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equal length. In the first part, accounts of the creation, of the Avatáras of Vishńu, of the solar and lunar dynasties of the kings to the time of Krishńa, of the universe, and of the Manwantaras, are given, in general in a summary manner, but, not unfrequently, in the words employed in the Vishńu Puráňa. With these are blended hymns addressed to Maheswara by Brahma and others; the defeat of Andhakásura by Bhairava; the origin of four Saktis, Maheswarí, Sivá, Satí, and Haimavatí, from Siva; and other Saiva legends. One chapter gives a more distinct and connected account of the incarnations of Siva, in the present age, than the Linga; and it wears, still more, the appearance of an attempt to identify the teachers of the Yoga school with personations of their preferential deity. Several chapters form a Káśí Máhátmya, a legend of Benares. In the second part there are no legends. It is divided into two parts, the ÍŚwara Gítá' and Vyása Gitá. In the former, the knowledge of god, that is, of Siva, through contemplative devotion, is taught. In the latter, the same object is enjoined through works, or observance of the ceremonies and precepts of the Vedas.
The date of the Kúrma Purána cannot be very remote; for it is, avowedly, posterior to the establishment of the Tántrika, the Šákta, and the Jaina sects. In the twelfth chapter it is said: “The Bhairava, Váma, Arhata,
This is also translated by Colonel Vans Kennedy (Researches into the Nature and Affinity of Ancient and Hindu Mythology, Appendix D., p. 444); and, in this instance, as in other passages quoted by him from the Kúrma, his MS. and mine agree..
and Yámala Šástras are intended for delusion.” There is no reason to believe that the Bhairava and Yámala Tantras are very ancient works, or that the practices of the left-hand Sáktas, or the doctrines of Arhat or Jina, were known in the early centuries of our era.
16. Matsya Puráňa. “That in which, for the sake of promulgating the Vedas, Vishnu, in the beginning of a Kalpa, related to Manu the story of Narasimha and the events of seven Kalpas; that, О sages, know to be the Mátsya Puráňa, containing twenty thousand stanzas.” 1
We might, it is to be supposed, admit the description which the Matsya gives of itself to be correct; and yet, as regards the number of verses, there seems to be a misstatement. Three very good copies—one in my possession, one in the Company's library, and one in the Radcliffe library-concur in all respects, and in containing no more than between fourteen and fifteen thousand stanzas. In this case the Bhágavata is nearer the truth, when it assigns to it fourteen thousand. We may conclude, therefore, that the reading of the passage is, in this respect, erroneous. * It is correctly said, that
the subjects of the Puráňa were communicated by Vishňu, in the form of a fish, to Manu.
The Puráňa, after the usual prologue of Súta and the Rishis, opens with the account of the Matsya or 'fish' Avatára of Vishnu, in which he preserves a king, named Manu, with the seeds of all things, in an ark, from the waters of that inundation which, in the season of a Pralaya, overspreads the world. This story is told in the Mahabharata, with reference to the Matsya as its authority; from which it might be inferred, that the Purána was prior to the poem. This, of course, is consistent with the tradition that the Puráňas were first composed by Vyása. But there can be no doubt that the greater part of the Mahábhárata is much older than any extant Puráňa. The present instance is, itself, a proof; for the primitive simplicity with which the story of the fish Avatára is told in the Mahabharata, is of a much more antique complexion than the mysticism and extravagance of the actual Matsya Puráňa. In the former, Manu collects the seeds of existing things in the ark; it is not said how: in the latter, he brings them all together by the power of Yoga. In the latter, the great serpents come to the king, to serve as cords wherewith to fasten the arkto the horn of the fish: in the former, a cable made of ropes is more intelligibly employed for the purpose.
Whilst the ark floats, fastened to the fish, Manu enters into conversation with him; and his questions and the replies of Vishnu form the main substance of the compilation. The first subject is the creation, which is that of Brahma and the patriarchs. Some of the details are the usual ones; others are peculiar, especially those relating to the Pitris or progenitors. The regal
dynasties are next described; and then follow chapters on the duties of different orders. It is in relating those of the householder, in which the duty of making gifts to Brahmans is comprehended, that we have the specification of the extent and subjects of the Puranas. It is meritorious to have copies made of them, and to give these away on particular occasions. Thus, it is said, of the Matsya: “Whoever gives it away at either equinox, along with a golden fish, and a milch cow, gives away the whole earth;"* that is, he reaps a like reward, in his next migration. Special duties of the householder-Vratas or occasional acts of piety—are then described at considerable length, with legendary illustrations. The account of the universe is given in the usual strain. Saiva legends ensue: as the destruction of Tripurasura; the war of the gods with Táraka and the Daityas, and the consequent birth of Kárttikeya, with the various circumstances of Umá's birth and marriage, the burning of Kámadeva, and other events involved in that narrative; the destruction of the Asuras Maya and Andhaka; the origin of the Mátéis, and the like; interspersed with the Vaishnava legends of the Avatáras. Some Máhátmyas are also introduced; one of which, the Narmadá Máhátmya, contains some interesting particulars. There are various chapters on law and morals, and one which furnishes directions for building houses and making images. We then have an account of the kings of future periods; and the Puráňa concludes with a chapter on gifts.
The Matsya Puráňa, it will be seen, even from this brief sketch of its contents, is a miscellaneous compilation, but including, in its contents, the elements of a genuine Puráňa. At the same time, it is of too mixed a character to be considered as a genuine work of the Pauráńik class; and, upon examining it carefully, it may be suspected that it is indebted to various works, not only for its matter, but for its words. The genealogical and historical chapters are much the same as those of the Vishnu; and many chapters, as those on the Pitris and Sráddhas, are precisely the same as those of the Srishti Khanda of the Padma Puráňa. It has drawn largely also from the Mahábhárata. Amongst other instances, it is sufficient to quote the story of Sávitrí, @ the devoted wife of Satyavat, which is given in the Matsya in the same manner, but considerably abridged.
Although a Saiva work, it is not exclusively so; and it has not such sectarial absurdities as the Kúrma and Linga. It is a composition of considerable interest; but, if it has extracted its materials from the Padman — which it also quotes on one occasion, the specification of the Upapuránas,-it is subsequent to that work, and, therefore, not very ancient.
17. Garuda Puráňa. “That which Vishňu recited in the Garuda Kalpa, relating, chiefly, to the birth of Garuda from Vinatá, is here called the Gáruda Purana; and in it there are read nineteen thousand verses.”1
* विश्वाण्डागरुडोद्भवं seems to be the more ordinary reading.