A large portion of what we know today and identify as Hinduism actually comes from the legends of the Puranas. Mythologies, sacred rites and rituals, pilgrimages, festivals, and even occasional love stories are all found there in the hindu puranas. Puranas is a massive collection of ancient hindu literature that covers a wide range of subjects, most notably the stories of various gods and deities in Hinduism.
Each purana focuses on a central deity. For example, the Shiva Purana comprises the legends of Lord Shiva (Hinduism’s destruction god), whereas the Bhagavata Purana tells the stories of how Lord Vishnu (Hinduism’s preserver god) plays his duty to maintain and balance the dharmic law in the universe.
Numbers Of Puranas And Their Types
There are a total of 18 Mahapuranas (major puranas) and 18 Upapuranas (minor puranas). They all commonly tell the origins of various deities and myths associated with them. Aside from that, each purana mentions various methods of worship, stories about the major pilgrimage sites, and genealogies of gods, sages, and ancient kings.
These puranas are largely responsible for the huge pantheon of gods and goddesses that we know and adore in Hinduism.
List Of 18 Puranas
|Markandeya Purana |
|Skanda Purana |
|Vamana Purana |
|Vishnu Purana |
|Kurma Purana |
|Brahma Vaivarta Purana |
(ब्रह्म वैवर्त पुराण)
|Matsya Purana |
|Bhagavata Purana |
|Linga Purana |
|Garuda Purana |
|Narada Purana |
|Varaha Purana |
|Brahmanda Purana |
The First Purana, And Who Wrote It?
According to legend, the Narada Purana was the only original purana with more than 100 crores of verses. It was created in pre-history and is still believed to exist in Devloka (or, the abode of the Gods).
However, for the benefit of humanity, Lord Vishnu ordered sage Vasya to divide and simplify the Narada Purana into 18 Mahapuranas. In the Uttara Khanda (236.18-21) of Padma Purana, all of the 18 Puranas are further divided into three types based on their gunas or qualities.
- Sattva or Truth – Under this division, comes Shiva Purana, Linga Purana, Vishnu Purana, Bhagavata Purana, Narada Purana, Garuda Purana, Padma Purana, and Varaha Purana.
- Rajas or Passion – Brahmanda Purana, Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Markandeya Purana, Bhavishya Purana, Vamana Purana, and Brahma Purana.
- Tamas or Ignorance – Matsya Purana, Kurma purana, Skanda Purana, and Agni Purana.
Brahma Purana (ब्रह्म पुराण)
Brahma Purana is also referred to as the Adi Purana because it’s thought to be the first purana ever written by Sage Vasya. It has over 245 chapters and 14 thousands verses in total.
The purana compiles the greatness of Lord Brahma and how he created the cosmic universe. Additionally, it makes numerous references to Lord Vishnu, Vayu, the Markandeya Purana, and even some stories from the epic Mahabharata.
Padma Puran (पद्म पुराण)
Padma Purana is divided into five chapters and has a total of 55 thousands verses. They are, in order, Srishti-Khanda, Swarga-Khanda, Uttar-Khanda, Bhumi-Khanda, and Patala-Khanda.
Several references to the origin of the earth and constellations can be found in this purana. It also describes the four stages of how living beings evolved on Earth, which has been proven scientifically.
Vishnu Purana (विष्णु पुराण)
Among the puranas on this list, Vishnu Purana is one of the most well-known and studied. It is divided into six chapters and has a total of 23 thousands verses. However, according to many scholars it contains genealogical information about various ancient dynasties.
Shiva Purana (शिव पुराण)
Shiva Purana is centred around the destroyer god in hinduism, Lord Shiva. The purana consists of seven samhitas and 24 thousands shlokas. It’s also sometimes called as Vayu Purana.
Mount Kailash and Rudraksha are also mentioned in the Shiva Purana, along with their subsequent significance. The seven names we use in India for the days are also derived from this purana, which is based on the planets of our solar system.
Bhagavata Purana (भागवत पुराण)
Bhagavata Purana is divided into twelve chapters and contains approximately 18 thousands shlokas. The main distinction of this purnana is that it focuses on the spiritual aspect of life.
Through various stories, it elaborates on the significance of understanding the power of devotion and sacrifice. In addition to glorifying Lord Vishnu, it highlights a few pre-historic kings prior to the Mahabharata.
Narada Purana (नारद पुराण)
Narada Purana is divided into two chapters and contains over twenty-five thousands shlokas. According to some scholars, it is also the first purana ever written by Sage Vyas. Therefore, it is said to contain the essence of all 18 Mahapuranas.
Markandeya Purana (मार्कण्डेय पुराण)
When compared to the other puranas on the list, Markandeya Purana is the smallest. It contains over 9,000 shlokas and is divided into 137 chapters. The entire purana is based on the conversion of Rishi Ganini and Markandeya, in which they discuss the importance of profession-based social hierarchies. Aside from that, this purana also contains a few legends about Goddess Durga and Lord Krishna.
Agni Puranas (अग्नि पुराण)
Agni Purana is divided into 383 chapters and contains over 15,000 shlokas. It’s also known as the Indian scholarly encyclopaedia. Agni Purana incorporates many epics in their shortest form, such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Aside from that, it also goes on to discuss other topics such as archery, medicine, and sacrificial rituals.
Bhavishya Purana (भविष्य पुराण)
Bhavishya Purana has over 28 thousands shlokas and is divided into 129 chapters. This purana is well-known for its prophecies about the future. Many of which have already been proven to be correct. Interestingly, many of the purana’s stories and prophecies are very similar to the bible’s.
The purana contains many cryptic hints about the modern-day religions, particularly Islam and Christianity. The mentioned prophecies found in this purna is very accurate. Aside from that, it explains the importance of the Sun to the survival of living beings on Earth and demonstrates how the the planet’s oval orbit causes the change of weather seasons.
Brahma Vaivarta Purana (ब्रह्म वैवर्त पुराण)
The Brahma Vaivarta Purana contains over 18000 slokas and is divided into 218 chapters. This purana primarily glorifies Lord Brahma, Devi Tulsi, Goddess Saraswati, and Lord Krishna. It also contains many shlokas about ayurvedic treatment.
Linga Purana (लिङ्ग पुराण)
Linga Purana is divided into 163 chapters and contains over 11 thousands shlokas. It mentions the creation of the universe and refers to the cosmic time scale by various names.
Varaha Purana (वाराह पुराण)
Varaha Purana is divided into 217 sections and contains over 10 thousands shlokas. This purana contains a detailed description of Lord Vishnu’s Varaha avatar. Aside from that, it mentions various lokas and life on other planets.
Skanda Purana (स्कन्द पुराण)
Skanda Purana is one of the largest puranas in terms of volume. It is divided into six sections and contains over 81 thousands shlokas. This purana describes ancient India’s geography, including its rivers and mountains.
Vamana Purana (वामन पुराण)
Vamana Purana is divided into 95 chapters and contains over 10 thousands shlokas which are divided into two sections. However, only the first section of the purana has been preserved. This purana goes into great detail about Lord Vishnu’s Vamana avatars.
Kurma Purana (कूर्म पुराण)
Kurma Purana is divided into four chapters and contains over 18 thousands shlokas. This purana primarily consists of condensed wisdom from the Vedas and Upanishads. It also mentions the four stages of human evolution.
Matsya Purana (मत्स्य पुराण)
Matsya Purana contains over 14 thousands shlokas and is divided into 290 chapters. This purana primarily tells the legends of Lord Vishnu’s Matsya avatar in great detail. It also discusses the formation of our solar system and the origins of life on Earth.
Garuda Purana (गरुड़ पुराण)
One of the most well-known puranas among Hindus is the Garuda Purana. The number of TV serials produced on this purana reflects its humongous popularity. The purana is divided into 279 chapters and contains over 18 thousands shlokas. It is particularly well-known for its references to the afterlife and the concepts of heaven and hell.
Brahmanda Purana (ब्रह्माण्ड पुराण)
Brahmanda Purana is divided into three sections and contains more than 12 thousands shlokas. It mentions various celestial planets and describes how they are formed in the universe.