Brahmavaivarta Purana had Existed in the 1st Millennium CE

The Brahmavaivarta Purana (ब्रह्मवैवर्त पुराण) is a voluminous Sanskrit text and a major Purana (Maha-purana) of Hinduism. It is an important Vaishnava text. This Purana majorly centers around the Hindu deities Radha and KrishnaAlthough a version may have existed in the late 1st millennium CE, its extant version was likely composed in the Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent. The text is notable for identifying Krishna as the supreme reality and asserting that all Gods such as Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma, and Ganesha are one and the same. In fact, all are the incarnations of Krishna. 

Brahmavaivarta Meaning

The Brahmavaivarta Purana is one of the eighteen Mahāpurāṇas, a genre of ancient Indian texts that contain mythological stories, legends, and teachings. The word “Brahmavaivarta” can be broken down into two parts: “Brahma,” referring to the creator deity in Hinduism, and “Vaivarta,” which means transformation or change.

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Meaning of Brahmavaivarta Purana

Brahmavaivarta Purana Origin

The Brahmavaivarta Purana is traditionally attributed to the sage Vyasa, who is also credited with composing several other important Hindu scriptures, including the Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita, and other Puranas. Vyasa is a revered figure in Hindu tradition, considered a literary and spiritual sage who played a crucial role in preserving and disseminating the sacred knowledge of the Vedas.

The Brahmavaivarta Purana is believed to have been composed over several centuries, and it likely underwent additions and revisions by various authors and scholars. Like many ancient Indian texts, it has a complex literary history, and its final form may have emerged through a process of compilation and redaction.

The Puranas, in general, are a genre of ancient Indian literature that includes a vast body of mythological stories, cosmology, genealogies, and religious teachings. They serve as repositories of cultural and religious knowledge, offering insights into Hindu cosmology, mythology, and philosophy.

While Vyasa is traditionally credited with the composition of the Brahmavaivarta Purana, it’s important to note that these texts often have a long and dynamic history of oral transmission and written compilation, making it challenging to pinpoint a single author or a specific time of origin. The Brahmavaivarta Purana itself acknowledges that it is a compilation of various texts and stories, adding to the complexity of its origin.

Brahmavaivarta Purana History

Brahmavaivarta Purana is mostly legends, worship, mythology, and drama

This text is mostly legends, worship, mythology, and drama during the life of Radha and Krishna, with a discussion of ethics, dharma, four stages of life, and festivals embedded as part of the plot. The specific details in this Purana show the influence or knowledge of events traced to mid-2nd millennium CE developments associated with Tantra and Bhakti saints such as Chaitanya and others. This text is unlike the encyclopedic style found in almost all other major Puranas, and for these reasons, predominant portions of this Purana are likely to be a 15th or 16th-century composition.

Existed much earlier to 8th to 10th century

The text very likely existed much earlier, and the older version likely was completed in the 8th to 10th century period. A version probably existed by 700 CE, adds Hazra. However, in its history, this Hindu text also underwent major revisions, over the centuries. This text was likely revised in the Bengal region of South Asia. Another related text, called Brahmakaivarta Purana, also relatively modern but traced to South India, exists in many versions. There are a few manuscripts titled Adi Brahmavaivarta Purana, of unclear date of composition, proposed as the older possibly original Purana, but these are very different from the Brahmavaivarta Purana text generally considered one of the 18 Mahapuranas.

Older version

The older version of the Brahmavaivarta Purana was once influential in its own way because Nibandha authors of the 15th and 16th centuries quoted nearly 1,500 lines in texts such as the Smriti Chandrika, which they claimed is in this Purana. However, only 30 of these lines are found in the extant manuscripts of Brahmavaivarta Purana suggesting a massive rewrite of the original Purana over its history, in or after the 15th or 16th century.

Includes Smriti chapters

This modern content includes chapters on “mixed castes, duties of women, duties of varna, duties of individuals during their ashrama (stages of life), worship and glorification of Brahmins, theory of hell in after-life, and religious gift giving for merit”. The only Smriti chapters in currently surviving manuscripts, that can be found in older versions of this text are two, namely 4.8 and 4.26. These relate to vrata.

Brahmavaivarta Purana Structure

The Brahmavaivarta Purana is structured into four major parts or books, known as “khandas.” Each khanda focuses on cosmology, mythology, and spiritual teachings. The four khandas of the Brahmavaivarta Purana are as follows:

Brahmakhanda (also called Brahma-parvan)

This section discusses the creation of the universe and the nature of Brahman, the ultimate reality. It explores philosophical concepts related to the nature of existence, the material world, and the divine.

Prakritikhanda (also called Prakriti-parvan)

It delves into cosmology, describing the structure of the cosmos, the origin of various beings, and the principles governing the material world.

Golokakhanda (also called Ganaparvan or Goloka-parvan)

Goloka refers to the divine realm where Lord Krishna resides with Radha and his devotees. This section focuses on the transcendental and divine aspects of Krishna’s abode, narrating stories related to the spiritual realm.

Bhagavatakhanda (also called Krsna-parvan or Radha-parvan)

This part emphasizes devotion to Lord Krishna and the worship of Radha and Krishna. Throughout these khandas, the Brahmavaivarta Purana weaves together narratives, dialogues, and teachings that convey moral, philosophical, and spiritual lessons. The structure of the Purana reflects its multifaceted nature, covering topics ranging from cosmogony to devotional practices. 

The text has four Khandas (parts).

Sections in Brahmavaivarta Purana
Khanda Number Chapters About
Brahma 1 30 Brahman
Prakriti 2 67 Devi
Ganesha 3 46 Ganesha
Krishna 4 131 to 133 Radha Krishna
Total 274 to 276 Krishna

The Padma Purana categorizes Brahma Vaivarta Purana as a Rajas Purana. Sanskrit scholar Ludo Rocher considers the Sattva-Rajas-Tamas classification as “entirely fanciful” and argues there is nothing in this text that actually justifies this classification.


Brahmavaivarta Purana Content

The Brahmavaivarta Purana covers a wide range of topics, including cosmology, mythology, philosophy, and devotional practices. Here are some of the key contents and themes found in the various khandas (books) of the Brahmavaivarta Purana:

Brahmakanda (Brahma-parvan)

  • Philosophical discussions on the nature of Brahman (the ultimate reality) and the creation of the universe.
  • Descriptions of the cosmic elements, time, and the principles governing the material world.
  • Stories and dialogues illustrating ethical and moral principles.

Prakritikanda (Prakriti-parvan)

  • Elaboration on the creation of the physical universe, including the emergence of the elements and the formation of various beings.
  • Genealogies of various dynasties and legendary figures.
  • Descriptions of pilgrimage sites and the benefits of visiting sacred places.

Golokakanda (Ganaparvan or Goloka-parvan)

  • Depiction of the divine realm of Goloka, where Lord Krishna resides with Radha and his devotees.
  • Stories and narratives related to the transcendental aspects of Krishna’s life.
  • Emphasis on the importance of devotion and love for Lord Krishna.

Bhagavatakanda (Krsna-parvan or Radha-parvan)

  • Detailed accounts of the childhood, youth, and adult life of Lord Krishna.
  • Narratives of Krishna’s exploits, including his childhood pranks (leelas), his role in the Mahabharata, and his teachings in the Bhagavad Gita.
  • Dialogues with various characters, including Radha, the gopis (cowherd girls), and other devotees.
  • Teachings on devotion (bhakti), righteous living, and the path to spiritual realization.

The Bhagavatakanda is particularly significant as it focuses extensively on the life and teachings of Lord Krishna, underscoring the importance of devotion to Krishna and Radha. The Brahmavaivarta Purana, like other Puranas, uses narrative storytelling as a means to convey moral, spiritual, and philosophical teachings, making it a valuable source of cultural and religious knowledge in Hindu tradition.

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Brahmavaivarta Purana Content

Mythological story from Brahmavaivarta Purana

One well-known mythological story from the Brahmavaivarta Purana is the narrative of the creation of Lord Ganesha:

Once, the Goddess Parvati, wife of Lord Shiva, wished to create a son. She shaped a figure from the turmeric paste she used for bathing and breathed life into it. Parvati then assigned the boy the task of guarding the entrance to her chamber and instructed him not to allow anyone to enter.

Meanwhile, Lord Shiva, who was not aware of Parvati’s creation, returned to the abode. Ganesha, dedicated to his mother’s command, stopped Shiva from entering. Shiva, unaware that Ganesha was his son, became furious and severed the boy’s head in a fit of anger.

Upon learning what had happened, Parvati was devastated. In an attempt to console her, Lord Shiva promised to bring the boy back to life. He instructed his followers (Ganas) to fetch the head of the first living being they encountered, which happened to be an elephant. The head was then attached to Ganesha’s body, bringing him back to life.

This episode is often interpreted as symbolizing the importance of devotion, the power of the divine mother, and the capacity for redemption and transformation. Ganesha, with his elephant head, is revered as the remover of obstacles and the deity of wisdom and auspicious beginnings in Hindu tradition. The story is recounted in various Puranas, including the Brahmavaivarta Purana, and is a popular narrative in Hindu mythology.

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Brahmavaivarta Purana: A Mythological Story of the creation of Lord Ganesha

Brahmavaivarta Purana Teachings

The Brahmavaivarta Purana imparts a variety of teachings, covering philosophical, ethical, and devotional aspects of Hindu spirituality. Here are some key teachings from the Purana:

Nature of Ultimate Reality (Brahman)

The Brahmavaivarta Purana discusses the nature of Brahman, the ultimate reality in Hindu philosophy. It delves into metaphysical and cosmological aspects, exploring the creation and sustenance of the universe.

Devotion to Lord Krishna

A central theme of the Purana is devotion (bhakti) to Lord Krishna. The Bhagavatakanda, in particular, focuses on the life and teachings of Krishna, emphasizing the significance of developing a loving and devotional relationship with the divine.

Radha-Krishna Devotion

The Purana places special emphasis on the divine love between Radha and Krishna. Radha symbolizes the embodiment of pure devotion, and the Purana highlights the spiritual significance of the Radha-Krishna relationship.

Morality and Ethics

Through narratives and dialogues, the Brahmavaivarta Purana imparts moral and ethical teachings. It uses stories to illustrate the consequences of righteous and unrighteous actions, encouraging virtuous living.

Cosmology and Creation

The Purana provides a cosmological framework, explaining the creation of the material world, the elements, and the various planes of existence. It contributes to the understanding of the Hindu worldview.

Renunciation and Detachment

The text discusses the importance of detachment (vairagya) from material pursuits and the transient nature of the physical world. It encourages individuals to pursue a path of spiritual knowledge and renunciation.

Teachings on Dharma

The Purana outlines principles of righteous living (dharma) and ethical conduct. It includes guidance on social duties, responsibilities, and the moral code of conduct for individuals in different stages of life.

Dialogues with Krishna

The Bhagavatakanda contains dialogues between Lord Krishna and various characters, including Radha, gopis, and other devotees. These conversations cover a wide range of philosophical and spiritual topics, including the nature of reality, the self, and the path to liberation.

It’s important to note that the teachings of the Brahmavaivarta Purana are conveyed through a rich tapestry of mythological narratives, making it accessible and engaging for readers while imparting profound spiritual wisdom. Different readers may interpret the teachings in various ways, and the Purana continues to be a source of inspiration and guidance for those on the path of Hindu spirituality.


In conclusion, the Brahmavaivarta Purana stands as a significant scripture within the rich tapestry of Hindu mythology and philosophy. As one of the eighteen Mahāpurāṇas, it weaves together diverse narratives, imparting teachings on cosmology, devotion, morality, and the nature of ultimate reality. The Purana’s four khandas intricately explore the creation of the universe, the divine realm of Goloka, and the life and teachings of Lord Krishna, with a particular emphasis on the transformative power of devotion. Through its mythological stories and philosophical dialogues, the Brahmavaivarta Purana continues to inspire seekers on their spiritual journey, emphasizing the enduring themes of love, morality, and the pursuit of spiritual knowledge. Its teachings resonate not only as a repository of cultural and religious wisdom but also as a guide for individuals seeking a deeper understanding of life’s mysteries and the path to spiritual realization within the vast tapestry of Hindu thought.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Brahmavaivarta Purana?

The Brahmavaivarta Purana is one of the eighteen Mahāpurāṇas, ancient Indian texts that contain mythological stories, cosmology, and philosophical teachings. 

What are the key themes of the Brahmavaivarta Purana?

The Purana covers a range of themes, including the nature of Brahman (ultimate reality), devotion to Lord Krishna, the Radha-Krishna relationship, cosmology, ethical living, and the importance of pilgrimage. It imparts teachings through mythological stories and dialogues.

What is the significance of the Radha-Krishna relationship in the Brahmavaivarta Purana?

The Purana places special emphasis on the divine love between Radha and Krishna. Radha symbolizes pure devotion, and their relationship serves as a metaphor for the soul’s quest for union with the divine.

What is the structure of the Brahmavaivarta Purana?

The sections cover the creation of the universe, the material world, the divine realm of Goloka, and the life and teachings of Lord Krishna, respectively.

Can you provide an example of a mythological story from the Brahmavaivarta Purana?

One notable story is the “Ganesha Janana,” depicting the birth of Lord Ganesha. Parvati, the goddess, creates Ganesha from turmeric paste. 

What philosophical concepts are explored in the Brahmavaivarta Purana?

The Purana delves into the nature of Brahman, the transient nature of the material world, and the importance of detachment. It also discusses the path of devotion (bhakti) and the principles of righteous living (dharma).

What is the overall message or takeaway from the Brahmavaivarta Purana?

The Purana imparts teachings on devotion, ethical living, and the pursuit of spiritual knowledge. It emphasizes the transformative power of love and the path to realizing the divine within the vast scope of Hindu philosophical thought.



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