The Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, , at sacred-texts.com
Conclusion of the dialogue between Paráśara and Maitreya. Recapitulation of the contents of the Vishńu Puráńa: merit of hearing it: how handed down. Praises of Vishńu. Concluding prayer.
I HAVE now explained to you, Maitreya, the third kind of worldly dissolution, or that which is absolute and final, which is, liberation and resolution into eternal spirit 1. I have related to you primary and secondary creation, the families of the patriarchs, the periods of the Manwantaras, and the genealogical histories (of the kings). I have repeated to you, in short, who were desirous of hearing it, the imperishable Vaishńava Puráńa, which is destructive of all sins, the most excellent of all holy writings, and the means of attaining the great end of man. If there is any thing else you wish to hear, propose your question, and I will answer it.
MAITREYA.--Holy teacher, you have indeed related to me all that I wished to know, and I have listened to it with pious attention. I have nothing further to inquire. The doubts inseparable from the mind of man have all been resolved by you, and through your instructions I am acquainted with the origin, duration, and end of all things; with Vishńu in his collective fourfold form 2; his three energies 3; and with the three modes of apprehending the object of contemplation 4. Of all this have I acquired a knowledge through your favour, and nothing else is worthy to be known, when it is once understood that Vishńu and this world are not mutually distinct. Great Muni, I have obtained through your kindness all I desired, the dissipation of my doubts, since you have instructed me
in the duties of the several tribes, and in other obligations; the nature of active life, and discontinuance of action; and the derivation of all that exists from works. There is nothing else, venerable Brahman, that I have to inquire of you; and forgive me if your answers to my questions have imposed upon you any fatigue. Pardon me the trouble that I have given you, through that amiable quality of the virtuous -which makes no distinction between a disciple and a child.
PARÁŚARA.--I have related to you this Puráńa, which is equal to the Vedas in sanctity, and by hearing which all faults and sins whatever are expiated. In this have been described to you the primary and secondary creation, the families of the patriarchs, the Manwantaras, the regal dynasties; the gods, Daityas, Gandharbas, serpents, Rákshasas, Yakshas, Vidyádharas, Siddhas, and heavenly nymphs; Munis endowed with spiritual wisdom, and practisers of devotion; the distinctions of the four castes, and the actions of the most eminent amongst men; holy places on the earth, holy rivers and oceans, sacred mountains, and legends of the truly wise; the duties of the different tribes, and the observances enjoined by the Vedas. By hearing this, all sins are at once obliterated. In this also the glorious Hari has been revealed, the cause of the creation, preservation, and destruction of the world; the soul of all things, and himself all things: by the repetition of whose name man is undoubtedly liberated from all sins, which fly like wolves that are frightened by a lion. The repetition of his name with devout faith is the best remover of all sins, destroying them as fire purifies the metal from the dross. The stain of the Kali age, which ensures to men sharp punishments in hell, is at once effaced by a single invocation of Hari. He who is all that is, the whole egg of Brahmá, with Hirańyagarbha, Indra, Rudra, the Ádityas, the Aswins, the winds, the Kinnaras, the Vasus, the Sádhyas, Viśwadevas, the celestial gods, the Yakshas, serpents, Rákshasas, the Siddhas, Daityas, Gandharbas, Dánavas, nymphs, the stars, asterisms, planets, the seven Rishis, the regents and superintendants of the quarters, men, Brahmans and the rest, animals tame and wild, insects, birds, ghosts and goblins, trees, mountains, woods, rivers, oceans, the subterrene legions, the divisions of the earth, and all perceptible objects--he who is all things, who
knoweth all things, who is the form of all things, being without form himself, and of whom whatever is, from mount Meru to an atom, all consists--he, the glorious Vishńu, the destroyer of all sin--is described in this Puráńa. By hearing this Puráńa an equal recompense is obtained to that which is derived from the performance of an Aśwamedha sacrifice, or from fasting at the holy places Prayága, Pushkara, Kurukshetra, or Arbuda. Hearing this Puráńa but once is as efficacious as the offering of oblations in a perpetual fire for a year. The man who with well-governed passions bathes at Mathurá on the twelfth day of the month Jyesht́ha 5, and beholds (the image of) Hari, obtains a great recompense; so does he who with mind fixed upon Keśava attentively recites this Puráńa. The man who bathes in the waters of the Yamuná on the twelfth lunation of the light fortnight of the month in which the moon is in the mansion Jyesht́há, and who fasts and worships Achyuta in the city of Mathurá, receives the reward of an uninterrupted Aśwamedha. Beholding the degree of prosperity enjoyed by others of eminence, through the merits of their descendants, a man's paternal ancestors, his parents and their parents, exclaim, "Whosoever of our descendants, having bathed in the Yamuná and fasted, will worship Govinda in Mathurá, in the light fortnight of Jyesht́ha, will secure for us eminent exaltation; for we shall be elevated by the merits of our posterity!" A man of good extraction will present obsequial cakes to his fortunate ancestors in the Yamuná, having worshipped Janárddana in the light fortnight of Jyesht́ha. But the same degree of merit that a man reaps front adoring Janárddana at that season with a devoted heart, and from bathing in the Yamuná, and effecting the liberation of his progenitors by offering to them on such an occasion obsequial cakes, he derives also from hearing with equal devotion a section of this Puráńa. This Puráńa is the best of all preservatives for those who are afraid of worldly existence,
a certain alleviation of the sufferings of men, and remover of all imperfections.
This Puráńa, originally composed by the Rishi (Náráyańa), was communicated by Brahmá to Ribhu; he related it to Priyavrata, by whom it was imparted to Bháguri. Bháguri recited it to Tamasitra 6, and he to Dadícha, who gave it to Sáraswata. From the last Bhrigu received it, who imparted it to Purukutsa, and he taught it to Narmadá. The goddess delivered it to Dhritarásht́ra the Nága king, and to Puráńa of the same race, by whom it was repeated to their monarch Vásuki. Vásuki communicated it to Vatsa, and he to Áswatara, from whom it successively proceeded to Kambala and Elapatra. When the Muni Vedaśiras descended to Pátála, he there received the whole Puráńa from these Nágas, and communicated it to Pramati. Pramati consigned it to the wise Játukarńa, and he taught it to many other holy persons. Through the blessing of Vaśisht́ha it came to my knowledge, and I have now, Maitreya, faithfully imparted it to you. You will teach it, at the end of the Kali age, to Śamíka 7. Whoever hears this great mystery, which removes the contamination of the Kali, shall be freed from all his sins. He who hears this every day acquits himself of his daily obligations to ancestors, gods, and men. The great and rarely attainable merit that a man acquires by the gift of a brown cow, he derives from hearing ten chapters of this Puráńa 8. He who hears the entire Puráńa, contemplating in his mind Achyuta, who is all things, and of whom all things are made; who is the stay of the whole world, the receptacle of spirit; who is knowledge, and that which is to be known; who is without beginning or end, and the benefactor of the gods--obtains assuredly the reward that attends the uninterrupted celebration of the Aśwamedha rite. He who reads and retains with faith this Puráńa,
in the beginning, middle, and end of which is described the glorious Achyuta, the lord of the universe in every stage, the master of all that is stationary or moveable, composed of spiritual knowledge, acquires such purity as exists not in any world, the eternal state of perfection, which is Hari. The man who fixes his mind on Vishńu goes not to hell: he who meditates upon him regards heavenly enjoyment only as an impediment: and he whose mind and soul are penetrated by him thinks little of the world of Brahmá; for when present in the minds of those whose intellects are free from soil, he confers upon them eternal freedom. What marvel therefore is it that the sins of one who repeats the name of Achyuta should be wiped away? Should not that Hari be heard of, whom those devoted to acts worship with sacrifices continually as the god of sacrifice; whom those devoted to meditation contemplate as primary and secondary, composed of spirit; by obtaining whom man is not born, nor nourished, nor subjected to death; who is all that is, and that is not (or both cause and of effect); who, as the progenitors, receives the libations made to them; who, as the gods, accepts the offerings addressed to them; the glorious being who is without beginning or end; whose name is both Swáhá and Swadhá 9; who is the abode of all spiritual power; in whom the limits of finite things cannot be measured 10; and who, when he enters the ear, destroys all sin?
I adore him, that first of gods, Purushottama, who is without end and without beginning, without growth, without decay, without death; who is substance that knows not change. I adore that ever inexhaustible spirit; who assumed sensible qualities; who, though one, became many; who, though pure, became as if impure, by appearing in many and various shapes; who is endowed with divine wisdom, and is the author of the preservation of all creatures. I adore him, who is the one conjoined essence and object of both meditative wisdom and active virtue;
who is watchful in providing for human enjoyments; who is one with the three qualities; who, without undergoing change, is the cause of the evolution of the world; who exists of his own essence, ever exempt from decay. I constantly adore him, who is entitled heaven, air, fire, water, earth, and ether; who is the bestower of all the objects which give gratification to the senses; who benefits mankind with the instruments of fruition; who is perceptible, who is subtile, who is imperceptible. May that unborn, eternal Hari, whose form is manifold, and whose essence is composed of both nature and spirit, bestow upon all mankind that blessed state which knows neither birth nor decay!
660:1 The term is Brahmáńi laya, which means, 'a melting away,' 'a dissolution' or 'fusion,' from the root, 'to liquefy,' 'to melt,' 'to dissolve.'
660:2 Or with Vishńu in the four modifications described in the first section, spirit, matter, form, and time: see p. 9.
660:3 Or Śakti, noticed in the last chapter, p. 655.
660:4 Or Bhávanás, also described in the preceding section, p. 654.
662:5 This month is also called Jyesht́hamúla, which the commentator explains to mean, the month, of which the root or cause (Múla) of being so called is the moon's being full in the constellation Jyesht́há: but it may be so termed, perhaps, from the lunar asterism Múlá, which is next to Jyesht́há, falling also within the moon's passage through the same month.
663:6 This name is also read Tambamitra. One copy has Tava-mitráya, 'to thy friend,' as if it was an epithet of Dadhícha; but the construction of the verse requires a proper name. 'Bháguri gave it to Tambamitra, and he to Dadhíchi.'
663:7 A different series of narrators has been specified in the first book, p. 9.
663:8 This seems to be an injudicious interpolation; it is not in all the copies.
664:9 The words or prayers employed in presenting oblations with fire.
664:10 The text has, ###. Mána commonly means 'pride,' but here it seems most appropriately rendered by its radical import, 'measure' the measures which are for the determination of measurable things are not applicable to Vishńu.