The Brahmanda Purana (ब्रह्माण्डपुराण) is a Sanskrit text and one of the eighteen major Puranas, a genre of Hindu texts. It is listed as the eighteenth Maha-Purana in almost all the anthologies. The text is also referred to in medieval Indian literature as the Vayaviya Purana or Vayaviya Brahmanda, and it may have been the same as the Vayu Purana before these texts developed into two overlapping compositions. The Brahmanda Purana is notable for including the Lalita Sahasranamam (a stotra praising the Goddess Lalita as the supreme being in the universe), and being one of the early Hindu texts found in Bali, Indonesia, also called the Javanese-Brahmanda. The text is also notable for the Adhyatma Ramayana, the most important embedded set of chapters in the text, which philosophically attempts to reconcile Rama-Bhakti with Advaita Vedanta over 65 chapters and 4,500 verses.
Brahmanda Purana Meaning
The Brahmanda Purana is one of the eighteen Mahāpurāṇas, a genre of ancient Indian texts that are considered sacred in Hinduism. The word “Brahmanda” is derived from two Sanskrit words: “Brahma,” referring to the creator deity in Hinduism, and “anda,” meaning egg. Therefore, Brahmanda Purana can be translated as the “The Purana of the Cosmic Egg.”
Brahmanda Purana Origin
The exact origins of the Brahmanda Purana are unclear, as with many ancient Hindu texts. Hindu Puranas are traditionally considered timeless and are often attributed to the sage Vyasa, who is also credited with compiling the Vedas and writing the Mahabharata. Vyasa is a legendary figure in Hindu tradition, and his name is associated with the compilation and transmission of sacred knowledge.
The Brahmanda Purana is believed to have been composed over a long period, with contributions from multiple authors and sages. The text likely underwent revisions and additions over time. The Puranas, in general, were transmitted orally before being eventually written down, which adds to the complexity of determining their exact origins.
The Brahmanda Purana, like other Puranas, is considered a Smriti text, which means it is part of the secondary Hindu scriptures that expound upon the principles laid out in the Vedas. While the precise date of its composition is uncertain, it is generally accepted to be an ancient text, and its content reflects the religious, mythological, and cosmological beliefs prevalent in ancient Hindu society.
Brahmanda Purana Structure
The original, complete version of the Brahmanda Purana has been lost, and 19th-century scholars could only generally locate and procure independent sub-parts or collections of chapters that claimed to have been part of this Purana. Many of these chapters turned out to be fraudulent, sold by imposters in the 19th century. Later, Wilson states, rare compilations claiming to be the entire Purana emerged.
The published manuscript of the Brahmanda Purana has three Bhaga (Parts). The first part is subdivided into two Pada (Sub-Parts), while the other two have just one Pada each. The first Bhaga has 38 Adhyaya (Chapters), the second is structured into 74 chapters, and the third and last has 44 chapters. This published text has a cumulative total of 156 chapters.
Other unpublished versions of the manuscripts exist, states Rocher, preserved in various libraries. These vary in their structure. The Nasiketopakhyana text, which is embedded inside this Purana, for example, exists in 18 chapters in one version and 19 chapters in another, in a form that Moriz Winternitz termed as a corrupted “Insipid, Amplified Version” of the “Beautiful Old Legend” of Nachiketa found in the ancient Katha Upanishad.
The tradition and other Puranas assert that the Brahmanda Purana had 12,000 verses, but the published Venkateshwar Press version of the manuscript contains 14,286 verses. The Indonesian version of Brahmanda Purana is much shorter, lacks superfluous adjectives but contains all essential information, and does not contain the prophecy-related chapters found in the published extant Indian version. This suggests that older versions of the Indian text may have been smaller, in a different style, and without prophecy-related sections, although tradition informs the opposite (an even larger source).
Brahmanda Purana Content
The Adhyatma Ramayana is a text consisting of about 4,500 verses in 65 chapters and divided into seven Kandas (books). The Nasiketopkhyana, a text in 18 chapters, the Pinakinimahatmya, a text in 12 chapters, the Virajakshetramahatmya and the Kanchimahatmya, a text in 32 chapters are embedded in this Purana.
Mythological story from Brahmanda Purana
Significance of Brahmanda Purana
In summary, the Brahmanda Purana, with its cosmological insights, mythological tales, ethical teachings, and philosophical wisdom, stands as a significant scripture in Hindu literature. It explores the creation of the universe, imparts moral lessons, and guides individuals on the path of righteousness and spiritual realization. This sacred text is a valuable source for understanding Hindu cosmology, mythology, and the profound interplay between the individual and the cosmic order.
Frequently Asked Questions