The Bhāgavata Purāṇa (Devanagari: भागवतपुराण; also Śrīmad Bhāgavata Mahā Purāṇa, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam or Bhāgavata) is one of Hinduism's eighteen great Puranas (Mahapuranas, great histories). Composed in Sanskrit and available in almost all Indian languages, it promotes bhakti (devotion) to Krishnaintegrating themes from the Advaita (monism) philosophy of Adi Shankara.
The Bhagavata Purana, like other puranas, discusses a wide range of topics including cosmology, genealogy, geography, mythology, legend, music, dance, yoga and culture. As it begins, the forces of evil have won a war between the benevolent devas (deities) and evil asuras (demons) and now rule the universe. Truth re-emerges as Krishna, (called "Hari" and "Vasudeva" in the text) – first makes peace with the demons, understands them and then creatively defeats them, bringing back hope, justice, freedom and good – a cyclic theme that appears in many legends.
The Bhagavata Purana is a revered text in Vaishnavism, a Hindu tradition that reveres Vishnu. The text presents a form of religion (dharma) that competes with that of the Vedas, wherein bhakti ultimately leads to self-knowledge, liberation (moksha) and bliss. However the Bhagavata Purana asserts that the inner nature and outer form of Krishna is identical to the Vedas and that this is what rescues the world from the forces of evil. An oft-quoted verse is used by some Krishna sects to assert that the text itself is Krishna in literary form.
The date of composition is probably between the eighth and the tenth century CE, but may be as early as the 6th century CE. Manuscripts survive in numerous inconsistent versions revised through the 18th century creating various recensions both in the same languages and across different Indian languages. The text consists of twelve books (skandhas) totalling 332 chapters (adhyayas) and between 16,000 and 18,000 verses depending on the recension. The tenth book, with about 4,000 verses, has been the most popular and widely studied. It was the first Purana to be translated into a European language as a French translation of a Tamil version appeared in 1788 and introduced many Europeans to Hinduism and 18th-century Hindu culture during the colonial era
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