Puranas

The Puranas are a class of literary texts, all written in Sanskrit verse, whose composition dates from the 4th century BCE to about 1,000 A.D. Any ancient text in Sanskrit containing mythological account of ancient times is called Puranas. In non-Vedic Sanskrita studies they are considered as Smrits. These Puranas were completed between 400 to 1500 CE. There has been no one writer but many at different times of composition.

  • Vedas were read by the people in olden days. Gargi, a woman had read it. Janshruti, a shudra by birth, had read it under Raikya Muni. Yajur Veda ch. 26-ii states,’ it is the right of all people irrespective of caste, color and sex to read Vedas.’ Gradually materialistic tendencies and greed began to catch hold of society and the priest class became money minded. This led to ritualistic formations of religious ceremonies for earning a handsome amount and indulging in a life of luxury Ignorance of real religion began to hold the society at the mercy of priests and pundit – ritualists.
  • The foreign invasions and terror, accompanied with forceful conversion made people dependent on these pundits and their teaching of rituals for the grace of God. The kings and sovereign rulers also went astray and developed ego. They would fight with one another for show of bravery and would like to be heroically praised. This was the time when the kings and the priests combined in their efforts to keep the people under their grip and fold. The kings wanted popularity as heroes and the pundits’ monetary gains. The Sutas or court charanas were engaged to reach the people and serve as mediators. Every court had an account of its dynasty of kings and deeds, As chroniclers, Sutas gathered their Itivrat or history. Sages wrote down traditionally collected stories as told by Sutas Very often they were full of exaggerations and distortion in praise of their patron kings. The sages included religious versions also and thus the written work was called Purana. The sages wished these books be considered on par with the old religious scriptures and they tried best to reach the goal by linking them to old writers of renown and ancient events of popular likings.

Categories

Puranas can be divided into two categories

  1. Mahapuranas
  2. Upa Puranas.

Both the categories have 18 puranas each

Mahapuranas can further be divided into three types.

  1. Brahma
  2. Vishnu and
  3. Shiva
  • In the first category, the Rajas guna prevails and in the second Sattvik guna where as in the third Tamas prevails.

The Purana with Rajas quality are

  1. Brahma Purana
  2. Brahmand Purana
  3. Brahma Vaivrata Purana
  4. Markandey Purana
  5. Bhavishya Purana
  6. Vamana Purana

Sattva Guna dominated Puranas are

  1. Vishnu Purana
  2. Srimad Bhagavat Purana
  3. Narad Purana
  4. Garuda Purana
  5. Padma Purana
  6. Varaha Purana

Tamoguna prevailing Puranas are

  1. Shiva Purana
  2. Linga Purana
  3. Skanda Purana
  4. Agni Purana
  5. Matsya Purana
  6. Kurma Purana


References

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