We have lists of 18 Mahapuranas (the major Puranas) and we also have lists of 18 Upapuranas (the minor ones).

Brihannandikeswara, Samba, Brihannaradiya etc are the names of few such Upapuranas.

My question is just because they are minor Puranas are they of less authority compared to the Mahapuranas? Or the distinction between the two categories is simply technical in nature (viz: a minor Purana will have 5 signs whereas a major one will have 10)?

A similar question can be asked for the Smritis and Upasmritis.

  • What are these five signs/ten signs?
    – user9969
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 8:06
  • Chk this link under the title "content": en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puranas @SuryaKantaBoseChowdhury
    – Rickross
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 8:11
  • @SuryaKanta - hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/16752/5620 Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 8:13
  • Aside of the 10 lakshanas, I have heard that usually each sampradaya will (or should) consider authoritative only those that were addressed by their preceptor acharyas. And generally speaking, they restrict timelines of commentaries to be very close to the timeframes of those acharyas.
    – Ambi
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 8:15
  • @Ambi Yes you are right. In case of Ganapatya Sampradaya Ganesh Puran or Mudgal is authoritative , which is a Upa-Puran. Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 8:17

1 Answer 1


I am mainly writing answer using views expressed by Rajendra Chandra Hazra a well known scholar for his studies of Puranic literature (the Puranas and the Upapuranas) from his book which is especially on the topic of Upapuranas called "Studies in the Upapuranas"

In the preface section the author is extensively is talking about the popular beliefs about upapuranas , their dates , authors , importance and the discrepancies in them as well. In this way he is not only advocating the prime importance of these up puranic texts but also comparing them with Mahapuranas on the basis of content without any bias towards both which is your enquiry.

According to him it is misconception among populous that Upapuranas are of much less importance and later been written upon this he says.

It is long-standing , but erroneous , belief of wide popularity that the Upapuranas are 'later and inferior works' and scarcely deserve any serious attention. My chief object in the present work has been to point out to the scholarly world that the Upapuranas are rich as much in numbers as in content.

He further even gives us a hint that some of them are much earlier than Mahapuranas.

of that some are much earlier than many of the so-Called Mahapuranas.

On the origin of the Upapuranas he writes :

As to the origin of Upapuranas the Kurma p. Shiva mahatmya kanda (of sutra samhita of the Skanda Purana) and Parasara upapurana record a tradition that the sages proclaimed the upapuranas after listening to the eighteen puranas from Vyasa.

That means these upapuranas were based on tradition of main puranas themselves.

The author is also suggesting that these Upapuranas are supplements (khila) to the principle puranas .According to author scholars assign the upapuranas to the date posterior to that of puranas and consequently to a position inferior to that of the latter. The Matsya -p. goes a step farther when it calls the upapuranas mere subsections (Upabheda) of the Puranas. And put forward the theory that any puranic work that is found to different than main puranas must be known to have its origin from 18 main puranas.
Upon the main topic of characteristics of puranas , which separates this literature from rest is mentioned in below verse of Srimad Bhagavata Purana.

According to author the upapuranas also do not also shows great confirmation to the above and states that upapuranas instead adopted to suit the purpose of local cult and religious needs of different sects. The author in this book is discussing each group of upapuranas in details and their individual merits , faults and date.

I am here with just addressing the main points to suit the answer as the book is lengthy.

Conclusion - Off course the Upapuranas are having several defects in them and are not as perfect and like Main puranas in content or in their structure. But in spite of this the upapuranas are of inestimable value from the history of the religion and culture and supply us the valuable source of information they content. Although small in content their importance form religious point of view is big. So we should not consider the upapuranas as inferior or less authoritative but as stated by the author supplementary and sub set of main puranas , which serve their own purpose of supporting the main puranas. And we should also treat , study and cite them equally like main puranas.

  • Ok thanks for ur effort (+1) .. but main query is what should be done whn a Purana contradicts an Upapurana? Which has more authority? Although ur ans explicitly does not say anything in that regard but I think ur saying "both are equally authoritative" ?
    – Rickross
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 7:08
  • @Rickross Yes , the issue is very well discussed about the contradictions. The text is having several volumes . I chose to write the answer using preface only ,But i will try to read all vol. and will also update answer. Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 7:11
  • Okay that's fine
    – Rickross
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 7:11
  • 1
    @Rickross No even the author is saying that both are not equally authoritative and discussing flaws in upapuranas in very details, but is of the view that although they do not meet the standards but they are not well studied and is having equal importance in conveying the massage or purpose. :-) Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 7:13
  • Okay .. let's for some of ur further updates on this
    – Rickross
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 7:17

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