1. Maharaja Pariksit inquired: O most opulent Sukadeva Gosvami, please explain to me how Manu and the others in each manvantara are engaged in their respective duties, and by whose order they are so engaged.
2. Sukadeva Gosvami said: The Manus, the sons of Manu, the great sages, the Indras and all the demigods, O King, are appointed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His various incarnations such as Yajna.
3. O King, I have already described to you various incarnations of the Lord, such as Yajna. The Manus and others are chosen by these incarnations, under whose direction they conduct the universal affairs.
4. At the end of every four yugas, the great saintly persons, upon seeing that the eternal occupational duties of mankind have been misused, reestablish the principles of religion.
5. Thereafter, O King, the Manus, being fully engaged according to the instructions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, directly reestablish the principles of occupational duty in its full four parts.
6. To enjoy the results of sacrifices [yajnas], the rulers of the world, namely the sons and grandsons of Manu, discharge the orders of the Supreme Personality of Godhead until the end of Manu's reign. The demigods also share the results of these sacrifices.
7. Indra, King of heaven, receiving benedictions from the Supreme Personality of Godhead and thus enjoying highly developed opulences, maintains the living entities all over the three worlds by pouring sufficient rain on all the planets.
8. In every yuga, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, assumes the form of Siddhas such as Sanaka to preach transcendental knowledge, He assumes the form of great saintly persons such as Yajnavalkya to teach the way of karma, and He assumes the form of great yogis such as Dattatreya to teach the system of mystic yoga.
9. In the form of Prajapati Marici, the Supreme Personality of Godhead creates progeny; becoming the king, He kills the thieves and rogues; and in the form of time, He annihilates everything. All the different qualities of material existence should be understood to be qualities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
10. People in general are bewildered by the illusory energy, and therefore they try to find the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, through various types of research and philosophical speculation. Nonetheless, they are unable to see the Supreme Lord.
11. In one kalpa, or one day of Brahma, there take place the many changes called vikalpas. O King, all of these have been previously described to you by me. Learned scholars who know the past, present and future have ascertained that in one day of Brahma there are fourteen Manus.
Chapter Fifteen Bali Maharaja Conquers the Heavenly Planets
1-2. Maharaja Pariksit inquired: The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the proprietor of everything. Why did He beg three paces of land from Bali Maharaja like a poor man, and when He got the gift for which He had begged, why did He nonetheless arrest Bali Maharaja? I am very much anxious to know the mystery of these contradictions.
3. Sukadeva Gosvami said: O King, when Bali Maharaja lost all his opulence and died in the fight, Sukracarya, a descendant of Bhrgu Muni, brought him back to life. Because of this, the great soul Bali Maharaja became a disciple of Sukracarya and began to serve him with great faith, offering everything he had.
4. The brahmana descendants of Bhrgu Muni were very pleased with Bali Maharaja, who desired to conquer the kingdom of Indra. Therefore, after purifying him and properly bathing him according to regulative principles, they engaged him in performing the yajna known as Visvajit.
5. When ghee [clarified butter] was offered in the fire of sacrifice, there appeared from the fire a celestial chariot covered with gold and silk. There also appeared yellow horses like those of Indra, and a flag marked with a lion.
6. A gilded bow, two quivers of infallible arrows, and celestial armor also appeared. Bali Maharaja's grandfather Prahlada Maharaja offered Bali a garland of flowers that would never fade, and Sukracarya gave him a conchshell.
7. When Maharaja Bali had thus performed the special ritualistic ceremony advised by the brahmanas and had received, by their grace, the equipment for fighting, he circumambulated the brahmanas and offered them obeisances. He also saluted Prahlada Maharaja and offered obeisances to him.
8-9. Then, after getting on the chariot given by Sukracarya, Bali Maharaja, decorated with a nice garland, put protective armor on his body, equipped himself with a bow, and took up a sword and a quiver of arrows. When he sat down on the seat of the chariot, his arms decorated with golden bangles and his ears with sapphire earrings, he shone like a worshipable fire.
10-11. When he assembled with his own soldiers and the demon chiefs, who were equal to him in strength, opulence and beauty, they appeared as if they would swallow the sky and burn all directions with their vision. After thus gathering the demoniac soldiers, Bali Maharaja departed for the opulent capital of Indra. Indeed, he seemed to make the entire surface of the world tremble.
12. King Indra's city was full of pleasing orchards and gardens, such as the Nandana garden. Because of the weight of the flowers, leaves and fruit, the branches of the eternally existing trees were bending down. The gardens were visited by pairs of chirping birds and singing bees. The entire atmosphere was celestial.
13. Beautiful women protected by the demigods sported in the gardens, which had lotus ponds full of swans, cranes, cakravakas and ducks.
14. The city was surrounded by trenches full of Ganges water, known as Akasa-ganga, and by a high wall, which was the color of fire. Upon this wall were parapets for fighting.
15. The doors were made of solid gold plates, and the gates were of excellent marble. These were linked by various public roads. The entire city had been constructed by Visvakarma.
16. The city was full of courtyards, wide roads, assembly houses, and not less than one hundred million airplanes. The crossroads were made of pearl, and there were sitting places made of diamond and coral.
17. Everlastingly beautiful and youthful women, who were dressed with clean garments, glittered in the city like fires with flames. They all possessed the quality of syama.
18. The breezes blowing in the streets of the city bore the fragrance of the flowers falling from the hair of the women of the demigods.
19. Apsaras passed on the streets, which were covered with the white, fragrant smoke of aguru incense emanating from windows with golden filigree.
20. The city was shaded by canopies decorated with pearls, and the domes of the palaces had flags of pearl and gold. The city always resounded with the vibrations of peacocks, pigeons and bees, and above the city flew airplanes full of beautiful women who constantly chanted auspicious songs that were very pleasing to the ear.
21. The city was filled with the sounds of mrdangas, conchshells, kettledrums, flutes and well-tuned stringed instruments all playing in concert. There was constant dancing and the Gandharvas sang. The combined beauty of Indrapuri defeated beauty personified.
22. No one who was sinful, envious, violent toward other living entities, cunning, falsely proud, lusty or greedy could enter that city. The people who lived there were all devoid of these faults.
23. Bali Maharaja, who was the commander of numberless soldiers, gathered his soldiers outside this abode of Indra and attacked it from all directions. He sounded the conchshell given him by his spiritual master, Sukracarya, thus creating a fearful situation for the women protected by Indra.
24. Seeing Bali Maharaja's indefatigable endeavor and understanding his motive, King Indra, along with the other demigods, approached his spiritual master, Brhaspati, and spoke as follows.
25. My lord, our old enemy Bali Maharaja now has new enthusiasm, and he has obtained such astonishing power that we think that perhaps we cannot resist his prowess.
26. No one anywhere can counteract this military arrangement of Bali's. It now appears that Bali is trying to drink up the entire universe with his mouth, lick up the ten directions with his tongue, and raise fire in every direction with his eyes. Indeed, he has arisen like the annihilating fire known as samvartaka.
27. Kindly inform me. What is the cause for Bali Maharaja's strength, endeavor, influence and victory? How has he become so enthusiastic?
28. Brhaspati, the spiritual master of the demigods, said: O Indra, I know the cause for your enemy's becoming so powerful. The brahmana descendants of Bhrgu Muni, being pleased by Bali Maharaja, their disciple, endowed him with such extraordinary power.
29. Neither you nor your men can conquer the most powerful Bali. Indeed, no one but the Supreme Personality of Godhead can conquer him, for he is now equipped with the supreme spiritual power [brahma-tejas]. As no one can stand before Yamaraja, no one can now stand before Bali Maharaja.
30. Therefore, waiting until the situation of your enemies is reversed, you should all leave this heavenly planet and go elsewhere, where you will not be seen.
31. Bali Maharaja has now become extremely powerful because of the benedictions given him by the brahmanas, but when he later insults the brahmanas, he will be vanquished, along with his friends and assistants.
32. Sukadeva Gosvami continued: The demigods, being thus advised by Brhaspati for their benefit, immediately accepted his words. Assuming forms according to their desire, they left the heavenly kingdom and scattered, without being observed by the demons.
33. When the demigods had disappeared, Bali Maharaja, the son of Virocana, entered the heavenly kingdom, and from there he brought the three worlds under his control.
34. The brahmana descendants of Bhrgu, being very pleased with their disciple, who had conquered the entire universe, now engaged him in performing one hundred asvamedha sacrifices.
35. When Bali Maharaja performed these sacrifices, he gained a great reputation in all directions, throughout the three worlds. Thus he shone in his position, like the brilliant moon in the sky.
36. Because of the favor of the brahmanas, the great soul Bali Maharaja, thinking himself very satisfied, became very opulent and prosperous and began to enjoy the kingdom.