the Vedas. A brief exposition of an idea do not make a deep impression on the mind. If the same is presented as an interesting story or anecdote it stays in the mind. The Vedas merely say, ‘Satyam Vada'. Speak the truth. How adherence to truth leads to undying glory is narrated through the well known story of King Harishchandra. Puraanas are history. They are history with an ennobling purpose. Selected events are recorded in such a way so as to educate the people in right and wrong and make them follow the path of righteousness. The Puraanas selected the lives and activities of those who reaped great benefit in this very life by following the path of dharma and those who came to bad end because of their evil ways. The stories also take us to the next birth to show how the bad and the good activities of this life brought inevitable results in the next life.
Political events has been given pride of place in western history and its narration is confined to empires, wars, invasions, dynasties, etc. The Puraanas keep Dharma as the central theme and records the lives and deeds of not only kings, but illustrious men, saints, rishis and also the common man.
The subject matter in the Puraanas consists of
- Sarga (Primary creation- how the universe is created)
- Pratisarga (Secondary creation- how different life forms are created )
- Vamsa (Geneology- names of descendents from one generation to the other)
- Manvantara (Calculation of time )
- Vamsaanucharita (Family history and dynastic details )
There are 18 Puraanas consisting of four hundred thousand granthas. A grantha is a sloka with thirty- two syllables. Each Puraana keeps a single deity as its main theme. This deity is described as the highest God and other deities will be given lesser importance. The intention is not to belittle any particular deity. The object is to glorify the God of one's choice so that the devotee's attention may concentrate on that aspect of God to the exclusion of others. This is called, ‘Ananya Bhakti'- undivided attention. It must be understood that the many forms are the manifestations of the same single God. In such a case all the Puraanas become the sporting activities of that one God assuming different forms, play acting different roles. The Puraanas are broadly classified into three categories. The Vaishnava sect, Shaiva sect and the Shakta sect.
The names of the Puraanas are