A Comprehensive Guide to the 18 Puran Names in Hinduism

As a Hindu, I am always fascinated by the vastness and diversity of our religion. One such aspect that reflects the richness of our culture is the 18 Puran names.

These ancient texts are a treasure trove of myths, legends, and traditional lore that have been passed down through generations. In this article, I will provide a comprehensive guide to the 18 Puran names in Hinduism.

What are the Puranas?

The word “Puranas” literally means “ancient, old” and is a vast genre of Indian literature that covers a wide range of subjects.

Composed primarily in Sanskrit, but also in Tamil and other Indian languages, the Puranas are a collection of myths, legends, and traditional lore about Hindu deities such as Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva, and Devi. Let’s now discuss in detail the 18 Puran names.

Understanding the 18 Puran Names.

18 puran names

Of the many texts designated as Puranas, the most significant are the Mahapuranas or the “Major Puranas.” There are 18 puran names , divided into three groups of six, although they are not always counted in the same way. Here are 18 puran names in Hinduism:

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

Understanding the Three Gunas.

The Padma Purana, Uttara Khanda (236.18-21), classifies the Puranas according to the three gunas or qualities of truth, passion, and ignorance.

  1. Sattva – “Truth” – Shiva Purana, Linga Purana, Vishnu Purana, Bhagavata Purana, Naradeya Purana, Garuda Purana, Padma Purana, Varaha Purana
  2. Rajas – “Passion” – Brahmanda Purana, Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Markandeya Purana, Bhavishya Purana, Vamana Purana, Brahma Purana
  3. Tamas – “Ignorance” – Matsya Purana, Kurma Purana, Skanda Purana, Agni Purana

Characteristics of the 18 Puran Names.

Several Puranas, such as the Matsya Purana, list “five characteristics” or “five signs” of a Purana. These are called the Pancha Lakshana and are topics covered by a Purana:

  1. Sarga: cosmogony
  2. Pratisarga: cosmogony and cosmology
  3. Vamsa: genealogy of the gods, sages, and kings
  4. Manvantara: cosmic cycles, history of the world during the time of one patriarch
  5. Vamsanucaritam: legends during the times of various kings.

18 puran names : What Each of them Contains.

18 purana names

Here is a brief overview of what each of the 18 Puran names contains:

1. Agni Purana.

The Agni Purana is an encyclopedic text that includes information on the geography of Mithila (Bihar and neighboring states), cultural history, politics, the educational system, iconography, taxation theories, army organization, theories on the right reasons to wage war, diplomacy, local laws, the construction of public projects, water distribution techniques, trees and plants, medicine, Vastu Shastra (architecture), gemology, grammar, metrics, poetry, food, rituals, and a wide range of other subjects.

2. Bhagavata Purana.

The Bhagavata Purana is the most widely studied and read of the Puranas. It describes Vaishnavism and Vishnu’s avatars. It includes controversial dynasty-specific genealogy information. There are numerous conflicting translations of this text as well as historical documents in other Indian languages. It was important and developed during the Bhakti movement.

3. Brahma Purana.

The Brahma Purana, also called Adi Purana because many Mahapuranas lists put it first of 18. The text has 245 chapters, shares many passages with Vishnu, Vayu, Markendeya Puranas, and with the Mahabharata. Includes mythology, theory of war, artwork in temples, and other cultural topics. Describes holy places in Odisha and weaves themes of Vishnu and Shiva, but hardly any mention of deity Brahma despite the title.

4. Brahmanda Purana.

The Brahmanda Purana is one of the oldest Puranas to be written down. It provides controversial information about the ancestry of several dynasties. It includes Lalita Sahasranamam, legal principles, the political system, management, trade, and ethics. Old Brahmanda Purana manuscripts have been discovered in Bali, Indonesia’s Hindu literature collections.

5. Brahmavaivarta Purana.

The Brahmavaivarta Purana centers on the magnificence of Krishna and Radha and is told by Savarni to Narada. This frequently tells the Brahma-varaha narrative. Notable for declaring that the gods Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma are his incarnations and that Krishna is the absolute reality. It makes reference to geography and rivers like the Ganga and Kaveri.

6. Garuda Purana.

The Garuda Purana celebrates all the gods but is primarily about Vishnu. It explains the interaction between Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma. The discussion between Vishnu and Garuda, the bird-vehicle, can be found in several chapters. It includes cosmology and explains the relationship between gods and the cosmology. The final chapters go on Samkhya and Advaita styles of yoga practice, personal growth, and the advantages of self-knowledge.

7. Kurma Purana.

The Kurma Purana is named after Lord Kurma, the second incarnation of Lord Vishnu in Hindu mythology. It is primarily dedicated to the glory of Lord Vishnu and contains several stories and legends associated with him. The Purana is written in Sanskrit and is divided into two parts: the Purva-bhaga (early section) and the Uttara-bhaga (later section).

The Purva-bhaga of the Kurma Purana contains various subjects such as cosmology, creation myths, geography, and the genealogy of various dynasties. It also provides descriptions of various religious rituals, festivals, and pilgrimage sites. Additionally, it includes sections on yoga, meditation, and the significance of sacred rivers and holy places.

The Uttara-bhaga of the Kurma Purana focuses more on Lord Vishnu and his various incarnations, known as avatars. It narrates the stories of the ten major avatars of Lord Vishnu, including Rama, Krishna, and the future avatar, Kalki. It also emphasizes the importance of devotion and describes the principles of dharma (righteousness), karma (action), and moksha (liberation).

Like other Puranas, the Kurma Purana serves as a religious and philosophical guide for Hindus. It is often consulted by scholars, priests, and devotees for understanding the mythology, rituals, and spiritual practices of Hinduism.

8. Linga Purana.

photo of lord shiva statue in india 18 puran names
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This sacred text is named after the linga, a symbolic representation of Lord Shiva, one of the principal deities in Hinduism.Within the Linga Purana, you will discover captivating stories that revolve around Lord Shiva and his divine manifestations. It delves into the creation of the universe, the nature of the gods and goddesses, and the significance of sacred places associated with Lord Shiva.

This scripture also provides guidance on various religious rituals, festivals, and practices devoted to Lord Shiva. It explores topics such as meditation, yoga, and the pursuit of spiritual liberation. The Linga Purana emphasizes the importance of devotion, righteousness, and the principles of dharma (righteousness) in leading a virtuous life.

As you immerse yourself in the profound teachings of the Linga Purana, may you deepen your understanding of Lord Shiva’s divine presence and draw closer to the eternal truth. May the sacred words of this Purana inspire you on your spiritual journey, guiding you towards inner peace, enlightenment, and a profound connection with the divine.

9. Markandeya Purana.

The Markandeya Purana is one of the eighteen major Puranas in Hinduism. It is named after the sage Markandeya, who narrates the stories and teachings contained within this sacred scripture. The Purana is known for its diverse content, encompassing cosmology, mythology, genealogies, and religious principles. It is considered an important repository of knowledge about various deities, sages, and sacred rituals.

The central narrative of the Markandeya Purana revolves around the sage Markandeya himself. He is known for his unwavering devotion to Lord Shiva, which earned him the blessings of immortality and protection.

The Purana recounts the story of how Markandeya’s parents unknowingly made offerings to a sacred bael (wood apple) tree, and due to this act, the young Markandeya was destined to live only for sixteen years.

When the appointed time of his death approached, Markandeya fervently meditated upon Lord Shiva and embraced a Shiva Linga (symbol of Lord Shiva) within a cave. Impressed by his devotion, Lord Shiva appeared and granted him immortality, becoming the eternal guardian of the sage.

Apart from this central narrative, the Markandeya Purana also contains tales of other gods and goddesses, including Vishnu, Brahma, Durga, and many more.

It offers insights into the creation and dissolution of the universe, the concept of time cycles (yugas), and the importance of righteousness and virtuous living. The Purana serves as a source of inspiration for devotees, emphasizing the power of unswerving devotion and the rewards of leading a righteous life.

10. Matsya Purana.

The Matsya Purana is one of the oldest and earliest of the eighteen major Puranas. Its name, “Matsya,” translates to “fish” in Sanskrit. The Purana derives its title from the first story, which narrates the tale of Lord Vishnu’s Matsya Avatar (incarnation as a fish).

The central narrative revolves around the great flood that threatened to destroy all life on Earth. In this Avatar, Lord Vishnu appeared as a giant fish and guided a king named Manu’s boat to safety, preserving humanity and all living beings.

The Matsya Purana provides a comprehensive account of various subjects, including cosmology, geography, mythology, dharma, and religious practices. It describes the creation of the universe, the genealogy of various dynasties, and the significance of performing rituals and sacrifices.

Additionally, the Purana contains the legends of the solar and lunar dynasties, as well as the stories of revered sages such as Vashishtha and Vishwamitra.

In its entirety, the Matsya Purana emphasizes the importance of dharma (righteousness) and the consequences of one’s actions (karma). It offers guidance on virtuous living, the pursuit of knowledge, and the significance of devotion to the divine.

By preserving the ancient wisdom and sacred knowledge, the Purana aims to enlighten future generations about the cosmic order and the eternal truths of life.

11. Narada Purana.

The Narada Purana is named after the celestial sage Narada, a revered figure in Hindu mythology. This Purana is an essential part of the eighteen major Puranas and is renowned for its emphasis on bhakti (devotion) and the glorification of Lord Vishnu. Ascribed to the sage Narada, the text is believed to have been recited by him to sages and devotees.

The Narada Purana comprises a vast range of subjects, including cosmology, creation myths, geography, genealogies of deities, and religious practices. It expounds on the principles of dharma (righteousness) and presents various paths to attain liberation (moksha), with devotion being the most prominent one.

The central theme revolves around the celestial sage Narada, who is an eternal devotee of Lord Vishnu. Narada travels across the universe, interacting with different deities and sages, and spreads the knowledge of devotion and divine love. He exemplifies the ideal of an enlightened being, completely immersed in the devotion to the Supreme.

This Purana inspires devotees to cultivate unwavering love and devotion towards the divine, regardless of their social status or intellectual capabilities.

It advocates the chanting of the Lord’s name (Naam Japa) and the performance of selfless service (Seva) as potent means to attain spiritual liberation.

The Narada Purana also contains detailed accounts of various holy places (tirthas) and pilgrimage sites, believed to bestow immense spiritual merit upon pilgrims. Through these narratives, the Purana encourages the practice of pilgrimage and the importance of visiting sacred places to attain spiritual purification.

Overall, the Narada Purana serves as a guiding light for devotees, illuminating the path of devotion, selflessness, and righteous living, ultimately leading to the eternal union with the divine.

12. Padma Purana.

pink water lily flower on water
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The Padma Purana, named after the sacred lotus (padma), is one of the eighteen major Puranas in Hinduism. This voluminous text is divided into five parts, known as khandas. Each khanda focuses on different aspects of spiritual knowledge, mythology, and religious practices.

The Padma Purana covers a wide array of subjects, including cosmology, geography, genealogies, and the significance of pilgrimage sites. It contains numerous stories, legends, and teachings that aim to inspire and guide devotees on their spiritual journey.

The primary theme of the Padma Purana centers around the glory of Lord Vishnu, with a strong emphasis on the practice of bhakti (devotion) as the most direct path to spiritual liberation. The Purana narrates the stories of devotees who attained salvation through their unwavering love and surrender to the Supreme.

One of the most revered sections of the Padma Purana is the Uttarakhanda, which contains the famous Devi Mahatmya or Durga Saptashati.

This portion glorifies the Divine Mother, Goddess Durga, and her epic battle against the demon Mahishasura. It highlights the power of the feminine divine and the triumph of good over evil.

Additionally, the Padma Purana provides detailed descriptions of various religious observances, festivals, and rituals, serving as a guidebook for devotees in their daily practices and spiritual endeavors.

The Padma Purana also underscores the importance of charitable acts, selfless service, and kindness towards all living beings. It lays emphasis on performing acts of compassion (daan) and engaging in acts of charity and benevolence.

Overall, the Padma Purana offers a profound understanding of the Hindu way of life, the significance of devotion, and the eternal truths that guide seekers on their path to enlightenment and divine realization.

13. Shiva Purana.

The Shiva Purana is one of the eighteen major Puranas, dedicated to the worship and glorification of Lord Shiva, the supreme deity in Shaivism (one of the main sects within Hinduism). The Purana comprises twenty-four thousand verses and is revered for its spiritual depth and knowledge.

The Shiva Purana provides extensive details about the creation of the universe, the origin of Lord Shiva, his various manifestations (avatars), and his divine consort, Goddess Parvati (also known as Shakti or Uma).

It contains stories of cosmic battles, the churning of the ocean (Samudra Manthan), and the emergence of holy rivers and sacred places.

The Purana emphasizes the significance of devotion to Lord Shiva and elucidates the different forms of worship, rituals, and sacred texts associated with him. It extols the benefits of observing fasts (Shivaratri), pilgrimage to Shiva temples, and the chanting of sacred hymns (mantras) dedicated to the Lord.

The Shiva Purana also narrates various episodes that teach profound philosophical lessons and moral values. For instance, the story of Shiva and Parvati’s marriage exemplifies the essence of divine love and the harmony between the masculine and feminine aspects of the universe.

Moreover, the Purana includes discussions between sages and Lord Shiva himself, wherein profound spiritual knowledge and teachings are imparted. These dialogues elucidate the principles of dharma, the nature of reality, and the path to spiritual liberation (moksha).

Through the Shiva Purana, devotees gain insight into the qualities of Lord Shiva, such as his compassionate nature, his role as the destroyer and regenerator in the cosmic cycle, and his willingness to grant boons to his sincere devotees.

Overall, the Shiva Purana holds great spiritual significance for Shaivites and all seekers of truth, offering divine wisdom and profound teachings that inspire devotees to walk the path of righteousness, devotion, and spiritual transformation.

14. Skanda Purana.

The Skanda Purana, also known as the Kartikeya Purana, is dedicated to Lord Skanda, also called Kartikeya or Murugan, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. As one of the major eighteen Puranas, the Skanda Purana is the longest and consists of around 81,000 verses.

This Purana primarily focuses on the life and exploits of Lord Skanda, who is the commander of the celestial army and the epitome of valor, wisdom, and devotion. It describes his birth, his role in defeating demons and restoring righteousness, and his interactions with other deities and sages.

The Skanda Purana is classified into six parts, known as khandas, each named after a prominent deity. These khandas are:

A. Maheshwara Khanda: This section glorifies Lord Shiva and contains stories of his divine manifestations and the significance of Shiva worship.

b. Vaishnava Khanda: Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, this part extols his incarnations, teachings, and devotees.

c. Brahma Khanda: This section narrates the creation of the universe, the origin of Brahma, and the celestial worlds.

d. Kashi Khanda: Focused on the sacred city of Varanasi (Kashi), this part elaborates on the holiness of the city and its religious practices.

e. Avanti Khanda: This section describes the region of Avanti (modern-day Ujjain) and its religious importance.

f. Nagara Khanda: The final section primarily deals with pilgrimage sites, sacred rivers, and the benefits of visiting these holy places.

Apart from Lord Skanda’s stories, the Skanda Purana also encompasses various myths, legends, and rituals associated with Hindu traditions. It serves as a guide for devotees on spiritual practices, pilgrimage, and the importance of devotion to Lord Skanda and other deities.

Through the Skanda Purana, devotees learn about the significance of courage, perseverance, and the pursuit of knowledge in their quest for spiritual growth and self-realization.

15. Vamana Purana.

The Vamana Purana, named after the Vamana Avatar of Lord Vishnu, is one of the eighteen major Puranas in Hinduism. It primarily focuses on the stories and teachings associated with Lord Vishnu’s Vamana Avatar, where he incarnates as a dwarf to restore the cosmic order and subdue the demon king Bali.

The Purana consists of several chapters that narrate the cosmic creation, the genealogy of deities, and various other mythological stories. It delves into topics like the duties of different castes, the importance of righteous conduct, and the significance of performing religious rituals and sacrifices.

The central narrative of the Vamana Purana revolves around the benevolent Vamana Avatar of Lord Vishnu. In this incarnation, Lord Vishnu approached the demon king Bali, who was renowned for his generosity, during a grand sacrificial ceremony.

Disguised as a dwarf Brahmin, Vamana sought alms from Bali. Pleased by the Brahmin’s humility, Bali offered to grant him any wish he desired. To the surprise of the gods and demons, Vamana asked for a piece of land that he could cover in three steps.

Bali agreed, but as Vamana grew in size, his first step covered the entire Earth, and the second step covered the heavens. With no place left to keep his third step, Bali offered his own head, displaying his utter devotion and surrender to the divine. Lord Vishnu granted Bali a place in the netherworld (Patala), where he continues to rule.

The Vamana Purana also contains sections describing the cosmic cycle of creation, preservation, and dissolution. It provides detailed descriptions of various rituals, pilgrimage sites, and the benefits of performing charitable acts.

Through the stories and teachings of the Vamana Purana, devotees learn the values of humility, gratitude, and devotion to the divine. It inspires individuals to cultivate a sense of selflessness, righteous living, and dedication to spiritual growth.

16. Varaha Purana.

The Varaha Purana, named after Lord Vishnu’s Varaha Avatar (incarnation as a boar), is one of the eighteen major Puranas in Hinduism. It primarily centers around Lord Vishnu’s Varaha Avatar and contains various myths, legends, and religious teachings.

The Purana begins with the story of the Varaha Avatar, where Lord Vishnu takes the form of a boar to rescue the Earth (Bhudevi) from the demon Hiranyaksha, who had submerged her in the cosmic ocean. Varaha retrieves the Earth on his tusks, defeating the demon and restoring cosmic order.

Apart from the central narrative, the Varaha Purana provides information on cosmology, the genealogy of various dynasties, and descriptions of religious observances and rituals. It covers subjects like the duties of rulers, the significance of pilgrimage, and the merits of various charitable acts.

The Varaha Purana is also notable for containing the Vishnu Sahasranama, a revered hymn consisting of a thousand names of Lord Vishnu. This hymn is considered highly sacred and is recited by devotees to invoke the blessings and protection of Lord Vishnu.

The Purana also incorporates various legends related to other deities, sages, and kings, contributing to the rich tapestry of Hindu mythology and theology.

Through its diverse content, the Varaha Purana imparts spiritual wisdom, ethical values, and insights into the cosmic order. It emphasizes the importance of righteousness, devotion, and selfless service to attain spiritual liberation and divine grace.

17. Vishnu Purana.

The Vishnu Purana is one of the most significant and ancient Puranas, dedicated to the worship and glorification of Lord Vishnu, the preserver and sustainer of the universe. As one of the eighteen major Puranas, it plays a crucial role in Hindu theology, mythology, and cosmology.

The Purana provides a comprehensive account of the creation, preservation, and dissolution of the universe through various cosmic cycles (yugas). It also elucidates the concept of dharma (righteousness), the nature of reality, and the paths to spiritual liberation (moksha).

The Vishnu Purana consists of six parts, known as amsas or limbs, each focusing on different aspects of divine knowledge:

a. Vishnu Purva: This section covers the cosmology, the creation of the world, and the genealogy of the celestial beings.

b. Vishnu Tiryak: This part describes the various cycles of creation and destruction, known as kalpas.

c. Vishnu Vaishnava: Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, this section presents his divine incarnations (avatars) and their respective roles in restoring cosmic harmony.

d. Vishnu Pashchima: This part includes descriptions of religious rituals, duties of the four castes (varnas), and the merits of performing virtuous deeds.

e. Vishnu Uttarottara: The penultimate section of the Purana contains discourses on dharma, righteous living, and the path to liberation.

f. Vishnu Shantiparva: The final section emphasizes the significance of devotion, meditation, and spiritual knowledge in attaining peace and liberation.

The Vishnu Purana also includes the famous Vishnu Sahasranama, a thousand names of Lord Vishnu that extol his divine qualities and attributes.

Through the Vishnu Purana, devotees gain a profound understanding of the cosmic order, the eternal truths of existence, and the path to spiritual enlightenment. It encourages devotees to lead virtuous lives, cultivate devotion to the Supreme, and embrace the principles of dharma for their spiritual evolution and ultimate union with the divine.

18. Bhavishya Purana.

The Bhavishya Purana is one of the eighteen major Puranas in Hinduism. Puranas are ancient Indian texts that contain various stories, myths, legends, genealogies, and religious teachings. The Bhavishya Purana, as its name suggests, is primarily concerned with prophecies and future events.

The exact date of its composition is uncertain, but like other Puranas, it is believed to have been composed over many centuries, with different parts written at different times. The Puranas were originally transmitted orally and later written down.

The Bhavishya Purana consists of four parts (books), each containing numerous chapters. It covers a wide range of topics, including cosmology, cosmogony, genealogies of gods and sages, legends of various dynasties, descriptions of sacred places, and discussions on religious duties.

One distinguishing feature of the Bhavishya Purana is the presence of predictions about future events. These prophecies are of varying nature and have sparked debates and discussions among scholars and readers over the centuries.

As with any ancient text, interpretations of the Bhavishya Purana can vary, and not all prophecies mentioned in the text have been fulfilled. Some interpretations may be considered allegorical or symbolic rather than literal predictions.

It’s important to note that while the Puranas hold significant religious and cultural value in Hinduism, they are not considered scriptures in the same way as the Vedas or Upanishads. As with any ancient text, one should approach its contents with an understanding of its historical and cultural

context.

Conclusion : 18 Puran names.

In conclusion, the 18 Puran names are a collection of ancient texts that hold immense significance in Hindu literature. Through their stories, teachings, and prophecies, they offer a glimpse into the rich cultural and spiritual heritage of ancient India.

Each Purana has its own unique themes and lessons, providing valuable insights into ethics, devotion, and the interconnectedness of all creation. By studying and embracing the wisdom contained within these texts, we can deepen our understanding of ourselves and the divine, and embark on a meaningful journey of spiritual growth and enlightenment.

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