Dharmaśāstra is a genre of Sanskrit theological texts, refers to the treatises of Hinduism on dharma. There are many Dharmashastras, variously estimated to be 18 to about 100, with different and conflicting points of view; each of these texts exist in many different versions, each is rooted in Dharmasutra texts dated to 1st millennium BCE that emerged from Kalpa studies in the Vedic era. The textual corpus of Dharmaśāstra were composed in poetic verses, are part of the Hindu Smritis, constituting divergent commentaries and treatises on duties and ethics to oneself, to family and as a member of society; the texts include discussion of ashrama, purushartha, personal virtues and duties such as ahimsa against all living beings, rules of just war, other topics. Dharmaśāstra became influential in modern colonial India history, when they were formulated by early British colonial administrators to be the law of the land for all non-Muslims in India, after Sharia was accepted as the law for Muslims in colonial India.
The Dharmashastras are based on ancient Dharmasūtra texts, which themselves emerged from the literary tradition of the Vedas composed in 2nd millennium BCE to the early centuries of the 1st millennium BCE. These Vedic branches split into various other schools for a variety of reasons such as geography and disputes; each Veda is further divided into two categories namely the Saṃhitā, a collection of mantra verses and the Brahmanas which are prose texts that explain the meaning of the Samhita verses. The Brāhmaṇa layer expanded and some of the newer esoteric speculative layers of text were called Aranyakas while the mystical and philosophical sections came to be called the Upanishads; the Vedic basis of Dharma literature is found in the Brahmana layer of the Vedas. Towards the end of the vedic period, after the middle of the 1st millennium BCE, the language of the Vedic texts composed centuries earlier grew too archaic to the people of that time; this led to the formation of Vedic Supplements called the Vedangas which means ‘limbs of the Veda’.
The Vedangas were ancillary sciences that focused on understanding and interpreting the Vedas composed many centuries earlier, included Shiksha, Vyakarana, Nirukta and Kalpa. The Kalpa Vedanga studies gave rise to the Dharma-sutras, which expanded into Dharma-shastras; the Dharmasutras were numerous. The most important of these texts are the sutras of Apastamba, Gautama and Vasistha; these extant texts cite writers and refer opinions of seventeen authorities, implying that a rich Dharmasutras tradition existed prior to when these texts were composed. The extant Dharmasutras are written in concise sutra format, with a terse incomplete sentence structure which are difficult to understand and leave much to the reader to interpret; the Dharmasastras are derivative works on the Dharmasutras, using a shloka, which are clearer. The Dharmasutras can be called the guidebooks of dharma as they contain guidelines for individual and social behavior, ethical norms, as well as personal and criminal law, they discuss the duties and rights of people at different stages of life like studenthood, householdership and renunciation.
These stages are called ashramas. They discuss the rites and duties of kings, judicial matters, personal law such as matters relating to marriage and inheritance. However, Dharmasutras did not deal with rituals and ceremonies, a topic, covered in the Shrautasutras and Grihyasutras texts of the Kalpa; the hymns of Ṛgveda are one of the earliest texts composed in verse. The Brāhmaṇa which belongs to the middle vedic period followed by the vedāṇga are composed in prose; the basic texts are composed in an aphoristic style known as the sutra which means thread on which each aphorism is strung like a pearl. The Dharmasūtras are composed in sutra style and were part of a larger compilation of texts, called the Kalpasūtras which give an aphoristic description of the rituals and proper procedures; the Kalpasutras contain three sections, namely the Śrautasūtras which deal with vedic ceremonies, Gṛhyasūtras which deal with rites of passage rituals and domestic matters, Dharmasūtras which deal with proper procedures in one's life.
The Dharmasūtras of Āpastamba and Baudhāyana form a part of larger Kalpasutra texts, all of which has survived into the modern era. The sūtra tradition ended around the beginning of the common era and was followed by the poetic octosyllable verse style called the śloka; the verse style was used to compose the Dharmaśāstras such as the Manusmriti, the Hindu epics, the Puranas. The age of Smṛtis that ended around the second half of the first millennium CE was followed by that of commentaries around the 9th century called nibandha; this legal tradition consisted of commentaries on earlier Smritis. About 20 Dharmasutras are known, some surviving into the modern era just as fragments of their original. Four Dharmasūtras have been translated into English, most remain in manuscripts. All carry the names of their authors, but it is still difficult to determine who these real authors were; the extant Dharmasūtra texts are listed below: Apastamba this Dharmasūtra forms a part of the larger Kalpasūtra of Apastamba.
It contains 1,364 sut
The Chandogya Upanishad is a Sanskrit text embedded in the Chandogya Brahmana of the Sama Veda of Hinduism. It is one of the oldest Upanishads, it lists as number 9 in the Muktika canon of 108 Upanishads. The Upanishad belongs to the Tandya school of the Samaveda. Like Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, the Chandogya Upanishad is an anthology of texts that must have pre-existed as separate texts, were edited into a larger text by one or more ancient Indian scholars; the precise chronology of Chandogya Upanishad is uncertain, it is variously dated to have been composed by the 8th to 6th century BCE in India. It is one of the largest Upanishadic compilations, has eight Prapathakas, each with many volumes, each volume contains many verses; the volumes are a motley collection of themes. As part of the poetic and chants-focussed Samaveda, the broad unifying theme of the Upanishad is the importance of speech, language and chants to man's quest for knowledge and salvation, to metaphysical premises and questions, as well as to rituals.
The Chandogya Upanishad is notable for its lilting metric structure, its mention of ancient cultural elements such as musical instruments, embedded philosophical premises that served as foundation for Vedanta school of Hinduism. It is one of the most cited texts in Bhasyas by scholars from the diverse schools of Hinduism. Adi Shankara, for example, cited Chandogya Upanishad 810 times in his Vedanta Sutra Bhasya, more than any other ancient text; the name of the Upanishad is derived from the word Chanda or chandas, which means "poetic meter, prosody". The name implies that the nature of the text relates to the patterns of structure, stress and intonation in language and chants; the text is sometimes known as Chandogyopanishad. Chandogya Upanishad was in all likelihood composed in the earlier part of 1st millennium BCE, is one of the oldest Upanishads; the exact century of the Upanishad composition is unknown and contested. The chronology of early Upanishads is difficult to resolve, states Stephen Phillips, because all opinions rest on scanty evidence, an analysis of archaism and repetitions across texts, driven by assumptions about evolution of ideas, on presumptions about which philosophy might have influenced which other Indian philosophies.
Patrick Olivelle states, "in spite of claims made by some, in reality, any dating of these documents that attempts a precision closer than a few centuries is as stable as a house of cards". The chronology and authorship of Chandogya Upanishad, along with Brihadaranyaka and Kaushitaki Upanishads, is further complicated because they are compiled anthologies of literature that must have existed as independent texts before they became part of these Upanishads. Scholars have offered different estimates ranging from 800 BCE to 600 BCE. According to a 1998 review by Olivelle, Chandogya was composed by 7th or 6th century BCE, give or take a century or so. Phillips states that Chandogya was completed after Brihadaranyaka, both in early part of the 1st millennium BCE; the text has eight Prapathakas, each with varying number of Khandas. Each Khanda has varying number of verses; the first chapter includes 13 volumes each with varying number of verses, the second chapter has 24 volumes, the third chapter contains 19 volumes, the fourth is composed of 17 volumes, the fifth has 24, the sixth chapter has 16 volumes, the seventh includes 26 volumes, the eight chapter is last with 15 volumes.
The Upanishad comprises the last eight chapters of a ten chapter Chandogya Brahmana text. The first chapter of the Brahmana is short and concerns ritual-related hymns to celebrate a marriage ceremony and the birth of a child; the second chapter of the Brahmana is short as well and its mantras are addressed to divine beings at life rituals. The last eight chapters are long, are called the Chandogya Upanishad. A notable structural feature of Chandogya Upanishad is that it contains many nearly identical passages and stories found in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, but in precise meter; the Chandogya Upanishad, like other Upanishads, was a living document. Every chapter shows evidence of insertion or interpolation at a age, because the structure, grammar and content is inconsistent with what precedes or follows the suspect content and section. Additionally, supplements were attached to various volumes in a different age. Klaus Witz structurally divides the Chandogya Upanishad into three natural groups; the first group comprises chapters I and II, which deal with the structure and rhythmic aspects of language and its expression with the syllable Om.
The second group consists of chapters III-V, with a collection of more than 20 Upasanas and Vidyas on premises about the universe, life and spirituality. The third group consists of chapters VI-VIII that deal with metaphysical questions such as the nature of reality and soul; the chant of Om, the essence of allThe Chandogya Upanishad opens with the recommendation that "let a man meditate on Om". It calls the syllable Om as udgitha, asserts that the significance of the syllable is thus: the essence of all beings is earth, the essence of earth is water, the essence of water are the plants, the essence of plants is man, the essence of man is speech, the essence of speech is the Rig Veda, the essence of the Rig Veda is the Sama Veda, the essence of Sama Veda is udgitha. Rik is speech, states the text, Sāman is breath.
The Yajurveda is the Veda of prose mantras for worship rituals. An ancient Vedic Sanskrit text, it is a compilation of ritual offering formulas that were said by a priest while an individual performed ritual actions such as those before the yajna fire. Yajurveda is one of the four Vedas, one of the scriptures of Hinduism; the exact century of Yajurveda's composition is unknown, estimated by scholars to be around 1200 to 1000 BCE, contemporaneous with Samaveda and Atharvaveda. The Yajurveda is broadly grouped into two – the "black" or "dark" Yajurveda and the "white" or "bright" Yajurveda; the term "black" implies "the un-arranged, motley collection" of verses in Yajurveda, in contrast to the "white" which implies the "well arranged, clear" Yajurveda. The black Yajurveda has survived in four recensions, while two recensions of white Yajurveda have survived into the modern times; the earliest and most ancient layer of Yajurveda samhita includes about 1,875 verses, that are distinct yet borrow and build upon the foundation of verses in Rigveda.
The middle layer includes the Satapatha Brahmana, one of the largest Brahmana texts in the Vedic collection. The youngest layer of Yajurveda text includes the largest collection of primary Upanishads, influential to various schools of Hindu philosophy; these include the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the Isha Upanishad, the Taittiriya Upanishad, the Katha Upanishad, the Shvetashvatara Upanishad and the Maitri Upanishad. Yajurveda is a compound Sanskrit word, composed of yajus and veda. Monier-Williams translates yajus as "religious reverence, worship, sacrifice, a sacrificial prayer, formula mantras muttered in a peculiar manner at a sacrifice". Veda means "knowledge". Johnson states yajus means " prose formulae or mantras, contained in the Yajur Veda, which are muttered". Michael Witzel interprets Yajurveda to mean a "knowledge text of prose mantras" used in Vedic rituals. Ralph Griffith interprets the name to mean "knowledge of sacrifice or sacrificial texts and formulas". Carl Olson states that Yajurveda is a text of "mantras that are repeated and used in rituals".
The Yajurveda text includes Shukla Yajurveda of which about 16 recensions are known, while the Krishna Yajurveda may have had as many as 86 recensions. Only two recensions of the Shukla Yajurveda have survived and Kanva, others are known by name only because they are mentioned in other texts; these two recensions are nearly the same, except for a few differences. In contrast to Shukla Yajurveda, the four surviving recensions of Krishna Yajurveda are different versions; the samhita in the Shukla Yajurveda is called the Vajasaneyi Samhita. The name Vajasaneyi is derived from Vajasaneya, patronymic of sage Yajnavalkya, the founder of the Vajasaneyi branch. There are two surviving recensions of the Vajasaneyi Samhita: Vajasaneyi Madhyandina and Vajasaneyi Kanva; the lost recensions of White Yajurveda, mentioned in other texts of ancient India, include Jabala, Sapeyi, Kapola, Avati, Parasara, Vaidheya and Vaijayavapa. There are four surviving recensions of the Krishna Yajurveda – Taittirīya saṃhitā, Maitrayani saṃhitā, Kaṭha saṃhitā and Kapiṣṭhala saṃhitā.
A total of eighty six recensions are mentioned to exist in Vayu Purana, however vast majority of them are believed to be lost. The Katha school is referred to as a sub-school of Carakas in some ancient texts of India, because they did their scholarship as they wandered from place to place; the best known and best preserved of these recensions is the Taittirīya saṃhitā. Some mentioned by Panini; the text is associated with the Taittiriya school of the Yajurveda, attributed to the pupils of sage Tittiri. The Maitrayani saṃhitā is the oldest Yajurveda Samhita that has survived, it differs in content from the Taittiriyas, as well as in some different arrangement of chapters, but is much more detailed; the Kāṭhaka saṃhitā or the Caraka-Kaṭha saṃhitā, according to tradition was compiled by Katha, a disciple of Vaisampayana. Like the Maitrayani Samhita, it offers much more detailed discussion of some rituals than the younger Taittiriya samhita that summarizes such accounts; the Kapiṣṭhala saṃhitā or the Kapiṣṭhala-Kaṭha saṃhitā, named after the sage Kapisthala is extant only in some large fragments and edited without accent marks.
This text is a variant of the Kāṭhaka saṃhitā. Each regional edition of Yajurveda had Samhita, Aranyakas, Upanishads as part of the text, with Shrautasutras and Pratishakhya attached to the text. In Shukla Yajurveda, the text organization is same for both Kanva shakhas; the texts attached to Shukla Yajurveda include the Katyayana Shrautasutra, Paraskara Grhyasutra and Shukla Yajurveda Pratishakhya. In Krishna Yajurveda, each of the recensions has or had their Brahmana text mixed into the Samhita text, thus creating a motley of the prose and verses, making it unclear, disorganized; the core text of the Yajurveda falls within the classical Mantra period of Vedic Sanskrit at the end of the 2nd millennium BCE - younger than the Rigveda, contemporary with the Atharvaveda, the Rigvedic Khilani, the Sāmaveda. The scholarly consensus dates the bulk of the Yajurveda and Atharvaveda hymns to the early Indian Iron Age, c. 1200 or 1000 BC, corresponding to the early Kuru Kingdom. The Vedas are notoriously hard to date as they are compilations and were traditionally preserved through oral tradition leaving no archaeolo
The Kena Upanishad is a Vedic Sanskrit text classified as one of the primary or Mukhya Upanishads, embedded inside the last section of the Talavakara Brahmanam of the Samaveda. It is listed as number 2 in the canon of the 108 Upanishads of Hinduism; the Kena Upanishad was composed sometime around the middle of the 1st millennium BCE. It has an unusual structure where the first 13 are verses composed as a metric poem, followed by 15 prose paragraphs of main text plus 6 prose paragraphs of epilogue. Paul Deussen suggests that the latter prose section of the main text is far more ancient than the poetic first section, Kena Upanishad bridged the more ancient prose Upanishad era with the metric poetic era of Upanishads that followed. Kena Upanishad is notable in its discussion of Brahman with attributes and without attributes, for being a treatise on "purely conceptual knowledge", it asserts that the efficient cause of all the gods, symbolically envisioned as forces of nature, is Brahman. This has made it a foundational scripture to Vedanta school of Hinduism, both the theistic and monistic sub-schools after varying interpretations.
The Kena Upanishad is significant in asserting the idea of "Spiritual Man", "Soul is a wonderful being that gods worship", "Atman exists", "knowledge and spirituality are the goals and intense longing of all creatures". Kena means, depending on the object-subject context, "by what, by whom, how, from what cause"; this root of Kena, in the sense of "by whom" or "from what cause", is found the inquisitive first verse of the Kena Upanishad as follows, The Kena Upanishad belongs to the Talavakara Brahmana of Sama Veda, giving the etymological roots of an alternate name of Talavakara Upanishad for it, in ancient and medieval era Indian texts. The Kena Upanishad is referred to as the Kenopanishad; the chronology of Kena Upanishad, like other Vedic texts, contested by scholars. All opinions rest on scanty evidence, an analysis of archaism and repetitions across texts, driven by assumptions about evolution of ideas, on presumptions about which philosophy might have influenced which other Indian philosophies.
Phillips dates Kena Upanishad as having been composed after Brihadaranyaka, Isha and Aitareya, but before Katha, Prasna, Mandukya and Maitri Upanishads, as well as before the earliest Buddhist Pali and Jaina canons. Ranade posits a view similar to Phillips, with different ordering, placing Kena chronological composition in the third group of ancient Upanishads. Paul Deussen considers Kena Upanishad to be bridging a period of prose composition and fusion of poetic creativity with ideas. Winternitz considers the Kena Upanishad as pre-Jaina literature; the text is from about the middle of 1st millennium BCE. Many of the ideas found in Kena Upanishads have more ancient roots. For example, the ideas in verse 2 of Kena Upanishad are found in the oldest Brihadaranyaka Upanishad's chapter 4.4, as well as the second oldest Chandogya Upanishad's chapter 8.12. Kena Upanishad has three parts: 13 verses in the first part, 15 paragraphs in the second part, 6 paragraphs in the epilogue; these are distributed in four khaṇḍas.
The first Khanda has 8 verses, the second has 5 verses. The third Khanda has 12 paragraphs, while the fourth khanda has the remaining 9; the first two Khandas of Kena Upanishad are poems, the last two are prose, with one exception. Paragraph 9 is prose and structurally out of place, which has led scholars to state that the paragraph 9 was inserted or is a corrupted version of the original manuscript in a more modern era. Another odd structural feature of Kena Upanishad's poetic Khandas is verse 3, which has 8 lines, while all other poetic verses in the first two sections are only 4 lines of mathematical metric construction. There are some differences in the positioning of Kena Upanishad in manuscripts discovered in different parts of India, it is, for example, the ninth chapter of Talavakara Brahmana in south Indian manuscripts and as mentioned in the Bhasya by Shankara, while the Burnell manuscript of sections of Sama Veda places it in the tenth Anuvaka of the fourth chapter. The Kena Upanishad is accepted as part of Sama Veda, but it is found in manuscripts of Atharva collection.
The difference between the two versions is minor and structural - in Sama Veda manuscripts, the Kena Upanishad has four sections, while the Atharva manuscripts show no such division into sections. The Kena Upanishad opens by questioning the nature of man, the origins, the essence and the relationship of him with knowledge and sensory perception, it asserts that knowledge is of two types - empirical and conceptual. Empirical knowledge can be taught and discussed. Conceptual axiomatic knowledge cannot, states Kena Upanishad. Pure, abstract concepts are learnt and realized instead wherein it mentions that the highest reality is Brahman. In verse 4, Kena Upanishad asserts that Brahman cannot be worshipped, because it has no attributes and is unthinkable, eternal, all present reality; that what man worships is the path to Atman-Brahman. Rather, Brahman is that, it is that which "hears" the sound in ears, "sees" the view in eyes, "speaks" the words of speech, "smells" the aroma in breath, "comprehends" the meaning in thought.
The Atman-Brahman is in man, not that. Woodburne interprets the first khanda of Kena Upanishad to be
The Shvetashvatara Upanishad is an ancient Sanskrit text embedded in the Yajurveda. It is listed as number 14 in the Muktika canon of 108 Upanishads; the Upanishad contains 113 verses in six chapters. The Upanishad is one of the 33 Upanishads from Taittiriyas, associated with the Shvetashvatara tradition within Karakas sakha of the Yajurveda, it is a part of the "black" Yajurveda, with the term "black" implying "the un-arranged, motley collection" of content in Yajurveda, in contrast to the "white" Yajurveda where Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and Isha Upanishad are embedded. The chronology of Maitrayaniya Upanishad is contested, but accepted to be a late period Upanishadic composition; the text includes a closing credit to sage Shvetashvatara, considered the author of the Upanishad. However, scholars believe that while sections of the text shows an individual stamp by its style and other sections were interpolated and expanded over time; the Shvetashvatara Upanishad opens with metaphysical questions about the primal cause of all existence, its origin, its end, what role, if any, nature, necessity and the spirit had as the primal cause.
It develops its answer, concluding that "the Universal Soul exists in every individual, it expresses itself in every creature, everything in the world is a projection of it, that there is Oneness, a unity of souls in one and only Self". The text is notable for its discussion of the concept of personal god – Ishvara, suggesting it to be a path to one's own Highest Self; the text is notable for its multiple mentions of both Rudra and Shiva, along with other Vedic deities, of crystallization of Shiva as a central theme. The Shvetashvatara Upanishad is a Principal Upanishad of Hinduism, commented by many of its ancient and medieval scholars, it is a foundational text of the philosophy of Shaivism, as well as the Yoga and Vedanta schools of Hinduism. Some 19th century scholars suggested that Shvetashvatara Upanishad is sectarian or influenced by Christianity, hypotheses that were disputed discarded by scholars; the name "Shvetashvatara" has the compound Sanskrit root Shvetashva, which means "white horse" and "drawn by white steeds".
Shvetashvatara is a bahuvrihi compound of, where tara means "crossing", "carrying beyond". The word Shvetashvatara translates to "the one carrying beyond on white horse" or "white mule that carries"; the text is sometimes spelled as Svetasvatara Upanishad. It is known as Shvetashvataropanishad or Svetasvataropanishad, as Shvetashvataranam Mantropanishad. In ancient and medieval literature, the text is referred to in the plural, as Svetasvataropanishadah; some metric poetic verses, such as Vakaspatyam refer to the text as Shvetashva. Flood as well as Gorski state that the Svetasvatara Upanishad was composed in the 5th to 4th century BCE. Paul Muller-Ortega dates the text between 6th to 5th century BCE; the chronology of Shvetashvatara Upanishad, like other Upanishads, is uncertain and contested. The chronology is difficult to resolve because all opinions rest on scanty evidence, an analysis of archaism and repetitions across texts, driven by assumptions about evolution of ideas, on presumptions about which philosophy might have influenced which other Indian philosophies.
Phillips chronologically lists Shvetashvatara Upanishad after Mandukya Upanishad, but before and about the time the Maitri Upanishad, the first Buddhist Pali and Jaina canonical texts were composed. Ranade places Shvetashvatara Upanishad's chronological composition in the fourth group of ancient Upanishads, after Katha and Mundaka Upanishads. Deussen states that Shvetashvatara Upanishad refers to and incorporates phrases from the Katha Upanishad, chronologically followed it; some sections of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad are found in its entirety, in chronologically more ancient Sanskrit texts. For example, verses 2.1 through 2.3 are found in chapter 4.1.1 of Taittiriya Samhita as well as in chapter 6.3.1 of Shatapatha Brahmana, while verses 2.4 and 2.5 are found as hymns in chapters 5.81 and 10.13 of Rig Veda respectively. Many verses in chapters 3 through 6 are found, in nearly identical form in the Samhitas of Rig Veda, Atharva Veda and Yajur Veda; the text has six Adhyaya, each with varying number of verses.
The first chapter includes 16 verses, the second has 17, the third chapter contains 21 verses, the fourth is composed of 22, the fifth has 14, while the sixth chapter has 23 verses. The last three verses of the sixth chapter are considered as epilogue. Thus, the Upanishad has 3 epilogue verses; the epilogue verse 6.21 is a homage to sage Shvetashvatara for proclaiming Brahman-knowledge to ascetics. This closing credit is structurally notable because of its rarity in ancient Indian texts, as well as for its implication that the four-stage Ashrama system of Hinduism, with ascetic Sannyasa, was an established tradition by the time verse 6.21 of Shvetashvatara Upanishad was composed. The Shvetashvatara Upanishad has structure. However, unlike other ancient poetic Upanishads, the meter structure of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad varies is arbitrary and inconsistent within many verses in chapters, some such as verse 2.17 lack a definite poetic meter suggesting that the text congealed from the work of several authors over a period of time, or was interpolated and expanded over time.
The first chapter is the consistent one, with characteristics that makes it like
The Matsya Purana is one of the eighteen major Puranas, among the oldest and better preserved in the Puranic genre of Sanskrit literature in Hinduism. The text is a Vaishnavism text named after the half-fish avatar of Vishnu. However, the text has been called by the 19th-century Sanskrit scholar Horace Hayman Wilson, "although a Shaivism work, it is not so"; the Matsya Purana has survived into the modern era in many versions, varying in the details but all of the published versions have 291 chapters, except the Tamil language version, written in Grantha script, which has 172 chapters. The text is notable for providing one of earliest known definition of a Purana genre of literature. A history written with five characteristics is called a Purana, states Matsya Purana, otherwise it is called Akhyana; these five characteristics are cosmogony describing its theory of primary creation of the universe, chronological description of secondary creations wherein the universe goes through the cycle of birth-life-death and mythology of gods and goddesses, legends of kings and people including solar and lunar dynasties.
The Matsya Purana is notable for being encyclopedic in the topics it covers. Along with the five topics the text defines a Purana to be, it includes mythology, a guide for building art work such as paintings and sculpture and design guidelines for temples and house architecture, various types of Yoga and ethics with multiple chapters on the value of Dāna, both Shiva and Vishnu related festivals, geography around the Narmada river, duties of a king and good government and other topics; the Matsya Purana, like all Puranas, was updated continuously. The composition of the text may have begun in the last centuries of the 1st-millennium BCE, its first version complete by about the 3rd-century of the common era, asserts Ramachandra Dikshitar – known for proposing ancient dates for Indian literature. Other scholars, such as Pandurang Vaman Kane, place the earliest version of the text to between c. 200–500 CE. The Matsya Purana, in chapter 53, includes a note stating that as a Purana, it is supposed to be edited and revised to remain useful to the society.
Wendy Doniger dates the Matsya Purana to have been composed between 250 to 500 CE. The general consensus among scholars is that Matsya Purana is among the older Purana, with its first version complete in the 3rd-century CE, but sections of it were revised and expanded over the centuries, through the 2nd-millennium CE; the Matsya Purana, like all Puranas, has a complicated chronology. Dimmitt and van Buitenen state that each of the Puranas is encyclopedic in style, it is difficult to ascertain when, why and by whom these were written: As they exist today, the Puranas are a stratified literature; each titled work consists of material that has grown by numerous accretions in successive historical eras. Thus no Purana has a single date of composition, it is as if they were libraries to which new volumes have been continuously added, not at the end of the shelf, but randomly. The text is named after the half-fish incarnation of Hindu god Vishnu called Matsya; the Tamil version of the Matsya Purana has two sections and Uttara, it consists of 172 chapters.
Other versions of the published Matsya Purana manuscripts have 291 chapters. The text and tradition asserts. However, extant manuscripts contain between 13,000 to 15,000 verses; the Padma Purana categorizes one that glorifies Shiva or Agni. Scholars consider the Sattva-Rajas-Tamas classification as "entirely fanciful" and there is nothing in this text that justifies this classification, it narrates the story of the first of ten major Avatars of the Hindu god Vishnu. The text describes the mythology of a great flood, where in the world and humans led by Manu, the seeds of all plants and mobile living beings, as well as its knowledge books were saved by the Matsya avatar of Vishnu; the Matsya Purana covers a diverse range of topics, many unrelated to Vishnu, its mixed encyclopedic character led Horace Hayman Wilson – famous for his 19th-century Purana studies and translations, to state, "it is too mixed a character to be considered a genuine Purana" and a collection of miscellaneous topics. The text includes a similar coverage on legends of god Shiva and god Vishnu, dedicates a section on goddess Shakti as well.
Chapters 54-102 of the text discuss the significance and celebration of Hindu festivals and family celebrations such as those related to the Sanskara. The chapters 215-227 of the text discuss its theories of the duties of a king and good government, while chapters 252-257 weave in a technical discussion of how to identify a stable soil for home construction, different architectural designs of a house along with construction-related ritual ceremonies; the Matsya Purana, along with the texts such as Brihat Samhita, are among the oldest surviving texts with numerous sections on temple and artwork designs. The Purana describes 20 styles of Hindu temples, such as Meru and Kailasa designs; the text lays out guidelines on foundation, spaces within the core temple where people visit, the spire. The text highlights the square design principle, suggesting that the land and design of large temples be set on 64 squares, numerous other square grid designs such as the 16 square gri
The'Vishnu Purana' is one of the eighteen Mahapuranas, a genre of ancient and medieval texts of Hinduism. It is an important Pancharatra text in the Vaishnavism literature corpus; the manuscripts of Vishnu Purana have survived into the modern era in many versions. More than any other major Purana, the Vishnu Purana presents its contents in Pancalaksana format – Sarga, Vamśa, Manvañtara, Vamśānucaritam; some manuscripts of the text are notable for not including sections found in other major Puranas, such as those on Mahatmyas and tour guides on pilgrimage, but some versions include chapters on temples and travel guides to sacred pilgrimage sites. The text is notable as the earliest Purana to have been translated and published in 1864 CE by HH Wilson, based on manuscripts available, setting the presumptions and premises about what Puranas may have been; the Vishnu Purana is with about 7,000 verses in extant versions. It centers around the Hindu god Vishnu and his avatars such as Krishna, but it praises Brahma and Shiva and asserts that they are one with Vishnu.
The Purana, states Wilson, is pantheistic and the ideas in it, like other Puranas, are premised on the Vedic beliefs and ideas. Vishnu Purana, like all major Puranas, attributes its author to be sage Veda Vyasa; the actual author and date of its composition are unknown and contested. Estimates range of its composition range from 1st millennium BCE to early 2nd-millennium CE; the text was composed and rewritten in layers over a period of time, with roots in ancient 1st-millennium BCE texts that have not survived into the modern era. The Padma Purana categorizes Vishnu Purana as a Sattva Purana; the composition date of Vishnu Purana is unknown and contested, with estimates disagreeing. Some proposed dates for the earliest version of Vishnu Purana by various scholars include: Vincent Smith: 400-300 BCE, CV Vaidya: ~9th-century, Moriz Winternitz: early 1st millennium, but states Rocher, he added, "it is no more possible to assign a definite date to the Vishnu Purana than it is for any other Purana".
Rajendra Chandra Hazra: 275-325 CE Ramachandra Dikshitar: 700-300 BCE, Roy: after the 9th century. Horace Hayman Wilson: acknowledged that the tradition believes it to be 1st millennium BCE text and the text has roots in the Vedic literature, but after his analysis suggested that the extant manuscripts may be from the 11th century. Wendy Doniger: c. 450 CE. Rocher states that the "date of the Vishnu Purana is as contested as that of any other Purana". References to Vishnu Purana in texts such as Brihadvishnu whose dates are better established, states Rocher, suggest that a version of Vishnu Purana existed by about 1000 CE, but it is unclear to what extent the extant manuscripts reflect the revisions during the 2nd millennium. Vishnu Purana like all Puranas has a complicated chronology. Dimmitt and van Buitenen state that each of the Puranas including the Vishnu Purana is encyclopedic in style, it is difficult to ascertain when, why and by whom these were written: As they exist today, the Puranas are a stratified literature.
Each titled work consists of material that has grown by numerous accretions in successive historical eras. Thus no Purana has a single date of composition, it is as if they were libraries to which new volumes have been continuously added, not at the end of the shelf, but randomly. Many of the extant manuscripts were written on palm leaf or copied during the British India colonial era, some in the 19th century; the scholarship on Vishnu Purana, other Puranas, has suffered from cases of forgeries, states Ludo Rocher, where liberties in the transmission of Puranas were normal and those who copied older manuscripts replaced words or added new content to fit the theory that the colonial scholars were keen on publishing. The extant text comprises 126 adhyāyas; the first part has 22 chapters, the second part consists 16 chapters, the third part comprises 18 chapters and the fourth part has 24 chapters. The fifth and the sixth parts are the longest and the shortest part of the text, comprising 38 and 8 chapters respectively.
The textual tradition claims that the original Vishnu Purana had 23,000 verses, but the surviving manuscripts have just a third of these, about 7,000 verses. The text is composed in metric verses or sloka, wherein each verse has 32 syllables, of which 16 syllables in the verse may be free style per ancient literary standards; the Vishnu Purana is an exception in that it presents its contents in Vishnu worship-related Pancalaksana format – Sarga, Vamśa, Manvañtara, Vamśānucaritam. This is rare, state Dimmitt and van Buitenen, because just 2% of the known Puranic literature corpus is about these five Pancalaksana items, about 98% is about diverse range of encyclopedic topics. Vishnu Purana opens as a conversation between sage Maitreya and his guru, with the sage asking, "what is the nature of this universe and everything, in it?" The first Amsha of Vishnu Purana presents cosmology, dealing with the creation and destruction of the universe. The mythology, states Rocher, is woven with the evolutionary theories of Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy.
The Hindu god Vishnu is presented as the central element of this text's cosmology, unlike some other Puranas where Shiva or Brahma or goddess Shakti are. The r