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times, places, and things, dedicated to him; the delusion of Brahma and Vishnu by the Linga; the rewards of offering flowers and the like to a Linga; rules for various observances in honour of Mahadeva; the mode of practising the Yoga; the glory of Benares and other Šaiva Tirthas; and the perfection of the objects of life by union with Maheswara. These subjects are illustrated, in the first part, with very few legends; but the second is made up, almost wholly, of Saiva stories, as the defeat of Tripurasura; the sacrifice of Daksha; the births of Kárttikeya and Ganesa, (the sons of Siva), and Nandi and Bhringaríti (his attendants), and others; together with descriptions of Benares and other places of pilgrimage, and rules for observing such festivals as the Sivaratri. This work is a Saiva manual, not a Puráňa.
The Káliká Puráňa contains about nine thousand stanzas, in ninety-eight chapters, and is the only work of the series dedicated to recommend the worship of the bride of Siva, in one or other of her manifold forms, as Girija, Deví, Bhadrakálí, Kálí, Mahámáyá. It belongs, therefore, to the Śákta modification of Hindu belief, or the worship of the female powers of the deities. The influence of this worship shows itself in the very first pages of the work, which relate the incestuous passion of Brahmá for his daughter Sandhyá, in a strain that has nothing analogous to it in the Váyu, Lingay or Siva Puráňas.
The marriage of Siva and Párvatí is a subject early described, with the sacrifice of Daksha, and the death of Satí. And this work is authority for Siva's carrying the dead body about the world, and the origin of the
Píthasthanas or places where the different members of it were scattered, and where Lingas were, consequently, erected. A legend follows of the births of Bhairava and Vetála, whose devotion to different forms of Deví furnishes occasion to describe, in great detail, the rites and formulæ of which her worship consists, including the chapters on sanguinary sacrifices, translated in the Asiatic Researches. * Another peculiarity in this work is afforded by very prolix descriptions of a number of rivers and mountains at Kámarúpa Tirtha, in Assam, and rendered holy ground by the celebrated temple of Durga in that country, as Kámákshi or Kámákshyá. It is a singular, and yet uninvestigated, circumstance, that Assam, or, at least, the north-east of Bengal, seems to have been, in a great degree, the source from which the Tántrika and Sákta corruptions of the religion of the Vedas and Puranas proceeded.
The specification of the Upapuráňas, whilst it names several of which the existence is problematical, omits other works bearing the same designation, which are sometimes met with. Thus, in the collection of Colonel Mackenzie, we have a portion of the Bhargava, and a Mudgala Puráňa, which is, probably, the same with the Gańeśa Upapuráňa, cited by Colonel Vans Kennedy. 2 I have, also, a copy of the Gańeśa Purána, † which
Mackenzie Collection, Vol. I., pp. 50, 51. · Researches into the Nature and Affinity of Ancient and Hindu Mythology, p. 251.
* Vol. V., pp. 371, et seq.
+ For Dr. J. Stevenson's “Analysis of the Ganesa Purána, with special reference to the History of Buddhism", see Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. VIII., pp. 319-329.
seems to agree with that of which he speaks; the second portion being entitled the Krídá Khańda, in which the pastimes of Ganesa, including a variety of legendary matters, are described. The main subject of the work is the greatness of Ganesa; and prayers and formulæ appropriate to him are abundantly detailed. It appears to be a work originating with the Gánapatya sect, or worshippers of Ganesa. There is, also, a minor Purána called (Adi or 'first', not included in the list. This is a work, however, of no great extent or importance, and is confined to a detail of the sports of the juvenile Krishna.
From the sketch thus offered of the subjects of the Puráňas, and which, although admitting of correction, is believed to be, in the main, a candid and accurate summary, it will be evident, that, in their present condition, they must be received with caution, as authorities for the mythological religion of the Hindus at any remote period. They preserve, no doubt, many ancient notions and traditions; but these have been so much mixed up with foreign matter, intended to favour the popularity of particular forms of worship, or articles of faith, that they cannot be unreservedly recognized as genuine representations of what we have reason to believe the Puráňas originally were.
The safest sources, for the ancient legends of the Hindus, after the Vedas, are, no doubt, the two great poems, the Rámáyana and Mahábhárata. The first offers only a few; but they are of a primitive character. The Mahábhárata is more fertile in fiction, but it is more miscellaneous; and much that it contains is of equivocal authenticity and uncertain date. Still, it affords many materials that are genuine; and it is, evidently, the great fountain from which most, if not all, of the Puranas have drawn; as it intimates, itself, when it declares, that there is no legend current in the world which has not its origin in the Mahabharata."
A work of some extent, professing to be part of the Mahábhárata, may, more accurately, be ranked with the Pauráňik compilations of least authenticity and latest origin. The Hari Vamsa is chiefly occupied with the adventures of Krishňa; but, as introductory to his era it records particulars of the creation of the world, and of the patriarchal and regal dynasties. This is done with much carelessness and inaccuracy of compilation; as I have had occasion, frequently, to notice, in the following pages. The work has been very industriously translated by M. Langlois.
A comparison of the subjects of the following pages with those of the other Puráňas will sufficiently show, that, of the whole series, the Vishńu most closely conforms to the definition of a Pancha-lakshana Purána, or one which treats of five specified topics. It comprehends them all; and, although it has infused a portion of extraneous and sectarial matter, it has done so with sobriety and with judgment, and has not suffered the fervour of its religious zeal to transport it into very wide deviations from the prescribed path. The legendary tales which it has inserted are few, and are conveniently arranged, so that they do not distract the
attention of the compiler from objects of more permanent interest and importance.
The first book of the six, into which the work is divided, is occupied chiefly with the details of creation, primary (Sarga) and secondary (Pratisarga); the first explaining how the universe proceeds from Prakriti or eternal crude matter; the second, in what manner the forms of things are developed from the elementary substances previously evolved, or how they reappear after their temporary destruction. Both these creations are periodical; but the termination of the first occurs only at the end of the life of Brahma, when not only all the gods and all other forms are annihilated, but the elements are again merged into primary substance, besides which, one only spiritual being exists. The latter takes place at the end of every Kalpa or day of Brahmá, and affects only the forms of inferior creatures, and lower worlds; leaving the substance of the universe entire, and sages and gods unharmed. The explanation of these events involves a description of the periods of time upon which they depend, and which are, accordingly, detailed. Their character has been a source of very unnecessary perplexity to European writers; as they belong to a scheme of chronology wholly mythological, having no reference to any real or supposed history of the Hindus, but applicable, according to their system, to the infinite and eternal revolutions of the universe. In these notions, and in that of the coeternity of spirit and matter, the theogony and cosmogony of the Puráňas, as they appear in the Vishńu Puráňa, belong to and illustrate systems of high antiquity, of