What are Mahapuranas and Upa Purana ?


After Mahabharata, Purana is considered to be the most important work of Maharishi Vyas. Maharishi Vyas wrote a total of 18 Puranas which are also called Mahapuranas. Apart from this, the works written by other sages are also called Upa Purana. There is no limit to the knowledge contained in these Puranas. Whatever knowledge there is on earth is described in these Puranas.

Basically the Puranas are divided into two parts:

Mahapuran: Written by Maharishi Vyas
Upa Purana: Written by other sages


These are the 18 great texts which were composed by Maharishi Vyas and which we generally call Puranas. The number of verses included in all these is 409500. The largest of these is Skanda Purana and the smallest is Markandeya Purana.

These are:

Brahma Purana (10000 verses)

In this Purana, the origin of creation, description of Sun and Moon dynasty, character of Shri Ram and Shri Krishna, character of Markandeya, importance of pilgrimages, marriage of Shiva and Parvati, earth, geography, heaven, hell etc. have been described. In this, the pastimes of Shri Krishna have been specifically described.

Padma Purana (55000 verses)

In this Purana, along with the glory of Lord Vishnu, the characters of Shri Ram and Shri Krishna, importance of various pilgrimages, glory of Shaligram and Tulsi and various fasts are described.

Vishnu Purana (23000 verses)

In Vishnu Purana, the origin of the universe, caste system, ashram system, descriptions of kings like Shri Hari and Goddess Lakshmi, Dhruv Prahlad etc., tradition of development, nine parts of India, seven islands, fourteen Vidyas, Vaivaswat Manu, There is a description of the lunar and solar dynasty.

Shiv Purana (24000 verses)

Scholars also consider Vayu Purana to be a part of Shiv Mahapuran, which has 11000 verses. The character of Lord Shiva has been described in six sections of this Purana – Vidyeshwar Samhita, Rudra Samhita, Kotirudra Samhita, Uma Samhita, Kailash Samhita and Vayu Samhita.


Bhagwat Puran (18000 verses)

Some people also call it Devi Bhagwat or Shrimad Bhagwat Puran. In this Purana, the supernatural Parabrahma form of Shri Krishna has been mainly explained.

Narad Purana (25000 verses)

Although the number of verses of this Purana is 25000, but at present only 22000 verses are available. This Purana is also important because it contains the description of all the 18 Mahapuranas. This Purana is divided into two parts – East Part and North Part.

Markandeya Purana (9000 verses)

It is the smallest Purana. In this Purana there is a dialogue between Maharishi Jaimini and the birds. It has the story of Durga Shaptashati, Harishchandra and various gods and goddesses.

Agni Purana (15400 verses)

It describes the worship of the Trinity and the Sun. Only 15000 verses of this Purana are currently available. It contains a detailed description of the importance of Agnidev.

Bhavishya Purana (14500 verses)

This Purana describes the future and events of Kaliyuga. Nowadays, in today’s edition, it also contains information about Islam and Christianity which is said to have been added much later. For this reason scholars raise questions on the authenticity of this Purana. Many scholars place Vayu Purana among the 18 Puranas instead of Bhavishya Purana.

Brahmavaivarta Purana (18000 verses)

In this Purana, Brahmaji has described in detail the birth and upbringing of the living beings roaming in the entire earth sphere, water sphere and air sphere. It contains a detailed description of Lord Krishna’s pastimes, a beautiful description of Shri Radha’s Goloka-Leela and Avatar-Leela, and a description of the glories of various gods.

Linga Purana (11000 verses)

In this Purana, Maharishi Vyas has described the eras and explained in detail the importance of Lord Shiva and his 24 incarnations.

Varaha Purana (24000 verses)

In this, the main story of Sri Hari’s Varaha incarnation, description of pilgrimage, fast, Yagya-Yajna, Shraddha-Tarpan, charity and rituals, glory of Sri Hari, rituals of worship, origin of Gauri as the daughter of Himalaya. And the story of his marriage with Lord Shankar is described.

Skanda Purana (81100 verses)

This is the largest Purana which describes in detail all the pilgrimages and stories of Lord Shankar. It is said that this Purana was written by Karthikeya himself, that is why it was named Skanda Purana after him.

Vaman Purana (10000 verses)

It describes Vaman, Nar-Narayan, Durga, Prahlad, Shridama, Lord Shiva, Jeevamut vehicle, Daksh Yagya destruction, Kamdev Dahan, Andhak Vadh, Lakshmi character etc.

Kurma Purana (17000 verses)

This Purana is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Mahadev in which it is told about the similarity and equal importance of both of them.

Matsya Purana (14000 verses)

It contains information about Shri Hari’s Matsya incarnation, pilgrimage, fasting, yagya, charity, flood, dialogue between Matsya and Manu, Rajdharma and glory of the Trinity.

Garuda Purana (19000 verses)

Only 8000 verses are available in the present Garuda Purana. In this, information is given about the fate of humans after death. There is special importance of listening to this Purana after someone’s death.

Brahmanda Purana (12000 verses)

The 12000 verses of this Purana are divided into four parts – Prasyapada, Anushpada, Upodaghata and Upasamharpada. In this, detailed information is given about the structure of the universe and astronomical science.

All these Mahapuranas are mainly dedicated to 5 gods, out of which most of the Puranas are based on Lord Shiva and Sri Hari.

Agni dev

Agni Purana

Surya dev

Brahmavaivarta Purana


  • Brahma Purana
  • Padma Purana

Lord Vishnu

  • Vishnu Purana
  • Bhagwat Purana
  • Narada Purana
  • Garuda Purana
  • Bhavishya Purana
  • Varaha Purana
  • Matsya Purana

Lord Shiva

  • Shiva Purana
  • Linga Purana
  • Skanda Purana
  • Vamana Purana
  • Kurma Purana
  • Markandeya Purana
  • Brahmand purana

These 18 Mahapuranas also represent the three Gunas in 6 sections each


  • Vishnu Purana
  • Bhagwat Purana
  • Narada Purana
  • Varaha Purana
  • Garuda Purana
  • Padma Purana


  • Brahmand purana
  • Markandeya Purana
  • Brahmavaivarta Purana
  • Bhavishya Purana
  • Brahma Purana
  • Vamana Purana


  • Linga Purana
  • Shiva Purana
  • Matsya Purana
  • Kurma Purana
  • Agni Purana
  • Skanda Purana


Apart from the Mahapuranas, there are also 18 Upa-Puranas whose authors are other prominent sages. However, many of these are now extinct and their written copy is not available. These are:

  • Adi Purana: Author Sanatkumar
  • Narasimha Purana: Author Vedvyas
  • Nandi Purana: Author Kartikeya
  • Shivdharma Purana: Enhanced form of Shiv Purana. Author Vyas Muni.
  • Ashcharya Purana: Author Durvasa
  • Naradiya Purana: Author Narada
  • Kapil Purana: Author Kapil Muni
  • Manav Purana: Author Narada
  • Ushnaasa Purana: Author Ushnasha
  • Brahmanda Purana: Author Vedvyas
  • Varun Purana: Author Varun
  • Kalika Purana: Description of Kaliyuga
  • Maheshwar Purana: Dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was read by Karthikeya.
  • Samba Purana: Dedicated to Sun God
  • Saur Purana: based on astronomical science
  • Parashar Purana: Author Parashar Muni
  • Marichi Purana: Author Maharishi Marichi
  • Bhargava Purana: Author Bhrigu Rishi

Apart from this Mahapuranas, there are many other texts like Vishnudharma, Brihadharma, Ganesh Purana, Muddal Purana, Ekamra Purana, Datta Purana etc. which are considered as sub-Puranas, but only the 18 texts mentioned above are recognized as real sub-Puranas.

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