[Advaita-l] pUrvajas' karma / pApa & our burden (satyanArAyaNa pUjA)

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Tue Sep 14 22:43:32 CDT 2010

On Tue, 14 Sep 2010, Dr. Yadu Moharir wrote:

> Dear List:
> P.V. Kane in History of Dharmashaastrastyan comments that satyanaaraayana
> vrata kathA is found in Calcutta Edition of skanda puraaNa but is not in the
> Bombay edition.,
> aanadaasharma. 

For what its worth, it is part of the Nag Publishers reprint of the 
Nirnaya Sagara edition of the Skanda Mahapurana which was also originally 
printed in Bombay and is based on Western Indian manuscripts.

It forms the last five chapters of the Reva Khanda.  Historians have noted 
that the Skanda Purana as we have it now has a lot of miscellaneous 
contents (it is the biggest Purana in size) compared to the typical 
puranic subjects.  It seems a lot of free-floating and original 
compositions have been interpolated or attached to it.  This may be the 
case here as the Satyanarayana Katha doesn't really have much relationship 
to the rest of the Reva Khanda or other parts of the Purana.

> Satyanaaraana is a common surname in Bihar
> and nearby region.
> In Maharashttra, Psehava were well known for keeping accounts of every penny
> spent for all rituals.  There is no historical evidence that satyanaaraayaNa
> puujaa was practiced during that period in Maharashtra.  He further
> concludes that the is ritual seems to have migrated from East to the South
> via Maharashtra.
> I would appreciate if someone can provide any specific evidence of this
> ritual-practice in Southern India.

Satyanarayana katha is very popular amongst Gujaratis.  In my family we 
say it every purnima.  I have also said it for yajamanas, nearly all 
Gujaratis except one Marwadi, and one person from Andhra.  The 
Venkatashwara mandir in New Jersey also does the katha on Purnima as does 
the Ganesh Mandir in New York (both are mainly patronized by South 
Indians.)  My impression is that it is not practiced by North Indians or 
Bengalis but I haven't really looked into it.

There is some internal evidence that suggests a western origin.

1. Reva is another name for the Narmada river which flows through Western 

2.  The woodcutter is described as a Bhil.  The Bhils are an adivasi tribe 
mostly found in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

3.  The story mentions commercial sea travel by a Vaishya which in 
medieval times (which Kane thinks the katha belongs to) was less taboo in 
Western India than in the South or Bengal.

So I don't think Kane's speculation holds water (though admittedly my 
own argument is equally speculative.)

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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