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

1. The Brahmá Puráńa

1. Brahmá Puráńa. "That, the whole of which was formerly repeated by Brahmá to Maríchi, is called the Bráhma Puráńa, and contains ten thousand stanzas 33." In all the lists of the Puráńas, the Bráhma is placed at the head of the series, and is thence sometimes also entitled the Ádi or 'first' Puráńa. It is also designated as the Saura, as it is in great part appropriated to the worship of Súrya, 'the sun.' There are, however, works bearing these names which belong to the class of Upa-puráńas, and which are not to be confounded with the Bráhma. It is usually said, as above, to contain ten thousand slokas; but the number actually occurring is between seven and eight thousand. There is a supplementary or concluding section called the Brahmottara Puráńa, and which is different from a portion of the Skánda called the Brahmottara Khańd́a, which contains about three thousand stanzas more; but there is every reason to conclude that this is a distinct and unconnected work.

The immediate narrator of the Brahmá Puráńa is Lomaharshańa, who communicates it to the Rishis or sages assembled at Naimishárańya, as it was originally revealed by Brahmá, not to Maríchi, as the Matsya affirms, but to Daksha, another of the patriarchs: hence its denomination of the Brahmá Puráńa.

p. xvii

The early chapters of this work give a description of the creation, an account of the Manwantaras, and the history of the solar and lunar dynasties to the time of Krishńa, in a summary manner, and in words which are common to it and several other Puráńas: a brief description of the universe succeeds; and then come a number of chapters relating to the holiness of Orissa, with its temples and sacred groves dedicated to the sun, to Śiva, and Jagannáth, the latter especially. These chapters are characteristic of this Puráńa, and shew its main object to be the promotion of the worship of Krishńa as Jagannáth 34. To these particulars succeeds a life of Krishńa, which is word for word the same as that of the Vishńu Puráńa; and the compilation terminates with a particular detail of the mode in which Yoga, or contemplative devotion, the object of which is still Vishńu, is to be performed. There is little in this which corresponds with the definition of a Pancha-lakshańa Puráńa; and the mention of the temples of Orissa, the date of the original construction of which is recorded 35, shews that it could not have been compiled earlier than the thirteenth or fourteenth century.

The Uttara Khańd́a of the Bráhma P. bears still more entirely the character of a Máhátmya, or local legend, being intended to celebrate the sanctity of the Balajá river, conjectured to be the same as the Banás in Marwar. There is no clue to its date, but it is clearly modern, grafting personages and fictions of its own invention on a few hints from older authorities 36.


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xvii:34 Col. Vans Kennedy objects to this character of the Bráhma P., and observes that it contains only two short descriptions of pagodas, the one of Konáditya, the other of Jagannáth. In that case, his copy must differ considerably from those I have met with; for in them the description of Purushottama Kshetra, the holy land of Orissa, runs through forty chapters, or one-third of the work. The description, it is true, is interspersed, in the usual rambling strain of the Puráńas, with a variety of legends, some ancient, some modern; but they are intended to illustrate some local circumstance, and are therefore not incompatible with the main design, the celebration of the glories of Purushottama Kshetra. The specification of the temple of Jagannáth, however, is of itself sufficient, in my opinion, to determine the character and era of the compilation.

xvii:35 See Account of Orissa proper, or Cuttack, by A. Stirling, Esq.: Asiatic Res. vol. XV. p. 305.

xvii:36 See Analysis of the Bráhma Puráńa: Journ. Royal As. Soc, vol. V. p. 65.

Next: 2. The Padma Puráńa