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The Kalika Purana - Text, Introduction and English Translation

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About the Book: The Kalika-purana is one of the eighteen (upa) puranas, and it occupies a prominent place in the vast puranic leterature. Though technically an upa-purana, it is called Kalika-purana or Kali-purana, composed to popularise the cult of Sakti, particularly the worship of the mother Goddess Kamakhya. The first half of the Kalika-p. (though not divided in to parts) deals with the marriage of Sati to Siva, her death and re-birth and re-union with Siva, the identification of ...

About the Book:

The Kalika-purana is one of the eighteen (upa) puranas, and it occupies a prominent place in the vast puranic leterature. Though technically an upa-purana, it is called Kalika-purana or Kali-purana, composed to popularise the cult of Sakti, particularly the worship of the mother Goddess Kamakhya.

The first half of the Kalika-p. (though not divided in to parts) deals with the marriage of Sati to Siva, her death and re-birth and re-union with Siva, the identification of Mahamaya (Goddess) with Kamakhya, the Naraka myth and Vasistha's curse on Kamakhya etc.

The second half deals exclusively the ritual procedure of worshipping the Goddess. K. P. also gives a vivid description of the hills, rivers and secred places of Kamarupa, with the presiding deities.

The Kalika-purana was composed in Kamarupa (Assam) in late ninth century.

The text of the K. P. has been edited critically by comparing all the printed text including one edited by the present author and four manuscripts, two from India office Library, London. The Sanskrit text is followed by a faithful English translation. The work is published in two volumes running in 1400 pages, and a third volume, containing verse-index, notes, study etc. will be published shortly.

K. R. Vankooji's worship of Goddess According to the Kalika-purana was consulted.

About the Author:

DR. BISWANARAYAN SHASTRI, M. A. D.Litt, Sahitya Vyakarana-Mimamsa-Shastri,

Kavya-Tirtha is a renowned Sanskrit scholar of International repute. Dr. Shastri's woks on Nyaya-Vaisesika philosophy and Tantra have been appreciated by scholars in India abroad.

AVINASI, a historical novel in Sanskrit from Dr. Shastri's pen is the first of its kind in Sanskrit literature, and he has been awarded for his work by the Sahitya Akadmi, Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad (Cal), and Uttar Pradesh Sanskrit Academy with Banabhatta award. He is a Rastrapati awardee for Sanskrit, and also a recipient of literary pension from the Govt. of Assam for his contribution to Assamese literature and Culture.

Dr. Shastri translated Sahitya-dar-pana and Kathasarit Sagara into Assamese with explanatory notes. He published nearly one hundred research papers in English and Sanskrit, and two hundred popular articles in Assamese, and a few in Hindi. The Uttar Pradesh Hindi Sansthan honoured him with award.

Dr. Shastri, a former Member of Loksabha, is a widely travelled man, and presently Vice-Chairman, State Planning Board, Assam.


1. Purana and Upapurana

1.1 In the religious tradition of India Sruti (Vedas) and smrti (what is remembered by human teachers) are the two main branches of Sanskrit literature which are considered to be the source and authority of the age old religion. Both of them are described as the two commandments of God.

Manu, while declaring two more in addition to these two as the direct sources of dharma assigns the Vedas the first place, which is to be regarded as superior to all others. Smrti in the widest acceptance of the term "includes the six vedangas, the sutras, both srauta and grhya, the law books of Manu and others, the itihasa, i.e. the Mahabharata, and the Ramayana, the puranas, and the nitisastras.

As the puranas come under smrti they are next only to the Vedas in their authority to dharma. The puranas are also regarded as the soul of the Vedas. Both itihas and puranas are the supplement and complement to the Vedas, and as such, the real meaning of the Vedas is to be interpreted with the help of itihasa and purana, without the knowledge of which the meaning of the Vedas might be lost.

Historically speaking all the puranas are of later origin, i.e. latter than the Vedas, and developed on what have been adumbrated in the Vedas. Thus, the puranas, in a wide sense, are the elaborate commentaries on the vedic tenets. It is why itihasa and puranas are recommended for proper understanding the meaning of the saying of the Vedas.

However, we come across with another traditional view which holds that the puranas are older than the Vedas, and these came out from the mouth of Brahma before the Vedas were emanated forth from him. Such an assertion, no doubt, goes against the traditionally accepted order and seems to be an anachronism. The significance of the saying may be traced in the fact that the oral tradition of the puranas is as old, or even older than the Vedas. Though the puranas were compiled in historic time the oral tradition was •handed down in the society since time immemorial, which swelled with the passage of time. In fact, some puranas seem to pre-Vedic traditions and rites.

The puranas are also regarded as the Vedas or the ‘fifth Veda’. The Brahadaranyako panisad says that puranas sprang up from the remainder of Brahma after the destruction of the Universe.

The Visnu the Vayu and the Brahmanda speak almost in the same tune that Vyasa produced the purana samhita out of the materials in the form of akhyaylkas, upakhyanas, gathas, and kalpajoktis (tradition handed down since time immemorial). Puranas are recognised as a branch of learning in the Brahmanas. The Satapatha-bra speaks of giving instruction on puranas to disciples by the teacher.

The Gopatha-bra, also speaks about 'Itihasa-veda' and Purana veda, the divine origin ascribed to puranas and their placement along with the Vedas are responsible for the recognition of the puranas as vedangas. As such their study is regarded as obligatory without which a person, even though well versed in the Vedas is not considered as a skilful one. The Puranas for the ages have been the mines not only or mythology and cosmic theory of creation and destruction of the world but also the fountain head of hopes and ideals for the society, strength and inspiration of the people.

1.2. The puranas are encyclopaedic in contents and exhaustive in treatment of subjects. They are both the documents of the socio-religious order of the contemporary society, and the philosophy of life to the people of their time and to the infuture generations. The Puranas used to exercise tremendous influence on Indian minds through the ages all over the country, and even abroad, thus they used to serve as an unifying force. The Puranas are always popular with the masses of this subcontinent because they are accessible and intelligible to one and all, because they disseminate knowledge to the people of all strata of the society through popular myths and legends, which directly appeal to the human heart.

It is precisely not clear when the puranas have been formed into a distinct class of literature and they have acquired certain characteristics as to their form. How these characteristics have developed? When such characteristics came to be regarded as essentials? To answer these questions the entire purana literature is to be studied in chronological order, There is no scope for such a study in this brief introduction to this purana.

1.3. The puranas with their unmistakable characteristics had been recognised as a distinct class of literature before the compilation of the well known Sanskrit lexicon, Namallnganusasana by Amarasimha, who gives panca-Iaksana (five characteristics) as the synonym of puranam (puranam pancalaksanam).

Ksirasvamin in his commentary, Amarodghatana, on Amarakosa quotes the five characteristics which a purana is to possess.

Presumably Kslrasvamin has taken this verse from some purana or puranas which had been codified long before him. In eight of the eighteen puranas these five characteristics are found mentioned. The Skanda while stating those five characteristics has introduced new elements such as the serial order of the puranas, extension and the destruction of the world, astronomy, etc, H.T. Colebrooke in his edition of the Amarakosa states on pancalaksana.

"Our theogony, comprising past and future events, under five heads: the creation; the destruction and the recreation of the worlds; genealogy of gods and heroes; the reigns of Manus; and the transaction of their descendants".

M. Winternitz in his History of Indian literature observes on this point:

"Every purana is to have five characteristics (pancalaksana) that is to treat five subjects. These five things only partly form the contents handed down to us; some contain much more than what is included in the 'five characteristics', while others scarcely touch upon these subjects, but deal with quite different things. What is significant almost all our puranas, their sectarian character, i.e. their being dedicated to some god or other, or, Visnu, is completely ignored by the old definition'. H.H. Wilson in the preface to his English translation of the Visnupurana observed thus :

"The lexicon of Amarasimha gives as a synonym of purana 'panca-laksana' that which has five characteristics". However, Wilson goes on pointing out that non-adherence to these characteristics by majority of the puranas and asserts that visnu alone may claim the distinction of conforming to these characteristics. "Such, at any rate, were the constituent and characteristic portions of a purana in the days of Amarasimha, fifty-six years before the Christian era, and if the puranas had undergone no change since his time, such as we expect to find them all. Do they conform to the description? Not exactly in anyone instance; to some it is utterly inapplicable; to others it only partially applies. There is not one to which it belongs so entirely as to the vishnu and it is one of the circumstances which gives to this work a more authentic character than most of its fellow can pretend".

From an examination of the extant puranas it appears that the five characteristics are the guiding principle and not the rigid formulae.

1.4. S.H. Levitt in a recent paper has made an attempt to give a new meaning to the term panca-laksana given by Amarasimha. He has examined the term from grammatical and other points of view and stated that the word ‘laksana’ has never been used in any Sanskrit classics to denote characteristics. He concludes that ‘panca-laksana’ means five different disciplines, viz. Itihas, anviksiki, dandaniti, akhyayika and puranam.

The attempt to give a new interpretation seems to be a futile exercise as such an interpretation had never been intended by Amara and supported by those who flourished after him. Amara simply gives the synonym of purana known to the scholars, and accepted by the laity, he had no scope to define panca-laksana, nor was he required to do so. Therefore the premise that since Amara has not given what are those five laksanas, they are not the traditionally accepted ones-seems to be very weak.

1.5. In course of time the number of five characteristics had risen to ten. The mahapuranas should have ten while the upapuranas are to have the same five characteristics. Srimadbhagavata is technically called a mahapurana though all the eighteen puranas in order to distinguishing them from the upapuranas are often mentioned as mahapuranas. Thus these two categories of puranas or mahapuranas and upapuranas constitute the bulk of the purana literature, to which later on were added sthalapuranas or sthalamahatmyas, the third category, which have no distinct features except their dealing with some local legends or deities.

The tradition says that from one purana of divine origin, called the Purana samhita compiled by Vyasa, the traditional author of the Mahabharata, the Bhagavata, etc. the eighteen mahapuranas had grown into a big dimension comprising four lakh slokas. The eighteen upa-puranas (the number is not restricted to eighteen) were also grown side by side and at later dates.


1. Purana and upapuranai
2. Kalika-Puranav
3. The namevii
4. Printed editionsix
5. Manuscriptsix
6. Chapters and Chapter Divisionxi
7. Kalika Purana quoted by the Smrti digest writersxii
8. Other Texts: Kalika Puranaxiii
9. The myth of earlier Kali (Kalika-Purana)xiv
10. Earlier Kalika Puranaxvi
11. The date and the place of origin of the Kalika-Puranaxxvi
1. The Birth of Kama (Cupid)1
2. The Illusion of Brahma11
3. The Birth of Rati16
4. The Birth or Vasanta (spring)32
5. The Prayer of Mahamaya by Brahma20
6. Prayer or Yoganidra28
7. Dialogue between Brahma and Madana34
8. The Birth of Sati37
9. Persuation of Hara for marrying a wife44
10. Mahadeva expresses his desire and seeks Sati49
11. The Marriage procession of Siva56
12. Identity of Brahma, Visnu & Mahesvara62
13. Mitigation of the anger of Siva68
14. Dalliance of Hara with Sati72
15. Siva's and Sati's departure for their abode in the Himalayas77
16. Siva's dalliance with Sati and her death82
17. The Destruction of the sacrifice of Daksa89
18. Vijaya's grief94
19. Sandhya's preparation for penance105
20. Deliverance of Candra from the curse of Daksa112
21. Candra's emancipation from the curse of Daksa126
22. The birth story of Arundhati138
23. The Marriage of Vasistha with Arundhati148
24. The Destruction of the world160
25. The Varaha- Creation171
26. The Creation of the world177
27. Description of Creation179
28. Description of real and unreal184
29. The Dialogue between Varaha and Sarabha186
30. The Fight Between Varaha and Sarabha190
31. Emergence of Sacrifice from the body of Yajna-Varaha205
32. Fish Incarnation209
33. Fish Incarnation213
34. The description of creation of the world219
35. Abandonment of the Sarabha body by Isvara (Siva)225
36. Removal of sufferings of Prthvi227
37. The birth story of Naraka232
38. Anoinment of Naraka236
39. Practising austerity by Naraka249
40. The story of Naraka257
41. Narada carries the message267
42. Burning of Kama by Mahadeva274
43. Union of Kali with Hara289
44. The dialogue between Kali and Hara298
45. The description of Ardhanarisvara God as half-woman303
46. The birth of Skanda317
47. The birth of Candrasekhara325
48. The description of the birth of Hara and Parvati as human beings on the earth333
49. The story of the page Kapota and Citrangada339
50. The birth story of Vetala and Bhairava345
51. Emergence of Vetala and Bhairava357
52. Worship of Mahamaya374
53. Mahamaya-Kalpa or the procedural rites of Mahamaya377
54. Ritual procedure of Mahamaya380
55. Offering sacrifice of the Goddess385
56. Worship of Mahamaya394
57. Worship of Mahamaya Kamakhya401
58. Worship of Kamakhya417
59. Ceremony of Pavitraropana423
60. Worship of the Goddess Durga and killing of Mahisa431
61. Glorification of Kamakhya444
62. Kamakhya's ritual procedure453
63. The procedure of worshipping Tripura464
64. The ritual procedure of worshipping Tripura480
65. The ritual procedure of worshipping the goddess Sarada486
66. Definition of mudras492
67. The Rudhiradhyaya : description of offering bali501
68. The description of offerings to the goddess517
69. Description of cloths etc. for the goddess523
70. The description of eatables (naivedya)536
71. Circumbulation and paying obeisance540
72. The glory of Kamakhya543
73. Matrkanyasa i.e. placement of syllables on the body of the adept550
74. Worship of three forms of Tripura553
75. The mystery of Tripura mantra572
76. Vetala and Bhairava attained Siddhi580
77. Description of the glory of Jalpisa-pitha590
78. Description of sacred places, hills and rivers of Kamarupa593
79. Places of pilgrimage in Kamarupa602
80. The description of holy rivers, and places of pilgrimage of Kamarupa616
81. The curse of Vasistha on Ugratara and others631
82. The birth of Brahmaputra635
83. The story of Rama, son of Jamadagni641
84. The state polity645
85. Description of good manners657
86. The rules of pusya-snana (ceremonial bath) on the day when the star pusya falls663
87. The raising of Sakradhavaja675
88. Visnu-Yajna680
89. The emergence of Bhairava dynasty686
90. Dynasty of Vetala697
Shloka Index701

Sample Pages

Item Code: IDG157 Author: DR. BISWANARAYAN SHASTRI Cover: Hardcover Edition: 2008 Publisher: Nag Publisher ISBN: 8170812305 Language: Sanskrit Text with English Translation Size: 8.5" X 5.5" Pages: 894 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 1.4 kg
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