Viṣṇu Purāṇa | Book 2 - Chapter 3

Chapter III

Description of Bhārata-Varṣā: extent: chief mountains: nine divisions: principal rivers and mountains of Bhārata proper: principal nations: superiority over other Varṣas, especially as the seat of religious acts. (Topographical lists.)

THE country that lies north of the ocean, and south of the snowy mountains, is called Bhārata, for there dwelt the descendants of Bharata. It is nine thousand leagues in extent, and is the land of works, in consequence of which men go to heaven, or obtain emancipation.

The seven main chains of mountains in Bhārata are Mahendra, Malaya, Sahya, Śuktimat, Rikṣa, Vindhya, and Pāripātra.

From this region heaven is obtained, or even, in some cases, liberation from existence; or men pass from hence into the condition of brutes, or fall into hell.

Heaven, emancipation, a state in mid-air, or in the subterraneous realms, succeeds to existence here, and the world of acts is not the title of any other portion of the universe.

The Varṣā of Bhārata is divided into nine portions, which I will name to you:

they are Indra-dvīpa, Kaśerumat, Tāmravarṇa, Gabhastimat, Nāga-dvīpa, Saumya, Gandharva, and Varuṇa; the last or ninth Dvīpa is surrounded by the ocean, and is a thousand Yojanas from north to south.

On the east of Bhārata dwell the Kirātas (the barbarians); on the west, the Yavanas; in the centre reside Brahmans, Kṣatriyas, Vaiśyas, and Śūdras, occupied in their respective duties of sacrifice, arms, trade, and service.

The Śatadru, Chandrabhāgā, and other rivers, flow from the foot of Himālaya: the Vedasmriti and others from the Pāripātra mountains: the Narmadā and Surasā from the Vindhya hills: the Tāpī, Payoṣṇī, and Nirvindhyā from the Rikṣa mountains;

the Godāvarī, Bhimarathī, Kṛṣṇavenī, and others, from the Sahya mountains: the Kritamālā, Tāmraparṇī, and others, from the Malaya hills: the Trisāmā, Ṛṣikulyā, etc. from the Mahendra: and the Ṛṣikulyā, Kumārī, and others, from the Śuktimat mountains.

Of such as these, and of minor rivers, there is an infinite number; and many nations inhabit the countries on their borders.

The principal nations of Bhārata are the Kurus and Pānchālas, in the middle districts: the people of Kāmarūpa, in the east: the Puṇḍras, Kālingas, Magadhas, and southern nations, are in the south: in the extreme west are the Saurāṣṭras, Śūras, Bhīras, Arbudas: the Kāruṣas and Mālavas,

dwelling along the Pāripātra mountains: the Sauvīras, the Saindhavas, the Hūnas, the Sālvas, the people of Śākala, the Madras, the Rāmas, the Ambaṣṭhas, and the Pārasīkas, and others.

These nations drink of the water of the rivers above enumerated, and inhabit their borders, happy and prosperous.

In the Bhārata-Varṣā it is that the succession of four Yugas, or ages, the Krita, the Tretā, the Dvāpara, and Kāli, takes place; that pious ascetics engage in rigorous penance; that devout men offer sacrifices; and that gifts are distributed; all for the sake of another world.

In Jambu-dvīpa, Viṣṇu, consisting of sacrifice, is worshipped, as the male of sacrificial rites, with sacrificial ceremonies: he is adored under other forms elsewhere.

Bhārata is therefore the best of the divisions of Jambu-dvīpa, because it is the land of works: the others are places of enjoyment alone. It is only after many thousand births, and the aggregation of much merit, that living beings are sometimes born in Bhārata as men.

The gods themselves exclaim:

"Happy are those who are born, even from the condition of gods, as men in Bhārata-Varṣā, as that is the way to the pleasures of Paradise, or the greater blessing of final liberation.

Happy are they who, consigning all the unheeded rewards of their acts to the supreme and eternal Viṣṇu, obtain existence in that land of works, as their path to him.

We know not, when the acts that have obtained us heaven shall have been fully recompensed, where we shall renew corporeal confinement; but we know that those men are fortunate who are born with perfect faculties in Bhārata-Varṣā."

I have thus briefly described to you, Maitreya, the nine divisions of Jambu-dvīpa, which is a hundred thousand Yojanas in extent, and which is encircled, as if by a bracelet, by the ocean of salt water, of similar dimensions.