Translating a text of this size is a major accomplishment, for which congratulations are indeed due. This is an important text because it so well summarizes ideas and themes that have been so influential in India. Since it will take time for any reviews to appear, a few preliminary comments may be given now. 


This is the first English translation of the critical edition of the Viṣṇu Purāṇa, which was published at Baroda, 1997-1999. Unlike the critical editions of the Mahābhārata and the Rāmāyaṇa, we learn that the critical edition of the Viṣṇu Purāṇa does not differ much from previous editions, or from the seven manuscripts used by H. H. Wilson in his pioneering 1840 translation. McComas Taylor writes in his Introduction, p. 33: "In general, it appears that the manuscripts he consulted differed only in minor details from the reconstituted Baroda text." Nonetheless, the critical edition certainly has improved readings, and the fact that this new translation is made from the critical edition is not insignificant.


This is only the second independently made English translation of the Viṣṇu Purāṇa, because the English translation made by Manmatha Nath Dutt, published 1894-1896, was avowedly "Based on Professor H. H. Wilson's translation," as stated on the original title page (not in the 1972 Chowkhamba reprint). McComas Taylor confirms (p. 33) that M. N. Dutt's translation is "simply a recasting of Wilson’s translation." A new English translation is supposed to eventually be included in the series of purāṇa translations published by Motilal Banarsidass in the series, Ancient Indian Tradition and Mythology, but we do not know when or by whom.


Regarding translation terms, McComas Taylor writes (p. 36): "Where I have translated selected Sanskrit terms, some specialists will not be pleased. For example, some will disapprove of my translation of brahman as the Absolute, or of the very common phrase namas te as ‘I bow to you’." I have always wondered about the common translations of namas in namas te as "homage" or "obeisance," as to whether these give the right sense. The root nam does mean "to bow." Maybe another common translation, "salutation," is closer to this than "homage" or "obeisance." But perhaps Indians mostly do understand this as "I bow to you." I do not know, and would like feedback on this. If so, then "I bow to you" would be the preferable translation.


Some supplemental bibliographic information:


H. H. Wilson's pioneering 1840 translation was published in one volume, not five as stated on p. 33. The five-volume edition is that edited by the careful scholar Fitzedward Hall, who added many new notes. It was published 1864-1877 in six physical volumes, the sixth of which (volume 5, part 2) is an index. My scans of these volumes are posted here:


The earlier printed Sanskrit edition of the Viṣṇu Purāṇa referred to on p. 32 was not really edited by Rajendranatha Sharma. This 1985 publication is actually a photographic reprint of the 1910 Veṅkaṭeśvara Press edition.


A very useful feature of this translation is that it gives the verse numbers and lays out the verses individually, rather than omits the verse numbers and runs them on as if in prose, like the Wilson and Dutt translations do.


Best Regards,


David Reigle

Colorado, U.S.A.

On Tue, Jun 22, 2021 at 5:29 PM McComas Taylor via INDOLOGY <> wrote:
Dear friends,

I am delighted to announce that my translation of the Viṣṇu Purāṇa has been published today.  Even better news is that is open access and can be downloaded free from the publisher's website:

This is the first complete English translation since HH Wilson's volumes of 1840. The great bulk of my translation is in blank verse. This is my attempt to honour the musicality and sonics of the śloka meter in which most of the VP was composed. 

As a readily accessible source for many important and memorable narratives of the Hindu tradition, I'm sure it will be useful for colleagues teaching courses on Hinduism or Religions more broadly.

Thanks to all those kind folk, too numerous to name, who have offered support and encouragement over the past six years.

I sincerely hope that you enjoy the Ancient Annals.

Yours sincerely,


McComas Taylor
Associate Professor
Reader in Sanskrit
College of Asia and the Pacific
The Australian National University
WSC Website| McC Website


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