Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

Bhagavata Purana


The Bhagavata Purana (भागवत पुराण), also called the Srimad Bhagavatam, extolls the virtues of Lord Vishnu as the supreme personality of the Godhead. It is one of the chief Vaishnavaite Puranas. It was composed by the sage Vyasa. It is divided into 335 chapters, organized into 12 Cantos. The Cantos are:

  1. Canto 1 - Creation
  2. Canto 2 - The Cosmic Manifestation
  3. Canto 3 - The Status Quo
  4. Canto 4 - The Creation of the Fourth Order
  5. Canto 5 - The Creative impetus
  6. Canto 6 - Prescribed duties for mankind
  7. Canto 7 - The Science of God
  8. Canto 8 - Withdrawal of Cosmic Creations
  9. Canto 9 - Liberation
  10. Canto 10 - The Summum Bonnum
  11. Canto 11 - General History
  12. Canto 12 - The Age of Deterioration

The above Canto headings are taken from www.srimadbhagavatam.org, which also features a good translation of this Purana.

This Purana is narrated by sage Suta to other sages assembled in the forest of Naimsaranya during a great (thousand-year) sacrifice being conducted there.

Canto 1

The sages ask Suta to narrate the glory of Vishnu of his incarnation as Krishna and of how salvation may be attained. Suta tells them of the glory of the divine, of Krishna, who is the source of all creation. He then narrates how sage Vyasa was asked by sage Narada to compose this Bhagavata Purana. Then he tells the story of how Ashwatthama was punished for his wicked acts at the end of the great war in the Mahabharata. He had tried to exterminate the race of Kurus, but the child Parikshit was revived by Kunti at the behest of Kunti. Next, he tells of Bhishma's death, in the battlefield of Kurukshetra, in the presense of Krishna. Next, the narrative turns to the departure of King Dhritharashtra to the forest, and to the disappearance of Lord Krishna. He then tells of how King Parikshit ascended to the throne after the Pandavas retired to the Himalayas. The advent of the final era, the Kali Yuga is described. When King Parikshit insults a Rishi, the son of that sage curses that the King will die, bitten by a snake. The King repents his rash act and resolves to do meritorious deeds before his death. He is collects wise seers to tell him about the glory of God. Shuka, the son of sage Vyasa also comes there.

Canto 2

In this Canto, Shuka extolls the virtues of devotion to Lord Krishna, in response to a question from King Parikshit. The creation of worlds by Narayana (Krishna) is retold, as having been originally described by Lord Brahma himself to sage Narada. Some philosophical questions are answered in the form of dialogue between the creator and sage Narada. Lord Brahma then gives a brief descriptions of all the avatars (incarnations) of Lord Vishnu that have taken place so far, as well as those that will take place in the future. These do not strictly correspond to the ten avatars commonly attributed to Lord Vishnu. This canto concludes with Shuka describing the Bhagavatam as the answer to all questions. According to him, it contains answers about: the creatio of the universe, the secondary creation, the different worlds, support by the Lord, the creation drive, the changes of Manus, following divine instruction, returning to God, finding liberation and the description of the actions of Lord Krishna.


Last Modified At: Sun Nov 7 16:20:26 2004