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

The Fifth Book

The fifth book of the Vishńu Puráńa is exclusively occupied with the life of Krishńa. This is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Puráńa, and is one argument against its antiquity. It is possible, though not yet proved, that Krishńa as an Avatára of Vishńu, is mentioned in an indisputably genuine text of the Vedas. He is conspicuously prominent in the Mahábhárata, but very contradictorily described there. The part that he usually performs is that of a mere mortal, although the passages

p. lxxi

are numerous that attach divinity to his person. There are, however, no descriptions in the Mahábhárata of his juvenile frolics, of his sports in Vrindávan, his pastimes with the cow-boys, or even his destruction of the Asuras sent to kill him. These stories have all a modern complexion: they do not harmonize with the tone of the ancient legends, which is generally grave, and sometimes majestic: they are the creations of a puerile taste, and grovelling imagination. These Chapters of the Vishńu Puráńa offer some difficulties as to their originality: they are the same as those on the same subject in the Brahmá Puráńa: they are not very dissimilar to those of the Bhágavata. The latter has some incidents which the Vishńu has not, and may therefore be thought to have improved upon the prior narrative of the latter. On the other hand, abridgment is equally a proof of posteriority as amplification. The simpler style of the Vishńu Puráńa is however in favour of its priority; and the miscellaneous composition of the Brahmá Puráńa renders it likely to have borrowed these chapters from the Vishńu. The life of Krishńa in the Hari-vanśa and the Brahma-vaivartta are indisputably of later date.

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