Division of the Veda into four portions, by a Vyasa, in every Dwapara age. List of the twenty eight Vyasas of the present Manwantara. Meaning of the word Brahma.
Maitreya. I have learnt from you, in due order, how this world is Vishnu; how it is in Vishnu; how it is from Vishnu: nothing further is to be known: but I should desire to hear how the Vedas were divided, in different ages, by that great being, in the form of Veda vyasa? who were the Vyasas of their respective eras? and what were the branches into which the Vedas were distributed?
Parasara. The branches of the great tree of the Vedas are so numerous, Maitreya, that it is impossible to describe them at length. I will give you a summary account of them.
In every Dwapara (or third) age, Vishnu, in the person of Vyasa, in order to promote the good of mankind, divides the Veda, which is properly but one, into many portions: observing the limited perseverance, energy, and application of mortals, he makes the Veda fourfold, to adapt it to their capacities; and the bodily form which he assumes, in order to effect that classification, is known by the name of Veda vyasa. Of the different Vyasas in the present Manwantara 1, and the branches which they have taught, you shall have an account.
Twenty eight times have the Vedas been arranged by the great Rishis in the Vaivaswata Manwantara in the Dwapara age, and consequently eight and twenty Vyasas have passed away; by whom, in their respective periods, the Veda has been divided into four. In the first Dwapara age the distribution was made by Swayambhu Brahma() himself; in the second, the arranger of the Veda Veda( vyasa) was Prajapati (or Manu); in the third, Usanas; in the fourth, Vrihaspati; in the fifth, Savitri; in the sixth, Mrityu Death(, or Yama); in the seventh, Indra; in the eighth, Vasishtha; in the ninth, Saraswata; in the tenth, Tridhaman; in
the eleventh, Trivrishan; in the twelfth, Bharadwaja; in the thirteenth, Antariksha; in the fourteenth, Vapra; in the fifteenth, Trayyaruna 2; in the sixteenth, Dhananjaya; in the seventeenth, Kritanjaya; in the eighteenth, Rina; in the nineteenth, Bharadwaja; in the twentieth, Gotama; in the twenty first, Uttama, also called Haryatma; in the twenty second, Vena, who is likewise named Rajasravas; in the twenty third, Somasushmapana, also Trinavindu; in the twenty fourth, Riksha, the descendant of Bhrigu, who is known also by the name Valmiki; in the twenty fifth, my father sakti was the Vyasa; I was the Vyasa of the twenty sixth Dwapara, and was succeeded by Jaratkaru; the Vyasa of the twenty eighth, who followed him, was Krishna Dwaipayana. These are the twenty eight elder Vyasas, by whom, in the preceding Dwapara ages, the Veda has been divided into four. In the next Dwapara, Drauni (the son of Drona) will be the Vyasa, when my son, the Muni Krishna Dwaipayana, who is the actual Vyasa, shall cease to be (in that character) 3.
The syllable Om is defined to be the eternal monosyllabic Brahma 4. The word Brahma is derived from the root Vriha (to increase), because it is infinite (spirit), and because it is the cause by which the Vedas (and
all things) are developed. Glory to Brahma, who is addressed by that mystic word, associated eternally with the triple universe 5, and who is one with the four Vedas. Glory to Brahma, who, alike in the destruction and renovation of the world, is called the great and mysterious cause of the intellectual principle Mahat(); who is without limit in time or space, and exempt from diminution or decay; in whom (as connected with the property of darkness) originates worldly illusion; and in whom resides the end of soul (fruition or liberation), through the properties of light and of activity (or goodness and foulness). He is the refuge of those who are versed in the Sankhya philosophy; of those who have acquired control over their thoughts and passions. He is the invisible, imperishable Brahma; varying in form, invariable in substance; the chief principle, self engendered; who is said to illuminate the caverns of the heart; who is indivisible, radiant, undecaying, multiform. To that supreme Brahma be for ever adoration.
That form of Vasudeva, who is the same with supreme spirit, which is Brahma, and which, although diversified as threefold, is identical, is the lord, who is conceived by those that contemplate variety in creation to be distinct in all creatures. He, composed of the Rik, Sauna, and Yajur Vedas, is at the same time their essence, as he is the soul of all embodied spirits. He, distinguished as consisting of the Vedas, creates the Vedas, and divides them by many subdivisions into branches: he is the author of those branches: he is those aggregated branches; for he, the eternal lord, is the essence of true knowledge.