Classification of the major Puranas (Mahapuranas):

    Puranas with Lord Vishnu as the Predominating Deity (Sattva Guna):

  1. Vishnu Purana - 23,000 verses.
    Stories of various devotees; a description of varnasrama; the six angas of the Veda; a description of the age of Kali; description of Sveta-Varaha Kalpa, Vishnu dharmotara.
  2. Naradiya Purana - 25,000 verses.
    This Purana contains a synopsis of everything; it describes Jagannatha Puri, Dwaraka, Badrinatha, etc.
  3. Padma Purana - 55,000 verses.
    Contains the glory of Srimad Bhagavatam; the stories of Rama, Jagannatha, Matsya, Ekadasi, Bhrgu, etc.
  4. Garuda Purana - 19,000 verses.
    Subject of Bhagavad-gita; reincarnation; visnu-sahasra-nama; description of Tarsya Kalpa.
  5. Varaha Purana - 24,000 verses.
    Describes different vratas; Lord Vishnu's glories.
  6. Bhagavata Purana - 18,000 verses. (included by some in the mode of goodness)
  7. Puranas with Lord Brahma as the Predominating Deity (Rajo Guna):

  8. Brahmanda Purana - 12,000 verses.
    Describes the vedangas; describes the Adi Kalpa.
  9. Brahmavaivarta Purana - 18,000 verses.
    Contains the glories and pastimes of Radha and Krishna.
  10. Markandeya Purana - 9,000 verses.
    Stories of Rama and Krishna.
  11. Bhavisya Purana - 14,500 verses.
    Contains the glories of devotional service; prediction of Lord Chaitanya.
  12. Vamana Purana - 10,000 verses.
    Contains the story of Lord Trivikrama.
  13. Brahma Purana - 10,000 verses.
  14. Puranas with Lord Shiva as the Predominating Deity (Tamo Guna):

  15. Matsya Purana - 14,000 verses.
    Temple construction; describes Vamana and Varaha Kalpas.
  16. Kurma Purana - 17,000 verses.
    Contains the conversation between Krishna and the Sun-god (mentioned in Bhagavad-gita); Danvantari; Describes the Lakshmi Kalpa.
  17. Linga Purana - 10,000 verses.
    Contains the glory of Lord Nrismhadeva; Janardhana; the story of Ambarisa; the glories of Gayatri.
  18. Shiva Purana - 24,000 verses.
  19. Skanda Purana - 81,000 verses.
  20. Agni Purana - 15,400 verses.
    Contains the description of Salagrama; Describes the Isana Kalpa.

All these Puranas describe five subjects. The Amarakosa (the classical Sanskrit version of Webster 1913) describes the Puranas as follows:

sargas ca pratisarga ca
vamsa manvantarani ca
vamsanu caritam capi
puranam panca laksanam

A Purana describes:

  1. sarga (creation)
  2. pratisarga (recreation)
  3. vamsa (history of the sages)
  4. manvantara (periods of Manu)
  5. vamsanucarita (geneology of kings) 


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