Visnu Purana, in comparison to the whole series of the eighteen Puranas, most closely conforms to the definition of a Panca-laksana or one which treats of the five specified topics. It comprehends them all; and although it has infused a portion of extraneous and sectarial matter, it has done so with sobriety and judiciousness, and has not suffered the fervour of its religious zeal to transport it into very wide deviations from the prescribed path. The legendary tales which it has inserted are few, and are conveniently arranged, so that they do not distract the attention of the compiler from objects of more permanent interest and importance.
Besides its mythological importance, the arrangement of the Vedas and other writings considered sacred and authorities of our religious rites and beliefs which are described in the beginning of the third book of this Purana are of much importance to the history of our literature and religion.
From purely historical point of view, too, much of the comprehensive list of the dynasties and individuals which this Purana contains, is a genuine chronicle of persons, if not of occurrences. The inartificial simplicity and consistence in the successions of persons, and a possibility and probability in some of the transactions give it the semblance of authenticity and render it likely that they are not altogether without foundation. These characteristics of Visnu Purana make it an indispensable work to both Historians and Religious Philosophers.
M. N. Dutta, as it well-known, had been one of the earliest translators of the Puranas into English language, and had received a world-wide acclaim for his contributions. It was unfortunate, however, that his translations, inspite of great demand and respect, had remained out of print for a long time.
We, therefore, decided to reprint all his works, and by now have already brought out reprints of the translations of some of the major Puranas. Visnu-Purana is our latest addition to this series, which, we trust, would receive the usual patronage form the readers.