Puranes - the sacred literature of Hinduism

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Puranes are written by the great wise Vyasa.
His son Shuka is the narrator of Major Purana Bhagavata-Purana.

Traditionally, it is said that a Purana deals with five subjects or "five signs":

- the primary creation of the universe

-secondary creation after periodic annihilation

- genealogy of gods and patriarchs

- the reigns of Manus (the first men)

- the history of solar and lunar dynasties.

Creation and dissolution (sarga, "emission" and samhara, "gathering in") occur when Prajapati, a creative figure of the Vedic era, issues the universe and opens it, but everything is always in it, just revealed alternately (manifest) or hidden (latently), sarga leaves it out and samhara pulls it back.

Purana also deals with various topics related to religious developments that took place between 400 and 1500 BC

These additional topics include customs, ceremonies, sacrifices, festivals, caste taxes, donations, temple construction and images and places of pilgrimage. The genealogies of the gods, Manus, and kings form an open structure in which individual authors place anything they want to speak (although some Purana ignore genealogies entirely).

The questions that concern these authors are how to live a godly life and how to worship the gods

Such worship includes: rituals (pujas) that should be performed at home or in the temple on special festival days, places to go on pilgrimage, prayers and spiritual stories. Most of these rituals do not require the mediation of a Brahman priest.

There are traditionally 18 Puranes

but there are some different lists of the 18, as well as some lists with more or less than 18. The oldest Puranas, probably composed between 350 and 750 are Brahmanda, Devi, Kurma, Markandeya, Matsya, Vamana, Varaha, Vayu and Vishnu. The next of the oldest, composed between 750 and 1000, are Agni, Bhagavata, Bhavishya, Brahma, Brahmavaivata, Devibhagavata, Garuda, Linga, Padma, Shiva and Skanda. Finally, the most recent, composed between 1000 and 1500, are Kalika, Kalki, Mahabhagavata, Naradiya and Saura.

All Puranas are strongly sectarian - some worshipped by Shiva, others to Vishnu or other deities.

By far the most popular Purana is Bhagavata-purana,with its elegant treatment of childhood and early life in Krishna.

There are also 18 "smaller" Puranes, or upa-puranas

which treat similar materials and a large number of sthala-puranas ("Local Puranas") or mahatmyas ("enlargements"), which glorify sacred temples or houses and are recited in temples.

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