that Śakti, I have got this idea of man and roam on the great ocean; in yuga after yuga, I assume by Her will, the Tortoise, Boar, Man-Lion, and Dwarf incarnations. No one likes to take birth in the womb of inferior animals (especially birds).
Do you think that I willingly take unpleasant births as in the womb of boars, tortoise, i.e., certainly not. What independent man is there who abandons the pleasurable enjoyment with Lakṣmī and takes birth in inferior animals as fish, etc. or leaves his seat on the seat of Garuda and becomes engaged in great war-conflicts.
O Svāyambhu! In ancient days you saw before your eyes that my head was cut off when the bowstring suddenly gave way; and then you, brought a horse's head and by that help, the divine artist Viśvakarma, stuck that on to my headless body.
O Brahma! Since then I am known amongst men by the name of “Hayagrīva”. This is well-known to you. Now say, were I independent, would such an ignominy have happened to me?
Never. Therefore I am not independent; I am in every way under that Śakti. O Lotus- born! I always meditate on that Śakti; and I do not know any other than this Śakti”.
62-66. Nārada said:
Thus spoke Viṣṇu to Brahma. O Muni Veda Vyāsa! Brahma spoke these to me. So you, too, better meditate the lotus feet of Bhagavatī calmly in the lotus of your heart for the success of your idea.
That Devī will give you all that you wish.
At these words of Nārada, Satyavati's son Veda Vyāsa went out to the hills for Tapasyā, trusting the lotus feet of the Devī as the all-in-all in this world.
Thus ends the fourth chapter of the first Skandha on the Excellency of the Devī in the Mahāpurāṇa Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam of 18,000 verses.