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Books > Hindu > The Vamana-Purana (Set of 2 Volumes)
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The Vamana-Purana (Set of 2 Volumes)
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Description

Part I

 

Introduction

 

Vamana is assigned fourteenth position in the list of eighteen Mahapuranas or major Puranic texts, preceded by Skanda and succeeded by Kurma. It gets its name after Vamana or the dwarf incarnation of God Visnu, which is the first human incarnation preceded by the "Fish", "Tortoise", "Boar" and "Man-Lion" incarnations that can, by the way, be seen as corresponding to the earlier stages of the evolution of life on the earth, the main purpose of the Purana being a description of the legend of the demon Bali, grandson of Prahlada, the Visnu devotee par excellence, suffering a great discomfiture due to a very tactful manoeuvre resorted by God Visnu as the dwarf.

 

The extant text of Vamana has 95 chapters and approximately 6,000 slokas, though Bhagavata and some other Puranas state that Vamana had an Uttarabhaga also containing four Samhitas of 1000 slokas each, which, however, has not been discovered so far.

 

Pulastya and Narada are the interlocutors of the Purana. In the beginning Narada questions Pulastya about the assumption of the form of Vamana by Visnu, waging of war by Prahlada against gods, Sari's agreement to be the wife of Siva, Satr's self-immolation at the yajna of Daksa and her being reborn as the daughter of Himalaya with a desire of becoming the spouse of Sankara, the glory of the places of pilgrimage, account of dana, vrata, upasarui, etc.

 

As the title indicates, this Purana has mainly a Vaisnava theme but Saiva material also forms an integral part of it, e.g. Siva's killing 'of the demon Andhaka, marriage of Siva and Parvati, birth of Ganesa and Karttikeya, defeat of Mahisasura by Devi, glorification of Sivalingas and their installation.

 

The legends, stories and episodes included in this Purana are generally of the same type as found in other Puranas. Here we may call attention to some noteworthy features of the Purdna; One is that it was composed in the Kuruksetra region of North India, to the glorification of which it gives special attention, particularly to the tirthas, rivers, hills and other geographical features of the area.

 

Secondly, the Purana gives equal prominence to Vaisnavism and Pasupata Saiva-sect in its description and exhibits a spirit of tolerance and magnanimity in its treatment of both, as is evidenced in its representation of Siva as saying, "Even if you cut me into twain, you will find the presence of Visnu in my heart" (67.37), and of Visnu as telling the Devas, "Siva is present here in my heart in the form of Linga where you may worship him" (62.21-23).

 

Thirdly, a very much noteworthy feature of this Purana is the preponderance of the asura motif. No other Purana gives the accounts of so many asura heroes in so liberal and zestful manner as this Purana does. So many asuras are represented in an edifying way as following the ideals of Dharma, righteousness, e.g. Prahlada, a great devotee of Visnu and his grandson Bali who, despite the warning given by the preceptor Sukracarya, prominently exhibits the spirit of a liberal donor and quite unmindful of his personal interest ungrudgingly accepts underworld status to which he is reduced by God Visnu. Perhaps one of the reasons is that the narrator of the Purana is Pulastya, the grandfather of demon Ravana.

 

As to the date of the Purana, it was some time between 5th and 10th centuries CE, probably the first half of the seventh century CE when Harsavardhana was the king in North and Mahendravarman Pallava in the South, when the assimilative spirit, religious tolerance and the intellectual fertility characterising the Gupta Age permeated the society.

 

As to the contents of the Purana; it is found that in addition to the legends, myths, stories, etc. of the gods, asuras, rsis, etc. which belong to the Puranas generally Vamana is rich in the description of pilgrimage centres, i.e. tirthas, in the stotras or eulogies to the gods, geographical materials, description of the mountains, rivers, Janapadas, etc. Here we make a brief survey of more interesting items of the contents-

 

Chapter 6 mentions four schools of Saivism, viz. Saiva, Pasupata, Kaladamana and Kapalika. The Kaladamana sect is better known by the name Kalamukha:

 

Chapter 7 has a short inset showing the birth of the nymph Urvasi from the thigh of Narayana, the rsis who together with another one, Nara, was performing penance in Himalayas.

 

Chapter 9 describes the vehicles of the different gods as follows:

 

Indra

White elephant

Yama

Bufallo named Paundraka

Varuna

Sisumara

Kubera

Nara

Eleven Rudras

White bulls

Can drama

Hamsa

Twelve Adityas

Chariots yoked with horses and camels

Eight Vasus

Elephant

Yaksa

Nara

Kinnara

Serpent

Twin Asvins

Horse

Maruts

Antelope

Bhrgus

Parrot

Gandharvas

Walking on foot

 

Twelve kinds of dharmas are described in chapter 11 including that of humans in whose case it is self-study of Vedas, Brahmacarya, Dana, Yajna, Compassion, etc. and devotion to Visnu, Siva, Surya and_ Devi. The seven continents (Dvipas) of the Earth are also described,' the seventh, Puskara Dvipa, contains 21 hells (narakas).

 

Contents

 

 

PUBLISHER'S NOTE

v

 

ABBREVIATIONS

xi

 

INTRODUCTION

xv

 

VAMANA-PURANA Part I

 

 

Chapter

 

1.

Sportive Hara

1

2.

The Birth and Disappearance of Nara

5

3.

Dialogue between Hari and Hara

10

4.

The Valour of Hara

15

5.

Siva as Kala

19

6.

The Burning of Kama

25

7.

Prahlada Fights a duel

34

8.

Boon Granted to Prahlada

40

9.

The Deva-Asura War

47

10.

The Victory of Andhaka

52

11.

Puskara-Dvipa

57

12.

Fruits of Kanna

62

13.

Description of the Universe

68

14.

Sukesi Instructed

72

15.

The Birth of Lolarka

84

16.

Asunya-Sayana-Dvitiya and Kalastami

90

17.

Birth of Mahisasura

96

18.

Glorification of Devi

102

19.

The Greatness of Devi

106

20.

Mahisasura Killed

110

21.

The Birth of Uma The marriage of Tapati

115

22.

King Kuru's Achievement Kuruksetra

121

23.

Glory of King B31i

126

24.

The Gods Go to Brahma

128

25.

Brahma's Advice to Gods

132

26.

Kasyapa's Prayer to Visnu

134

27.

Aditi's Penance

136

28.

Lord's Boon toAditi

139

29.

Prahlada Curses Bali

141

30.

Birth of Vamana

146

31.

Vamana Conquers Ball

151

32.

Hymn to River Sarasvati

160

33.

Greatness of Kuruksetra

162

34.

Tirthas in Kuruksetra

164

35.

Tirthas in Kuruksetra (contd.)

168

36.

Tirthas in Kuruksetra (contd.)

173

37.

Tirthas in Kuruksetra (contd.)

179

38.

Sage Mankanaka's boon

182

39.

Tirthas in Kuruksetra (contd.)

185

40.

Curse on Sarasvati

188

41.

Tirthas in Kuruksetra ( contd.)

191

42.

Tirthas in Kuruksetra ( contd.)

194

43.

Glory of Sthanutirtha

196

44.

Origin of Sthanutirtha

204

45.

Sthanutirtha (contd.)

209

 

NOTES

211

 

Part II

 

Contents

 

 

PUBLISHER'S NOTE

V

 

ABBREVIATIONS

Xi

 

INTRODUCTION

Xv

 

VAMANA-PURANA Part- II

 

 

Chapter

 

46.

Sthanutirtha ( contd.)

247

47.

Sthanutirtha: Vena Rescued

251

48.

Sthanutirtha: Vena Goes to Heaven

266

49.

Sthanutirtha: Origin of Caturmukha

269

50.

Himavan weds Mena

273

51.

Penance of Uma

274

52.

Sages Go to Himavan

281

53.

Wedding of Uma

287

54.

Birth of Vinayaka

293

55.

Fall of Canda and Munda

299

56.

Death of Sumbha and Nisumbha

306

57.

The Birth of Karttikeya

313

58.

Killing of Taraka and Mahisa

320

59.

Episode of Patalaketu: Andhaka Flees to Patala

329

60.

Birth of Kedara-tirtha: Legend of Mura

334

61.

Killing of Mura

341

62.

The Legend of Mankana

347

63.

The Story of Danda

352

64.

The Story of Suratha and Citrangada

358

65.

The Story of Sur at ha and Citrangada (contd.)

364

66.

Setting out of Andhaka's army

376

67.

Vision of Sadasiva

381

68.

The Defeat of Daityas

385

69.

Jambha and Kujambha Killed

390

70.

Andhaka is Granted Boon

402

71.

Birth of Maruts

410

72.

Birth of Maruts ( contd.)

414

73.

Killing of Kalanemi

419

74.

Prahlada's Advice to Bali

423

75.

Jayasri Resorts to Bali

427

76.

Aditi Offered a Boon

431

77.

Bali Admonished

436

78.

Defeat of Dhundhu

441

79.

The Story of Pururavas

448

80.

The Vow of Naksatra-Purusa

454

81.

The Killing of Jalodbhava

457

82.

The Story of Sridama

460

83.

Prahlada's Pilgrimage

463

84.

Prahlada's Pilgrimage (contd.)

465

85.

The Release of the King-Elephant

469

86.

The Sarasvata Hymn

476

87.

The Sin-Allaying Hymn-l

485

88.

The Sin-Allaying Hymn-2

490

89.

The Birth of Vamana

492

90.

The Mention of One's Own Abodes

497

91.

Dialogue Between Sukra and Bali

500

92.

Bali Restrained

509

93.

Brahma's Hymn

515

94.

The Lord Eulogized

519

95.

Worship of God Visnu Phalasruti

525

 

NOTES

530

 


The Vamana-Purana (Set of 2 Volumes)

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Part I

 

Introduction

 

Vamana is assigned fourteenth position in the list of eighteen Mahapuranas or major Puranic texts, preceded by Skanda and succeeded by Kurma. It gets its name after Vamana or the dwarf incarnation of God Visnu, which is the first human incarnation preceded by the "Fish", "Tortoise", "Boar" and "Man-Lion" incarnations that can, by the way, be seen as corresponding to the earlier stages of the evolution of life on the earth, the main purpose of the Purana being a description of the legend of the demon Bali, grandson of Prahlada, the Visnu devotee par excellence, suffering a great discomfiture due to a very tactful manoeuvre resorted by God Visnu as the dwarf.

 

The extant text of Vamana has 95 chapters and approximately 6,000 slokas, though Bhagavata and some other Puranas state that Vamana had an Uttarabhaga also containing four Samhitas of 1000 slokas each, which, however, has not been discovered so far.

 

Pulastya and Narada are the interlocutors of the Purana. In the beginning Narada questions Pulastya about the assumption of the form of Vamana by Visnu, waging of war by Prahlada against gods, Sari's agreement to be the wife of Siva, Satr's self-immolation at the yajna of Daksa and her being reborn as the daughter of Himalaya with a desire of becoming the spouse of Sankara, the glory of the places of pilgrimage, account of dana, vrata, upasarui, etc.

 

As the title indicates, this Purana has mainly a Vaisnava theme but Saiva material also forms an integral part of it, e.g. Siva's killing 'of the demon Andhaka, marriage of Siva and Parvati, birth of Ganesa and Karttikeya, defeat of Mahisasura by Devi, glorification of Sivalingas and their installation.

 

The legends, stories and episodes included in this Purana are generally of the same type as found in other Puranas. Here we may call attention to some noteworthy features of the Purdna; One is that it was composed in the Kuruksetra region of North India, to the glorification of which it gives special attention, particularly to the tirthas, rivers, hills and other geographical features of the area.

 

Secondly, the Purana gives equal prominence to Vaisnavism and Pasupata Saiva-sect in its description and exhibits a spirit of tolerance and magnanimity in its treatment of both, as is evidenced in its representation of Siva as saying, "Even if you cut me into twain, you will find the presence of Visnu in my heart" (67.37), and of Visnu as telling the Devas, "Siva is present here in my heart in the form of Linga where you may worship him" (62.21-23).

 

Thirdly, a very much noteworthy feature of this Purana is the preponderance of the asura motif. No other Purana gives the accounts of so many asura heroes in so liberal and zestful manner as this Purana does. So many asuras are represented in an edifying way as following the ideals of Dharma, righteousness, e.g. Prahlada, a great devotee of Visnu and his grandson Bali who, despite the warning given by the preceptor Sukracarya, prominently exhibits the spirit of a liberal donor and quite unmindful of his personal interest ungrudgingly accepts underworld status to which he is reduced by God Visnu. Perhaps one of the reasons is that the narrator of the Purana is Pulastya, the grandfather of demon Ravana.

 

As to the date of the Purana, it was some time between 5th and 10th centuries CE, probably the first half of the seventh century CE when Harsavardhana was the king in North and Mahendravarman Pallava in the South, when the assimilative spirit, religious tolerance and the intellectual fertility characterising the Gupta Age permeated the society.

 

As to the contents of the Purana; it is found that in addition to the legends, myths, stories, etc. of the gods, asuras, rsis, etc. which belong to the Puranas generally Vamana is rich in the description of pilgrimage centres, i.e. tirthas, in the stotras or eulogies to the gods, geographical materials, description of the mountains, rivers, Janapadas, etc. Here we make a brief survey of more interesting items of the contents-

 

Chapter 6 mentions four schools of Saivism, viz. Saiva, Pasupata, Kaladamana and Kapalika. The Kaladamana sect is better known by the name Kalamukha:

 

Chapter 7 has a short inset showing the birth of the nymph Urvasi from the thigh of Narayana, the rsis who together with another one, Nara, was performing penance in Himalayas.

 

Chapter 9 describes the vehicles of the different gods as follows:

 

Indra

White elephant

Yama

Bufallo named Paundraka

Varuna

Sisumara

Kubera

Nara

Eleven Rudras

White bulls

Can drama

Hamsa

Twelve Adityas

Chariots yoked with horses and camels

Eight Vasus

Elephant

Yaksa

Nara

Kinnara

Serpent

Twin Asvins

Horse

Maruts

Antelope

Bhrgus

Parrot

Gandharvas

Walking on foot

 

Twelve kinds of dharmas are described in chapter 11 including that of humans in whose case it is self-study of Vedas, Brahmacarya, Dana, Yajna, Compassion, etc. and devotion to Visnu, Siva, Surya and_ Devi. The seven continents (Dvipas) of the Earth are also described,' the seventh, Puskara Dvipa, contains 21 hells (narakas).

 

Contents

 

 

PUBLISHER'S NOTE

v

 

ABBREVIATIONS

xi

 

INTRODUCTION

xv

 

VAMANA-PURANA Part I

 

 

Chapter

 

1.

Sportive Hara

1

2.

The Birth and Disappearance of Nara

5

3.

Dialogue between Hari and Hara

10

4.

The Valour of Hara

15

5.

Siva as Kala

19

6.

The Burning of Kama

25

7.

Prahlada Fights a duel

34

8.

Boon Granted to Prahlada

40

9.

The Deva-Asura War

47

10.

The Victory of Andhaka

52

11.

Puskara-Dvipa

57

12.

Fruits of Kanna

62

13.

Description of the Universe

68

14.

Sukesi Instructed

72

15.

The Birth of Lolarka

84

16.

Asunya-Sayana-Dvitiya and Kalastami

90

17.

Birth of Mahisasura

96

18.

Glorification of Devi

102

19.

The Greatness of Devi

106

20.

Mahisasura Killed

110

21.

The Birth of Uma The marriage of Tapati

115

22.

King Kuru's Achievement Kuruksetra

121

23.

Glory of King B31i

126

24.

The Gods Go to Brahma

128

25.

Brahma's Advice to Gods

132

26.

Kasyapa's Prayer to Visnu

134

27.

Aditi's Penance

136

28.

Lord's Boon toAditi

139

29.

Prahlada Curses Bali

141

30.

Birth of Vamana

146

31.

Vamana Conquers Ball

151

32.

Hymn to River Sarasvati

160

33.

Greatness of Kuruksetra

162

34.

Tirthas in Kuruksetra

164

35.

Tirthas in Kuruksetra (contd.)

168

36.

Tirthas in Kuruksetra (contd.)

173

37.

Tirthas in Kuruksetra (contd.)

179

38.

Sage Mankanaka's boon

182

39.

Tirthas in Kuruksetra (contd.)

185

40.

Curse on Sarasvati

188

41.

Tirthas in Kuruksetra ( contd.)

191

42.

Tirthas in Kuruksetra ( contd.)

194

43.

Glory of Sthanutirtha

196

44.

Origin of Sthanutirtha

204

45.

Sthanutirtha (contd.)

209

 

NOTES

211

 

Part II

 

Contents

 

 

PUBLISHER'S NOTE

V

 

ABBREVIATIONS

Xi

 

INTRODUCTION

Xv

 

VAMANA-PURANA Part- II

 

 

Chapter

 

46.

Sthanutirtha ( contd.)

247

47.

Sthanutirtha: Vena Rescued

251

48.

Sthanutirtha: Vena Goes to Heaven

266

49.

Sthanutirtha: Origin of Caturmukha

269

50.

Himavan weds Mena

273

51.

Penance of Uma

274

52.

Sages Go to Himavan

281

53.

Wedding of Uma

287

54.

Birth of Vinayaka

293

55.

Fall of Canda and Munda

299

56.

Death of Sumbha and Nisumbha

306

57.

The Birth of Karttikeya

313

58.

Killing of Taraka and Mahisa

320

59.

Episode of Patalaketu: Andhaka Flees to Patala

329

60.

Birth of Kedara-tirtha: Legend of Mura

334

61.

Killing of Mura

341

62.

The Legend of Mankana

347

63.

The Story of Danda

352

64.

The Story of Suratha and Citrangada

358

65.

The Story of Sur at ha and Citrangada (contd.)

364

66.

Setting out of Andhaka's army

376

67.

Vision of Sadasiva

381

68.

The Defeat of Daityas

385

69.

Jambha and Kujambha Killed

390

70.

Andhaka is Granted Boon

402

71.

Birth of Maruts

410

72.

Birth of Maruts ( contd.)

414

73.

Killing of Kalanemi

419

74.

Prahlada's Advice to Bali

423

75.

Jayasri Resorts to Bali

427

76.

Aditi Offered a Boon

431

77.

Bali Admonished

436

78.

Defeat of Dhundhu

441

79.

The Story of Pururavas

448

80.

The Vow of Naksatra-Purusa

454

81.

The Killing of Jalodbhava

457

82.

The Story of Sridama

460

83.

Prahlada's Pilgrimage

463

84.

Prahlada's Pilgrimage (contd.)

465

85.

The Release of the King-Elephant

469

86.

The Sarasvata Hymn

476

87.

The Sin-Allaying Hymn-l

485

88.

The Sin-Allaying Hymn-2

490

89.

The Birth of Vamana

492

90.

The Mention of One's Own Abodes

497

91.

Dialogue Between Sukra and Bali

500

92.

Bali Restrained

509

93.

Brahma's Hymn

515

94.

The Lord Eulogized

519

95.

Worship of God Visnu Phalasruti

525

 

NOTES

530

 


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