- Purāņas as Source
-Aruņ Kumar Upādhyāy, IPS
B-9, CB-9, Cantonment Road, Cuttack-753001
1.Source literature-Āgama, nigama, and purāņa-these 3 have been called source literature, which started with Brahmā-
प्रथमं सर्वशास्त्राणां पुराणं ब्रह्मणा स्मृतम् ।
अनन्तरं च वक्त्रेभ्यो वेदास्तस्य विनिर्गताः ॥
(वायु पुराण १/६१, मत्स्य पुराण ५३/३)
In the beginning of creation, Brahmā was undone how to start the creation. He recalled to learn creation in previous time and accordingly started the creation again. Process of recall and practical application of knowledge is Tantra called āgama. The knowledge itself is Veda originating from nisarga (nature) i.e. nigama, Thus, it is perception, called śruti. Root form of world is sky (ākāśa) whose nature is sound (śabda, another name of Vedas), hence hearing (śruti ) indicates all 5 means of perceptions-hearing (śruti ), sparśa (it is by skin = tvachā, so it is touch in English), rūpa (form), rasa (taste), gandha (smell). Thus, is the science which explains how old is transformed into new- purāņa = purā + ņa, i.e. purā + navati = how old becomes new.
The same has been told in Ŗgveda (10/190/3)-
सूर्या चन्द्रमसौ धाता यथा पूर्वमकल्पयत् ।
I.e. Sun and moon were created as they had been done earlier.
Āgama, nigama-each word is used for Veda and tantra both. As source, Veda includes purāņa. It is not merely literature in word form, but the universe itself is Veda. Word text is a representation of world and is necessary for understanding it-
एवं वा अरेsस्य महतो भूतस्य निःश्वसित-मेतद्यदृवेदो यजुर्वेदः सामवेदो sथर्वाङ्गिरस इतिहासः पुराणं विद्या उपनिषदः श्लोकाः सूत्रा-ण्यनुव्याख्यानानि व्याख्यानानि अस्यैवैतानि निःश्वसितानि । (बृहदारण्यक उपनिषद् २/४/१०)
द्वे ब्रह्मणी वेदितव्ये शब्द ब्रह्म परं च यत् । शाब्दे ब्रह्मणि निष्णातः परं ब्रह्माधिगच्छति ॥ (मैत्रायणी उपनिषद् ६/२२)
In first quote, breath of the Great Being (Brahma) is not the texts in word form written or printed. That is the cycle of creation/dissolution. The opposite processes are called variously-(1) Sañchara- pratisañchara, (2) Sambhūti- asambhūti, (3) Darśa- pūrņmāsa, (4) Udgrābha-nigrābha, (5) Utsarpiņī- avasarpiņī, (6) Sŗşţi- pralaya. Science of all these changes is purāņa. Time cycles are many from micro (10-6 seconds) to-Day of Brahmā called kalpa of 8640 million years. There are still higher cycles called life of Brahmā, Vişņu, Śiva, Parā-śakti, but these are not used in astronomical calculations.
2. Purāņas as world and knowledge-Thus, scheme of purāņas is parallel to creation of world. Knowledge (veda) content of world is classified in 2 ways. Perception is in 4 ways giving 4 vedas, which give 4 meanings of root verb Vid - as per Taittirīya Brāhmaņa 3/12/8/1)
Element Veda Meaning of Vid
1. Form Ŗg-veda To exist (Pāņini dhātu-pāţha 4/60)
2. Motion Yajur-veda To gain (Pāņini dhātu-pāţha 6/11)
3. Knowledge Sāma -veda To know (Pāņini dhātu-pāţha 2/57)
4. Foundation Atharva-veda To Consider, place of intellect (7/13,10/177)
Atharva-veda has been called foundation in Muņɖaka upanişad (1/1/1) also. It has been called Brahma and the other 3 as Agni-vāyu-ravi in Manusmŗti (1/23).
These 4 aspects or Vedas are called 4 heads of Brahmā. The dissolution of all in abstract source is the 5th head of Śiva. These are called Īśāna, Tatpuruşa, Sadyojāta, Vāmadeva, Aghora.. (symbols-I, T, S, V, A). As per Kiraņāgama and Jayaratha (given in Tāntrika Sādhanā aur Siddhānta-Gopinath Kaviraj), combinations or merging of 5 heads gives 10 Śiva āgamas and 18 Raudra āgamas-
10 Śiva āgamas-I,T, S-2 forms each-udbhava, udbhavonmukha (created, under creation)
IT,IS, TS, ITS-total 10.
18 Raudra āgamas are from Bheda-abheda (distinct-indistinct) giving 18 vidyās-
V,A-2 singles, VI, AI, VA -3 doubles
IVS, IAT, ISV, ISA, TSV, TSA, TVA, SVA-8 triples
(ITS is abheda in Śiva āgamas, IVA is not possible)
ITSV, ITSA, ITVA, ISVA-4 quadruples. ITSVA-1 quintet
=total 18 vidyās.
Śankarāchārya in Saundarya-laharī (38) has called these as talk of 2 swans moving in space of mind. These are called Śiva-Pārvatī on Kailāsa or on Trikūţa (joining of 3 central nerves-Iɖā, Pingalā, Suşumnā) above Ājñā-chakra (center of brain behind eyebrow mid-point) where 2 hemispheres of brain are linked-called their talk-
समुन्मीलत् संवित् कमल मकरन्दैक रसिकम्,
भजे हंस द्वन्द्वं किमपि महतां मानस चरम् ।
यदालापादष्टादश गुणित विद्या परिणतिः,
यदादत्ते दोषाद् गुणमखिलमद्भ्यः पय इव ॥
3. Classification-Classification of purāņas is as per order of creation. There are 5 stages (parvas) of creation in space, called 5 maņɖalas-(1) Svayambhū (=self-created, whole universe), (2) Parameşţhī (largest brick, one of 1011 eggs of Brahma or universe, called Brahmāņɖa), (3) Saura (solar system-Vāk or field of sun), (4) Chāndra (sphere containing moon’s orbit within pull of earth called Jambū-dvīpa of 50,000 yojana = 6,40,000 Kms. radius Its diameter is Meru ). (5) Bhū (earth). Accordingly, purāņas have 5 lakśaņas (components)-
(1) Sarga (science of creation), (2) Pratisarga (expansion of creation, decay and re-creation), (3) Vamśa (family trees), (4) Manvantara (descriptions of periods of each Manu- geological/ astronomical as well as historical), (5) Vamśānucharita (description of events in periods of kings of Sūrya and Chandra vamśas.
There are 10 lakśaņas also of purāņas as per 10 Śiva āgamas, 10 Mahā-vidyā, or 10 dimensions of space or knowledge (as in Nāsadīya sūkta of Ŗgveda 10/129/1-7). These are (1) Sarga (science of creation), (2) Visarga (expansion of creation, mental, divya, human etc), (3) Sthāna (location of world structures), (4) Poşaņa (nature of beings, their actions, rules of society etc), (5) Ūti (attachment of beings with karma, motion to svarga, naraka), (6) Manvantara (events in periods of Manu), (7) Avatāra (incarnations of Vişņu), (8) Nirodha- Rules for self control, (9) Mukti-detachment, (10) Āśraya (path of devotion).
18 Niyama (codes or rules) have been stated as per 18 purāņas-(1) Sŗşţi (sarga) , (2) Pratisŗşţi (pratisarga), (3) Vamśa, (4) Vamśānucharita, (5) Manvantara, (6) Gāthā (famous stories) , (7) Kalpa-śuddhi (improvement in actions), (8) Purāņa (ancient chronology, history), (9) Samhitā (compilation, mantra part of Vedas), (10) Đāmara (aspect of tantra preached by Śiva ), (11) Yāmala (duality, combination of Śiva-śakti in tantra ), (12) Jyotişa-chakra (cosmology), (13) Bhuvana-koşa (astronomy), (14) Vŗtti (nature of beings), (15) Rakśā (maintenance or protection), (16) Hetu (cause), (17) Antara (difference), (18) Apāśraya (devotion, surrender).
Three groups of purāņas are as per 3 guņas which have created the world-
1.Sātvika-Vişņu, Nārada, Bhāgavata, Garuɖa, Padma, Varāha.
2. Rājasa-Brahmāņɖa, Brahma-vaivartta, Mārkaņɖeya, Bhavişyat, Vāmana, Brahma.
3.Tāmasa-Matsya, Kūrma, Linga, Śiva, Skanda, Agni.
According to Devatā-
Śiva- Śiva, Skanda, Linga, Kūrma, Vāmana, Varāha, Matsya, Mārkaņɖeya, Brahmāņɖa.
Vişņu- Nārada, Bhāgavata, Garuɖa, Vişņu.
4. Sequence of subjects- Sequence of Purāņas is in order of subjects-
(1) Sŗşţi-vāda, (2) Mata- vāda, (3) Avatāra- vāda, (4) Āyati- vāda, (5) Āyatana- vāda.
(1) Sŗşţi-vāda-First 6 purāņas are Uktha (=source)-(1) Brahma -Brahma is source, (2) Padma- He was from Padma, (3) Vişņu-Padma was in navel of Vişņu, (4) Vāyu -Place of Vişņu is Śeşa-nāga (spiral arm of galaxy) in form of Vāyu, (5) Bhāgavata-Śeşa-nāga is in Kśīra-sāgara (milky way, its creative field is Goloka), (6) Nārada-Bhāgavata was inspired by Nārada.
(2) Mata-vāda- There are 4 opinions about creation-(7) Mārkaņɖeya purāņa-It indicates creation by 3 guņas-sattva, rajasa, tama. (8) Agni-Creation is from Agni (primordial fire-ball), that Hiraņyagarbha was in beginning (agra) so, it is agni. 5 stages of creation are also agni as condensed forms of matter/energy. (9) Sūrya (Bhavişya)-Sun is creator of earth and its beings. (10) Brahma-vaivartta-Vedānta view is their combination that the whole world is vivartta (variety) of same Brahma.
(3) Avatāra- vāda-Next 6 purāņas are in order of incarnations of Vişņu-(11) Linga-visible forms of 3 types-original Linga is unique Svayambhū, motion starts with galaxy, it is shown by arrow (bāņa) in 3 dimensional space-3 bāņa lingas, visible forms are infinite varities (Itara =other), but they are of 12 types as per 12 grades of sun light (jyoti) in 12 signs-12 jyotir-lingas. (12)Varāha-Proto-type or formative stage is like a cloud, called varāha. It is of 5 types-Ādi (of universe), Yajña (of galaxy), Śveta (of solar system), Bhū (sphere of 2000 times earth size), Emūşa (=adjacent, atmosphere which sustains life), (13) Vāmana-In space, sun is Vāmana (=dwarf) within solar system, i.e. 107 part of that. Ring of solid planets is dadhi-samudra (ocean of curd) called Dadhi-vāmana. (14) Kumāra (Skanda)-Planetary system of sun is ejected (skanda) from that or its son (kumāra), (15) Kūrma -creation starts due to rotation in Goloka
called Kūrma in Vedas. That churning process in space or on earth-crust (mining) is called samudra manthana. Rotation around a center is Rāsa. (16) Matsya-Each of 1011 galaxies is floating in free space like fish (matsya). At each level, individual beings are leading free life. These are eternal forms. There were similar human incarnations on earth in a particular point of time.
(4) Āyati- vāda-(17) Garuɖa –This describes motion (āyati) of 2 opposite types named earlier. It also indicates birth and death cycle of men. As is carrier of Parama-ātmā, it also carries individual ātmā.
(5) Āyatana- vāda-(18) Brahmāņɖa- This indicates location of different cosmic structures in space- called āyatana (=volume).
In Text form, infinite (100 crore verses) Purāņa was shortened in 432000 verses in 18 parts and was revised under Betāla-Bhaţţa in time of Paramara king Vikramāditya of Ujjain (82 BC-19 AD). Like Mahā-śālā of Śaunaka, these places were called Vişālā-Ujjain, Badari, Vaiśālī.
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