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ब्रह्मवैवर्त पुराण: Brahmavaivarta Purana
by Dr. Vinay
PAPERBACK (Edition: 2014)
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Brahmavaivarta Purana - Ancient Indian Tradition and Mythology (Set of 3 Books)
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Brahma-Vaivarta-Purana
The Brahma-vaivarta-Purana is one such that is often quoted by the writers of the dharmasastras while dealing with topics like castes, gifts,vratas (religious vows during festival days), descriptions of narakas or hells for transgression of dharma and so on.

It is probable that this purana may have acquired this title because it treats this created world as only a vivarta of or an appearance in Brahman, the Absolute.

It is a fairly voluminous work comprising 18,000 verses spread over four khandas or books, the total number of chapters being 276.

The first book called Brahmakhanda lauds this purana and also gives a gist of the contents of the entire work. It declares that it is Sri Krsna who is the creator of the entire universe and that his world, the Goloka, is the highest of all the divine abodes, even Vaikuntha and Kailasa being inferior to it. A detailed account of creation which includes the emanation of other deities like Narayana, Sankara or Siva, Brahma and Dharmapurusa, as also the goddesses like Murti, Laksmi, Sarasvati, Durga and Savitri is also given. Other topics dealt with in this book include Ayurveda, (science of health) worship of Salagrama (the stone symbol of Visnu), austerities to be practised by the samnyasins and widows, philosophical teachings concerning the, ultimate identity of the jiva (individual soul) with Brahman and a description of the Goloka.

Prakrtikhanda, the second book, deals with the mulaprakrti or the Mother Nature, who is pictured as the consort of God, forming the left part of his body as it were. She evolves into five goddesses: Radha and Durga, Laksmi and Sarasvati as also Savitri. God or Purusa splits himself into Sri Krsna and Narayana, Later, Brahma and Siva also emanate from him.

Mulaprakrti gives birth to a golden egg from which emerges Mahavirat, the Cosmic Being. He creates the worlds.

Here We have also a number of miscellaneous subjects which have been dealt with: stories of various female deities including the river-goddesses, worship and meditation concerning Bhumi or Mother Earth, merits of a bath in the Ganga River, importance of the tulasi leaves and rules concerning its use, details of the various salagrama stones, the well-known story of Savitri and Satyavan, karma and its effects, descriptions of narakas or hells, detailed information about the growth of the human foetus in the womb, story of Durga in brief as also some details about her worship.

Next comes Ganapati-Khanda. This book deals mainly with the birth and exploits of Ganapati and Sanmukha, the two sons of Siva-Parvati. The story Parasurama (the Rama of the battle-axe) is also an important part of this section. There are quite a few beautiful hymns in praise of Ganapati.

Sri-Krsna-janma-khanda, the last book, is also the biggest. Though the story of Krsna follows the one given in the Bhagavata, the amorous deeds of Radha and Krsna are portrayed prominently. Stories of Ambarisa and Durvasa, Astavakra and Sri Rama also find a place. A variety of topics like the evil omens indicated by bad dreams, duties of the people belonging to the four varnas, special code of conduct for the widows, foods fit and unfit for consuming, description of Kaliyuga or the Iron Age, greatness of the country of Bharata and the science of architecture are also included at appropriate places.

The last chapter of this book gives a list of eighteen major puranas along with the total number of verses in each or them.

A special feature of this purana is that it gives several important mantras (esoteric formulae) as also their usage.

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