The story goes that originally there was only one Purana with a crore verse and it was located in the realm of the gods, but it was later brought down to earth by Vyasa who divided it into eighteen Maha Purans. Eighteen is a sacred number recurring in the ancient scriptures Mahabharata has eighteen chapters, Gita has eighteen chapters.
A Maha Purana is non-sectarian, while a Upa Purana is sectarian, meaning it is very focused on Shaivism or Vaishnavism, or on a particular caste known as Jati Purana, or it is located on a particular pilgrim spot known as Sthala Purana. Essentially, Puranas are stories that are located in what may be called the Brahmanical space and time framework.
It means they need to have certain lakshana or qualities. They have to describe the creation cycles, the sarga and the prati-sarga, the life cycle of a world or kalpa with its divisions the yugas, the various eras which are led by Manu also known as Manvantara , and finally they have to be located within each of these yugas, and manvantaras must be the vanshavali or the lineage of kings. It is in the Puranas that we, for the first time, get the concept of Surya vansha solar lineage and Chandra vansha lunar lineage.
Most kings of India legitimised themselves by linking their family tree to these two lineages, and this is what made Puranas a very important political document. The greatest contribution of the Puranas is that they introduce us to the classical Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and their respective spouses — the goddesses Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati. This concept is not found in the Vedas. It indicates the amalgamation of Vedic metaphysics with the customs and beliefs of non-Vedic tribes, which was achieved by creative and accommodating Brahmins who spread out from the Gangetic plains in the eastern, southern and western directions, and even beyond the sea to Southeast Asia, a process that happened over 2, years ago.
The Puranic tales with the three divine couples as protagonists placed emphasis on marriage, children, household, pleasure as well as responsibility. This played a key role in countering monastic orders like Buddhism and Jainism. This is why Puranas came to be known as the Fifth Veda, overshadowing the old Vedic order and establishing a new story-based Hinduism.
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Artha Buddhism Civilization Darshan. Who is a Hindu? The forest of sacred stories Buddhism. Home Articles Indian Mythology Buddhism. In the Buddhist Jatakas, there are tales of men and women who request the goddess Lakshmi to drive away the goddess of misfortune, Kalakanni. Images of Kubera, the pot-bellied yaksha-king and treasurer of the gods, who is closely associated with Lakshmi, adorn most Buddhist shrines.
In holy Jain texts, it is said when an exalted soul like a Tirthankara is about to be born his mother dreams of many auspicious things, including the goddess Shri.
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- The ancient story of goddess Lakshmi—bestower of power, wealth and sovereignty?
Symbols of wealth and royal power commonly associated with Lakshmi are auspicious to both Buddhists and Jains. These include: the pot, a pile of gems, a throne, a flywhisk, a conch, a fish, a parasol, nagas , yakshas , a footstool, a horse, an elephant, a cow, and the wish-fulfilling tree.
Shri-Lakshmi has a long history testified by the fact that her first hymn, the Shri Shukta , was added to the Rig Veda , the oldest and most revered of Hindu scriptures, somewhere between and BC. Considering her popularity amongst Buddhists and Jains, it has been proposed that her worship may predate the Vedic culture and may have developed independently before she was brought into the Vedic, Buddhist and Jain folds.
Scholars are of the view that initially the words Shri and Lakshmi referred to anything that was auspicious or brought good luck or bestowed riches and power. Later the two words were personified into two goddesses who eventually merged.
Thus, Shri-Lakshmi came into being. Fragmentary verses in the Shatapatha Brahmana, written not long after the Vedas, talks of the birth of Lakshmi from the mouth of Prajapati to provide the inhabitants of the cosmos food, clothing, shelter, and all things that make life more comfortable. She also offered wisdom, strength, beauty, luck, sovereignty and splendour—the good things in life.
Stories of Lakshmi first appeared in the epics Ramayana and Mahabharta , that were composed between BC and AD, a period that witnessed the waning popularity of Vedic gods and the rise of gods who offered moksha such as Shiva and Vishnu. Gods and demons fought over her and both strove to churn her out of the ocean of milk. As folk heroes such as Rama and Krishna were viewed as incarnations of Vishnu, their consorts Sita, Radha and Rukmini became increasingly identified with Lakshmi.
In the Harivamsa, appendix to the Mahabharata, Manmatha, the god of love, lust and fertility, was described as her son. The mythology of Lakshmi acquired full form in the Puranas , chronicles of gods, kings and sages that were compiled between and AD.
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In them, the goddess came to be projected as one of the three primary forms of the supreme mother-goddess, the other two being Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, and Kali or Durga, the goddess of power. Prithvi, the Vedic earth-goddess, became Bhoodevi in the Puranas and a manifestation of Lakshmi.
In south India, the two goddesses were visualised as two different entities, standing on either side of Vishnu, Bhoodevi representing tangible wealth while Lakshmi or Shridevi representing intangible wealth. In north India, the two goddesses became one. Images of Lakshmi started appearing around the third century BC in sculptures found in Kausambi, in north India, and on coins issued during the reign of the Gupta dynasty around the fourth century AD.
She became a favourite of kings as more and more people believed she was the bestower of power, wealth and sovereignty. Separate shrines to Lakshmi within the precincts of Vishnu temples may have been built as early as the seventh century; such shrines were definitely in existence by the 10th century AD. Nowadays, Hindus accept Lakshmi as the eternal consort of Vishnu, the preserver of the world.
In her long history, however, the goddess has been associated with many other deities.
How did the ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’ come to be (and what has ‘dharma’ got to do with it)?
According to Ramayana , Mahabharata and Puranas , the goddess Lakshmi first lived with the demons before the gods acquired her. She graced asuras such as Hiranayaksha, Hiranakashipu, Prahalad, Virochana and Bali, rakshasas such as Ravana and yakshas such as Kubera before she adorned the court of Indra, king of devas , the most renowned of Vedic gods. Within the Vedic pantheon, Lakshmi was linked with many gods, especially those associated with water bodies: Indra, the rain-god bestower of fresh water ; Varuna, the sea-god source of all water ; Soma, the moon-god waxer and waner of tides.
As the Vedic gods waned into insignificance around the fifth century BC, two gods came to dominate the classical Hindu worldview: the world renouncing hermit-god Shiva and the world affirming warrior-god Vishnu. Lakshmi was briefly associated with Shiva before she became the faithful consort of Vishnu-Narayana, the ultimate refuge of man. With Vishnu, she was domesticated. No longer fleet footed, she sat demurely by his side, on his lap or at his feet. The association with many gods has led to Lakshmi being viewed as fickle, restless and independent.
Philosophers choose to view the fickleness and independence of Lakshmi as an allegory for the restlessness of fortune. More often than not, there are no rational explanations for fortune and misfortune. Good times come without warning and leave as suddenly. Like other Vaishnava orders, it visualised Vishnu as the embodiment of the supreme divine principle. However, this order was unique as it refused to acknowledge Vishnu independently. It insisted on the presence of Lakshmi beside him.
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He represents righteousness; she represents compassion.