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mixture of truth and error in their conclusions. Their labours, accordingly, are far from entitled to that confidence which their learning and industry would, else, have secured; and a sound and comprehensive survey of the Hindu system is still wanting to the comparative analysis of the religious opinions of the ancient world, and to a satisfactory elucidation of an important chapter in the history of the human race. It is with the hope of supplying some of the necessary means for the accomplishment of these objects, that the following pages have been translated.
The translation of the Vishńu Puráňa has been made from a collation of various manuscripts in my possession. I had three, when I commenced the work; two in the Devanagari, and one in the Bengali, character. A fourth, from the west of India, was given to me by Major Jervis, when some progress had been made; and, in conducting the latter half of the translation through the press, I have compared it with three other copies in the library of the East India Company. All these copies closely agree; presenting no other differences than occasional varieties of reading, owing, chiefly, to the inattention or inaccuracy of the transcriber. Four of the copies were accompanied by a commentary, essentially the same, although occasionally varying, and ascribed, in part, at least, to two different scholiasts. The annotations on the first two books and the fifth are, in two MSS., said to be the work of Sridhara Yati, the disciple of Parananda Nřihari, and who is, therefore, the same as Sridhara Swámin, the commentator on the Bhagavata. In the other three books, these two MSS. concur with other two in
naming the commentator Ratnagarbha Bhattacharya, who, in those two, is the author of the notes on the entire work. The introductory verses* of his comment specify him to be the disciple of Vidyáváchaspati, the son of Hiranyagarbha, and grandson of Madhava, who composed his commentary by desire of Súryákara, son of Ratinátha Miśra, son of Chandrákara, hereditary ministers of some sovereign who is not particularized. In the illustrations which are attributed to these different writers, there is so much conformity, that one or other is largely indebted to his predecessor. They both refer to earlier commentaries. Sridhara cites the works of Chitsukha Yogin and others, both more extensive and more concise; between which, his own, which he terms Atma- or Swa-prakása, “self-illuminator',
holds an intermediate character. * Ratnagarbha entitles his, Vaishnavákúta-chandriká, the moonlight of devotion to Vishňu. The dates of these commentators are not ascertainable, as far as I am aware, from any of the particulars which they have specified.
In the notes which I have added to the translation, I have been desirous, chiefly, of comparing the statements of the text with those of other Puráňas, and pointing out the circumstances in which they differ or agree; so as to render the present publication a sort of concordance to the whole; as it is not very probable that many of them will be published or translated. The Index that followst has been made sufficiently copious to answer the purposes of a mythological and historical dictionary, as far as the Puranas, or the greater number of them, furnish materials.
In rendering the text into English, I have adhered to it as literally as was compatible with some regard to the usages of English composition. In general, the original presents few difficulties. The style of the Puráńas is, very commonly, humble and easy; and the narrative is plainly and unpretendingly told. In the addresses to the deities, in the expatiations upon the divine nature, in the descriptions of the universe, and
in argumentative and metaphysical discussion, there occur passages in which the difficulty arising from the subject itself is enhanced by the brief and obscure manner in which it is treated. On such occasions, I derived much aid from the commentary. But it is possible that I may have, sometimes, misapprehended and misrepresented the original; and it is, also, possible that I may have sometimes failed to express its purport with sufficient precision to have made it intelligible. I trust, however, that this will not often be the case, and that the translation of the Vishńu Puráňa will be of service and of interest to the few who, in these times of utilitarian selfishness, conflicting opinion, party virulence, and political agitation, can find a resting-place for their thoughts in the tranquil contemplation of those yet living pictures of the ancient world which are exhibited by the literature and mythology of the Hindus.