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The Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, [1840], at

6. The Naradíya Puráńa

6. Nárada or Naradíya Puráńa. "Where Nárada has described the duties which were observed in the Vrihat Kalpa, that, is called the Náradíya,

p. xxxii

having twenty-five thousand stanzas 53." If the number of verses be here correctly stated, the Puráńa has not fallen into my hands. The copy I have analysed contains not many more than three thousand ślokas. There is another work, which might be expected to be of greater extent, the Vrihat Náradíya, or great Nárada Puráńa; but this, according to the concurrence of three copies in my possession, and of five others in the Company's library, contains but about three thousand five hundred verses. It may be doubted, therefore, if the Nárada Puráńa of the Matsya exists 54.

According to the Matsya, the Nárada Puráńa is related by Nárada, and gives an account of the Vrihat Kalpa. The Náradíya Puráńa is communicated by Nárada to the Rishis at Naimishárańya, on the Gomati river. The Vrihannáradíya is related to the same persons, at the same place, by Súta, as it was told by Nárada to Sanatkumára. Possibly the term Vrihat may have been suggested by the specification which is given in the Matsya; but there is no description in it of any particular Kalpa, or day of Brahmá.

From a cursory examination of these Puráńas, it is very evident that they have no conformity to the definition of a Puráńa, and that both are sectarial and modern compilations, intended to support the doctrine of Bhakti, or faith in Vishńu. With this view they have collected a variety of prayers addressed to one or other form of that divinity; a number of observances and holidays connected with his adoration; and different legends, some perhaps of an early, others of a more recent date, illustrative of the efficacy of devotion to Hari. Thus in the Nárada we have the stories of Dhruva and Prahláda; the latter told in the words of the Vishńu: whilst the second portion of it is occupied with a legend of Mohiní, the will-born daughter of a king called Rukmángada: beguiled by

p. xxxiii

whom, the king offers to perform for her whatever she may desire. She calls upon him either to violate the rule of fasting on the eleventh day of the fortnight, a day sacred to Vishńu, or to put his son to death; and he kills his son, as the lesser sin of the two. This shews the spirit of the work. Its date may also be inferred from its tenor, as such monstrous extravagancies in praise of Bhakti are certainly of modern origin. One limit it furnishes itself, for it refers to Śuka and Paríkshit, the interlocutors of the Bhágavata, and it is consequently subsequent to the date of that Puráńa: it is probably considerably later, for it affords evidence that it was written after India was in the hands of the Mohammedans. In the concluding passage it is said, "Let not this Puráńa be repeated in the presence of the 'killers of cows' and contemners of the gods." It is possibly a compilation of the sixteenth or seventeenth century.

The Vrihannáradíya is a work of the same tenor and time. It contains little else than panegyrical prayers addressed to Vishńu, and injunctions to observe various rites, and keep holy certain seasons, in honour of him. The earlier legends introduced are the birth of Márkańd́eya, the destruction of Sagara's sons, and the dwarf Avatára; but they are subservient to the design of the whole, and are rendered occasions for praising Náráyańa: others, illustrating the efficacy of certain Vaishńava observances, are puerile inventions, wholly foreign to the more ancient system of Pauráńik fiction. There is no attempt at cosmogony, or patriarchal or regal genealogy. It is possible that these topics may be treated of in the missing stanzas; but it seems more likely that the Nárada Puráńa of the lists has little in common with the works to which its name is applied in Bengal and Hindustan.


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xxxii:54 The description of Vishńu, translated by Col. Vans Kennedy (Affinity of Ancient and Hindu Mythology, p. 200) from the Náradíya Puráńa, occurs in my copy of the Vrihat Náradíya. There is no Nárada Puráńa in the East India Company's library, though, as noticed in the text, several of the Vrihat Náradíya. There is a copy of the Rukmángada Charitra, said to be a part of the Śri Nárada Puráńa.

Next: 7. The Márkańd́eya Puráńa