Bhavishya Purana

A page from the Bhavishyottara section of Bhavishya Purana (Sanskrit, Devanagari)

The Bhavishya Purana (Bhaviṣya Purāṇa) is one of the eighteen major works in the Purana genre of Hinduism, written in Sanskrit.[1][2] The title Bhavishya means "future" and implies it is a work that contains prophecies regarding the future, however, the "prophecy" parts of the extant manuscripts are a modern era addition and hence not an integral part of the Bhavishya Purana.[3][4] Those sections of the surviving manuscripts that are dated to be older, are partly borrowed from other Indian texts such as Brihat Samhita and Shamba Purana.[3][5] The veracity and authenticity of much of the Bhavishya Purana has been questioned by modern scholars and historians, and the text is considered an example of "constant revisions and living nature" of Puranic genre of Hindu literature.[6][7]

The text exists in many inconsistent versions, wherein the content as well as their subdivisions vary, and five major versions are known.[4] Some manuscripts have four Parvan (parts), some two, others don't have any parts.[1][3] The text as it exists today is a composite of material ranging from medieval era to very recent. The available versions of Bhavishya Purana are based on a printed text published during the British colonial era.

The first 16 chapters of the first part of the Bhavisya Purana is called Brahmaparvan. It shows similarities to, and likely borrowed verses from some version of the Manusmriti.[3][8] However, some of the caste-related and women's rights related discussion in the Bhavishya Purana is egalitarian and challenge those found in the 19th-century published manuscripts of the Manusmriti.[9][10][11] The Brahmaparvan part of the Bhavishya Purana includes a 169 chapters compendium of Surya (Sun god) related literature, that overlaps with Zoroastrianism-related views.[5] These Sun-related sections are a notable and important part of the Bhavishya Purana, and it may be related to the migration or interaction between people of Persia and central Asia with those in Indian subcontinent.[12][13]

The second part of the text, called Madhyamaparvan, is a Tantra-related work.[6] The "prophecy"-related third part Pratisargaparvan includes sections on Christianity, Islam, Bhakti movement, Sikhism, British rule, and considered by scholars as a 19th-century creation.[14][5] The fourth part of the text called Uttaraparvan, is also known as Bhavishyottara Purana. This last part describes festivals related to various Hindu gods and goddesses and their Tithis (dates on lunar calendar), as well as mythology and a discussion of Dharma particularly vrata (vow) and dana (charity).[14][5] The text also has many Mahatmya chapters on geography, travel guide and pilgrimage to holy sites such as Uthiramerur,[15][16] and is one of the Tirtha-focussed Puranas.[17]

Dating and texts

In records of land grants of the fifth century CE 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 the early centuries CE. Maurice Winternitz considers it more probable that these verses, both in the inscriptions and in the puranas, were taken as quotations from earlier dharmaśāstras, and thus argues that chronological deductions cannot be made on that basis.[18]

According to Maurice Winternitz, the text which has come down to us in manuscript form under this title is certainly not the ancient work which is quoted in the Āpastambīya Dharmasūtra.[19] A quotation appearing in the Āpastambīya Dharmasūtra attributed to the Bhaviṣyat Purāṇa cannot be found in the extant text of the Purana.[20]