Epics

The Puranas are a collection of extraordinary myths and stories. An oral tradition since the time of Krishna (c. 1500 B.C.), most of the Puranas were finalized around 500 A.D.

The major Puranas number 18; there are also several minor Puranas. Each story is a lengthy book of various stories of the deities, hymns, ancient history, rituals, cosmology, life stories, and spiritual wisdom. Something like encyclopedias of religion and culture, the Puranas have material at several different levels.

The major Puranas include the Markendeya Purana (to the Goddess), Vishnu Purana and Shiva Purana. These interested in Krishna appreciate the Bhagavata Purana. Additionally, there are the Kalki, Linga, Vayu, Skanda and Agni Puranas.

The Puranas are probably the most important works of the Vedic tradition.

Ramayana

Ramayana is one of the two great Sanskrit epics of ancient India (the other is the Mahabharata). It is the story of birth and schooling of Rama, who was a prince. He was believed to be the 7th incarnation of Vishnu, a god. Rama won the right to marry Sita. After being displaced in inheriting his father’s throne, Rama goes into exile with Sita. Rama’s brother Lakshmana comes with them. The demon king Ravana kidnaps Sita. The monkey general Hanuman, and his army of bears and monkeys, help Rama to kill Ravana and rescue Sita. Rama reclaims his throne and becomes a wise ruler. Rumors of Sita’s adultery during her imprisonment by Ravana circulate. Although Sita is innocent, she gives birth to twin boys while in exile, and Rama is the father. Sita and the children are protected by the Valmiki, who is a hermit and is supposedly the author of the poem. Many years pass, and Rama and Sita are reunited.

Although the Ramayana is basically a non-religious piece, it utilizes a great deal of ancient Vedic knowledge. Rama is seen to embody princely heroism; Sita is wifely devotion, Lakshmana is brotherly devotion, and Hanuman is loyal service. The Ramayana is frequently the topic of plays in India and Southeast Asia. The Ramayana was very influential on subsequent Indian literature.

Mahabharata

Sanskrit for “Great Story,” Mahabharata is one of the two great Sanskrit epics of ancient India (the other is the Ramayana). The Mahabharata is the story of the two noble families, the Pandavas and their blood relatives the Kauravas, who struggle to dominate a kingdom in the northern part of India. The Bhagavad-Gita, which is part of Mahabharata, is a dialogue between Krishna (the 8th incarnation of Vishnu), and the warrior Arjuna on the meaning of life. Written beginning about 300 B.C., the Mahabharata was given several additions over the course of 600 years. The story consists of eighteen books with a total of approximately 200,000 lines of verse.

Vayu Purana

Dedicated to the wind god, Vayu, these writings cover the creation and re-creation of the universe, and diverse topics such the origins of certain gods, animals, birds, trees and creepers; genealogies of the ancient kings; geography; names and description of the seven netherworlds (Patalas); the solar system and the movements of the celestial bodies; and the 4 yugas and 14 manvantaras.
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Ganesha Purana

A complete guide to Lord Ganesha from all aspects. Click here to download pdf

Brahma Purana

Brahma consists of 2 parts: Purva Bhaag and Uttar Bhaag. Purva Bhaag has stories of creation and descriptions of Lord Rama & Lord Krishna. Uttar Bhaag includes a comprehensive description of Purshottam Tirtha that is well-known. Click here to download pdf

Padma Purana

The Padma Purana has 5 parts. Part 1: Pulastya, the sage, explains the fundamental nature of religion to Bheeshma. Part 2: describes the earth. Part 3: Stories of creation and the geography of India. Part 4: The life of Lord Rama. Part 5: A dialogue between Lord Shiva and Parvati on the essential knowledge of religion.

Vishnu Purana

Vishnu Purana has 5 parts. Part 1: The creation of the universe. Part 2: The geography of the earth. Part 3: The origin of Buddhism. Part 4: A story of how the earth was populated. Part 5: The life of Lord Krishna.Click here to download pdf

Skanda Purana

The longest Purana, it mostly discusses to Kartikeya (Skanda), whose parents are Lord Shiva and Parvati. Also has stories related to Lord Shiva and many places of pilgrimage devoted to Shiva.Click here to download pdf

Shiv Mahapurana

An enormous compilation of stories of Lord Shiva, divided into 7 Samhitas. Contains 24,000+ stanzas. Click here to download pdf

Vamana Purana

A dialogue between Pulastya (the sage) and Narad on the Vaman avtaar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu.

Maarkandeya Purana

A dialogue between sage Jaimini and sage Markandeya.

Varaha Purana

The story of how the earth was saved by the “Varaha” avtaar (boar incarnation) of Lord Vishnu.

Brahma Vaivat Purana

This Purana contains four parts. First part contains the tale of creation. Second part contains tales related to goddesses. Third part contains tales related to Lord Ganesh. In the fourth part, tales related to the life and plays of Lord Krishna have been given.

Agni Purana

Devoted to Agni, these writings are in a preaching style by Agni to Vashishta (a sage). They describe several incarnations of God, Krishna and Lord Rama. Click here to download pdf

Bhavishya Purana

Has 5 parts. Part 1: Creation. Parts 2: Lord Shiva. Part 3: Lord Vishnu. Part 4: Surya. Part 5: Heaven.

Kurma Purana

The Lord narrates this story as the Kurma (tortoise) incarnation to Narad. Narad then told it to Sutaji who, in his own words, narrated it to a group of great sages. Includes the duties of various castes, the 6 magic acts and mokṣa dharma.

Matsya Purana

Stories about the Lord’s incarnation as a fish. Click here to download pdf

Garuda Purana

Lord Vishnu talks about his vehicle, Garuda (the large mythical bird), and discusses the subtleties of life and religion. Also discusses how to identify the best gems.Click here to download pdf

Brahmaand PURANA

Currently, this text is in several pieces that seem disconnected. It contained Aadhyatma Ramayana in the past. A wide variety of topics, including: creation of cosmos; time as a dimension; Kalpa; Yuga; geography of Jambudvipa, Bharata-varsha, and other as islands and landmasses; dynasties including Bharata, Prithu, Deva, Rishi, and Agni.

Shrimad Bhagawat Purana

Shrimad Bhagwat Purana is prized in Sanskrit literature because it is beautifully presented. It contains stories related to several incarnations of Lord Vishnu. It mostly covers the life and times of Lord Krishna. Click here to download pdf

Linga Purana

The glory of Lord Shiva and Linga Puja. Stories of the creation of the universe, the origin of Linga, and of all the Vedas, Brahma, Vishnu and so forth.Click here to download pdf

Narad Purana

A dialogue between Narad and Sanat Kumar, describing important places of pilgrimage.

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