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Each Purana has a particular goal or intention; a primary thing that it tries to convey.

Ramanujacharya in the Vedartha Sangraha says:

All other Puranas with other aims must be interpreted consistently with this (Vishnu) Purana. That they have other aims is discerned in the manner of their commencement.

So, it is agreed that different Puranas have different aims.

For example, according to the Garuda Purana:

3-5. Those sages once, in the morning,. having offered oblations to the sacrificial fire respectfully asked this of the revered Sūta sitting there:--

The sages said: The happiness-giving path of the Shining Ones has been described by you. We now wish to hear about the fear-inspiring Way of Yama;

What is the goal of the Shiva Purana?

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What is the goal of the Shiva Purana??

The goal of the Shiva Purana is to guide people away from Tamas.

The introduction of the Shiva Purana clarifies the intent and target audience of this Purana:

  1. How do good conduct, good devotion and power of discrimination flourish? How are base feelings [tamasic feelings] dispelled by good men?

  2. In this terrible Kali age all living beings have almost become demoniac in character. What is the effective mode of remedying the same?

...

  1. For the benefit of the evil-minded persons of the Kali age, bereft of virtuous conduct, Lord Śiva has produced the nectar in the form of Śivapurāṇa.

Look at the words used: "good conduct", "base feelings", "demonic character", "discrimination between good and evil", etc.

Bad conduct, base feelings, demonic character, and lack of discrimination between right and wrong are all tamasic qualities, and this Purana clearly says that its intent is to remove these qualities from bad men.

The Manusmriti describes some qualities arising out of Tamas:

12.33 - Avarice, drowsiness, irresolution, cruelty, disbelief, bad character, habit of begging, and inattentiveness are the characteristics of the quality of ‘Tamas.’

Since the primary goal of this Purana is to remove Tamasic qualities from people, it is described as a Tamasic Purana and is for Tamasic people:

  1. Who are those among sinners in the Kali age who get sanctified by this story? Please enlighten us. Make the whole world gratified.

  2. Men who habitually commit sins, wicked persons indulging in vicious activities and persons of lecherous disposition become pure hereby.

  3. This is a great Jñānayajña (sacrificial rite of wisdom); it yields worldly enjoyment as well as salvation; it dispels all sins and delights Siva.

  4. Men overwhelmed by the thirst of covetousness, those devoid of truthfulness, those who decry even their parents, haughty vain fellows and persons prone to violent activities become sanctified by this.

...

  1. Men of unclean habits and wicked minds, men who know no peace and men who swallow temple and trust properties become sanctified by this Jñānayajña even in the Kali age.

The Shiva Purana even explicitly says that it is for people fallen away from Sattva:

  1. But later on as her youthful health and boisterous virility increased, cupid’s onslaught became extremely unbearable for her and she ceased from strictly adhering to her virtuous conduct.

  2. Unknown to her husband she began to indulge in sexual intercourse with her sinful paramour at night. Fallen thus from Sāttvic virtues she went ahead along her evil ways.

...

  1. The wicked Binduga caught hold of his wife and with threats and abuses fisted her again and again.

  2. The whorish wicked woman Cañculā thus beaten by her husband became infuriated and spoke to her wicked husband.

  3. Foul-minded that you are, you indulge in sexual intercourse with the harlot every day. You have discarded me your wife, ever ready to serve you with my youthful body.

  4. I am a youthful maiden endowed with beauty and mentally agitated by lust. Tell me what other course can I take when I am denied the amorous sport with my husband.

  5. I am very beautiful and agitated with flush of fresh youth. Deprived of sexual intercourse with you I am extremely distressed. How can I bear the pangs of passion?

As you can see, words like "wicked", "evil", and "lust" are constantly repeated in every single verse to emphasize the point that these qualities are bad.

After that, the husband even tells his wife to continue sinning:

  1. You go ahead with your sexual sports with any number of paramours. No fear need enter your mind. Extract as much of wealth as you can from them and give them enough sexual pleasure.

  2. You must hand over all the amount to me. You know that I am enamoured of my concubine. Thus our mutual interests will be assured.

  3. His wife Cañculā on hearing these words of her husband became extremely delighted and assented to his vicious proposal.

...

  1. The foolish fellow endured distress and torture in Hell for many days. He then became a ghost in the Vindhya mountain range continuing to be terribly sinful.

The woman luckily went to a temple, heard the Shiva Purana, and became good:

  1. Due to divine intercession it chanced that on an auspicious occasion she happened to go to the Gokarṇa temple in the company of her kinsmen.

  2. Casually moving about here and there with her kinsmen she happened to take her bath in a holy pond as a normal routine affair.

  3. In a certain temple a scholar of divine wisdom was conducting a discourse on the holy Śivapurāṇa story some of which she happened to hear.

39—40. The portion that fell on her ears was the context in which it was said that the servants of Yama would introduce a red hot iron into the vaginal passage of women who indulge in sexual intercourse with their paramours. This narrative made by the Paurāṇika to increase detachment, made the woman tremble with fear.

  1. At the end of the discourse when all the people dispersed, the terrified woman approached the scholarly brahmin and spoke to him in confidence.

The learned scholar says that she should listen to the Shiva Purana, and this is because the woman is very sinful and tamasic:

l-2. O Brahmin lady, fortunately you have realised at the proper time on hearing the story of Śivapurāṇa that is conducive to non-attachment. Do not be afraid. Seek refuge in Śiva. All sins perish instantaneously by Śiva’s grace.

As you can see, the background, context, intent, and target audience of this Purana is different.

So, the Puranas have different intents and audiences.

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  • I wonder why did you add Vishnu purana question was specific to Shiva Purana ? – TheLittleNaruto Sep 25 '19 at 4:20
  • The Vishnu section of your answer is superfluous. – Wikash_ Sep 25 '19 at 10:30
  • @Wikash_ Ok I removed it – Ikshvaku Sep 25 '19 at 15:27
  • @TheLittleNaruto I removed it now – Ikshvaku Sep 25 '19 at 15:27
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Siva, like other deities offers guidance to all. by selective citation (Vishnu,Ajamila) a totally distorted picture can be given of any deity. The material omitted in the above answer makes that clear.

  1. O Sūta of great intellect, O my lord, the knower of all Philosophical principles, please narrate to me the essence of the Purāṇas in detail.
  2. How do good conduct, good devotion and power of discrimination flourish? How are base feelings dispelled by good men?
  3. In this terrible Kali age all living beings have almost become demoniac in character. What is the effective mode of remedying the same?

4. Now tell me about the greatest means to achieve the most perfect weal, the holiest of the holy modes.

5. What is that, the practice of which particularly purifies the soul? What is that which enables a man of unsullied mind to attain Śiva?

6. O foremost among sages, you are blessed indeed as you are desirous of hearing. Hence I shall ponder over the greatest of the Sacred lore intelligently and tell you.

7. O dear, listen to that divine panacea evolved out of all religious tenets, heightening true devotion and conducive to the pleasure of Siva.

  1. It is destructive of the great fear of the Python of Kāla (Death). O sage, it is the noble Śiva Purāṇa[3] formerly narrated by Śiva Himself.
  2. For the benefit of the people in the age of Kali, the sage Vyāsa[4] has abridged it out of great respect for the sage Sanatkumāra[5] on being instructed by him.

10. O sage, there is nothing other than Śiva Purāṇa for the purification of the mind especially of the people of the Kali age.[6]

11. It is only the intelligent and the highly fortunate man who has accumulated great merits in his previous birth who will be drawn towards it.

12. This Śivapurāṇa is the greatest and the noblest of the sacred lore. It is the form of Śiva and as such is to be served and realised in this world.

13. By reading this and listening to it the good man becomes very pious. By all means he instantly attains Śiva’s region.

  1. Hence every endeavour of men to read this is desirable. Loving care to listen to it yields all desired results.
  2. By listening to this Purāṇa of Śiva a man becomes sinless. After enjoying all extensive worldly pleasures he will attain the region of Śiva.
  3. Merely by listening to the story of Śiva a man secures that merit which results from the performance of Rājasūya[7] and a hundred Agniṣṭomas.[8]

I7. O sage, those who listen to Śivapurāṇa the noblest of Sacred lore, cease to be mere human beings. They must be undoubtedly considered as manifestations of Rudra, a form of Śiva.

18. Sages consider the dust in the feet of those who habitually listen to that Purāṇa and recite it, on a par with holy centres.

19. May those who wish to attain the seat of salvation, listen always to the holy Śivapurāṇa with great devotion.

  1. O noblest among sages, if he is unable to listen to it always, let him hear it for a short while every day with his mind fully controlled.
  2. If any one is unable to listen to it every day, O sage, let him listen to Śivapurāṇa in the holy months.
  3. Those who listen to that Purāṇa even for a Muhūrta (48 minutes), half that period, one fourth of that period or even for a moment will not suffer from mishaps.
  4. O lord of sages, the man who listens to that Purāṇa crosses the ocean of worldly existence after burning the great forest of Karma (binding actions).
  5. O sage, the merit that accrues from all gifts and all Sacrifices becomes stabilised after listening to Śivapurāṇa.
  6. Particularly in the age of Kali there is no greater virtue conducive to the achievement of liberation by men, O sage, than listening to Śivapurāṇa.
  7. There is no doubt in this that, listening to the Purāṇa and reciting the names of Śiva is as efficacious as the Kalpa tree[9] in yielding one’s desires.
  8. For the benefit of the evil-minded persons of the Kali age, bereft of virtuous conduct, Lord Śiva has produced the nectar in the form of Śivapurāṇa.
  9. A single man, the man who drinks nectar, becomes immortal and unageing. But the nectar of the divine story of Śiva, if drunk, makes the whole family immortal and unageing.

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