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The Bhavishya Purana (Sanskrit: Bhaviṣya Purāṇa) is one of the eighteen major Hindu puranas. It is written in Sanskrit and attributed to Vyasa, the compiler of the Vedas. The title Bhavishya Purana signifies a work that contains prophecies regarding the future (Sanskrit: bhaviṣya). Despite being labelled a purana or "tales of ancient times", the work relates only a few legends. It is one of several puranas in which a list of royal dynasties of the "past" are followed by lists of kings predicted to rule in the future. The Padma Purana categorizes Bhavishya Purana as a Rajas Purana (Purana which represents passion). The text as it exists today is a composite of material ranging from very old to very recent. Portions of the extant text are drawn from the Manusmṛti, including its account of Creation. The Bhavishya Purana is classified as one of the ten Shaiva puranas in the classification system used in the Śivarahasya-khaṇḍa of the Śaṅkara Saṃhitā. In the traditional system of classification according to the three guṇas given in the Padma Purana, it is classified in the rajas category, which contains puranas whose central deity is Brahma. The available versions of Bhavishya Purana are based on a printed text published during the early British period.
Dating and texts
In records of land grants of the fifth century BCE 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 an even earlier period. 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.
According to Maurice Winternitz, the text which has come down to us in manuscript under this title is certainly not the ancient work which is quoted in the Āpastambīya Dharmasūtra. A quotation appearing in the Āpastambīya Dharmasūtra attributed to the Bhaviṣyat Purāṇa cannot be found in the extant text of the Purana.
The Bhavishya Purana itself tells us that it consists of five parts (Sanskrit: parvans), but the extant printed edition of the work contains only four parts (Brāhma, Madhyama, Pratisarga, and Uttara). These four parts have distinctive content and dating.
The greater part of the work deals with brahmanical ceremonies and feasts, the duties of castes, some accounts of snake myths, and other matters. It also covers the duties of women, good and bad signs of people, and methods of worshipping Brahma, Ganesha, Skanda, and the Nāga. A considerable section deals with Sun worship in a place called "Śākadvīpa" which may be a reference to Scythia.
Of the four existing parts of the text, the Madhyamaparvan, which is not mentioned anywhere else as having formed a part of the Bhavishya Purana, is characterized by Rajendra Hazra as "a late appendage abounding in Tantric elements."
The Pratisarga parvan deals with the genealogy of the kings and sages. It is written as a universal history with the first and the second parts (called Khandas) deal with old time, the third part with the medieval, while the fourth deals with the new age. Alf Hiltebeitel (2009) considers that 1739 marks the terminus a quo for the text's history of the Mughals and the same terminus a quo would apply to Pratisargaparvan's first khanda Genesis-Exodus sequence, and the diptych in the section concerning "Isha Putra" (Jesus Christ) and Muhammad in its third khanda - the Krsnamsacarita. Mention of Queen Victoria's Calcutta places the terminus ad quem at mid to late 19th Century.
The First Khanda (7 chapters)
It deals shortly with all the kings of the solar and the lunar family, their period of reign and their great works. Next it deals with the kings of Maurya dynasty and without dealing with the Shungas, the Guptas, the Kanvas, the Yavanas, the Sakas and the Kushanas, it straightaway jumps to the origin of the four Rajputs (Pramaras, Chauhans, Tomaras and Chalukyas) born of the fire on the mount Abu. Hence, they are called Agnivamsis (of the family of Agni, the fire).
The Second Khanda (35 chapters)
It consists of the fables narrated by Vetâla to the king Vikramaditya of the family of Pramaras. In the last sections of Khanda mention is made of sage Satyanarâyana, grammarian Pāṇini, and other well-known personalities like Patanjali and Bopadeva.
The Third Khanda (32 chapters)
The Mahoba, Kanauj ând Delhi Kingdoms which were the centre of political activities in the medieval times, act as a pivot for events mentioned in this Khanda.
After winning the battle of Kurukshetra, the Pândava brothers leave their headquarters under the protection of Lord Siva and retreat to the banks of the river Sarasvati. But Siva does not hold his promise and allows Kritavarman, Asvatthâman and Kripa, who come at the dead of the night, to enter into the headquarters and massacre all within it. The five brothers, when they hear the tidings of this tragedy, come to Siva and attack him with weapons. Siva curses them, saying that after death they should be reborn as heroes and be killed again while fighting.
During the days of king Gangasimha, the tenth descendant from Bhoja, the Arya religion is greatly favoured due to the might of the kings of the Agnivamsa. This makes Kali, the God of Mlecchas very furious. So Kali asks Vishnu for help so as to destroy the kings of Agnivamsa. Vishnu promises to create two heroes from his body and send them to him for help.
In the village of Vâksara (Buxar) there is an Abhira girl by the name of Vratapâ, who begs the Goddess Candikâ to let two sons be born in her family who should be as strong as Balarâma and Krishna. The Goddess accepts her wish. Thus, two brothers Râmâmsa (Âhlâda) and Krishnâmsa (Udayasimha), the grandsons of Vratapâ come into existence each with a portion of Vishnu (avatâra). As soon as the heroes become young enough they go to Mahoba and start serving in Parimala's army.
Tomara Anangapâla, the King of Delhi has two daughters Kirtimâlini and Candrakânti. Kirtimâlini is married to Chauhan Somesvara, the king of Ajmer and Candrakânti to Devapâla, the king of Kanauj. Three sons, Krishnakumâraka, Dhundhukâra and Prithivirâja are born to Somesvara from Kirtimâlini. Two sons Jayachandra and Ratnabhânu are born to Devapâla from Candrakânti. After Devapâla, Jayachandra comes to the throne.
Anangapâla anoints Prithiviraja the king of Delhi. He was the best of all his grandsons. Krishnakumâraka becomes the king of Ajmer and Dhundhukâra the king of Mathura. At that time king Mahipati used to reign at Mahoba and he had two sisters Agamâ and Malana. Prithivirâja marries Agamâ and seven sons and one daughter Velâ is born to him.
As soon as Prithivirâja comes to the throne, he drives the two brothers Pradyota and Vidyota out of Delhi. These brothers were very influential in the court. Both were ministers and came from the lunar family. The two brothers come to Kanauj and here they are welcomed by Jayachandra. Jayachandra even takes the city of Mahoba back from Mahipati and gives it over to Pradyota and Vidyota. Pradyota and Vidyota settle in Mahoba.
Later on Jayachandra chooses them as his ministers. On their advice he sends a messenger to Prithivirâja asking for himself half of the kingdom left over by their grandfather. But Prithivirâja refuses to give anything and Jayachandra can make no opposition to him. Jayachandra has a daughter by the name of Samyogini. This girl is kidnapped by Prithiviraja during a ceremonial performance.
Pradyota's son Parimala later becomes the king of Mahoba. Jambuka the king of Mahishmati attacks Mahoba twice during the reign of Parimala. Mahoba is destroyed by Jambuka but by the help of the forces of Kanauj the armies of Mahoba attack Mahishmati and Jambuka is captured and brought to Mahoba where he is killed.
Parimala has a son by the name of Brahmânanda. Prithiviraja promises to give his daughter Velâ to him. But Brahmânanda, when he goes to Delhi in order to ask for the hand of his fiancée for marriage, is trapped into an assassination plot. He is saved by Velâ, his fiancée. This leads to a battle between the Mahoba and Delhi Kings. This is the battle of Kurukshetra (in the Kali era) and continues for 18 days. Râmâmsa and Krishnâmsa along with the five Pandava brothers who are reborn as follows - Yudhishthira as Balakhâni son of Vatsarâja, Arjuna as Brahmânanda son of Parimala, Bhîma as Talana, the son of Satayattana the king of Benares, Nakula as Lakshana the son of the brother of Jayachandra and Sahadeva as Devasimha, the grandson of Vidyota – also take part in this battle. All these young heroes are killed. The only survivor on the side of Delhi is King Prithiviraja while on the side of Mahoba, it is Brahmânanda.
One of the sons of Prithiviraja is Bhima who wants to marry Vidyumnamâlâ, the daughter of Pürnâmala, the king of Patana. The Mleccha Shahabeddina had seen this girl too and had fallen in love with her. Shahabeddina therefore fights with Prithivirâja but he is forced to fly away. The second time he again makes an attempt to fight. This time he conquers Delhi and kills Prithivirâja. He leaves his slave Qutubuddin in his place and returns home with Vidyumnamâlâ. Thus, the Agnivamsa comes to an end and mleccha religion is established in India.
The Fourth Khanda (26 chapters)
It deals with some mleccha rulers like Qutubuddin and Timur and acharyas like Krishnachaitanya, Sankara, Nanak and Kabir. It then proceeds to the matters of the Mughals, especially Akbar the Great and Aurangzeb. It then describes the rise of Shivaji and the invasion of Nadir Shah. Last of all it deals with the British (called Gurundas) and their occupation of India.
The Uttaraparvan, though nominally attached to the Bhavishya Purana, is usually considered to be an independent work, also known as the Bhaviṣyottara Purāṇa, and as such is included among the Upapuranas (Lesser Puranas). The Bhaviṣyottara Purana is primarily a handbook of religious rites with a few legends and myths. Rajendra Hazra characterizes it as "a loose collection of materials taken from various sources" that is lacking in many of the traditional five characteristics of a purana, but which offers an interesting study of vows, festivals, and donations from sociological and religious point of view.
- For Bhaviṣyat Purāṇa as the name of the text, see: Winternitz, volume 1, p. 519.
- Winternitz, volume 1, p. 531.
- For the title signifying "a work which contains prophecies regarding the future" see: Winternitz, p. 567.
- For the Bhaviṣyat Purāṇa as one of several puranas predicting future kings (others being the Matsya, Vāyu, Brahmāṇḍa, Viṣṇu, Bhāgavata, and Garuḍa Puranas, see: Winternitz, volume 1, pp. 523–524.
- Wilson, H. H. (1840). The Vishnu Purana: A system of Hindu mythology and tradition. Oriental Translation Fund. p. 12.
- Winternitz, volume 1, p. 567.
- Winternitz, volume 1, p. 572, n. 1.
- Mathett, Freda, "The Purāṇas" in Flood (2003), p. 137
- Flood (1996), p. 110.
- Mathett, Freda, "Purāṇa" in Flood (2003), p. 137
- For the fifth century BCE land grant references, citation to Pargiter (1912), and debunking of the theory, see: Winternitz, volume 1, p. 526, note 2.
- For statement that the extant text is not the ancient work, see: Winternitz, volume 1, p. 567.
- For the quotation in Āpastambīya Dharmasūtra attributed to the Bhaviṣyat Purāṇa not extant today, see: Winternitz, volume 1, p. 519.
- Bhavishya Purana I.2.2–3.
- For self-report of five parts, but only four parts in the printed text, see: Hazra, Rajendra Chandra, "The Purāṇas", in: Radhakrishnan (CHI, 1962), volume 2, p. 263.
- For the characterization of the content, see: Winternitz, volume 1, p. 567.
- For duties of women, signs of people, and methods of worshipping Brahma, Ganesha, Skanda, and the Snakes see: Hazra, Rajendra Chandra, "The Purāṇas", in: Radhakrishnan (CHI, 1962), volume 2, p. 264.
- For the sun worship in "Śākadvīpa", which may be Scythia, see: Winternitz, volume 1, p. 567.
- For a large number of chapters on Sun worship, solar myths, and Śāka-dvipa, see: Hazra, Rajendra Chandra, "The Purāṇas", in: Radhakrishnan (CHI, 1962), volume 2, p. 264.
- For quotation from Hazra regarding the Madhyamaparvan as a late appendage, see: Hazra, Rajendra Chandra, "The Purāṇas", in: Radhakrishnan (CHI, 1962), volume 2, p. 263.
- Alf Hiltebeitel Rethinking India's Oral and Classical Epics 2009 Page 276 "Thus 1739 could mark a terminus a quo for the text's history of the Mughals. If so, the same terminus would apply to its Genesis-Exodus sequence in its first khanda, its Jesus-Muhammad diptych in its third (the Krsnam&acaritd) , and the history ..."
- Alf Hiltebeitel Rethinking India's Oral and Classical Epics 2009 Page 277 "Since references to Queen Victoria's Calcutta provide a mid- to even late-nineteenth-century terminus ad quem for other ... but of the Genesis-Exodus sequence and the Krsnarrrtacarita—with its Jesus and Muhammad passages— as well."
- Swami Parmeshwaranand Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Purāṇas 2001 - Page 280 "CHRIST IN THE BHAVISYA PURANA... was an expression of the living tradition. All these themes enter into a broader context relating some of the events in the history of the Mleccha-s. In this connection are also mentioned Muhammad "
- Bonazzoli, Giorgio: Christ in the Bhavisya Purana [Engl.]. (a methodological approach to Bhav. P. III. 3.2.21-32). Purana issue 21 January 1979, pp. 23-39.
- For independent classification of the Uttaraparvan as the Bhaviṣyottara Purāṇa see: Hazra, Rajendra Chandra, "The Purāṇas", in: Radhakrishnan (CHI, 1962), volume 2, p. 263.
- For the contents of the Bhaviṣyottara Purana and characterizing it as a continuation of the Bhavishya Purana see: Winternitz, volume 1, p. 567.
- For quotation related to loose collection of materials see: Hazra, Rajendra Chandra, "The Upapurāṇas" in: Radhakrishnan (CHI, 1962), volume 2, p. 285.
- Bhaviṣyapurāna, Pratisargaparvan. Bombay: Venkateshwar Press. 1959.
- Doniger, Wendy (editor) (1993). Purāṇa Perennis: Reciprocity and Transformation in Hindu and Jaina Texts. Albany, New York: State University of New York. ISBN 0-7914-1382-9.
- Flood, Gavin (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-43878-0.
- Flood, Gavin (Editor) (2003). The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-4051-3251-5.
- Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli (Editorial Chairman) (1962). The Cultural Heritage of India. Calcutta: The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture. Second edition, four volumes, revised and enlarged, 1962 (volume II).
- Winternitz, Maurice (1972). History of Indian Literature. New Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint Corporation. Second revised reprint edition. Two volumes. First published 1927 by the University of Calcutta.
- Bhavishya Purana, Vedic Scriptures Library