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to this description? Not exactly, in any one instance; to some of them it is utterly inapplicable; to others it only partially applies. There is not one to which it belongs so entirely as to the Vishnu Puráňa; and it is one of the circumstances which gives to this work a
दूर्जे ग्रन्थसमाप्तिरत्र विहिता ज्योतिर्विदां प्रीतये ॥ Here we see named, as contemporaries at the court of Vikramaditya, lord of Málava, in the year 3068 of the Kali age, or B. C. 33: Mani, Amsudatta, Jishnu, Trilochana, and Hari; also Satya, Srutasena, Badariyana, Manittha, and Kumārasimha, astronomers; and the "nine gems" already particularized.
The writer of the Jyotirvidábharana is represented as professing to be one with the author of the Raghuvamsa. As to Vikramaditya, 180 regions are said to have been subject to his sway. Further, according to some verses of which I have not quoted the original, there were 800 viceroys subordinate to him, of picked warriors he had ten millions, and he possessed 400,000 boats. His victims in battle, among Sakas alone, are multiplied to the whimsical aggregate of 555,555,555. These destroyed, he established his era.
There is every reason for believing the Jyotirvidábharańa to be not only pseudonymous but of recent composition. And now we are prepared to form an opinion touching the credibility of the tradition, so far as yet traced, which concerns the "nine gems" of Vikramaditya. ___ In the Benares Magazine for 1852, pp. 274-276, I first printed and translated the verses just cited and abstracted. A detailed English version of them has been given by the learned Dr. Bháu Daji, in the Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal As. Soc., January, 1862, pp. 26 and 27.
more authentic character than most of its fellows can pretend to. Yet, even in this instance, we have a book upon the institutes of society and obsequial rites interposed between the Manwantaras and the genealogies of princes; and a life of Krishňa, separating the latter from an account of the end of the world; besides the insertion of various legends of a manifestly popular and sectarial character. No doubt, many of the Puráňas, as they now are, correspond with the view which Colonel Vans Kennedy takes of their purport. “I cannot discover, in them,” he remarks, “any other object than that of religious instruction.” “The description of the earth and of the planetary system, and the lists of royal races that occur in them,” he asserts to be “evidently extraneous, and not essential circumstances; as they are omitted in some Puráňas, and very concisely illustrated, in others; while, on the contrary, in all the Puráňas, some or other of the leading principles, rites, and observances of the Hindu religion are fully dwelt upon, and illustrated, either by suitable legends, or by prescribing the ceremonies to be practised, and the prayers and invocations to be employed, in the worship of different deities."i Now, however accurate this description may be of the Puráňas as they are, it is clear that it does not apply to what they were when they were synonymously designated as Panchalakshanas or treatises on five topics'; not one of which five is ever specified, by text or comment, to be “religious instruction". In the knowledge of Amara Simha,
Researches into the Nature and Affinity of Ancient and Hindu Mythology, p. 153, and note.
the lists of princes were not extraneous and unessential; and their being now so considered by a writer so well acquainted with the contents of the Puráńas as Colonel Vans Kennedy, is a decisive proof that, since the days of the lexicographer, they have undergone some material alteration, and that we have not, at present, the same works, in all respects, that were current, under the denomination of Puráňas, in the century prior to Christianity.
The inference deduced from the discrepancy between the actual form and the older definition of a Puráňa, unfavourable to the antiquity of the extant works generally, is converted into certainty, when we come to examine them in detail. For, although they have no dates attached to them, yet circumstances are sometimes mentioned, or alluded to, or references to authorities are made, or legends are narrated, or places are particularized, of which the comparatively recent date is indisputable, and which enforce a corresponding reduction of the antiquity of the work in which they are discovered. At the same time, they may be acquitted of subservience to any but sectarial imposture They were pious frauds for temporary purposes: they never emanated from any impossible combination of the Brahmans to fabricate for the antiquity of the entire Hindu system any claims which it cannot fully support. A very great portion of the contents of many, some portion of the contents of all, is genuine and old. The sectarial interpolation, or embellishment, is always sufficiently palpable to be set aside without injury to the more authentic and primitive material; and the Puránas, although they belong especially to that stage
of the Hindu religion in which faith in some one divinity was the prevailing principle, are, also, a valuable record of the form of Hindu belief which came next in order to that of the Vedas; which grafted heroworship upon the simpler ritual of the latter; and which had been adopted, and was extensively, perhaps universally, established in India, at the time of the Greek invasion. The Hercules of the Greek writers was, indubitably, the Balarama of the Hindus; and their notices of Mathura on the Jumna, and of the kingdom of the Suraseni and the Pandæan country, evidence the prior currency of the traditions which constitute the argument of the Mahabharata, and which are constantly repeated in the Puranas, relating to the Pandava and Yadava races, to Krishna and his contemporary heroes, and to the dynasties of the solar and lunar kings.
The theogony and cosmogony of the Puráňas may, probably, be traced to the Vedas. They are not, as far as is yet known, described in detail in those works; but they are frequently alluded to, in a strain more or less mystical and obscure, which indicates acquaintance with their existence, and which seems to have supplied the Puráňas with the groundwork of their systems. The scheme of primary or elementary creation they borrow from the Sánkhya philosophy, which is, probably, one of the oldest forms of speculation on man and nature, amongst the Hindus. Agreeably, however, to that part of the Pauráňik character which there is reason to suspect of later origin, their inculcation of the worship of a favourite deity, they combine the interposition of a creator with the independent evolu
tion of matter, in a somewhat contradictory and unintelligible style. It is evident, too, that their accounts of secondary creation, or the development of the existing forms of things, and the disposition of the universe, are derived from several and different sources; and it appears very likely that they are to be accused of some of the incongruities and absurdities by which the narrative is disfigured, in consequence of having attempted to assign reality and significancy to what was merely metaphor or mysticism. There is, however, amidst the unnecessary complexity of the description, a general agreement, amongst them, as to the origin of things and their final distribution; and, in many of the circumstances, there is a striking concurrence with the ideas which seem to have pervaded the whole of the ancient world, and which we may, therefore, believe to be faithfully represented in the Puráňas.
The pantheism of the Puráňas is one of their invariable characteristics; although the particular divinity who is all things, from whom all things proceed, and to whom all things return, be diversified according to their individual sectarial bias. They seem to have derived the notion from the Vedas; but, in them, the one universal Being is of a higher order than a personification of attributes or elements, and, however imperfectly conceived, or unworthily described, is God. In the Puráňas, the one only Supreme Being is supposed to be manifest in the person of Siva, or Vishńu, either in the way of illusion, or in sport; and one or other of these divinities is, therefore, also the cause of all that is,-is, himself, all that exists. The identity of God and nature is not a new notion: it was very general