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About the Vishnu Purana
The Vishnu Purana is a primary sacred text of the Vaishnava branch of Hinduism, which today probably has more adherents than any other. It is one of the canonical Puranas, a branch of post-Vedic sacred literature which was first committed to writing during the first millennium of the common era. Like most of the other Puranas, this is a complete narrative from the creation of the current universe to its destruction. The chronology describes periods as long as a hundred trillion (1014) years! It includes extensive sections on the genealogy of the legendary kings, heroes and demigods of ancient India, including those from the epics, the Mahabharata and Ramayana. There are fascinating descriptions of ancient Hindu cosmology and geography. Of general interest is a collection of stories about the boyhood adventures of Krishna and Rama, whom the Vaishnavas believe to be avatars of Vishnu. There are also references to Buddhism and Jainism, which help establish the date of composition of the work.
The series starts with detailed stories of creation and introduces the concept of four yugas. The tale of Rudra, an elaborate story of the Samudra Manthana, or the churning of the ocean, the Story of Dhruva, an ardent devotee of Vishnu, and stories of ancient kings Vena and Prithu are also discussed in the first section. Tales of Prithu's descendants, the Prachetas, the famous story of Hiranyakashipu and Prahlada, some topological details of the known world with mentions of lands, tribes, mountains and rivers, concepts of the universe, and the stories of the many births of Jadabharata are the major topics discussed in the next book. The third section discusses the stories of Manvantara (cycles of creation and destruction), the sages Vyasa and Yajnavalkya, Surya (the sun god),Yama (the god of the dead), devotees Shatadhanu and Shaivya, the four classes (varnas) and the four stages of life(ashramas) and details of many rituals. The fourth section gives a detailed account of all the famous Kings from the solar and lunar dynasties of ancient India, and also lists the names of kings who 'would appear' in the age of Kali. The second list contains the name of historical kings of Magadha, including kings from the Shishunaga, Nanda and Maurya dynasties. The next section deals in details the different events in the life of Lord Krishna, starting from his birth, through his childhood and up to his death and the prominent destruction of the Yadava clan. The sixth and last section mainly discusses the impending age of Kali, the concepts of universal destruction that would eventually follow and explains the importance of the Puranas in general.
About this Series, Publications, and Scans, and Numbering
This set of books is now published by Forgotten Books, however these scans are of the original copies that were published by Trubner & Co in London in 1864. The new series makes more sense with their numbering of the volumes, so I followed this system rather than the one that is given in the books that were scanned. I had considered using the numbering of the volumes that were in the scans, but they had the potential to confuse people because they are part I and part II in many cases, in addition to this they were also scanned from a larger series called "The Works of HH Wilson" so if you see additional set numbering on the first couple pages that doesn't correspond to the volume in this set, don't let that confuse you, it's the volume number from "The Works of HH Wilson" set that this series was part of. I think you'll all agree that given the circumstances it made much more sense to just follow that current volume numbering used by Forgotten Books and simply call them Volumes 1-6.
About the Author
HH Wilson, who claimed to be a Christian, was actually a very confused person when it came to his own religious beliefs, as was reflected through his letters to Britain in regards to their (Britain) desire to convert the Hindu people in India to Christianity by forcing them to give up all of their old traditions. When he read this, and responded to it...you could see and feel the confusion within his own spiritual state and dichotomy of his mind. (These letters are not found in this series.) Despite this fact, his translation of the Vishnu Purana remains one of the best English translations ever written. He was also the first to make a complete translation of the Rigveda into English, which was expanded on about 100 years after it had been published, but still remained the quintessential English translation until 2001 when a revised edition was published based upon his work, which more or less just modernized the English vernacular and gave more English translations of the Sanskrit text (Wilson was a professor of Sanskrit at Oxford so you'll see untranslated Sanskrit here and there throughout his works). So, despite his claim of Christianity, he tried to dissuade Britain from trying to convert the Hindu people of India, and also has played a huge role in the spread of Hinduism to the English speaking world...as well as helping to preserve Hindu traditions within India when Britain wanted to obliterate them.
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