Bhagavata Purana

The Bhagavata Purana (Devanagari: भागवतपुराण; Bhāgavata Purāṇa) also known as the Bhagavatamahapuranam, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana, or simply Bhāgavata, is one of Hinduism's 18 great Puranas (or Mahapuranas, meaning 'great histories').[1][2]

Originally composed in Sanskrit, the most studied, popular, revered, and influential Purana[3] is an epic Vaishnava poem consisting of 18,000 shlokas (or verses)[4] over 12 skandhas (or cantos). Its interconnected and interwoven narratives, teachings, and explanations focuses on the incarnations (or avatars) of Vishnu – particularly Krishna as the ultimate, primeval, transcendental source of the multiverse (including the demigods and gods such as Vishnu) – as well as the lives of his greatest devotees.

It was the first Purana to be translated into a European language; a French translation of a Tamil version in 1769 by Maridas Poullé, which introduced many Europeans to Hinduism and 18th-century Hindu culture during the colonial era.[5][6]

Nomenclature

'Bhagavata Purana' can be translated as 'the history of the devotees of Vishnu'. 'Srimad Bhagavatam' can be translated as 'the glorious devotees of Vishnu'.

  • 'Bhagavata' (or 'Bhagavatam' or 'Bhagavat', Sanskrit भागवत) means 'follower or worshipper of Vishnu'.[7]
    • 'Bhagavan' (Sanksrit भगवन्) means 'Blessed One', 'God', or 'Lord'.[8] Krishna - the transcendental, primeval Personality of Godhead, avatar and origin of Vishnu - is directly referred to as 'Bhagavan' throughout this scripture.
  • 'Purana' (Sanskrit पुराण) means 'ancient' or 'old' (or 'old traditional history').[9]
    • 'Maha' (Sanskrit महन्) means 'great', 'large', or 'vast'.[10]
  • 'Srimad' (or 'Srimat', Sanskrit श्रीमत्) means 'radiant', 'holy', 'splendid', or 'glorious',[11] and is a honorific religious title.
    • 'Sri' (or 'Shri' or 'Shree', Sanskrit श्री) means 'wealth'.[12] Lakshmi - Goddess of Wealth and Vishnu/Krisha's wife - is also referred to as 'Sri'.
    • 'Mad' (or 'Mat', Sanskrit मत) means 'religion' or 'believed'.[13]
    • Those with a wealth ('Sri') of religion ('mad') may be honoured with the title of 'radiant', 'holy', 'splendid', or 'glorious' ('Srimad').