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...

The Fifth Book

The fifth book of the Viṣṇu Purāṇa is exclusively occupied with the life of Kṛṣṇa. This is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Purāṇa, and is one argument against its antiquity. It is possible, though not yet proved, that Kṛṣṇa as an Avatāra of Viṣṇu, is mentioned in an indisputably genuine text of the Vedas. He is conspicuously prominent in the Mahābhārata, but very contradictorily described there. The part that he usually performs is that of a mere mortal, although the passages are numerous that attach divinity to his person. There are, however, no descriptions in the Mahābhārata of his juvenile frolics, of his sports in Vrindāvan, his pastimes with the cow-boys, or even his destruction of the Asuras sent to kill him. These stories have all a modern complexion: they do not harmonize with the tone of the ancient legends, which is generally grave, and sometimes majestic: they are the creations of a puerile taste, and grovelling imagination. These Chapters of the Viṣṇu Purāṇa offer some difficulties as to their originality: they are the same as those on the same subject in the Brahmā Purāṇa: they are not very dissimilar to those of the Bhāgavata. The latter has some incidents which the Viṣṇu has not, and may therefore be thought to have improved upon the prior narrative of the latter. On the other hand, abridgment is equally a proof of posteriority as amplification. The simpler style of the Viṣṇu Purāṇa is however in favour of its priority; and the miscellaneous composition of the Brahmā Purāṇa renders it likely to have borrowed these chapters from the Viṣṇu. The life of Kṛṣṇa in the Hari-vanśa and the Brahma-vaivartta are indisputably of later date.

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