The Markandeya Purana (Study)

by Chandamita Bhattacharya | 2021 | 67,501 words

This page relates ‘philosophy of Vaishnavism’ of the study on the Markandeya Purana, one of the oldest of the eigtheen Mahapuranas preserving the history, civilisation, culture and traditions of ancient India. The Markandeyapurana commences with the questions raised by Rishi Jaimini (a pupil of Vyasa), who approaches the sage Markandeya with doubts related to the Mahabharata. This study examines various social topics such as the status of women, modes of worship, yoga, etc.

The philosophy of Vaiṣṇavism

The Mārkaṇḍeyapurāṇa belongs to the Rajasikapurāṇa. As a Rajasikapurāṇa the Mārkaṇḍeyapurāṇa emphasises on the glorification of Brahmā.In spite of providing more information about Lord Brahmā this Purāṇa contains some texts scattered here and there, which reflect the power and glory of Viṣṇu along with Brahmā and Śiva.

According to Mārkaṇḍeyapurāṇa, Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva these three deities are related with the three cosmic principles i.e. creation, preservation and destruction. The three gunas viz. sattva, rajas and tamas are connected with these three deities.[1] Lord Brahmā creates mankind, then he becomes Viṣṇu to possess an excess of goodness and then he assumes the form of Śiva which is associated with the tamas to protect them righteously and dissolves the whole universe.[2]

The philosophy of Vaiṣṇavism can be shown dividing into the following two heads:

  1. Nature of Viṣṇu,
  2. Viṣṇu is the Cause of Creation of the World .

1. Nature of Viṣṇu

Another name of lord Viṣṇu is Nārāyaṇa[3] and Dattatreya[4] . Lord Viṣṇu is known to be immensely powerful, who is the lord of the gods.[5] According to Mārkaṇḍeyapurāṇa, nārā means water and ayana means place of refuge.[6] There was water everywhere at the time of destruction of the world. Lord Viṣṇu slept on this water (nārā). So, lord Viṣṇu is known as Nārāyaṇa.[7] Viṣṇu subsists in four forms for which he is called Caturvyūhātman and having the qualities like variṣṭha, gariṣṭha and vareṇya[8] . This fact is narrated by the four wise birds to Jaimini. Lord Viṣṇu is also both saguna and nirguna.[9] Both of these exist in the four forms namely, Caturvyūha i.e. Vāsudeva[10] , Śeṣa or Samkarṣaṇa,[11] . Pradyumna[12] and Aniruddha[13] . He is known as, puruṣa i.e. the universal, śāśvata i.e. eternal, avyaya i.e. unchanging, aprameya i.e. unknowable[14] . Likewise, Lord Viṣṇu is also described here as- triguna[15] , aja i.e. unborn, immortal[16] , vibhu i.e. All-pervading[17] etc.

2. Viṣṇu is the Cause of Creation of the World

The Mārkaṇḍeyapurāṇa describes that the creation, preservation and destruction of the whole world are done by the lord Viṣṇu.[18] Lord Viṣṇu is known as anādinidhana i.e. he is without the beginning or end.[19] Lord Viṣṇu pervades the universe.[20] He who is Jagadādi i.e . the beginning of the universe, represents appearance and disappearance both, the possesses the attributes of being seen and not being seen.[21] He purifies the three worlds i.e. heaven, earth and the nether regions.[22]

Whenever there is rise in adharma in the universe, Lord Viṣṇu is devoted to protect the world from the adharma and assume the various forms like Varāha, Narasimha, Hiraṇyakaśipu, Vāmana, Māthura etc.[23] He is the portion of the upholder of the universe i.e. Lord Viṣṇu incarnate on earth to protect the world.[24]

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

rajo brahmā tamo rudro viṣṇuḥ sattvaṃ jagatpatiḥ /
eta eva trayo devā eta eva teayo guṇāḥ // Mārkaṇḍeyapurāṇa, 43.18

[2]:

brahmatve sa prajāḥ sṛṣṭvā tataḥ sattvātirekavān /
viṣṇutvametya dharmeṇa kurute paripālanam //
tatastamogaṇodrikto rudratve cākhilaṃ jagat /
upasaṃhṛtya vai śete trailokyaṃ triguṇo’guṇaḥ // Ibid., 43.14-15

[3]:

Ibid., 4.36-43

[4]:

Ibid, 16.97-98

[5]:

namaskṛtya sureśāya viṣṇave prabhaviṣṇave /
puruṣāyāprameyāya śāśvatāyāvyayāya ca // Ibid., 4,36

[6]:

āpo nārā iti proktā munibhistattvadarśibhiḥ /
ayanaṃ tasya tāḥ pūrvaṃ tena nārāyaṇaḥ smṛtaḥ // Ibid., 4.43

[7]:

Bibek Debroy, The Markandeya Purana, p. 22

[8]:

caturvyūhātmane tasmai triguṇāyāguṇāya ca / Ibid., 4.37 a

[9]:

Ibid., 1.13; 4.31; 4.37

[10]:

Ibid., 4.45-47

[11]:

dvitīyā pṛthivī mūrdhnārnāśeṣākhyā dhārayatyadhaḥ /
tāmasī sā samākhyātā tiryaktvaṃ samupāsritā // Ibid., 4.48

[12]:

tṛtīyā karma kurute prajāpālanatatparā /
sattvodriktā tu sā jñeyā dharmasaṃsthānakāriṇī // Ibid., 4.49

[13]:

caturthī jalamadhyasthāśete pannagatalpagā /
rajastasyā guṇaḥ sargam sā karoti sadaiva hi // Ibid., 4.50

[14]:

puruṣāyāprameyāya śāśvatāyāvyayāya ca // Ibid. , 4.36 b

[15]:

caturvyūhātmane tasmai triguṇāyāguṇāya ca / Ibid. , 4.37 a

[16]:

yena viśvamidaṃ vyāptamajena jagadādinā // Ibid., 4.38 b

[17]:

pañcavarṣasahasrāṇi bāhupraharaṇo vibhuḥ // Ibid., 78.72 b

[18]:

Ibid.,1.13; 4.39

[19]:

anādinidhanaṃ brahma kṛṣṇaṃ pītāmbaraṃ śubham // Ibid., 8.240 b; Amurta,4.37

[20]:

Ibid., 4.36

[21]:

Ibid., 4.38

[22]:

Ibid., 4.39; 16.132

[23]:

Ibid., 4.55-58

[24]:

yogayuktaṃ mahātmānaṃ sarvatra samadarśinam /
viṣṇoraṃśaṃ jagaddhātururttīrṇaṃ dharātale // Ibid.,16.133

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