Okay, maybe not the Vishnu Purana. . .


The edition of the Vishnu Purana available at my local uni library is H.H. Wilson’s five volume translation, and it’s dated. It was published in . . . I don’t remember. 1890? 1860? The reviews haven’t been great, but I know how to move around language that talks of “primitive” religions and “unreal” gods. I understand the biases of educated, white British men of that time period. But, it’s five volumes, and the books are fragile, and I can get a copy of it online for $1.99 for my Kindle, and if I end up getting it, that’s what I’ll do. I read the better part of the first four chapters at the library while waiting for my phone to charge, and I realized . . . this isn’t what I want. Once we get passed the cosmogony story, I’ll be happier (those are my least favorite stories regardless of which cosmogony we’re talking about) but what I really want, what I really, really want to read, always is, peoples experiences with these Powers and how it shapes their day to day lives. I want to see the stories of the gods, of the universe, of the worlds, intersect with the stories of people. I want to sit at the confluence of those rivers and drown in stories.

I brought home, instead, The Bhagavata Purana: Sacred Text and Living Tradition, which is a collection of essays that deal with bits of the material of the Bhagavata Purana. The introduction was written clearly and approachably and, uh, also I really liked the typeface.* What?

Unrelated to Hindu studies, but related to books: I also picked up a copy of Titus Burckhardt’s Introduction to Sufi Doctrine, which is a slim little book that is also extremely fragile. The copy I borrowed was repaired in 1962 (there’s a note on the frontpiece) and the stitching is all yellowed. The pages are almost onion paper. This one will be read in bed and will not venture far from my stack.

I’m also reading Beyond the Blue Horizon: How the Earliest Mariners Unlocked the Secrets of the Oceans by Brian Fagan. Because this is how I dig my heels in. “Okay, sure, great, Vishnu stuff — oooh look, ocean!”

*Did I just date myself?



3 Comments Add yours

  1. henadology says:

    H. H. Wilson may be archaic, but I’ve found that his translation of the Rig Veda is far superior to many others around. His translations respect the history of technical terminology in Indian devotional texts, and he makes abundant use of the Indian commentary tradition.

    1. Jolene Poseidonae says:

      That’s good to know; thank you. I’ll admit to still feeling overwhelmed. I wasn’t dissatisfied with the notes in the first volume. If it wasn’t such a fragile edition that the library had, I’d’ve at least taken the first two out.

  2. Soli says:

    While it’s not Vishnu related, you might want to look at this: Poems to Siva : the hymns of the Tamil saints. The author was my department head in college, and the poems do include the authors relating their experiences with Shiva.

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