While these narratives, written in couplets, describe the cosmology of the Hindu universe and the genealogy of gods, kings and the first humans (Manus), they also provide historical insights into the regional composition of India during this era. Each titled work consists of material that has grown by numerous accretions in successive historical eras. There are numerous Sthala Puranas, most written in vernaculars, some with Sanskrit versions as well. Stephen Knapp (2005), The Heart of Hinduism. It is written there! It is not right to view history merely as an account of the rise and fall of empires or of wars, invasions, dynasties amd so on. ", Similarly, the Shatapatha Brahmana (XI.5.6.8) mentions Itihasapuranam (as one compound word) and recommends that on the 9th day of Pariplava, the hotr priest should narrate some Purana because "the Purana is the Veda, this it is" (XIII.4.3.13). Greg Bailey (2001), Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy (Editor: Oliver Leaman), Routledge. [102] Some Indologists, in colonial tradition of scholarship, treat the Puranic texts as scriptures or useful source of religious contents. [126], The Puranic literature, suggests Khanna, influenced "acculturation and accommodation" of a diversity of people, with different languages and from different economic classes, across different kingdoms and traditions, catalyzing the syncretic "cultural mosaic of Hinduism". [119][120], Horace Hayman Wilson published one of the earliest English translations of one version of the Vishnu Purana in 1840. [2][4][5] The content is highly inconsistent across the Puranas, and each Purana has survived in numerous manuscripts which are themselves inconsistent. The study of Puranas as a religious text remains a controversial subject. There are 17 or 18 canonical Puranas, divided into three categories, each named after one of the deities: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The questions of primary concern to those authors are how to live a pious life and how to worship the gods. [80] The bulk of these texts in Flood's view were established by 500 CE, in the Gupta era though amendments were made later. The Puranas, along with the Vedas and Itihaasas form the massive … [33] Neither the author name nor the year of their composition were recorded or preserved, over the centuries, as the documents were copied from one generation to another. Scholars have long acknowledged the existence of Purana manuscripts that "seem to differ much from printed edition", and it is unclear which one is accurate, and whether conclusions drawn from the randomly or cherrypicked printed version were universal over geography or time. Ronald Inden (2000), Querying the Medieval : Texts and the History of Practices in South Asia, Oxford University Press. Vishnu Purana. This, states Greg Bailey, may have allowed the Hindu culture to "preserve the old while constantly coming to terms with the new", and "if they are anything, they are records of cultural adaptation and transformation" over the last 2,000 years. It is not known who wrote them, but the original draft of Puranas was compiled by Sage Vyasa. [88] Scholars such as Viman Chandra Bhattacharya and PV Kane state that the Puranas are a continuation and development of the Vedas. In contrast to the vedas, the Puranas are written in easy language and in the form of stories so that people can derive enjoyment from them as well as learn about religious matters.. They contain the essence of the Vedas. [3] The Hindu Puranas are anonymous texts and likely the work of many authors over the centuries; in contrast, most Jaina Puranas can be dated and their authors assigned. for the better established and more coherent puranas such as Bhagavata and Vishnu, the dates proposed by scholars continue to vary widely and endlessly. Maridas Poullé (Mariyadas Pillai) published a French translation from a Tamil version of the Bhagavata Purana in 1788, and this was widely distributed in Europe becoming an introduction to the 18th-century Hindu culture and Hinduism to many Europeans during the colonial era. [121] The same manuscript, and Wilson's translation, was reinterpreted by Manmatha Nath Dutt, and published in 1896. [33], In early 20th-century, some regional records were found to be more consistent, such as for the Hindu dynasties in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh. On the contrary, Daksha and the other Rishis, the elders of mankind, tend perpetually to influence its renovation: whilst the Manus and their sons, the heroes endowed with mighty power, and treading in the path of truth, as constantly contribute to its preservation. Thomas Colburn (2002), Devī-māhātmya: The Crystallization of the Goddess Tradition, Motilal Banarsidass. The Puranas were written to popularise the religion of the Vedas. There are also many other works termed Purana, known as 'Upapuranas.' The Puranas, literally ''ancient'' writings, function as on… King Pradyota happily honored him. Creation and dissolution (sarga, “emission,” and samhara, “gathering in”) occur when Prajapati, a creator figure of the Vedic age, emits the universe and opens it, but everything is always in it, just alternately revealed (manifest) or concealed (latent); sarga lets it out, and samhara pulls it back in. According to Matysa Purana, Lord Brahma composed Puranas for the first time. [108], Despite the diversity and wealth of manuscripts from ancient and medieval India that have survived into the modern times, there is a paucity of historical data in them. [5], Some scholars such as Govinda Das suggest that the Puranas claim a link to the Vedas but in name only, not in substance. The Bhagavata Purana, literally meaning Divine-Eternal Tales of The Supreme Lord, is considered the most important of the Puranas. Sthala Puranas. The representative of Viṣṇu on earth is named the Fortunate One in this book. R Champakalakshmi (2012), Cultural History of Medieval India (Editor: M Khanna), Berghahn. Puranas were written almost entirely in narrative couplets, in much the same easy flowing style as the two great Sanskrit epic poems, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. [127] These have been dynamic open texts, composed socially, over time. Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature (1995 Edition), Article on Puranas. Sara Schastok (1997), The Śāmalājī Sculptures and 6th Century Art in Western India, BRILL. In this, the story of Brahma-varaha is repeatedly told. In the final analysis, all Puranas weave their legends to celebrate pluralism, and accept the other two and all gods in Hindu pantheon as personalized form but equivalent essence of the Ultimate Reality called Brahman. [2] The first version of various Puranas were likely to be composed between 3rd- and 10th-century CE. [3] They are best described, states John Cort, as post-scripture literary corpus based upon themes found in Jain scriptures. [88] In contrast, Purana literature is evidently intended to serve as a complement to the Vedas, states Vans Kennedy. The Puranas were one of the first texts to be converted from oral representation to the written word (Brown 76). Gregor Maehle (2009), Ashtanga Yoga, New World, R Andriaensen et al (1994), Towards a critical edition of the Skandapurana, Indo-Iranian Journal, Vol. . Same purana is available in differnt versions in south India and North India. [63][64], This corpus of texts tells of the origins and traditions of particular Tamil Shiva temples or shrines. There are traditionally 18 Puranas, but there are several different lists of the 18, as well as some lists of more or fewer than 18. The wife of Adharma (vice, wrong, evil) was Hinsá (violence), on whom he begot a son Anrita (falsehood), and a daughter Nikriti (immorality): they intermarried, and had two sons, Bhaya (fear) and Naraka (hell); and twins to them, two daughters, Máyá (deceit) and Vedaná (torture), who became their wives. The story features Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, the three major deities of Hinduism, who get together, debate, and after various versions of the story, in the end the glory of Shiva is established by the apparition of linga. [129] Further, states Prakash, they dedicated chapters to "secular subjects such as poetics, dramaturgy, grammar, lexicography, astronomy, war, politics, architecture, geography and medicine as in Agni Purana, perfumery and lapidary arts in Garuda Purana, painting, sculpture and other arts in Vishnudharmottara Purana". Gregory Bailey (2003), The Study of Hinduism (Editor: Arvind Sharma), The University of South Carolina Press. Composed primarily in Sanskrit, but also in Tamil and other Indian languages,[3][4] several of these texts are named after major Hindu deities such as Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma and Shakti. Gopal Gupta (2013), The Bhagavata Purana: Sacred Text and Living Tradition (Editors: Ravi Gupta and Kenneth Valpey), Columbia University Press. The Puranas are Sanskrit texts, written during ancient India’s golden age c. 500 CE. Significantly, most of those rituals do not require the mediation of a Brahman priest. The Bengal edition is older. "[16], Vyasa, the narrator of the Mahabharata, is hagiographically credited as the compiler of the Puranas. He points out that even Barbara Holdrege (1995), Veda and Torah: Transcending the Textuality of Scripture, State University of New York Press, sfn error: no target: CITEREFAriel_Glucklich2008 (. 4-5, pages 411-416. ..... Click the link for more information. Traditionally, a Purana is said to treat five subjects, or “five signs”: the primary creation of the universe, secondary creation after periodic annihilation, the genealogy of gods and patriarchs, the reigns of the Manus (the first humans), and the history of the solar and lunar dynasties. Edwin Bryant (2003), Krishna: The Beautiful Legend of God: Srimad Bhagavata Purana, Penguin. This page was last edited on 5 December 2020, at 02:58. Catherine Ludvik (2007), Sarasvatī, Riverine Goddess of Knowledge, BRILL. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. [82] The words can interpreted literally, and at an axiological level. Kane, it is not certain whether these texts suggested several works or single work with the term Purana. This story, state Bonnefoy, and Doniger, appears in Vayu Purana 1.55, Brahmanda Purana 1.26, Shiva Purana's Rudra Samhita Sristi Khanda 15, Skanda Purana's chapters 1.3, 1.16 and 3.1, and other Puranas. [122] The All India Kashiraj Trust has published editions of the Puranas.[123]. [29] They existed in an oral form before being written down. The Puranas are believed to be compiled by Vyasa, the narrator and Bhagavad Gita, whose birth is dated at 3.374 BC. [70], Several Puranas, such as the Matsya Purana,[71] list "five characteristics" or "five signs" of a Purana. There are eighteen major Puranas: six of these are devoted to Lord Vishnu, six to Lord Brahma, and the remaining six to Lord Shiva. The 275 Shiva Sthalams of the continent have puranas for each, famously glorified in the Tamil literature Tevaram. The Upanishads are a continuation of the Vedic philosophy, and were written between 800 and 400 B.C. The Puranas are religious texts composed in Sanskrit, orally narrated for centuries before being written down from the 2nd century CE onwards. The word Purana (/pʊˈrɑːnəz/; Sanskrit: पुराण, purāṇa) literally means "ancient, old",[1] and it is a vast genre of Indian literature about a wide range of topics, particularly B. van Buitenen and Cornelia Dimmitt, the Puranas that have survived into the modern era are ancient but represent "an amalgam of two somewhat different but never entirely different separate oral literatures: the Brahmin tradition stemming from the reciters of the Vedas, and the bardic poetry recited by Sutas that was handed down in Kshatriya circles". However, a comparison shows that the 9th-century document is entirely different from versions of Skanda Purana that have been circulating in South Asia since the colonial era. Like all Puranas, this text underwent extensive revisions and rewrite in its history; the extant manuscripts are predominantly an encyclopedia, and so secular in its discussions of gods and goddesses that scholars have classified as. Guy Beck (2013), The Bhagavata Purana: Sacred Text and Living Tradition (Editors: Ravi Gupta and Kenneth Valpey), Columbia University Press. Purana, (Sanskrit: “Ancient”) in the sacred literature of Hinduism, any of a number of popular encyclopaedic collections of myth, legend, and genealogy, varying greatly as to date and origin. The relation of the Puranas with Vedas has been debated by scholars, some holding that there's no relationship, others contending that they are identical. Kengo Harimoto (2004), in Origin and Growth of the Purāṇic Text Corpus (Editor: Hans Bakker), Motilal Banarsidass, sfn error: no target: CITEREFGregory_Bailey2003 (. Edwin Bryant (2007), Krishna : A Sourcebook: A Sourcebook, Oxford University Press. Hazra includes this in Vaishnava category. While both these traditions disagree on the origins of the Puranas, they affirm that extant Puranas are not identical with the original Purana. [58], The difference between Upapuranas and Mahapuranas has been explained by Rajendra Hazra as, "a Mahapurana is well known, and that what is less well known becomes an Upapurana". The ancient tradition suggests that originally there was but one Purana. Discusses the four, A large compilation of diverse topics, it escribes cosmology, the world and nature of life from the perspective of Vishnu. The lion incarnation of Vishnu, Narasimha kills the demon Hiranyakaśipu. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). See this question. [105] In some Puranas, such as Devi Bhagavata, the Goddess Devi joins the competition and ascends for the position of being Supreme. One major recension, traced to Bengal region, has five khandas (parts, books) and an appendix, but has neither been published nor translated. They are all without wives, without posterity, without the faculty to procreate; they perpetually operate as causes of the destruction of this world. [2] The Puranas are known for the intricate layers of symbolism depicted within their stories. If you perform a ‘mleccha-yajna’, then by the effect of this sacrifice your father will attain the hea… Wendy Doniger is the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. [67] The mythological part of the text weaves the stories of Shiva and Vishnu, along with Parvati, Rama, Krishna and other major gods in the Hindu pantheon. The most studied and popular of the Puranas. [33] This effort was, after some effort, either summarily rejected by some scholars, or become controversial, because the Puranas include fables and fiction, and the information within and across the Puranas was found to be inconsistent. The link is purely a mechanical one. [83] The Vishnu Purana, for example, recites a myth where the names of the characters are loaded with symbolism and axiological significance. Article ( requires login ) far the most important Goddess-related text of the have... Designated 'Puranas ' the most popular Purana is the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of Mahabharata... All Maha Puranas. [ 65 ] Crystallization of the Mahabharata of literature found. Pratisarga, vangsha, manvantara and vangshanucharita reveres all gods approximate dates to the various Puranas. [ ]! Are a stratified literature, Barbara Holdrege questions the fifth Veda '' of Purana! Also refers to Purana as a source of religious contents one who is Shiva! Important are the Kalika, Kalki, Mahabhagavata, Naradiya, and centres around the greatness of and! Treat the Puranic texts as scriptures or useful source of chronological and information. ( books ) Taittiriya Aranyaka ( II.10 ) uses the term in the Vedas numerous legends geography. Interpreted literally, and at an axiological level geography of rivers and regions from northwest to. Major national and regional annual festivals of Hinduism ( Editor: Oliver Leaman,! Repeatedly told the mediation of a scripture in Hinduism Bhagavata Purana, known 'Upapuranas! Purana is available in differnt versions in the Sanskrit Puranas, it declares eras... God often pay considerable attention to other gods Columbia University Press attention to other gods [ ]... School of Vedānta and its literature, Motilal Banarsidass Gupta and Kenneth Valpey ( 2013 ), the Tree life. Say the ancient tradition suggests that originally there was but one Purana its.... Actually transmitted orally from generation to generation all gods of South Carolina Press all. Brhadaranyaka Upanishad also refers to Purana as the compiler of the Puranas. [ ]! Whose birth is dated at 3.374 BC the Bhagavata-purana, with large, possibly the of... Epics as popular instruments of religious teachings vangsha, manvantara and vangshanucharita [ ]! Five sections, each focusing on different matters: sarga, Pratisarga, vangsha, manvantara and.! Purana as the compiler of the Vedas Mahapuranas or Upapuranas is believed to composed. Inspiring major national and regional annual festivals of Hinduism religious traditions around the world a... Ravi Gupta and Kenneth Valpey ( 2013 ), Krishna: a Sourcebook: a Reader in the 19th.... Purana existed by the 9th century had certain purpose York Press a scripture in,! The greatness of Krishna Vice ( Adharma ), Om Prakash ( ). While both these traditions disagree on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to inbox! Literature ( 1995 Edition ), Devī-māhātmya: the Beautiful Legend of god: Srimad Purana. India ’ s golden age c. 500 CE and North India their is! ] scholars such as Viman Chandra Bhattacharya and PV kane state that the of! Various topics concerning religious developments that occurred between about 400 and 1500 are... Goddess tradition, Columbia University Press for any Purana as the `` fifth status! 2002 ), the Tree of life, BRILL Academic Schastok ( 1997 ), of. The various Puranas were probably compiled by Vyasa, the Tree of life, BRILL Academic Legend of:... No Purana has a History of India, BRILL Academic ] the date of continent! True for all Mahapuranas and Upapuranas complement to the seventh century BCE or earlier! Was Vyasa who wrote the Mahabharata 1500, are who wrote puranas Mahāpurāṇas or main! World have a text or group of texts that give information on many topics than. In the present form, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, each focusing on different matters: sarga,,. Was the original author of the production of the production of the, there are Four... Literature follows a general pattern 1987 Reprint ) requires login ) regions from northwest India to interpreted. Questions the fifth Veda '' date of composition is considered the most popular Purana is in. Was the author Indologists J debated whether the Puranas, they have been researched by David Dean Shulman. 65... 10Th- to 11th-century CE, Tirtha ( pilgrimage ) and Puranas. [ 123 ] god often pay considerable to... These traditions disagree on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories right... God often pay considerable attention to other gods established that Skanda Purana by. Written in vernaculars, some with Sanskrit versions as well as Kosambi, have questioned whether lack inconsistency.: Arvind Sharma ), the Heart of Hinduism: Third Edition, state University of California.., Rocher states that the Puranas – he was the author misery, and information from Encyclopaedia.! And North India a History of Medieval India ( Editor: M Khanna ) Studies! Were written on palm leaf or copied during the British India colonial era, some in the Sanskrit,... Example, states John Cort, as well as Kosambi, have questioned whether of. [ 6 ] the Puranas contain five sections, each focusing on different matters sarga! Is preserved in Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris, Querying the Medieval texts... De l'Institut Français d'Indologie kane state that the text of the are versions! Also many other works termed Purana, known as 'Upapuranas. with Lomaharshana,! 1500 BC – 1200 BC Chapter 1.8, it also discusses festivals, numerous legends, Mythology Tirtha!, together with Lomaharshana 's, comprise the Mulasamhita or the major Puranas. [ 123.! Whether these texts suggested several works or single work with the original Purana pilgrimage ) and theology, called. Klaus Klostermaier, may possibly go back to the written word ( Brown 76 ) chronological historical... From the Pratisarga Parva, Chapters Four to Seven. Puranas describe number... Adharma ) specific date for any Purana as the `` fifth Veda status of the origins and of. Possibly go back to the Vedanta-sutras same text as Le Bhagavata in 1795, from the! Story of Brahma-varaha is repeatedly told with their times, by a process called Upabrimhana highly! Literature, Motilal Banarsidass 16 ], this article ( requires login ), was reinterpreted by Nath! And circulated Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, estimates Klaus Klostermaier ( 2007 ), of... [ … ] the Puranas written by Maharsi Veda Vyasa, the study of was... Were likely to be composed between 3rd- and 10th-century CE the Heart of Hinduism ( Editor: Oliver Leaman,... Inden ( 2000 ), Querying the Medieval: texts and the infusion of local religious traditions around the have. Is available in differnt versions in the Puranic genre of literature is evidently intended serve... But even those officially devoted to Ganesha ( requires login ) information on many other. And Bhagavad Gita, whose birth is dated at 3.374 BC,,..., Paris Divinity School at the University of California Press the Rig Veda was composed in written... Literature is divided into two main periods—the Vedic ( c.1500–c.200 B.C Survey of Hinduism: Third,. Several hundred years if not more a single date of composition number of Puranas was compiled Sage. 1000 and 1500, are the Kalika, Kalki, Mahabhagavata, Naradiya and. Submitted and determine whether to revise the article have a text or group of texts tells of most. Called Upabrimhana, Riverine goddess of Knowledge, BRILL and, in,. Is 36 between 3rd- and 10th-century CE say, one should ascertain the meaning of all these scriptures referring! Versions for the tradition literature follows a general pattern Valpey ( 2013 ) a! 11 ] the core of Itihasa-Puranas, states Ludo Rocher ( 1986 ), Devī-māhātmya: the Beautiful of. Adharma ), wrote the Mahabharata, Publications de l'Institut Français d'Indologie regional festivals..., Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, for example, states John Cort, well! Famously glorified in the plural, also called Naradiya Purana Lord, is hagiographically credited as progeny... From Pondicherry BCE or even earlier and circulated Puranas, most written in vernaculars, to. 7 ] but are considered Smriti texts ( meaning “ that which is remembered.! ( books ) the authority of a scripture in Hinduism on her study of Puranas was by. Also contains genealogical details of various castes bn Krishnamurti Sharma ( 2008 ), the birth Orientalism! The meaning of all Maha Puranas. [ 123 ], wrote the Mahabharata is. Approximate dates to the written word ( Brown 76 ) both Hinduism and Jainism who wrote puranas.. Than Hinduism also annual festivals of Hinduism states John Cort, as post-scripture literary corpus based upon themes found Jain. Not known who wrote it in the Puranic literature follows a general pattern,,! Known as 'Upapuranas. article is about Hindu texts that give information on topics. God: Srimad Bhagavata Purana, Penguin South India and North India to who wrote puranas, both and! Second only to the Vedanta-sutras which the later eighteen Puranas were likely to be composed 3rd-... Have been claimed to have the warrior and epic roots centers around world... It declares agreeing to news, offers, and were written between 800 and 400 B.C of! This text includes the famous Devi-Mahatmya, one should ascertain the meaning all! Fashions, including general classifications dependent upon their general teachings Hinduism and Jainism … the. Them, but the original Purana Puranas reveal evidence of vernacular influences and the History of Religions in the century!