On the Ganges and the Varsas
1-37. Nârâyana said :– Jathara and Devakûta are the two mountains situated on the east of Sumeru; their dimensions towards the north are eighteen thousand Yoyanas wide and two thousand Yoyanas high. On the west of Meru, are situated the two famous lofty mountains Pavamâna and Pâriyâtra; their length and height are well known. On the south of Meru are situated the two lofty mountains Kailâsa and Karavira. On the north, again, of the Sumeru mountain, are situated the mountains S’ringagiri and Makaragiri. Thus the golden Sumeru mountain, shines like the Sun, surrounded by these eight mountains. In the centre of the Sumeru, there is a Divine city built of the Creator Brahmâ, ten thousand Yoyanas in dimensions. The learned sages that know everything from the highest to the lowest, describe that as square in dimensions and all made of gold. On the top of the Sumeru, are situated the world known eight golden cities, subservient to the Brahmapurî, for the eight Lokapâlas. The Lords of the four directions, east, west, north and south and of the four corners, northeast, north-west, south-west, south-east, occupy these.
The dimensions of each of these eight cities are two thousand Yoyanas and a half. In fact, there are nine cities there including the Brahmapurî. Now hear the names of these nine cities in due order. The First is Manovatî, the second is Amarâvatî, the third is Tejovatî, next come in order Samyamanî, Krisnânganâ, S’raddhâvatî, Gandhavatî, and Mahodayâ, the ninth is Yas’ovatî. The Lords of the Purîs are Brahmâ, Indra, Fire and the other Dikpâlas in due order. When Visnu Bhagavân assumed the Tri Vikrama Form in His Dwarf Incarnation and went at the sacrifice, to get back the Kingdom of the Heavens from the demon Vali, there was created one hole or cavity over this Brahmânda Katâha (skull) by the nails of the toes of that foot that went up towards his left; and through that cavity, the famous river Bhagavatî Gangâ flowed on the top of those heavenly Kingdoms, the clear waters of which are ever ready to destroy the sins of the whole people. For this reason, She is known in the three Lokas as the Visnupadî manifested. This took place long long ago, many thousand Yugas ago, a period difficult to determine. The Ganges fell first on the top of the Indra’s Heavens, near the place called Visnudhâma, known in the three worlds. Here the pure-souled Dhruva, the son of Uttânapâda, observed within his heart the lotus-feet of Srî Visnu Bhagavân and exists still there taking refuge on that immoveable position. There the high-souled Seven Risis, knowing the highest purifying influence of the Ganges, circumambulate the river, wishing for the welfare of all the Lokas. This is the great place where one gets success, and final liberation, the success-giving place of the ascetics and where the Munis with clots of hairs on their heads daily take their dip in the Ganges with the greatest pleasure and admiration. The Ganges flows thence from the Dhruva Mandala, the abode of Visnu, in Kotis and Kotis of Divine Channels, interspersed with many Vimânas or carriages, deluges the Chandra Mandala (the Moon Sphere), comes gradually to the Brahmâ Loka. Here She is divided into the four channels, Sîtâ, Alakanandâ, Bhadrâ, and Chaturbhadrâ and irrigating many countries, mountains, and forests ultimately falls in the oceans. The Sîtâ, the famous Dhârâ, purifying all, while falling down from the Brahmâloka, passes round the mountains that form as it were the filaments of the flower-like Sumeru mountain, and falls on the top of the Gandhamâdana range. Thence She, worshipped by the Devas, irrigates the Bhadras’vavarsa and falls eastward into the salt ocean. The second Dhârâ (stream), named Chaksu, getting out of the Malyavân range, gradually gains strength and assumes great force and flows by Ketumâlavarsa to the western ocean. The third Dhârâ (stream), the very pure Alakananda, getting out of the Brahmâ Loka, passes through the Girikûta mountain and other forests, falls to Hemakûta; next She flows through the Bhârata Varsa and meets with the southern ocean. No words can describe the glory and the purifying effect of this river; suffice it to say that those who march out to bathe in this river get at each of their steps, the fruits of doing the great sacrifices, Râjasûya and As’vamedha, etc. The fourth Dhârâ of the Trailokyapavanî Ganga Devi, named Bhadrâ, falling from the mountain S’ringavân, become swift and capacious, flows by the Northern Kuru country and satisfying the people there flows down into the ocean. Many other rivers, getting out from the mountains, Meru, Mandara and others, flow through the various Varsas or continents, but of all the Varsas, continents, this Bhârata Varsa is called the Karma Ksettra (or the field of actions). The other eight Varsas, though on earth, give the pleasures of the Heavens. The reason for this is that when the period of the persons’ enjoyments in the Heavens cease, they come and take their birth in the one or other of these eight Varsas. The people here live for ten thousand years; their body is hard like thunderbolt and all are endowed with powers of Ayuta elephants. No one is satisfied with a little of the pleasures of sexes; so all men live happily with their wives, etc. It is not that the males alone are so happy; the females also are full of youth throughout their lives and become pregnant, when they are less than one year old. In short, the inhabitants of the Varsas enjoy for ever as the persons of Tretâ Yuga do.
Hear ends the Seventh Chapter of the Eighth Book on the story of the Ganges and the continents in Srî Mad Devî Bhâgavatam, the Mahâ Purânam, of 18,000 verses, by Maharsi Veda Vyâsa.