The Puranas are the core texts of Hindu religiosity. They expand on the ideas contained in the Vedas through stories, which hold immediate popular appeal. The Mahabharata says that the Vedas fear the person who tries to interpret them without knowing the Puranas first. The Devibhagavata puts it crisply: “Shruti and Smrti are the two eyes of dharma but the Purana is its heart” (XI.1.21).
The Puranas are usually in the form of dialogues between a spiritual aspirant and an accomplished saint. The major topics addressed in the Puranas include the purusharthas or “aims of humanity” (dharma, “sacred duty”; artha “material prosperity”; kama, “pleasure”; and moksha, “liberation”), religious observances, pilgrimage, charitable offerings, rites for the dead, the glorification of various divinities, descriptions of cycles of time, graphic portrayals of heavens and hells, philosophical expositions, delineation of social duties, and of course, the supreme amongst all spiritual practices - Bhakti.
The Puranas are traditionally said to be eighteen in number. However, there is no exactness according to which Puranas fall into the eighteen. The major Puranas are:
1. Brahma Purana
2. Padma Purana
3. Vishnu Purana
4. Vayu Purana
5. Bhagavata Purana
6. Narada Purana
7. Markandeya Purana
8. Agni Purana
9. Bhavishya Purana
10. Brahmavaivarta Purana
11. Linga Purana
12. Varaha Purana
13. Skanda Purana
14. Vamana Purana
15. Kurma Purana
16. Matsya Purana
17. Garuda Purana
18. Brahmanda Purana
19. Shiva Purana
All the Puranas are attributed to the divine sage Vyasa, who, according to the Bhagavata Purana, is an incarantion of Lord Vishnu.
Q1. How many Purana books are
Main Puranas are categorized in the Padma Purana
· Sattva (Truth)
Shiva- 24,000 verses related to
Linga - 11,000 verses. Discusses
Lingam, a symbol of Shiva
Vishnu - 23,000 verses. A
Bhagavata – 18,000 verses. Telling
of Vishnu's Avatars, and of Vaishnavism
Naradeya- 25,000 verses, also
called Naradiya Purana.
Garuda- 19,000 verses. An
encyclopedia of diverse topics
Padma - 55,000 verses.
Varaha Purana- 24,000 verses. Focuses
on Varaha as incarnation of Narayana
· Rajas (Passion)
Markandeya- 9,000 verses
Bhavishya- 14,500 verses
Vamana - 10,000 verses
Brahma Purana- 10,000 verses
· Tamas (Ignorance)
Matsya- 14,000 verses
Kurma- 17,000 verses
Skanda - 81,100 verses
Agni Purana - 15,400 verses
Q2. What five characteristics
must a Purana have?
The five characteristics associated with the Puranas are
Sarga: Creation myths or
stories are included in this sign. So the Purana should have proper
distinctions about chapters that should speak about the creation of the
Pratisarga: This can be about the
origin or nature of the universe. It should be about secondary creations,
mostly re-creations after dissolution.
Vamsa: Vamsa covers the
genealogy of great individuals, which includes deities, kings, and sages or Rishis.
Manvantara: relates to the reigns of
Manus or the rule of individuals like kings. It can also be about cosmic
Vamsanucharitam: recounts the history of
royal dynasties- mostly, the great SuryaVamsha (solar) and the Chandra Lunar) Vamsh.
Q3. Which is the supreme
The Bhagavata Purana, also known as the Srimad
Bhagavata Mahapurana, or simply Bhagavata, is one of Hinduism's eighteen
great Puranas (Mahapuranas). Composed in Sanskrit by Veda Vyasa, it promotes
bhakti (devotion) towards Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, integrating themes from
the Advaita (Adi Shankara), the Vishishtadvaita (Ramanujacharya) and the Dvaita
The Bhagavata Purana discusses a wide range of
topics including cosmology, astronomy, genealogy, geography, legend, music,
dance, yoga, and culture. The Bhagavata Purana is a revered text in
Vaishnavism. The text presents a form of religion (dharma) that competes with
that of the Vedas, wherein bhakti ultimately leads to self-knowledge, salvation
(moksha), and bliss.
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