About The Book
The Studies in the Mahapuranas is like a diamond with many facets. It epitomises the Puranic information on various aspects of Indian History and Culture Art, Science, Geography, Politics and State Craft, Literature, etc. It is a unique work laying bare the broad spectrum of ancient Indian Knowledge contained in the repository of the Puranas. It contains an up- to-date bibliography of the Puranas, which will be useful to those who wants study whose works from different angles of view.
About The Author
The author, a Retired Professor of Sanskrit, is dedicated to the came of Indology. He has authorised forty-three research treatises on different aspects of Indology. Awarded a Rabindra Memorial Prize by West Bengal Govt. he has been carrying on research with Unremitting zeal. Some of his works have earned International acclaim.
Purana occupies a very exalted position in the cultural life of India. ltihasa-puranbhyam vedam samupabtmhayet ; for the complete study of the Veda, Puranas are indispensable. While the Veda was elitist, the PuraJ,l1s were populist. Vedic study was confined to a limited intellectual group. But, the Puranas were open to all. Smrtisastra is replete with references to and quotations from Puranas, The Yajnavalkyasmrti declares (I. 3) that Purana is one of the sources not only of learning, but also of dharma.
Various Puranas give us valuable information about the social, religious and cultural life of ancient and medieval India. It is noteworthy that, despite exaggerations, myths and legends, Some of these works throw considerable light on the early political history of India, for which materials are very meagre. These works belie the criticism of some western scholars who make the sweeping remark that India has no history nor any historical sense.
The Puranas are a rich storehouse of materials supplying themes for many works of classical Sanskrit, prose, poetical and dramatic. Moreover, they epitomise various branches of know- ledge, e. g. Smrti, Arthasastra, Alamkara-sastra, philosophy, etc. They also contain useful geographical information. Besides various tribes, they mention different Vratas and Tirthas, It deserves special notice that they afford a glimpse of the knowledge of the ancients in various branches of science; e. g. Chemistry, Botany, Astronomy, Medical science including Veterinary science, etc. Considerable information about architecture also is available in them.
To art the contribution of the Puranas is not negligible. We have a good deal of Puranic material on sculpture, music, both vocal and instrumental, as well as painting.
Thus, we see that the Puranas leave no aspect of cultural life untouched.
The Puranas have been, and are being studied from different points of view. The contents of some of the Puranas, e. g. Agni, Vayu, Matsya, Bhavisya, etc. have been studied separately by different scholars. There is, however, not a single work in which the reader can get an idea of the varied contents of the Puranas relating to the various branches of knowledge. It is with a view to fulfilling this desideratum that the present work was undertaken. But, to try to present a complete picture or- the melange of materials, contained in the Puranas, is like the attempt to fathom the depth of a mighty ocean. So, this work has no pretension to completeness. It is a just an humble beginning of the kind of work contemplated.
The dates of the Puranas are controversial. We have taken R. C. Hazra as the principal authority in this connexion, The author's labour, spread over a number of years, will be amply rewarded if this work goes some way in enabling the reader to make a rapid survey of the contents of the Puranas covering diverse fields of the life of the people of ancient and medieval India.
In such a work, the works of earlier authors in the field have necessarily to be consulted. The help, derived from various works, has been acknowledged in the references.
Sri Sankar Bhattacharya, proprietor of Punthi Pustak, has proved to be a genuine lover of indology by readily agreeing to publish this work at considerable expense in these days of economic hardship.
The author craves the indulgence of the reader for the many printing errors that have crept into the work. Some of the proof- sheets could not be revised by the author for unavoidable reasons.
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