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 Krishna. Although 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.
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.
Brahmavaivarta Purana 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.
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 text has four Khandas (parts).
|131 to 133
|274 to 276
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
Brahmavaivarta Purana Teachings