1) MATSYA PURANA LOMAHARSHANA AND THE OTHER SAGES

There was a forest known as Naimisharanya. Many years ago, several sages organized a yajna (sacrifice) in the forest. After the sacrifice was over, the assembled sages told Lomaharshana.―You have recited to us many Puranas. These accounts are so sacred that we would like to hearthem once more. Please satisfy…

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2) VISHNU AND MANU

There used to be a king named Vaivasvata Manu. He was the son of the sun-god Vivasvana. When it was time for Manu to retire to the forest, he handed over the kingdom to his son Ikshvaku. Manu then went to the foothills of Mount Malaya and started to perform…

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3) CREATION

In the beginning, there was nothing in the universe. There was only darkness and the divine essence (brahman). It is impossible to describe the brahman, it has no traits that can be described. When the time came for creation to start, the brahman removed the darkness and divided itself into…

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4) DAKSHA’S DESCENDANTS

Daksha married Panchanjani. Daksha and Panchajani had one thousand sons. These were known as the Haryakshas. Daksha asked his sons to create more living beings. But the sage Narada came and told the Haryakshas, ―You can‘t possibly create living beings unless  you  know where  they are  going to  live.  Have…

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5) THE MARUTS

Although the gods and the demons were cousins, they did not like each other and fought amongst themselves all the time. Many daityas were killed by Vishnu and the other gods. Diti was disconsolate to see her children suffer thus. She resolved that she would meditate so as to obtain…

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6) THE MANVANTARAS

Each manvantara is an era and is ruled over by a Manu. One of Brahma‘s days is known as a kalpa and there are fourteen manvantaras in every kalpa. At the end of every kalpa, the universe is destroyed and has to be created afresh. In the present kalpa, six…

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7) PRITHU

A king named Anga was descended from Svayuambhuva Manu. Anga married Sunitha, the daughter of Mrityu, and they had a son named Vena. Mrityu was an evil person. From his childhood, Vena associated with this maternal grandfather of his and thus came to acquire evil ways. When Vena became king…

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8) THE SOLAR LINE

The sages requested Lomaharshana. ―Please tell us the history of the solar line.‖ Lomaharshana complied. Aditi and the sage Kashyapa had borne the sun-god, Vivasvana or Surya, as a son. Surya had three wives, Samjna, Rajni and Prabha. Rajna had a son named Revata and Prabha had a son named…

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9) ILA AND THE LUNAR LINE

Vaisvasvata Manu‘s eldest son was Ila. When Vaivasvata Manu became old, he retired to the forest. Ila was appointed the ruler in his place. Ila set out on a voyage of conquest and travelled throughout the world. There was a forest named Sharavana, frequented by Shiva and Parvati. Shiva had…

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10) DAKSHA AND SATI

―I will now tell you about Daksha and Sati,‖ Lomaharshana told the sages. Daksha had a daughter named Sati who was married to Shiva. Daksha did not like his son-in-law at all. When he organized a yajna, he did not invite Shiva to attend the ceremony. But Sati went to…

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11) BRAHMADATTA

There used to be a sage named Koushika. Koushika had seven sons named Svasripa, Krodhana, Himsra, Pishuna, Kavi, Vagadushta and Pitrivarti. These sons all became disciples of the sage Garga. After Koushika died, there was a terrible drought on earth. Famine raged and people went hungry. Garga had asked his…

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12) CHANDRA AND BUDHA

  ―You forgot to tell us how Budha was born,‖ remarked the sages. ―Nor did you tell us anything about Chandra‘s birth.‖ Lomaharshana filled in the blanks. The sage Atri was Brahma‘s son. Atri once performed very difficult tapasya. A tremendous amount of energy was released as a result of…

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13) PURURAVA AND URVASHI

Pururava  was  a  very  strong  king  who  ruled  the  earth  well.  He  performed  one  hundred ashvamedha yajnas. The three goals of human life are dharma (righteousness), artha (wealth), and kama (that which is desired). These three goals wished to see which of them Pururava revered the most. They therefore adopted…

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14) YAYATI

In the lunar line there was a king named Nahusha and Nahusha‘s son was Yayati. Yayati had two wives, Sharmishtha and Devayani. Sharmishtha was the daughter of Vrishaparva, the king of the danavas  (demons). And Devayani‘s father was  Shukracharya,  the preceptor of the demons. Devayani gave birth to Yadu and…

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15) SHARMISHTHA AND DEVAYANI

  Sharmishtha  was  the  daughter  of  Vrishaparva,  the  king  of  the  danavas.  Sharmishtha  and Devayani were great friends, until Indra played some mischief. The two friends had gone to bathe in a pond and had left their clothes on the bank. Indra adopted the form of a breeze and mixed…

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16) MRITASANJIVANI

―But  what about mritasanyjivani?‖  asked the sages. ―You  haven‘t told us how Shukracharya came to acquire this wonderful knowledge.‖ Lomaharshana told them the following story. The gods and the demons fought all the time and the demons were sometimes worsted in these encounters. Shukracharya consoled the demons. ―Do not worry,‖…

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17) THE PURANAS

Lomaharshana now gave the sages a list of the eighteen mahapuranas. In the beginning, there was only one Purana. The sage Vedavyasa divided this original Purana into eighteen mahapuranas. The mahapuranas have four lakh shlokas all together and their names are as follows. (i) The Brahma Purana: This was originally…

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18) TRIPURA

  There was a danava named Maya. Just as Vishvakarma was the architect of the gods, Maya was the architect of the demons. When the demons were defeated by the gods, Maya started to perfrom very difficult tapasya so that the gods might be defeated. Maya‘s meditation inspired two other…

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19) THE MEASUREMENT OF TIME

The smallest unit of time is a nimesha; this is the amount of time it takes to blink. Fifteen nimeshas make one kashtha and thirty kashthas are one kala. Thirty kalas one muhurta and there are thirty muhurtas in one divaratra (one day). Fifteen muhurtas constitute the day and fifteen…

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20) THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE YUGAS

  As one progressively moves down the scale from satya yuga to kali yuga, the power of righteous diminishes and evil starts to triumph. In treta yuga people were righteous. The system of varnashrama dharma goes back to treta yuga. This is typified in the principle of four varnas (classes)…

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30) THE BOAR INCARNATION

At the end of the last kalpa, there was a general destruction and the universe was flooded with water. Vishnu alone slept on this water in his form of Narayana. When it was time for creation to begin, Brahma appeared inside an egg. All the worlds that would be there…

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21) VAJRANAGA

Indra had killed many of Diti‘s children, the daityas. Diti had wished to obtain a son who would kill Indra. But because she had not been able to adhere to the stipulated religious rites, the sons who had been born had become friends and companions of Indra. But Indra continued…

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22) TARAKA’S TAPASYA

Tarka was hell bent upon defeating the gods. But he realize that, prior to waging war on the gods, he would have to become powerful. Such powers could not be attained through tapasya. Taraka went to the Pariparta mountains and selected a cave there for his meditation. For some days…

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23) THE WAR BETWEEN THE GODS AND THE DEMONS

Fortified with Brahma‘s boon, Taraka started to rule the demons. After some years had passed and after Taraka had raised a strong army, he decided to attack heaven. A huge army of demons was accordingly raised. There were thousands of elephants, horses and chariots in the army. Apart from Taraka,…

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24) BRAHMA’S ADVICE

Those of the gods who had survived the battle and were still free started to pray to Brahma. ―What can I do for you?‖ asked Brahma. Why are all of you looking so despondent?‖ ―You are the one who is responsible for our misfortune,‖ replied the gods. ―You have granted…

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25) KALI BECOMES GOURI

On one particular occasion, Shiva addressed Parvati as ―Kali.‖ The word kali means dark and Parvati thought that Shiva referring to her dark complexion. She did not realize that Shiva was merely trying to tease her a bit. Greatly incensed at the imagined slight, Parvarti decided that she would meditate…

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26) KARTIKEYA AND TARAKA

  Kartikeya or Skanda was born after some days. The boys shone with the radiance of a thousand suns and had six (shada) faces (anana). He was therefore also known as Shadanana. The gods armed Kartikeya with diverse weapons and appointed him their general. They requested him to kill the…

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27) HIRANYAKASHIPU

Diti had a son named Hiranyakashipu. This demon meditated for eleven thousand years under the water. Throught this period, he did not eat or talk at all. These meditations pleased Brahma and Brahma offered to grant Hiranyakasipu a boon. ―What boon do you wish for?‖ he asked. ―If you are…

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28) SAVITRI

There used to be a king named Ashvapati who ruled in the kingdom of Madra. Ashvapati had no sons.  He therefore began  to  pray to  the  goddess  Savitri  so  that  he  might  have  a son.  He performed thousands and thousands of yajnas. Eventually the goddess appeared before the king and…

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29) VALI

There was a demon named Vali who was descended from Hiranyakashipu. Extemely strong, he defeated the gods and drove them out of heaven. The mother of all the gods was Aditi and Aditi was despondent that her sons should suffer so at the hands of demons. She therefore began to…

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31) THE CHURNING OF THE OCEAN

The gods and the demons always fought with one another. In the process, many demons and gods were killed. This was no problem for the demons. Their teacher, Shukracharya, knew the art of mritasanjivani and immediately brought the dead demons back to life. But the gods who were killed stayed…

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32) ARCHITECTURE

  The science of architecture owes its origin to eighteen great sages. Their names are Bhrigu, Atri, Vashishtha, Vishvakarma, Maya, Narada, Nagnajita, Vishalaksha, Puranadara, Brahma, Kartikeya, Nandishvara, Shounaka, Garga, Vasudeva, Aniruddha, Shukra, and Brihaspati The building of a house should never be begun in the month of Chaitra. A person…

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33) IDOLS

Idols have to be instated in temples. Vishnu‘s image should have either eight hands or four. If there are eight hands, the arms to the right should hold a shankha (concha-shell), a gada (mace), a shara (arrow) and a padma (lotus). The arms to the left should hold dhanu (bow),…

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34) PAVILIONS (MANDAPA)

These are classified in terms of the number of pillars that are used in their construction, and there are twenty-seven main types of pavilions. (i) A pushpaka pavilion has sixty-four pillars. (ii) A pushpabhadra pavilion has sixty-two pillars. (iii) A suvrata pavilion has sixty pillars. (iv) An amritanandana pavilion has…

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35) DONATIONS

There are different methods of donating alms. One of the most sacred is known as tulapurusha. In this, a pair of scales is used. The person who is donating the alms ascends on one side of the scales and gold is placed on the other side until the scales are…

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36) EPILOGUE

  Lomaharshana completed his recital of the Matsya Purana. This text is exceedingly sacred. A person who reads even one chapter of the text goes to heaven and all his sins are forgiven. The sages thanked Lomaharshana and departed.  

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37) KACHA AND DEVAYANI

The gods and the demons fought with each other all the time. Brihaspati was the preceptor of the gods and Shukracharya was the preceptor of the demons. Shukracharya knew a wonderful art known as mritasanjivani. This was the knowledge of bringing back dead people to life. Since Shukracharya knew this…

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