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The Bhavishya Purana (Sanskrit: भविष्य पुराण Bhaviṣya Purāṇa) is one of the eighteen major Hindu Puranas. It is written in Sanskrit and attributed to Rishi Vyasa, the compiler of the Vedas. The title Bhavishya Purana signifies a work that contains prophecies regarding the future (Sanskrit: bhaviṣya). Despite being labelled a Purana, purāṇa meaning "tales of ancient times", the work relates only a few legends. It is one of several Puranas in which a list of royal dynasties of the "past" are followed by lists of kings predicted to rule in the future.
The text as it exists today is a composite of material ranging from very old to very recent. Portions of the extant text are drawn from the law book of Manu, including the account of Creation which it contains. The Bhavishya Purana is classified as one of the ten Shaiva puranas in the classification system used in the Śivarahasya-khaṇḍa of the Śaṅkara Saṃhitā. In the traditional system of classification according to the three gunas given in the Padma Purana, it is classified in the rajas category, which contains Puranas whose central deity is Brahma.
Dating and texts
Dating of the work is problematic. In records of land grants of the fifth century BCE verses are quoted which occur only in the Padma, Bhavishya, and Brahma Puranas, and on this basis Pargiter in 1912 assigned these particular Puranas to an even earlier period. Maurice Winternitz considers it more probable that these verses, both in the inscriptions and in the puranas, were taken as quotations from earlier Dharmashastras, and thus argues that chronological deductions cannot be made on that basis.
According to Maurice Winternitz, the text which has come down to us in manuscript under this title is certainly not the ancient work which is quoted in the Āpastambīya Dharmasūtra. A quotation appearing in the Āpastambīya Dharmasūtra attributed to the Bhaviṣyat Purāṇa cannot be found in the extant text of the Purana.
The Bhavishya Purana itself tells us that it consists of five parts (Sanskrit: parvans), but the extant printed edition of the work contains only four parts (Brāhma, Madhyama, Pratisarga, and Uttara). These four parts have distinctive content and dating.
The greater part of the work deals with brahmanical ceremonies and feasts, the duties of castes, some accounts of snake myths, and other matters. It also covers the duties of women, good and bad signs of people, and methods of worshipping Brahma, Ganesha, Skanda, and the Snakes. A considerable section deals with Sun worship in a place called "Śākadvīpa" which may be a reference to Scythia.
Of the four existing parts of the text, the Madhyamaparvan, which is not mentioned anywhere else as having formed a part of the Bhavishya Purana, is characterized by Rajendra Hazra as "a late appendage abounding in Tantric elements."
Hazra has the following to say regarding the Pratisargaparvan:
The Pratisargaparvan, though nominally mentioned in the Bhaviṣya (I.1.2–3), contains stories about Adam, Noah, Yākuta, Taimurlong, Nadir Shah, Akbar (the emperor of Delhi), Jayacandra, ... and many others. It even knows the British rule in India and names Calcutta and the Parliament.
"In spite of repeated efforts to impose schemes and canons on them from time to time, Purāṇas are open systems."
It also mentions the Iranian prophet Zarathushtra. It tells the story of the union of Nishkubha, daughter of Rsi Rijihva and the Sun (Mihira). From this wedlock was born a sage called Zarashata, who apparently is Zoroaster of the Iranian traditions.
The Uttaraparvan, though nominally attached to the Bhavishya Purana, is usually considered to be an independent work, also known as the Bhaviṣyottara Purāṇa, and as such is included among the Upapuranas (Lesser Puranas). The Bhaviṣyottara Purana is primarily a handbook of religious rites with a few legends and myths. Rajendra Hazra characterizes it as "a loose collection of materials taken from various sources" that is lacking in many of the traditional five characteristics of a purana, but which offers an interesting study of vows, festivals, and donations from sociological and religious points of view.
- ^ For Bhaviṣyat Purāṇa as the name of the text, see: Winternitz, volume 1, p. 519.
- ^ For the Bhaviṣyat Purāṇa as one of the eighteen major puranas see: Winternitz, volume 1, p. 531.
- ^ For the title signifying "a work which contains prophecies regarding the future" see: Winternitz, p. 567.
- ^ For the Bhaviṣyat Purāṇa as one of several puranas predicting future kings (others being the Matsya, Vāyu, Brahmāṇḍa, Viṣṇu, Bhāgavata, and Garuḍa Puranas, see: Winternitz, volume 1, pp. 523–524.
- ^ For use of material from the law book of Manu, including the account of Creation, see: Winternitz, volume 1, p. 567.
- ^ For classification as a Shaiva Purana in the Śivarahasya-khaṇḍa of the Śaṅkara Saṃhitā see: Winternitz, volume 1, p. 572, n. 1.
- ^ For the guna method of classification as given in Padma Purana 5.263.81-4 see: Mathett, Freda, "The Purāṇas" in Flood (2003), p. 137.
- ^ For classification as a rajas Purana, see: Flood (1996), p. 110.
- ^ For classification of Bhavishya The Puranas as rajas type, see: Mathett, Freda, "Purāṇa" in Flood (2003), p. 137.
- ^ For the fifth century BCE land grant references, citation to Pargiter (1912), and debunking of the theory, see: Winternitz, volume 1, p. 526, note 2.
- ^ For statement that the extant text is not the ancient work, see: Winternitz, volume 1, p. 567.
- ^ For the quotation in Āpastambīya Dharmasūtra attributed to the Bhaviṣyat Purāṇa not extant today, see: Winternitz, volume 1, p. 519.
- ^ Bhavishya Purana I.2.2–3.
- ^ For self-report of five parts, but only four parts in the printed text, see: Hazra, Rajendra Chandra, "The Purāṇas", in: Radhakrishnan (CHI, 1962), volume 2, p. 263.
- ^ For the characterization of the content, see: Winternitz, volume 1, p. 567.
- ^ For duties of women, signs of people, and methods of worshipping Brahma, Ganesha, Skanda, and the Snakes see: Hazra, Rajendra Chandra, "The Purāṇas", in: Radhakrishnan (CHI, 1962), volume 2, p. 264.
- ^ For the sun worship in "Śākadvīpa", which may be Scythia, see: Winternitz, volume 1, p. 567.
- ^ For a large number of chapters on Sun worship, solar myths, and Śāka-dvipa, see: Hazra, Rajendra Chandra, "The Purāṇas", in: Radhakrishnan (CHI, 1962), volume 2, p. 264.
- ^ For quotation from Hazra regarding the Madhyamaparvan as a late appendage, see: Hazra, Rajendra Chandra, "The Purāṇas", in: Radhakrishnan (CHI, 1962), volume 2, p. 263.
- ^ For quotation describing the Pratisargaparvan as "practically a new work" see: Hazra, Rajendra Chandra, "The Purāṇas", in: Radhakrishnan (CHI, 1962), volume 2, p. 263.
- ^ For quotations see: Ramanujan, A. K., "Folk Mythologies and Purāṇas" in: Doniger (1993) p. 105.
- ^ For independent classification of the Uttaraparvan as the Bhaviṣyottara Purāṇa see: Hazra, Rajendra Chandra, "The Purāṇas", in: Radhakrishnan (CHI, 1962), volume 2, p. 263.
- ^ For the contents of the Bhaviṣyottara Purana and characterizing it as a continuation of the Bhavishya Purana see: Winternitz, volume 1, p. 567.
- ^ For quotation related to loose collection of materials see: Hazra, Rajendra Chandra, "The Upapurāṇas" in: Radhakrishnan (CHI, 1962), volume 2, p. 285.
- Doniger, Wendy (editor) (1993). Purāṇa Perennis: Reciprocity and Transformation in Hindu and Jaina Texts. Albany, New York: State University of New York. ISBN 0-7914-1382-9.
- Flood, Gavin (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-43878-0.
- Flood, Gavin (Editor) (2003). The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. ISBN 1-4051-3251-5.
- Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli (Editorial Chairman) (1962). The Cultural Heritage of India. Calcutta: The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture. Second edition, four volumes, revised and enlarged, 1962 (volume II).
- Winternitz, Maurice (1972). History of Indian Literature. New Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint Corporation. Second revised reprint edition. Two volumes. First published 1927 by the University of Calcutta.
- Bhaviṣyapurāna, Pratisargaparvan. Bombay: Venkateshwar Press. 1959.
- Bhavishya Purana, Vedic Scriptures Library, astrojyoti.com
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