The Puranas are eighteen in mumbers.Sage Veda Vyasa composed them. There are reference to Epics and Puranas in the Vedic texts and also in Sutras texts of Apasthamba, Gautama and tothers. Many of the previous Puranas are extinct now and only those are available which are composed by Veda-Vyasa.
It comprises of dialogue between saga Jaimini and sage Markandeya.The Markandeya Purana begins with four questions put forth by sage Jaimini to sage Markandeya.It contains the accounts of the 14 Manvantara (the periods of the Manu, Devi Mahatmya (Glorification of the Great Goddess), which is embedded in this Purana and the genealogies of the Puranic dynasties.arkandeya Purana.
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This translation of the Markandeya Purina was under- taken by me for the Asiatic Society of Bengal many years ago, when I hoped to be able to carry it through in no long period ; but onerous official duties left little leisure, and for years removed me to a distance from the Society’s Library and other means of reference. The Society was reluctant that the translation should be dropped, and it has therefore been continued as well as leisure permitted. It is hoped that in spite of these difficulties the translation may be of service to scholars, and the notes with all their short- comings not unwelcome.
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This translation of the Markandeya Purana being made for the Asiatic Society of Bengal naturally follows the edition of this work prepared by the Rev. Dr. K. M. Banerjea, and published in the Biblio- theca Indica in 1862; yet other editions and some MSS. have been consulted and are referred to. The translation has been kept as close to the original as possible, consistently with English sense and idiom ; for a translation loses some of its interest and much of its trust- worthiness, when the reader can never know whether it reproduces the original accurately or only the purport of the original. The time during which the work has been in hand has rendered it dificult to maintain one system of transliteration throughout; but, in order to place the whole in a consistent state, the system established by the Royal Asiatic Society and approved by the Asiatic Society of Bengal has been adopted in the Index and in this Introduction.
The general character of this Purana has been well summed up by Prof. Wilson in his preface to his Translation of the Visnu Purana, except that his description hardly applies to the Devi-mahatmya. "This Purana has a character different from that of all the others. It has nothing of a sectarial spirit, little of a religious tone; rarely inserting prayers and invocations to any deity ; and such as are in- serted are brief and moderate. It deals little in precepts, ceremonial or moral. Its leading feature is narrative; and it presents an uninterrupted succession of legends, most of which when ancient are embellished with new circumstances, and when new partake so far of the spirit of the old, that they are disinterested creations of the imagination, having no particular motive, being designed to re- commend no special doctrine or observance. Whether they are derived from any other source, or whether they are original inven- tions, it is not possible to ascertain. They are most probably, for the greater part at least, original; and the whole has been narrated in the compiler’s own’ manner; a manner superior to that of the Puranas in general, with exception of the Bhagavata."
The Puraga is clearly divisible (as Dr, Banerjea noticed) into five distinct parts, namely :—
1. Cantos 1-9,in which Jaimini is referred by Ma rkandeya to the wise Birds, and they directly explain to him the four questions that perplexed him and some connected matters.
2. Cantos 10-44, where, though Jaimini propounds further ques- tions to the Birds and they nominally expound them, yet the real speakers are Sumati, nicknamed Jada, and his father.
3. Cantos 45-81: here, though Jaimini and the Birds are the nominal speakers, yet the real speakers are Markandeya and his dis- ciple Kraustuki.
4. Cantos 82-92, the Devi-mahatmya, a pure interpolation, in which the real speaker is a rsi named Medhas, and which. is only repeated by Markandeya.
5. Cantos 93-136, where Markandeya and Kraustuki carry on their discourse from canto 81.
The 137th canto concludes the work; it is a necessary corollary to the first part.
There can be no doubt that only the third and fifth of these parts constituted the Purana in its original shape as Markandeya’s Purana. The name would imply that originally Markandeya was the chief figure, and it is only in the third paré that he appears as the real teacher. There is, however, clearer evidence that the Purana began with the third part originally, for this is asserted almost positively in canto 45, verses 16 to 25. There Markandeya, after declaring that this Purana, equally with the Vedas, issued from Brahma’s mouth, says—‘ I will now tell it to thee ...... Hear all this from me......as I formerly heard it when Dakga related it." These words plainly mean that the true Purina began here ; or, if the necessary words of introduction:be prefixed, that it began at verse 16 or 17, which verses have been slightly modified since in order to dovetail them into the preceding portion.
‘The first and second parts were composed afterwards and then prefixed to the Purana proper. That they were later compositions is implied by the fact that the Birds recite the Purina proper as an As regards the first Section, it is said the Birds, to whom Jaimini svas referred, were living in the Vindhya mountains, and it was there that they delivered the Puraua to him. They are explained of course to be four brahman brothers in a state of transmigration, and it ap- pears to be implied in canto 3, vs. 92-24, that their father, the muni Sukrra, dwelt on or near the Vindhyas. He had a brother named Tumburu. There were other persous of this name, such as ‘Tumburu who was a guru among the Gandharvas (see pp. 571, G47, 648, and 118 as corrected; and M. Bh., Sabha-p. li. 1881.) ; but it seems permissible to connect this brother ‘Tumburu with the tribes of the names Tum- bura and Tr-nbula who dwelt on the slopes of the Vindhyas (p. 343).
The Birds are said to have dwelt in the Vindhyasin a cave, where ‘the water was very sacred (p. 17), and which was sprinkled with drops of water from the river Narmada (p.19); andit is no doubt allowable to infer the situation from these indications, namely,some cliffs of the Vindhya hills where those hills abut on the river Narmada at a very sacred tirtha, Such a spot cannot be sought above the modern Hoshangabad, for the river above that was encom- passed in early times by hills, dense forest and wild tribes. Among the very sacred places where the Vindhya hills on the north approach. close to the river, none satisfies the conditions better that the rocky island and town of Mandhata, which is to be identified with Mahis- mati, the ancient and famous Haihaya capital. The modern town of Mahesar, some fifty miles lower down the river, claims to be the ancient Mahismati, but does not satisfy the allusions. Méhigmati was situated on an island in the riverand the palace looked out on the rushing stream (Raghu-V., vi. 43). This description agrees only with Mandhata. Mahigmati was sacred to Agni in the earliest times (M. Bh., Sabha-p. 1125-63). Mandhata has special claims to sanc- tity ; it has very ancient remains ; it has hecome sacred to Siva, and the famous shrine of Omkara and other temples dedicated to him are here (Hunter, Impl. Gaz., Mandhata. "), The hills close in on the river here, and on the north bank are Jain temples. In these hills on the north bank overlooking the river at Mandhata we may place the alleged cave where the lirst part of the Purana professes that it was delivered; and this identification will be found to explain many further features of the Purana.
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