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The Visnu Purana

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From the Jacket :

The Purana literature as ascribed to Vedavyasa are uniformly stated to the eighteen in number, are also works of evidently different ages, and have been compiled under different circumstances, the precise nature of which we can but imperfectly conjecture from internal evidence, and from what we know of the history of religious opinion in India. The Visnu Purana. "That in which Parasara, beginning with event of the Varaha Kalp, expounds all duties, is called Vaisnava; and the learned know its extent to be twenty-three thousand stanzas.

This Purana is divided in the six books, in which the first is occupied chiefly with the details of creation, primary (Sarga) and secondary (Pratisarga); the first explaining how the universe proceeds from Prakrti or eternal crude matter, the second, in what manner the forms of things are developed from the elementary substances previously evolved or how they reappear after their temporary destruction.

The second book opens with a continuation of the kings of the first Manvantara; amongst whom, Bharata is said to have given a name to India, called after him Bharatavarsa. This leads to a detail of the geographical system of the Puranas, with mount Meru, the seven circular continents and their surrounding oceans, to the limits of the world; This also contains of the planetary and other spheres is equally mythological, although occasionally presenting practical details and notions in which there is an approach to accuracy.

The arrangement of the Vedas and other writings considered sacred by the Hindus, being in fact the authorities of their religious rites and belief, which is described in the beginning of the third book.

The fourth book contains all that the Hindus have of their ancient history. It is a tolerably comprehensive list of dynasties and individuals; it is a barren record of events.

The fifth book of the Visnu Purana is exclusively occupied with the life of Krsna. This is one fo the distinguishing characteristics of the Purana and is one argument against its antiquity.

The last book contains an account of the dissolution of the world, in both its major and minor cataclysms; and in the particulars of the end of all things by fire and water, as well as in the principle of their perpetual renovation, presents a faithful exhibition of opinions that were general in the ancient world.

 

Preface

The literature of the Hindu has now been cultivated for many years with singular diligence, and in many of its branches with eminent success. There are some departments, however, which are yet but partially and imperfectly investigated; and we are far from being in possession of that knowledge which the authentic writings of the Hindu alone can give us of their religion, mythology, and historical traditions.

From the materials to which we have hitherto had access, it seems probable that have been three principal from in which the religion of the Hindu has existed, as many different periods. The duration of those periods, the circumstances of their succession, and the precise state of the national faith at each season, it is not possible to trace with any approach to accuracy. The premises have been too imperfectly determined to authorize other than conclusions of a general and somewhat vague description, and those remain to be here after confirmed or corrected by more extensive and satisfactory research.

The earliest form under which the Hindu religion appears is that taught in the Vedas. The style of the language, and the purport of the composition of those works, as far as we are acquainted with them, indicate a date long anterior to that of any other class of Sanskrit writings. It is yet, however, scarcely safe to advance an option of the precise belief or philosophy which they inculcate. To enable us to judge of their tendency, we have only a general sketch of their arrangement and contents, with a few extracts, by Colebrooke, in the Asiatic Researches; a few incidental observations by Ellis, in the same miscellany; and a translation of the first book of the Samhita, or collection of the prayers of the Rg-vedas, by Rosen and some of the Upanisads, or speculative treatises, attached to, rather than part of, the Vedas, by Rammohan Roy. Of the religion taught in the Vedas, Colebrooke’s opinion will probably be received as that which is best entitled to deference, as certainly no Sanskrit scholar has been equally conversant with the original works. “The real doctrine of the Indian scripture is the unity of the Deity, in whom the universe is comprehended; and the seeming polytheism which it exhibits, offers the elements, and the stars and planets as gods. The three principal manifestations of the divinity, with other personified attributes and energies, and most of the other gods of Hindu mythology, are indeed mentioned, or at least indicated, in the Vedas. But the worship of deified heroes is no part of the system; nor are the incarnations of deities suggested in any portion of the text which I have yet seen, though such are sometimes hinted at by the commentators.” Some of these statements may perhaps require modification; for without a careful examination of all the prayers of the Vedas, it would be hazardous to assert that they contain no indication whatever of hero-worship; and certainly they do appear to allude occasionally to the Avataras, or incarnations, of Visnu. Still, however, it is true that the prevailing character of the ritual of the Vedas is the worship of the personified elements; of Agni, or fire, Indra, the firmament; Vayu, the air; Varuna, the water; of Aditya, the sun; Soma, the moon; and other elementary and planetary personages. It is also true that the worship of the Vedas is for the most part domestic worship, consisting of prayers and oblations offered- in their own houses, not in temples-by individuals for individual good, and addressed to unreal presences, not to visible types. In a word, the religion of the Vedas was not idolatory.

It is not possible to conjecture when this more simple and primitive from of adoration was succeeded by the worship of images and types, representing Brahma, Visnu, Siva, and other imaginary beings, constituting a mythological pantheon of most ample extent; or Rama and Krsna who appear to have originally real and historical characters, were elevated to the dignity of divinities. Image worship is alluded to by Manu is several passage, but with an intimation that those Brahmanas who subsist by ministering in temples are an inferior and degraded class. The story of the Ramayana and Mahabharata turns wholly upon the doctrine of incarnations, all the chief dramatist personae of the pesonae of the poems being impersonations of gods and demigods and celestial spirits. The rituals appears to be that of the Vedas, and it my be doubted if any allusion to image-worship occurs; but the doctrine of propitiation by penance, and praise prevails throughout, and Visnu and Siva are the especial objects of panegyric and invocation. In these two works, then, we trace unequivocal of a departure from the elemental worship of the Vedas, and the origin or elaboration of legends, which form the great body of the mythological religion of the Hindus. How far they only improved upon the cosmogony and chronology of their predecessors, or in what degree the traditions of families and dynasties may originate with them, are questions that can only be determined when the Vedas and the two works in question shall have been more thoroughly examined.

The different works known by the name of Puranas are evidently derived from the same religions system as the Ramayana and Mahabharata, or from the myth-heroic stage of Hindu belief. They present, however, peculiarities which designate their belonging to a later period, and to an important modification in the p[/product_description] [product_video]
Item Code: IDF373
Cover: Hardcover
Edition: 2018
Publisher: Parimal Publication Pvt. Ltd.
ISBN: 9788171102129
Language: Sanskrit Text and English Translation of the Vishnu Purana
Size: 9.8" X 7.4"
Pages: 616
Other Details: Weight of the Book: 1.200 Kg[/product_video]

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