The Nandā River flowed all around. It’s water was sacred because Satī used to bathe there.
The gods were awestruck to see the beautiful Mountain of the Lord of Monsters. A delightful city named Alakā was tucked away in a forest where the most fragrant lotus flowers grew. The Nandā and Alakanandā bordered that city, sacred rivers of extreme sanctity which carry the pollen-like dust of the lotus-like feet of the most Sacred Being. Heaven’s goddesses descend into these two lakes when they are tired of lovemaking, and playfully splash their men with the water. Their fresh kuṇkum powder washes away and makes the water golden-red, attracting elephant couples to drink the fragrant and beautiful water, even when they are not thirsty.
That city seems like the sky, replete with glittering clouds and dazzling lightning. The glittering clouds are the goddesses’ hosts of vehicles, decorated with pearls, gold, and great jewels. The dazzling lightning is the brilliant beauty of the sacred goddesses themselves.
The gods passed this city, abode of the Yakṣa Lord, Kuvera, and wandered through the incredibly fragrant forest, admiring the enchanting flowers, fruits and leaves of the wish-fulfilling trees, while red-throated cuckoos made beautiful songs and bees hummed around the lotus flowers while love-struck swans swam in couples atop the water and through the stems of those lotuses.
When forest-elephants brush against the trees, the breezes carry sandalwood fragrance that enlivens the sacred goddesses bathing in the rivers and lakes, renewing their appetite for lovemaking. The lakes have rows of lotus flowers tended by singing kimpuruṣa couples and bordered by steps of dazzling cats-eye jewels.
Far past all this, the gods saw an enormous and immovable banyan tree. It was hundreds of miles tall, and its nest-less branches spread three-fourths as wide, casting unbroken cooling shade everywhere. It was the perfect shelter for great yogis seeking liberation.
Beneath it sat Śiva. The gods were as fearful of him as they were of death itself, but it was clear that he had given up all his anger. Indeed he was the very embodiment of peace and calm, being attended attentively by the four sages headed by Sanandana, and by the Lord of Rakṣa, his friend Kuvera. Although he is the Supreme Master, he was engaged in the yoga of study and self-discipline because he desired to make the world more auspicious, being an affectionate friend of everyone.
He was the ideal renunciate: with matted hair, carrying a staff, and wearing only a deer skin. His own skin was sunset-red, covered in cloudy ash; and his crown was a crescent moon. He sat on a mat of sacred darbha grass and explained the eternal Vedic wisdom to Nārada, who was asking questions while the other sages listened attentively. On his right thigh he had placed his left lotus-like foot; and his left hand rested on his left knee. His right arm, decorated with akṣa beads was raised on a small cane, and his hand displayed mudra of logic. He was deeply immersed in perfect concentration on spiritual bliss.
The gods folded their hands to offer praṇām to the original sage of all sages. He is the lord whose feet are venerated by both gods and demons, but when he saw Self-Born Brahmā arrive, he stood up and bowed his head in great respect; after all he was Brahmā’s son, and should show Brahmā respect, just as Viṣṇu (as Vāmana) shows respect to his father Kaśyapa.
All the other perfected souls and great sages surrounding Śiva also paid their respectful namaskara to Brahmā.
Brahmā, with a happy face, offered his respectful praṇām to Moon-Crowned Śiva, and then began to speak.
A comment: This shows that Śiva Jī is not averse to showing external respect. He happily showed respect to Brahmā Jī by respectfully standing and bowing his head when Brahmā arrived. This is exactly the respect he did not show his father-in-law Dakṣa when he arrived (in Chapter One). The reason is that Brahmā deserves respect because he is wise and humble, but Dakṣa did not, because he was proud.
— Bhāgavatam 4.6.22 ~ 41
Vraja Kishor dās