Puranas are the foremost ancient texts of world literature. In the vast landscape of Hindu mythology, the 18 Puranas stand as pillars of wisdom and storytelling. The morality written in them is still relevant, and valuable. They are the cornerstone of human civilization. We will also talk about how studying the Puranas can help us understand ourselves and the world around us better in the modern era.
Introduction: 18 Puranas
The Sanskrit word “Pura,” which means “ancient” or “old,” is the source of the English word “Purana.” The Puranas are a body of classical Hindu literature that is highly regarded for its relevance in Hindu mythology, religion, and culture. They are a large source of information on many topics, including mythology, history, geography, cosmology, and philosophy.
Total 36 Puranas
There are 18 Maha (major) and 18 Upa (minor) Puranas. Hence, the total number of Puranas is 36. The 18 Puranas are divided into 3 parts. The first 12 divided into two belongs to the mode of goodness and passion and the last 6 in the mode of ignorance. Each of the 18 Puranas is distinct in content and style, focused on a specific deity or group of deities. They give a comprehensive picture of Hinduism, its beliefs, and practices, and they remain an important component of Hindu society today.
Puranas Compiled by Saga Veda Vyas
It is not known who wrote them, but the original draft of Puranas was compiled by Maharishi Veda Vyas. He compiled 18 Puranas in the Sanskrit language in a cave near the confluence of the Alakanda and Saraswati Rivers in Mana near Badrinath, a famous holy place known as Char Dham in India.
Significance of Puranas
The 18 Puranas are a significant repository of knowledge, tradition, and ideals that have influenced Indian society and culture for millennia. They are an essential component of India’s past and identity since their importance transcends the confines of religion and culture. Therefore, it is advised that people, irrespective of their religious beliefs, take the time to study the Puranas in order to comprehend India’s rich cultural legacy more fully.
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18 Puranas Name List:
- Agni Purana
- Bhavishya Purana
- Brahmavaivarta Purana
- Bhagavata Purana
- Brahmanda Purana
- Garuda Purana
- Kurma Purana
- Linga Purana
- Markandeya Purana
- Matsya Purana
- Narada Purana
- Padma Purana
- Shiva Purana
- Skanda Purana
- Varaha Purana
- Vamana Purana
- Vishnu Purana
- Vayu Purana
Exploring The 18 Puranas
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1. Agni Purana: Fire as a Purifying Force
The Agni Purana emphasizes the ritualistic aspects of Hinduism, including sacrificial ceremonies. It venerates Agni, the fire deity, as a purifying force and imparts guidelines for conducting rituals.
2. Bhagavata Purana: Krishna’s Divine Exploits
A beloved text among devotees of Lord Krishna, the Bhagavata Purana narrates the divine exploits of Krishna, portraying him as both a playful child and a profound philosopher. It emphasizes devotion (bhakti) as a means to attain spiritual enlightenment.
3. Bhavishya Purana: Prophecies and Legends
Unlike other Puranas, the Bhavishya Purana focuses on prophecies and predictions about the future. It also includes historical narratives and legends.
4. Brahmanda Purana: The Cosmic Egg
The Brahmanda Purana elaborates on the concept of the cosmic egg (Brahmanda) and offers insights into rituals, astronomy, and genealogies.
5. Brahma Vaivarta Purana: Lord Krishna’s Exploits
The Brahma Vaivarta Purana predominantly narrates Lord Krishna’s life, including his childhood adventures, love stories, and divine wisdom.
6. Garuda Purana: Dialogue with Garuda
In the Garuda Purana, Lord Vishnu imparts profound wisdom to Garuda, the mythical bird. It discusses the cycle of birth and death, funeral rites, and the nature of the soul.
7. Kurma Purana: The Tortoise Incarnation
Centered around Lord Vishnu’s second incarnation as a tortoise, the Kurma Purana addresses a wide array of topics, including astronomy, geography, and legends.
8. Linga Purana: Worship of the Lingam
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Linga Purana emphasizes the significance of Shiva Lingam worship. It also covers diverse topics such as cosmology, yoga, and festivals.
9. Markandeya Purana: Sage Markandeya’s Teachings
The Markandeya Purana features teachings imparted by Sage Markandeya. It covers diverse subjects such as cosmology, theology, and ethical conduct.
10. Matsya Purana: The Fish Incarnation
The Matsya Purana recounts the tale of Lord Vishnu’s first incarnation as a fish. It includes cosmological narratives, genealogies, and discussions on dharma and ethics.
11. Narada Purana: Wisdom from Sage Narada
Attributed to the sage Narada, the Narada Purana imparts spiritual teachings and ethical guidelines. It includes stories that emphasize the importance of devotion and righteous conduct.
12. Padma Purana: Lotus-born Creation
The Padma Purana gets its name from a legend where the universe emerges from Lord Brahma’s lotus navel. It discusses rituals, pilgrimage sites, and the nature of reality.
13. Shiva Purana: Glory of Lord Shiva
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Shiva Purana celebrates his divine attributes and chronicles the tales of his manifestations. It also presents the philosophical concepts of Advaita (non-dualism) and Shiva’s role as the ultimate reality.
14. Skanda Purana: Glory of Lord Skanda
Dedicated to Lord Skanda (Kartikeya), the Skanda Purana glorifies his valor and narrates the stories of his devotees. It encompasses a diverse range of subjects, from cosmology to festivals.
15. Vishnu Purana: Unveiling the Cosmic Form
In the Vishnu Purana, the grandeur of Lord Vishnu is exalted. It provides insights into his various incarnations (avatars) and elucidates his cosmic form that transcends human comprehension.
16. Varaha Purana: The Boar Incarnation
Narrating the legend of Lord Vishnu’s boar incarnation, the Varaha Purana also expounds upon the significance of pilgrimage sites and rituals.
17. Vamana Purana: The Dwarf Incarnation
Centered around Lord Vishnu’s dwarf incarnation, the Vamana Purana discusses dharma, devotion, and the cyclical nature of time.
18. Vayu Purana: Insights into Cosmology
The Vayu Purana delves into cosmological matters, detailing the creation and dissolution of the universe. It expounds upon the concept of cyclical time, where the cosmos undergoes repetitive cycles of creation, preservation, and destruction.
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We also looked at the relevance of deities, creation and destruction myths, pilgrimage places, and the Puranas’ function in advancing Dharma.
Please don’t read the Vedas and Puranas by yourself. Try to approach a spiritual master, a pure Vaishnava Acharya under a bonafide Sampradaya.