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Saw this on Reddit. Is this really true? What is the context of this story?

enter image description here

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  • You should crop out the picture part of your post, only the text is relevant, not the picture. -- It's quite disrespectful. Apr 28 at 18:53

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Broadly, that verse does indeed appear in the Srimad Bhagavatam, but there is some context and nuance to it. The picture on Reddit is simply being sensationalist and not regarding any of the specifics of the line and the chapter.

I'll use the Prabhupada translation from which the line in the original post was taken, just to be consistent.

In chapter 3.20 of the Srimad Bhagavatam, Vidura asked Maitreya, "What did Brahmā do to create living beings after evolving the Prajāpatis?"

Maitreya responded by explaining how Brahma was born and narrating the first few actions of his life.

3.20.17: When that Supreme Personality of Godhead who is lying on the Garbhodaka Ocean entered the heart of Brahmā, Brahmā brought his intelligence to bear, and with the intelligence invoked he began to create the universe as it was before.

3.20.18: First of all, Brahmā created from his shadow the coverings of ignorance of the conditioned souls. They are five in number and are called tāmisra [anger, envy], andha-tāmisra [indulgence in material gratification during life], tamas [ignorance], moha [individualism and sectarianism] and mahā-moha [anger despite material wealth].

Thus let's first note that the first beings, including the demons, contained some of these ignorances.

The first actual beings that Brahma created were the Yakshas and Rakshasas. Immediately, they went and tried to devour their creator, but Brahma responded to them with the following:

3.20.21: Brahmā, the head of the demigods, full of anxiety, asked them, “Do not eat me, but protect me. You are born from me and have become my sons. Therefore you are Yakṣas and Rākṣasas.”

Thus he reminds them of the importance of filial piety and duty towards one's father. This is noteworthy, considering that these Yakshas and Rakshasas heeded their father's instructions.

After creating the demigods, Brahma created the demons in question, the demons, which were also born of Brahma. Indeed, the original verse does explain that these were lustful, hedonistic demons:

3.20.23:
देवोऽदेवाञ्जघनत: सृजति स्मातिलोलुपान् ।
त एनं लोलुपतया मैथुनायाभिपेदिरे ॥ २३ ॥

A note, though, on the origin of those demons. The word that's been translated to "buttocks" is "जघन." That word does not necessarily refer just to the buttocks; it can also simply refer to the hips, loins, groin, or thighs. (Rhys Davids & Stede) Thus all we can be certain of is that the verse says that the demons came from the lower part of Brahma's body.

In any case, it's still a bit concerning, so here's the explanation. Consider Brahma's reaction:

3.20.24: The worshipful Brahmā first laughed at their stupidity, but finding the shameless asuras close upon him, he grew indignant and ran in great haste out of fear.

See, then: These demons, as well as the Yakshas and Rakshasas, both attempted to violate the sacrosanct value of respect for one's elders. The Yakshas and Rakshasas, however, felt some degree of shame and desisted from eating their father; on the other hand, the demons, judgement and morality clouded in the fog of their lust, simply chased their father in pursuit of copulating with him. Brahma, despite being omnipotent, ran away. Probably, this indicates the manner in which lust can hamper judgement and that, to some extent, the principal solution is to simply avoid the lustful.

In the end, Brahma did as he was instructed to by the Lord:

3.20.28: The Lord, who can distinctly see the minds of others, perceived Brahmā’s distress and said to him: “Cast off this impure body of yours.” Thus commanded by the Lord, Brahmā cast off his body.

Though in the actual text, there is a physical body "given up by Brahmā," the underlying meaning is that Brahma freed himself of the impurities in his own mind.

After that,

3.30.29: The body given up by Brahmā took the form of the evening twilight, when the day and night meet, a time which kindles passion. The asuras, who are passionate by nature, dominated as they are by the element of rajas, took it for a damsel, whose lotus feet resounded with the tinkling of anklets, whose eyes were wide with intoxication and whose hips were covered by fine cloth, over which shone a girdle.

3.20.30 Her breasts projected upward because of their clinging to each other, and they were too contiguous to admit any intervening space. She had a shapely nose and beautiful teeth, a lovely smile played on her lips, and she cast a sportful glance at the asuras.

3.20.31: Adorned with dark tresses, she hid herself, as it were, out of shyness. Upon seeing that girl, the asuras were all infatuated with an appetite for sex.

3.20.32: The demons praised her: Oh, what a beauty! What rare self-control! What a budding youth! In the midst of us all, who are passionately longing for her, she is moving about like one absolutely free from passion.

3.20.33: Indulging in various speculations about the evening twilight, which appeared to them endowed with the form of a young woman, the wicked-minded asuras treated her with respect and fondly spoke to her as follows.

3.20.34: Who are you, O pretty girl? Whose wife or daughter are you, and what can be the object of your appearing before us? Why do you tantalize us, unfortunate as we are, with the priceless commodity of your beauty?

3.20.35: Whosoever you may be, O beautiful girl, we are fortunate in being able to see you. While playing with a ball, you have agitated the minds of all onlookers.

3.20.36 O beautiful woman, when you strike the bouncing ball against the ground with your hand again and again, your lotus feet do not stay in one place. Oppressed by the weight of your full-grown breasts, your waist becomes fatigued, and your clear vision grows dull, as it were. Pray braid your comely hair.

3.20.37: The asuras, clouded in their understanding, took the evening twilight to be a beautiful woman showing herself in her alluring form, and they seized her.

This twilight is then turned into the gandharvas and apsaras, so the lines 29-37 are essentially setting up the transition and contrast between those who enjoy and exploit beauty for their own gratification, and those who use and create beauty and art and music as a way to dedicate themselves to God.

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Swami Tapasyananda of Ramakrishna Math, Madras translated the Srimad Bhagavad following the Śrīdhara Svāmī's interpretation. Śrīdhara Svāmī's commentary on the Bhāgavatam is the oldest and most celebrated one. Lord Caitanya himself even praised his commentary.

Here I am quoting from Swami Tapasyananda's translation.

देवोऽदेवाञ्जघनतः सृजति स्मातिलोलुपान् ।
त एनं लोलुपतया मैथुनायाभिपेदिरे ।।23।।

From his hips he created the Asuras who were given to excessive sexuality. Out of the sexual urge, they approached him with the intention of consorting with him. -Srimad Bhagavad 3.20.23

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