by N.A. Deshpande | 1951 | 1,261,945 words | ISBN-10: 8120838297 | ISBN-13: 9788120838291
This page describes preface to second part of the English translation of the Padma Purana, one of the largest Mahapuranas, detailling ancient Indian society, traditions, geography, as well as religious pilgrimages (yatra) to sacred places (tirthas).
Here is Part II of the Padma-Purāṇa in English translation, being the 40th volume in the series of Ancient Indian Tradition and Mythology (AITM). It comprises the remaining 49 chapters, viz., chaps. 34-82, of the first Sṛṣṭikhaṇḍa. or the Section on Creation, which is now complete.
The reader would like to have some idea of the contents of this part at the outset. As usual this part also contains a number of well known narratives such as those of Rāma, Śiva-Pārvatī, Nṛsiṃha, Garuḍa, Gaṇeśa, the rape of Ahalyā, Viṣṇu’s incarnation in the form of Varāha, the descent of Gaṅgā etc. The birth stories of Kapila, Vajrāṅga, Pārvatī, Kārtikeya and a number of demons such as Madhu and Kaiṭabha are also found in this part. The long-drawn war between gods and demons is described graphically in detail in several chapters, some prominent generals of the latter mentioned by name being Kālanemi, Tāraka, Namuci, Muci, Kālakeya, Kāleya, Tāreya, Devāntaka, Durdharṣa, Durmukha, Madhu and Vṛtra. Finally gods come out victorious with the slaying of Hiraṇyākṣa by Viṣṇu.
Several stories occurring in this part are related for the inculcation of religious and pious deeds as well as moral virtues, e.g., celibacy, chastity, truthfulness, making various kinds of gifts, adoration of parents, devotion to the performance of duties pertaining to one’s caste (varṇa) and stage (āśrama), of Śrāddha etc. In this connection mention may be made of the stories of kings Śveta, Akṣaya and Daṇḍa, of Mūka, Tulādhāra, Adroha, Pativratā, Vaiṣṇava, Sevyā, Māṇḍavya etc.
The reader will also find here a number of hymns to gods Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Śiva, Gaṇapati, the Sun, the Moon etc. composed for the benefit of the devotees. Rites are described for the appeasement of evil Planets. Great merit has been attached to benevolent deeds such as digging wells and tanks, planting trees, constructing bridges, providing drinking water to pilgrims and travellers etc. Some chapters are devoted to the praise of Rudrākṣa, Tulasī and Dhātrī (Āmalaka). An interesting and noteworthy feature of this part is the mention of sinful tribes such as Nagnakas, Avācakas, Kuvadas, Kharpas, Dāruṇas—probably some heretical religious sects of India—and, more importantly, of foreigners such as hairless and beardless Yavanas, cow-eating Turuṣkas (Turks?) and Mlecchas, obviously referring to the historical event of foreigners’ invasion of India especially by the Muslims. This event gave rise to the glorification and worship of cows which came to be considered as sacred as Agni and Brāhmaṇas, all the three together with the Vedas spoken of as born from Brahmā’s mouth.
It is our pleasant duty to put on record our sincere thanks to Dr. R.N. Dandekar and the UNESCO authorities for their kind encouragement and valuable help which render this work more useful than it would otherwise have been. To Dr. N.A. Deshpande we are grateful for giving this nice translation. We are also thankful to all those who have been helpful in our project.