Brahmanda Purana

Adhyatma Ramayana verses 1.1 – 1.14 in a Brahmanda Purana manuscript (Sanskrit, Devanagari)

The Brahmanda Purana (Sanskrit: ब्रह्माण्ड पुराण, Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa) (r.c.9.hulk) is a Sanskrit text and one of the eighteen major Puranas, a genre of Hindu texts.[1] It is listed as the eighteenth Maha-Purana in almost all the anthologies.[2] The text is also referred in medieval Indian literature as the Vayaviya Purana or Vayaviya Brahmanda, and it may have been same as the Vayu Purana before these texts developed into two overlapping compositions.[1][3]

The text is named after one of the cosmological theories of Hinduism, namely the "cosmic egg" (Brahma-anda).[4] It is among the oldest Puranas, the earliest core of the text in written form survives from at least the 4th-century CE, and thus the oral form is at least 600 BCE or older.[5] The Brahmanda Purana manuscripts are encyclopedic in their coverage, covering topics such as cosmogony, Sanskara (rite of passage), genealogy, chapters on ethics and duties (Dharma), Yoga, geography, rivers, good government, administration, diplomacy, trade, festivals, a travel guide to places such as Kashmir, Cuttack and Kanchipuram, and other topics.[1][5][6]

The Brahmanda Purana is notable for including the Lalita Sahasranamam (a stotra praising Goddess as the supreme being in the universe), and being one of the early Hindu texts found in Bali, Indonesia, also called the Javanese-Brahmanda.[7][8] The text is also notable for the Adhyatma Ramayana, the most important embedded set of chapters in the text, which philosophically attempts to reconcile Bhakti in god Rama and Shaktism with Advaita Vedanta, over 65 chapters and 4,500 verses.[9][10]

History

The Brahmanda Purana is one of the oldest Puranas, but estimates for the composition of its earliest core vary widely.[11] The early 20th-century Indian scholar Dikshitar dated the Brahmanda to 4th-century BCE.[11] Most later scholarship places this text to be from centuries later, in the 4th- to 6th-century of the common era.[11][12] The text is generally assumed, states Ludo Rocher, to have achieved its current structure about 1000 CE.[11]

The text underwent continuous revisions after the 10th-century, and new sections probably replaced older ones. The 13th-century Yadava dynasty scholar Hemadri quoted large parts of the then existing Brahmanda Purana, but these parts are not found in currently surviving versions of the same text, suggesting that the 13th-century version of this Purana was different in many respects than extant manuscripts.[13]

The Adhyatma-ramayana, the most important embedded set of chapters in the extant versions of the Purana, is considered to have been composed centuries later, possibly in the 15th-century, and is attributed to Ramananda – the Advaita scholar and the founder of the Ramanandi Sampradaya, the largest monastic group in Hinduism and in Asia in modern times.[14][15][16] The Adhyatma-ramayana thus was added to this Purana later, and it is an important document to the Rama-related tradition within Hinduism.[15]

A Javanese Brahmanda palm-leaf manuscript was discovered in Indonesia in the mid-19th century by colonial-era Dutch scholars, along with other Puranas.[7] The Sanskrit originals of these are either lost or yet to be discovered.[7][8] The Javanese Brahmanda was translated by the Dutch Sanskrit scholar Jan Gonda and compared to Sanskrit texts found in India.[17]