By Swami Harshananda
Origin of Matsyapurāṇa
The purāṇas are the secondary scriptures of the religion. It has contributed a lot to spread of religion, culture, moral values and several aspects of secular sciences like architecture or political science or health-care. Out of the eighteen Mahāpurāṇas, the Matsyapurāṇa is considered not only important but also comparatively more ancient. It is assigned to the period circa A. D. 300. The editions available in print now have 291 chapters and 14,000 verses.
Alterations in Matsyapurāṇa
Matsyapurāṇa was probably a Vaiṣṇava work earlier. Later additions might have been done by Śaivites, with a view to harmonizing the two sects. Many of the verses from the Vāyu and the Vishnudharmottara purāṇas have been found here also. Hence it is difficult to say who has borrowed from whom.
Teachings of Matsyapurāṇa
Several dharmaśāstra works have quoted from this purāṇa profusely. The purāṇa begins with a dialogue between lord Viṣṇu as the Matsya and Manu. Hence it is named as Matsyapurāṇa. A brief account of the contents may be given as follows:
- Creation of the world by Brahmā and the Prajāpatis
- Destruction of Tripurāsura by Śiva
- Satī’s immolation in Dakṣa’s sacrifice
- Information on Kārtikeya
- Wars between the devas and asuras
- Genealogies of kings of the lunar and solar dynasties
- Names and accounts of future kings and races
- Avatāras of Viṣṇu
- Funeral rites
- Places of pilgrimage
- Bath in the holy rivers
- Duties of women
- Establishing wells, tanks and gardens for public good
- Descriptions of hells
- Stories about the Śivaliṅgas
- Including the name of Buddha
- Vratas are religious vows and observances.
- Dāna means gifts.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore