The Puranas


  • The Puranas occupy a unique position in the sacred literature of the Hindus.
  • They are regarded next in importance only to the Vedas and the Epics.
  • There are said to be 18 Puranas and about the same number of Upapuranas.
  • Their origin can be traced as far back as the time when Buddhism was gaining importance and was a major opponent of the Brahmanic culture.
The Eighteen Puranas
1 Brahma Purana 2 Vishnu Purana
3 Shiva Purana 4 Padma Purana
5 Shrimad Bhagwat Purana 6 Agni Purana
7 Narad Purana 8 Markandey Purana
9 Bhavishya Purana 10 Ling Purana
11 Varah Purana 12 Vaman Purana
13 Brahm Vaivertya Purana 14 Shanda Purana
15 Surya Purana 16 Matsya Purana
17 Garuda Purana 18 Brahmand Purana
  • Puranas are mythological works which propagate religious and spiritual messages through parables and fables.
  • They have a potent influence in the development of the religious lives of the people.
  • The Puranas follow the lines of the epics, and the earliest Puranas were compiled in the Gupta period.
  • They are full of myths, stories, legends and sermons that were meant for the education of the common people.
  • These Puranas contain important geographical information / histories and deal with the mysteries of creation, re-creation and dynastic genealogies.
  • This period also saw the compilation of various smritis or law books written in verse.
  • The phase of writing commentaries on the smritis begins after the Gupta period.
  • Amarasimha the Sanskrit Lexicographer, states that a Purana should describe five topics; (1) Sarga (Creation) (2) Pratisarga (Secondary creation) (3) Vemsa (Geneology) (4) Manvantara (Manu periods) and (5) Vamsanucarita (dynastic history)

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