Garuda Purana | structure


The text revolves around Vishnu, as recited by Garuda. Above: Vishnu and Lakshmi on Garuda (Delhi National Museum).

The Garuda Purana is a Vaishnava Purana and has, according to the tradition, 19,000 shlokas (verses).[5] However, the manuscripts that have survived into the modern era have preserved about eight thousand verses.[5] These are divided into two parts, a Purva Khanda (early section) and an Uttara Khanda (later section). The Purva Khanda contains about 229 chapters, but in some versions of the text this section has between 240–243 chapters.[6] The Uttara Khanda varies between 34 and 49 chapters.[6] The Uttara Khanda is more often known as Pretakhanda or Pretakalpa.[13]

The Garuda Purana was likely fashioned after the Agni Purana, the other major medieval India encyclopedia that has survived.[6] The text's structure is idiosyncratic, in that it is a medley, and does not follow the theoretical structure expected in a historic Puranic genre of Indian literature.[6] It is presented as information learned from Vishnu by Garuda (the man-bird vehicle of Vishnu), and then narrated by Garuda to sage Kashyapa, which then spread in the mythical forest of Naimisha reaching sage Vyasa.[5]