Bhagavata Purana

The Bhagavata Purana (Devanagari: भागवतपुराण; Bhāgavata Purāṇa) also known as the Bhagavatamahapuranam, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (श्रीमद् भागवतम्), 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, this 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 focus on the forms (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' (Sanskrit 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] It also means 'complete' and 'completing'[9] in the sense that a Purana 'completes the Vedas'[10]
    • 'Maha' (Sanskrit महन्) means 'great', 'large', or 'vast'.[11]
  • 'Srimad' (or 'Srimat', Sanskrit श्रीमत्) means 'radiant', 'holy', 'splendid', or 'glorious',[12] and is a honorific religious title.
    • 'Sri' (or 'Shri' or 'Shree', Sanskrit श्री) means 'wealth'.[13] Lakshmi - Goddess of Wealth and Vishnu/Krishna's wife - is also referred to as 'Sri'.
    • 'Mad' (or 'Mat', Sanskrit मत) means 'religion' or 'believed'.[14]
    • Those with a wealth ('Sri') of religion ('mad') may be honoured with the title of 'radiant', 'holy', 'splendid', or 'glorious' ('Srimad').