Brahmanda Purana

The Brahmanda Purana (Sanskrit: ब्रह्माण्ड पुराण, Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa) is a Sanskrit text and one of the eighteen major Puranas, a genre of Hindu texts.[1] It is listed as the eighteenth Maha-Purana in almost all the anthologies.[2] The text is also referred in medieval Indian literature as the Vayaviya Purana or Vayaviya Brahmanda, and it may have been same as the Vayu Purana before these texts developed into two overlapping compositions.[1][3]

The text is named after one of the cosmological theories of Hinduism, namely the "cosmic egg" (Brahma-anda).[4] It is among the oldest Puranas, the earliest core of the text may be from the 4th-century CE, continuously edited thereafter over time and it exists in numerous versions.[5] The Brahmanda Purana manuscripts are encyclopedic in their coverage, covering topics such as cosmogony, Sanskara (rite of passage), genealogy, mythology, chapters on ethics and duties (Dharma), Yoga, geography, rivers, good government, administration, diplomacy, trade, festivals, a travel guide to places such as Kashmir, Cuttack and Kanchipuram, and other topics.[1][5][6]

The Brahmanda Purana is notable for including the Lalita Sahasranamam (a stotra praising Goddess as the supreme being in the universe), and being one of the early Hindu texts found in Bali, Indonesia, also called the Javanese-Brahmanda.[7][8] The text is also notable for the Adhyatma-ramayana, the most important embedded set of chapters in the text, which philosophically attempts to reconcile Bhakti in god Rama and Shaktism with Advaita Vedanta, over 65 chapters and 4,500 verses.[9][10]


The Brahmanda Purana is one of the oldest Puranas, but estimates for the composition of its earliest core vary widely.[11] The early 20th-century Indian scholar Dikshitar, known for his arguments in favor of more ancient dating of the Puranas, dated the Brahmanda to 4th-century BCE.[11] Most later scholarship places this text to be from centuries later, in the 4th- to 6th-century of the common era.[11] Wendy Doniger dates the Brahmanda Purana to have been composed between 4th to 10th century CE, but she adds that this is approximate and any attempt to firmly date Puranic texts is a flawed "chimerical pursuit".[12] The text is generally assumed, states Ludo Rocher, to have achieved its current structure about 1000 CE.[11]

The text underwent continuous revisions after the 10th-century, and new sections probably replaced older ones. The 13th-century Yadava dynasty scholar Hemadri quoted large parts of the then existing Brahmanda Purana, but these parts are not found in currently surviving versions of the same text, suggesting that the 13th-century version of this Purana was different in many respects than extant manuscripts.[13]

The Adhyatma-ramayana, the most important embedded set of chapters in the extant versions of the Purana, is considered to have been composed centuries later, possibly in the 15th-century, and is attributed to Ramananda – the Advaita scholar and the founder of the Ramanandi Sampradaya, the largest monastic group in Hinduism and in Asia in modern times.[14][15][16] The Adhyatma-ramayana thus was added to this Purana later, and it is an important document to the Rama-related tradition within Hinduism.[15]

A Javanese Brahmanda palm-leaf manuscript was discovered in Indonesia in the mid-19th century by colonial-era Dutch scholars, along with other Puranas.[7] The Sanskrit originals of these are either lost or yet to be discovered.[7][8] The Javanese Brahmanda was translated by the Dutch Sanskrit scholar Jan Gonda and compared to Sanskrit texts found in India.[17]


The original version of the Brahmanda Purana does not exist, and 19th-century scholars could first generally locate and procure independent sub-parts or collection of chapters that claimed to have been part of this Purana.[18][19] Many of these chapters turned out to be fradulent, sold by imposters in the 19th-century.[18] Later rare compilations claiming to be the entire Purana emerged, states Wilson.[18]

The published manuscript of the Brahmanda Purana have three Bhaga (parts).[20] The first part is subdivided into two Pada (sub-parts), while the other two have just one Pada each.[20] The first Bhaga has 38 Adhyaya (chapters), the second is structured into 74 chapters, while the third and last Bhaga has 44 chapters. These published text has a cumulative total of 156 chapters.[20]

Other unpublished versions of the manuscripts exist, states Rocher, preserved in various libraries.[21] These vary in their structure. The Nasiketopakhyana text, which is embedded inside this Purana, for example exists in 18 chapters in one version and 19 chapters in another, in a form that Moriz Winternitz termed as a corrupted "insipid, amplified version" of the "beautiful old legend" of Nachiketa found in the ancient Katha Upanishad.[21][19]

The tradition and other Puranas assert that the Brahmanda Purana had 12,000 verses, but the published Venkateshwar Press version of manuscript contains 14,286 verses.[22] The Indonesian version of Brahmanda Purana is much shorter, lacks superfluous adjectives but contains all essential information, and does not contain the prophecy-related chapters found in the published extant Indian version. This suggests that older versions of the Indian text may have been smaller, in a different style, and without prophecy-related sections.[23]


Violence or non-violence?

Ahimsa (non-violence),
is the gateway to Dharma.

Avoid retaliating,
it is the way to Moksha.

[When faced with war or violence]
If by killing one,
many can lead a happy life,
there is no sin, major or minor,
in killing him.

Brahmanda Purana
Chapters 1.2.30-1.2.36[24][25]

The text is encyclopedic.[1][5] It is non-sectarian and reveres all gods and goddesses, including Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesha, Surya and Shakti.[26] The text is notable for its sections denouncing all animal sacrifices.[27] The text's philosophy is a blend of the Vedanta, Samkhya and Yoga schools of Hindu philosophy, woven in with Bhakti and some Tantra themes.[28]

The second part, which comprises chapters 5–44 of the third section, the Uttarabhāga is the Lalitopākhyāna (narrative of Lalita). It describes Goddess Lalita (an avatar of Parvati), and includes her mythology, verses on her worship as well a discussion of Tantra.[2] This part is written as a dialogue between Hayagriva and sage Agastya. The mythology is on Goddess Lalita's emergence out of fire after the king of gods Indra worshipped Devi (Goddess representing the supreme reality). The mythology includes her war with Asura Bhanda and her final triumph.[29]

The sections of this Purana include:

The Adhyatma Ramayana, a text consisting about 4500 verses in 65 chapters and divided into seven kandas. The Nasiketopkhyana, a text in 18 chapters, the Pinakinimahatmya, a text in 12 chapters, the Virajakshetramahatmya and the Kanchimahatmya, a text in 32 chapters are embedded in this Purana.[29]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 Dalal 2014, p. 88.
  2. 1 2 Hazra, R.C. (1962). The Puranas in S. Radhakrishnan ed. The Cultural Heritage of India, Vol.II, Calcutta: The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, ISBN 81-85843-03-1, p.255
  3. Rocher 1986, pp. 33, 156-157 with footnotes.
  4. Dalal 2014, p. 83.
  5. 1 2 3 Rocher 1986, pp. 156-160.
  6. VRR Dikshitar (1951). The Purana Index, Volume 1: A to N. Motilal Banarsidass (Reprinted 2004). pp. xx–xxiii. ISBN 978-81-209-1274-8.
  7. 1 2 3 Rocher 1986, pp. 78-79 with footnote 61.
  8. 1 2 H Hinzler (1993), Balinese palm-leaf manuscripts, In: Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Landen Volkenkunde, Manuscripts of Indonesia 149 (1993), No 3, Leiden: BRILL, page 442
  9. 1 2 Rocher 1986, pp. 158-159 with footnotes, Quote: "Among the texts considered to be connected with the Brahmanda, the Adhyatma-ramayana is undoubtedly the most important one"..
  10. 1 2 Winternitz 1922, p. 552.
  11. 1 2 3 4 Rocher 1986, p. 157 with footnotes.
  12. Collins 1988, p. 36.
  13. Rajendra Chandra Hazra 1940, p. 18-19.
  14. Rocher 1986, p. 159 with footnotes.
  15. 1 2 Dalal 2014, p. 4, see entry for Adhyatma Ramayana, 333-334.
  16. James G Lochtefeld (2002), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z, Rosen Publishing, ISBN 978-0823931804, pages 553-554
  17. K P Gietz 1992, p. 468 with note 2602, 473 with note 2622.
  18. 1 2 3 Wilson 1864, pp. LXXXV-LXXXVI.
  19. 1 2 Winternitz 1922, pp. 551-552.
  20. 1 2 3 Rocher 1986, p. 157.
  21. 1 2 Rocher 1986, pp. 157-159.
  22. GV Tagare (1983), Brahmanda Purana, Part 1, Motilal Banarsidass, page xviii
  23. GV Tagare (1983), Brahmanda Purana, Part 1, Motilal Banarsidass, pages xviii, xxvi-xxx
  24. GV Tagare (1983), Brahmanda Purana, Part 1, Motilal Banarsidass, page LXVI
  25. Sanskrit version: Brahmanda Purana, SanskritDocuments.Org, pages 337-388, Note: the verse numbering is different in this manuscript version; see verses in chapter 2.23
  26. GV Tagare (1983), Brahmanda Purana, Part 1, Motilal Banarsidass, pages XLIV-LVII
  27. GV Tagare (1983), Brahmanda Purana, Part 1, Motilal Banarsidass, page LVII
  28. GV Tagare (1983), Brahmanda Purana, Part 1, Motilal Banarsidass, pages LXIII-LXV
  29. 1 2 Rocher, Ludo (1986). "The Purāṇas". In Jan Gonda (ed.). A History of Indian Literature. Vol.II, Epics and Sanskrit religious literature, Fasc.3. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 156–60. ISBN 3-447-02522-0.
  30. Rocher 1986, pp. 158-160.
  31. Ariel Glucklich (2008). The Strides of Vishnu : Hindu Culture in Historical Perspective: Hindu Culture in Historical Perspective. Oxford University Press. pp. 145–162. ISBN 978-0-19-971825-2.


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