Upapurāṇas

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Upapuranas, UpapurANas, Upapuraanas


Ancient legends preserved in the collective memory of the people gradually took the shape of the Mahāpurāṇas. Tradition enumerates them as eighteen and ascribes their authorship to the sage Vedavyāsa. Along with these Mahāpurāṇas, there gradually grew up another mass of literature, similar to them. These works came to be known as upapurāṇas. Though assigned to Vedavyāsa as the author, they are obviously the works of different sages composed over a few centuries.

List of Upapurāṇas

The lists of the eighteen upapurāṇas given in different purāṇas vary considerably. A few of these upapurāṇas are:

Ādi Upapurāṇa

The printed version as available now is assigned to the period A. D. 600. This contains the story of Kṛṣṇa in detail.

Bhavisyottara Upapuraṇa

Apart from some interesting stories, it gives descriptions of the code of conduct according to dharma, to be followed by all.

Brahmottara Upapurāṇa

It appears to be an appendix of the Brahmapurāna. Comprising 3000 verses it describes the greatness of the river known as Balajā in the country of Mārvār.

Brhad-dharma Upapurāṇa

This is a fairly big work. According to it, the whole creation depends upon Śiva and Śakti. The topics dealt with in this are:

  • Stories of Dharmavyādha and Srī Rāma
  • Descent of the Gaṅgā river
  • Lives of great sages like Vyāsa and Vālmīki
  • Stories of avatāras of Viṣṇu
  • Varṇāśrama-dharmas
  • Greatness of the Mahābhārata
  • One’s duties towards parents and other elders
  • The need for a good and efficient king to rule over a country

Devībhāgavata Upapurāṇa

This is a voluminous work containing the story of Mahiṣāsura being killed by the Devī. A lot of material connected with rituals and worship is also included.

Kālikā Upapurāṇa

This is a work devoted to the Śākta sect. It describes the following:

  • Various aspects of Pārvatī such as Girijā, Devi, Bhadrakāli and Kālī
  • Description of the temple of Kāmākhyā in Assam
  • Story of Dakṣa’s sacrifice
  • Worship of the Devī
  • Some tāntrik rites

Kalki Upapurāṇa

This is considered as an appendix of Bhāgavata. Probably composed during A. D. 1800, it gives the story of Kalki, as the tenth avatāra of Viṣṇu, to appear in future.

Nāradīya Upapurāṇa

This work concentrates mainly on the story of Rukmāṅgada, a great devotee of Viṣṇu.

Narasimha Upapurāṇa

This is a comparatively ancient work assigned to the period A. D. 400. Loma-harṣaṇa, a disciple of Vedavyāsa, taught this to the sages like Bhāradvāja at Prayāga. The content of this Upapurāṇa is:

  • Hymns to Lord Narasiṅha
  • Creation of the world according to the Sāṅkhya system
  • Origin of some Manus and ṛṣis
  • Meditations on Brahmā and Viṣṇu
  • Greatness of the aṣṭākṣarī mantra[1]
  • 108 names of Āditya[2]
  • Duties towards elders and superiors
  • Construction details of the temple of Narasiṅha
  • Evils of Kaliyuga
  • Places of pilgrimage dedicated to Viṣṇu

Purusottama Upapurāṇa

This upapurāna, still in the manuscript from, is devoted entirely to the glorification of the pilgrim centre Puri including the details of the worship of the deities there.

Sāmba Upapurāṇa

This is one of the few upapurāṇas that has been printed. It probably belongs to the period A. D. 500-800. The principal hero of this work is Sāmba, the eldest son of Sri Kṛṣṇa. He is pictured as a votary of Surya[3] and a propagator of the Surya-sect. He was responsible for bringing the Maga brāhmaṇas, worshipers of Surya and settled them in a colony. The subjects dealt with in this upapurāṇa are as follows:

  • Establishing the image of Surya and Surya temples
  • Geographical details of the earth
  • Yoga
  • The three Vedas
  • Sanyāsa
  • Characteristics of a devotee of Surya
  • Observance of vratas like Rathasaptamī
  • Some śānti rites
  • Few hymns on Surya

Saura Upapurāṇa

This is an appendix of the Brahma-purāṇa. It teaches that Śiva and Surya are identical. Liṅgapujā[4] is described in detail.

Śiva Upapurāṇa

This is a fairly big work. The greatness of Śiva is the main theme. Worship of Śiva through the Śivaliṅga is described in detail. Other topics are:

  • Śivasahasranāma
  • Importance of fasting and festivals
  • Few tāntrik practices

Viṣṇudharma Upapurāṇa

This work contains 4000 verses spread over 105 chapters. It was probably composed during the period A. D. 200-300. Some of the topics dealt with are:

  • Stories of Ambariṣa and Prahlāda
  • Various kinds of Vaiṣṇava vratas
  • Descriptions of some hells
  • Eulogy of dāna[5]
  • Greatness of a true brāhmaṇa and a true ksattriya hero
  • Devotion to Viṣṇu
  • Power of Sudarśana discus
  • Temples and images
  • Some beautiful stotras or hymns
  • Sins and means of offsetting their effects

The Agnipurāṇa seems to have drawn upon this Upapurāṇa for some of its topics.

Viṣṇudharmottara Upapuraṇa

This is a fairly large work, almost encyclopedic in character. It might have been composed during the period A. D. 400 to 500. The following are some of the topics dealt with in this work:

There is reason to believe that the Matsyapurāṇa has borrowed some chapters from this upapurāṇa.

Epilogue

Apart from these, many more upapurāṇas have been discovered and quoted in some nibandha works. Some of them are:

  1. Ekāmrapurāṇa
  2. Yugapurāṇa
  3. Ganeśapurāṇa
  4. Candikāpurāṇa

There is no doubt that these upapurāṇas also have considerably enriched popular religion.


References

  1. Aṣṭākṣarī mantra means eight-lettered mantra of Nārāyaṇa.
  2. Āditya means Sun-god.
  3. Surya means the Sun-god.
  4. Liṅgapujā means worship of the Śivaliñga.
  5. Dāna means giving gifts.
  6. Śrāddha means obsequial rites.
  7. Rājanīti means political science.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore