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The Upapuranas (Sanskrit: Upapurāṇa) are a genre of Hindu religious texts consisting of many compilations differentiated from the Mahapuranas by styling them as secondary Puranas using a disparaging prefix Upa (secondary). Though, only a few of these compilations originated earlier than most of the extant Mahapuranas, some of these texts are extensive and important.[1]

The extent[edit]

Similar to the case of the Mahapuranas, a claim has been made in a number of Puranas and Smritis that the Upapuranas are also eighteen in number, though while making such claims some of the texts like the Brihaddharma Purana give evidence of their knowledge of the existence of a larger number of the Upapuranas. But, unlike the case of the Mahapuranas, the different lists of eighteen Upapuranas seldom agree with one another with regard to the names of these texts. Lists of eighteen Upapuranas occur in a number of texts, which include the Kurma Purana, the Garuda Purana, the Brihaddharma Purana, the Devi Bhagavata, the Ekamra Purana, Hemadri's Caturvargacintamani and Ballal Sena's Dana Sagara. In spite of the mention of a particular Upapurana in different lists under different names, these lists provide us the names of much more than eighteen texts as the Upapuranas. In fact, by examining all the Sanskrit texts which mention the names of these texts, the actual number of the Upapuranas are found to be near a hundred, including those mentioned in the different lists. But, it can not be denied that many of these texts have been lost without leaving any trace.[1]

The Kurma Purana list[edit]

The list found in the Kurma Purana (Purvabhaga, 1.17-20) provides the following names:[1]

  1. Adya Purana (Sanatkumara)
  2. Narasimha Purana
  3. Skanda Purana
  4. Shivadharma Purana
  5. Durvasa Purana
  6. Naradiya Purana
  7. Kapila Purana
  8. Vamana Purana
  9. Aushanasa Purana
  10. Brahmanda Purana
  11. Varuna Purana
  12. Kalika Purana
  13. Maheshvara Purana
  14. Samba Purana
  15. Saura Purana
  16. Parashara Purana
  17. Maricha Purana
  18. Bhargava Purana

The Brihadddharma Purana list[edit]

The Brihaddharma Purana provides a list of the following eighteen:[1]

  1. Adi Purana
  2. Aditya Purana
  3. Brihannaradiya Purana
  4. Naradiya Purana
  5. Nandishvara Purana
  6. Brihannandishavara Purana
  7. Samba Purana
  8. Kriyayogasara
  9. Kalika Purana
  10. Dharma Purana
  11. Vishnudharmottara Purana
  12. Shivadharma Purana
  13. Vishnudharma Purana
  14. Vamana Purana
  15. Varuna Purana
  16. Narasimha Purana
  17. Bhargava Purana
  18. Brihaddharma Purana

The Devi Bhagavata Purana list[edit]

The list of Upa-puranas mentioned in Devi Bhagavata Purana's 3rd chapter of its 1st skandha states the following names

  1. Sanatkumara Purana
  2. Narasimha Purana
  3. Naradiya Purana
  4. Siva Purana
  5. Durvasa Purana
  6. Kapila Purana
  7. Manava Purana
  8. Aushanasa Purana
  9. Varuna Purana
  10. Kalika Purana
  11. Samba Purana
  12. Nandikeshwara Purana
  13. Saura Purana
  14. Parashara Purana
  15. Aditya Purana
  16. Maheshwara Purana
  17. Mahabhagavata Purana
  18. Vasistha Purana

Sectarian divisions[edit]

Unlike the Mahapuranas, most of the Upapuranas have been able to preserve their older materials along with their distinctive sectarian character. All extant Upapuranas can be broadly divided into six groups according to the sectarian views found in these texts: Vaishnava, Shakta, Shaiva, Saura, Ganapatya and non-sectarian.[1]

The Vaishnava Upapuranas[edit]

The most significant texts among the Vaishnava Upapuranas are the Vishnudharma Purana, the Vishnudharmottara Purana, the Narasimha Purana, the Brihannaradiya Purana and the Kriyayogasara.[1]

The extant Narasimha Purana comprises 68 chapters. The extant Vishnudharma Purana comprises 105 chapters.

The Shakta Upapuranas[edit]

Among the Shakta Upapuranas, the most important extant texts are the Devi Purana, the Kalika Purana ( aka Sati Purana ) , the Mahabhagavata Purana, the Devi Bhagavata, the Bhagavati Purana, and the Candi Purana (or Candika Purana).[1]

The extant Kalika Purana comprises 98 chapters.

The Shaiva Upapuranas[edit]

The notable Shaiva Upapuranas are the Shiva Purana, the Saura Purana, the Shivadharma Purana, the Shivadharmottara Purana, the Shivarahasya Purana, the Ekamra Purana, the Parashara Upapurana, the Vasishthalainga Upapurana and the Vikhyada Purana.[1]

The extant Saura Purana comprises 69 chapters. The extant Parashara Upapurana consists 18 chapters. The extant Shivadharma Purana (not yet published) comprises 12 chapters and deals only with the religious rites and duties of the worshippers of Shiva. It mentions itself as a shastra or dharmashastra.[2]

The Saura Upapuranas[edit]

The only extant text which can be called an exclusive Saura Upapurana is the Samba Purana.[1] It comprises 84 chapters.

The Ganapatya Upapuranas[edit]

Only two extant Upapuranas profess the views of the Ganapatya sect. These are the Mudgala Purana and the Ganesha Purana.[1]

The non-sectarian Upapuranas[edit]

The Upapuranic works, which do not profess any particular sectarian views are the Bhavishyottara Purana,Kapila Purana and the Brihaddharma Purana.[1]

Harivamsa is also considered a (Upa)Purana.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Hazra, R.C. (1962, reprint 2003). The Upapuranas in S. Radhakrishnan (ed.) The Cultural Heritage of India, Vol.II, Kolkata:The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, ISBN 81-85843-03-1, pp.271-286
  2. ^ Rocher, Ludo (1986). "The Purāṇas". In Jan Gonda (ed.). A History of Indian Literature. Vol.II, Epics and Sanskrit religious literature, Fasc.3. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 228. ISBN 3-447-02522-0.