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

14. The Vámana Puráńa

14. Vámana Puráńa. "That in which the four-faced Brahmá taught the three objects of existence, as subservient to the account of the greatness of Trivikrama, which treats also of the Śiva Kalpa, and which consists of ten thousand stanzas, is called the Vámana Puráńa 74."

The Vámana Puráńa contains an account of the dwarf incarnation of Vishńu; but it is related by Pulastya to Nárada, and extends to but about seven thousand stanzas. Its contents can scarcely establish its claim to the character of a Puráńa 75.

p. xlviii

There is little or no order in the subjects which this work recapitulates, and which arise out of replies made by Pulastya to questions put abruptly and unconnectedly by Nárada. The greater part of them relate to the worship of the Linga; a rather strange topic for a Vaishńava Puráńa, but engrossing the principal part of the compilation. They are however subservient to the object of illustrating the sanctity of certain holy places; so that the Vámana Puráńa is little else than a succession of Máhátmyas. Thus in the opening almost of the work occurs the story of Daksha's sacrifice, the object of which is to send Śiva to Pápamochana tírtha at Benares, where he is released from the sin of Brahmanicide. Next conies the story of the burning of Kámadeva, for the purpose of illustrating the holiness of a Śiva-linga at Kedareśwara in the Himalaya, and of Badarikáśrama. The larger part of the work consists of the Saro-máhátmya, or legendary exemplifications of the holiness of Stháńu tírtha; that is, of the sanctity of various Lingas and certain pools at Thanesar and Kurukhet, the country north-west from Delhi. There are some stories also relating to the holiness of the Gódavarí river; but the general site of the legends is in Hindustan. In the course of these accounts we have a long narrative of the marriage of Śiva with Umá, and the birth of Kártikeya. There are a few brief allusions to creation and the Manwantaras, but they are merely incidental; and all the five characteristics of a Puráńa are deficient. In noticing the Swárochisha Manwantara, towards the end of the book, the elevation of Bali as monarch of the Daityas, and his subjugation of the universe, the gods included, are described; and this leads to the narration that gives its title to the Puráńa, the birth of Krishńa as a dwarf, for the purpose of humiliating Bali by fraud, as he was invincible by force. The story is told as usual, but the scene is laid at Kurukshetra.

A more minute examination of this work than that which has been given to it might perhaps discover some hint from which to conjecture its date. It is of a more tolerant character than the Puráńas, and divides its homage between Śiva and Vishńu with tolerable impartiality. It is not connected, therefore, with any sectarial principles, and may have preceded their introduction. It has not, however, the air of any antiquity,

p. xlix

and its compilation may have amused the leisure of some Brahman of Benares three or four centuries ago.


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xlvii:75 From the extracts from the Vámana Pura translated by Col. Vans Kennedy, p. 293 et seq., it appears that his copy so far corresponds with mine, and the work is therefore probably the same: two copies in the Company's library also agree with mine.

Next: 15. The Kúrma Puráńa