Padma Purana

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Padma Purana

Out of the eighteen major puranas called Mahapuranas the Padmapurana (or Padmapurana) is the second.

There seem to be two recensions the Bengal recension and the South Indian recension of this purana, though it is only the latter that has been printed.

The total number of granthas or verses is 55,000 distributed among 690 adhyayas or chapters accommodated in six khandas or books.

This purana has been classed among the sattvika (and Vaisnava) puranas. A brief synopsis of its contents is as follows:

1). Adikhanda (62 chapters)

This khanda is sometimes called Svargakhanda also. Geographical details of ancient India (called-Jambudvipa and Bharatavarsa), description of a large number of tirthas (places of pilgrimage) including the rites and formalities connected with visiting them are described here. Prayaga (modern Allahabad) containing the Triveni sangama (the confluence of the three rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the subterranean Sarasvati) is eulogised as the best of all the tirthas. Code of conduct and the duties of the four asramas are also delineated.

2). Bhumikhanda (125 chapters)

This book is perhaps named as Bhumikhanda to show the importance of this bhumi or earth where alone spiritual progress is possible.

Performance of one's duty is stressed here as important like a tirtha or a holy place, since it purifies one who does it. Incidentally a number of stories are narrated, bringing out the importance of devotion to one's parents, repetition of Lord Hari's name and certain aspects of dharma. Description of svarga (heaven) and naraka (hell) are also given briefly.

3). Brahmakhanda (26 chapters)

This is the shortest of all the books. The name of this book does not seem to have any direct connection with the contents.

Devotion to Lord Visnu, importance of physical service in a temple, greatness of the Krsnajayanti festival, virtuous deeds to be performed by which one can get good children, significance of ekadasi vrata (vow), the power of Lord Hari's name and what offends it these are the topics dealt with here.

4). Patalakhanda (113 chapters)

In this book there is a detailed description of the Asvamedhayaga (Horse-sacrifice) performed by Rama. Unlike Valmiki's Ramayana, here Sita is reunited with Rama and lives for many more years.

The battles between Lava and Kusa on one side and the army of Rama on the other, are described in great detail.

The latter part of this purana is devoted to describing the story and the greatness of Krishna. The gopis of Vrindavan are stated here, to be the risis or the sages of the Tretayuga who had been captivated by the beauty and charm of Rama, reborn to enjoy his company.

Incidentally, information about salagramas, a special mantra of Krishna and its repetition, puja of Lord Visnu, characteristics and effects of true bhakti or devotion, are also explained.

It is interesting to note that in this book, the greatness of Siva, his emblem (the linga) and his name as also the importance of bhasma (holy ash) are also given a wide coverage.

5). Sristikhanda (82 chapters)

Though this book is called Sristikhanda, the topic of Srsti or creation is only a minor aspect of the subjects dealt with.

Apart from the stories connected with the devas (gods) and the danavas (demons), the topic of sraddha (obsequial rites) is dealt with in detail. The other subjects delineated are: sacrifice performed by Brahma; the story of the sage Agastya subjugating the Vindhya mountain; some vratas or religious observances; story of Mahisasura; the arising of a golden lotus from the navel of Visnu; birth of Brahma from this lotus; characteristics of a bad and a good brahmana; greatness of a pativrata (chaste woman); importance of various kinds of dana or gifts; on.the rudraksi beads and the tulasi leaves; significance of the worship of Ganesa; and, finally on the worship of the Navagrahas (nine planets) and the goddess Durga.

6). Uttarakhanda (282 chapters)

The title 'uttara' for this book simply signifies 'last'. It is the last of the series of khandas comprising this purana.

The contents of this book may be briefly summarised as follows:

Greatness of certain places of pilgrimage like Srisaila and Haridvara as also the rivers Ganga and Yamuna; importance of annadana or gifting food; description of the 24 ekadasis (eleventh days of every fortnight); Visnusahasranama (which is different from the one given in the Mahabharata); description and greatness of the Vaisnavas (devotees of Visnu); battles between the gods and the demons; worship of salagrama (stone symbol of Visnu); method of observing the Dipavali festival; on some more places of pilgrimage; greatness of the Bhagavadgita explained through stories; importance of the Bhagavata; description of certain hells, numbered here as 140; how a bath in a sacred river in the month of Magha (11th lunar month, generally in February) purifies even a great sinner; certain ritualistic processes connected with the mantra of Lord Visnu; the story of churning the ocean of milk to get amrta or ambrosia; the ten avataras or incarnations of Visnu.