The Puranas are eighteen in numbers. Sage Veda Vyasa composed them. There are reference to Epics and Puranas in the Vedic texts and also in Sutras texts of Apasthamba, Gautama and others. Many of the previous Puranas are extinct now and only those are available which are composed Veda-Vyasa.
Brahma Vaivarta Purana is one of the eighteen Puranas. It is divided into four parts. The first part deals with the creation of the universe and all beings, the second parts gives the description and history of various goddesses. The third part deals with the life and deeds of Ganesha and the fourth part describes the life and deeds of Lord Krishna.
I have just completed the translation of the Brahma Vaivarta Purana
from Sanskrit into English, I respectfully beg to present the same to the bar
of public opinion; and I shall deem my labours amply rewarded if these humble
pages will meet with the approbation of my readers.
This Purana is so called because it deals with Brahma (the Supreme
Being) and determines His Divine attributes. Therefore Krisna, the embodiment
of the Supreme Being, the form in which he chooses to manifest himself to his
believers in the Goloka, (literally, the Cow-world) as well as the worlds below is
naturally the hero of the mythology and figures most prominently in the present
volume. The sketch of the Goloka, the blessed region, which transcends the
bounds of time and space as set by Brahma to his own universe and is supposed
to be suspended on the Vacuum merely by the will of Lord Krisna, its
distinguished occupant, is likewise a master-piece. The work, in a word, makes
a bold attempt at the solution of the problem of creation and is a glowing tribute
to the sterling merits and almost super-human talents of the great author. As
regards the sallies of imagination and conception of lofty and sublime ideas, this
Purana may aptly be said to bold its own against Milton’s Paradise Lost or any
other great epic that stands on a similar footing.
The work also deals in a considerable manner with various other topics
such as the genesis of Nature, the origin of the goddesses, (vig., Radha, Laksmi,
Saraswati, Durg&, etc., representing the different faculties of Nature. It gives
a brief account of the important Hindu festivals and prescribes the mode of
worship appropriate to each god or goddess. It also dwells incidentally upon
the origin of the castes and lays down most authoritatively a code of morality
or social rules for their guidance. It expounds the theory of the Karma. draws
a line of distinction between virtue and vice and gives a vivid description of
the different kinds of hell-pits to which people are consigned, after their decease,
according to the nature of their sins. We are also agreeably surprised to find
in the book a disquisition on medicine which we gather from the interesting
dialogue between Lord Hari disguised as a Brahmin boy and Malavati
mourning the death of her husband. But the legends in which the work
abounds constitute its sine qua non.
Talking of the Puranas, in general, mythology is the gift of these
sacred volumes. [t helps to build up the Puranas and vests them with a
charm which seldom fades and an interest which never flags, as the reader
passes on from page to page. He is transported, as it were, by talisman,
from one enchanted castle to another with a celerity that is astounding. He
is impelled from scene to scene by an ever-increasing curiosity which feeds his
patience and sustains his energy ; and, literally spell-bound, be only pauses
for breath till he comes to the end of the chapter.
From the data furnished above, it is abundantly clear that the Puranas
essentially form a branch of the science of cosmogony. They deal, for the
most part, with metaphysics, but in a manner which is peculiarly their own.
Tuey seek, in the first place, to combine the systems of ethics, philosophy and
religion, secondly, they attempt to introduce the theories which they advocate
not by direct methods as adopted by the Darsanas but by way of episode and
through legends and tales which in charm and pathos and in the play of fancy
beat hollow Spencer’s Fairy Queen, the Arabian Nights, Tales of Shakespeare's
Midsummer Night’s Dreams. The crowning glory of the Puranas, however,
consists in the metre which marks each and every line of the invaluable
compositions. The whole body of the Puranas contains four hundred thousand
verses ; and the production of so many huge volumes of poetry, reciting fables
and fictions, on the one hand and describing dry, jejune and abstruse subjects,
on the other hand, is a task well worth the pen of an angel and a gigantic
feat which falls nothing short of a miracle.
But why are the Puranas so called, the term Puranam literally means
old or ancient. Hence it also means a legend a tale of the past or ancient
or legendary history. But in the sense in which the term is now ordinarily
used, it is the designation of the extensive class of the sacred and poetic
compositions in Sanskrit and, in fact, comprehends the whole body of the Hindu
The Puranas generally treat of five topics called the Laksmanas; and respectfully invite the attention of my readers to the concluding portion of
the Brahma-Vaivarta Purana wherein this subject has been amply discussed.
As to the age of the Puranas, there is a good deal of controversy; and
the cloud of mystery which hangs round this contested point does not seem
to have been thoroughly cleared up as yet. Antiquarian researches throw
but little light on the problem ; and external evidence so far as it is available
is not sufficiently convincing both as regards the age and authorship of the
volumes. ‘he internal evidence is, of course, furnished by the Puranas themselves. We can quote extracts from the Puranas to show that they are the
productions of Vyasa. In the concluding portion of the first chapter of the
Brahma Khanda, for instance, it is distinctly stated that the Brahma Vaivarta
Purana contains eighteen thousand verses composed by Vyasa. Besides, there
is a preponderance of weight in favour of the opinion attributing the authorship
of the eighteen volumes of the Puranas to Vyasa; and to this view which
receives substantial corroboration from the internal evidence as specified
above, [ am prepared to subscribe with all my heart in consideration of the
towering personality of the revered saint and the versatility of his genius
which is admitted on all bands and tells its own tale [t is, therefore, clear that
the Puranas must have been written about the same time as the Mahabharata
and the Brahma-Suttras.
As regards the merits of my translation, I, by no means, lay pretensions
to immunity from faults, Errors, I confess, might naturally have crept into
my composition; but [ trust that the indulgent public will regard them in a
spirit of toleration rather than criticism.
I avail myself of this opportunity to express my acknowledgments to the
manager, Panini Office, but for whose courtesy and enterprise these pages would
never have seen the light of day. ‘This philanthropic office, for the facility
which it has been all along rendering to place the sacred books of the Hindus
within the reach of the English knowing public is justly entitled to the ever-
lasting gratitude not only on the part of the educated Indians but the entire
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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