Padma Purana

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

The Padma Purana (Sanskrit: पद्म पुराण) is one of the eighteen major Puranas, a genre of texts in Hinduism. It is an encyclopedic text, named after the lotus in which creator god Brahma appeared, and includes large sections dedicated to Vishnu, as well as significant sections on Shiva and Shakti.[1][2]

The manuscripts of Padma Purana have survived into the modern era in numerous versions, of which two are major and significantly different, one traced to eastern and the other to western regions of India.[3] It is one of the voluminous text, claiming to have 55,000 verses, with the actual surviving manuscripts showing about 50,000.[4][5]

The style of composition and textual arrangement suggest that it is likely a compilation of different parts written in different era by different authors.[6] The text includes sections on cosmology, mythology, genealogy, geography, rivers and seasons, temples and pilgrimage to numerous sites in India – notably to the Brahma temple in Pushkar Rajasthan,[7] versions of story of Rama and Sita different from one found in Valmiki's Ramayana, festivals, glorification mainly of Vishnu but also in parts of Shiva and their worship, discussions on ethics and guest hospitality, Yoga, theosophical discussion on Atman (soul), Advaita, Moksha and other topics.[2][4][8]

There is Purana-style, but entirely different Jainism text that is also known as Padma Purana and includes a Jain version of the Ramayana.[9][10]

History

The Padma Purana, like other Puranas, exists in numerous versions.[3][11] One major recension, traced to Bengal region, has five khandas (parts, books) and an appendix, but has neither been published nor translated.[3] The second major different recension, traced to western region of India, has six khandas, is the adopted and oft-studied version since the colonial British India era.[3] The Bengal edition is older.[12] The Bengal edition is notable in that the 39 chapters on Dharma-sastra are missing from the Sristikhanda book, in all versions of its manuscripts.[6]

The composition date of Padma Purana is unknown. Estimated vary between the 4th and 15th century CE.[13] Some parts of the text may be from the 750 to 1000 CE period.[14] The extant manuscripts and ones widely studied, states Wilson, is very likely to have been written or revised well after the 14th century, probably in the 15th or 16th century, because it describes later era major temple sites of south India and sites in the Vijayanagara Empire.[4] No portion of the versions of the Padma Purana available in the 19th century, wrote Wilson, is "probably older than the 12th-century".[4] Asoke Chatterjee, in 1963, suggested that the text may have existed between the 3rd and 4th century CE, but the text was rewritten and greatly expanded over the centuries and through the second half of the 17th century.[15]

Rocher states that the compositions date of each Purana remains a contested issue.[16][17] Dimmitt and van Buitenen state that each of the Puranas manuscripts is encyclopedic in style, and it is difficult to ascertain when, where, why and by whom these were written:[18]

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 necessarily at the end of the shelf, but randomly.

— Cornelia Dimmitt and J.A.B. van Buitenen, Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas[18]

The Padma Purana categorizes itself as a Sattva Purana (one which represents goodness and purity).[19]