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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 Oct 2 '17 at 7:01
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    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 Oct 2 '17 at 8:19
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    This is a false classification. – user1195 Oct 2 '17 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. – brahma jijnasa Oct 3 '17 at 4:54
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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. – Sarvabhouma Aug 14 at 6:32
  • @Sarvabhouma May be. But there is a mention of Shiva Purana while classifying Upa-Puranas. – Spark Sunshine Aug 14 at 14:20

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