Mahapuranas


SanskAI

Administrator
Staff member
Of the many texts designated 'Puranas' the most important are the Mahāpurāṇas or the major Puranas. These are said to be eighteen in number, divided into three groups of six, though they are not always counted in the same way.In the Vishnu Puran Part 3 Section 6(21-24) the list of Mahapuranas is mentioned.


S.No.Purana NameVerses numberComments
1Brahma10,000 versesSometimes also called Adi Purana, because many Mahapuranas lists put it first of 18. The text has 245 chapters, shares many passages with Vishnu, Vayu, Markendeya Puranas, and with the Mahabharata. Includes mythology, theory of war, art work in temples, and other cultural topics. Describes holy places in Odisha, and weaves themes of Vishnu and Shiva, but hardly any mention of deity Brahma despite the title.
2Padma55,000 versesA large compilation of diverse topics, it escribes cosmology, the world and nature of life from the perspective of Vishnu. It also discusses festivals, numerous legends, geography of rivers and regions from northwest India to Bengal to the kingdom of Tripura, major sages of India, various Avatars of Vishnu and his cooperation with Shiva, a story of Rama-Sita that is different from the Hindu epic Ramayana. The north Indian manuscripts of Padma Purana are very different from south Indian versions, and the various recensions in both groups in different languages (Devanagari and Bengali, for example) show major inconsistencies. Like the Skanda Purana, it is a detailed treatise on travel and pilgrimage centers in India.
3Vishnu23,000 versesOne of the most studied and circulated Puranas, it also contains genealogical details of various dynasties. Better preserved after the 17th century, but exists in inconsistent versions, more ancient pre-15th century versions are very different from modern versions, with some versions discussing Buddhism and Jainism. Some chapters likely composed in Kashmir and Punjab region of South Asia. A Vaishnavism text, focused on Vishnu.
4Shiva24,000 versesDiscusses Shiva, and stories about him.
5Bhagavata18,000 versesThe most studied and popular of the Puranas, telling of Vishnu's Avatars, and of Vaishnavism. It contains genealogical details of various dynasties. Numerous inconsistent versions of this text and historical manuscripts exist, in many Indian languages. Influential and elaborated during Bhakti movement.
6Narada25,000 versesAlso called Naradiya Purana. Discusses the four Vedas and the six Vedangas. Dedicates one chapter each, from Chapters 92 to 109, to summarize the other 17 Maha Puranas and itself. Lists major rivers of India and places of pilgrimage, and a short tour guide for each. Includes discussion of various philosophies, soteriology, planets, astronomy, myths and characteristics of major deities including Vishnu, Shiva, Devi, Krishna, Rama, Lakshmi and others.
7Markandeya9,000 versesDescribes Vindhya Range and western India. Probably composed in the valleys of Narmada and Tapti rivers, in Maharashtra and Gujarat. Named after sage Markandeya, a student of Brahma. Contains chapters on dharma and on Hindu epic Mahabharata. The Purana includes Devi Mahatmyam of Shaktism.
8Agni15,400 versesContains encyclopedic information. Includes geography of Mithila (Bihar and neighboring states), cultural history, politics, education system, iconography, taxation theories, organization of army, theories on proper causes for war, diplomacy, local laws, building public projects, water distribution methods, trees and plants, medicine, Vastu Shastra (architecture), gemology, grammar, metrics, poetry, food, rituals and numerous other topics.
9Bhavishya14,500 versesThe Bhavishya Purana (Bhaviṣya Purāṇa, lit. "Future Purana") is one of the eighteen major works in the Purana genre of Hinduism, written in Sanskrit.The title Bhavishya means "future" and implies it is a work that contains prophecies regarding the future, however, the "prophecy" parts of the extant manuscripts are a modern era addition and hence not an integral part of the Bhavishya Purana.Those sections of the surviving manuscripts that are dated to be older, are partly borrowed from other Indian texts such as Brihat Samhita and Shamba Purana.
10Brahmavaivarta18,000 versesIt is related by Savarni to Narada, and centres around the greatness of Krishna and Radha. In this, the story of Brahma-varaha is repeatedly told. Notable for asserting that Krishna is the supreme reality and the gods Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma are incarnations of him. Mentions geography and rivers such as Ganga to Kaveri.
11Linga11,000 versesDiscusses Lingam, symbol of Shiva, and origin of the universe as per Shaivism. It also contains many stories of Lingam, one of which entails how Agni Lingam solved a dispute between Vishnu and Brahma.
12Varaha24,000 versesPrimarily Vishnu-related worship manual, with large Mahatmya sections or travel guide to Mathura and Nepal. Presentation focuses on Varaha as incarnation of Narayana, but rarely uses the terms Krishna or Vasudeva. Many illustrations also involve Shiva and Durga.
13Skanda81,100 versesDescribes the birth of Skanda (or Karthikeya), son of Shiva. The longest Purana, it is an extraordinarily meticulous pilgrimage guide, containing geographical locations of pilgrimage centers in India, with related legends, parables, hymns and stories. Many untraced quotes are attributed to this text.
14Vamana10,000 versesDescribes North India, particularly Himalayan foothills region.
15Kurma17,000 versesContains a combination of Vishnu and Shiva related legends, mythology, Tirtha (pilgrimage) and theology
16Matsya14,000 versesAn encyclopedia of diverse topics. Narrates the story of Matsya, the first of ten major Avatars of Vishnu. Likely composed in west India, by people aware of geographical details of the Narmada river. Includes legends about Brahma and Saraswati. It also contains a controversial genealogical details of various dynasties.
17Garuda19,000 versesAn encyclopedia of diverse topics. Primarily about Vishnu, but praises all gods. Describes how Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma collaborate. Many chapters are a dialogue between Vishnu and the bird-vehicle Garuda. Cosmology, Describes cosmology, relationship between gods. Discusses ethics, what are crimes, good versus evil, various schools of Hindu philosophies, the theory of Yoga, the theory of "heaven and hell" with "karma and rebirth", includes Upanishadic discussion of self-knowledge as a means of moksha. Includes chapters on rivers, geography of Bharat (India) and other nations on earth, types of minerals and stones, testing methods for stones for their quality, various diseases and their symptoms, various medicines, aphrodisiacs, prophylactics, Hindu calendar and its basis, astronomy, moon, planets, astrology, architecture, building home, essential features of a temple, rites of passage, virtues such as compassion, charity and gift making, economy, thrift, duties of a king, politics, state officials and their roles and how to appointment them, genre of literature, rules of grammar, and other topics. The final chapters discuss how to practice Yoga (Samkhya and Advaita types), personal development and the benefits of self-knowledge.
18Brahmanda12,000 versesOne of the earliest composed Puranas, it contains a controversial genealogical details of various dynasties. Includes Lalita Sahasranamam, law codes, system of governance, administration, diplomacy, trade, ethics. Old manuscripts of Brahmanda Purana have been found in the Hindu literature collections of Bali, Indonesia.
 
Top