Monday, April 23, 2018

Brahma Purana, by Bibek Debroy

Brahma Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy

This is the seventeenth purana I am reviewing and is a Rajasika purana. It is the first purana in the order of puranas and has around nineteen thousand shlokas. The Purana is divided into 245 chapters (adhyayas). It is believed that the Brahma Purana was the first to be composed. We are not very sure of this because the original text of this Purana is lost, and the present text is not very old. If one notices the Brahma Purana, you will notice that it seems to have been reconstructed based on the accounts of the Vishnu Purana, the Markandeya Purana, the Vayu Purana, the Mahabharata and the Harivamsha. I do not know how this Purana is a Rajasika Purana because it doesn’t appreciate Brahma more than the rest of the gods, and the part about creation is the same as the other Puranas with no extra information. This Purana starts with creation and goes on to talk about the stories behind different tirthas and temples, which also have a hidden value behind them.

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Skanda Purana, by Bibek Debroy

Skanda Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy

This is the sixteenth purana I am reviewing and is also my last Tamasika purana. I love this Purana and it is my favourite purana as it has many stories. Puranas are named thus as they are of purakala (ancient) times and also because they complement (purana) the knowledge of the Vedas. The Skanda Purana is the thirteenth Purana in the list and is the longest Purana with eighty-one thousand shlokas. It is nine times the length of the shortest purana and about four to five times the length of a purana that is average in length. It is believed that the Skanda Purana was the first Purana to be written, as quite a few of the stories are the same ones that are mentioned in the Mahabharata. This Purana is divided into seven parts or khandas, which are as follows:

  • Maheshvara khanda – the part relating to Shiva
  • Vishnu Khanda – the part relating to Vishnu
  • Brahma Khanda – the part relating to Brahma
  • Kashi Khanda – the part relating to the holy city of Kashi or Varanasi
  • Avanti Khanda – the part relating to the kingdom of Avanti
  • Nagara Khanda – the part relating to the cities (nagara)
  • Prabhasa Khanda – the part relating to the holy tirtha (place of pilgrimage) of Prabhasa

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Varaha Purana, by Bibek Debroy

Varaha Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy

This is the fourteenth purana I am reviewing and is the last of the sattvika Puranas. This Purana is slightly longer than the Vishnu Purana, and is divided into two sections, the purva bhaga and the uttara bhaga. This Purana is known as the Varaha Purana because this Purana was narrated by Vishnu in his Varaha avatara or form to the Earth on her request. This Purana does not talk about any specific topic but include the usual information that any Purana should have, and then narrates stories according to the questions asked by Mother Earth. The stories in this Purana include many stories on the different tithis and also on the different sites of pilgrimage, and also include a lot on why Mathura is one of the holiest places one can visit. This Purana also points out what acts will displease Lord Vishnu, and how would you make an idol.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Agni Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy


Agni Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy

This is the twelfth purana I am reviewing, and this too is a tamasika purana. The Agni Purana was narrated by Agni, the god of fire, to Sage Vashishta, who then narrated it to Rishi Vyasadev. This is how the purana got its name. Unlike most puranas, the Agni purana does not have any parts, or bhagas. It is simply divided into three hundred and eighty-three chapters. The last chapter is considered to be the most interesting chapter as it talks about the Advaita brahmajnana, which teaches the union of the individual human soul (atman) with the brahman, the divine essence. This is very important and interesting because only when the atman and the brahman merge will one experience true bliss. The Agni Purana is an exception as the five characteristics that a Purana should contain are not all there, as the Agni Purana contains more of rituals, practices, omens, astrology, etc. This Purana is eighth in the list of Mahapuranas and contains fifteen and a half thousand shlokas.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Bhagavata Purana, by Bibek Debroy

Bhagavata Purana, by Bibek Debroy

This is the tenth purana I am reviewing, and this one is also a Sattvika Purana, as the name suggests. It is placed fifth in the list of Mahapuranas and is considered to be one of the most important ones. The Purana has eighteen thousand couplets and is divided into twelve sections. Each section (skandha) has several chapters. The tenth skandha is the longest, and also the most popular as it contains various stories on Lord Krishna. This Purana, like most Puranas has been narrated to the rishis by Suta, Romaharshana’s son. Romaharshana was a disciple of sage Vedavyasa. This Purana also says that Vishnu had twenty-four incarnations, though it mentions only twenty-two of them.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Linga Purana, by Bibek Debroy

Linga Purana, by Bibek Debroy

This is the eleventh purana I am reviewing, and it is a Tamasika Purana as I have already reviewed two sattvika puranas in a row. This turns out to be a coincidence as the Linga Purana is eleventh in the list of Mahapuranas and is the second shortest Purana as it has only eleven thousand shlokas! The Linga Purana is divided into two parts - the purva bhaga, which has a hundred and eight chapters, and the uttara bhaga which has fifty-five chapters. The language of the Linga Purana is not that simple to interpret as it is made of long sentences which makes the comprehension difficult. It does not purely consist of rituals as Tamasika Puranas should contain. It includes an assortment of stories that glorify Shiva, and also a few that glorify Vishnu. The rituals in this Purana are barely mentioned, at least in the abridged version of the Purana that I am reviewing. Information on the geography of India, and on the Solar and Lunar dynasties is the same as the Bhagvata Purana with a few minor variations.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Brahmanda Purana, by Bibek Debroy

Brahmanda Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy

This is my last Mahapurana that I have to review and is naturally my last rajasika Purana. This Purana is made up of eighteen thousand shlokas which makes it a medium sized Purana. The Brahmanda Purana is divided into three sections known as the purva bhaga, madhyama bhaga and uttara bhaga. Each bhaga is further divided into subsections known as pada. The purva bhaga has the prakriya pada and anushanga pada, the madhyama bhaga has the upodghata pada and the uttara bhaga has the upasamhara pada. The whole Purana has seventy-one adhyayas (chapters) in all. This Purana has been narrated by Lord Vayu to the sages at Naimisharanya forest after a wonderful yajna took place there. The Brahmanda Purana is a Rajasika Purana in a true sense, as they glorify Brahma more than the rest of the gods and that most of the book talks about creation. The stories in this Purana are minimum, and you will find four to five stories, most of which have already been recited in the other Puranas in greater detail.

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