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succeeds a life of Krishńa, which is, word for word, the same as that of the Vishńu Puráňa; and the compilation terminates with a particular detail of the mode in which Yoga or contemplative devotion, the object of which is still Vishắu, is to be performed. There is little, in this, which corresponds with the definition of a Pancha-lakshana Puráňa; and the mention of the temples of Orissa, the date of the original construction of which is recorded, shows that it could not have been compiled earlier than the thirteenth or fourteenth century.
The Uttara Khanda of the Brahma Purána bears still more entirely the character of a Máhátmya or local legend; being intended to celebrate the sanctity of the Balajá river, conjectured to be the same as the Banás in Marwar. There is no clue to its date: but it is clearly modern; grafting personages and fictions of its own invention on a few hints from older authorities. 2
2. Padma Puráňa. “That which contains an account of the period when the world was a golden lotos (padma), and of all the occurrences of that time, is, therefore, called the Padma by the wise. It contains fifty-five thousand stanzas.”3 The second Puráňa, in
ever, is, of itself, sufficient, in my opinion, to determine the character and era of the compilation.
See Account of Orissa Proper, or Cuttack, by A. Stirling, Esq.: Asiatic Res., Vol. XV., p. 305.
? See Analysis of the Brahma Puráňa: Journ. Royal As. Soc., Vol. V., p. 65.
३ एतदेव यदा पद्ममभूद्धैरण्मयं जगत् ।
तद्वृत्तान्ताशयं तद्वत्पाद्ममित्युच्यते बुधैः ॥
the usual lists, is always the Pádma, a very voluminous work, containing, according to its own statement, as well as that of other authorities, fifty-five thousand ślokas; an amount not far from the truth. These are divided amongst five books, or Khańdas; 1. The Srishti Khańda or section on creation; 2. The Bhúmí Khanda, description of the earth; 3. The Swarga Khanda, chapter on heaven; 4. Pátála Khanda, chapter on the regions below the earth; and 5. the Uttara Khanda, last or supplementary chapter. There is also current a sixth division, the Kriya Yoga Sára, a treatise on the practice of devotion.
The denominations of these divisions of the Padma Puráňa convey but an imperfect and partial notion of their contents. In the first, or section which treats of creation, the narrator is Ugraśravas, the Súta, the son of Lomaharshana, who is sent, by his father, to the Rishis at Naimishárańya, to communicate to them the Puráňa, which, from its containing an account of the lotos (padma) in which Brahmá appeared at creation, is termed the Padma, or Padma Puráňa. The Súta repeats what was originally communicated by Brahma to Pulastya, and by him to Bhishma. The early chapters narrate the cosmogony, and the genealogy of the patriarchal families, much in the same style, and often in the same words, as the Vishnu; and short accounts of the Manwantaras and regal dynasties: but these, which are legitimate Pauráńik matters, soon make way for new and unauthentic inventions, illustrative of the virtues of the lake of Pushkara or Pokher, in Ajmir, as a place of pilgrimage.
The Bhúmí Khanda, or section of the earth, defers any description of the earth until near its close; filling up one hundred and twenty-seven chapters with legends of a very mixed description, some ancient, and common to other Puráňas, but the greater part peculiar to itself, illustrative of Tirthas, either figuratively so termed,—as a wife, a parent, or a Guru, considered as a sacred object,—or places to which actual pilgrimage should be performed.
The Swarga Khanda describes, in the first chapters, the relative positions of the Lokas or spheres above the earth; placing above all, Vaikuntha, the sphere of Vishnu: an addition which is not warranted by what appears to be the oldest cosmology.' Miscellaneous notices of some of the most celebrated princes then succeed, conformably to the usual narratives; and these are followed by rules of conduct for the several castes, and at different stages of life. The rest of the book is occupied by legends of a diversified description, introduced without much method or contrivance; a few of which, as Daksha's sacrifice, are of ancient date, but of which the most are original and modern.
The Pátála Khańda devotes a brief introduction to the description of Pátála, the regions of the snakegods. But, the name of Ráma having been mentioned, Šesha, who has succeeded Pulastya as spokesman, proceeds to narrate the history of Ráma, his descent, and his posterity; in which the compiler seems to have taken the poem of Kálidása, the Raghu Vamsa, for his chief authority. An originality of addition may be suspected, however, in the adventures of the horse des
I See Book II., Chapter VII.
tined by Ráma for an Aswamedha, which form the subject of a great many chapters. When about to be sacrificed, the horse turns out to be a Brahman, condemned, by an imprecation of Durvásas, a sage, to assume the equine nature, and who, by having been sanctified by connexion with Ráma, is released from his metamorphosis, and despatched, as a spirit of light, to heaven. This piece of Vaishnava fiction is followed by praises of the Srí Bhagavata, an account of Krishna's juvenilities, and the merits of worshipping Vishńu. These accounts are communicated through a machinery borrowed from the Tantras: they are told by Sadáśiva to Párvatí, the ordinary interlocutors of Tántrika compositions.
The Uttara Khanda is a most voluminous aggregation of very heterogeneous matters; but it is consistent in adopting a decidedly Vaishňava tone, and admitting no compromise with any other form of faith. The chief subjects are first discussed in a dialogue between king Dilípa and the Muni Vasishtha; such as the merits of bathing in the mouth of Mágha, and the potency of the Mantra or prayer addressed to Lakshmi Náráyana. But the nature of Bhakti, faith in Vishnu—the use of Vaishnava marks on the body—the legends of Vishńu's Avatáras, and especially of Ráma—and the construction of images of Vishńu— are too important to be left to mortal discretion. They are explained by Siva to Párvatí, and wound up by the adoration of Vishńu by those divinities. The dialogue then reverts to the king and the sage; and the latter states why Vishńu is the only one of the triad entitled to respect; Siva being licentious, Brahmá arrogant, and Vishńu alone pure.
Vasishtha then repeats, after Šiva, the Mahátmya of the Bhagavad Gítá; the merit of each book of which is illustrated by legends of the good consequences, to individuals, from perusing or hearing it. Other Vaishńava Máhátmyas occupy considerable portions of this Khańda, especially the Kárttika Máhátmya, or holiness of the month Kárttika; illustrated, as usual, by stories, a few of which are of an early origin, but the greater part modern, and peculiar to this Purana.'
The Kriya Yoga Sára is repeated, by Súta, to the Rishis, after Vyása's communication of it to Jaimini, in answer to an inquiry how religious merit might be secured in the Kali age, in which men have become incapable of the penances and abstraction by which final liberation was formerly to be attained. The answer is, of course, that which is intimated in the last book of the Vishnu Puráňa-personal devotion to Vishnu. Thinking of him, repeating his names, wearing his marks, worshipping in his temples, are a full substitute for all other acts of moral, or devotional, or contemplative, merit.
The different portions of the Padma Puráňa are, in all probability, as many different works, neither of which approaches to the original definition of a Puráňa. There may be some connexion between the three first portions, at least as to time: but there is no reason to consider them as of high antiquity. They specify the Jainas, both by name and practices; they talk of Mlechchhas, “barbarians”, flourishing in India; they
1 One of them, the story of Jalandhara, is translated by Colonel Vans Kennedy: Researches into the Nature and Affinity of Ancient and Hindu Mythology, Appendix D.