This is the first part of the Padma Purana in English translation and the thirty-ninth volume in the series on Ancient Indian Tradition and Mythology. It comprises the first thirty-three chapters of the first section called Srstikhanda or the Section on Creation of the Purana which is very huge in size. This Purana, as it appears in the Venkaesvara edition which this translation follows, consists of seven big sections or Khandas, namely, Srsti, Bhumi, Svarga, Brahma, Patala, Uttara and Kriyayogasara and is said to contain 55000 verses, though the actual number is much less. The translation of the whole Purana is planned to run into as many as ten volumes of the present size and may take some years for its completion.
The Padma Purana takes its name after the Primordial Lotus from which god Brahma, the Creator, was born. Dr. Deshpande has given a brief Khanda wise summary of the Purana in his Introduction which appears in this volume. As the 'Contents' show, the reader will find herein and enjoy some very interesting accounts and stories, such as that of the churning of the ocean by the gods and demons, the destruction of Daksa's sacrifice by god Siva, the chopping-off of Brahma's fifth head by the same god, the drinking-up of the ocean by the sage Agastya and so on. A very amusing story appears in Chapter 13, of how Brhaspati, the preceptor of gods, impersonates Sukra, the preceptor of demons, and how he corrupts and demoralizes the latter by preaching heretical doctrines to them with a view to make the gods who were very often defeated by the demons in war, victorious over them. A good portion of this Part is also devoted to the glorification of Pukara as a sacred place of pilgrimage. A number of fasts and vows are recommended and the merits of observing the same are described in detail.
The project of this series was envisaged in 1970 by the late Lala Sundar Lal Jam of Messrs. Motital Banarsidass. Thirty- nine volumes of the series including the present one have so far been published and others are in progress. Complete sets of eleven major Puranas viz, Agni Bhagawata, Brahma Brahmanda Garuda, Kurma, Linga, Narada, Siva, Vardha and Vayu are already available many of which have been reprinted over an over again.
It is our pleasant duty to put on record our sincere thanks to Dr. R.N. Dandekar and the UNESCO authorities for their kind encouragement and valuable help which render this work more useful than it would otherwise have been. We are extremely grateful to Dr. N.A. Deshpande for translating the text. We are also thankful to all those who have been helpful in our project.
Originally the word Purana seems to have been understood in the sense of an 'old legend' but it is variously explained by different Puranas. YouPurana says that it is called Purana because it lives in the past or it breathes ancient times Brahmanda Purana says that it is so called since it existed in olden times. Padma Purana offers the following explanation: pint (V.2.53) It is called Purana because it desires or likes the past. It is, in other words, interested in the past, and there for describes the past. Thus these explanations suggest that the Purana literature deals with the past. Matsya Purana (53.63), in fact, describes the Puranas as 'containing the records of past events'. It therefore appears that originally the term Purana signified an ancient tale or narrative. Such tales existed prior to Vedas. This seems to be the meaning of such statements as (Padma I.1.45). Various traditions also accept the sacredness of Puranas. Atharva Veda refers to Puranas in the singular at XI.7.24 and XV.6.10-11. Satapatha Brahmana (XI.5.6-8) also mentions Itihasa-purana as one word. It gives Purana the status of Veda. Taittiriya Arazyaka (11.10) refers to Puranas and Itihasas. Gautama Dharmasutra (XI.19), Kautilya's Arthajastra (V.6, p.257), and Stuctis like Mane (111.232) refer to Puranas. Mahabhjrata refers to Puranas both in the singular (at Adiparvan 5.2, antiparvan 208.5 etc.) and in the plural (at Striparvan 13.2). Mahabharata also men tion by name Matsya Purana (in Vanaparvan 185.53). It is not proved beyond doubt whether Atharva Veda XI.7.24 refers to actual books by the word Purana. Thus it is not certain when actually Puranas as books came to be referred to. Puranas themselves say that originally there was one Purana only (Vdyu I.60.61 Linga Padma V.1.45) later on they came to be divided into 18 (Padma V.1. 51-52).
Amarasimha the author of the Amarakosa gives the following verse explaining the characteristics of a Purana.
This definition is also found in some of the Puranas like Vdyu 4.10-11 Varaha 2.4 Sarga creation Pratisarga - recreation after dissolution of the world Vamsa dynasties of gods the sun and the Moon and the patriarchs Manvantra the vast periods of time so called after a Manu Vamsa nucaritadeeds and history of the descendants of the solar lunar and other dynasties. But the Puranas do not fully conform to this description. Some contain many more topics while some barely touch these five topics at some length. It has been shown that these five characteristics occupy less than three percent of the extent of the Puranas that have come down to us. It is only Visnu Purana that largely conforms to this description but even it also contains other religious and social topics Dana (gifts) Vrata (religious observances). Tirtha (sacred places) and Sraddha (rites in honor of the dead ancestors) occupy a bulk of the contents (at least one lakh slokas) of the extant Puranas. The Pancalaksana description therefore does not properly cover their contents. So it is mantianed that the Pancalaksana definition is applicable to Uparanas and the Dasalaksana definition to Mahapuranas. The Dasalaksana definition runs as follows.
In addition to the topics like sarga this definition includes Vrtti (means of livelihood) Raksa (protection i.e. incarnation of God for protection of devotees) Samstha (four kinds of Laya) Hetu (jiva the soul that is subject to avidya and the collects karman) and apasraya (Brahman the refuge go Individual souls). Matsja Purana (53.66-67) says that in addition to these ten characteristics Purai3as also deal with such topics as the glorification of Brahman, Visnu, the Sun, Rudra, preservation and dissolution of the world, the four goals of human life, like Dharma, Artha etc. But even this Matsya description is not adequate, since Puranas have undergone re-editions, due to the addition of fresh matter, substitution of existing matter, and omission and modification of it. As Haraprasad Sastri observes (Journal of the Behar [and Orissa] Research Society, XIV, p.329), "Anything old may be the subject of a Purana, and it covers all the aspects of life."
The characteristics like Sarga are discussed in various Puranas: Brahma (1.3), Brahm4nqa (11.8-13), Vayu (4-6), Padma (1.3) discuss Sarga. Brahma (2.32-37), V4nu (1.2ff) deal with Pratisarga. V4yu (99), Visnu (IV), Karma (1.20-25), Bhagocata (IX and XII) treat Vartias; while Visma (111.1.2), Karma (1.51) deal with Manvantaras.
Puranas are divided into two categories: Mahapuranas and Upapuranas. The number of Puranas is stated to be eighteen. As Kane observes, "The number 18 was probably due to the fact that the number is prominent in several connections as regards Mahabharata. The Bharata war was fought for 18 days, the total of the vast armies engaged in the conflict came to be 18 aksauhinis, the epic has 18 parvans, the Gita also has 18 chapters" History of Dharmasastra, Vol. V, p. 842) - This list of 18 Mahapuranas is given in almost every Purana (see e.g. Padma IV.100.51-54). The order of Puranas that is generally accept