The Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, , at sacred-texts.com
4. The Váyavíya Puráńa
4. "The Puráńa in which Váyu has declared the laws of duty, in connexion with the Sweta Kalpa, and which comprises the Máhátmya of Rudra, is the Váyavíya Puráńa: it contains twenty-four thousand verses 42." The Śiva or Śaiva Puráńa is, as above remarked, omitted in some of the lists; and in general, when that is the case, it is replaced by the Váyu or Váyavíya. When the Śiva is specified, as in the Bhágavata, then the Váyu is omitted; intimating the possible identity of these two works. This indeed is confirmed by the Matsya, which describes the Váyavíya Puráńa as characterised by its account of the greatness of Rudra or Siva 43; and Balambhat́t́a mentions that the Váyavíya is also called the Śaiva, though, according to some, the latter is the name of an Upa-puráńa. Col. Vans Kennedy observes, that in the west of India the Śaiva is commonly considered to be an Upa or 'minor' Puráńa 44.
Another proof that the same work is intended by the authorities here followed, the Bhágavata and Matsya, under different appellations, is their concurrence in the extent of the work, each specifying its verses to be twenty-four thousand. A copy of the Śiva Puráńa, of which an index and analysis have been prepared, does not contain more than about seven thousand: it cannot therefore be the Śiva Puráńa of the Bhágavata; and we may safely consider that to be the same as the Váyavíya of the Matsya 45.
The Váyu Puráńa is narrated by Súta to the Rishis at Naimishárańya, as it was formerly told at the same place to similar persons by Váyu; a repetition of circumstances not uncharacteristic of the inartificial style of this Puráńa. It is divided into four Pádas, termed severally Prakriyá, Upodgháta, Anushanga, and Upasanhára; a classification peculiar to this work. These are preceded by an index, or heads of chapters, in the manner of the Mahábhárata and Rámáyańa; another peculiarity.
The Prakriyá portion contains but a few chapters, and treats chiefly
of elemental creation, and the first evolutions of beings, to the same purport as the Vishńu, but in a more obscure and unmethodical style. The Upodgháta then continues the subject of creation, and describes the various Kalpas or periods during which the world has existed; a greater number of which is specified by the Śaiva than by the Vaishńava Puráńas. Thirty-three are here described, the last of which is the Sweta or 'white' Kalpa, from Śiva's being born in it of a white complexion. The genealogies of the patriarchs, the description of the universe, and the incidents of the first six Manwantaras, are all treated of in this part of the work; but they are intermixed with legends and praises of Śiva, as the sacrifice of Daksha, the Maheśwara Máhátmya, the Nilakántha Stotra, and others. The genealogies, although in the main the same as those in the Vaishńava Puráńas, present some variations. A long account of the Pitris or progenitors is also peculiar to this Puráńa; as are stories of some of the most celebrated Rishis, who were engaged in the distribution of the Vedas.
The third division commences with an account of the seven Rishis and their descendants, and describes the origin of the different classes of creatures from the daughters of Daksha, with a profuse copiousness of nomenclature, not found in any other Puráńa. With exception of the greater minuteness of detail, the particulars agree with those of the Vishńu P. A chapter then occurs on the worship of the Pitris; another on Tírthas, or places sacred to them; and several on the performance of Sráddhas, constituting the Sráddha Kalpa. After this, comes a full account of the solar and lunar dynasties, forming a parallel to that in the following pages, with this difference, that it is throughout in verse, whilst that of our text, as noticed in its place, is chiefly in prose. It is extended also by the insertion of detailed accounts of various incidents, briefly noticed in the Vishńu, though derived apparently from a common original. The section terminates with similar accounts of future kings, and the same chronological calculations, that are found in the Vishńu.
The last portion, the Upasanhára, describes briefly the future Manwantaras, the measures of space and time, the end of the world, the
efficacy of Yoga, and the glories of Śiva-pura, or the dwelling of Śiva, with whom the Yogi is to be united. The manuscript concludes with a different history of the successive teachers of the Váyu Puráńa, tracing them from Brahmá to Váyu, from Váyu to Vrihaspati, and from him, through various deities and sages, to Dwaipáyańa and Śúta.
The account given of this Puráńa in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal was limited to something less than half the work, as I had not then been able to procure a larger portion. I have now a more complete one of my own, and there are several copies in the East India Company's library of the like extent. One, presented by His Highness the Guicowar, is dated Samvat 1540, or A. D. 1483, and is evidently as old as it professes to be. The examination I have made of the work confirms the view I formerly took of it; and from the internal evidence it affords, it may perhaps be regarded as one of the oldest and most authentic specimens extant of a primitive Puráńa.
It appears, however, that we have not yet a copy of the entire Váyu Puráńa. The extent of it, as mentioned above, should be twenty-four thousand verses. The Guicowar MS. has but twelve thousand, and is denominated the Púrvárddha, or first portion. My copy is of the like extent. The index also spews that several subjects remain untold; as, subsequently to the description of the sphere of Śiva, and the periodical dissolution of the world, the work is said to contain an account of a succeeding creation, and of various events that occurred in it, as the birth of several celebrated Rishis, including that of Vyása, and a description of his distribution of the Vedas; an account of the enmity between Vaśisht́ha and Viswámitra; and a Naimishárańya Máhátmya. These topics are, however, of minor importance, and can scarcely carry the Puráńa to the whole extent of the verses which it is said to contain. If the number is accurate, the index must still omit a considerable portion of the subsequent contents.
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xxii:43 Commentary on the Mitákshará, Vyavahára Káńd́a.
xxii:44 As. Journ., March 1837, p. 242, note.
xxii:45 Analysis of the Váyu Puráńa: Journ. As. Soc. of Bengal, December 1832.