Vishnu Purana


Vishnu Purana

Introduction

The Vishnu Purana is often considered to be the most important of all the eighteen Puranas and is given the name Puranaratna (gem of Puranas).Presented as a dialogue between Parashara with his disciple Maitreya. It is divided into six parts. The major topics discussed include creation myths, stories of battles fought between asuras and devas, the avatars (divine descents) of Vishnu and genealogy and stories of legendary kings.

It is said to contain some 23,000 shlokas, though the actual number of verses contained is less than seven thousand. All the copies, procured both in the east and in the west of India, agree; and there is no appearance of any part being wanting. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end, in both text and comment; and the work as it stands is incontestably entire. This is a discrepancy not easy to account for. [Wilson (2006), p. xxi.]

Contents

The book starts with detailed stories of creation and introduces the concept of four yugas. The tale of Rudra, an elaborate story of the Samudra Manthana, or the churning of the ocean, the Story of Dhruva, an ardent devotee of Vishnu, and stories of ancient kings Vena and Prithu are also discussed in the first section. Tales of Prithu's descendants, the Prachetas, the famous story of Hiranyakashipu and Prahlada, some topological details of the known world with mentions of lands, tribes, mountains and rivers, concepts of the universe, and the stories of the many births of Jadabharata are the major topics discussed in the next book. The third section discusses the stories of Manvantara (cycles of creation and destruction), the sages Vyasa and Yajnavalkya, Surya (the sun god),Yama (the god of the dead), devotees Shatadhanu and Shaivya, the four classes (varnas) and the four stages of life(ashramas) and details of many rituals. The fourth section gives a detailed account of all the famous Kings from the solar and lunar dynasties of ancient India, and also lists the names of kings who 'would appear' in the age of Kali. The second list contains the name of historical kings of Magadha, including kings from the Shishunaga, Nanda and Maurya dynasties. The next section deals in details the different events in the life of Lord Krishna, starting from his birth, through his childhood and up to his death and the destruction of the entire Yadava clan. The sixth and last section mainly discusses the impending age of Kali, the concepts of universal destruction that would eventually follow and explains the importance of the Puranas in general.

“The kings of Kali Yug will be addicted to corruption and will seize the property of their subjects. Then property and wealth alone will confer rank; falsehood will be the only means of success. Corruption will be the universal means of subsistence. In the end, unable to support their avaricious kings, the people of the Kali Yug will take refuge in the chasms between mountains”

The Vishnudharmottara Purana, a separate text dedicated to the arts, is a Supplement or Appendix to the Vishnu Purana.

H. H. Wilson considers it one of the oldest of the Puranas, and dates it to the first century BCE, [Wilson (2006), p. xii.] though Gavin Flood dates it later to the fourth century CE. [Flood (1996), p. 111.]

Notes

References

*cite book |last=Flood |first=Gavin |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=An Introduction to Hinduism |year=1996 |publisher=Cambridge University Press |location=Cambridge |isbn= 0-521-43878-0

*cite book |last=Wilson |first=H. H. |authorlink= |coauthors= |title="The Vishnu Purana: A System of Hindu Mythology and Tradition |year=2006 |publisher=Read Country Books|location=Cambridge |isbn=1846646642

Further reading

*Mani, Vettam. "Puranic Encyclopedia". 1st English ed. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1975.

External links

* [http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/vp/index.htm "Vishnu Purana" translation by H.H. Wilson at sacred-texts]
* [http://www.bharatadesam.com/spiritual/vishnu_purana.php Abridged Translation of the "Vishnu Purana"]


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