The Eighteen Puranas, A Must for All Hindu Homes

Ragini Khanna Jun 2, 2012

The Puranas are the immortal creation of Veda Vyasa, explaining the core of values of Hinduism through stories and anecdotes which make the ideas register in an extremely effective manner. Indeed, Shri Veda Vyasa has written something for everybody, suiting the infinite divergence of human temperament. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Eighteen Puranas have been the saviors of Hinduism, weaving together our society into one essential fabric, guiding us in all aspects of our existence.

Srimad Bhagavata Purana
The most well-known and readable of all the Puranas. A most authoritative text, overflowing with the nectar of Bhakti towards Lord Krishna. One thing is for sure, a reading of this Purana from end-to-end will defintely sow the seeds of detachment inside you. This edition contains both the Sanskrit Text and its English Translation.

The Shiva Purana
Indispensible for all worshippers of Lord Shiva. Not only is it an encyclopedia of information on this Supreme God, but its real greatness actually lies in expounding the philosophical background of rituals dedicated to Lord Shiva. This Purana has the potential to answer all queries you may have pertaining to Lord Shiva. This particluar edition is the most lucid and accurate English Translation available.

The Agni Purana
This Purana is said to have been communicated by Agni, the god of fire, to sage Vashishtha, hence the name. This Purana is exceptional in the sense that, in addition to the various illuminating stories about Lord Vishnu and Shiva, it also gives details regarding the rules for worshipping various deities, process for installing images in temples, astrology and also even the Indian science of medicine. Unique is the detailed handling of literray aesthetics, including figues of speech and aspects of dramarutgy.

Bhavishya Purana
Transliterated Text with English Translation. This has been called the Purana which predicts future events, because in addition to many discussions on Dharma, it also contains the genealogies of the kings who are to come in the future, and also the manner in which they will rule. This Purana has still not been translated in full, and only two volumes have been released this far.

Brahma Purana
This Purana contains some very important material not generally found elsewhere, dealing primarily with praise of holy places and temples in the Purushottama Kshetra, namely Puri in Orissa, Konarka, Ekamra Kshetra (Bhubaneshwara) and others. English Translation only in 4 Volumes.

The Brahmanda Purana
Said to have been taught by Lord Brahma himself to sages in the Naimisha Forest. The initial parts deal with the creation of the world from the Cosmic Egg (Brahma-Anda), and the consequent multiplicity of forms. This Purana narrates the story of Shri Parashurama in much greater detail than any other text. Another highly engaging part of this Purana is the glorification of Goddess Lalita in forty chapters.

Brahmavaivarta Purana
The world here has been described as a special manifestation (vi-varta) of Brahman, the Highest Reality, hence its name. The first section of this Purana deals with the evolution of this world from the Four-Faced Brahma. The second describes the emanations of Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Savitri and Radha from the Mula-Prakriti, as per the command of Lord Krishna. The next section describes in detail the adventures of Shri Ganesha and his brother the six-headed Karttikeya. The last section sings of the glorious Lilas of Shri Krishna with Shrimati Radharani. This part is almost as big as all the other three put together.

The Garuda Purana
A wonderful Purana held in high esteem. Its discourse forms an important part in the after death ceremonies in India. The name of this Purana stems from the fact that it was narrated by Lord Vishnu to Garuda. The first part of this Purana is a mini encyclopedia of Hinduism. The second part, called Pretakalpa, deals in great detail with how one should die, the journey of a soul from this world to the next (according to one's karma), the futility and temporality of this world and all those beyond it, and then finally, it stresses on libearation through devotion to our Supreme Lord Vishnu.

Kurma Purana
This Purana is taught by Lord Vishnu in His Kurma Avatar (Tortoise Incarnation), hence the name. It deals with miscellaneous topics such as Cosmogony, Religion, Philosophy, History, Geography and Astronomy. In Religion and Ethics it places emphasis on the performance of duties of oneâ?Ts own profession (Varna-dharma) in relation to oneâ?Ts own stage of life (ashrama). It also recounts the glory and greatness of the holy places of pilgrimageâ?" Varanasi and Prayà ga in particular. In philosophy it follows the Samkhya system of thought in regard to the creation, sustenance and dissolution of the universe. In History it describes the genealogies of the solar and lunar races and the episodes of illustrious kings. In Geography it describes Bhuvanaloka, seven Dvipas, their flora and fauna, their mountain and river- systems. In Astronomy it describes the planetary system, the solar chariot, the chariots of planets, the function of the Twelve Adityas, and the seven rays of the sun.

Linga Purana (Sanskrit Text with English Translation)
This Purana derives its name from the fact that it reveals the supreme Lord Shiva in his nishkala (attributeless) and sakala (qualified) forms, recounting His emblems, qualities, exploits and incarnations. It narrates legends on the origin and importance of Linga â?" The Cosmic Symbol of the One Supreme, Formless Reality. This Purana tells the merit of installing and consecrating a Shiva-Linga, describes the ritual and philosophical principles of the Linga, and embodies sermons and dissertations on the glory of the Linga.

Matsya Purana
This Purana was taught by Lord Vishnu in His Fish Incarnation (Matsya). The special topics dealt with in this Purana are the genealogies of the Brahmins who were worshippers of Fire; The Various Vratas (Religious Vows); Different Charities and their Fruits; Greatness of Holy Places like Prayaga, Varanasi and River Narmada; Duties of a King etc.

The Narada Purana
In the Narada Purana Lord Vishnu is hailed as the Supreme Deity. Similalrly, numerous laudatory references to Shiva and Shakti are also made. This Purana gives special treatment to Radha and Krishna, and gives a beautiful hymn of 1000 names in their combined eulogy. It also proclaims the special importance of the Ekadashi Vrata in honor of the Supreme Lord.

The Padma Purana (Ten Volumes)
The Padma Purana takes its name after the Primordial Lotus (Padma) from which Lord Brahma, the Creator, was born. The reader will find herein and enjoy some very interesting accounts and stories, such as that of the churning of the ocean, the destruction of Daksha's sacrifice by Lord Shiva, the chopping-off of Brahma's fifth head by the same God, the drinking-up of the ocean by the sage Agastya and so on. There is a very amusing story, of how Brhaspati, the preceptor of gods, impersonates Shukra, the Guru of the demons, and how he corrupts and demoralizes the latter by preaching heretical doctrines to them with a view to make the gods who were very often defeated by the demons in war, victorious over them. It also gives the significance of both Krishna Janamashtami and Radha Ashtami. There is also an important section on Lord Krishna's Divine Love Sports in Vrindavana

The Skanda Purana
The Biggest of All Puranas (23 Volumes). It was taught by Lord Shiva to His wife Parvati, Parvati to their son Skanda, Skanda to Nandi, Nandi to Sage Atri and Atri to Veda Vyasa. This Purana is a mine of social, cultural, political, historical, geographical, religious and philosophical information. It is specially important as it covers practically the whole of India, giving the special significance (Mahatmyas), of all major Tirthas (places of pilgrimage), throughout the length and breadth of this glorious land. The author of these Mahatmyas knew the respective regions like the back of his hand and describes their topography, location history, culture, and legends expertly.

Vamana Purana
Sanskrit Text with English Translation. This Purana was taught by Sage Pulastya to Narada. In addition to the Ten Avataras of Lord Vishnu, esepcially the Vamana Avatara, getting the pride of the place, it also narrates with full devotion many stories of Lord Ganesha and Karttikeya. It also expounds the greatness of Lord Shiva, importance of the river Ganga, the fruits of Karma, legends of Brahma, Bali and Shukracharya, and also the liberation of the elephant king (Gajendra Moksha).

The Varaha Purana
This Purana was taught by the Varaha (boar) incarnation of Lord Vishnu to Bhudevi (Earth Goddess) at Her request. In addition to dealing with the most general topics of Dharmasastras, the Varaha Purana is emphatic about the identity of Trinity - A single entity assuming manifold forms such as Lord Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva. Beside the worship of Trinity we find the cult of mother goddesses as the distinct feature of this work, these mothers are allied to Lord Shiva and their origin is traced to the fury of Shiva the purpose being the destruction of asuras.

The Vayu Purana
The Vayu or Vayaviya Puraua gets its name from the Wind-god Vayu, who narrated it to elucidate Dharmas and the glory of Rudra, and it pertains to Shveta Kalpa. It is a Shaiva Purana in the sense that it has been composed for the propagation of devotion to and worship of Lord Shiva. It discusses the well known five topics of the Puranas, viz, creation, dissolution and re-creation, genealogy of gods, sages etc., periods called Manvantaras, and description of royal dynasties. The translation is preceded by a long scholarly Introduction highlighting the salient features of this Purana.

The Vishnu Purana
Easily the most interesting and readable of all Puranas after the Srimad Bhagavatam. This sure can be a life altering read. Its description of Kaliyuga for example, the age in which we are living in, is astonishingly accurate, forcing us to rethink our own lifestyle. In this Purana, Bhakti has been described as the main Sadhana or means to liberation. Here we will also find the life of Shri Krishna narrated in some detail. Contains both the Sanskrit Text and English Translation.

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