The Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, , at sacred-texts.com
Planetary system, under the type of a Śiśumára or porpoise. The earth nourished by the sun. Of rain whilst the sun shines. Of rain from clouds. Rain the support, of vegetation, and thence of animal life. Náráyańa the support of all beings.
THE form of the mighty Hari which is present in heaven, consisting of the constellations, is that of a porpoise, with Dhruva situated in the tail. As Dhruva revolves, it causes the moon, sun, and stars to turn round also; and the lunar asterisms follow in its circular path; for all the celestial luminaries are in fact bound to the polar-star by aerial cords. The porpoise-like figure of the celestial sphere is upheld by Náráyańa, who himself, in planetary radiance, is seated in its heart; whilst the son of Uttanápáda, Dhruva, in consequence of his adoration of the lord of the world, shines in the tail of the stellar porpoise 1. The upholder of the porpoise-shaped sphere is the sovereign of all, Janárddana. This sphere is the supporter of Dhruva; and by Dhruva the sun is upstayed. Upon the sun depends this world, with its gods, demons, and men. In what manner the world depends upon the sun, be attentive, and you shall hear.
During eight months of the year the sun attracts the waters, which are the essence of all fluids, and then pours them upon earths (during the other four months) as rain 2: from rain grows corn; and by corn the whole world subsists. The sun with his scorching rays absorbs the moisture of the earth, and with them nourishes the moon. The moon communicates, through tubes of air, its dews to the clouds, which, being composed of smoke, fire, and wind (or vapour), can retain the waters with which they are charged: they are therefore called Abhras, because their contents are not dispersed 3. When however they are broken to
pieces by the wind, then watery stores descend, bland, and freed front every impurity by the sweetening process of time. The sun, Maitreya, exhales watery fluids from four sources, seas, rivers, the earth, and living creatures. The water that the sun has drawn up from the Gangá of the skies he quickly pours down with his rays, and without a cloud; and men who are touched by this pure rain are cleansed from the soil of sin, and never see hell: this is termed celestial ablution. That rain which falls whilst the sun is shining, and without a cloud in the sky, is the water of the heavenly Ganges, shed by the solar rays. If, however, rain falls from a bright and cloudless sky whilst the sun is in the mansion of Krittiká and the other asterisms counted by odd numbers, as the third, fifth, &c., the water, although that of the Gangá of the sky, is scattered, by the elephants of the quarters, not by the rays of the sun: it is only when such rain falls, and the sun is in the even asterisms, that it is distributed by his beams 4.
The water which the clouds shed upon earth is in truth the ambrosia of living beings, for it gives fertility to the plants which are the support of their existence. By this all vegetables grow and are matured, and become the means of maintaining life. With them, again, those men
who take the law for their light perform daily sacrifices, and through them give nourishment to the gods. And thus sacrifices, the Vedas, the font' castes, with the Brahmans at their head, all the residences of the gods, all the tribes of animals, the whole world, all are supported by the rains by which food is produced. But the rain is evolved by the sun; the sun is sustained by Dhruva; and Dhruva is supported by the celestial porpoise-shaped sphere, which is one with Náráyańa. Náráyańa, the primeval existent, and eternally enduring, seated in the heart of the stellar sphere, is the supporter of all beings.
230:1 A more particular description of this porpoise occurs farther on.
230:2 Consequently, the Linga P. observes, there is no waste of water in the universe, as it is in constant circulation.
230:3 The theory of the clouds is more fully detailed in the Váyu, Linga, and Matsya p. 231 Puráńas: it is the same in its general tenor, but comprises additional circumstances. Clouds, according to those authorities, are of three classes: 1. Ágneya, originating from fire or heat, or in other words evaporation: they are charged with wind and rain, and are of various orders, amongst which are those called Jímúta, from their supporting life; 2. Brahmaja, born from the breath of Brahmá: these are the clouds whence thunder and lightning proceed: and 3. Pakshaja, or clouds which were originally the wings of the mountains, and which were cut off by Indra: these are also termed Pushkáravarttakas, from their including water in their vortices: they are the largest and most formidable of all, and are those which, at the end of the Yugas and Kalpas, poor down the waters of the deluge. The shell of the egg of Brahmá, or of the universe, is formed of the primitive clouds.
231:4 According to the Váyu, the water scattered by the elephants of the quarters is in summer dew, and in winter snow; or the latter is brought by the winds from a city called Puńd́ra, which lies between the Himavat and Hemakuta mountains, and falls down upon the former. In like manner, also, as heat radiates from the sun, so cold radiates from the moon.