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Vishnu Purana

Category: Books sutras and myths

The Vishnu Purana (Sanskrit: विष्णु पुराण, Viṣṇu Purāṇa) is a religious Hindu text and one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. It is considered one of the most important Puranas and has been given the name Puranaratna (gem of Puranas).

It includes many stories well known in the Vedic tradition, including descriptions of the various avatars of Vishnu and the life of his incarnation, Krishna. Presented as a dialogue between Parashara and his disciple Maitreya and divided into six parts, the major topics discussed include creation, stories of battles fought between asuras and devas, the Avatars (gods) of Vishnu and genealogy and stories of legendary kings.

The extant text comprises six aṃśas (parts) and 126 adhyāyas (chapters). The first part has 22 chapters, the second part consists 16 chapters, the third part comprises 18 chapters and the fourth part has 24 chapters. The fifth and the sixth parts are the longest and the shortest part of the text, comprising 34 and 8 chapters respectively.The text starts with detailed stories of creation and introduces the concept of four yugas.

Part 1 - The tale of Rudra, an elaborate story of the Samudra Manthana, or the churning of the ocean, the Story of Dhruva, an ardent devotee of Vishnu, and stories of ancient kings Vena and Prithu are also discussed in the first section.

Part 2 - Tales of Prithu's descendants, the Prachetas, the famous story of Hiranyakashipu and Prahlada, some topological details of the known world with mentions of lands, tribes, mountains and rivers, concepts of the universe, and the stories of the many births of Jadabharata are the major topics discussed in the next book.

Part 3 - The third section discusses the stories of Manvantara (cycles of creation and destruction), the sages Vyasa and Yajnavalkya, Surya (the sun god), Yama (the god of the dead), devotees Shatadhanu and Shaivya, the four classes (varnas) and the four stages of life (ashramas) and details of many rituals.

Part 4 - The fourth section gives a detailed account of all the famous Kings from the solar and lunar dynasties of ancient India, and also lists the names of kings who 'would appear' in the age of Kali (demon). The second list contains the name of historical kings of Magadha, including kings from the Shishunaga, Nanda and Maurya dynasties.

Part 5 - The next section details the different events in the life of Lord Sri Krishna, starting from His birth, through His childhood, until the moment He left the earth and the prominent destruction of the Yadava clan.

Part 6 - The sixth and last section mainly discusses the impending age of Kali, the concepts of universal destruction that would eventually follow, and the importance of the Puranas in general. 

The kings of Kali Yug will be addicted to corruption and will seize the property of their subjects. Then property and wealth alone will confer rank; falsehood will be the only means of success. Corruption will be the universal means of subsistence. In the end, unable to support their avaricious kings, the people of the Kali Yug will take refuge in the chasms between mountains.

The Vishnudharmottara Purana, a separate text dedicated to the arts, is a Supplement or Appendix to the Vishnu Purana.

As the text was an evolving text, there is no one attributable date for the work. 

References

The full text is now available online from Sacred texts  - Vishnu Purana LINK

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