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The Puranas contain the essence of the Vedas. They were written to impress the teachings of the Vedas onto the masses and to generate devotion to God in them. They have five characteristics: history, cosmology (with symbolical illustrations of philosophical principles), secondary creation, genealogy of kings, and Manvantaras (the period of Manu's rule consisting of 71 celestial yugas).

The Puranas were meant, not for the scholars, but for ordinary people who could not understand high philosophy and could not study the Vedas. There is an emphasis on the worship of Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver), Shiva (the destroyer), Surya (the Sun God), Ganesha (the elephant headed god known to be the remover of obstructions ), and Shakti (the goddess). All the Puranas belong to the class of Suhrit-Sammitas, or the Friendly Treatises, while the Vedas are called Prabhu-Sammitas or Commanding Treatises with great authority.

There are 18 Puranas : Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, Vishnu Purana, Vayu Purana or Siva Purana, Bhagavata Purana, Narada Purana, Markandeya Purana, Agni Purana, Bhavishya Purana, Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Linga Purana, Varaha Purana, Skanda Purana, Vamana Purana, Kurma Purana, Matsya Purana, Garuda Purana and Brahmanda Purana.

Of these, six are Sattvic Puranas glorifying Vishnu; six are Rajasic, glorifying Brahma; six are Tamasic, glorifying Siva. Vyasa, the son of Rishi Parasara, is said to be the author of them all.

1. BRAHMA PURANA

Contains two parts- Purva Bhaag and Uttar Bhaag. Purva Bhaag contains tales of creation, description of Lord Rama and Lord Krishna.

Uttar Bhaag contains a detailed description of Purshottam Tirtha prominent among all the holy places.

2. PADMA PURANA

Contains five parts. In the first part, sage Pulastya explains the essence of religion to Bheeshma. The second part contains a description of the earth. Third part contains tales of creation as well as geographical description of India. Fourth part describes the life of Lord Rama. In the fifth part, essential knowledge of religion has been discussed in dialogue style between Lord Shiva and Parvati.

3. VISHNU PURANA

Also contains five parts. First part narrates about the creation of the universe, Pralay and churning of the sea. Second part contains geographical description of earth divided into seven islands. Third part describes about the origin of Buddhism. Fourth part contains a description about the populating of the earth from the beginning. Fifth part is entirely devoted to the life and plays of Lord Krishna.

4. SKANDA PURANA

It is the largest Purana. It is mainly devoted to Kartikeya (Skanda), the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Besides, it contains a lot of tales related to Lord Shiv and many holy places of pilgrimage devoted prominently to Shiv.

5. SHIV MAHAPURANA

It is also a huge compilation of tales devoted primarily to the life and plays of Lord Shiva. It is divided into seven Samhitas, which together contain more than twenty-four thousand stanzas.

6. VAMANA PURANA

This Purana is entirely devoted to Vaman avtaar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu narrated in dialogue style between the sage Pulastya and Narad.

7. MAARKANDEYA PURANA

Markandeya Purana begins with a question put forth by sage Jaimini. In reply to this question, sage Markandeya narrates what constitutes the subject matter of this Purana.

8. VARAHA PURANA

It contains the tale of rescue of the earth by ‘Varaha’ avtaar (boar incarnation) of Lord Vishnu.

9. BRAHMA VAIVAT PURANA

This Purana contains four parts. First part contains the tale of creation. Second part contains tales related to goddesses. Third part contains tales related to Lord Ganesh. In the fourth part, tales related to the life and plays of Lord Krishna have been given.

10. AGNI PURANA

This Purana is devoted to Agni. It is presented in preaching style by Agni to sage Vashishta. It contains the description of various incarnations of God, Lord Rama and Krishna as well as of the earth and stars.

11. BHAVISHYA PURANA

This Purana contains five Parvas (parts). The first part contains description of creation. Second, third and fourth parts contain detailed description of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Surya respectively. In the fifth part, description of heaven has been given.

12. KURMA PURANA

Lord Himself has narrated this Purana in Kurma (tortoise) incarnation to Narad. Narad narrated it to Sutaji who in his term narrated it to an assembly of great sages.

13. MATSYA PURANA

Tales of Lord’s fish incarnation and preservation of Manu and the seeds of all life during Pralay by Matsya avtaar is the main theme of this Purana.

14. GARUDA PURANA

In Garuda Purana, Lord Vishnu preaches his vehicle, Garuda about the subtleties of religion and life. Besides, trivial tales related to religion and moral, this Purana also contains description of diamond like jewels and the ways to identify best kind of jewels.

15. BRAHMAAND PURANA

It is the last of the eighteen Puranas. Presently it is available in different pieces and no connection seems to exist between them. Once, it had contained Aadhyatma Ramayana.

16. SHRIMAD BHAGWAT PURANA

Because of its beautiful presentation style, Shrimad Bhagwat Purana has a high rank in Sanskrit literature. It contains tales related to various incarnations of Lord Vishnu and mainly deals with the life and plays of Lord Krishna.

17. LINGA PURANA

Preaching about the glory of Lord Shiva and Linga Puja is the main objective of this Purana. In two parts, this Purana contains tales related to the creation of the universe, origin of Linga, and of all the Vedas, Brahma, Vishnu etc. from this Linga.

18. NARAD PURANA

It is a Vaishnav Purana presented in a style of dialogue between Narad and Sanat kumar. This Purana contains detailed description of major places of pilgrimage.

Rameshwar Prasad invites you to the Wonderful Spiritual World

  

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