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Sávitri, Lakshmi, Swáhá, Swadhá, Dakshina, Shasht'hí, Mangalá, Chandí, Manasá, Surabhi, Rádhiká, and Durga. In the course of these narratives, various others are introduced, illustrative of the characters of gods, saints, heroes, and heroines, all tending to show the fervour with which they worshipped Krishna. Accounts of Goloka, a description of hell, and an explanation of the chronological system of the Puranas, are interwoven; besides other subjects of a peculiar and legendary nature, conveying little information or amusement.
The third section of the Brakmá Vaivertta Purána is the Ganes'a K'handa, giving an account of the birth and actions of that deity, in a series of legends, which are not of frequent occurrence, and are in a great degree, if not altogether, peculiar to the work.
Parvati, after her marriage with Siva, being without a child, and being desirous to obtain one, is desired by her husband to perform the Punyaka Vrata. This is the worship of Vishnu, to be begun on the thirteenth day of the bright fortnight of Mágha, and continued for a year, on every day of which flowers, fruits, cates, vessels, gems, gold, &c. are to be presented, and a thousand brahmans fed, and the performer of the rite is to observe most carefully a life of outward and inward purity, and to fix his mind on Hari or Vishnu. Párvati, having, with the aid of Sanatkumara, as directing priest, accomplished the ceremony on the banks of the Ganges, returns after some interval, in which she sees Krishna, first as a body of light, and afterwards as an old brahmana, come to her dwelling. The reward of her religious zeal being delayed, she is plunged in grief, when a viewless voice tells her to go to her apartment, where she will find a son, who is the lord of Goloka, or Krishna, that deity having assumed the semblance of her son, in recompense of her devotions.
In compliment to this occasion, all the gods came to congratulate Siva and Párvati, and were severally admitted to see the infant : amidst the splendid cohort was Sani, the planet Saturn; who, although anxious to pay his homage to the child, kept his eyes stedfastly fixed on the ground. Párvati asking him the cause of this, he told her, that being immersed in meditation upon Vishnu, he had disregarded the caresses of his wife, and in resentment of his neglect, she had denounced upon him the curse that whomever he gazed upon he should destroy: to obviate the evil consequences of this imprecation he avoided looking any one in the face. Párvati having heard his story paid no regard to it, but considering that what must be, must be, gave him permission to look at her son. Sani, calling Dherma to witness his having leave, took a peep at Ganésa, on which the child's head was severed from the body, and flew away to the heaven of Krishna, where it reunited with the substance of him of whom it was part. Durgá, taking the headless trunk in her arms, cast herself, weeping, on the ground, and the gods thought it decent to imitate her example, all except Vishnu, who mounted Garura, and flew off to the river Pushpabhadra', where, finding an elephant asleep, he took off his head, and Aying back with it, clapped it on the body of Ganésa; hence the body of that deity is crowned with its present uncouth capital. On the restoration of Ganésa to life, valuable gifts were made to the gods and brahmans, by the parents, and by Párvati's father, the personified Himálaya. The unfortunate Sani was again anathematised, and in consequence of the curse of Parvati, has limped ever since.
These legends, and others of minor importance, with the various prayers and addresses of the deities, occupy the first thirteen chapters. The next five give an account of the birth of Kartikeya. In the 19th and 21st chapters, the reason why Ganésa's head was lopped off is given. Siva, offended with Aditya, the sun, slew him, and although he restored him to life, incurred the wrath of the sage Ka'syapa, who doomed his (Siva's) son to lose his head. The elephant was Indra's elephant, and was decapitated because Indra threw over his neck the garland of flowers which the sage Durvásas gave him, and the disrespect of which, with the consequent degradation of Indra, is noticed in various Puránas, although in all other respects with different results. Indra was no loser of an elephant by his decapitation, as Vishnu, moved by the prayers of his mate, gave him another head in place of that which he took away. The humiliation of Indra, and his recovery of Lakshmi', or glory, are the subjects of the next five chapters, and the remaining half of this section is occupied with the story of Ganésa's losing one of his tusks. It was broken off by. Parasurama, and the occurrence therefore involves his history, and that of his ancestor Bhrigu, the possession of the all-bestowing cow by Jámadagni, the attempt to carry her off by the king Kártaviryárjuna; the conflict that ensued, and the death of the sage; Parasurama's avenging his father's loss by slaying Kártaviryárjuna; his combats with the kings who came to the aid of that prince; and the destruction of the military race.
After this last exploit, Parasuraına, who was a favourite disciple of Siva, went to Kailasa to visit his master; on arriving at the inner apartments, his entrance was opposed by Ganésa, as his father was asleep. Parasurama nevertheless urged his way, and after a long and absurd dialogue, in which devotion to Krishna is most abruptly and diffusely introduced, the parties came to blows. Ganésa had at first the advantage, seizing Parasurama in his trunk, and giving him a twirl that left him sick and senseless; on recovering, Ráma threw his axe at Ganésa, who recognizing it as his father's weapon (Siva having given it to Parasurama), received it with all humility upon one of his tusks, which it immediately severed, and hence Ganésa has but one tusk, and is known by the names Ekadanta and Ekadantashtra (the single-tusked). Párvati was highly incensed with Parasuráma, and was about to curse him, when Krishna, of whom he was the worshipper, appeared as a boy, and appeased her indignation. This part of the work ends with a recapitulation of the names of Ganesa, his quarrel with Tulasi, in consequence of an imprecation from whom it was that he lost one of his tusks; Parasurama's adoration of him, and retiring to lead an ascetic life.
The last section, the Krishna Janma K'handa, is very voluminous, containing one hundred and thirty-two chapters. It gives an account of Krishna's birth and adventures, as narrated by Náráyana to Naréda.
The narrative is introduced by a panegyric of the individual, who is a real Vaishnava, or thoroughly devoted to Krishna; and who consequently becomes endowed with all knowledge and virtue, acquires superhuman faculties on earth, is elevated to the region of Krishna after death, and liberates himself, and seven generations above and below him, from the penalty of regeneration. All crimes avoid him, or are consumed in his purity, like moths in a lamp; and any one meeting him on the road is thereby cleansed of the sins he may have contracted for seven preceding lives; no course of religious practices or devout penances is necessary to the attainment of such miraculous excellence, and the love of Hari or Krishna is the only condition required. He who has received the initiatory mantra, who repeats the name of that divinity constantly, who transfers to him every worldly desire and possession, whose thoughts ever dwell upon him in prosperity or distress, and the hair of whose body stands erect with rapture on his simply hearing any of the appellations of Krishna articulated, has fulfilled every obligation, and merits the designation of a Vaishnava. **According to this Purána, and this only, the original cause of Krishna's incarnation was his love of Rádhá. The Rádhá of the Goloka had been compelled to assume a mortal body, by the imprecation of a Gopa of that region, Kridama, the minister of his master's pleasures, and the object of Radha's anger. Him she condemned in a fit of jealous indignation to become the Asura Sankháchúra, and he in retaliation sentenced her to become a nymph of Vrindavan. To console her in his condition, Krishna also came down to this world, as her lover; at the same time, however, granting the prayers of Brahıná and the gods, who solicited his appearance to relieve the earth from the burthen of the iniquities under which she laboured, the legitimate purpose of every descent or Avatára. In order to provide Krishna and Rádhá with suitable associates, all the gods and goddesses also assumed their respective characters as Gopas and Gopis, or members of the family of Yadu, and the heroes of the Mahabharat. Vasudeva, the father of Krishna, was an incarna: tion of Kasyapa, and Dévaki, his mother, of Aditi. Nanda was an incarnation of one of the Vasus, and Yasodá of his spouse Dhará. Durga was incarnate as the daughter of the bear Jainbaván. Jainbavaiti, one of Krishna's brides, and Lakshmi, multiplied herself into the sixteen thousand princesses, whom Krishna enumerated amongst his wives.
The story of Vasudeva and Dévaki, and the birth of Krishna, are narrated in the usual manner, which gives occasion to directions for the celebration of the Janmúshthami, or festival in commemoration of the birth-day of Krishna, on the eighth lunation of the month Srávan, and the Purána authorises its observance agreeably to the practice of the Saktas, which allows it to be independent of the moon's entering into the asterism Rohiní, although, should the position of the moon and the lunation occur together, the festival is the more holy, and is termed Jayanti, or triumphant.' The festival is on no account to commence on that day in which a part of the seventh lunation may occur. The variety of doctrine and observance on this head is explained in the Asiatic Researches (vol. xvi. page 92, note). To omit the observance altogether is a crime not to be expiated, and is equal in atrocity to the murder of a hundred brahmans.
The infant exploits of Krishna are next related, and require no particular comment. Garga, the Muni, points out Rádhá, the daughter of Vrishabhánu, as an eligible bride for the youth, and acquaints Nanda, Krishna's fosterfather, of the secret of her divinity, in which he thus expounds her name: “ The letter r preserves persons from sin, the vowel a obviates regeneration, d'h shortens the period of mortal existence, and the second long vowel sunders all worldly bonds." The marriage was accordingly celebrated with great rejoicing, and the distribution of viands in large quantities, and the donation of immense treasures. The incompatibility of such profusion with the condition of Nanda, the cowherd, is of no consideration to the author of this work, although it has saved the author of the Bha'gavat, the original of the greater part of the story, from any such gross extravagancies.
The hero of the festivities steals the curds, in the next chapter, for which he is tied to a tree, and gets a whipping from his foster-mother Yasodá. After she leaves him, the tree falls, and from it emerges Nalakuvera, the son of Kuvera, condemned to this metamorphosis for indecent behaviour in the presence of Devala* Muni.
One place has Galava.
A long chapter is next occupied with the praises of Rádhá by Krishna and Brahma, which inculcate her supremacy over all other divinities, male or female, and her being inseparable from and one with Krishna. The sports of the juvenile god are then related, and his destruction of the demons Vaka, Kesi, and Pralamba; the construction of palaces at Gokula, for all its inhabitants, by Viswakermá, the divine architect, of whose architectural exploits the village of Gokula now offers no vestiges. This part of the work comprises the history of Vrishabhánu, and his wife Kalávati, the parents of Rádhá, and who were rewarded by her birth, for the yirtues of their former existence, as Suchandra, a king of the family of Menu, and Kalávati, a will-born daughter of the Pitris or progenitors of mankind. This story includes a dissertation upon the virtues of women.
Several chapters follow, partly describing the actions of Krishna, and partly expatiating upon his excellencies and those of Rádhá.
A legend of Sáhasika, the son of the son of Bali, follows, who was turned into an ass, by the curse of Durvásas, for having disturbed the meditation of that
sage in the prosecution of his amours with Tilottamá, a nymph of heaven, On the penitence of the couple, Durvásas announced to them, that the ass should be destroyed by the discus of Krishna, in consequence of which, the spirit of Sáhasika should received final emancipation, and that Tilottamá should be born the daughter of Bánásura, in which capacity she should become the bride of Aniruddha, the grandson of Krishna.
The marriage of Durvásas with Kadáli, the daughter of Aurva Muni, is the next legend; in this, the violent temper of his wife excites the sage's wrath, and he reduces her to ashes, Repenting subsequently of his anger, and soothed by the appearance of Brahmá, he changes the remains of his wife into a plantain tree. The same sage is the subject of another legend of great celebrity amongst the Vaishnavas, as illustrating Krishna's superiority over Siva. Durvásas, a votary of that deity, being offended with Ambarísha, a devout wor. shipper of Vishnu, attempted to destroy him, but was repelled, and narrowly escaped destruction himself by the chakra, or discus, of Vishnu, which came to the assistance of the king. The merits of fasting on the eleventh day of the fortnight are the subject of the next chapter, and they are followed by an explanation of the eight names of Durga, which again is relieved by a story of Krishna carrying away and hiding the clothes of the nymphs of Gokula whilst they were bathing in the Juinna. He gives up his booty upon being prayed to by Rádbá, in the usual strain, eulogising his divine supremacy and identification with all things known or unknown. Several legends of minor importance follow, to the 32d chapter, when that, and the two following, are occupied with the advances made by Mohini, a heavenly nymph, to Brahmá, and his insensibility, in resentment of which she curses him, that he shall not receive any adoration from mankind; the effects of which malediction are said to be evinced in the neglect which Brahma experienced from the professors of the Hindú faith.
The attention of the work is next directed, through a series of chapters, to the legends of the Saiva faith, or Brahma's discomfiture by Siva, the asceticism of the latter, his marriage with Sati, the daughter of Daksha, her burning her. self, and Siva's second marriage with Párvati, the daughter of Himalaya. Stories of Vrishaspati, Indra, Vahni, Durvasas, and Dhanwantari then follow, All these legends are supposed to be narrated by Krishna to Rádhá, for her entertainment; and their general purport is to shew that the personages to whom they refer are immeasurably inferior to Krishna and his votaries.
Some cases are then recorded of the humiliation of the leading personages of the Hindú pantheon, in consequence of their incurring the displeasure of Krishna or some of bis followers. Vishnu, whilst boasting himself the god of all, was swallowed by Krishna in the form of a Bbairava, all but his head, and was restored to his form on recovering his senses. Brahma, whilst making a similar vaunt, was surprised to behold multitudes of Brahmás and Brahmándas, or creations distinct from himself and his works; and Siva was condemned to pay the penalty of his pride by his marriage with Sati, and distraction for her loss, which were the delusions of Krishna.
The 62d chapter contains a summary account of Rámachandra, and the next ten proceed with an account of the transactions that immediately preceded Krishna's departure from Vrinda'van for Mathurá, whither he was attracted, with his supposed father Nanda, by a special invitation from Kansá, his uncle, with a view to his destruction, at a sacrifice offered to Siva. The result of this visit is the death of Kansá, as described in other Puránas ; but there is no detail of the previous wrestling, which occurs in the Bhagavat. On taking final leave of his foster-father Nanda, Krishna favours him with a code of regulations for his moral and religious conduct : he is not to look at a single star, nor the setting sun or moon; not to keep company with the wicked, nor to injure or insult Brahmans, cows, and Vaishnavas; not to delay payment of the due fees to the priest who officiates at a ceremony; not to eat flesh or fish; not to vilify Siva, Durgá, or Ganapati; and on no account to omit every possible demonstration of his love for Hari. These injunctions extend to a great length, and are all of as little importance as the above. There are some curious denunciations, however, against acts which are lawful in the institutes of Menu; and no distinction is here made between a Bráhman who follows the profession of arms and one who marries a woman of the Súdra caste. There is also a singular leaning shown to the Saiva faith, and the man, who forms a single Siva-linga of clay, is said to reside in heaven for one hundred kalpas. The following scale is given of Krishna's affections: “Of all tribes the Brahman is most esteemed by me, Lakshmi is still more beloved than a Brahman, Rádhá is dearer to me than Lakshmí, a faithful worshipper is dearer than Rádhá, and Sankara is the best beloved of all.” The instructions to Nanda comprise also a dissertation upon dreams, upon knowledge of the divine nature, and on the duties of the different castes and orders of the Hindús, on the duties of women, and the expiation of offences. This division of the work extends from the seventy-fifth to the eighty-fifth chapter.
A legend of the birth of Vrindá, the daughter of Kedára, next follows: from her, Vrindávan, or as usually termed Bindrában, derives its appellation, she being identified with Rádhá in her birth at that place. This chapter is followed by several others of a very miscellaneous character, in which Brahmá, Siva, and the Munis eulogise Krishna's power. The next sections are occupied with the mission of Uddhava from Krishna to Gokula, to bear intelligence of the latter to his parents and his mistresses; and we have then a short detail of the usual Pauranik chronology. Uddhava returns to Krishna, and we have then a narrative of Krishna's being invested with the thread of his tribe; he then prosecutes his studies under Sandipani Muni, and at their close relinquishes the garb of a cowherd for the robes of a king, presenting to his guru four lacs of diamonds, an equal number of other sorts of gems, five lacs of pearls, a necklace worn by Durgá, dresses worth all the treasures of the world, and ten crores of suvarnás, or certain measures of gold :- puerile exaggerations, which, Asiat. Jour. N.S.Vol. 12, No.48.