The Vishnu Purana - Preface -15. The Kúrma Purán?a Feb 6, 2015 12:26:37 GMT 1
Post by Anne Terri on Feb 6, 2015 12:26:37 GMT 1
15. The Kúrma Purán?a
15. Kúrma Purán?a. "That in which Janárddana, in the form of a tortoise, in the regions under the earth, explained the objects of life--duty, wealth, pleasure, and liberation--in communication with Indradyumna and the Rishis in the proximity of ?akra, which refers to the Lakshmí Kalpa, and contains seventeen thousand stanzas, is the Kúrma Purán?a 76."
In the first chapter of the Kúrma Purán?a it gives an account of itself, which does not exactly agree with this description. Súta, who is repeating the narration, is made to say to the Rishis, "This most excellent Kaurma Purán?a is the fifteenth. Sanhitás are fourfold, from the variety of the collections. The Bráhmí, Bhágavatí, Saurí, and Vaishn?aví, are well known as the four Sanhitás which confer virtue, wealth, pleasure, and liberation. This is the Bráhmí Sanhitá, conformable to the four Vedas; in which there are six thousand ?lokas, and by it the importance of the four objects of life, O great sages, holy knowledge and Parame?wara is known." There is an irreconcilable difference in this specification of the number of stanzas and that given above. It is not very clear what is meant by a Sanhitá as here used. A Sanhitá, as observed above (p. xi), is something different from a Purán?a. It may be an assemblage of prayers and legends, extracted professedly from a Purán?a, but is not usually applicable to the original. The four Sanhitás here specified refer rather to their religious character than to their connexion with any specific work, and in fact the same terms are applied to what are called Sanhitás of the Skánda. In this sense a Purán?a might be also a Sanhitá; that is, it might be an assemblage of formulæ and legends belonging to a division of the Hindu system; and the work in question, like the Vishn?u Purán?a, does adopt both titles. It says, "This is the excellent Kaurma Purán?a, the fifteenth (of the series):" and again, "This is the Bráhmí Sanhitá." At any rate, no other work has been met with pretending to be the Kúrma Purán?a.
With regard to the other particulars specified by the Matsya, traces of them are to be found. Although in two accounts of the traditional communication of the Purán?a no mention is made of Vishn?u as one of the teachers, yet Súta repeats at the outset a dialogue between Vishn?u, as the Kúrma, and Indradyumna, at the time of the churning of the ocean; and much of the subsequent narrative is put into the mouth of the former.
The name, being that of an Avatára of Vishn?u, might lead us to expect a Vaishn?ava work; but it is always and correctly classed with the ?aiva. Purán?as, the greater portion of it inculcating the worship of ?iva and Durgá. It is divided into two parts, of nearly equal length. In the first part, accounts of the creation, of the Avatáras of Vishn?u, of the solar and lunar dynasties of the kings to the time of Krishn?a, of the universe, and of the Manwantaras, are given, in general in a summary manner, but not unfrequently in the words employed in the Vishn?u Purán?a. With these are blended hymns addressed to Mahe?wara by Brahmá and others; the defeat of Andhakásura by Bhairava; the origin of four ?aktis, Mahe?warí, ?ivá, ?atí, and Haimavatí, from ?iva; and other ?aiva legends. One chapter gives a more distinct and connected account of the incarnations of ?iva in the present age than the Linga; and it wears still more the appearance of an attempt to identify the teachers of the Yoga school with personations of their preferential deity. Several chapters form a Ká?í Máhátmya, a legend of Benares. In the second part there are no legends. It is divided into two parts, the Í?wara Gíta 77 and Vyása Gita. In the former the knowledge of god, that is, of ?iva, through contemplative devotion, is taught. In the latter the same object is enjoined through works, or observance of the ceremonies and precepts of the Vedas.
The date of the Kúrma Purán?a cannot be very remote, for it is avowedly posterior to the establishment of the Tántrika, the Sákta, and the Jain sects. In the twelfth chapter it is said, "The Bhairava, Váma, Árhata, and Yámala ?ástras are intended for delusion." There is no
reason to believe that the Bhairava and Yámala Tantras are very ancient works, or that the practices of the left-hand ?áktas, or the doctrines of Arhat or Jina were known in the early centuries of our era.
Not Available - Sanskrit
l:77 This is also translated by Col. Vans Kennedy (Anc. and Hindu Mythol., Appendix D. p. 444); and in this instance, as in other passages quoted by him from the Kúrma, his MS. and mine agree.
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'The Vishnu Purana', translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, is public domain in the US because it was published prior to 1923.