Vaisampayana said, “Desirous of understanding the meaning of the Srutis, my preceptor, that ocean of penances, who is exceedingly devoted to the observance of all scriptural duties and the acquisition of knowledge, dwelt for some time in a particular region of the Himavat mountains. Endued with great intelligence, he became fatigued with his penances in consequence of the great strain on his energies occasioned by the composition of the Mahabharata. At that time, Sumanta and Jaimini and Paila of firm vows and myself numbering the fourth, and Suka his own son, attended on him. All of us, O king, in view of the fatigue our preceptor felt, waited dutifully upon him, engaged in doing all that was necessary for dispelling that fatigue of his. Surrounded by these disciples of his, Vyasa shone in beauty on the breast of the Himavat mountains like the Lord of all the ghostly beings, viz., Mahadeva, in the midst of those ghostly attendants of his. Having recapitulated the Vedas with all their branches as also the meanings of all the Verses in the Mahabharata, one day, with rapt attention, all of us approached our preceptor who, having controlled his senses, was at time rapt up in thought. Availing ourselves of an interval in the conversation, we asked that foremost of regenerate persons to expound to us the meanings of the Vedas and the Verses in the Mahabharata and narrate to us the incidents as well of his own birth from Narayana. Conversant as he was with all topics of enquiry, he at first discoursed to us on the interpretations of the Srutis and the Mahabharata, and then set himself to narrate to us the following incidents relating to his birth from Narayana.
“Vyasa said, ’Listen, ye disciples, to this foremost of narratives, to this best of histories that relates again to the birth of a Rishi. Appertaining to the Krita age, this narrative has become known to me through my penances, ye regenerate ones. On the occasion of the seventh creation, viz., that which was due to the primeval Lotus, Narayana, endued with the austerest penances, transcending both good and ill, and possessed of unrivalled splendour, at first created Brahma, from his navel. After Brahma had started into birth, Narayana addressed him, saying; Thou halt sprung from my navel. Endued with puissance in respect of creation, do thou set thyself to create diverse kinds of creatures, rational and irrational. Thus addressed by the author of his being, Brahma with his mind penetrated by anxiety, felt the difficulty of his task and became unwilling to do what he was commenced to do. Bowing his head unto the boon-giving and illustrious Hari, the Lord of the universe, Brahma said these words unto him,—I bow to thee, O Lord of the deities, but I ask what puissance have I to create diverse creatures? I have no wisdom. Do thou ordain what should be ordained in view of this. Thus addressed by Brahma, the Lord of the universe, viz., Narayana, disappeared there and then from