The present volume contains the Narada Purana, Part I (Chapters 1-38) completing the first-two sections (Prakriya and Anuanga) of the text in English Translation. This is the Twenty-second volume in the series which we have planned on Ancient Indian Tradition and Mythology.
The project of the Series was envisaged and financed in 1970 by Lab Sundar Lal Jam of Messrs Motilal Banarsidass. Hitherto twenty one volumes of the Series (comprising English translation of Siva, Linga, Bhagavata, Garuda, Narada and Kurma Puranas) have been published and released for sale.
The present volume like all other volumes is encyclopedic in character. It deals with miscellaneous topics such as religion philosophy Veda and its ancillaries Siksa, Kalpa, Vyakarana, Nirukta, Chandas and Jyotisa. In siksa it describes the rules of pronunciation of Vedic and classical Sanskrit and the rules regarding music. In Kalpa it deals with the Naksatra, Veda, Samhita, Angirasa and Santi Kalpas. In Vyakarna it gives a general idea of the subject. In Chandas it prescribes rules for Sanskrit and Prakrtra, Vedic and classical metres by the method of Prastara. In Jyotisa it explains the essentials in detail. While dealing with the Puranas it describes the contents of the Puranas which help us to ascertain the interpolations of the later period. Among the general topics it describes Vratas and Tirthas in details and exhaustively.
In the sectarian grouping of the Puranas the Narada Purana is classified as a Vaisnava Purana on the basis of the fact that among the deities glorified in this Purana, Visnu holds the supreme position, though laudatory references to other deities siva, Sakti, etc. are also made. In his obvious partiality for Vaisnavism Narada gives special treatment to Radha and Krsna even prescribes a hymn of 1000 names in their eulogy and proclaims special importance of Ekadasi Vrata in honor of Visnu. He is the first to mention Rama Krsna Nrsimha and other incarnations in connection with Tantric practices.
The variety of topics is very interesting but it is marred as sometimes it is couched in expression that needs elucidation a task which could not be accomplished by a more translation. Hence a provision has been made for the notes which are attached to each chapter separately and not put at the foot of a page as has been the practice hitherto. We hope the reader will not feel embarrassed by this shift.
The translation is based on the Sanskrit text of the Narada Purana published by Messrs Ksemaraja, Srikrsnadasa, Venkatesvara press, Bombay this text constructed on the collation of mss and supported by the evidence of citations found in the smrti granthas is fairly accurate.
We have included abbreviation in this part. They will be repeated in the succeeding parts too with such additions as are made in the notes of those parts. The General index will be appended to the last part.
The term Purana though variously derived originally meant old and was used as an adjective in the Rgveda. It developed the connotation something handed down from old times a collection of old legends by the time of the Atharvaveda wherein it is used as a noun. Its use in the singular number in the sence of a tract of literature consisting of some ancient traditional lore in the AV testifies to the extistence of some collection of legends or an Ur-Purana in the days of the AV. The institution of sacrifice needed some such collection of legends for narration on certain days during the course of a sacrifice of long duration is clear from the prescription in the Satapatha Brahmana which calls upon the reciter to assert that the Purana is the veda and recite it.
That there was such an Ur-Purana in ancient times has been endorsed by Puranas in their mythological way. States the Naradiyas Purana.
There was only one Purana every Kalpa. It was one hundred crores in extent and that purana was the source of all sastras.
God Brahma remembered Purana before all other sastras. It is after that all the Vedas proceeded from his mouths Puranas was only one at the beginning.
As the mention of Purana in the sg. No. in AV is corroborated by the traditional belief in Puranas in the existence of one single Ur-Purana this tradition need not be regarded as purely imaginary though the mythical origin of Puranas is fictitious.
But the Puranas accept the theory of the human authorship and the compilation of the first Purana is attributed to Krsna Dvaipayana the arranger who is creadited to have compiled this Puranas from the floating mass of orally transmitted legends tales or anecodotes gnomic or Subhasita like verses and description of the Kalpa epochs. If as is traditionally believed this compiler be the same sage who arranged the scattered traditional mantras into Vedic Samhitas he is located on a sober datation to the middle of the 10th cent. B.C.
The V.P informs us that Vyasa taught this Purana compilation to a disciple who could thrill audience with his narration. As the Purana was to be recited during the leisure period of sacrifical sessions Romaharsana must have tried to make it interesting with additions modifications etc. it thus became a revised and enlarged edition of Vyasa’s Purana and this came to be looked upon as an independent Purana. Romaharsana taught it to his disciples out of whom Akrtavrana of Kasyapa gotra Savarni of Somadatta élan and Susarma of Samsapayana gotra composed their own Purana samhitas.
Thus the Purana Samhita of Vyasa Proliferated into four samhitas that o Romaharasana which through his son Ugrasravas continued independently and the three ones revised by this three disciples mentioned above. The four Samhitas were the basic ones Purva Samhita or Mula Samhita or adi prans the Vayu tells us that all these Samhitas consisted of four parts they dealt with the same subject matter but were distinguished from one another in readings. All of them consisted of 4000 verses except that of Susaram which consisted of 8600 verses.
These original Puranas are not now extant but their authors Romaharsana Savarni Kasyapeya and Samsapayana are the interlocutors in various Puranas.
What could have been the contents of the Mula Puranas is anybody’s guess. But as Puranas served the needs of sacrificial ritual, the then cycles of legends to be recited on Pariplana days as laid down in the Sat. Br. Asvaldayana Srasta sutra may be regarded as the topics therein. They are as follows:
1. King Manu Vaivasvata and his subjects (human Beings).
2. King Yama Vaivasvata and his people (pitrs).
3. King Varuna Aditya and his subjects the Gandharvas.
4. King Soma Vaisnava and his subjects the Apsaras
5. King Arbuda Kadraveya and his subjects the serpents.
6. King Kubera Vaisravana and his subjects the Raksasas.
7. King Asita Dhanva and his subjects the Asuras.
8. King Matsya Sammada and his people the water dwellers.
9. King Tarksya Vaipasyata (or Vaipascia) and his subjects the birds.
10. King Dharma Indra and his subjects the gods
To these may be added the ancient Vedic legends forming the background of the Added the ancient Suktas cosmological hymns like the Naradiya Sukta and similar statements in ancient works like the AV. XI.7.28, XV.6.10-11 eulogistic or patron composed by bards in honor of the royal sacrificer or patron leading to descriptions of the heroic exploits conquests donations granted by royal families Pargiter rightly concludes that the original Purana dealt with ancient traditions about gods rsis kings their genealogies and famous deeds.