The purest gems lie hidden in the bottom of the ocean or in the depth of rocks. One has to dive into the ocean or delve into the rocks to find them out. Similarly, truth lies concealed in the language which with the passage of time has become obsolete. Man has to learn that language before he discovers that truth.
But he has neither the means nor the leisure to embark on that course. We have, therefore, planned to help him acquire knowledge by an easier course. We have started the series of Ancient Indian Tradition and Mythology in English Translation. Our goal is to universalize knowledge through the most popular international medium of expression. The publication of the Puranas in English translation is a step toward that goal.
The present volume contains the Kurma Purana part I (Chapters 1—53) completing the first half (purvãrdha) of the text in English translation. This is the Twentieth Volume in the series of fifty Volumes which we have planned on Ancient Indian Tradition and Mythology.
The project of the series was envisaged and financed in 1970 by late Lala Sunderlal Jain of Messrs Motilal Banarsidass. Hitherto nineteen volumes of the series (comprising English translation of Siva, Linga, Bhagavata, Garuda and Narada Puranas) have been published and released for sale.
The present volume, like all other volumes, is encyclopedic n character. It deals with the miscellaneous topics such as Cosmogony, Religion, Philosophy, History, Geography and Astronomy. In Religion and Ethics it places emphasis on the performance of duties of one’s own profession (Varna-dharma) in relation to one’s own stage of life (arama). It also recounts the glory and greatness of the holy places of pilgrimage— Varanasi and Prayàga in particular. In philosophy it follows the Sankhya system of thought in regard to the creation, sustenance and dissolution of the universe. In History it describes the genealogies of the solar and lunar races and the episodes of ill ustrated kings. In Geography it describes Bhuvanakoga, seven Dvipas, their flora and fauna, their mountain and river- systems. In Astronomy it describes the planetary system, the solar chariot, the chariots of planets, the function of the twelve àdityas, the seven rays of the sun.
In the sectarian grouping of the Puranas, the Kürma comes under the Saiva Puränas. The author of the Padmapurä a (Uttarakhanda 262. 81-4) classifies Karma as Tamasa together with Linga, Siva, Agni and Skanda. But scholars like S. K. Dc think that Kurma was originally a Vaisva Purâna which was Pasupatized later on. However, we have tried to show in the footnotes that the Purana-writer was a non sectarian person neither pro-Visnu nor pro-Siva. He wanted to emphasize that as manifestations of the supreme Brahma both Siva and Visnu are the same. There is an obvious tendency cowards compromise between Vaiavism, Saivism and other of the Puranic Pernr1 To Illustrate Compare Part 1, Ch. 10 where Brahmã is praising Siva, oneness of the family of gods—Brahma, Visnu and Siva emphasized. Part 1, Ch. 12 enumerates one thousand epithets of the Goddess Umã and glorifies her different aspects; Part 1, Ch.16 eulogizes Nrsimha, the Man-Lion of incarnation of Visnu against whom the Pasupata missile discharged by Hiranyaksa had no effects. In part I Ch.16 Siva is said to have sought refuge in lord Visnu Part I Ch.17 Contains a hymn to Visnuo on the other hand in part I Ch.26 Srikrsna a full fledged incarnation of Visnu performs penance and propitiates Siva for getting a son from Jambavati.
The foregoing illustrations and more reveal a clear attempt to amalgamate the different deities especially the trinity of gods to counteract the divine tendencies in different sects in those times.
The translation of the Kurma Purana is already published by the Kasiraja Trust Varanasi. But the present translation contains some special features which may be noted here.
(i) the present translation is based on the standard edition of the Venkatesvara press.
(ii) In the translation a number of Vls are incorporated which are not included in the Varanasi edition.
(iii) As a text critic the translator has discussed a few readings of the critical edition and has given reasons why he has accepted a particular reading.
(iv) The Present edition gives the English translation of practically every epithet in the one thousand names (Sahasranama) of the goddess Uma. The Varanasi edition of translation gives merely a transliteration in Roman script of the Sanskrit works used as epithets in the Sahasranama.
(v) Annotations include ample material on the Pasupatization problem of the Kurma Purana. The annotator has shown that the Kurma Purana is textually more indebted tot eh Visnu Purana and not so much to the Linga Purana as Dr. Gupta tries to show in his critical notes of the critical edition of the Kurma Purana.
(vi) The annotator has compared each and every mythological episode with the same in other Puranas. He has put elaborate notes on the topics of Dharmasastra and the references of philosophy. The comparative table of common verses in the Kurma Purana and other Puranas is also a new feature.
The Kurma Purana in its list of (Maha) Puranas and elsewhere (e.g. I.1.127.130) calls itself as Kaurma a Purana pertaining to Kurma a title confirmed by other Puranas in their lists of Puranas. This purana is called Kaurma as it was first narrated by god Visnu in his tortoise incarnation to king Indradyumna.
It was again retold completely by him to Indradyumna who by the grace of Visnu was born as a pious Brahmana of the same name. This story as told to the Brahmana Indradyumna was renarrated by Lord Kurma in the nether world called Rasatala to great sages like Narada and gods like Indra at their insistence Suta recounted the same to the sages at the sacrificial session in the Naimisa forest and he designates this Purana as Kaurma as it was narrated by the God of gods in his Kurma form.
The title in vogue is Kurma Purana and is used here.
Philosophy in the Kurma Purana
The above discussion sheds light on the philosophical systems that influenced KP. These may be briefly reviewed as follows:
Sankhya the theories of the involution of the universe and Sarga and Prati sarga or Prati sancara show that the Sankhya theory has been mostly followed in KP. The twenty four principles of Sankhyas are regarded as the Pasas (nooses) of Pasupati in the orthodox Pasupatism explained in Isvara Gita. Bu the two theories of evolutions in the KP (as noted above) are different and must have been assimilated at different periods. The Sankhya in KP is theistic and gives the credit of creating the Primordical matter. Time etc to god Siva who stands for the Upanisadic concept of Brahman. Consequently the idea of Liberation of the Sankhyas viz. alone ness is substituted by the four types of Muktis (Liberation) such as Salokata, Samipata, Sarupata and Sayujyata. Kp asserts that the whole universe mobiles and immobiles depends just on the will of god. In the chapter titled sankhya Siddhanta god is equated with eternal Brahman and is the father of the universe. For attainment of Brahman or Mahesvara knowledge of seven subtle principles and of the six characteristics or components of Lord Siva is necessary.
The chapter shows how great KP differs from Sankhya Karikas of Isvara Krsna.
Yoga next to Sankhya yoga as a science of God realization exerted a powerful influence on the KP. It is not simply the acceptance of five Klesas (Mentioned in YSPii,3;iii,12: in 28-30) as the bondages of the soul but as noted above we find that the whole of astanga yoga (From yama Niyama upto Samadhi) is accepted as the path of attaining to Siva in the orthodox Pasupatism.
Vedanta the Isvara Gita is so much full of quotations from the BG and from Upanisads like Svetasvatara Katha that the author of the KP only echoes these Vedantic works when explaining the Pasupata concepts about atman Brahman (the Impersonalized Siva) Maya (also called Prakrti) etc. the personal god Siva also appears occasionally.
The atman indicates both god head and individual soul. It is pure consciousness pure, subtle, eternal unmanifest. He is also called Prana (Vital breath) Mahesvara (the great god) and Kala (Time). Though the lord of Maya (Mayin) he appears to be bound by Maya and takes diverse forms but this diversity is apparent due to maya.
Prapanca (the visible world) and Paramatman are distinct and different Prapanca is unreal. Atman is one unaffected by feelings or suffering Hence he is called advaita. The influence of Sankaradaita is felt at every step when one reads about the concepts of Atman Brahman Maya etc. the Puranic element Saivism is obvious as the Unmanifest Atman is regarded as Siva. When a yogi (by the path described above in II.I-118) identifies his soul with Siva he is liberated from Samsara.
The present volume contains the Karma Purana, Part II (Chapters 1-46) completing the second half (Uttarãrdha) of the text in English translation. This is the Twenty first Volume in the series of fifty volumes which we have planned on Ancient Indian Tradition and Mythology.
The project of the series was envisaged and financed in 1970 by Lala Sundar Lal Jam of Messrs Motilal Banarsidass. Hitherto twenty volumes of the series, (comprising English translation of Siva, Linga, Bhagavata, Garuda, Narada and Karma have been published and released for sale.
This volume,(Kurma pt. II,) like all other volumes, is encyclopedic in character. It deals with miscellaneous topics such as the Paupata Yoga, the Vibhüti Yoga, the Yoga of Tivara as the means of crossing the ocean of Worldly existence. In Religion and Ethics, it places emphasis on the performance of duties of one’s own profession (Varza-dharma) in relation to one’s stage of life (Asrama). In Philosophy it follows the Sankhya system of thought in regard to the concept of Purana and Prakrti and the evolution of Universe by the union of both. In Geography it describes the holy centers situated in the different parts of the country, on the Narmada river in particular. It comments upon the topics of creation, sustenance and dissolution. As a special feature, the present part mentions some expiatory rites for the person who fails to observe duties prescribed for him in the Dharina.iastra. For further specialties of this Purana, the reader is referred to Introduction prefixed to Part I of this Purana.
The present translation is based on the Sanskrit text of the Karma Purana as published by Messrs Kemaraja Srikrsnadasa, Veñkatesvara Press, Bombay. This text constructed on the collation of mss and supported by the evidence of citations found in the Smrti granthas, is fairly accurate.
The present Part, the second half includes besides translation and notes of Kurma, the Preface, Abbreviations, Contents and the General Index to the complete Purana.
Title: THE KURMA-PURANA (PART II)
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