Sacred Texts  Hinduism  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

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

Book Two

The second book opens with a continuation of the kings of the first Manwantara; amongst whom, Bharata is said to have given a name to India, called after him Bhárata-varsha. This leads to a detail of the geographical system of the Puráńas, with mount Meru, the seven circular continents, and their surrounding oceans, to the limits of the world; all of which are mythological fictions, in which there is little reason to imagine that any topographical truths are concealed. With regard to Bhárata, or India, the case is different: the mountains and rivers which are named are readily verifiable, and the cities and nations that are particularized may also in many instances be proved to have had a real existence. The list is not a very long one in the Vishńu Puráńa, and is probably abridged from some more ample detail like that which the Mahábhárata affords, and which, in the hope of supplying information' with respect to a subject yet imperfectly investigated, the ancient political condition of India, I have inserted and elucidated.

The description which this book also contains of the planetary and other spheres is equally mythological, although occasionally presenting practical details and notions in which there is an approach to accuracy. The concluding legend of Bharata--in his former life the king so named, but now a Brahman, who acquires true wisdom, and thereby attains liberation--is palpably an invention of the compiler, and is peculiar to this Puráńa.

Next: The Third Book