The Puranas

Categorized List of the 18 Puranas

Puranas with Lord Vishnu as the Predominating Deity (Sattva Guna):

1) Vishnu Purana - 23,000 verses.
his is the oldest and was narrated by Parasara, father of Veda Vyasa to his disciple Maitreya. This was very popular and Sri Sankaracharaya and Ramanujacharya took quotes from this. Maurya dynasty was mentioned in this work.
Stories of various devotees; a description of varnasrama; the six angas of the Veda; a description of the age of Kali; description of Sveta-Varaha Kalpa, Vishnu dharmotara.

2) Naradiya Purana - 25,000 verses.

This Purana contains a synopsis of everything; it describes Jagannatha Puri, Dwaraka, Badrinatha, etc.The great 4 sages Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanathana and Sanath sujatha explained the doctrines of Vishnu Bhakti to Narada through simple stories. It also contains descriptions of feasts and ceremonies observed by the devotees of Vishnu.

3) Padma Purana - 55,000 verses.

Contains the glory of Srimad-Bhagavatam; the stories of Rama, Jagannatha, Matsya, Ekadasi, Bhrgu, etc.And This is a huge Puranam. It describes the creation, geneology of kings, many sacred places of pilgrimage etc. In this too many ceremonies to be observed by the devotees are described. It also contains the stories of Ramayana, Story of Sakuntala, Ekadasi Mahatmyam etc.

4) Garuda Purana - 19,000 verses.

Lord Vishnu himself to his vehicle Garuda narrated this. Methods to worship, feasts and ceremonies are described. It is also described about the soul after death, funeral rites etc.Subject of Bhagavad-gita; reincarnation; visnu-sahasra-nama; description of Tarsya Kalpa.

5) Varaha Purana - 24,000 verses.

Describes different vratas; Lord Vishnu's glories.
This was narrated by Lord Vishnu in the form of Varaha (boar) to the Mother earth (Bhumadevi). It is describing the daily life of a devotee of Lord Vishnu

6) Bhagavata Purana - 18,000 verses. (included by some in the mode of goodness)

The most popular Puranam. It has been translated almost in all the major Indian languages. There are twelve books in it and the 10th book describes the birth of Lord Sri Krishna. 24 incarnations of Lord Vishnu is described and large number of devotional poems with high philosophical content.

Puranas with Lord Brahma as the Predominating Deity (Rajo Guna):

7) Brahmanda Purana - 12,000 verses.

Describes the vedangas; describes the Adi Kalpa.
This is in the form dialogue between Siva and Parvathi.

8) Brahmavaivarta Purana - 18,000 verses.

Contains the glories and pastimes of Radha and Krishna.
it is described that the whole universe is the illusory trasformation of Supreme Being. In the fourth section of this Puranam it is beautifully described about Krishna and Radha. Krishna is the Supremem God and Radha is Maya (illusionary power of God), who is inseparable from him but always controlled by Him. Goloka (world of cows) is their abode which is far beyond Vaikunta (Mokshalokam) and the great devotees who have attained sameness of form with Lord Krishna stay here. This is the source of Jayadeva’s Gita-Govindam.

9) Markandeya Purana - 9,000 verses.

Stories of Rama and Krishna.
Elaborate descriptions of creation and deluge, stories of Vedic Gods like The Sun, Fire God etc., are available in this. This is close to Vedic Philosophy. The Devi Mahatmyam or Durga Saptasati is a part of it.

10) Bhavisya Purana - 14,500 verses.

Talking about future particularly Kaliyuga. Duties of four castes and methods to worship the Sun, Agni and Nagas.

11) Vamana Purana - 10,000 verses.

Starting with the description of Vamana Avatar and proceeds to the worship of Sivalinga and pilgrimage to Siva temples.

12) Brahma Purana - 10,000 verses.

Puranas with Lord Shiva as the Predominating Deity (Tamo Guna):
This is known as the first Puranam. This was narrated by the creator Brahma to Daksha Prajapathi. It contains greatness of holy places.

13) Matsya Purana - 14,000 verses.

Lord Vishnu narrated this in the form Fish to Manu, the first King after the deluge (pralaya). Holy places, festivals, omens and rites to be observed by Saivaites and Vaishnavaites are described. References of South India and South Indian Architecture are available.

14) Kurma Purana - 17,000 verses.

Contains the conversation between Krishna and the Sun-god (mentioned in Bhagavad-gita); Danvantari; Describes the Lakshmi Kalpa.

15) Linga Purana - 10,000 verses.

Contains the glory of Lord Nrismhadeva; Janardhana; the story of Ambarisa; the glories of Gayatri.

16) Shiva Purana - 24,000 verses.

This forms part of Vayu Puranam and hence many lists include Vayupuranam in the place of this Puranam. Banabhatta refers this (Vayu) purnam as it was recited everyday in his village. The Gupta kings are mentioned in this. This glorifies the worship of Lord Shiva and is narrated by Vayu, the wind God.

17) Skanda Purana - 81,000 verses.

This is a big puranam consisting of 81,000 slokas. Birth Skanda the war God is described in this. Based on this Kalidasa composed Kumarasambhava.

18) Agni Purana - 15,400 verses.

Agni, the fire God to sage Vasishta, narrated this. It is describing Siva and Durga cult. This Purana contains many modern topics. It is almost an encyclopaedia in its contents dealing with subjects like Ayurveda (Indian Medicine), Silpa Sastra (Architecture), Jyothish (Astrology and Astronomy), Poetics etc.

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