Puranas

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The Goddess Durga leading the Eight Matrikas in battle against the demon Raktabija, from Devi Mahatmya, in Markandeya Purana.

Puranas (Sanskrit: पुराण purāṇa, "of ancient times") are ancient Hindu texts eulogizing various deities, primarily the divine Trimurti God in Hinduism through divine stories.

Quotes[edit]

Sri Swami Sivananda: Vyasa is the compiler of the Puranas from age to age; and for this age, he is Krishna-Dvaipayana, the son of Parasara.
  • The Puranas are post-Vedic texts which typically contain a complete narrative of the history of the Universe from creation to destruction, genealogies of the kings, heroes and demigods, and descriptions of Hindu cosmology and geography. There are 18 canonical Puranas, divided into three categories, each named after a deity: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. There are also many other works termed Purana, known as 'Upapuranas.
Upinder Singh:...The oldest of the Puranas are the Matsya, Vayu and the Brahmanda and for our purposes, the Vishnu Purana, somewhat later than the first three ... the Vedic link also goes back to the earlier statement that the itihasa-purana was the fifth Veda.
  • According to Puranas, there are five characteristic features or subjects dealt with in each Maha Purana and these are: Sarga – the process of creation of Universe; Pratisarga – the periodical process of destruction and creation; Manvantara – the various eras; Vamsa – the histories of the solar and lunar dynasties; and Vamsanucharita – the royal lineage.
    • Shantha N. Nair, in "Echoes of Ancient Indian Wisdom: The Universal Hindu Vision and Its Edifice (1 January 2008)", p.266
  • If the Purana written by Vyasa were still existing, then it would be honoured as a “Sruti”. In the absence of this Purana and the one written by Lomaharshana, the eighteen Puranas that still exist cannot all be given the same place of honour; among them, the Vishnu and the Bhagwata Purana composed by accomplished yogis are definitely more precious and we must recognise that the Markandeya Purana written by a sage devoted to spiritual pursuits is more profound in Knowledge than either the Shiva or the Agni Purana.
    • Sri Aurobindo, in "Sri Aurobindo Writings in Bengali Translated into English".
  • The composers of the Puranas are either accomplished yogis or seekers of Truth. The Knowledge and spiritual realisations obtained by their sadhana remain recorded in the respective Puranas. The Vedas and the Upanishads are the fundamental scriptures of the Hindu religion, the Puranas are commentaries on these scriptures.
    • Sri Aurobindo, in "Sri Aurobindo Writings in Bengali Translated into English".
  • The division created by the English educated scholars who separate the Vedas and the Upanishads from the Puranas and thus make a distinction between the Vedic dharma and the Puranic dharma is a mistake born of ignorance. The Puranas are accepted as an authority on the Hindu dharma because they explain the knowledge contained in the Veda and the Upanishads to the average man, comment upon it, discuss it at great length and endeavour to apply it to the commonplace details of life.
    • Sri Aurobindo, in "Sri Aurobindo Writings in Bengali Translated into English".
An episode from the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.
  • All the Vedic literature and the Purāṇas are meant for conquering the darkest region of material existence. The living being is in the state of forgetfulness of his relation with God due to his being overly attracted to material sense gratification from time immemorial. His struggle for existence in the material world is perpetual, and it is not possible for him to get out of it by making plans. If he at all wants to conquer this perpetual struggle for existence, he must reestablish his eternal relation with God. And one who wants to adopt such remedial measures must take shelter of literature such as the Vedas and the Purāṇas. Some people say that the Purāṇas have no connection with the Vedas. However, the Purāṇas are supplementary explanations of the Vedas intended for different types of men. All men are not equal. There are men who are conducted by the mode of goodness, others who are under the mode of passion and others who are under the mode of ignorance. The Purāṇas are so divided that any class of men can take advantage of them and gradually regain their lost position and get out of the hard struggle for existence.

Bhagavata Purana[edit]

Vishnu Purana[edit]

H.H.Wilson:The Narada or Naradiya Purana is where Narada has described the duties which were observed in Vrihat Kalpa, that is called Naradiya, having twenty five thousand stanzas....It is communicated by Narada to the rishis in Naimisharanya, on the Gomati River.
  • Vishnu Puarana is one of the eighteen traditional puranas, which were an important genre of smriti text, and the repository of much of traditional Indian mythology... Most of the puranas are highly sectarian as is the Vishnu Purana which is focused on the worship of Vishnu. It gives an exhaustive account of Vishnu’s mystic deeds – many of which have become the common mythic currency for many traditional Hindus – as well as instructions for how, where, and when Vishnu is to be worshipped.
  • It is a primary text of the Vaishnava branch of Hinduism, and one of the Cnanonical puranas of the Visnhu Category. Among the portions of interest are a cycle of legends of the boyhood deeds of Krishna and Rama.

Naradiya Purana[edit]

Vamana Purana[edit]

H.H.Wilson:Vamana Purana is that in which the four faced Brahma taught the three objects of existence, as subservient to the account of the greatness of Trivikrama, which treats also of the Shiva Kalpa, and which consists of ten thousand stanzas....
  • Vamana Purana is that in which the four faced Brahma taught the three objects of existence, as subservient to the account of the greatness of Trivikrama, which treats also of the Shiva Kalpa, and which consists of ten thousand stanzas. It contains an account of the dwarf incarnation of Vishnu; but it is related by Pulastya to Narada, and extends to but about seven thousand stanzas. Its contents can scarcely establish its claim to the character of a Purana.
    • H.H.Wilson, in "Oriental Translation Fund, Volume 52 (Google eBook), Volume 52 (1840)}, P. xivii

Matsya Purana[edit]

Matsya Purana
  • Matsya Purana is that in which, for the sake of promulgating the Vedas, Vishnu, in the beginning of the Kalpa related to Manu the story of Narasimha and the events of seven Kalpas, that O, sages know to be the Matsya containing twenty thousand stanzas...the subjects of the Purana were communicated by Vishnu, in the form of a fish to Manu. The Purana, after the usual prologue open with the account of the Matsya or ‘fish’ Avatars of Vishnu, in which he preserves a king named Manu, with the seeds of all things, in an ark, from the waters of the inundation which in the season of Pralaya overspreads the world. This story is told in the Mahabharata, with reference to the Matsya as its authority; from which it might be inferred that the Purana was prior to the poem.
    • H.H.Wilson, in "Oriental Translation Fund, Volume 52 (Google eBook), Volume 52 (1840)}, P.li

Garuda Purana[edit]

Brahma Purana[edit]

  • Brahma Purana is the whole of which was formerly repeated by Brahma to Marichi and contains ten thousands stanzas. In all the lists of Puranas, Brahma Purana is placed at the head of the series, and is thence sometimes also entitled to Adi or ‘First’ Purana. It is also designated as Saura, as it is in great part appropriated to the worship of Surya, the ‘sun’. There is a supplementary or concluding section called the Brahmottara Khanda, which contains about three thousand more; but there is every reason to conclude that this a distinct and unconnected work...The immediate narrator of the Brahma Purana is Lomaharshana, who communicates it to the Rishis or sages assembled at Naimisharanya, as it was originally revealed by Brahma, not to Marichi as the Matsya affirms, but to Daksha, another of the patriarchs: hence the denomination of the Brahma Purana.
    • H.H.Wilson, in "Oriental Translation Fund, Volume 52 (Google eBook), Volume 52 (1840)}, P.xvi

Bhavishya Purana[edit]

  • Bhavishya Purana is the Purana in which Brahma, having described the greatness of the sun, explained to Manu the existence of the world, and the characters of all created things, in the course of the Aghora Kalpa, the stories being for the most part of the events of a future period. It contains fourteen thousand five hundred stanzas. This Purana, as the name implies should be a book of prophesies, foretelling what will be (bhavishyat), as the Matsya Purana intimates.
    • H.H.Wilson, in "Oriental Translation Fund, Volume 52 (Google eBook), Volume 52 (1840)}, P.xxxix

Agni Purana[edit]

  • The cyclopedial character of the Agni Purana, as it is now described, excludes it from any legitimate claims to be regarded as a Purana, and proves that its origin cannot be remote. It is subsequent to the Itihasas; to the chief works on grammar, rhetoric, and medicine; and to the introduction of the Tantrika worship of Devi. When this latter took place is yet far from determined, but there is every probability that it dates long after the beginning of our era. When this latter took place is yet to be determined, but there is every probability that it dates long after the beginning of our era. The materials of the Agni Purana are however, no doubt of some antiquity. The medicine of Sushruta is considerably older than the ninth century; and the grammar of Panini probably precedes Christianity. The chapters on archery and arms, and on regal administration, are also distinguished by an entirely Hindu character, and must have been written long anterior to the Mohammedan invasion. So far the Agni Purana is valuable, as embodying and preserving relics of antiquity, although compiled at a more recent date.
    • H.H.Wilson, in "Oriental Translation Fund, Volume 52 (Google eBook), Volume 52 (1840)}, p.xxxviii

Brahma Vaivarta Purana[edit]

Brahmananda Purana[edit]

  • Brahmananda Purana, has declared in twelve thousand two hundred verses, the magnificence of the egg of Brahma, and in which an account of the future Kalpa is contained, as was revealed by Brahma. It is usually considered to be in much the same predicament as Skanda, no longer procurable in a collective body, but represented by a variety of Khandas and Mahatmyas, professing to be derived from it.
    • H.H.Wilson, in "Oriental Translation Fund, Volume 52 (Google eBook), Volume 52 (1840)},p.liv

Padma Purana[edit]

  • Padma Purana is that which contains an account of the period when the world was a golden lotus (padma)), and of all the occurrences of that time, is therefore called Padma by the wise. It contains fifty five thousand stanzas. The second Purana in the usual lists is always Padma, a very voluminous work, containing according to its own statement, as well as of other authorities fifty-five thousand slokas; an amount not far from the truth. These are divided amongst five books or Khandas: 1. Srishti Khanda, or section on creation; 2. the Bhumi Khanda, description of the earth; 3. the Swarga Khanda, chapter on heaven; 4. the Patala Khanda, chapters on regions below the earth; and 5. The Uttara Khanda, last or supplementary chapter. There is also current a sixth division, the Kriya Yoga Sara, a treatise on the practice of devotion.
    • H.H.Wilson, in "Oriental Translation Fund, Volume 52 (Google eBook), Volume 52 (1840)}, p. xviii

Shiva Purana[edit]

James G. Lochtefeld:...It gives an exhaustive account Shiva’s mythic deeds – many of which have become the common mythic currency for many traditional Hindus – as well as instructions for how, where, and when Shiva is to be worshipped.
  • Most of the puranas are highly sectarian as is the Shiva Purana, which is one of the longer and larger puranas. It gives an exhaustive account Shiva’s mythic deeds – many of which have become the common mythic currency for many traditional Hindus – as well as instructions for how, where, and when Shiva is to be worshipped.
    • James G. Lochtefeld, in "Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z (2002)", p.637

Linga Purana[edit]

B.K. Chaturvedi: Linga Purana, listed eleven in the order of composition, enunciates many rituals in the text with legends and stories that date back to a hoary period. It gives details of Shiva Puja ...
  • Linga Purana, listed eleven in the order of composition, enunciates many rituals in the text with legends and stories that date back to a hoary period. It gives details of Shiva Puja and has two parts – the first part is said to be ‘Poorva Bhaga’ and the other ‘Uttara Bhaga'. It has 180 chapters in the first part and 55 in the second. The language of the Purana is difficult.

Kurma Purana[edit]

Kurma Avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu.
  • Kurma Purana is that in which Janardhana, in the form of a tortoise, in the regions under the earth, explained the objects of life – duty, wealth, pleasure, and liberation - in communication with Indradyumna and the Rishis in the proximity of Sakra, which refers to the Lakshmi Kalpa, and contains seventeen thousand stanzas. The first chapter of the Purana gives an account of itself. Suta the narrator says: “This most excellent Kurma Purana is the fifteenth. Samhitas are fourfold, from the variety of the collections. The Brahmi, Bhagavathi, Sauri, and Vaishnavi (Matrika goddess, are well known to the four Sanhitas [religious character] which confer virtue, wealth, pleasure, and liberation…]].
    • H.H.Wilson, in "Oriental Translation Fund, Volume 52 (Google eBook), Volume 52 (1840)}, p. xlix.

Markandeya Purana[edit]

B.K. Chaturvedi:Markandeya Purana along with Bhagavat Purana is considered to be quite a celebrated work. Ranked seventh in the list of Puranas, probably one of the oldest works, its recitation is believed to free one from taints of sin. Named after the sage Markandeya, who acquired its knowledge from Brahma, the creator,...
  • Markandeya Purana is that in which, commencing with the story of birds that were acquainted with right and wrong, everything is narrated fully by Markandeya, as it was explained by holy sages, in reply to the question of the Muni. It contains nine thousand verses, This is called from its being, in the first instance, narrated by Markendaya Muni, and, in the second instance place by certain fabulous birds.
    • Horace H. Wilson, in "Works:¬Vol. ¬6 : ¬The Vishṅu Purāṅa: a system of Hindu mythology ..., Volume 6 (1864)}, p. Liii
  • Markandeya Purana along with Bhagavat Purana is considered to be quite a celebrated work. Ranked seventh in the list of Puranas, probably one of the oldest works, its recitation is believed to free one from taints of sin. Named after the sage Markandeya, who acquired its knowledge from Brahma, the creator, its narration starts with sage Jaimini (author of Mimamsa sutras) approaching the wise birds (Dronaputras appearing as birds residing in the Himalayas) to get answers at the behest of Markandeya. Initially the Purana gets answers to the five basic questions: How was Vishnu born as a mortal? How Draupadi became the wife of five Pandavas? Why did Balabadra undertake the penance (pilgrimage) for having committed brahmanicide (killing of Brahmins) and why were the children of Draupadi destroyed so unceremoniously? These questions cover the whole gamut of ancient history, logic, morality, astronomy and so forth.

Varaha Purana[edit]

H.H.Wilson:Varaha Purana is that in which the glory of the great Varaha is predominant, as it was revealed to Earth by Vishnu, in connection, wise Munis, with the Manava Kalpa, and which contains twenty-four thousand verses...
  • Varaha Purana is that in which the glory of the great Varaha is predominant, as it was revealed to Earth by Vishnu, in connection, wise Munis, with the ManAva Kalpa, and which contains twenty-four thousand verses...It is narrated by Vishnu as Muni or in the boar incarnation, to the personified Earth. Sumantu, a Muni observed :”The divine Varaha in former times expounded a Purana, for the purpose of solving the perplexity of Earth.”... Like the Linga Purana, it is a religious manual, almost wholly occupied with forms of prayer, and rules for devotional observances, addressed to Vishnu; interspersed with legendary illustrations, most of which are peculiar to itself; though some are taken from the common and ancient stock; many of them, rather incompatibly with the general scope of compilation, relate to the history of Shiva and Durga. A considerable portion of the work is devoted to descriptions. In the sectarianism of the Varaha Purana there is no leaning to the particular adoration of Krishna, nor are the Rathyatra or Janmshtami included amongst the observances enjoined.
    • H.H.Wilson, in "Oriental Translation Fund, Volume 52 (Google eBook), Volume 52 (1840)}, p. xlv

Skanda Purana[edit]

  • Skanda Purana is that in which the six faced deity (Skanda) has related the events of the Tatpurusha Kalpa, enlarged with many tales, and subservient to the duties taught by Maheshwara. It is a said to contain eighty-one thousand one hundred stanzas. In a collective form it is not noteable, but in fragments in the shape of Samhitas, Khandas [chapters], and Mahtmyas; the most celebrated of these portions in Hindustan is the Kali Khanda, a very minute description of temples of Shiva in or adjacent to Benares, mixed with directions for worshipping Mahehwara, and a great variety of legends explanatory on its merits, and of the holiness of Kashi. Many of them are puerile and uninteresting, but some are of a higher character.
    • H.H.Wilson, in "Oriental Translation Fund, Volume 52 (Google eBook), Volume 52 (1840)}, p.xlv-xlvi

External links[edit]

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