Many Paths to One God
The Puranas are a general term for collections of Hindu myths and legends concerned with five major themes: creation, periodic re-creation, the genealogy of gods and sages, the description of eras, and the feats of particular dynasties. The Puranas deal with many religious and moral matters of popular importance, and document Hindu religious concerns from about 400 to 1000 CE.
There are eighteen great Puranas. Some have no sectarian affiliation. But many purunas are devoted specifically to one of the incarnations of Vishnu, or to Shiva or Shakti (the
The most popular purana is the Bhagavata Purana. Divided into twelve books, its best-known part is Book Ten which describes in great detail the life of Krishna, especially his youth.
The Puranas cover the intermediate period between the Vedic and the
Classical epochs. Cast in the form of parables and narratives, they
became the scripture for the common people. Apart from their religious
and often sectarian significance, they furnish a picture of social,
political and cultural life and comprise an astonishingly varied
repertory of folklore and information regarding diverse topics including
philosophy, ethics, legal institutions, popular festivals, and several
arts; they deal even with subjects like grammar, prosody, rhetoric,
archery and care of horses and elephants; many of them also describe
places of pilgrimage.
Hinduism by Dr. C.P.Ramaswami Aiyar, et.al.,
The Gazetteer of
India, Volume 1, Publications Div., Government of India, 1965.