The Vishnu Purana

by Horace Hayman Wilson | 1840 | 287,946 words | ISBN-10: 8171102127

The English translation of the Vishnu Purana. This is a primary sacred text of the Vaishnava branch of Hinduism. It is one of the eighteen greater Puranas, a branch of sacred Vedic literature which was first committed to writing during the first millennium of the common era. Like most of the other Puranas, this is a complete narrative from the cr...

Book Two

The second book opens with a continuation of the kings of the first Manwantara; amongst whom, Bharata is said to have given a name to India, called after him Bhārata-varṣa. This leads to a detail of the geographical system of the Purāṇas, with mount Meru, the seven circular continents, and their surrounding oceans, to the limits of the world; all of which are mythological fictions, in which there is little reason to imagine that any topographical truths are concealed. With regard to Bhārata, or India, the case is different: the mountains and rivers which are named are readily verifiable, and the cities and nations that are particularized may also in many instances be proved to have had a real existence. The list is not a very long one in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa, and is probably abridged from some more ample detail like that which the Mahābhārata affords, and which, in the hope of supplying information' with respect to a subject yet imperfectly investigated, the ancient political condition of India, I have inserted and elucidated.

The description which this book also contains of the planetary and other spheres is equally mythological, although occasionally presenting practical details and notions in which there is an approach to accuracy. The concluding legend of Bharata—in his former life the king so named, but now a Brahman, who acquires true wisdom, and thereby attains liberation—is palpably an invention of the compiler, and is peculiar to this Purāṇa.

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