Imagens da página

against which that saiva sage is helpless. Here, Vishńu hurls his discus at Dadhichi: but it falls, blunted, to the ground; and a conflict ensues, in which Vishńu and his partisans are all overthrown by the Muni.

A description of the universe, and of the regal dynasties of the Vaivaswata Manwantara to the time of Křishńa, runs through a number of chapters, in substance, and, very commonly, in words, the same as in other Puráňas; after which the work resumes its proper character, narrating legends, and enjoining rites, and reciting prayers, intending to do honour to Siva under various forms. Although, however, the Linga holds a prominent place amongst them, the spirit of the worship is as little influenced by the character of the type as can well be imagined. There is nothing like the phallic orgies of antiquity: it is all mystical and spiritual. The Linga is twofold, external and internal. The ignorant, who need a visible sign, worship Śiva through a ‘mark’ or 'type'— which is the proper meaning of the word 'Linga’— of wood, or stone; but the wise look upon this outward emblem as nothing, and contemplate, in their minds, the invisible, inscrutable type, which is Siva himself. Whatever may have been the origin of this form of worship in India, the notions upon which it was founded, according to the impure fancies of European writers, are not to be traced in even the Saiva Puráňas.

Data for conjecturing the era of this work are defective. But it is more a ritual than a Puráňa; and the Pauráńik chapters which it has inserted, in order to keep up something of its character, have been, evidently, borrowed for the purpose. The incarnations of Siva,



and their pupils', as specified in one place, and the importance attached to the practice of the Yoga, render it possible that, under the former, are intended those teachers of the Saiva religion who belong to the Yoga school, which seems to have flourished about the eighth or ninth centuries. It is not likely that the work is earlier: it may be considerably later. It has preserved, apparently, some Saiva legends of an early date; but the greater part is ritual and mysticism of comparatively recent introduction.

12. Varáha Puráňa. “That in which the glory of the great Varáha is predominant, as it was revealed to Earth by Vishnu, in connexion, wise Munis, with the Mánava Kalpa, and which contains twenty-four thousand verses, is called the Váráha Puráňa.” ?

It may be doubted if the Varáha Puráňa of the present day is here intended. It is narrated by Vishnu as Varáha, or in the boar incarnation, to the personified Earth. Its extent, however, is not half that specified; little exceeding ten thousand stanzas. It furnishes, also, itself, evidence of the prior currency of some other work, similarly denominated; as, in the description of Mathurá contained in it, Sumantu, a Muni, is made to observe: “The divine Varáha in former times expounded a Puráňa, for the purpose of solving the perplexity of Earth.” See Asiatic Researches, Vol. XVII., p. 187. *

३ महावराहस्य पुनर्माहात्यमधिकृत्य च।
विष्णुनाभिहितं क्षोण्यै तद्दाराहमित्युच्यते ॥
मानवस्य प्रसङ्गेन कल्पस्य मुनिसत्तमाः।
चतुर्विशत्सहस्राणि तत्पुराणमिहोच्यते ॥

* Seo Professor Wilson's collective works, Vol. I., p. 205.



Nor can the Varáha Purana be regarded as a Purána agreeably to the common definition; as it contains but a few scattered and brief allusions to the creation of the world and the reign of kings: it has no detailed genealogies, either of the patriarchal or regal families, and no account of the reigns of the Manus. Like the Linga Puráňa, it is a religious manual, almost wholly occupied with forms of prayer and rules for devotional observances, addressed to Vishnu; interspersed with legendary illustrations, most of which are peculiar to itself, though some are taken from the common and ancient stock. Many of them, rather incompatibly with the general scope of the compilation, relate to the history of Siva and Durga.' A considerable portion | of the work is devoted to descriptions of various

Tirthas, places of Vaishnava pilgrimage; and one of Mathurá enters into a variety of particulars relating to the shrines of that city, constituting the Mathurá Máhátmya.

In the sectarianism of the Varáha Puráňa there is no leaning to the particular adoration of Krishna; nor are the Rathayátrá and Janmashtamí included amongst the observances enjoined. There are other indications of its belonging to an earlier stage of Vaishnava worship; and it may, perhaps, be referred to the age of Rámánuja, the early part of the twelfth century.

i One of these is translated by Colonel Vans Kennedy, the origin of the three Śaktis or goddesses, Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Párvatí. Researches into the Nature and Affinity of Ancient and Hindu Mythology, p. 209. The Tri Sakti Máhátmya occurs, as he gives it, in my copy, and is, so far, an indication of the identity of the Varáha Purana in the different MSS.

13. Skanda Puráňa. “The Skánda Purána is that in which the six-faced deity (Skanda) has related the events of the Tatpurusha Kalpa, enlarged with many tales, and subservient to the duties taught by MaheŚwara. Is is said to contain eighty-one thousand one hundred stanzas: so it is asserted amongst mankind.” 1

It is uniformly agreed that the Skanda Puráňa, in a collective form, has no existence; and the fragments, in the shape of Samhitás, Khańdas, and Máhátmyas, which are affirmed, in various parts of India, to be portions of the Puráňa, present a much more formidable mass of stanzas than even the immense number of which it is said to consist. The most celebrated of these portions, in Hindusthán, is the Káśí Khanda, a very minute description of the temples of Siva in or adjacent to Benares, mixed with directions for worshipping MaheŚwara, and a great variety of legends explanatory of its merits and of the holiness of Káší. Many of them are puerile and uninteresting; but some are of a higher character. The story of Agastya records, probably, in a legendary style, the propagation of Hinduism in the south of India; and, in the history of Divodása, king of Káśí, we have an embellished tradition of the temporary depression of the worship of Śiva, even in its metropolis, before the ascendancy of the followers of Buddha.? There is every reason to believe the greater

[ocr errors]

part of the contents of the Kásí Khanda anterior to the first attack upon Benares by Mahmud of Ghizni. The Káśí Khanda alone contains fifteen thousand stanzas.

Another considerable work ascribed, in Upper India, to the Skanda Purana, is the Utkala Khanda, giving an account of the holiness of Orissa, and the Kshetra of Purushottama or Jagannátha. The same vicinage is the site of temples, once of great magnificence and extent, dedicated to Siva, as Bhuvaneswara, which forms an excuse for attaching an account of a Vaishńava Tirtha to an eminently Saiva Puráňa. There can be little doubt, however, that the Utkala Khanda is unwarrantably included amongst the progeny of the parent work. Besides these, there is a Brahmottara Khanda, a Revá Khanda, a Siva Rahasya Khańda, a Himavat Khanda, and others. Of the Samhitás the chief are the Súta Samhitá, Sanatkumára Samhitá, Saura Samhita, and Kapila Samhitá: there are several other works denominated Samhitás. The Máhátmyas are more numerous still. According to the Súta Samhita, as quoted by Colonel Vans Kennedy, 2 the Skanda



searches into the Nature and Affinity of Ancient and Hindu Mythology, Appendix B.

' In a list of reputed portions of the Skanda Purana in the possession of my friend, Mr. C. P. Brown, of the Civil Service of Madras, the Saṁhitás are seven, the Khańdas, twelve, besides parts denominated Gítá, Kalpa, Stotra, &c. In the collection of Colonel Mackenzie, amongst the Mahátmyas, thirty-six are said to belong to the Skanda Puráňa. Vol. I., p. 61. In the library at the India House are two Sambitás, the Súta and Sanatkumára, fourteen Khandas, and twelve Mahátmyas.

? Researches into the Nature and Affinity of Ancient and Hindu Mythology, p. 154, note.

« AnteriorContinuar »