Śrīmad Devi Bhāgavatam | Book 3 Chapter 7



Chapter VII

On the creation and the Tattvas and their presiding deities

1. Brahmā said:

O Nārada!  Thus we three I, Viṣṇu, and Mahādeva saw that highly effulgent Goddess: we also saw separately Her attendant goddesses, one after another, that form, as it were, a veil to her? Who were also pre-eminently grand.

2-3. Vyāsa said:

O king! Nārada, the foremost of the Munis, hearing thus his father's words, was exceedingly pleased and asked:

O Grandsire of all the Lokas! Now describe in detail that ancient and indestructible undecaying, unchangeable, eternal Puruṣa, that is Nirguṇa (free from Prakriti qualities) that you have seen and realised.

4. Father! You have seen the Śaktī (the Prime Energy) personified the Saguṇā energy, the Supreme Goddess, having hands and feet; but cannot understand of what kind is that Nirguṇa Śaktī which cannot be seen and which is devoid of all Prakriti qualities.

O Lotus-born! Be good enough to describe to me the real nature of that Prakriti and Puruṣa and thus satisfy me.

5-6. O Lord of Creation! I practised severe austerities in the Sveta Dvīpa (white island), so that I might realise and see the Nirguṇa Highest Self and the Nirguṇa Śaktī, the Supreme Goddess; I saw there many other Mahātmas (high class spiritual persons) who attained siddhis (supernatural powers) practise Tapasyā with their passions and anger conquered. But I did not realise nor did I see anything about that Nirguṇa Highest Self. Father, I was not despaired; again and again I continued with my ascetic practices; but still I failed.

7. Father, you have been so successful as to see that beautiful Śaktī with qualities; I have heard about Her from you, but how and of what sort, is that invisible attributeless energy as well as that Nirguṇa Puruṣa. Please narrate and explain all these and satisfy my desires that always reign in my breast.

8. Vyāsa said:

O King! Thus asked by Nārada, the Lord of creation, the grandsire of the Lokas, smiled, and began to speak the truth in the following words:

9. O best of Munis! The form of the Nirguṇa Puruṣa (the Supreme Spirit beyond the Prakriti qualities) cannot exist or be visible; for everything that comes within the range of sight is transitory. How can, then, that Eternal Spirit have form and how can He become visible!

10. O Nārada! The Nirguṇa Energy or Nirguṇa Puruṣa comes not easily within the range of knowledge; but both of them can be realised by the Munis in their meditation in their consciousness.

11. Prakriti and Puruṣa have neither beginning nor end; they can be realised only through faith; those that have no faith can never realise them.

12. Nārada! The universal consciousness, that is felt in all the beings, know that as the Highest Self; the Energy that is universal and is seen always in all the beings, know that as the Highest Self.

13. O blessed one! That Puruṣa and Prakriti pervade everywhere and exist in all the things; in this Universe nothing can exist without the presence of both of them.

14. Both of them are the highest intelligent self, Nirguṇa (free from all material qualities), without any tinge of impurity, and undecaying. The one form that is a combination of these two is always to be meditated in the heart.

15. What is Śaktī (energy) is the Highest Self; what is the Highest Self is the Highest Śaktī. O Nārada! Nobody can ascertain the subtle difference between these two.

16. O Nārada! Merely the study of all the Śāstras and the Vedas with their Amgas without renunciation does not enable one to ascertain the difference between these two.

17. O Child! This whole universe, moving and non-moving, comes out of Ahaṁkāra (egoism). How can one ascertain the above difference even if he tries for one hundred kalpas, unless one frees oneself from Ahaṁkāra.

18. The Jīvas are Saguṇā (with qualities), how can the Saguṇas see the Nirguṇa One with their physical eyes? Therefore O Intelligent one! Try to see the Saguṇā (Brahmā) only within your heart (until you free yourself from the material qualities and thus be fit to realise the Nirguṇa Brahmā).

19-20. O best of Munis! If the tongue (organ of taste) and eyes (organ of sight) be affected with over biliousness, the pungent taste and the yellow colour do not appear what it appeared before; so the hearts of Jīvas, overpowered with material qualities, are quite unfit for realisation of the Nirguṇa Brāhman.

O Nārada! That heart again has come out of Ahaṁkāra; how can then that heart be free from Ahaṁkāra?

21. Until one becomes able to cut asunder all connections with qualities, the seeing of that Nirguṇa Brahmā is impossible. No sooner one is totally free from Ahaṁkāra, than the Nirguṇa Brahmā is at once seen by him within his heart.

22-24. Nārada said O best of the Devas! Ahaṁkāra is three-fold, Sāttvic, Rājasic and Tāmasic; describe in detail the differences between these three sub-divisions as well the real nature of the Guṇas. Also describe to me about that knowledge, knowing which will lead to my salvation. Also describe, in detail, the characteristics of the several Guṇas, in due order.

25-26. Brahmā said:

 O Sinless one! The energy of Ahaṁkāra is of three kinds Jñāna Śaktī, Kriyā Śaktī, and Artha or Dravya Śaktī. The power by which knowledge is produced or obtained is the Sāttvic Ahaṁkāra; the power by which action or activity or motion is produced is the Rājasic Ahaṁkāra; and that by which the material things or objects of have senses are generated is called the Tāmasic Ahaṁkāra.

O Nārada! Thus I described to you, in due order, the threefold Ahaṁkāra.

27-30. Now I will describe to you their merits and workings in detail; hear:

Out of the Dravya Śaktī of the Tāmasic Ahaṁkāra come sound, touch, form, taste and smell. From these five qualities, the five Tanmātras or the five subtle-elements (primary atoms) are produced.

Sound is the quality of Ākāśa (ether); touch is the quality of Vāyu (Air); the form is the quality of Agni (fire); the taste is the quality of Jala (water); and the smell is the quality of earth.

O Nārada, these ten gross and subtle materials can, when combined, become endowed with power to work out results in the shape of earth, water, fire, etc., and when the Panchīkaraṇa process is combined, the building of the whole cosmos takes place as a natural consequence of the Tāmasa Ahaṁkāra, endowed with the energy of generating material substances.

31-34. Now hear what are produced by the Rājasic energy:

The five organs of hearing, touch, taste, sight, and smell (ears, skin, tongue, eyes and nose) called the five Jñānendriyas (organs of senses) ; mouth, hands, feet, anus and the organs of generation called the five Karmendriyas (organs of action) ; and Prāna, Apāna, Vyāna, Samāna, and Udāna, the five Vāyus. The creation out of these fifteen substances is called the Rājasic energy.

Nārada! All these organs of senses and actions endowed with the Kriyā Śaktī, called the Kāraṇas and the materials fashioned out of them are called the chidanuvritti or Māyā.

35-38. O Nārada! From the Sāttvic Ahaṁkāra are produced the five presiding rulers of the five internal organs named Dik (quarters), Vāyu, Sun, Varuṇa, and the twins Aśvīni Kumāras and the four presiding rulers of the four fold divisions of Antahkaraṇa (Buddhis, manas, Ahaṁkāra and citta) named Moon, Brahmā, Rudra, and Kṣetrajña.

Thus the above five organs of senses, the five organs of action, the five Vāyus and mind, these sixteen substances are reckoned as the Sāttvic creation.

39-40. O Child! The Highest Self has two forms; one gross and the other subtle. The formless Self; the Consciousness incarnate, as it were, is the first form. The Seers consider this formless self to be the primary cause (the ultimatum) of all this phenomenal cosmos. (This is only for the best qualified Jñānis, not for others).

The Second Form is the Gross Form for the meditation of the second class qualified persons; thus the sages say. This second form of the Supreme Goddess is conditioned by inherent Māyā (time, space and causation) ; this is also divided into gross and subtle, according as it is the outer or inner body of the second form (and the form suited for the meditation of the third class and the second class devotees).

41. My body is called Sūtrātmā; I will now tell you the gross body of Brāhman, the Highest Self.

O Nārada! This my body and soul having the nature of a string or thread is called Hiraṇyagarbha; this is also the gross body of the Paramātmān; therefore the Paramātmān together with the Sūtrātmā, should also be worshipped.

O Nārada! I will now describe to you the outer gross body of Brāhman, the Highest Self; hear it attentively; if one hears it with faith and devotion, one is sure to get salvation.

42-43.I have mentioned to you before the five subtle elements, called the five Tanmātras; these, now, when the Panchī Karaṇa process is done, are converted into the five gross elements. Now hear what the Panchī Karana process means:

44-46. Suppose you are to create the gross element of water. Divide into two equal parts the subtle element of water; divide also the other 4 elements into two equal parts respectively.

Now set apart the first half of each of the five elements; divide the second half of each of the elements into four equal parts. Mix the first half of each of the elements with each of the fourth part of the other four elements; and you get one gross element. Similarly you get the other four gross elements. For example You want to get the gross element of water With the half of the subtle element (1/2) of water mix the fourth part, of the halves of the other elements of ether, fire, air and earth; you get the gross element of water and so on.

The Panchīkaraṇa process is clearly illustrated in the following table.

   Ether  Air  Fire  Water  Earth
 Ether  1/2  1/8  1/8  1/8  1/8
 Air  1/8  1/2  1/8  1/8  1/8
 Fire  1/8  1/8  1/2  1/8  1/8
 Water  1/8  1/8  1/8  1/2  1/8
 Earth  1/8  1/8  1/8  1/8  1/2
 Gross Element  1  1  1  1  1


When the five gross elements are thus produced, consciousness then enters into these elements as their presiding deities; next comes the feeling of egoism (I ness) identifying itself with the body thus created out of the five elements. (I am this body and so forth).

47.      This great “I”, the great consciousness, creating and considering the Cosmos as its body is called the Bhagavān, Ādideva, Nārāyaṇa or Vaiśvānara.

48.      When, by the Panchīkaraṇa process, the five gross elements, earth, ether, air, etc., are solidified and get their clear definite forms, one, two, three, four, five, qualities are seen to exist in ether, air, fire, water, and earth, respectively.

49-51. Thus ether has one quality only - that is sound: the air has got two qualities - sound and touch; the fire possesses three qualities - sound, touch, and form; the water has got four qualities - sound, touch, form and taste; the earth has got five qualities - sound, touch, form, taste and smell, and by the various combinations of these five gross elements, is produced this grand Cosmos, the great body of Brahman.

52. Similarly the sum-total of Jīvas is produced from the several parts of the whole Brahmāṇḍa; these Jīvas are eighty four lakhs; so the sages say.

Thus ends the Seventh Chapter of the Third Skandha of Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam, the Mahā Purāṇam, of 18,000 verses, on the creation and the Tattvas and their presiding Deities.

Note: Of these Jīvas, those who are the best qualified, the Uttamādhikāris, are known as the Brāhmaṇas, Jānaghana Tūrīyas, as denoted by Om Hrīm; the middlings have their gross, subtle and causal bodies and are called as Brahmā Vaiśvānara, Sutra, Hiraṇyagarbhas; and the third class is known as Viśva, Taijasa, and Prājñas and forms the body, as it were, of the Brāhman. There are others also, animals, etc., in the lowest class.