Vishnu Purana - Know About This Important Scripture

Vishnu Purana is the most important and oldest among the 18 major Puranas. Among all the Puranas, Vishnu Purana is quite different & distinct. Vedas are the fundamental and foundational scriptures of Hinduism. And Vedas find their conclusion in Upanishads. Well, the essence of the Upanishads is contained in the Bhagavad Gita. As for Puranas, it means the oldest (or the ancient). The best thing about the Puranas is they cover various aspects of life. Puranas also describe the geography, astrology, rituals, dynasty among other episodes including the life and character of Lord Vishnu.

The progenitor of Vishnu Purana is Lord Vishnu, who is stated to be all three, the creator, propagator, and the destroyer of the universe. The Vishnu Purana also describes the origin of the seas, the sun, the mountains, and the various deities.

The Puranas have been composed mainly in Sanskrit, but some Puranas have also been composed in regional languages. There is the mention of Puranas amongst both Hindus and Jains. Well, it is also said that Puranas do not fall in the category of Shruti, or Smriti. Puranas like Bhagavata mention the historical setting of Vishnu, Vayu, Matsya, etc. Also, a TV serial has been telecast on Vishnu Purana. This serial produced by BR Chopra has been very popular.

What Is There In Vishnu Purana?

If you want to get detailed information about Sanatan Dharma, then Vishnu Purana is the best scripture for the same. This scripture caters to the diverse areas of the Hindu world like the origin of gods, humans, and the incarnations of Gods. There is no better book than Vishnupuran which deals with these areas. It’s true that Vishnupurana believes in the preeminence of Lord Vishnu, but there is nothing in it to undermine the glory of Lord Shiva. In fact, the mention of Bholenath (Lord Shiva) is very important in the Sri Krishnaa-Banasur struggle.

There Are 7,000 Slokas In Vishnu Purana

Vishnu Purana is a Vaishnav Mahapuran, reading which can destroy all sins. This scripture was composed by Parashar Rishi, grandson of Maharishi Vasishta and father of Ved Vyasa. Vishnu Purana is smaller than many other Puranas.The number of slokas in Vishnu Purana is 7,000. However, the number of slokas in many other Puranas is stated to be not less than 23,000.

The Stories Of Vishnu Purana

Now let us know what is there in the Vishnu Purana. Well, Vishnu Purana is a complete scripture. It describes the origin of the universe and also the prevailing societal structures like the varna and the ashram systems. Besides, the omnipresence of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi is also discussed. It also describes the life & times of the supreme devotees of God like Dhruva, Prahlada and Venu, etc Vishnu Purana also describes the prevailing agriculture & cow protection, description of fourteen genres, It also mentions the important people of those times like  Vaivasvata Manu, Ikshvaku, Kashyapa, Purvansh, Kuruvansh, Yaduvansh, etc.

Who Was The Author Of Vishnu Purana And When Was It Written

Parashar Rishi is considered the author of Vishnu Purana, Parashar Rishi narrated the story of Vishnu Purana to his disciple Maitreya Rishi.

The story of Parashar Rishi being the author of Vishnu Purana is quite bizarre. According to the ancient legend, when in a fit of rage, the Asuras had killed the father of Parashar Rishi, he performed a yagna to destroy the asuras. In this yajna, the Asuras were destroyed in the fire of the yajna.

As the asuras were getting destroyed, Maharishi Vasistha, the grandfather of Parashar Rishi, asked him to calm down. Vasistha explained to Parashar Rishi that the asuras were not to be blamed for the death of his father. It was just a game of luck.

Parashar Rishi stopped the yagna at the behest of his grandfather. And then, at the same time, the sage Pulastya reached there and blessed the intuitive knowledge of the entire scriptures and said that he would become the creator of the Purana Samhita. Just then, Pulast Rishi reached there and gave the blessings of easy accessibility of the scriptural wisdom. Pulast Rishi said he will become the creator of Puran Samhita. By the grace of Pulast Rishi, Parashar Rishi came to realise the true nature of God.

He also came to understand that the creator and the preserver of the Universe is Lord Vishnu and when the world comes to an end, everything will get absorbed into Lord Vishnu. After that, Parashar Rishi narrated the story of Vishnu Purana to Maitreya. This has been divided into six parts.

The Parts Of The Vishnu MahaPuran

Here we will talk about the early part of Vishnu Puran and its various other parts. Different parts of Vishnu Purana contain different information.

The First Part Of The Vishnu Purana

As per the tradition, Shakti Nandan Parashar had narrated six passages to Maitreya in the initial part of Vishnu Purana. In the first of the six parts, the story about the origin and development of this Purana is given.

These contain the Adi (the origin), the reason, the emergence of demigods, the story of Samudra Manthan, the description of the lineage of Daksha, the life & times of Dhruva, and Prithu, the story of Prahalad & description of Brahma (God).

The Second Part Of Vishnu Purana

The second part of the Vishnu Purana contains the description of the descendants of Priyavrata, various islands and times, the hell & netherworld, the seven realms, the renderings of the motion of the sun and other planets with different characteristics, the Bharata character, the Mukti Marg guidance, and the communication between Nidagh and Ribhu.

The Third Part Of Vishnu Purana

In the third part of the Vishnu Purana, there is the description of Manvantaras, the incarnation of Ved Vyasa, the salvation from hell, the representation of religions in the dialogues between Sagar and Aurb, about Shraddhakalpa and Varnashrama, the ethos of morality and the story of Mahamoha.

The Fourth Part Of Lord Vishnu Purana

In the fourth part of Vishnu Purana, there is the description of Suryavansh and Chandravansh and the various associated kings.

The Fifth Part Of Lord Vishnu Purana

The fifth part of Vishnu Purana contains the information regarding Lord Krishna’s incarnation. The various aspects of Lord Krishna’s life like the story of Gokul, the demons that he killed in his childhood like Aghasur killing in Kumaravastha, the killing of Kansa in Mathurapuri and various demons, the information about Ashtavakra, etc are given in this section.

The Sixth Part Of Vishnu Purana

The sixth section of Vishnu Purana contains the description of Kaliyug, Mahapralay and the sermon of Divine Knowledge (Brahmagyan) by Keshidhwa to Khandikya.

The Latter Part Of Vishnu Purana

As the early parts of Vishnu Purana come to a close,  the latter parts commence. Herein, when Shaunak, and others ask about the philosophical questions, Sutji narrates the various religious tales of Sanatan Vishnudharma. Overall,  Vishnu Purana contains all the scriptural principles.

The Teachings Of The Vishnu Puran

It is said that the Vishnu Purana summarizes all the scriptures and texts. Therefore, Vishnu Purana is considered above all the texts. It tells us about so many aspects related to life. By practising Vishnu Purana, we can lead a happy and good life. Here are some key things you can know about Vishnu Purana:

  • Whenever a guest comes to our house, never ask them questions about their education. When asked about education, they may feel uncomfortable disclosing the same.
  • The guest should not be asked about his/her income. He/she may feel uncomfortable.
  • Never marry a woman who meets the wrong men, because that woman may also become wrong by being in the company of the wrong men.
  • Many women call themselves outspoken and they speak curtly. Well, if they are doing so they are wrong because women should be simple. As for toughness, it should be in women’s intentions and not in their talk.
  • Women should always speak sweetly because Saraswati always dwells in her words. A woman who speaks bitterly spreads unrest in the house.
  • One should not marry a girl of the same gotra. Doing so increases the chances of genetic diseases.
  • Avoid sleeping till late in the morning. Sleeping late is a sign of laziness. Lazy people are unable to carry out their responsibilities in the right way.
  • According to Vishnu Purana, a person who thinks about others and is devoid of selfishness can achieve success in the Kali-yuga.
  • Vishnu Purana mentions some commodities that should not be sold under any circumstances, even if you are struggling with chronic poverty.
  • It is forbidden to charge the prices of essential commodities like fruits and vegetables from the poor and needy.
  • Charging money while selling salt to a poor person is a crime and donating it is a good deed.
  • Selling drugs and earning money to a needy or helpless person is a crime. However, extracting its cost is not a crime.
  • According to Vishnu Purana, jaggery should never be sold in the lure of money. According to the Hindu religion, selling white sesame is also not right.
  • One should bathe daily for a healthy and beautiful body.
  • Bathing before sunrise invites many auspicious charms like Lakshmi’s grace, sharp intellect, glowing skin.
  • Taking a bath for a long time causes damage to health.
  • 7 to 9 hours of sleep should be taken daily.
  • You should wake up early in the morning and sleep early at night.
  • Only sick people should rest or sleep during the day, for others, it is forbidden in the scriptures.
  • You must wake up before sunrise. Sleeping till late in the morning causes diseases in the body.

The Incarnations Of Lord Vishnu

According to Vishnu Purana, Lord Vishnu incarnated 24 times from Satyug to Kali Yuga, at different points in time to protect the creation and destroy the demonic powers. Of them, 10 avatars are prominent. These 10 incarnations of Shri Vishnu are also called Dasavataras. The 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu are Matsya avatar, Kurma avatar, Varaha avatar, Narasimha avatar, Vamana avatar, Parashuram avatar, Rama avatar, Krishna avatar, Buddha avatar and Kalki avatar.

Lord Vishnu’s Dashawtar

Matsya Avatar

According to Vishnu Purana, to save the world from a catastrophe, Lord Vishnu had incarnated as a fish that means matsyavatar. During that time, the Matsyarupadhari Lord Vishnu preached the philosophy of Satyavrata, which is known as Matsyapuran.

Kurma Avatar

According to the religious texts, Lord Vishnu had helped the people in churning the ocean by taking the avatar of Kurma i.e. turtle. The Kurma avatar of Lord Vishnu is also called the Kachhap avatar.

Varah Avatar

According to tradition, Lord Vishnu incarnated as a Varaha (wild boar). It is said, when the demon Hiranyaksha took the earth and hid it in the sea, then Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of Varaha from the nose of Brahma. At the insistence of the gods and sages, Lord Varaha began to search for the earth. He came to know that it was under the sea. He went inside the sea, put it on his teeth, and brought the earth out. Seeing this, Hiranyaksha challenged the Varaha for a battle. Varaha killed Hiranyaksha after a fierce battle.

Lord Narasimha

Lord Vishnu took the Narsingh avatar and killed Hiranyakashipu, the king of the demons, who called himself Lord, to protect his supreme devotee Prahlada.

Vaman Avatar

In Sat-yuga, Prahlada’s grandson, Daityaraj Bali, took over the Swargaloka. He became very infamous for his misrule. Then Lord Vishnu incarnated as Vamana (Brahman) from the womb of Devmata Aditi. During a ritual ceremony of King Bali, Vamana sought three feet of land in charity from Bali. Then, he took a huge form and measured the earth in one step and the heaven in the second step. When there was no space left for the third step, Bali asked Lord Vamana to keep his foot on his head. When Lord Vamana kept his feet on the head of Bali, the latter reached the underworld. Seeing the charitable disposition of king Bali, Lord made him the ruler of the underworld.

Lord Rama Avatar

In order to end the terror of the demon king Ravana in Tretayuga, Lord Vishnu was born as a son of Mata Kaushalya and King Dasharatha. In this incarnation, Lord Vishnu, in the form of Rama, killed many demons including the most famous Lord Shiva Bhakt – Ravana. Later after returning from 14 years of exile and winning back his wife Site, he lived his life by following Maryada principles. That’s why he is also known as Maryada Purshottam.

Lord Krishna Avatar

In Dwaparyug, Lord Vishnu took the Shri Krishna incarnation and destroyed the wicked. During that time Lord Krishna was born in a prison. Lord Krishna performed various miracles during this incarnation. He killed the tyrannical Kansa and annihilated the wicked. In the war of Mahabharata, he became Arjuna’s charioteer and gave the knowledge of Gita to the world. This incarnation of Lord Vishnu is considered the most superior of all incarnations.

Parshuram Avatar

Parashurama is considered to be one of the major incarnations of Lord Vishnu’s Dashavataras. There are two stories about the birth of Lord Parshuram. According to Harivansh Purana, the city of Mahishmati was ruled by the powerful Haihayavanshi Kshatriya Kartavirya Arjuna (Sahastrabahu). He was very arrogant and also tyrannical. Once Agnidev requested him to provide him food. He was arrogant and told Agnidev that everything existed in his rule, so he can procure food from anywhere. Then Agni Dev began burning the forests. In one of the forests, the sage Aapav was doing penance and when his ashram was also burnt, the angry sage cursed Sahastrabahu that Lord Vishnu would take a Parashurama avatar and would destroy all the Kshatriyas. After this, Lord Vishnu was born as the fifth son of Maharishi Jamadagni in the Bhargava clan. He was Parshuram, who destroyed the various clans of the warriors (Kshatriyas).

Lord Buddha Avatar

According to Hindu religious texts, Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, was also an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. According to the Puranas, Lord Buddha was born in Kikat near Gaya. As per the legends, the powers of the demons had increased and they began performing Vedic rituals and Mahayagyas to increase their rituals. Then, Lord Vishnu took the Buddha form for the benefit of the gods. He preached that sacrificing in yagna is a sin. Yajna causes violence to various life forms on the earth. Then the demons gave up yajna and Vedic conduct. When the powers of the demons began to diminish, the gods attacked them and regained their kingdom.

Kalki Avatar

This incarnation of Lord Vishnu is yet to happen. According to religious texts, Lord Vishnu will incarnate in the Kalki form in Kali Yuga. This incarnation will happen when the Kalyug will end and Satyug will commence again. According to the Puranas, Lord Kalki will be born as a son of an ascetic Brahmin named Vishnuisha in a place called Sambhal in the Moradabad district of Uttar Pradesh and will reestablish religion by destroying sinners from the world. After this, the golden age will begin.

Other Incarnations Of Lord Vishnu

Sankadi Muni

According to the Indian tradition, Brahma did severe penance at the beginning of creation. Pleased with his penance, Lord Vishnu, incarnated in the form of four sages named Sanak, Sanandan, Sanatana, and Sanatkumar, whose names mean penance. They are considered to be the earliest incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

Narada Avatar

Devarshi Narada is also considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. According to the scriptures, Narada Muni is one of the seven Manas sons of Brahma. He attained the rank of Devarshi by hard penance.

Nar Narayan

At the beginning of creation, Lord Vishnu incarnated in two forms to establish Dharma. In this incarnation, there was long hair on his forehead, swan in hands, chakra in feet and in the chest: there were signs of Shrivatsa. The entire dress was like that of the ascetics. As per the tradition, it was the Nara-Narayana incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

Kapil Muni

Lord Vishnu also took avatar as Kapil Muni. His father’s name was Maharishi Kardam and his mother’s name was Devahuti. When Bhishma Pitamah was lying on the death bed, Kapil Muni was also present there. Sixty thousand sons of King Sagara were consumed by the wrath of Lord Kapil.

Dattatrey Avatar

Dattatreya is also considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. According to the story, one day Naradaji wandered to Devlok and reached Lakshmi, Parvati, and Saraswati and told each one of them one by one that their duty towards their husbands was nothing in front of  Rishi Atri’s wife Anusaiya’s duty towards her husband. The three goddesses then asked their husbands to test Anusuya’s husband. Then, Lord Shankar, Vishnu, and Brahma dressed as a monk came to the ashram of Atri Muni. The three asked Goddess Anusuya to be naked and give alms.

Fearing that the sadhus should not be insulted, she remembered her commitment towards her husband and said that all the three sadhus should become infants of 6 months. After this, Tridev started crying like an infant. Then Anusiya became a mother, took and breastfed him, and started swinging him in the cradle. When the three gods did not return, the ladies were distraught. Naradaji told them about the complete incident.

After this, the three goddesses came to Anusaiya and asked for forgiveness. Then goddess Anusuiya restored Trideva to their original forms. Pleased, Tridev gave her a boon that all three of them would be born as sons from her womb. Then Moon was born from the part of Brahma, Durvasa from the part of Shankara, and Dattatreya from the part of Vishnu.

Yagya

The seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu is named Yajna. According to religious texts, Aakuti was born from the womb of Shatrupa, the wife of Swayambhuva Manu. She became the wife of Ruchi Prajapati. Lord Vishnu incarnated here as Yagya. Lord Yajna and his wife Dakshina produced twelve glorious sons.

Lord Rishabh Dev

One of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu was Rishabhdev. According to religious texts, Maharaja Nabhi had no children. He performed a yajna with his wife Merudevi, wishing for a son. Pleased with the yajna, Lord Vishnu himself appeared and gave a boon to Nabhi that he would be born as his son. Shortly thereafter, Lord Vishnu was born here as the son of Maharaj Nabhi, popularly known as Rishabh Dev.

Adiraj Pruthu

Adiraj Prithu is one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. According to religious texts, the Prajapati king named Anga was married to Sunita, the mental daughter of death, in the dynasty of Swayambhuva Manu. His son Ven considered himself God. Consequently, various sages killed him with the mantras. When the sages were churning the arms of King Ven, it led to the birth of a son named Prithu. Seeing the lotus sign in the right hand of Prithu, the sages told that Vishnu has incarnated as Prithu.

Bhagwan Dhanwantri

When the gods and the demons together churned the sea, the first thing that came out was the terrible poison that Lord Shiva drank. After this, a good horse, Goddess Lakshmi, Airavat elephant, Kalpa tree, Apsaras, and many other gems came out from the ocean. In the end, Lord Vishnu appeared with Dhanvantari Amrit Kalash.

Mohini Avatar

When the Amrit Kalash came out during the churning of the ocean, then the gods and demons started fighting among each other. In this tussle, Indra’s son Jayant ran away with Amrit Kumbh. There was a fierce fight among Asuras and Gods. Seeing all this, Lord Vishnu took the incarnation of Mohini and made the gods drink nectar.

Hayagreeva Incarnation

Once, two powerful demons, Madhu and Kaitabh, went to the underworld after stealing the Vedas from Brahma. Upon seeing Lord Brahma sad, Lord Vishnu took the incarnation of Hayagreeva. In this incarnation, the neck and face of Lord Vishnu were like a horse. They reached the underworld and killed the demon, bringing the Vedas back and handed them to Brahma.

Shrihari Avatar

In ancient times, a powerful elephant residing in the valley of the mountain named Trikut went to bathe in the pond with his clan. There a crocodile grabbed his leg and started pulling it underwater. The battle of elephant and crocodile continued for a thousand years and the battered elephant remembered Srihari. Hearing his prayer, Lord Shri Hari appeared and killed the crocodile with his chakra and saved the elephant.

Maharishi Vedvyas

Maharishi Ved Vyasa is considered to be a part of Lord Vishnu. Maharishi Vyas was the Kalavatar of Narayana. He was born as the son of Maharishi Parashar. As his body colour was black, he was also called Krishnadvapayan. The Mahabharata text was also composed by Ved Vyasa.

Hansa Avatar

Once Lord Brahma organised a meeting wherein his Manas son Sanakadi also came. Sanakadi was discussing his doubts with Brahma. During the discussion, Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of Maha Hans and he removed the doubts of Sanakadi muni.

Conclusion

Vishnu Purana occupies a very prominent place in the scriptures of Hinduism. It tells us about Lord Vishnu, a deity around whom (along with his two incarnations Rama and Krishna) much of the Bhakti cult is centred. Indeed, Vishnu Purana forms the heart of Vaishnavism, one of the two major pillars of Hinduism (the other being Shaivism).