Puranas And Three Modes of Nature
Puranas are also called the fifth Veda. They have been divided into sattvic, rajasic and tamasic broad categories based on the purpose they serve. Some people have harmonious nature, some others have passionate nature and yet others have inert nature. These three types of people get benefit from the three types of puranas. Even each individual purana has many dominant sub-sections. For example, Bhagavata Purana, which is primarily a sattvic purana has all three sections.
The tenth canto which is the heart of this purana, tells about the pastimes of Krishna. The first few chapters show Krishna’s birth and pastimes in Vraja with various friends and lovers. It’s harmonious fraction which delights the devotees. The next portion where he is active as a prince in Mathura and does many things to defeat enemies is passionate fraction and last few chapters show only the great manslaughter, destruction and wars, therefore it’s tamasic(dark) in nature.
Bhagavata Purana and Other Epics
Bhagavata literally means the fortunate one. Bhagavata is someone whose merits from many incarnations have come into play, therefore he becomes inclined towards divinity. Bhagavata means devotee. This purana is considered the best of puranas and it’s certainly most harmonious one. It’s a purana for devotees. Purana word also means old, historical or ancient. These epics present tales from history but they are not factual.
The wars of Ramayana and Mahabharata which form the core of greatest epics of India did happen but they didn’t happen factually. Wise people know that their skeleton is true but the meat is a decoration done by various sages. That’s why there are so many contradictions. There are more than 13 Ramayanas. If you compare the most popular version of Ramayana(Ramcharitmanas) written by Tulsidas with the original written by Sage Valmiki you will realize that they have different accounts.
The idea was always to instill some values by the way of stories. Children are fascinated by stories and many good values can be taught by using stories. Humanity on the whole loves stories and storytellers are rewarded. Sports, films, novels and newspapers are serving stories all the time, because they are a need of the society. They provide a nutrition which is more than just entertainment. Puranas, epics and Itihasa in India also served many purposes. Jesus also used parables to teach values. Every culture uses stories to impart values.
Essence of Bhagavata Purana
Bhagavata Purana has many rich stories woven well inside great philosophy of Vedanta. Bhagavata on the surface seems like a collection of stories but it’s philosophy. Almost every other chapter is full of hymns appreciating nameless, transcendental and formless divine. There is very profound wisdom spoken even by the villains like Kamsa, Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu. There are so many prayers which are the practical ways in which to remember God. Even the pastimes are so designed as to lure the lower and middle mind and tune it with the higher mind by way of profound philosophy and prayers.
Sage Ved Vyasa wrote Bramh Sutras which were the product of his self-realization. All theistic schools in India are based on the philosophy of Bramh Sutras. Since they were very difficult to comprehend by most people who didn’t qualify with a pure heart and profound intellect they were expanded in the form of Bhagavata Purana. Krishna’s beautiful pastimes and plays lure mind into the story and profound philosophy of Bramh Sutras subtly starts dripping into the subconscious of devotees where it starts creating seeds and then becomes a great tree of devotion fruits of which are liberation, bliss and peace.