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Bhagavata Purana (Sanskrit: देवी
भागवतपुराण, Devī Bhāgavatapurāṇa), also known
as the Shrimad
Devi Bhagvatam and the
Devi Bhagavatam, is a Sanskrit
text that belongs to the Purana-genre of
Hindu literature. The text
is considered a Mahapurana (major Purana) in parts of India, while
others include it as one of the
Upapurana (minor Purana), but all
traditions consider it as an important Purana.
Stone sculpture of
Devi Durga, Indian Museum, kolkata
The text consists of twelve Skandha (sections) with 318 chapters.
Devi Mahatmya, it is one of the most important works in
Shaktism, a tradition within
Hinduism that reveres
Devi or Shakti
(Goddess) as the primordial creator of the universe and the Brahman
(ultimate truth and reality). It celebrates the divine
feminine as the origin of all existence, the creator, the preserver
and the destroyer of everything, as well as the one who empowers
spiritual liberation. While all major
Puranas of Hinduism
mention and revere the Goddess, this text centers around her as the
primary divinity. The underlying philosophy of this text is
Advaita Vedanta-style monism combined with devotional worship of
Shakti (feminine power).
3.1 Mythology: Books 1 to 6
3.2 Philosophy: Books 7 to 9
3.2.2 Festivals and culture
3.3 Goddess, cosmos and Dharma: Books 10 to 12
5 See also
8 External links
Saraswati (above) as the creative aspect of the
supreme Goddess, the
Shakti of Brahma.
Bhagavata Purana has been variously dated. A few scholars
suggest an early date, such as Ramachandran who suggested that the
text was composed before the 6th-century CE. However, this early
date has not found wide support, and most scholars date it between the
9th and the 14th century. Rajendra Hazra suggests 11th or 12th
century, while Lalye states that the text began taking form in the
late centuries of the 1st millennium, was expanded over time, and its
first complete version existed in the 11th century. Tracy
Pintchman dates the text to between 1000 and 1200 CE.
The last ten chapters (31 to 40) of the Book 7 consist of 507 verses,
a part which has often circulated as an independent handout just like
Bhagavad Gita of the
Mahabharata circulates independently. The
handout from Book 7 of this
Purana is called
Devi Gita. This
handout may have been composed with the original text, or it might be
a later interpolation, states C Mackenzie Brown. He suggests that
this portion of the text was probably composed by the 13th century and
may be later but before the 16th century.
The Book 9 of the
Bhagavata Purana contains many verses that
reference Mlecchas (barbarians) and Yavanas (foreigners). These
words may just refer to hill tribes, but the details contained in the
description of Mlecchas within these verses, state some scholars such
as Hazra, that the writer of these parts knew about
Islam and its
spread in India, leading scholars to date these parts of the ninth
book to 12th to 15th century compared to the older core of the ninth
Bhagavata Purana is not the earliest Indian text that
celebrates the divine feminine, the 6th-century
Devi Mahatmya embedded
Markandeya Purana asserts the goddess to be supreme, and
multiple archaeological evidence in different parts of India such as
Bengal suggests that the concept of divine feminine was in
existence by about the 2nd-century CE. Both
Devi Mahatmya and
Bhagavata Purana have been very influential texts of the Shakta
tradition, asserting the supremacy of the female and making goddess a
figure of devotional (bhakti) appeal.
This text – along with all Puranas, all
Vedas and the Mahabharata
– is attributed to sage
Veda Vyasa in the
Hindu tradition. The title
of the text,
Devi Bhagavata, is composed of two words, which together
mean "devotee of the blessed Devi". The terms
Devi and Deva are
Sanskrit terms found in Vedic literature of 2nd millennium BCE,
Devi is feminine and Deva is masculine. Monier Williams
translates it as "heavenly, divine, terrestrial things of high
excellence, exalted, shining ones". Etymologically, the cognates
Devi are Latin dea and Greek thea. The term Bhagavata means
"devotee of the blessed one".
Bhagavata Purana consists of 12 skandhas (sections) with 318
Chapters in Devibhagavata Purana
Hindu tradition and the text itself asserts that it has 18,000
verses. The actual text, in different versions, is close.
The theosophy in the text, state Foulston and Abbott, is an
encyclopedic mix of mythology, metaphysics and bhakti. This
mythology, states C Mackenzie Brown, is of the same type found in
other Puranas, about the perpetual cycle of conflict between the good
and the evil, the gods and the demons. These legends build upon
and extend the ancient
Hindu mythology, such as those found in the
Mahabharata. However, this Purana's legends refocus the legends
around the divine feminine, integrate a devotional theme to goddesses,
Devi is asserted in this text to be the eternal truth, the
eternal source of all of universe, the eternal end of everything, the
nirguna (without form) and the saguna (with form), the supreme
unchanging reality (Purusha), the phenomenal changing reality
(Prakriti), as well as the soul within each living being.
Mythology: Books 1 to 6
One aspect of the Goddess in the
Devi Bhagavata Purana. The text
The first book (skandha) like other major Puranas, states Rocher,
presents the outline, the structure of contents, and describes how in
the mythical Naimisha forest, the Devi-
Bhagavata Purana was first
recited among the sages. It also asserts that all of Reality was
initially nirguna (without form, shape or attributes; in other words,
there was nothingness except Truth). However, asserts the text,
this nirguna Reality was a Bhagavati (woman), and she manifested
herself as three Shaktis - Sattviki (truth, creative action), Rajasi
(passion, aimless action) and Tamasi (delusion, destructive
The second book is short, and mythological. It weaves in the
characters well known in the
Hindu epic Mahabharata, states Rocher,
and introduces in the key characters that appear in remaining books of
the Devi-Bhagavata Purana. The third book begins the discussion of
Devi and her bhakti (devotional worship), how the
Devi created from
herself the three Tridevi: Maha-saraswati to be the
Shakti of Brahma
(creator), Maha-lakshmi to be the
Vishnu (preserver), and
Maha-kali to be the
Shiva (destroyer). The third
book also weaves in legends from the well known epic the Ramayana.
The fourth book presents more legends, including those of interaction
Krishna and Shiva, but also introduces tantric themes and
presents yoga meditation. The fifth and sixth books continue these
legends, states Rocher, with half of the chapters focussed on the
greatness of Goddess, how male gods are befuddled by problems, how
they run to her for help, and how she solves them because she is
enlightened knowledge. The text presents the feminine to whom
all masculine deities are subordinate and dependent on.
Philosophy: Books 7 to 9
Bhuvaneshwari temple in Mysore Palace. Bhuvaneshwari is the supreme
Goddess in Book 7 of this Purana.
The seventh book of the Devi-
Bhagavata Purana shifts towards more
philosophy, asserting its version of the essence of the Vedas.
This book contains the philosophical text called
Devi Gita, or the
"Song of the Goddess". The Goddess explains she is the Brahman
that created the world, asserting the Advaita premise that spiritual
liberation occurs when one fully comprehends the identity of one's
soul and the Brahman. This knowledge, asserts the Goddess,
comes from detaching self from the world and meditating on one's own
soul..Chapter 28 of the seventh book contain the story of
durgamasur and his annihilation by goddess Sivaa (Parvati) in her form
Devi Gita, like the Bhagavad Gita, is a condensed philosophical
treatise. It presents the divine female as a powerful and
compassionate creator, pervader and protector of the universe. She
is, states Brown, presented in the opening chapter of the
Devi Gita as
the benign and beautiful world-mother, called Bhuvaneshvari
(literally, ruler of the universe, and the word is feminine).
Thereafter, theological and philosophical teachings become the focus
of the text, covering chapters 2 to 10 of the
Devi Gita (or, chapters
32 to 40 of this Purana's Book 7). Some of the verses of
are almost identical to the
The soul and the Goddess
[My sacred syllable ह्रीम्] transcends,[note 1]
the distinction of name and named,
beyond all dualities.
It is whole,
infinite being, consciousness and bliss.
One should meditate on that reality,
within the flaming light of consciousness.
Fixing the mind upon me,
as the Goddess transcending all space and time,
One quickly merges with me by realizing,
the oneness of the soul and Brahman.
Devi Gita, Transl: Lynn Foulston, Stuart Abbott
Devibhagavata Purana, Book 7
Devi Gita frequently explains Shakta ideas by quoting from the
Bhagavad Gita. The
Devi is described by the text as "universal,
cosmic energy" resident within each individual, weaving in the
Samkhya school of
Hindu philosophy. It is suffused
Advaita Vedanta ideas, wherein nonduality is emphasized, all
dualities are declared as incorrect, and interconnected oneness of all
living being's soul with
Brahman is held as the liberating
knowledge. However, adds Tracy Pintchman,
incorporates Tantric ideas giving the
Devi a form and motherly
character rather than the gender-neutral concept of Adi Shankara's
Bhakti theology of the
Devi Gita part of this
Purana may have been
influenced by the Bhagavad Gita, and with Vaishnava concepts of loving
Krishna found in the Bhagavata Purana. All these texts
highlight different types of devotion in a
Bhakti is one, asserts the text, where the
devotee prays because he is full of anger, seeks to harm others,
induce pain or jealousy to others. Rajasic
Bhakti is one where the
devotee prays not to harm others, but to gain personal advantage, fame
or wealth. Sattvic
Bhakti is the type where the devotee seeks
neither advantage nor harm to others but prays to purify himself,
renounce any sins and surrender to the ideas embodied as Goddess to
Bhagavata Purana adds Para
Bhakti as the highest level of
devotion, states McDaniel, where the devotee seeks neither boon nor
liberation, but weeps when he remembers her because he loves the
Goddess, when he feels her presence everywhere and sees the Goddess in
all living beings, he is intoxicated by her ideas and
Festivals and culture
This seventh book, states Rocher, also includes sections on festivals
related to Devi, pilgrimage information and ways to remember her.
Her relationship with
Shiva and the birth of Skanda is also briefly
mentioned in the 7th book. The last ten chapters (31 to 40) of the
Book 7 is the famous and philosophical
Devi Gita, which often
circulates in the
Hindu tradition as a separate text. The eighth
book of the Devi-
Bhagavata Purana incorporates one of the five
requirements of Puranic-genre of
Hindu texts, that is a theory of the
geography of the earth, planets and stars, the motion of sun and moon,
as well as explanation of time and the
The largest book is the 9th skandha, which is very similar in
structure and content of the Prakriti-kanda of the Brahmavaivarta
Purana. Both are goddesses-focused, and discuss her theology,
but have one difference. The Prakriti-kanda of the Brahmavaivarta
Purana also includes many verses which praise
Vishnu using various
names (incarnations), which re-appear in the 9th book of the
Vishnu names substituted with
Goddess, cosmos and Dharma: Books 10 to 12
The 10th book of the Devi-
Bhagavata Purana is one of the shortest, and
integrates manavantaras, another structural requirement for this text
to be a major Purana, but wherein the
Devi is worshiped in every
cosmic time cycle, because she is the greatest, she kills the evil and
she nurtures the good.Chapter 13 of the tenth book describes
the glory of goddess Bhramri that how in the past she killed the demon
The 11th book of the text discusses Sadachara (virtues) and
self as an individual, as belonging to a Grama (village, community)
and to a Desha (country). The text praises
Sruti and asserts it to
be the authoritative source, adding that
Puranas are also
sources for guidance. This section is notable for adding that
Tantra is also a source of guidance, but only if it does not conflict
with the Vedas. Verses in the 11th books also describe sources for
Rudraksha as rosary beads, the value of
Tripundra mark on the
forehead, fives styles of Sandhyas (reflection, meditation) and five
types of Yajnas.
The last and 12th book of the Devi-
Bhagavata Purana describes the
Goddess as the mother of the Vedas, she as the Adya
primordial power), and the essence of the Gayatri mantra. The
verses map every syllable of the
Gayatri mantra to 1008 names of
reverence in the
Hindu tradition. These names span a spectrum of
historic sages, deities, musical meters, mudras and the glories of the
The verses and ideas in the Devi-Bhagavata Purana, state Foulston and
Abbott, are built on the foundation of the
Upanishads wherein the
nonduality and oneness of
Brahman and Atman (soul) are
synthesized. The text makes references to the philosophy and
metaphors used in the
Advaita Vedanta tradition of Adi Shankara.
However, those ideas are reformulated and centered around the Goddess
Devi Bhagavata Purana, states C Mackenzie Brown, as well as
other scholars. In
Devi Bhagavata text, states Tracy
Devi is not only Brahman-Atman (soul, interconnected
oneness), she is also the always-changing empirical reality
The Goddess, in
Devi Bhagavata Purana, is both the source of
self-bondage through Avidya (ignorance) and the source of
self-liberation through Vidya (knowledge), state Foulston and
Abbott. She is identical to the Vedic metaphysical reality concept
of Brahman, the supreme power, the ruler of the universe, the hero,
the hidden energy, the power, the bliss innate in everything,
according to the text. The Devi, states Kinsley, is
identified by this
Purana to be all matter, mother earth, the cosmos,
all of nature including the primordial. The Goddess is presented,
states Brown, as "the womb of the universe", who observes the actions
of her children, nurtures them to discover and realize their true
nature, forgive when they make mistakes, be fearsomely terrible to the
wicked that threaten her children, and be friend of all souls.
Cynthia Humes compares the depiction of Goddess in the 6th-century
Devi Mahatmya, with that in this later Devi-Bhagavata
Purana text. Both revere the feminine, states Humes, but there are
some important differences. Nowhere does the
Devi Mahatmya state
anything negative about women, and it is explicit in asserting that
"all women are portions of the Goddess". By contrast, states Hume,
the portrayal of women in Devi-
Bhagavata Purana is more complex.
It includes verses critical of the feminine, with the text stating
that women behavior can be "reckless, foolish, cruel, deceitful" and
the like. The
Devi Bhagavata also praises women and describes their
behavior can be "heroic, gentle, tenacious, strong" and the like.
Bhagavata Purana is an important and historic Shakta Bhakti
text, states June McDaniel.
Brahma Vaivarta Purana
^ ह्रीम् is pronounced as hrīm, it is a tantric mantra
beej, and it identifies a "Shakti".
^ a b c Dalal 2014, p. 117.
^ a b c d e f Rocher 1986, p. 168.
^ C Mackenzie Brown 1990, pp. 44-45, 129, 247-248 with notes
^ John Stratton Hawley & Donna Marie Wulff 1998, pp. 6-14.
^ Tracy Pintchman 2015, pp. 183-188.
^ David Kinsley 1988, pp. 133-139.
^ Alf Hiltebeitel & Kathleen M. Erndl 2000, pp. 24-36, 48 (RS
^ K P Gietz 1992, p. 330 with note 1809, 497 with note 2764.
^ Tracy Pintchman 2015, pp. 128-132.
^ June McDaniel 2004, pp. 89-91, 159-161.
^ C Mackenzie Brown 1990, pp. 142-144.
^ a b C Mackenzie Brown 1990, pp. 49, 130, 134, 139.
^ a b c d Rocher 1986, p. 172.
^ Alf Hiltebeitel & Kathleen M. Erndl 2000, p. 139, Quote:
(...) portrayals of the Goddess in the later
Devi Bhagavata (c. ninth
century CE) bear crucial differences from those of the Goddess in the
^ P. G. Lalye (1973). Studies in Devī Bhāgavata. Popular Prakashan.
^ Tracy Pintchman 2015, p. 128.
^ a b c Cheever Mackenzie Brown 1998, pp. 1-4.
^ a b c d Cheever Mackenzie Brown 1998, p. 4.
^ a b C Mackenzie Brown 1990, p. 166.
^ Collins 1988, p. 36.
^ Rocher 1986, pp. 191-192.
^ John Stratton Hawley & Donna Marie Wulff 1998, p. 2, 9-10,
26 with note 2.
^ Philip Lutgendorf 2003, pp. 251-252.
^ Klostermaier 2010, p. 496.
^ Klostermaier 2010, p. 101-102, 492.
^ John Stratton Hawley & Donna Marie Wulff 1998, p. 2.
^ Lochtefeld 2002, p. 94.
^ Rocher 1986, pp. 168-170.
^ Lynn Foulston & Stuart Abbott 2009, p. 73.
^ a b c Lynn Foulston & Stuart Abbott 2009, p. 75.
^ Cheever Mackenzie Brown 1998, pp. 5-6.
^ a b Cheever Mackenzie Brown 1998, p. 6-10.
^ a b Tracy Pintchman 2015, pp. 131-138.
^ Alf Hiltebeitel & Kathleen M. Erndl 2000, pp. 24-31.
^ Rocher 1986, pp. 168-172.
^ Tracy Pintchman 2015, pp. 183-184.
^ a b c d Rocher 1986, p. 169.
^ Rocher 1986, pp. 169-170.
^ C Mackenzie Brown 1990, pp. 201-216.
^ Lynn Foulston & Stuart Abbott 2009, pp. 73-74.
^ a b Tracy Pintchman 2014, p. 26-28.
^ a b c d e f g Rocher 1986, p. 170.
^ Cheever Mackenzie Brown 1998, p. 1-2, 85-98.
^ a b Cheever Mackenzie Brown 1998, p. 12-17.
^ a b C Mackenzie Brown 1990, pp. 179-198.
^ a b c d Cheever Mackenzie Brown 1998, pp. 1-3.
^ Cheever Mackenzie Brown 1998, pp. 25-26, 77 with note 26.
^ Antonio Rigopoulos (1998). Dattatreya: The Immortal Guru, Yogin, and
Avatara: A Study of the Transformative and Inclusive Character of a
Hindu Deity. State University of New York Press.
p. 72. ISBN 978-0-7914-3696-7.
^ Douglas Renfrew Brooks (1992). Auspicious Wisdom: The Texts and
Traditions of Srividya Sakta Tantrism in South India. State University
of New York Press. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-7914-1145-2.
^ Lynn Foulston & Stuart Abbott 2009, pp. 74-75.
^ Cheever Mackenzie Brown 1998, pp. 1-3, 12-17.
^ Tracy Pintchman 2015, pp. 9, 34, 89-90, 131-138.
^ Lynn Foulston & Stuart Abbott 2009, pp. 15-16.
^ Tracy Pintchman 2014, p. 9-10.
^ a b c d e June McDaniel 2004, pp. 158-161.
^ a b c Cheever Mackenzie Brown 1998, pp. 23-25.
^ Rocher 1986, pp. 170-171.
^ a b c d e f g h Rocher 1986, p. 171.
^ C Mackenzie Brown 1990, p. 160.
^ C Mackenzie Brown 1990, pp. 133-134.
^ a b c Rocher 1986, pp. 171-172.
^ a b Lynn Foulston & Stuart Abbott 2009, pp. 75-76.
^ Tracy Pintchman 2014, p. 29-30.
^ Tracy Pintchman 2015, pp. 128, 131-138.
^ David Kinsley 1997, pp. 131-134.
^ David Kinsley 1988, pp. 179-180.
^ C Mackenzie Brown 1990, pp. 129-130.
^ a b Alf Hiltebeitel & Kathleen M. Erndl 2000, pp. 139-140
^ a b c Alf Hiltebeitel & Kathleen M. Erndl 2000, pp. 139-142
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English Translation of the
Devi Bhagavata by Swami Vijnanananda
Bhagavata Purana English translation correct IAST transliteration
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