Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

the same, but something more summary than that of the Vishnu. The twelfth book continues the lines of the kings of the Kali age, prophetically, to a similar period as the Vishńu, and gives a like account of the deterioration of all things and their final dissolution. Consistently with the subject of the Puráňa, the serpent Takshaka bites Parikshit, and he expires: and the work should terminate; or the close might be extended to the subsequent sacrifice of Janamejaya, for the destruction of the whole serpent race. There is a rather awkwardly introduced description, however, of the arrangement of the Vedas and Puráňas by Vyása, and the legend of Márkandeya’s interview with the infant Krishna, during a period of worldly dissolution. We then come to the end of the Bhágavata, in a series of encomiastic commendations of its own sanctity and efficacy to salvation.

Mr. Colebrooke observes, of the Bhagavata Puráňa: "I am, myself, inclined to adopt an opinion supported by many learned Hindus, who consider the celebrated Sri Bhagavata as the work of a grammarian[Bopadeval, supposed to have lived about six hundred years ago.” 1 Colonel Vans Kennedy considers this an incautious admission; because “it is unquestionable that the number of the Puranas have been always held to be eighteen; but, in most of the Puráňas, the names of the eighteen are enumerated, amongst which the Bhagavata is invariably included; and, consequently, if it were composed only six hundred years ago, the others must be

[ocr errors][merged small]

of an equally modern date.” Some of them are, no doubt, more recent; but, as already remarked, no weight can be attached to the specification of the eighteen names; for they are always complete: each Purána enumerates all.* Which is the last? Which had the opportunity of naming its seventeen predecessors, and adding itself? The argument proves too much. There can be little doubt that the list has been inserted, upon the authority of tradition, either by some improving transcriber, or by the compiler of a work more recent than the eighteen genuine Puranas. The objection is also rebutted by the assertion, that there was another Puráňa to which the name applies, and which is still to be met with, the Devi Bhagavata.

For the authenticity of the Bhagavata is one of the few questions, affecting their sacred literature, which Hindu writers have ventured to discuss. The occasion is furnished by the text itself. In the fourth chapter of the first book, it is said that Vyása arranged the Vedas, and divided them into four, and that he then compiled the Itihása and Puráňas, as a fifth Veda. The Vedas he gave to Paila and the rest; the Itihása and Puráňas, to Lomaharshana, the father of Súta.? Then,

1 Researches into the Nature and Affinity of Ancient and Hindu Mythology, p. 155, note.

Book I., Chapter IV., 19-22. +

[ocr errors]

| reflecting that these works may not be accessible to women, Súdras, and mixed castes, he composed the Bharata, for the purpose of placing religious knowledge within their reach. Still, he felt dissatisfied, and wandered, in much perplexity, along the banks of the Saraswatí, where his hermitage was situated, when Nárada paid him a visit. Having confided to him his secret and seemingly causeless dissatisfaction, Nárada suggested that it arose from his not having sufficiently dwelt, in the works he had finished, upon the merit of worshipping Vasudeva. Vyása at once admitted its truth, and found a remedy for his uneasiness in the composition of the Bhagavata, which he taught to Suka, his son." Here, therefore, is the most positive assertion that the Bhágavata was composed subsequently to the Puráňas, and given to a different pupil, and was not, therefore, one of the eighteen of which Romaharshana, the Súta, was, according to all concurrent testimonies, the depositary. Still, the Bhagavata is named amongst the eighteen Puránas, by the inspired authorities: and how can these incongruities be reconciled ?

The principal point in dispute seems to have been started by an expression of Sridhara Swamin, a commentator on the Bhagavata, who, somewhat incautiously, made the remark, that there was no reason to suspect

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

that, by the term Bhagavata, any other work than the subject of his labours was intended. This was, therefore, an admission that some suspicions had been entertained of the correctness of the nomenclature, and that an opinion had been expressed, that the term belonged, not to the Sri Bhágavata, but to the Deví Bhágavata; to a Saiva, not a Vaishúava, composition. With whom doubts prevailed prior to Sridhara Swamin, or by whom they were urged, does not appear; for, as far as we are aware, no works, anterior to his date, in which they are advanced have been met with. Subsequently, various tracts have been written on the subject. There are three in the library of the East India Company: the Durjana Mukha Chapetiká, “A slap of the face for the vile', by Rámáśrama; the Durjana Mukha Mahá Chapetiká, * A great slap of the face for the wicked', by Kášínátha Bhatta; and the Durjana Mukha Padma Páduká, “A slipper' for the same part of the same persons, by a nameless disputant. The first maintains the authenticity of the Bhagavata; the second asserts, that

* The postscript of this tract has Durjana-mukha-chapetiká. In the MS., Professor Wilson has noted, that it is referred to, in the Durjana-mukhapadma-páduká, under a longer title, that given in the text. Burnoufwho, in the preface to the first volume of his Bhagavata-purána, bas translated and annotated the three treatises named above - remarks as follows on that reference: “Le traité auquel notre auteur fait allusion paraît être le même que celui que j'ai placé le troisième, et qui est consacré tout entier à prouver cette thèse, que quand les Purânas parlent du Bhâgavata, c'est le Dêvîbhâgavata qu'ils entendent designer, et non pas notre Çrî Bhàgavata, qui fait autorité pour les Vâichńavas. Cependant le passage sur lequel porte la présente note nomme ce traité: Un grand soufflet, etc.; ce qui ferait supposer qu'il existe deux traités de ce genre, dont l'un serait plus étendu que l'autre, et dont nous ne posséderions que le plus court, c'est-à-dire celui qui est traduit plus bas." P. LXXVII.

the Devi Bhagavata is the genuine Purána; and the third replies to the arguments of the first. There is, also, a work by Purushottama, entitled Thirteen arguments for dispelling all doubts of the character of the Bhagavata' (Bhágavata swarúpa vishaya sanká nirása trayodaśa); whilst Bálam Bhatta, a commentator on the Mitákshará, indulging in a dissertation on the meaning of the word Puráňa, adduces reasons for questioning the inspired origin of this Puráňa.

The chief arguments in favour of the authenticity of this Puráňa are, the absence of any reason why Bopadeva, to whom it is attributed, should not have put his own name to it; its being included in all lists of the Puranas, sometimes with circumstances that belong to no other Puráňa; and its being admitted to be a Puráňa, and cited as authority, or made the subject of comment, by writers of established reputation, of whom Sankara Acharya is one: and he lived long before Bopadeva. The reply to the first argument is rather feeble; the controversialists being unwilling, perhaps, to admit the real object, the promotion of new doctrines. It is, therefore, said, that Vyása was an incarnation of Náráyana; and the purpose was to propitiate his favour. The insertion of a Bhagavata amongst the eighteen Puráňas is acknowledged; but this, it is said, can be the Deví Bhagavata alone: for the circumstances apply more correctly to it than to the Vaishňava Bhágavata. Thus, a text is quoted, by Káśínátha, from a Puráňa—he does not state which—that says, of the Bhagavata, that it contains eighteen thousand verses, twelve books, and three hundred and thirty-two chap

« AnteriorContinuar »