Garuda Purana

A page from a Garuda Purana manuscript (Sanskrit, Devanagari)

The Garuda Purana is one of 18 Mahāpurāṇ of texts in Hinduism. It is a part of Vaishnavism literature corpus,[1] primarily centering around Hindu god Vishnu praises all gods.[2] Composed in Sanskrit, the earliest version of the text may have been composed in the first millennium BCE,[3] but it was likely expanded and changed over a long period of time.[4][5]

The Garuda Purana text is known in many versions, contains 16000 verses.[5][6] Its chapters encyclopedically deal with a highly diverse collection of topics.[7] The text contains cosmology, mythology, relationship between gods, ethics, good versus evil, various schools of Hindu philosophies, the theory of Yoga, the theory of "heaven and hell" with "karma and rebirth", ancestral rites and soteriology, rivers and geography, types of minerals and stones, testing methods for gems for their quality, listing of plants and herbs,[8] various diseases and their symptoms, various medicines, aphrodisiacs, prophylactics, Hindu calendar and its basis, astronomy, moon, planets, astrology, architecture, building home, essential features of a Hindu temple, rites of passage, charity and gift making, economy, thrift, duties of a king, politics, state officials and their roles and how to appoint them, genre of literature, rules of grammar, and other topics.[2][9][6] The final chapters discuss how to practice Yoga (Samkhya and Advaita types), personal development and the benefits of self-knowledge.[2]

The Padma Purana categorizes the Purana, along with itself, Bhagavata Purana and Vishnu Purana, as a Sattva Purana (a purana which represents goodness and purity).[10] The text, like all Mahapuranas, is attributed to sage Veda Vyāsa in the Hindu tradition.[11]

History

it was composed in according to Pintchman estimates that the text was composed sometime in the first millennium of the common era, but it was likely compiled and changed over a long period of time.[4] Gietz et al. place the first version of the text only between the fourth-century CE and the 11th-century.[3]

Leadbeater states that the text is likely from about 900 CE, given that it includes chapters on Yoga and Tantra techniques that likely developed later.[12] Other scholars suggest that the earliest core of the text may be from the first centuries of the common era, and additional chapters were added thereafter through the sixth-century or later.[13]

The version of Garuda Purana that survives into the modern era, states Dalal, is likely from 800 to 1000 CE with sections added in the 2nd-millennium.[5] Pintchman suggests 850 to 1000 CE.[14] Chaudhuri and Banerjee, as well as Hazra, on the other hand, state it cannot be from before about the 10th- or 11th-century CE.[13]

The text exists in many versions, with varying numbers of chapters, and considerably different content.[5][6][11] Some Garuda Purana manuscripts have been known by the title of Sauparna Purana (mentioned in Bhagavata Purana section 12.13), Tarksya Purana (the Persian scholar Al-Biruni who visited India mentions this name), and Vainateya Purana (mentioned in Vayu Purana section 2.42 and 104.8).[6]

In late 19th-century and early 20th-century, a text called Garudapuranasaroddhara was published, then translated by Ernest Wood and SV Subrahmanyam.[15][16] This, states Ludo Rocher, created major confusion because it was mistaken for Garuda Purana, when it is not, a misidentification first discovered by Albrecht Weber.[15] Garuda-purana-saroddhara actually is the original bhasya work of Naunidhirama, that cites a section of now non-existent version of Garuda Purana as well as other Indian texts.[15] The earliest translation of one version of Garuda Purana, by Manmatha Nath Dutt, was published in early 20th-century.[17]