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Company's library, which do not extend beyond twelve thousand verses; but they are, in many other respects, different from mine. One of them was written at Agra, in the reign of Akbar, in A. D. 1589.
The Agni Purana, in the form in which it has been obtained in Bengal and at Benares, presents a striking contrast to the Márkandeya. It may be doubted if a single line of it is original. A very great proportion of it may be traced to other sources; and a more careful collation—if the task was worth the time it would require—would probably discover the remainder.
The early chapters of this Puráňa? describe the Avatáras, and, in those of Ráma and Krishna, avowedly follow the Rámáyana and Mahabharata. A considerable portion is then appropriated to instructions for the performance of religious ceremonies; many of which belong to the Tántrika ritual, and are, apparently, transcribed from the principal authorities of that system. Some belong to mystical forms of Śaiva worship, little known in Hindusthán, though, perhaps, still practised in the south. One of these is the Díkshá or initiation of a novice; by which, with numerous ceremonies and invocations, in which the mysterious monosyllables of the Tantras are constantly repeated, the disciple is transformed into a living personation of Siva, and receives, in that capacity, the homage of his Guru. Inter
Analysis of the Agni Puráňa: Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, March, 1832. * I have there stated, incorrectly, that the Agni is a Vaishnava Puráňa. It is one of the Támasa or Saiva class, as mentioned above.
* See Professor Wilson's collected works, Vol. III.
spersed with these are chapters descriptive of the earth and of the universe, which are the same as those of the Vishnu Purana; and Mahátmyas or legends of holy places, particularly of Gayá. Chapters on the duties of kings and on the art of war then occur, which have the appearance of being extracted from some older work, as is, undoubtedly, the chapter on judicature, * which follows them, and which is the same as the text of the Mitákshará. Subsequent to these we have an account of the distribution and arrangement of the Vedas and Puráňas, which is little else than an abridgment of the Vishńu; and, in a chapter on gifts, we have a description of the Puráňas, which is precisely the same, and in the same situation, as the similar subject in the Matsya Puráňa. The genealogical chapters are meagre lists, differing, in a few respects, from those commonly received, as hereafter noticed, but unaccompanied by any particulars such as those recorded or invented in the Márkańdeya. The next subject is medicine, compiled, avowedly, but injudiciously, from the Sauśruta. A series of chapters on the mystic worship of Siva and Deví follows; and the work winds up with treatises on rhetoric, prosody, and grammar, according to the Sútras of Pingala and Pánini.
The cyclopædical character of the Agni Puráňa, as it is now described, excludes it from any legitimate claims to be regarded as a Puráňa, and proves that its origin cannot be very remote. It is subsequent to the Itihasas, to the chief works on grammar, rhetoric, and medicine, and to the introduction of the Tántrika worship of Deví. When this latter took place, is yet far from determined; but there is every probability that it dates long after the beginning of our era. The materials of the Agni Puráňa are, however, no doubt, of some antiquity. The medicine of Susruta is considerably older than the ninth century; and the grammar of Páńini probably precedes Christianity. The chapters on archery and arms, and on regal administration, are also distinguished by an entirely. Hindu character, and must have been written long anterior to the Mohammedan invasion. So far the Agni Puráňa is valuable, as embodying and preserving relics of antiquity, although compiled at a more recent date.
* According to Dr. Aufrecht: “Haec pars, paucis mutatis et additis, ex Yajnavalkyae legum codice desumta est.” Then follows “Rigvidhanam, i. e., Rigvedi hymni sive disticha ad varias superstitiones adhibenda. Haec pars e Kigvidhana libello, qui et ipse serae originis indicia prae se sert excerpta est, multique versus ad literam cum illo consentiunt.” Catalog. Cod. Manuscript., &c., p. 7.
Colonel Wilford' has made great use of a list of kings derived from an appendix to the Agni Puráňa, which professes to be the sixty-third or last section. As he observes, it is seldom found annexed to the Puráňa. I have never met with it, and doubt its ever having formed any part of the original compilation. It would appear, from Colonel Wilford's remarks, that this list notices Mohammed as the institutor of an era: but his account of this is not very distinct. He mentions, explicitly, however, that the list speaks of Śáliváhana and Vikramaditya: and this is quite sufficient to establish its character. The compilers of the Puráňas were not such bunglers as to bring within their chronology so well known a personage as Vikramaditya. There are, in all parts of India, various compilations ascribed to the Puráňas, which never formed any portion of their contents, and which, although offering, sometimes, useful local information, and valuable as preserving popular traditions, are not, in justice, to be confounded with the Puranas, so as to cause them to be charged with even more serious errors and anachronisms than those of which they are guilty.
1 Essay on Vikramaditya and Sáliváhana: As. Res., Vol. IX.,
The two copies of this work in the library of the East India Company appropriate the first half to a description of the ordinary and occasional observances of the Hindus, interspersed with a few legends. The latter half treats exclusively of the history of Ráma.
9. Bhavishya Puráňa. “The Puráňa in which Brahmá, having described the greatness of the sun, explained to Manu the existence of the world, and the characters of all created things, in the course of the Aghora Kalpa, that is called the Bhavishya; the stories being, for the most part, the events of a future period. It contains fourteen thousand five hundred stanzas.". This Puráňa, as the name implies, should be a book of prophecies, foretelling what will be (bhavishyati), as the Matsya Purána intimates. Whether such a work exists, is doubtful. The copies, which appear to be entire, and of which there are three in the library of the East India Company, agreeing, in their contents, with two
in my possession, contain about seven thousand stanzas. There is another work, entitled the Bhavishyottara, as if it was a continuation or supplement of the former, containing, also, about seven thousand verses: but the subjects of both these works are but to a very imperfect degree analogous to those to which the Matsya alludes. 1
The Bhavishya Puráňa, as I have it, is a work in a hundred and twenty-six short chapters, repeated by Sumantu to Satáníka, a king of the Pandu family. He notices, however, its having originated with Swayambhu or Brahmá, and describes it as consisting of five parts; four dedicated, it should seem, to as many deities, as they are termed, Bráhma, Vaishňava, Šaiva, and Twáshtra; whilst the fifth is the Pratisarga or repeated creation. Possibly, the first part only may have come into my hands; although it does not so appear by the manuscript.
Whatever it may be, the work in question is not a Purána. The first portion, indeed, treats of creation; but it is little else than a transcript of the words of the first chapter of Manu. The rest is entirely a manual of religious rites and ceremonies. It explains the ten Sańskáras or initiatory rites; the performance of the Sandhyá; the reverence to be shown to a Guru; the duties of the different Aśramas and castes; and enjoins a number of Vratas or observances of fasting and the
Colonel Vans Kennedy states that he had “not been able to procure the Bhavishya Purána, nor even to obtain any account of its contents.” Researches into the Nature and Affinity of Ancient and Hindu Mythology, p. 153, note.