Wikipedia on “Puranas” have shown classification of the Mahapuranas on the basis of the three gunas of Sat, Rajo and Tamo with the caveat “Scholars consider the Sattva-Rajas-Tamas classification as "entirely fanciful" and there is nothing in each text that actually justifies this classification.”

Sattva ("truth") : Vishnu Purana, Bhagavata Purana, Naradeya Purana, Garuda Purana, Padma Purana, Varaha Purana

Rajas ("passion"): Brahmanda Purana, Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Markandeya Purana, Bhavishya Purana, Vamana Purana, Brahma Purana

Tamas ("ignorance"): Matsya Purana, Kurma purana, Linga Purana, Shiva Purana, Skanda Purana, Agni Purana

[Since Wikipedia is not the final word on our Puranas, hence this question]

My question is, “Are there any commentaries, shrutis or other scriptural references for this classification?”

  • Bhagavad Gita has discussed sattva, rajas, tamas in great details. According to that interpretation, whatever is mentioned in wikipedia, has to be scrapped.
    – iammilind
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 7:01
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Why are there different classes of पुराणs (Puranas)? Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 7:26
  • 1
    This classification is spurious, Classification has gone to extent of saying Purported Tamasic Puranas such as Shiva Purana leads to Hell. See What is the purpose of tamasic purana if it leads to hell?
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 8:19
  • 1
    This is a false classification.
    – user1195
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 10:30
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    The division of the Puranas into the sattvic ones and the tamasic ones is not spurious but is genuine, and everyone can see it easily if he knows Vedanta and teaching of the Sruti (Upanishads, etc). Not long ago we have seen one such example of the verses from one Purana called Devi Bhagavata that teaches tamasic verses and doctrines, see how I explained it at hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/18691/… Those verses are contrary to the teaching of Vedanta, Sruti and sattvic Puranas. Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 4:54

2 Answers 2


Since you mentioned other scriptural references, I am quoting what Garuda Purana says on the classification of Puranas according to Gunas.

Garuda Purana classify Puranas according to Gunas in completely different manner.

Garuda Purana, Brahma Khanda, Chapter 1:

The Puranas devoted to Vishnu are called Satvikas. These should be preached to peoples but not to those who cause suffering. (42)

In the Kali age only three principal Puranas are devoted to Vishnu. Among these the Bhagavata Purana renders more good to the people. (43)

The Vishnu Purana comes next then comes Garuda Purana. Garuda contains some additional matters. (46)

Next in the order of merit is the Matsya Purana, then comes Kurma Purana then comes Vayu. These three are also Satvika Puranas. O best of sages! In the sixfold series of Satvika Puranas, a lot of knowledge to be discovered. (52)

Skanda, Padma, Varaha, Vamana, Agni and Bhavishya are Rajasa Puranas. Each of these contains sections on Rajasa and Tamasa materials. (54)

Brahma, Brahmananda, Brahmavaivarta, Linga, Markandeya and Aditya are Tamasa Puranas. Parts of these Puranas are Satvika and Rajasika. (55)

So, according to Garuda Purana:

  • Bhagavata, Vishnu, Garuda, Matsya, Kurma and Vayu are Satvika Puranas.
  • Skanda, Padma, Varaha, Vamana, Agni and Bhavishya are Rajasa Puranas
  • Brahma, Brahmananda, Brahmavaivarta, Linga, Markandeya and Aditya are Tamasa Puranas.

For those who say why Siva Purana is missing here, it looks like Garuda Purana considers Siva Purana as an Upa-Purana and classify this Siva Purana as Tamasika Upa-purana in the succeeding verses. The term Bhagavata, Brahmananda, Vayu, Bhavishya are also included when listing the Upa-Puranas.

  • Garuda Purana doesn't consider Shiva Purana as Upa Purana. It is also stated as Purana in chapter 223. Vamana Purana is missing in the list. Vamana is listed as Upa Purana in that list. Commented Aug 14, 2019 at 6:32
  • @Sarvabhouma May be. But there is a mention of Shiva Purana while classifying Upa-Puranas. Commented Aug 14, 2019 at 14:20
  • It's possible that the Śiva Purāṇa mentioned in the Upapurāṇa lists, is actually Śivadharma Purāṇa (mentioned in other Upapurāṇa lists).
    – Bingming
    Commented Nov 8, 2023 at 13:00
  • @Sarvabhouma Incorrect, Vāmana Purāṇa is mentioned among the Mahāpurāṇas listed in Garuḍa Purāṇa (स्कान्दं पाद्मं वामनं वै वराहं तथाग्रेयं भविष्यं पर्वसृष्टौ).
    – Bingming
    Commented Nov 8, 2023 at 13:00

Yes, all Shaivas consider Vaishnava puranas as Tamasic and mostly inauthentic. This is based on what Brahmaji said in Rudra Samhita of the Shiva Purana itself which is said to be the greatest of all Puranas. Vishnu is stated as only a demi-god on the same level as Rudra. While Shiva is free from all Gunas. And Vishnu is not only on the same level as Rudra, he is called Tamasic. Also Laxmi is called Tamasic.

Vishnu, Rudra and I (Brahma) represent the Gunas. Siva is free from Gunas. He is the Supreme Brahman, the undecaying.

Vishnu is of Sattva attribute, I (Brahma) am of Rajas attribute and Rudra is of Tamas attribute. This is only in the view of activities in this world. But in fact in name it is otherwise.

Vishnu is Taamasik nature within ... Rudra is Saattvika nature within

Goddess of speech is Rajasic nature; Sati is of Saattvika nature and Lakshmi is of Taamasika nature; the great Goddess Sivaa is of three natures.

So Vaishnava puranas are glorifying a tamasic demi-god and goddess if we accept this. There is also a major Vaishnava purana (Narada purana) which claims that a Shaiva purana (Linga purana) is the greatest. This is given in Chapter 102:

It indicates the greatness of Hara. It is greater than all the other Puranas. It is the essence of the three worlds.

This and some other points I'm not mentioning here are taken as evidence that Vaishnava puranas actually accept the supremacy of Shiva and are contradicting their own statements so they are proved to be tamasic / full of ignorance.

According to Skand Puraan Kedaar Khand there are only 2 Vishnu Mahapuraans. So all the classifications you find in the likes of Garud and Padma Puraans are considered fake because they are not authentic scripture according to Shaiv shastr & sampradaay. Skand Puraan in Shankara Samhita (Sholkas 45-50 in the 2nd Adhyaya of Sambhav Khand which is part of Shiv Rahasya Khand) also says that Vaishnav Puraans are Tamasik

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