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सर्वे जनाः सुखिनो भवन्तु

सत्यं वद । धर्मं चर


Puraanas are integral part of sanaatanadharma and have come into existence to spread the vedic knowledge to the common man.  There are asthaadasha mahaa puraanas to convey the essence of vedic information. इतिहास​पुराणाभ्यां वेदं समुपबृह्नयेत् ।

 “Puraanas means – puraa api navam”. Meaning – though they are old, but they are also always new and presesented in a new way. While vedas are prabhusammitam(dictums) puraanas are mitrasammitam(advisory).

सर्गश्च प्रतिसर्गश्च वम्शो मन्वन्तराणि च ।

वम्शानुचरितं चेति पुराणं पञ्चलक्षणम् ॥

“sargashcha pratisargashcha vamsho manvantaraani cha,

vamshaanucharitam cheti puraanam pancha lakshanam”

 puraanaas got five characteristics. They speak of:

  1. “sarga” – Means the origin of “srushthi” – Creation of the Universe
  2. 2. “prati sarga” -Means” pralayam”. Destruction of the Universe.

3.“vamsha” Means theHistory of “devatas, rushis and raajas (Kings) i.e. Dynasties of kings are explained here.

  1. “manvantara-Means the time scales of manvantara. Calculation of the time that occurs between two successive manvantaras.
  2. “vamshaanucharitam” -Means the history that follows vamshas. Here the history of the kings of soorya vamsha and chandra vamsa are given.

In addition, we find many details of various “prayers, vratas, upavaasas, teerthas, yaatraa sthalas, jyotisham, anotomy of human body, aayurvedam, vyaakaranam etc shaastras etc etc” which form the basic guidelines for sanaatanadharma //veda samskruti according to postulates prescribed in vedas.”

It is understood that the 18 mahaa puraanas were written by vedavyaasa. They are given by a shloka,as follows:

द्वयं द्वयं चैव ब्रत्रयं चतुष्टयम्।

अ-ना-प-लिं-ग-कू-स्का-नि पुराणानि प्रचक्ष्यन्ते ।।

ma dvayam bha dvayam chaiva bra trayam va chatushtayam |

Aa naa pa linga koo skaa ni puraanaani prachakshyante ||

They are.

  1. 1. matsya puraanam maarkandeya puraanam 3. bhaagavata puraanam
  2. bhavishya puraanam 5. brahmaanda puraanam 6. brahmaavaivarta puraanam
  3. brahmaa puraanam 8. vaamana puraanam 9. varaaha puraanam
  4. vishnu puraanam 11. vaayu puraanam 12.  agni puraanam
  5. naarada puraanam 14. padma puraanam 15. linga puraanam
  6. garuda puraanam 17. koorma puraanam 18.  skaanda puraanam.

In addition, there are 18 upa puraanas; that were also said to be written by vedavyaasa and many other puraanass were also written by others in due course of time.

The brief contents of these 18 mahaa puraanas are as follows.

1..mastya puraana: Histories of various dynasties are given here. For history of Kings from aandhra-shaatavaahanas, this is authority/pramaana. Here various arts/ kalas from southern part of bhaarata varsha namely: vaastu, sthaapatya kala, shilpa kala and also various pious days in the year called parva dinaani, teerthas, principles of shaivism and vaishnavism are described.

2.maarkandeya puraana: Here indra, brahmaa, soorya are considered as prime devatas. The durga stuti and mahaatmyam is also described.

3.bhaagavata puraana: This has 12 skandas and 1800 shlokas. It is famous for judging the aadhyaatmika knowledge of a person. Tenth skandha is famous for the krishnaavataara of vishnu deva. This is pramaana grantha for vaishnavism and considered as equal in status with raamaayana and mahaabhaarata   among vedic scriptures.

4.bhavishya puraana: Here jyotisha, one of the vedaangas, has taken primary role. What is going to happen in future is predicted. varna vyavastha, the araadhanaa of agni, soorya and naagas are special in this puraana. The continuation of this puraana is “bhavishyottara puraana.”

5.brahmaanda puraana: There are teerthas, and various upaakhyaanas detailed here. adhyaatmaa raamaayana is part of this puraana.

6.brahmaavaivarta puraana: Here srushti is explained with brahmaa as main diety for srushthi. It has four khandas namely brahmaa-prakruti-ganesha-krishna.

7.brahma puraana:  This is also called aadi puraanaa. devataa soorya is considered as aadi deva shiva. Continuation of this puraanaa (parishishtam) is considered as soura puraana.

8.vaamana puraana: The vaamana avataara story is main here. This is 5th avaataara of dasha avataaras of vishnu in the process of dharma samsthaapanaa. The story of raakshasa king and devotee of vishnu, Bali the grandson of prahlaada and great grandson of hiranyakashipu are given. The scaling of trilokas by three steps of vaamana is from this puraana.

9.varaaha puraana: This puraana is the story of third avataara out of dashaavataaras of vishnu. The relocation of prithvi/the mother earth by varaahaavataara after killing the raakshasa hiranyaaksha, the elder brother of raakshasa hiranyakashipu who was killed in narasimhaavataara. nachiketopaakhyaanam and mathuraa mahatmyam are also part of this puraana.

10.vishnu puraana: This puraana has a special place out of all puraanas w.r.t daarshanikata, saahityam, and charitra/aitihaashikam. This is highly revered puraanaa for vaishnavites. All avataaras of vishnu are given here including prime dasha avataaras.  The procedure for upaasana of vishnu is given here. The dynasty of maurya vamsha appears in this puraana and is considered as praamaanika grantha for the history of bharata varsha.

11.agni puraana: This be called “kosha grantha” as it contains architecture alankaara shaastra, aayurveda, vruksha aayurveda, naaatya shaastra, vaidic karma kaandas, political science principles, sthaapatya (temple architechure)etc,.

12.vaayu puraanaa: This is also shiva puraana. Here shiva is described as main deity and all stories connected with shiva appear here. This is also a very prominent puraana.

13.naarada puraana: This is also called bruhannaradeeya puraana.

14.padma puraana: This puraanaa has five chapters by names: srushthi, bhoomi, svarga, paataala, uttara. This puraana explains about raadhaamaadhava leela with clarity. maahaamtyam of various scriptures including bhaagavata is given here.

15.linga puraana: This puraana is written in 11000 shlokas. The 28 avaataaras of shiva are detailed here. The speciality of this puraanaa is the shiva linga pooja.

16.garuda puraana: This puraana too has 11000 shlokas. ganitam, predictive astrology, vyaakarana shaastra, aayurveda, shraardha tarpana vidhi, pretatva mukti (the journey of aatmaa after leaving the body; the procedures and rules of naraka)etc, are given here. If this puraana paaraayana is done during preta karma time, it is considered that pretaatmaa will get moksha or relieved of paapa karma experienced during lifetime of the body.

17.koorma puraana: eeshvara tattva, eeshvara geetaa, vyaasa geetaa, procedure for getting jnaana, the jeevan mukti, etc and procedures of samaadhi. are discussed in this puraana.

18.skaanda puraana:  This has five samhitas by name: sanatkumaareeya, braahmee, vaishnavee, shaankaree(aagastyee) and sauree. By name kaashee khanda there are 50 chapters. The Importance of vaaranaashi/kaashi is given here. Mainly devotion/bhakti of shiva is explained here. Many vratas including famous satyanaaraayana vratam is part of this puraana. Many piligrimage places with maahatmyam are detailed in this puraana.

The above gives an account of all 18 puraanas very briefly.

 puraanas are encyclopedia of principles of sanaatanadharma, advisory scriptures of vedic dictums, history of vedabhoomi, science of universe, stories of renouned people/rulers of past, customs and manners of humanity since the beginning of shrushti and suitable to all sections of people following various ways of beliefs and life pattern.

In this section the dharma sootras as per vedas are explained by selecting extracts from the puraanas, so that it is easy to understand.

The following points shall be discussed.

  1. Are Vedas authentic scripts of sanaatanadharma, and itihaasa-puraanas not?
  2. Why Names of avataaras of vishnu and other devatas missing in the vedas?
  3. Who is the supreme God as per puraanass and itihaasas?
  4. Do we need special understanding while reading taamasa puraanas?
  5. Are there contradictions in puraanas?