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According to Hindu Puranas, repeated creations and dissolutions happen in a cycle. How many types of Pralayas are there according to the Puranas? What is the difference between Pralaya and Mahapralaya?

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According to the Vishnu Purana there are 4 types of Pralayas:

naimittikah prakrtikastathaivatyantiko dvijah |

nityasca sarvabhutanam pralayo’yam caturvidhah ||

Vishnu Purana 1.7.38

1. Nitya Pralaya: The constant dissolution of all beings, like death that occurs daily.

2. Namittika Pralaya/Maha Pralaya: (also known as Brahma Pralaya) It occurs at the end of a Kalpa when Brahma goes into his sleep. This occurs for the same time as a Kalpa (1000 Mahayugas). A great fire consumes the Bhu, Bhuvah, and Shah Lokas.

3. Prakrutika Pralaya: Occurs at the end of Brahmas lifetime when the whole world (Brahmanda) reunites with prakriti.

4. Atyantika Pralaya: When man attains liberation he merges with Narayana.

As we can see Mahapralaya is one type of Pralaya.

Reference: https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/vishnu-purana-wilson/d/doc115942.html

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  • Naimittika pralaya is maya pralaya or maha pralaya? Mar 16, 2023 at 5:49
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    @AmritenduMukhopadhyay Maha*
    – Savitr̥
    Mar 16, 2023 at 8:55
  • From your description, it seems prakritika pralaya is more destructive than naimittika pralaya. In that case, it would be more appropriate to call it mahapralaya. No? Is the mahapralaya term used anywhere? Mar 16, 2023 at 13:05
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The answer given by Savitr is complete, just a few points I want to add. Naimittika Pralaya is not Mahapralaya. Naimittika Pralaya is known as Dainindina Pralaya. Prakrita Pralaya is known as Mahapralay. Here are the verses from Kalika Purana (one of the 18 Upa Puranas) in support of it.

In the 27th chapter of Kalika Purana, dainandina Pralaya is described in detail.

The ancient seers call it daily deluge (dainandina-pralaya), because it occurs every day at the end of the day of Brahmā. -Kālikā Purāṇa 27.28

By wind and fire he got the three worlds reduced to ashes, exactly what had happened at the time of deluge earlier. -Kālikā Purāṇa 27.6

वायुना वह्निना सार्धं दाहयामास वै यथा। महाप्रलयकालेषु तथा सर्वं जगत् त्रयम्॥

The English translation says deluge, however, the Sanskrit word used is mahapralaya, which literally means great deluge.

This great deluge is described in detail at the end of the chapter 24. That is what is referred to here.

At the end of one hundred years of Brahmā, Janārdana himself, in the form of Rudra destroys the world and then merges in the supreme Being. -Kālikā Purāṇa 24.78

The manifest and other elements which survive the other deluges, remain merged in the Primordial Force (prakṛti) after this deluge, it is why, it is called main deluge (prākṛta-pralaya). -Kālikā Purāṇa 24.122

O vipras! I have narrated to you the great deluge, known as prākṛta mahāpralaya. -Kālikā Purāṇa 24.123

Thus, Mahapralay is the prākṛta pralaya that happens after the death of Brahmā. Everything gets destroyed in this pralaya and merges into Primordial matter. Pralaya or Dainandina Pralay or Naimittika Pralaya happens at the end of each day of Brahma, where partial destruction happens. Only three Lokas get destroyed, however, the rest of the Lokas remain intact.

Reference -

Kalika Purana translated by B N Sastri

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