The Vishnu Purana -Preface -- The Upa-purán?as Feb 6, 2015 12:45:58 GMT 1
Post by Anne Terri on Feb 6, 2015 12:45:58 GMT 1
The Upa-purán?as, in the few instances which are known, differ little in extent or subject from some of those to which the title of Purán?a is ascribed. The Matsya enumerates but four; but the Deví Bhágavata has a more complete list, and specifies eighteen. They are, 1. The Sanatkumára, 2. Nárasinha, 3. Náradíya, 4. ?iva, 5. Durvásasa, g. Kápila, 7. Mánava, 8. Au?ana?a, 9. Varun?a, 10. Káliká, 11. ?ámba, 12. Nandi, 13. Saura, 14. Párá?ara, 15. Áditya, 16. Máhe?wara, 17. Bhágavata, 18. Va?isht?ha. The Matsya observes of the second, that it is named in the Padma Purán?a, and contains eighteen thousand verses. The Nandi it calls Nandá, and says that Kártikeya tells in it the story of Nandá. A rather different list is given in the Revá Khan?d?a; or, 1. Sanatkumára, 2. Nárasinha, 3. Nandá, 4. ?ivadharma, 5. Durvásasa, 6. Bhavishya, related by Nárada or Náradíya, 7. Kápila, 8. Mánava, 9. Au?ana?a, 10. Brahmán?d?a, 11. Várun?a, 12. Káliká, 13. Máhe?wara, 14. ?ámba, 15. Saura, 16. Párá?ara, 17. Bhágavata, 18. Kaurma. These authorities, however, are of questionable weight, having in view, no doubt, the pretensions of the Deví Bhágavata to be considered as the authentic Bhágavata.
Of these Upa-purán?as few are to be procured. Those in my possession
are the ?iva, considered as distinct from the Váyu; the Káliká, and perhaps one of the Náradíyas, as noticed above. I have also three of the Skandhas of the Deví Bhágavata, which most undoubtedly is not the real Bhágavata, supposing that any Purán?a so named preceded the work of Vopadeva. There can be no doubt that in any authentic list the name of Bhágavata does not occur amongst the Upa-purán?as: it has been put there to prove that there are two works so entitled, of which the Purán?a is the Deví Bhágavata, the Upa-purán?a the ?rí Bhágavata. The true reading should be Bhárgava, the Purán?a of Bhrigu; and the Deví Bhágavata is not even an Upa-purán?a. It is very questionable if the entire work, which as far as it extends is eminently a Sákta composition, ever had existence.
The ?iva Upa-purán?a contains about six thousand stanzas, distributed into two parts. It is related by Sanatkumára to Vyása and the Rishis at Naimisháran?ya, and its character may be judged of from the questions to which it is a reply. "Teach us," said the Rishis, "the rules of worshipping the Linga, and of the god of gods adored under that type; describe to us his various forms, the places sanctified by him, and the prayers with which he is to be addressed." In answer, Sanatkumára repeats the ?iva Purán?a, containing the birth of Vishn?u and Brahmá; the creation and divisions of the universe; the origin of all things from the Linga; the rules of worshipping it and ?iva; the sanctity of times, places, and things, dedicated to him; the delusion of Brahmá and Vishn?u by the Linga; the rewards of offering flowers and the like to a Linga; rules for various observances in honour of Mahádeva; the mode of practising the Yoga; the glory of Benares and other ?aiva Tírthas; and the perfection of the objects of life by union with Mahe?wara. These subjects are illustrated in the first part with very few legends; but the second is made up almost wholly of ?aiva stories, as the defeat of Tripurásura; the sacrifice of Daksha; the births of Kártikeya and Gane?a the sons of ?iva, and Nandi and Bhringaríti his attendants and others; together with descriptions of Benares and other places of pilgrimage, and rules for observing such festivals as the ?ivaratri. This work is a ?aiva manual, not a Purán?a.
The Káliká Purán?a contains about nine thousand stanzas in ninety-eight chapters, and is the only work of the series dedicated to recommend the worship of the bride of ?iva, in one or other of her manifold forms, as Girijá, Deví, Bhadrakálí, Kálí, Mahámáyá. It belongs therefore to the Sákta modification of Hindu belief, or the worship of the female powers of the deities. The influence of this worship spews itself in the very first pages of the work, which relate the incestuous passion of Brahmá for his daughter Sandhyá, in a strain that has nothing analogous to it in the Váyu, Linga, or ?iva Purán?as.
The marriage of ?iva and Párvati is a subject early described, with the sacrifice of Daksha, and the death of Sati: and this work is authority for ?iva's carrying the dead body about the world, and the origin of the Píthasthánas, or places where the different members of it were scattered, and where Lingas were consequently erected. A legend follows of the births of Bhairava and Vetála, whose devotion to different forms of Deví furnishes occasion to describe in great detail the rites and formulæ of which her worship consists, including the chapters on sanguinary sacrifices, translated in the Asiatic Researches. Another peculiarity in this work is afforded by very prolix descriptions of a number of rivers and mountains at Kámarúpa-tírtha in Asam, and rendered holy ground by the celebrated temple of Durgá in that country, as Kámák?hí or Kámákhyá. It is a singular, and yet uninvestigated circumstance, that Asam, or at least the north-east of Bengal, seems to have been in a great degree the source from which the Tántrika and ?ákta corruptions of the religion of the Vedas and Purán?as proceeded.
The specification of the Upa-purán?as, whilst it names several of which the existence is problematical, omits other works, bearing the same designation, which are sometimes met with. Thus in the collection of Col. Mackenzie 82 we have a portion of the Bhárgava, and a Mudgala Purán?a, which is probably the same with the Gane?a Upa-purán?a, cited by Col. Vans Kennedy 83. I have also a copy of the Gane?a Purán?a, which seems to agree with that of which he speaks; the second portion being entitled the Kríd?á Khan?d?a, in which the pastimes of Gane?a, including
a variety of legendary matters, are described. The main subject of the work is the greatness of Gane?a, and prayers and formulæ appropriate to him are abundantly detailed. It appears to be a work originating with the Gánapatya sect, or worshippers of Gane?a. There is also a minor Purán?a called Ádi, or 'first,' not included in the list. This is a work, however, of no great extent or importance, and is confined to a detail of the sports of the juvenile Krishn?a.
lvii:82 Mackenzie Collection, 1. 50, 51.
lvii:83 Anc. and Hindu Mythology, p. 251.
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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.