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By Shrila Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa
Told by Purnapragya Dasa
Published by Rasbiharilal and Sons, Loi Bazaar, Vrindavan
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For a long time, I was thinking that a book containing stories from the Puranas would be very interesting. I had already written summaries of the Ramayana and Mahabharata- as well as summaries of Shrimad-Bhagavatam, Shri Chaitanya-charitamrita, and Shri Chaitanya-bhagavata- told in story form. It is a fact, that devotees are always interested in hearing a good story- especially if they are children. So, with this in mind, I decided to write a book of stories and teachings from the Padma Purana.From the Bhaktivedanta Vedabase, I found by searching that Shrila Prabhupada had quoted from Padma Purana more than four hundred times in his writings and lectures. This made me think that it would be very nice to include some of these references in the stories of the Padma Purana that I was compiling.It is a fact that there are many verses in the Padma Purana that are so important that the Vaishnava acharyas refer to them, again and again. For example, I had always heard the following verse, but never knew where it was to be found. Then, I saw that Shrila Prabhupada referred to it, as follows:
naham tisthami vaikunthe yoginam hrdayesu va
yatra gayanti mad-bhaktah tatra tisthami ndrada
"My dear Narada, I do not dwell in Vaikuntha or in the hearts of the yogi, but wherever My devotees sing My glories" (Padma Purana).Another time, in a lecture, Shrila Prabhupada referred to Padma Purana's description of how the soul evolves by transmigrating from one body to another, and not as the scientists imagine:"We are transmigrating from different bodies. Jalaja nava-laksani sthavara laksa vimsati, krmayo rudra-sankhyakah. In Padma Purana, the gradual process of evolution is there. This evolution theory put forward by Darwin, that is nonsense. Because the Darwin's theory is evolution of this body."Padma Purana is one of the eighteen principal Puranas, as ex¬plained in the Shrimad-Bhagavatam (12.7.25):"The eighteen major Puranas are the Brahma, Padma, Vishnu, Shiva, Linga, Garuda, Narada, Bhagavata, Agni, Skanda, Bhavishva,Brahma-vaivarta, Markandeya, Vamana, Varaha, Matsya, Kurma and Brahmanda Puranas.It is further explained that six of these Puranas are considered to be for those in the mode of goodness, six are for those in passion, and six are for those in ignorance. The Padma Purana is one of the six for those in goodness. Shrila Prabhupada sometimes discussed this. Here is an example, found in a conversation with his disciples:Prabhupada: "So, there are different kinds of Puranas, eighteen Puranas, because the whole Vedic literature means to claim all kinds of men. Not that those who are meat-eaters or drunkards- they are re¬jected. No. Everyone is accepted. It is just like you go to a doctor. He'll prescribe you different medicines, according to the disease. Not that there is only one disease, and so one medicine. Whoever comes, the doctor offers that medicine. No."The real treatment is gradually, gradually. But,the sattvikapuranas (those in goodness)- they are meant for immediately worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There is no gradual process. But gradually, one who comes to this stage, he's advised by the other Puranas. So Padma Purana is one of the Puranas in the mode of good¬ness. Continue reading.Devotee: "It says in the Padma Purana, 'No one can understand the transcendental nature of the name, form, qualities and pastimes of Sri Krishna through his materially contaminated senses. Only when one becomes spiritually saturated by transcendental service to the Lord, are the transcendental name, form, quality and pastimes of the Lord revealed to him.Prabhupada: "Yes, this verse is very important."Shirla Prabhupada gave this example of how the Puranas will give different prescriptions, for different kinds of people.
"There are men in the modes of goodness, passion, and ignorance, and to reclaim all these conditioned souls, there are eighteen Puranas. Six Puranas are meant for those in the mode of goodness, six for those in the mode of passion, and six for those in the mode of ignorance. The Padma Purana is written for those in the mode of goodness.In the Markandeya Purana there are descriptions of rituals and ceremonies in which a goat may be sacrificed in the presence of the goddess Kali. This Purana is meant for the instruction of those in the mode of ignorance.In the Shrimad-Bhagavatam, there is mention that Padma Purana consists of 55,000 verses."The Brahma Purana consists of ten thousand verses, the Padma Purana of fifty-five thousand, Shri Vishnu Purana of twenty-three thousand, the Shiva Purana of twenty-four thousand and Shrimad-Bhagavatam of eighteen thousand. The Narada Purana has twenty-five thousand verses, the Markandeya Purana nine thousand, the Agni Purana fifteen thousand four hundred, the Bhavishya Purana fourteen thousand five hundred, the Brahma-vaivarta Purana eighteen thousand and the Linga Purana eleven thousand. The Varaha Purana contains twenty-four thousand verses, the Skanda Purana eighty-one thou¬sand one hundred, the Vamana Purana ten thousand, the Kurma Purana seventeen thousand, the Matsya Purana fourteen thousand, the Garuda Purana nineteen thousand and the Brahmanda Purana twelve thousand. Thus the total number of verses in all the Puranas is four hundred thousand. Eighteen thousand of these, once again, belong to the beautiful Bhagavatam." (SB 12.13.4-9)
When Lord Chaitanya traveled to East Bengal, Tapan Mishra had come to surrender at His lotus feet. Tapan Mishra had said, "My Lord, I do not know what is the goal of life, arid the means to attain it."
At that time, Lord Chaitanya had explained that one who reads too many books would surely become confused. In this regard, Shrila Prabhupada often asked his disciples to be satisfied by reading his books. He knew that, by reading other books, his disciples might become doubtful, in some way or other. And, as mentioned in Padma Purana, only the mantra (of instruction) that is received in the genuine disciplic succession is capable of delivering the desired results.Therefore, I request the readers of this book to use this experience as a means of enhancing their Krishna consciousness. Do not take seriously any apparent contradictions with Shrila Prabhupada's teachings that are found in this book. This book was written from an English edition of the complete Padma Purana. However, the translators were not devotees of the Lord in disciplic succession. They were academic scholars. For this reason, this book cannot be accepted as authoritative the way that Shrila Prabhupada's books are. Still, as much as possible, I have tried to phrase everything in a way that is congenial to pure Krishna consciousness. We hanker after newer and newer literatures, and so if that propensity is used to read books such as this, we will always remain within the sphere of Krishna consciousness.Also, I must say that the Padma Purana contains very harsh descriptions of women, and their association. Personally, I am a great admirer of women in Vedic culture, and it must be remembered that this book also suitably glorifies such chaste and devoted women.I sincerely hope that the reading of this book gives you some further appreciation of Krishna consciousness, as well as of the great value of establishing a society on the basis of religious principles.