Puranas: Meaning and Names of 18 Purana

Puranas (पुराण) are the basic texts of Vedic Sanatan culture that have a predominance of historical and social aspects. Many call the Puranas to explain the subject matter in the Vedas, but Atharva Samhita (Veda) states that four Vedas, Puranas, and Verses appeared simultaneously. The Chandogya Upanishad (छान्दोग्योपनिषद्) calls the Purana the fifth Veda.

These Puranas are the principal sources of our knowledge of Hindu mythology. The Puranas are said to have been composed by 28th Vyasa. Counted among 14 Vidya (4 Vedas, 6 Vedanga, Purana, Nyaya, Mimamsha, Dharmashastra) and 18 Shastras (14 Vidya, Ayurveda, Dhanurveda, Gandharva Veda, and Arthashastra) Puranas are the work of the Vedic period.

Meaning of Puranas 

Purana (literally meaning “ancient, old”) is a vast genre of Vedic literature that can relate to ancient creation and rhythm but also to modern folklore. The Puranas contain a variety of information on the creation of the universe, its maintenance, and its destruction. The Puranas have spiritual elements, the immortality of the soul, means of self-improvement, physiology, psychology, medical science, history, literature, mathematics, etc. The philosophy, literature, science, art, and rituals in Sanskrit literature are also included in the Puranas.

Amarakosha says that there are five symptoms of Purana (Purana Panchalakshanam). Most of the Puranas have inaugurated the subject of other Puranas.

Bhagavata, Vayu Purana, Vishnu Purana, and Suta Samhita say that there are 10 types of subjects in the Puranas namely;

  1. sarga (the elemental creation or the creation of the universe),
  2. visarga (the secondary creation; the periodical destruction and recreation),
  3. sthanam (the planetary systems),
  4. poshanam (protection by the Lord),
  5. utayah (the creative impetus),
  6. manvantara (the periods of Manu),
  7. isha-anukatha (the science of God),
  8. nirodha (dissolution),
  9. mukti (liberation), and
  10. ashraya (the supreme shelter)

Even though all the Puranas describe the five main subjects mentioned above, the style, for example, is very different. Therefore, even though the subject matter described in the Puranas is similar, every Purana feels different. 

What topics are found in the Puranas?

Purana is a detailed history. The Puranas are not understood until we understand that history is only the work of kings and emperors and past events. In the Puranas, the speed of the sun, the distance of the planets, the basis of time measurement, and the relationship between the planets, etc. are explained.

Every question of mathematics, every event within astrology (mathematics, birth, (hora), code), omen-ominous thoughts, the fruit of dreams, yoga, tantra, and craft are also found in Puranas. The list of virtues, ethics, duties, and non-duties is given. Similarly, theistic philosophy (Nyaya, Mimansha, Vedanta, Vaisheshika, Sankhya Yoga), the interpretation of atheistic philosophy (Buddhist, Jain, Charvaka), and literature (works of Kalidasa, Magh, Dandi, etc.) are also included in Puranas. 

Economics, political science, and psychology are also subjects of Puranas. On the basis of the age calculation, just as the same Sunday is repeated a week later on Sunday, so the four ages (Satya, Treta, Dwapar, Kali) are also repeated. The events and biographies of the incarnations of God, Buddha, Rama, Vikramaditya, and Kautilya up to 2000 years ago are also in the Puranas.

Purana and knowledge

Purana is the mass of knowledge. Knowledge is the wisdom, skill and art gained by reading, seeing, hearing, understanding, meditating and experiencing. Since the Puranas explain and analyze the visible, material objects, invisible Paramatma, divine power, love power, imagination power, immovable, coexistent, movable, even discernment of the universe, it is difficult to separate Purana and knowledge. 

It is believed that Purana and knowledge cannot be separated. Even so, the reality of gaining knowledge through Puranas must be assimilated.

Things to learn and learn from the Puranas

The scriptures of the Puran encompasses subjects of Yoga, Tantra, Science, Philosophy, Literature, Medicine, Ritual, etc. are included in it, so anyone can find whatever they want. In order to make life successful and gain prestige in society, the message is to follow and imitate the ethics, diet, thoughts, and biographies of great men as described in the Puranas.

These Puranas have been divided into 18 major Puranas (known as Mahapuranas) and 18 secondary Puranas (known as Upapuranas). These Puranas themselves give lists of the eighteen great Puranas (Mahapuranas).

The lists broadly agree, with the exception of the fourth Purana in the list. Sometimes the fourth Purana in the list is said to be the Shiva Purana, and sometimes it is said to be the Vayu Purana. In Devi Bhagavata, the Vayu Purana is mentioned instead of the Shiva Purana.  

The major Puranas are listed as: 

  1. The Brahma purana
  2. The Padma purana
  3. The Vishnu purana
  4. The Shiva purana
  5. The Bhagavata purana 
  6. The Narada purana
  7. The Markandeya purana
  8. The Agni purana
  9. The Bhavishya purana
  10. The Brahmavaivarta purana
  11. The Linga purana
  12. The Varaha purana
  13. The Skanda purana
  14. The Vamana purana
  15. The Kurma purana
  16. The Matsya purana
  17. The Garuda purana
  18. The Brahmanda purana

The name of the Puranas and the number of verses on each Purana is listed in the table below; 

Name of PuranasName in SanskritNumber of verses 
The Brahma puranaब्रह्म पुराण10,000 verses
The Padma puranaपद्म पुराण55,000 verses
The Vishnu puranaविष्णु पुराण23,000 verses
The Shiva puranaशिव पुराण24,000 verses
The Bhagavata purana श्रीमद्भागवत् पुराण18,000 verses
The Narada puranaनारदेय पुराण25,000 verses
The Markandeya puranaमार्कण्डेय पुराण9,000 verses
The Agni puranaअग्नि पुराण15,400 verses
The Bhavishya puranaभविष्य पुराण14,500 verses
The Brahmavaivarta puranaब्रह्मवैवर्त पुराण18,000 verses
The Linga puranaलिङ्ग पुराण11,000 verses
The Varaha puranaवराह पुराण24,000 verses
The Skanda puranaस्कन्द पुराण81,100 verses
The Vamana puranaवामन पुराण10,000 verses
The Kurma puranaकुर्म पुराण17,000 verses
The Matsya puranaमत्स्य पुराण14,000 verses
The Garuda puranaगरुड पुराण19,000 verses
The Brahmanda purana ब्रह्माण्ड पुराण12,000 verses
The Vayu puranaवायु पुराण12,000 verses 

Why Hindu

We, a group of youths born into Hindu families, were raised in the rich culture of Vedic Sanatan Dharma, embracing its cultures and traditions. Post-graduation, recognizing the immense value of our Sanatan Dharma for humanity, we initiated the "Why Hindu" project. With guidance from our elders, we aim to create awareness about Hindu Dharma, delve into Vedic scripture, explore Vedic mantras, and elucidate the significance of festivals. Through this endeavor, we strive to share the profound teachings of our heritage, fostering understanding and appreciation for the timeless principles of Sanatan Dharma.

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