The present volume contains Lingapurana in English translation.
The project of the Series was envisaged and financed in 1970 A.D. by Shri Sundarlal Jain, the veteran interprizer in the field of Oriental Publications and the leading proprietor Messers Motilal Banarsidass. Hitherto six volumes of the series (that is, four vols. of the Sivapurana and two vols. of the Lingapurana completing both the Puranas) have been published and made accessible to the reader.
The present English translation is based on the Sanskrit text of the Lingapurana published in India by Messers Ksemaraja Srikrsnadasa. The text, constructed on the collation of Mss. is fairly reliable, although here and there it suffers from certain lapses and defies our efforts for accurate translation. But these lapses are few and far between and they do not vitiate the quality of translation as a whole.
In this translation we have followed the text as closely as possible but at places we have been a little freer with a desire to maintain the spirit of the language in which the original is so rendered. At the same time we have excluded all far fetched, forced or fancied interpretations including those that are suggested by the author of the Sivatosini, though we have often quoted him in the footnotes.
The reader will find that the Purana deals with a variety of subjects-geographical, historical, philosophical, religious and the like which need elucidation. This task could not be accomplished by a mere translation. We have therefore provided footnotes on these topics. The footnotes are very brief but illuminative. They supply the background without which the exegesis of the would not be possible.
We have prefixed to this Part a critical introduction which discusses, besides other topics, the nomenclature, authorship, authenticity, date and general characteristics of the work. We have suffixed to Part II a general index which lists among others words the names of persons, tribes, tribes, places, rivers, lakes, mountains etc. of which the identity already discussed in the footnotes is marked here by introducing a letter of abbreviation put within the bracket against the name. But we have eschewed all unnecessary repetitions and therefore have included the constantly recurring names, as those of the deities, kings and sages, only when there is some special reason for specifying them.
Before closing, it is our pleasant duty to put on record our sincere gratitude to Dr. S.K. Chatterjee, Dr. V. Raghavan, Dr. R.N. Dandekar, Shri K.R. Kripalani and the authorities of the UNESCO for their kind encouragement and valuable help which render this work more valuable to scholars than it would otherwise have been. We must also thank Shri T. V. Parameswar lyer for his valuable spade-work which lightened our labours especially in their initial stage.
In fine, we avail of this opportunity to state that any critical Suggestions and advice for improvement are welcome and will receive proper consideration from us.
Puranas: Origin and Development
According to the Visnupurana the sage Krsna Dvaipayana Vyasa compiled a Puranasamhita from the various ancient episodes and imparted it to his disciple Romaharsana. The latter composed his own Puranasamhita and among his disciples Kasyapa, Savarni and Samsapayana composed their own. These four were the original Puranasamhitas. The Vayupurana specifies the number of the Puranas as ten. This represents the second stage in the development of the Puranas. The traditional number eighteen is the final stage.
The traditional list as given by several Puranas comprises the following: (1) Brahma, (2) Padma, (3) Visnu, (4) Vayu, (5) Bhagavita, (6) Naradiya, (7) Markandeya, (8) Agni, (9) Bhavisya (10) Brahmavaivarta, (11) Linga, (12) Varaha, (13) Skanda. (14) Vamana, (15) Kurma, (16) Matsya, (17)Garuda, (18) Brahmanda.
The Puranic scholars are agreed upon the authenticity of the seventeen Puranas but in regard to the eighteenth there is a difference of opinion. Majority of the Puranas include Sivapurana is the list while a few others substitute Vayu for Siva.
The Lingapurana Contents
The Lingapurana is divided into two sections comprising respectively 108 and 55 chapters.
Section I describes the evolution of Linga, a phallic form of Siva. It records traditions about the rise of Linga cult, modes of worshipping Linga, principles of its ritual, efficacy of its worship illustrated by myths, legends and anecdotes, It provides a graphic account of the geography of the earth with seven continents, their flora and fauna, their people, mountain, oceans and river. It describes the size of the earth, stars and planets, their positions and movements in the heavens. It recounts the genealogies of some famous monarchs of the solar and lunar dynasties. It given an account of prominent Asuras, their expeditions and destruction.
Section II contains legends on the glorification of Linga, a detailed account of the form, concept and attributes of Linga and the vratas, gifts and mantras related to his worship. Finally, in explains in detail the procedure of the Pasupata Yoga as the means of attaining the ultimate goal viz., the absorption of the personal soul into the supreme soul-Lord Siva.
The Title Lingapurana
The Lingapurana is a Saiva Purana. It derives its name from the fact that it reveals the supreme Lord Siva in his niskala (attributeless) and sakala (qualified) forms, recounts his emblems, qualities, exploits and incarnations, narrates legends on the origin and importance of Linga-his phallic idol, dwells upon the merit of installing and consecrating it, describes the ritual and philosophical principles of the Linga cult and embodies sermons and dissertations on the glory of Linga image.
The author of the Purana
The authorship of the Puranas is attributed to the sage Krsna Dvaipayana but Bhavisya speaks of separate authorship for different Puranas. According to this authority the Linga was composed by the sage Tandi. But this statement of Bhavisya is not supported by the internal evidence, although the Purana suggests the theory of separate authorship. For instance, when Bhavisya states that Visnu was composed by Parasara, we find that Linga had already stated this fact. Besides, this voluminous set of Puranas beset with differing strata of society of different times cannot be ascribed to a single author.
Authenticity of the text
The extant Lingapurana is not the same as the original which was recited by Siva in the Agnikalpa to Brahma and was, later on divided by Vyasa into two parts. For the Agnikalpa text, according to the Naradiya, contained 11,000 verses a fact acknowledged by the author of the extant Lingapurana-while actually the preset Venkatesvara edition has only 9,185 verses. Furthermore, contrary to the statement of the Naradiya, the present text deals with the matters of the Isanakalpa and not with those of the Agnikalpa. It can, therefore, be presumed that there was an old Lingapurana text based upon the Agnikalpa on which the Naradiya description is based.
The above statement is supported by the internal evidence. Linga states that it is divided into two sections. Section I contains one hundred and eight chapters while Section II is comprised of fortysix. But as a matter of fact, the extant second section has fiftyfive chapters. The author of Sivatosini a commentary on this Purana, dissolves the compound sat-catvarimsat as sat ca nava ca catvarimsac ca (madhyamapadalopi-karmadharaya) and by this grammatical device arrives at the required number 55. But would it not be a forced and farfetched interpretation? Conversely, would it not be rational to suppose that the original text of this section contained fortysix chapters to which nine chapters were added later on?
Date of Composition
The Lingapurana was abridged by Krsna Dvaipayana Vyas in the beginning of Dvapara age. Originally it was composed by Brahma with the material derived from Isana Kalpa. The abridgement was a natural course, for the old contents ceased to appeal to the later generation. At the same, fresh material was available which the new compilers inserted in the old corpus. The process continued till the beginning of the fifth century A.D. when the bulk of this Purana was settled to its present form.
There are references in the Lingapurana in support of this argument. Chapter 40 refers to king Pramati in the line of king Candramas who organized extensive military expeditions against the Mlecchas. In this inset of twentythree verses we find a powerful and historically true description of the achievements of Candragupta Vikramditya II. The description tallies with a similar account in the Matsyapurana and seems to have been given by a person who was an eye-witness or who had heard from a direct source. Moreover, in II. 3.36 there is a reference to the Mlecchas having seized the idol of Visnu. We learn from history that Mlecchas were wild ferocious tribes, such as Huns, whose violent activities caused vast devastations and struck terror in the social life of the country. Like the cattle-lifting Panis of the Rgvedic age, these Mlecchas were the breakers or stealers of idols. The Purana is also aware of the foreign tribes Kiratas (Burmese) in the east and Mlecchas in the west. As the destroyer of Mlecchas King Pramati of this Purana can only be identical with King Candragupta Vikramaditya who destroyed the Mlecchas during his reign of twenty years by engaging his army drawn mostly form Licchavis-a ksatra-brahmin tribe. The reign of Candragupta Vikramaditya II (380-412 A.D.) is the lowest limit by which the bulk of this Purana had assumed its present shape.
General Characteristics of the Lingapurana
The supreme Lord Siva is represented by the half-male and half-female form. At the advent of Creation, the male form enters into tlhe womb of the female form and lays the golden seed therein. The seed is of the nature of fire, the creative force and is permeated by a creative potency. According to the Lingapurana this creative energy is personified as Brahma; the recipient of the seed, the foetus, is named Visnu while the sower of the seed is Lord Siva himself. Thus, the half-man and half-woman form of the Lord is both the efficient and the material cause of universe.
The seed is sentient. When it enters into the womb it activates and gives impetus to the insentient Prakrti. The Cosmic Egg is born, out of which is evolved the entire universe. In fact, both the insentient Prakrti and the sentient principle belong to Lord Siva himself who out of sheer will and sportively too creates, dissolves and then re-creates and re-dissolves the universe. In this eternal process everything masculine is Purusa. The half-man and half-woman body (ardhanarisvara) of Siva is responsible for the origin of creation by copulation. As stated above, the creative force is of the nature of agni (fire) and its fortynine forms constitute the different forms of the supreme Lord who in his qualified (sakala) state is characterized by three functions viz. creation, sustenance and dissolution.
According to the Puranic account of creation, in the beginning the insentient Prakrti in the form of the Cosmic Egg remained in the Cosmic waters for thousands of years, until it was activated by the sentient principle which entering divided it into two halves. One of the two became the celestial and the other the terrestrial sphere both constituting the fourteen worlds.
The consutuents of Prakrti, the material cause of the universe, are twentythree in number. They are: (1) intellect, (2) ego, (3-7) five subtle elements, (8-12) five senses of action, (13-17) five senses of knowledge, (18-22) five gross elements and (23) the mind. The unevolved Prakrti is called (24) Pradhana. This set of twentyfour principles is insentient and to this is added a threefold set of sentient beings viz. (25) Jiva (the individual soul), (26) Purusa (the cosmic soul) and (27) the Supreme soul, Siva. In this formulation, Pradhana, the twentyfourth category is the source of twentyfifth, is the knower of Pradhana; Purusa, the twentysixth, has the perception of the two lower categories viz. Jiva and Pradhana but he cannot bestow grace. Lord Mahesvara, the twentyseventh, alone is omnipotent and is capable of bestowing grace. In this context, Prakrti is apratibuddha, Jiva is buddhiman, Purusa is Buddha and Mahesvara is prabuddha. The twentysix principle emanate from the saptavimsaka (the twentyseventh) principle viz, Lord Mahesvara.
The twenty-sixth principle Purusa is represented as passive and a spectator of the working of Prakrti. He is distinguished from the personal soul, Jiva, as the latter is the enjoyer of the fruits of the world-tree. Lord Mahesvara is beyond Pradhana and Purusa. In his one half, i.e. the masculine form, he is devoid of qualities (niskala) but his other half (sakala) is characterized by the three attributes: sattva, rajas and tamas which are personified as Brahma, Visnu and Rudra.
The entire phenomenon of creation is symbolised by the phallic image (linga) of Lord Siva.
According to the Lingapurana Pradhana, the primary unevolved matter, the cause of the universe is Linga itself. At the root of Linga the creator Brahma is staioned; Visnu the sustainer of the world is stationed in the middle; Rudra the annihilator is stationed above; Lord Siva is its substratum. He permeates and imparts impetus to Linga and effects the work of creation in this way.
The Puranic cosmology divides creation into nine classes arranged in three groups: (1) Primary, (2) Secondary and Primary-Secondary as follows:
According to the Lingapurana this set of threefold creation-Primary, Secondary and Primary-Secondary-was unable to create. The mind-born sons of Brahma remained celibate. Then out of his body Brahma produced eleven sons; still the creation made no progress. Then Brahma divided himself into two forms one half a women and the other half a man. In that half form of a woman he created a couple Manu and Satarupa who obeyed the creator and began the work of creation.
2. Dissolution and Re-creation (Pratisarga)
The creation of the universe is not a permanent feature, for all creations end in dissolutions which in turn give place to recreation. Thus, there are several dissolutions minor and major.
As the Puranas relate, a creation lasts for a day of Brahma equal to a kalpa, a period of four hundred thirtytwo million years of mortals. A kalpa consists of fourteen Manvantaras. Thus, a day of Brahma, equal to a kalpa contains fourteen dissolutions. But these are partial dissolutions. At the end of fourteen manvantaras, equal to a day of Brahma that lasts for a kalpa, there occurs a great dissolution. There is also a complete dissolution when Brahma has completed his life-time. At the advent of this dissolution (Prakrta pralaya), the mobile and immobile beings, Devas, Asuras, serpents, Raksasas etc. Are all destroyed. Everything dissolves itself into Prakrti which remains hidden in the supreme Lord Siva. The Lord alone survives; there is no second being anywhere.
At the advent of re-creation after dissolution, Lord Siva is present in two forms: Prakrti and Atman. Lord Visnu adopts the body of Prakrti and lies on the yogic couch in the midst of waters. Then Brahma is born of his umbilical lotus. Brahma asks Siva to grant him power to re-create.
3. The ages of Manus (Manvantaras)
The creation is divided into time-units Kalpas, Manvantaras, yugas, samvatsaras and other relatively bigger and smaller units. When creation ceases to exist these time-units disappear as a matter or course.
The description of the time-unit, manvantara, is one of the many characteristics of a Mahapurana. A manvantara comprises about seventyone caturyugas equal to 1200 years of the gods or 1/14th day of Brahma. The fourteen Manvantaras make up one whole day of Brahma, equal to a kalpa. After each manvantara there is a minor dissolution. Thus, a day of Brahma has fourteen dissolutions and re-creations. The scheme of fourteen dissolutions repeats itself from one age Manu o another.
The puranas mention fourteen Manvantaras. These derive their names from fourteen successive progenitors and sovereigns of the earth. The present Purana mentions fourteen Manus by names. They are (i) Svayambhuva, (ii) Svarocisa, (iii) Uttama, (iv) Tamasa, (v) Raivata, (vi) Caksusa, (vii) Vaivasvata, (viii) Savarni, (ix) Dharma, (x) Savarnika, (xi) Pisanga, (xii) Apisangabha, (xiii) Sabala, (xiv) Varnaka. On their nomenclature the Puranas are not unanimous.
4.5 Genealogy and history of Royal Houses (Vamsa and Vamsanucarita) Genealogy and history of kings and illustrious personages play an important role in the Mahapuranas. The sutas were the custodians of genealogical records which they learnt by rote and which they recited at sessional sacrifices. But in the course of oral transmission from one generation to another some variations entered in these records. Moreover, there were traditional variations too, for different versions existed in different families of sutas. When the records were incorporated in the Puranas, the interpolations and the traditional variations also settled therein. This explains the difference that exists in the genealogical records of the Puranic literature.
The Lingapurana is not interested in recording the genealogies of ancient royal houses and illustrious personages. Still it contains, in five chapters (I. 65-69), lists of the solar and lunar dynasties of Ayodhya and Prayaga. Chapters 65-66 deal with the solar dynasty of Ayodhya from Vaivasvata Manu to Satyavrata, from Satyavrata to Sagara and from Sagars to Brhadbala. Chapter 67-69 recount the lunar dynasty of Prayaga from Aila Pururavas to Yayati, from Yayati to Jyamagha and from Jyamagha to Srikrsna. As for the history of reigning monarchs it is interested mainly in the records of the solar and lunar dynasties. It recounts the deeds of some monarchs of these houses. Amongst these Sagara, Yayati, Jyamagha and Sri Krsna figure prominently, while Dhundhumara, Babhru, Satrajit, Akrura and other occupy a secondary place.
Monism of Siva and the means of the soul's release
The above analysis demonstrates that the Lingapurana possesses the conventional character of a Mahapurana. But its real greatness lies in expounding the monistic background of Saiva philosophy especially in the context of the Linga cult.
The Linga is described as twofold: gross and subtle. The subtle linga is the fourth state of the soul and beyond in which in the other three states merge, losing their identity. The gross Linga, made of clay, wood, stone, crystal etc. is meant just to create a feeling of devotion in the gross-minded people. In fact Lord Siva, like the ether, is an indivisible centre whose division into Sakala and niskala forms as of the ether into ghatakasa and mathakasa is illusory. Even the state of being one is not present there are a distinct attribute. Similarly, in relation to the tattvas, he is placed in the twentyseventh category; but the tattvas too emanate from him; they are the products of his power of projection (Prakrti or Maya). He is related to them as the gold is related to the ornaments or the ocean to the waves. Their group of twentyfour forms a noose which binds the individual and cosmic souls, categorized as the twentyfifth and twentysixth principles.
A major portion of this Purana is concerned with the suppression of illusion through the attainment of knowledge by means of Pasupata yoga, accompanied by purificatory and expiatory rites and act of physical and mental worship with the Tantra, Mantra and Yantra appliances. A particular emphasis is laid upon selfpurification. Along with the purification of the three gunas, viz sattva, rajas and tamas, the Purana enjoins the purification of the fivefold set of tattvas viz. Yauvana (five gross elements), Pada (five subtle elements), Varna (five organs of knowledge), Matra (five organs of action) and Kaladhvara (the fourfold group consisting of intellect, ego, consciousness and mind). These practices, accompanied by mental concentration, are said to help the aspirant achieve spiritual enlightenment and attain release from the entanglement of the senses and his absorption into the supreme soul.
Brahma Sutras (81)
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