Brahman divisions

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at
Mon Jun 9 16:51:45 UTC 1997

Frank Conlon wrote:

> On the other hand, I have to appeal to my Sanskritist colleagues for a
> view of the Skanda Purana and its various associated texts.  My
> sense is that like Skanda himself, the purana is one of many different
> faces.   Whatever else one may draw fromthe existence of the Sahyadri
> Khanda, it must be comforting to know that its composers were hard at
> the task well in advance of the colonial ethnographers who have been
> endowed with such agency in "inventing" caste by some recent scholars

As a general note of caution, it is well known among traditional circles
that Skanda Purana and Brahmanda Purana are stock texts to which various
compositions have been added over vast periods of time. Diverse sthala
mAhAtmyas and Puranas are typically assigned to one of these two. Even
among traditional Brahmin communities, not everybody takes the claims of
these texts seriously. 

Some portions of these texts can easily be traced to rivalries between
different groups. These groups can be sub-castes, as in the case of the
Sahyadri Khanda, or they may be rival religious institutions. If one
follows the development of these rivalries, one finds that the opposite
side hotly contests the text. 

For example, a well-respected figure in recent times, Sri
Chandrasekharendra Saraswati of the Kanchi math, quotes from one
Markandeya Samhita of the Brahmanda Purana. However, Sri Jnanananda
Bharati, who was affiliated with the Sringeri math, completely denies that
there even exists something called the Markandeya Samhita in that Purana. 
He says that such a text has not been found in any of the different 
rescensions of that Purana, and cautions that if it is found in the
future, it will very likely be a recent addition written by somebody at
the Kanchi math. This sort of rivalry is generally not well-known outside
a few small groups, and it is hard to find authentic evidence one way or
the other.  


More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list