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The Kurma Purana (Sanskrit: कूर्म पुराण, Kūrma Purāṇa} is one of the eighteen Mahapurana, a genre of Hindu religious texts. It is believed to have been directly narrated by the Lord Vishnu to the sage Narada, and it contains the details about the Kurma Avatar. Narada is believed to have stated the contents of this Puranas to Suta, who narrated this Purana to an assembly of great sages. The Padma Purana categorizes Kurma Purana as a Tamas Purana (Purana of darkness or ignorance).
The printed editions of this text are divided into two bhāgas (parts), the Pūrvabhāga and the Uttarabhāga. The Pūrvabhāga has 53 chapters and the Uttarabhāga has 46 chapters. The first eleven chapters in the Uttarabhāga are known as the Ishvara Gita, a teaching given by the god Shiva at Badrinath.
According to the tradition, the Kūrma Purāṇa originally consisted of four saṁhitās (sections): the Brāhmī Saṁhitā, the Bhāgavatī Saṁhitā, the Saurī Saṁhitā and the Vaiṣṇavī Saṁhitā. The extant text would correspond to the Brāhmī Saṁhitā.
The Nārada Purāṇa (I.106. 1-22) gives a brief overview of these four sections. According to this work, the Brāhmī Saṁhitā consisted of 6,000 ślokas (verses) and its contents agrees completely with the extant Kūrma Purāṇa. The Bhāgavatī Saṁhitā consisted of 4,000 ślokas and was divided into five pādas (sub-sections). It was also known by the sobriquet the Pañcapadī. This section had dealt with the duties of the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Shudras and the mixed castes. The Saurī Saṁhitā had 2,000 ślokas and was divided into six pādas. This section had dealt with the six magic acts: śānti, vaśīkaraṇa, stambhana, vidveṣaṇa, uccāṭana and Māraṇa. The Vaiṣṇavī Saṁhitā had 5,000 ślokas and was divided into four pādas dealing with mokṣa dharma.
- Wilson, H. H. (1840). The Vishnu Purana: A system of Hindu mythology and tradition. Oriental Translation Fund. p. 12.
- Hazra, R.C. (1962). The Puranas in S. Radhakrishnan ed. The Cultural Heritage of India, Vol.II, Calcutta: Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, ISBN 81-85843-03-1, p.259
- Mani, Vettam. Puranic Encyclopedia. 1st English ed. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1975.
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