East-West-North-South
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       =======  Understanding Hinduism  =======

East-West-North-South

Click on underlined words to open paragraph

East     South      West     North

From The Mahabharata
Anusasana Parva, Section CIV
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

Bhishma said:

"One should never sleep with head
turned towards the north or the west"

"The man of wisdom should reside in
such a house as has been constructed
with the aid of a Brahmana and an
engineer skilled in his profession, if
indeed, O king, he desires his own good"
[Note: The Brahmana's aid is necessary
inselecting the ground, and setting the longitudinal
and other directions of the house, as also in fixing
the day of commencing the work of building.]
______________

East-West-North-South
From The Mahabharata
Udyoga Parva, Section CVIII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

Garuda said: O Galva, I ask thee, towards which quarter shall I first take thee to see what lie there?

The eastern, the southern, the western, or the northern, towards which, O best of regenerate persons, shall I go,O Galava?

East

That quarter towards which Surya the illuminator of the universe first riseth; where, at eve, the Sadhyas engage in their ascetic austerities; where that Intelligence, which pervades the whole universe first springeth; where the two eyes of Dharma, as well as he himself, are stationed; where the ghee (clarified butter) first poured in sacrifice subsequently flowed all around; the quarter, O best of all regenerate persons, is the gate of Day and Time. There the daughters of Daksha, in primeval times, gave birth to their children. There the sons of Kasyapa first multiplied. That quarter is the source of all the prosperity of the gods, for it was there that Sakra was first anointed as the king of the celestials. It was there, O regenerate Rishi, that both Indra and the gods underwent their ascetic penances. It is for this, O Brahmana, that this quarter is called Purva (the first). And because in the earliest of times this quarter was overspread by the Suras, it is for this that it is called Purva. The gods, desirous of prosperity, performed all their religious ceremonies here. It was here that the divine Creator of the universe first sang the Vedas. It was here that the Gayatri was first preached by Surya unto the reciters of that sacred hymn. It was here, O best of Brahmanas that the Yajurvedas were delivered by Surya (unto Yajnavalkya). It was here that the Soma juice, sanctified by boons, was first drunk in sacrifices by Suras. It was here that the Homa-fires, (gratified by Mantras), first drank articles of cognate origin.

[Note: These articles of cognate origin are ghee (clarified butter), milk, and other things used as libations in sacrifices.]

It was here that Varuna first repaired to the nether regions, and attained to all his prosperity. It was here, O bull among the twice born, that the birth, growth and death of the ancient Vasishtha took place. Here first grew the hundred different branches of Om.

[Note: i.e., the subdivisions of the Pranava (AUM or OM), the mysterious Mantra, which is the beginning of everything, were first promulgated here. Nilakantha supposes this to refer to the origin of the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the various branches of the Srutis and the Smritis.]

It was here that the smoke-eating Munis are the smoke of sacrificial fires. It was in that region that myriads of boars and other animals were killed by Sakra and offered as sacrificial portions unto the gods. It is here that the thousand-rayed sun, arising, consumeth, out of fire, all those that are wicked and ungrateful among men and the Asuras. This is the gate of the three worlds. This is the path of heaven and felicity. This quarter is called Purva (east). We will go hither, if it pleaseth thee. I shall always do what is agreeable to him who is my friend. Tell me. O Galava, if any other quarter pleaseth thee, for we will then go there. Listen now to what I say of another quarter.

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South
(The Mahabharata, Udyoga parva, Section CIX)

Garuda continued: In days of yore, Vivaswat, having performed a sacrifice, gave this quarter away as a present (Dakshina) unto his preceptor. And it is for this that this region is known by the name of Dakshina (south). It is here that the Pitris of the three worlds have their habitation. And, O Brahmana, it is said that a class of celestials subsisting upon smoke alone also live there. Those celestials also that go by the name of Viswedevas always dwell in this region along with the Pitris. Worshipped in sacrifices in all the worlds, they are equal sharers with the Pitris. This quarter is called the second door of Yama. It is here that the periods allotted to men are calculated in Trutis and Lavas [small divisions of time].

In this region always dwell the celestial Rishis, the Pitriloka Rishis, and the royal Rishis, in great happiness. Here are religions and truth. It is here that the acts (of persons) exhibit their fruits. This region, O best of the twice born, is the goal of the acts of the dead. It is this region, O best of regenerate persons, whither all must repair. And as creatures are all overwhelmed by darkness, they cannot, therefore, come hither in bliss. Here, O bull among regenerate persons, are many thousands of malevolent Rakshasas in order to be seen by the sinful. Here, O Brahmana, in the bowers on the breast of Mandara and in the abodes of regenerate Rishis, the Gandharvas chant psalms, stealing away both the heart and the intellect. It was here that Raivata (a Daitya), hearing the Sama hymns sung in a sweet voice, retired to the woods, leaving his wife and friends and kingdom.

In this region, O Brahmana, Manu and Yavakrita’s son together set a limit, which Surya can never overstep. It was here that the illustrious descendant of Pulastya, Ravana, the king of the Rakshasas, undergoing ascetic austerities, solicited (the boon of) immortality from the gods. It was here that (the Asura) Vritra, in consequence of his wicked conduct, incurred the enmity of Sakra. It is in this region of lives the diverse forms all come and are then dissociated into their five (constituent) elements. It is in this region, O Galava, that men of wicked deeds rot (in tortures). It is here that the river Vaitarani flows filled with the bodies of persons condemned to hell. Arrived here, persons attain to the extremes of happiness and misery. Reaching this region, the sun droppeth sweet waters and thence proceeding again to the direction named after (Vasishtha), once more droppeth dew. It was here that I once obtained (for food), a prodigious elephant battling with an enormous tortoise.

It was here that the great sage Chakradhanu took his birth from Surya. That divine sage afterwards came to be known by the name of Kapila, and it was by him that the (sixty thousand) sons of Sagara were afflicted. It was here that a class of Brahmanas named Sivas, fully mastering the Vedas, became crowned with (ascetic) success. Having studied all the Vedas they at last attained eternal salvation. In this region is the city called Bhogavati that is ruled by Vasuki, by the Naga Takshaka and also by Airavata. They that have to journey hither (after death) encounter here a thick gloom. And so thick is that gloom that it cannot be penetrated by either the Sun himself or by Agni. Worthy of worship as thou art, even thou shalt have to pass this road. Tell me now, if thou wishest to sojourn towards this direction. Else, listen to an account of the western direction.

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West
(The Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva, section CX)

Garuda said: This quarter is the favourite one of king Varuna, the ruler of the ocean. Indeed, the lord of the waters had his origin here, and it is hither that sovereignty lieth. And since it is here that towards the day’s end (paschat) the sun dismisseth his rays that this quarter, O best of the twice-born ones, is called the Paschima (west). For ruling over all aquatic creatures and for the protection of the water themselves, illustrious and divine Kasyapa installed Varuna here (as the king of this region). Quaffing all the six juices of Varuna, the moon, the dispeller of darkness, becometh young again in the beginning of the fortnight. It was in this quarter, O Brahmana, that the Daityas were routed and bound fast by the wind-god. And afflicted by a mighty tempest, and breathing hard (as they fled), they at last laid themselves down in this region to sleep (the sleep that knows no waking).

Hither is that mountain called Asta which is the cause of the evening twilight, and which (daily) receiveth the sun lovingly turning towards it. It is from this quarter that both Night and Sleep, issuing out at the close of day, spread themselves, as if, for robbing all living creatures of half their allotted periods of life. It was here that Sakra, beholding (his stepmother) the goddess Diti lying asleep in a state of pregnancy, cut off the foetus (into forty-nine parts), whence sprang the (forty-nine) Maruts. It is towards this direction that the roots of Himavat stretch towards the eternal Mandara (sunk in the ocean). By journeying for even a thousand years one cannot attain to the end of those roots. It is in this region that Surabhi (the mother of cows), repairing to the shores of the extensive lake, adorned with golden lotuses, poureth forth her milk.

Here in the midst of the ocean is seen the headless trunk of the illustrious Swarbhanu (Rahu) who is always bent upon devouring both the sun and the moon. Here is heard the loud chanting of the Vedas by Suvarnasiras, who is invincible and of immeasurable energy, and whose hair is eternally green. It is in this region that the daughter of Muni Harimedhas remained transfixed in the welkin in consequence of Surya’s injunction couched in the words- Stop, Stop. Here, O Galava, wind, and fire, and earth, and water, are all free, both day and night, from their painful sensations. It is from this region that the sun’s course begins to deviate from the straight path, and it is in this direction that all the luminous bodies (the constellations) enter the solar sphere. And having moved for twenty-eight nights with the sun, they come out of the sun’s course to move in accompaniment with the moon. It is in this region that the rivers, which always feed the ocean, have their sources. Here, in the abode of Varuna, are the waters of the three worlds. In this region is situate the abode of Ananta, the prince of snakes. And here is the unrivalled abode also of Vishnu, who is without beginning and without end. In this region is also situate the abode of the great Rishi Kasyapa, the son of Maricha. The western quarter is thus narrated to thee in the course of telling thee of the different points. Tell me now, O Galava, towards which side, O best of regenerate persons, shall we go?

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North
(The Mahabharata, Udyoga parva, Section CXI)

Garuda said: O Brahmana, since this quarter saveth from sin, and since one attaineth to salvation here, it is for this saving (Uttarana) power that it is called Uttara (north). And, O Galava, because the abode of all the treasures of the north stretches in a line towards the east and the west, therefore is the north sometimes called the central region (Madhyama). And, O bull among the twice-born, in this region that is superior to all, none can live that is unamiable, or of unbridled passions, or unrighteous.

Hither, in the asylum, known by the name of Vadari, eternally dwell Krishna who is Narayana’s self, and Jishnu that most exalted, of all male beings, and Brahma (the Creator). Hither, on the breast of Himavat (the Himalayas) always dwelleth Maheswara (Siva) endued with the effulgence of the fire that blazeth up at the end of the Yuga. As Purusha, he sporteth here with Prakriti (the universal mother). Except by Nara, and Narayana, he is incapable of being seen by the diverse classes of Munis, the gods with Vasava at their head, the Gandharvas, the Yakshas, and the Siddhas. Though invested with Maya, him the eternal Vishnu alone, of a thousand heads and thousand legs, can behold. It was in this region that Chandramas (the moon) was installed into the sovereignty of the entire regenerate order.

It was in this region, O thou foremost of all acquainted with Brahma, that Mahadeva first receiving her on his head, afterwards let (the sacred stream) Ganga (Ganges river) fall from the heavens to the world of men. It was here that the Goddess (Uma) underwent her ascetic austerities from her desire of obtaining Maheswara (as her Lord).

It was in this region that Kama, the wrath (of Siva), Himavat, and Uma, all together shone brilliantly. It was here, on the breast of Kailasa, O Galava, that Kuvera, was installed on the sovereignty of the Rakshasas, the Yakshas, and the Gandharvas. It is in this region that (Kuvera’s gardens called) Chitraratha lie, and it is here that the asylum of (the Munis called the) Vaikhanasas is situate. It is here, O bull among the twice born, that the celestial stream called Mandakini, and the mountain Mandara are to be seen. It is here that the gardens called Saugandhi-kanaka are always guarded by the Rakshasas. Here are many plains covered with grassy verdure, as also the plantain forest and those celestial trees called the Sautanakas. It is in this region, O Galava, that the Siddhas, with souls ever under control and always sporting at will, have their fit abode, abounding with every object of enjoyment. It is here that the seven Rishis with Arundhati may be seen.

It is here that the constellations Swati is to be seen and it is here that it first rises to the view. It is in this region that the Grandsire Brahma dwelleth in the vicinity of Yajna (sacrifice embodied). It is in this quarter that the sun, the moon, and the other luminaries are seen to revolve regularly. It is in this region, O foremost of Brahmanas, that those illustrious and truth-speaking Munis called by the name of Dharma, guard the source of the Ganga (Ganges). The origin and physical features and ascetic penances of these Munis are not known to all. The thousand dishes they use for serving the food offered in hospitality and the edibles also they create at will, are all a mystery. The man, O Galava, that passeth beyond the point guarded by these Munis, is certain, O foremost of Brahmanas, to meet with destruction. None else, O bull among Brahmanas, save the divine Narayana, and the eternal Nara called also Jishnu, succeed in passing beyond the point so guarded.

It is in this region that the mountains of Kailasa lie, the abode of Ailavila (Kuvera). It is here that the ten Apsaras known by the name of Vidyutprabha had their origin. In covering, O Brahmana, the three worlds with three steps in the sacrifice of Vali (the Asura king), Vishnu had covered this whole northern region; and, accordingly, there is a spot here called Vishnupada. And it is so called after the footprint of Vishnu caused on that occasion. Here, in this quarter, at a place called Usiravija, by the side of the golden lake, king Marutta performed, O foremost of Brahmanas, a sacrifice. It is here that the brilliant and shining gold mines of Himavat exhibit themselves to the illustrious and regenerate Rishi Jimuta. And Jimuta gave away the whole of that wealth to the Brahmanas. And having given it away, that great Rishi solicited them to call it after his own name. And hence that wealth is known by the name of the Jaimuta gold. Here, in this region, O bull among Bharatas, the regents of the worlds, O Galava, every morning and evening, proclaim, ‘What business of what person shall we do?’ It is for these, O foremost of Brahmanas, and other incidents, that the northern region is superior to all quarters. And because this region is superior (uttara) to all, therefore, it is called the north (uttara). The four regions have thus, O sire, been, one after another described to thee in details. Towards which quarter then dost thou desire to go? I am ready, O foremost of Brahmanas, to show thee all the quarters of the earth!
==============

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