There is a great conversation between Bhusunda and Vasistha in the scripture Yoga Vasistha.

In that conversation, there is a verse about Puranas, which has been told by Bhusunda.

The verse is as follows:

एकार्थानि समग्राणि बहुपाठानि मेऽनघ ।

पुराणानि प्रवर्तन्ते प्रसृतानि युगंप्रति ॥

O sinless saint! The puranas also though they agree in the main substance, are so full of interpolations, that they have been greatly multiplied in successive ages

[6.22.20, Yoga Vasistha]

The bolded portion says that, Puranas generally undergoes interpolation. And due to the interpolations, the size of Puranas increases.

But I didn't understand the actual meaning of Bhusunda's statement.

Is he talking about the negative interpolations, which are due to selfish or malice reasons


interpolations by authentic sages?

Note: Those who are good in Sanskrit as well as the context of conversation can answer properly.

  • पाठान्तर/बहुपाठ is not necessarily an interpolation. It means another reading, which most of the time means the same meaning but different word or synonym is used.
    – Krsna Dasa
    Jan 4, 2021 at 4:54
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    Assuming you know reading Devanagari: समग्राणि = all; पुराणानि=Puranas; एकार्थानि=One meaning. All Puranas have one meaning. युगंप्रति=In every yuga; प्रवर्तन्ते=Are/become; प्रसृतानि=Spread; बहुपाठानि=Many paths (readings like Shiva Purana, Devi Bhagavata, Srimad Bhagavatam, etc. Many readings of the same thing). अनघ= Sinless. Oh sinless one, all the Puranas having the same meaning become spread and of many readings in every yuga. Basically meaning to say the same meaning (ekartha) becomes of many readings in every yuga. For interpolation they use प्रक्षेप as a word.
    – Adiyarkku
    Jan 4, 2021 at 5:59
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    @Rickross Translator is from this link amazon.in/Yoga-Vasisthitha-Maharamayana-Valmiki-Volumes/dp/…
    – hanugm
    Jan 4, 2021 at 9:35
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    Thanks @hanugm I missed the link in the question. But 'pathantara" or "bahupatha" don't mean interpolation.
    – Rickross
    Jan 5, 2021 at 6:23

1 Answer 1


This question is another example of why one may refer multiple translations in case of ambiguous verses & translations, just like I discuss another case of "mis-interpretation" in this answer.

The use of the word - 'interpolation' seems like an exaggerated choice of word for 'bahupāṭhāni (बहुपाठानि)'.

We can clear this doubt directly through the Hindi translation of the same verse, as follows:-

Quoting from the Dr. Mahāprabhulāla Gosvāmī's Hindi Translation rendition of Yoga Vāsiṣṭha.

  1. है पापशून्य! युग-युग में प्रत्येक द्वापर के अन्त में, निर्माताओं के भेद से अनेक पाठ वाले, एकार्थक तथा अत्यन्त विस्तार युक्त पुराण प्रवृत्त होते हैं - इसका मुझे स्मरण है ॥ २०

So, basis the above Hindi translation, the new refined English translation becomes:-

  1. O sinless one! In all the ages, at the end of the Dvāpara-yuga owing to the differences of composers/writers, purāṇas with predisposition of single and multiple meanings/recension become widespread - that is known to me.

By the way, how & why this "multiple meaning/recension of scriptures" occurs due to the "yuga-change" is detailed in several Purāṇas.

One may read about the same from either of these two Purāṇas:

  • Brahmāṇḍa-Purāṇa - Chapter 31, Section 2 - Anuṣaṅga-pāda

  • Matsya-Purāṇa - Chapter 144 (CXLIV)

  • If I'm not wrong,This book(Yoga Vashishtha) is also called Maharamayana and has 32000 shlokas in it , isn't it??Can people read this book without initiation like they read other itihasas ?
    – LSSJ Broly
    Feb 25, 2022 at 14:14
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    @ShriRambhakt, I personally don't see any problem in reading of Yoga Vasistha by anyone (which is also called MahaRamayana). Also, it's an independent work, unattached to any other texts (in the anthology sense). However, I'm not sure if the orthodox viewpoint allow people to recite 'certain mantras' which are Vedik, be it from any scripture. Although, the Gaudiya reject this scripture (due to its pro-Advaita tone), if I recall correctly.
    – Vivikta
    Feb 25, 2022 at 14:22
  • Yes,Mantras in any scripture require initiation but not the whole scripture would require I think (that too..an independent itihasa) but btw if you have this book with you , could you tell me how many shlokas it has? Is it 29000 or 32000 ?
    – LSSJ Broly
    Feb 25, 2022 at 14:31
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    Actually, the Shlokas count of Yoga Vasistha varies as per the recension with Range from 29k to 36k. The two edition linked in this thread I think might have 23k shlokas. I doubt if there's a "critical - edition" ever made. Also: Read this @ShriRamBhakt
    – Vivikta
    Feb 25, 2022 at 14:45
  • Okk..got it ! :D
    – LSSJ Broly
    Feb 25, 2022 at 14:57

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