Puraanam (puraaṇa or Purana) – Ancient Hindu scriptures about a wide range of topics, myths, and legends originally composed in Sanskrit and later translated into other languages.
Easy to remember sloka of all 18 puranas
‘Ma’ dvayam, ‘Bha’ dvayam Chaiva ‘Bra’ Trayam ‘Va’ Chatushtayam
‘A’ ‘Na’ ‘Pa’ ‘Lin’ ‘Ga’ ‘Ku’ ‘Ska’ ni puranani Pridhak Pridhak
|‘Ma’ Dvayam (2)||Matsya, Markandeya|
|‘Bha’ Dvayam (2)||Bhagavata, Bhavishya|
|‘Bra’ Trayam (3)||Brahma, Brahma Vaivartha, Brahmanda|
|‘Va’ Chatushtayam (4)||Varaha, Vamana, Vayu, Vishnu|
|‘A’ ‘Na’ ‘Pa’ ‘Lin’ ‘Ga’ ‘Ku’ ‘Ska’ (7)||Agni, Narada, Padma, Linga, Garuda, Kurma, Shanda|
Puranas narrate: Universe creation, cosmology, genealogies of gods, goddesses, Devatas, Asuras, Rishis, Munis, Sages, Kings, Heroes, Demigods, Moral tales, Folk tales, Ayurveda, Astronomy and philosophy.biographies, myths, geography, medicine, astronomy, Hindu temples, pilgrimages, rites of passage, charity, ethics, duties, rights, dharma, divine intervention in cosmic and human affairs, love stories, festivals, theosophy and philosophy, bhakti, god’s grace, boons, revenges, protection, devotion
18 Maha Puranas have over 400,000 verses. Original Puranic verse count is more than 10 million but not all available to us
Naimisharanya was a wonderful forest place with full of trees full, pleasant climate, flowers, fruits, food, animals, birds and sages lived thee happily. Sages regularly assemble, meditate, perform Yagnas and rituals.
Once sages asked Romaharshana (also called Lomaharshana) to narrate the Puranas.
Romaharshana replied, I will tell what I learnt from my guru which were told by Brahma to Daksha and other sages many years ago. That’s how all the puranas are narrated by him.
- Vyasa (Krishnadwaipayana, an Avatar of Vishnu), is the compiler of the Puranas.
- They existed in an oral form before being written down.
- The Puranas are called Smritis (remembered and told). Puranas have survived over time are anonymous texts and likely the work of many authors over the centuries
- Influence acculturation and accommodation of a diversity of people across different kingdoms and traditions.
- The religious practices included in Puranas are considered Vaidika (as per Vedic literature)
- Influences Indian classical arts, such as songs, dance culture, plays and recitations.
- Influences Rituals and celebrations of major Hindu cultural festivities such as Holi, Diwali, Durga Puja, Krishna Janmastami, etc.
- The Skanda Purana is the largest one with 81,000 verses, named after deity Skanda, the son of Shiva and Uma, and brother of deity Ganesha. Next largest one being Padma purana with 55,000 verses.
- The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad refers to purana as the “fifth Veda”, itihāsapurāṇaṃ pañcamaṃ vedānāṃ, reflecting the early religious importance of these facts.
Mahapuranas (Ashtadasa or 18) – Maha meaning great and these are well known
Puranas classified based on Trimurti:
Deity / Guna
|Vishnu / Sattva (“truth”)||Vishnu, Narada, Bhagavata, Garuda, Padma and Varaha|
|Shiva / Tamas (“ignorance”)||Shiva, Linga, Matsya, Kurma, Skanda and Agni|
|Brahma / Rajas (“passion”)||Brahma, Brahmanda, Brahma Vaivarta, Markandeya, Bhavishya, Vamana|
Upapuranas are less well known and sometimes draw thin line on which is maha and which is upa.
Sanat-kumara, Narasimha, Brihan-naradiya, Siva-rahasya, Durvasa, Kapila, Vamana, Bhargava, Varuna, Kalika, Samba, Nandi, Surya, Parasara, Vasishtha, Devi-Bhagavata, Ganesha, Mudgala (devoted to Ganesh), and Hamsa,
Pancha Lakshana (5 characteristics or topics covered) of Puranas
- Sarga: cosmogony
- Pratisarga: cosmogony and cosmology
- Vamsa: genealogy of the gods, sages and kings
- Manvantara: cosmic cycles, history of the world during the time of one patriarch
- Vamsanucharitam: legends during the times of various kings.