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Consider this question from the perspective of historical reviews.

Puranas are supposed to be short stories that were supposed to inculcate strong Bhakti among the masses through simple, but powerful short stories of animals, gods, demigods, etc. The most modern compilation of Puranas that we have, including Mahapuranas was compiled very late 10 C.E. - 1000 C.E., thousands of years after the compilation of Vedas by a group of unknown compilers, a few years after the compilation of Abrahamic texts. They particularly tend to show the following characteristics:

  1. A lot of contradiction either - with other parallel puranas, or sometimes even within themselves.
  2. They glorify their principal deities, undermining other forms of the deities.
  3. Deviation from primary forms of sadhana or worship is regarded as inferior, not capable of liberation
  4. Other gurus, or even religions being regarded as demonic or inferior practices

Points 1 to 4, are usually seen in Abrahamic texts primarily, where there are contradictions, one not following their principal deities seen as inferior, dualistic mode of bhakti and other religions being targetted.

Are there any Hindu texts, old enough before the compiled version of Mahapuranas that follow the characteristic properties from 1 to 4? (Specially Shrutis, or Upanishads), OR, is this safe to assume or make assumptions that these compilations post bible, often have Abrahamic influences crept in between? OR there are multiple versions of Puranas too (with differences from popularly accepted ones)?


Edit: https://hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/10332/29449 answers my question to some extent.

5
  • Just because Puranas are more theistic in nature doesn't mean they're influenced by the Abrahamic faiths.
    – Haridasa
    Jan 21 at 1:34
  • @Haridasa They were compiled after most of the Abrahamic faiths. The point is not about theism, as I've articulated above. I see a clear influence while reading them side by side with bible, Quran, that isn't the case with pre-puran era texts.
    – user29449
    Jan 21 at 3:51
  • Yet theirs no historical grounds for such, hence it can be disregarded.
    – Haridasa
    Jan 21 at 12:47
  • @Haridasa Historical grounds for What?
    – user29449
    Jan 21 at 13:43
  • The influence to take place lol
    – Haridasa
    Jan 21 at 14:22

2 Answers 2

1

Answer From an Advaita POV

The above inconsistencies in the purāna texts are simply explained via The nyāya maxim, which is popularly expressed as: ‘nahi nindā nindyam ninditum pravartate, api tu vidheyam stotum.’ [‘A deprecation is not intended to really censure that which is criticized, but with a view to praise or glorify the other.’]

See here for a good many examples of the right application of the nyāya: https://indiaspirituality.blogspot.in/2013/09/nahi-ninda-nyaya.html

Quote

Nahi Ninda Nyaya

Paramacharya asks us to adopt Nahi Ninda Nyaya. The purpose of exalting a particular deity over another is not to depreciate the latter. The underlying idea is that a person who worships his chosen god has unflinching faith in him and becomes totally devoted to him. Such exclusive devotion is called "ananyabhakti". The idea here, however, is not to regard other devatas as inferior to one's own chosen deity - an example of "nahi ninda nyaya".

Unquote

We have a beautiful example of this nyāya in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 1.4.6 bhāṣyam of Shankaracharya:

//The real aim of the text is (not to describe creation, but) to indicate that all the gods are but Viraj, as stated here, for manifested objects are not different from the manifestor, and the gods have been manifested by Viraj. Now, this being the import of the section, the "views of some ignorant people are being put forward as a eulogy on that. The criticism of one serves as a tribute to another. When, in discussing ceremonials, the priests, who know only mechanical rites, talk of particular gods, saying at the time of performing a sacrifice, 'Sacrifice to him, viz. Fire,' .'Sacrifice to the other one, viz. Indra,' and so on, thinking, on account of differences regarding name, type of hymns recited or sung, function, and the like, that they are separate gods, it should not be understood that way, because these different gods are all his projection, manifestation of Viraj, for he, Viraj, the (cosmic) vital force, is all the gods. //

In the above instance we see that Shankara clearly brings out the nahi nindā nyāya where all the deities enjoy the same status scripturally and there is no higher-lower difference. Yet when the propitiation of particular gods are enjoined a non-existing difference among them is adopted by the scripture.

Yet another example from Shankara is given in the Introduction to the Iśāvāsyopaniṣat 9:

The gist of the bhāṣyam of the above is: The Upaniṣat in the mantra 9 wants to enjoin the combined performance of karma and upāsana. With a view to accomplish this injunction, it resorts to the criticism of performance of karma and performance of upāsana individually. That such a criticism is not the intention of the Upaniṣat is brought out by a very far-reaching statement of Shankara: Nothing that the Scripture enjoins is unworthy of performance. By this statement Shankara confirms that while everything the scripture enjoins is valid, a vidhi, yet when it comes to make the combined performance of a certain karma and upāsana, the Veda resorts to the criticism of karma/upāsana that it itself has enjoined. This is the spirit of nahi nindā nyāya.

The Advaitic text ‘Vichārasāgara’ (originally authored by Swami Nishchal Das in Hindi and in appreciation of the great worth of the work, translated by two scholars of renown to Sanskrit) too goes in depth on the topic:

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The gist of the above page is: All deities such as Viṣṇu, Śiva, Gaṇeśa, Devi, Sūrya, etc. are Iśvara alone. Where devotion to a deity is singly praised another is criticized, the idea is not that the latter deity is to be shunned but the one that is praised is to be worshiped. If the nindā of a devatā in a text is meant to shun that deity, then the absurd situation of the shunning of all deities arises since every deity is criticized in one or the other text. Care should be taken to avoid this absurdity.

An analogy is taken up: In the veda, two periods are prescribed for the performance of Agnihotra: Before dawn and after dawn. While discussing this, there is the nindā of one injunction in the context of the prescription of injunction of another. If the purport of this nindā is in giving up the agnihotra injunction itself, one will end up with not performing the ritual at all. The idea of nindā of one is to enjoin the performance of the other. This is the spirit of the nahi nindā nyāya. So is it with the Devatā-s in various texts. Depending on the śākhā of one’s following, whether śukla or kṛṣṇa Yajurveda, the pre-dawn or the post-dawn agnihotra is adhered to. The fruit of both the performances is the same. So is it with the upāsanā of any of the deities. The upānsanā of any deity fetches to the devotee the fruit of going to the brahmaloka. After the enjoyment of the bhoga in that loka one attains videha kaivalya. Even though it is said in the purāṇa-s that the upāsanā of the deities such as Viṣṇu will result in the attaining of the loka-s such as the Vaikuṇtha, yet since the foremost of the upāsaka-s, being destined to videhamukti, they go to Brahmaloka alone by default, through the bright path: devayāna mārga. One Brahmaloka alone appears to be Viṣṇnuloka to the devotee of Viṣṇu and the inhabitants there will all be four-armed. So with the case of the Śiva-devotee who will see that Brahmaloka alone as Śivaloka and the residents there as three-eyed. This way every devotee of every god will go to Brahmaloka which will appear to him as the loka of his god. Thus the fruit of upāsanā of any deity is the same.

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Gist of the above page: All the purāṇa-s adopt the method of teaching through specifying the Cause and effect. Hence, the purport lies in the Cause taking the dominant position vis-à-vis the effect. The names ‘Viṣṇu, Śiva, Devi, Gaṇeśa, Sūrya, etc.’ indicate the Causal Brahman. These very names also indicate the effected-Brahman. Vedāntins hold the Brahman in association with Māya to be Kāraṇa-Brahman and Hiraṇyagarbha to be kārya Brahman. Thus, Brahman itself is both the Cause and the effected one, with the medium of upādhi. In this way Viṣṇu, Śiva, etc. represent both the Kāraṇa and kārya Brahman. The various names like Nārāyaṇa, Nīlakaṇṭha, Śakti, Vighneśa, and Bhānu take on roles as Kāraṇam sometimes and as kāryam sometimes in different texts. This is akin to the Sanskrit word ‘lavaṇam’ which would mean salt in the context of consuming food and a horse in the context of a mode of transport. This alone is the purport of Veda Vyasa when we find in the texts such as Vaiṣṇava where Viṣṇu, etc. are praised and Śiva, etc. are criticized: While the Causal Brahman is to be worshiped and the effected Brahman is not.

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One can see from the above a pattern across various purāṇa-s dedicated to various deities primarily: the Main deity is the Causal Brahman and the other deities are effected ones. The Cause has to be worshiped as that alone matters in knowing the Truth and the effect is not worthy of worship as that does not lead to the Truth. Hence there is absolutely no contradiction in their primary purport. Actually, all deities, with their forms, are only māyic manifestations of Brahman and hence unreal. Yet their worship is enjoined in the scripture with a superior purpose. In effect, all deities are nirguṇa Brahman in their true nature. That is the point to be grasped by an intelligent seeker as the message of the various Purāṇa-s.

The Mahabharata commentary by Nīlakaṇṭha has a very useful material on this topic.

He says - [Durgā, Vināyaka, Viṣṇu, Bhava, Bhānu are all only different names and forms of Pārthasārathi (Brahman). So we hear.] He cites Vidyaranya’s vārtikasāra:

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Even if attributes are found in Iśvara, since they are illusory, māyika, He is nirdharmaka alone. So should mumukṣu-s conclude. Nilakantha gives a detailed account of how people, ignorant of the supreme purport of the Scripture, delude themselves in useless ramblings about the greatness or otherwise of Viṣṇu or Śiva, their abodes such as Vaikuṇṭha or Kailāsa, while there is Only One Reality that is beyond such parochial considerations.

The author gives some analogies from the ritualistic vedic portions discussed in the pūrva mīmāmsā śāstra. The essense of this is: when two apparently contradictory injunctions are seen, there is the criticism of one with a view to enjoin the other. Both the injunctions are valid, having the authority of the Veda. Yet, when it comes to adhering to one, the other is criticized. If the stuti of one at the cost of criticizing the other were real, then both the injunctions will stand to be shunned and there will result no following of the injunction. Such is the danger with the stuti and nindā of Viṣṇu or Śiva if the nindā were to be taken to be real.

One can study the शाखान्तराहधिरणम of the Pūrvamīmāmsā śāstra [2nd adhyaya, 4th pāda] under the guidance of a competent Āchārya to appreciate the nahi nindā nyāya maxim:

https://tinyurl.com/y987wz2r

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  • +1 for efforts. But it doesn't answer my question - that if there are any interpolations or edits in Puranas during later times or not. But effort counts and answers the question partially. Thank you for writing an answer to my question.
    – user29449
    Feb 14 at 15:30
1

The total number of Purana texts is terribly uncertain, ranging from fifty to a hundred. Some of these texts are lost in the myths of history; we find references to them in other texts, but we don't have any complete manuscripts. To somewhat ease the burden of these texts, they themselves declare that there are principal eighteen of them, usually referred to as Maha-puranas. Some are recognized as Sthala Puranas, delineating the eminence and sanctity of a specific geographical location. Others are identified as Upa-Puranas, denoting minor Puranas. The compilation of Upa-Puranas exhibits regional variations, and there is no nationwide consensus regarding the list of Upa-Puranas.

Thus, the eighteen Puranas are; (estimated date of Composition from academic point of view, and the traditionally believed number of verses)-

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The above-mentioned list is not universal either; in some lists, the Bhavishya Purana (500–1900 CE; 14,500 verses) is included, knocking out the Vayu Purana. Yet in other lists, Shiva purana is knocked out from the list and Vayu purana and Bhavisya purana are included.

To Complicate things Further, The Vayu Purana itself knocks out Agni,Linga,Vishnu and Shiva puranas from the Mahapurana list and instead adds one 'Adi Purana' in the fray.

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Puranic Scholar Bibek Debroy states-

The Vayu Purana exhibits many more Purana characteristics than the Bhavishya Purana does. There are references to a Bhavishya Purana that existed, but that may not necessarily be the Bhavishya Purana as we know it today. That’s true of some other Puranas too. Texts have been completely restructured hundreds of years later. Third, it is not just a question of Bhavishya Purana and Vayu Purana. In the lists given in some Puranas, Vayu is part of the eighteen, but Agni is knocked out. In some others, Narasimha and Vayu are included, but Brahmanda and Garuda are knocked out.

That there are puranas outside even the standard list is evidenced by the fact that many ancient Nibandhakaras have cited purana texts which are not even mentioned in any of the 18 mahapurana or upapurana lists in any scriptures.

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An example of this would be how Hemadri (13th CE) cites Puranas by the name of 'Bhagavati Purana' , 'Sharada Purana' and 'Devirahasya purana' in his Dharmasastra work 'Chaturvagra chintamani'. Neither of these works are available today, nor are they even even mentioned in the lists of puranas/upapuranas in any of the scriptures.


Now, let's cast a glance on their integrity. Initially, the traditional outlook conjectures that these were authored by an ancient Sage named Krishna Dvaipayana Veda Vyasa, in entirety. And this claim is backed using references of the same.

Shiva Purana affirms that the offspring of Satyavati, Vyasa, was the composer of the eighteen (principal i.e., Mahapurana) of them, अष्टादश पुराणानां वक्ता सत्यवती सुतः।, But contradicting the same, The Bhavishya purana lists the 18 puranas to be compositions of different authors.

पराशरेण रचितं पुराणं विष्णुदैवतम् ।।शिवेन रचितं स्कांदं पाद्मं ब्रह्ममुखोद्भवम् ।। 3.3.28.१० ।। शुकप्रोक्तं भागवतं ब्राह्मं वै ब्रह्मणा कृतम् ।।गारुडं हरिणा प्रोक्तं षड् वै सात्त्विकसंभवाः ।। ११ ।। मत्स्यः कूर्मो नृसिंहश्च वामनः शिव एव च ।।वायुरेतत्पुराणानि व्यासेन रचितानि वै ।। १२ ।। राजसाः षट् स्मृता वीर कर्मकांडमया भुवि ।।मार्कंण्डेयं च वाराहं मार्कण्डेयेन निर्मितम् ।। १३ ।। आग्नेयमंगिराश्चैव जनयामास चोत्तमम् ।।लिंगब्रह्मांडके चापि तंडिना रचिते शुभे ।। महादेवेन लोकार्थे भविष्यं रचितं शुभम् ।। १४ ।।

~ भविष्यपुराणम् /पर्व ३ (प्रतिसर्गपर्व)/खण्डः ३/अध्यायः २८

According to the above, Parasara composed Vishnu Purana, Shiva composed Skanda Purana, Brahama composed Padma Purana and Brahma purana, Shukadaeva composed Bhagavata purana,and Vishnu composed Garuda Purana.Matsya, Kurma, Nrsimha, Vamana and Shiva Puranas are the only ones stated to be composed by Vyasa. Marakandeya and Varaha puranas are stated to be compositions of markandeya, Meanwhile Agni purana is stated to be composed by Angira,Linga and Brahmanda puranas are stated to be compositions of Sage Tandi, and the Bhavisya purana is stated as a composition of Mahadeva.

In yet other puranas, the story Given for the origin of the puranas is that there was intitially Only one purana in the start of the kalpa, which was later abridged and divided into 18 for the beneifit of the people of kaliyuga. This theory finds support in puranas such as matsya, narada and skanda.

पुराणमेकेमेवाऽऽसीत्तया कल्पान्तरेऽनघ। त्रिवर्ग साधनं पुण्यं शतकोटि प्रविस्तरम्।।

There was only one Purana in the beginning of the Kalpa. It was alone the means of the accomplishment of the three ends of man (Dharma, Artha and Kāma). And it was the only holy book consisting of thousand millions of stanzas.

~ Matsya Purana verse 53.4

पुराणमेकमेवासीत्सर्वकल्पेषु मानद। चतुर्वर्गस्य बीजं च शतकोटिप्रविस्तरम्॥ २२

O bestower of honor, In all the kalpas, there was only one Purana that was the seed of the fourfold aims of life. It extended to a hundred crores of verses.

~ नारदपुराणम्- पूर्वार्धः/अध्यायः ९२

Scholar J.L. shastri writes in the footnotes of the Narada purana for the above verse

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Now, this is quite enchanting in itself. The reference to the latter gives us some hints regarding the genesis and development of these gigantic bodies of texts, including their vivid writing styles. Taking a bird's eye view of the style of composition, these texts exhibit a blended superimposition of multiple layers of conversations among individuals or deities overlapping at several instances. Perhaps the narrations were composed by a single individual, marking the terminus a quo post-Vedic age, which was popular among the hoi polloi. Over epochs, these narrations have journeyed, evolving beneath the sway of regional, cultural, and ideological shifts.

Regarding the evolutionary factors, these narrations had to traverse numerous sectarian and malicious channels. During the second half of the first millennium and beyond, following the decline of Buddhism, the foremost representatives of Vedic thought were engaged in developing separate schools of Vedanta. A well-known yet unknown dogma was partially confiscating the ideologies i.e., supremacy of deities.

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There's a strong likelihood that none of the current prevalent expressions of the Hindu faith took their current form before the era of Sankaracharya, the influential reformer who thrived in the eighth or ninth century. Ramanuja, among the Vaishnava teachers, emerged in the twelfth century; Madhva in the thirteenth, and Vallabha in the sixteenth. The Puranas appear to have coincided with or followed these innovations, evidently designed to promote the doctrines they espoused.

~ H.H.Wilson

But the influence of these individuals in these texts wasn't solely positive. The information mentioned about these individuals in the Puranas is sometimes peculiar, ignominious, and degrading in nature. For example,

A segment in the Padma Puranas, Uttar-khand, mentions that Pasandins, particularly those devoted to Shiva worship, have been delineated, and the Mayavada (of Sankaracarya) has been criticized as Pracchanna Bauddha (i.e., disguised Buddhism).

Renowned Puranas researcher Dr. Rajendra Chandra Hazara states about this chapter, "Though the absence of such verses subjects the above information to doubts, there is a chapter (263) which seems to have been interpolated by someone belonging to the Śrī or Madhva sect."

This view is also accepted by some traditional scholars such as Pandit Kaluram Shastri, Pandit Madhavacharya Shastri, etc. Pandit Jwala Prasad Mishra also writes in one of his books :-

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The Above scholar elaborates how the padma purana went through multiple revisions. The first was the one actually compiled by vyasa, the second revision was during the decline of buddhism, the third is as per the description of the purana as stated in the Brihannaradiya, and the fourth one was when the views of Sri Ramanuja and Madhvacharya attained currency.

This view seems to be true at least to an extent, for as Dr. R.C. Hazra states, there are manuscripts which state that there were originally only 5 khandas to this purana compared to the 7 which the currently published version has.

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And even the Naradiya purana which gives a complete overview of the chapters of Padma in detail , does not mention the chapters in uttarakhanda which deal with the condemnation of mayavada and 'heretical' doctrines.

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In a manner similar to the above verses, in the Saura Purana, A Shaivite text, some chapters, most probably inserted by Shaivas, assert that,

प्रच्छन्नोऽसौ महादुष्टश्चार्वाको मधुसंज्ञकः भविष्यति कलौ विप्राः शिवनिन्दाप्रवर्तकः (४१.६१) मधुदर्शितमार्गेण पापिष्ठा वैष्णवाः कलौ भविष्यन्ति ततो म्लेच्छाः शूद्रा यूथबहिष्कृताः (३९.७७)

Madhva, known as Madhu in the text, is depicted as a Carvaka, an extremely malevolent, covert disseminator of the slander of Siva. His Vaisnava adherents are malevolent beings; they are mlecchas, sudras, and should be ostracized from the community.


While some puranas have undergone comparatively lesser revisions, there are others which have undergone so many that they have almost lost their original character. One example of this is probably the Krishnaite text Brahma Vaivarta Purana.

Puranas researcher Anand Swarup Gupta mentions the existence of a recension of the text called Adi-Brahmavaivaivarta purana, which is extremely different from the extant version of the text available today.

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On further Perusal, Yet another observation which suggests that puranas as they are available today lack integrity and cannot be completey the works of one author is through the notorious Puranic classification concept - Satvik, Rajsik, and Tamsik. This is because there's no certainty or criteria to implement the classification on these texts as they contradict each other.

Just imagine, an individual writes 18 texts, and almost all of them contain more or less the same stories from different perspectives. As the Panchalakshana states, that they need to describe the histories of the Solar and Lunar dynasties, the deities with which they deal in the mythological section are also approximately the same. Yet, some of them will lead you to heaven, and some will lead you to hell... How interesting!

So, firstly we shall see the classification of Matsya Purana. It affirms that Sattvik Puranas primarily exalt Hari, the Rajasik Puranas primarily extol Brahma, while the Tamasik Puranas extol Agni and Siva, alongside Samkarsana (of mixed nature), Sarasvati, and the Pitrs.

सात्त्विकेषु पुराणेषु माहात्म्यमधिकं हरेः ।राजसेषु च माहात्म्यमधिकं ब्रह्मणो विदुः।। तद्वदग्नेश्च माहात्म्यं तामसेषु शिवस्य च। संकीर्णेषु सरस्वत्याः पितृणां च निगद्यते ।।(Matsya-P., 53. 67-68)

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No the question to ask if the above is true, then why aren't there any puranas that are predominant with the glory of brahma,sarasvati, or pitrs? Almost all the puranas currently available are either predominantly Vaishnavite or Shaivite with traces of shaktam and sauram. If the above is true, then none of the currently available 'Rajasa' puranas are in anything close to their original form.

As per the Padma Purana, the Sattvik Puranas guide towards salvation, the Rajasic Puranas lead to heaven, and the Tamasic Puranas lead to hell.

सात्त्विका मोक्षदाः प्रोक्ता राजसाः स्वर्गदाः शुभाः। तथैव तामसा देवि निरयप्राप्तिहेतवः ।। (VI. 263-85)

However, in the Bhavishya Purana, the Rajasik Puranas are said primarily focus on the karma-kanda or rituals, whereas the Tamasik Puranas relate to Sakta dharma.

राजसाः षट् स्मृता वीर कर्मकाण्डमया भुवि। तामसाः षट् स्मृताः प्राज्ञैः शक्तिधर्मपरायणाः।। ( III. iii.28,13ab, 15ab)

And the classification they provide is -

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Quite contradictory in nature, not just the criteria of Sattvik, Rajasik, and Tamasik categorization, but they declare outrightly that texts related to some specific deity are not good. None of the texts listed tamasa in this classifications are predominantly shakta, and it's quite interesting to see how certain 'sattvika' puranas of padma purana are pushed to rajasa/tamasa category in this classification, while the Skandapurana, a shaivite purana is listed as sattvika which is baffling.

In the Garuda Purana, the Brahma Khand's first chapter, it states that Vishnu-related texts are Sattvik, and Shiva-related texts are Tamasic, and provides yet another classification, which contradicts both of the above.

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So, the Puranas, which classify other Puranas based on deities, are really flawed in this perspective. The Matsya Purana, a Vaishnav Purana considered Sattvik in this classification, while the Padma Purana considers Varaha as a Sattvik text. However, the Bhavishya Purana considers it Tamsik, and the Garuda Purana considers it Rajasik. While they are usually thought to glorify Vishnu, according to the Shiva-rahasya khanda of the Sankara Samhita of the Skanda Purāna, the Vamana Purana is the one among the ten Puranas (Shiva, Markandeya, Linga, Varaha, Skanda, Matsya, Kurma, Vamana, Vayu, and the Brahanda) that praises Shiva.

Beyond the relative superiority of Vishnu vis-à-vis Shiva, the taxonomy probably doesn’t serve much purpose. The second classification is even more tenuous and is based on the three gunas of sattva (purity), rajas (passion) and tamas (ignorance).

−Bibek Debroy

I think it's pretty clear by now that these classifications are self-contradictory in nature and not universal and can't be taken seriously from an unbiased outlook. In ancient times, this was a highly debated topic; Vaishnavas tried to prove that the Shiva Purana is Tamasic as it contains tales making Shiva supreme to Vishnu, while Shaivas tried to prove it Sattvik.

One classic example is the controversy between Vijayendra Tirtha (a Madhva Vaishnav) and Appayya Diksita (a follower of Srikantha Shivacharya). Both of these individuals wrote a number of texts to prove the supremacy of their ista-deva. For example, Šaivasarvasvakhandanam of Vijayendra Tirtha [a polemical treatise refuting the supremacy of Siva over Vishnu depicted in the various episodes of the Saiva Puranas] and Śivapurāņatāmasatvakhandanam of Appayya Diksita [a work which refutes the view that the Siva Purana is a Tamasic work].


Some scholars, using these factors, totally neglect the Puranas and consider them nothing more than highly interpolated sectarian works. Like Prof. Edwin James Rapson states in his book Cambridge history of India-

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The mainstream traditionalist view however, differs. Nonetheless, the presence of interpolations is still accepted by informed members of the traditionalist diaspora.

There is perhaps an element of the imaginary in the Puranas. It is also possible that they contain interpolations. But who is to determine what parts are imaginary and what passages constitute the interpolations? And who is to seperate the authentic from the spurious? If each one of us removes what seems interpolatory, nothing will be left of the stories in the end. So it would be better to preserve the Puranas in the form in which they have been handed down to us notwithstanding the apparent errors and distortions.

~ Quoted from the book 'Hindu Dharma' by Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi MahaSwami of Kanchi peetham

I cannot say which parts are interpolated but surely there are interpolations. My reasoning is that Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī quotes many verses from Brahma Vaivarta Purāṇa and they are not to be found in the available editions. Moreover, what is available now, he does not quote. If they had been available in the Brahma Vaivarta Purāṇa at that time, he would have definitely quoted them, because they would also have been useful to his work. Jīva Gosvāmī also mentions the story of Śukadeva’s birth, in which it is said that he did not want to come out of the womb, and took birth only on Krsna’s assurance that His māyā will not trouble him. This is supposed to be in Brahma Vaivarta Purāṇa but is not seen in the available editions. Some research should be done what is interpolated.

In Bhaviṣya Purāṇa there are also descriptions about Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Guru Nanak, Kabir, etc. It is over 20 years ago that I read Bhaviṣya Purāṇa, but if I am not wrong there is a story of a meeting between Mahāprabhu and Bhaṭṭaji Dīkṣit, the author of Siddhānta Kaumudī. Now Bhaṭṭajī lived even after Jīva Gosvāmī, so how could he have met Mahāprabhu? I remember when I read it, I lost all faith in these stories. There is also a verse in Bhaviṣya Purāṇa which says that in Kaliyuga ravi-vāsara (Sanskrit name for Sunday) will be called Sunday. That is quite a far out prediction. So definitely here are interpolations in Puranas. Some have more interpolations and some less.

~ Satyanarana Dasa Babaji (Gaudiya Vaishnavism)


On A Disconnected note, As we bring the write up to a close, It would be interesting to observe how sri Adi shankaracharya interprets the word 'Purana' in Vedic context.

स यथार्द्रएधाग्नेरभ्याहितात्पृथग्धूमा विनिश्चरन्ति, एवं वा अरेऽस्य महतो भूतस्य निह्̣स्वसितमेतद्यदृग्वेदो यजुर्वेदह्̣ सामवेदोऽथर्वाङ्गिरस इतिहासह्̣ पुराणम् विद्या उपनिस्̣अदह्̣ श्लोकाह्̣ सूत्रान्यनुव्याख्यानानि व्याख्यानानि; अस्यैवैतानि निःश्वसितानि ॥ १० ॥

As from a fire kindled with wet faggot diverse kinds of smoke issue, even so, my dear, the Ṛg-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sāma-Veda, Atharvāṅgirasa, Itihasa, Purana, arts, Upaniṣads, verses, aphorisms, elucidations and explanations are (like) the breath of this infinite Reality. They are like the breath of this (Supreme Self).

~ Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.4.10:

Sri Adi Shankara Comments-

एवम् उत्पत्तिकाले प्रागुत्पत्तेः ब्रह्मैवेति शक्यमवगन्तुम् ; यथा अग्नेः विस्फुलिङ्गधूमाङ्गारार्चिषां प्राग्विभागात् अग्निरेवेति भवत्यग्न्येकत्वम् , एवं जगत् नामरूपविकृतं प्रागुत्पत्तेः प्रज्ञानघन एवेति युक्तं ग्रहीतुम् — इत्येतदुच्यते — स यथा — आर्द्रैधाग्नेः आर्द्रैरेधोभिरिद्धोऽग्निः आर्द्रैधाग्निः, तस्मात् , अभ्याहितात् पृथग्धूमाः, पृथक् नानाप्रकारम् , धूमग्रहणं विस्फुलिङ्गादिप्रदर्शनार्थम् , धूमविस्फुलिङ्गादयः, विनिश्चरन्ति विनिर्गच्छन्ति ; एवम् — यथायं दृष्टान्तः ; अरे मैत्रेयि अस्य परमात्मनः प्रकृतस्य महतो भूतस्य निश्वसितमेतत् ; निश्वसितमिव निश्वसितम् ; यथा अप्रयत्नेनैव पुरुषनिश्वासो भवति, एवं वै अरे । किं तन्निश्वसितमिव ततो जातमित्युच्यते — यदृग्वेदो यजुर्वेदः सामवेदोऽथर्वाङ्गिरसः - चतुर्विधं मन्त्रजातम् , इतिहास इति, उर्वशीपुरूरवसोः संवादादिः — ‘उर्वशी हाप्सराः’ (शत. ब्रा. ११ । ५ । १ । १) इत्यादि ब्राह्मणमेव, पुराणम् — ‘असद्वा इदमग्र आसीत्’ (तै. उ. २ । ७ । १)इत्यादि

The Ṛg-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sāma-Veda, Atharvāṅgirasa, i.e. the four kinds of Mantras. By Itihasa, such as the dialogue between Urvaśī and Purūravas—‘The nymph Urvaśī,’ and so on ; it is this Brāhmaṇa that is meant.By Purana, such as, ‘This universe was in the beginning unmanifest,’ etc. (Taittiriya. Up. II. 7)etc.(are meant).


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  • +1. Very good answer. Well-informed and balanced opinion and good research. It somehow answers my questions that there are partial interpolations and edits in Puranas later time, providing different perspectives.
    – user29449
    Feb 14 at 15:29
  • 1
    True. Their are traditionalist commentators on Puranas too, who accept the fact that there have been interpolations.
    – user32773
    Feb 14 at 16:39
  • You might re-use certain artifacts and write an answer here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/10321/…. Apparently your answer answers this question directly.
    – user29449
    Feb 14 at 16:59
  • The write-up has been updated with further evidences. Hope you've checked out the updations @User29449
    – user32773
    Feb 15 at 12:59
  • The answer is actually very good and helpful. Since you know about the historical matters of the subject quite well, I'd suggest you to write further similar answers as well.
    – user29449
    Feb 15 at 16:49

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