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(po͝orä`nə): see Sanskrit literatureSanskrit literature,
literary works written in Sanskrit constituting the main body of the classical literature of India. Introduction

The literature is divided into two main periods—the Vedic (c.1500–c.200 B.C.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



canonical texts of Hinduism.

The oldest puranas date from the middle of the first millennium B.C., but the basic texts that have come down to us appeared chiefly in the second half of the first millennium. The most valuable, by literary and historical considerations, are the Markandeya Purana, Vayu Purana, Vishnu Purana, Bhagavata Purana, and Matsya Purana. Depending on which god the purana is dedicated to, there are Vishnuite, Saiva, and Brahmanic puranas, but, as a whole, they express the basic religious, social, and ethical principles of Hinduism.

In content and form, the puranas resemble ancient Indian epic poetry. They present cosmogonic legends, myths about the origins of all creatures, and the genealogy of the gods, divine sages, and legendary dynasties. The ethical and metaphysical ideas of the puranas influenced most of the philosophers of medieval India. Poets and dramatists also used the myths of the puranas in their works. The Bhagavata Purana, in which the cult of ecstatic love for god (bhakti) is preached and legends about the life of Krishna are retold, has especially influenced religious and literary traditions in the modern Indian languages.


Bhagavata Purana, vols. 1–5. Translated and published by E. Burnouf et al. Paris, 1840–98.
Vayu Purana, vols. 1–2. Calcutta, 1880–88.
Matsya Purana. Poona, 1907.
Markandeya Purana. Bombay, 1924.
Vishnu-Purana, vols. 1–5, 3rd ed. Translated by H. H. Wilson. Calcutta, 1972.
In Russian translation:
Lallu Ji Lal. Prem Sagar. Translated from Hindi with introduction and notes by A. P. Barannikov. Moscow-Leningrad, 1937.


Wilson, H. H. Puranas or an Account of Their Contents and Nature. Calcutta, 1911.
Pusalker, A. D. Studies in the Epics and Puranas. Bombay, 1955.
An Anthology of the Epics and Puranas. Edited by S. K. De and R. C. Hazra. New Delhi, 1959.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
RSS, since its inception on October 27, 1925, has been looking at Indian history through the puranas. The puranas-centric approach to history became pivotal to RSS ideology with the book, 'We our nationhood defined' (1939) written by Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, its second Sarsangh chalak, known as Guruji in the Sangh Parivar.
RSS has been maintaining that history is just history and the Puranas are the main source of history in India.
The detailed index of names and concepts, together with a similar index in the first volume, will be a useful tool for scholars engaged in research on Puranas and related texts.
157-76; in DICSEP 1 the Harivamsa was hardly mentioned), in between nine articles on the epics (only one of these on the Ramayana) and eight on the puranas, there are now six contributions under the heading "Harivamsa, the Khila," which "attracted the contributions of the most prominent Ramayana scholars at DICSEP 3" (p.
Others look for original texts--or "the" original text--mainly of the puranas. Christophe Vielle's study of the Vayu-and Brahmanda Puranas (pp.
As for the background and techniques of the numerous Indians who, for centuries, have transmitted--and shaped--epic and puranic stone's, and the reactions of the even larger audiences, the study of the role these two classes of participants have played in the history of the two major epics, the Harivamsa, and the puranas appears to be left in the domain of historians, anthropologists, and folklorists.
This review may be the right place to point to an unexpected but fascinating form of "Stages and Transitions," not of a purana text but of a purana manuscript.
Velcheru Narayana Rao's "Purana as Brahmanic Ideology," the first of four contributions to part II, "From South to North and Back Again," reflects on a number of topics: it illustrates the changes which a folk story such as that of the Komati caste of Andhra undergoes when it is "puranized"; it shows how the puranas, being arthapradhana, differ from the Vedas, which are sabdapradhana, and from kavya, which is sabdarthapradhana, and how, being oral, they nevertheless differ from oral folk narratives because "[t]he orality of the Puranas is literate orality" (p.
"On Folk Mythologies and Folk Puranas," by the late A.
179); as I pointed out elsewhere (The Puranas [1986], 4344), Kirfel proceeded very cautiously, but he did use the phrase "Versuch einer Rekonstruktion des Urpurana."
As the title indicates, Cort's contribution, "An Overview of the Jaina Puranas," is largely descriptive.
In "Jaina Puranas: A Puranic Counter Tradition," Padmanabh Jaini makes his point, loud and clear, right from the outset: "Even a cursory glance at the Jaina Puranas, makes it clear that the Jaina authors who composed them knew the Hindu Epics and Puranas well, studied them with the attention worthy of a board of censors examining the offensive portions of a story, and finally decided to rewrite the script in conformity with their own doctrines and sensibilities.