In padma purana it classifies some puranas as rajasic and tamasic, specifically it says tamasic puranas will lead to hell. I do not understand this verse, as it seems to contradict what I have known as Veda Vyasa's intentions of to provide help to those in the Kali Yuga. The way I understand tamasic puranas is that they are more appreciated by a tamasic mind, but it would seem that its effects would be to elevate a person, otherwise why would Vyasa write it? I believe the verse in padma purana is like tathaiva tamasa nirayapraptihetavah. niraya meaning the hell. It seems like this is a pretty direct statement, so I guess this means that if one believes tamasic puranas literally and does not rise above its meaning, then one will go to hell. But perhaps the potential is still there that by reading, it will cause one to go beyond? Does anyone have any practical experience with this, the tamasic puranas leading one to advaita realization and god realization?

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    There's no such classification. It would be preposterous that reading glories of Shiva would take to hell.
    – The Destroyer
    Dec 27, 2015 at 4:40
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    Also, there's no consensus on Bhagavatha whether it is Devi Bhagavatha or Srimad Bhagavatham (Krishna's Bagavatham).
    – The Destroyer
    Dec 27, 2015 at 5:09
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    There is no classification of puranas into tamasic. Maybe an attempt by a fanatic to one sect. Dec 29, 2015 at 5:17
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    Nope that's just an attempt to retain one's followers. This is all too common in world history (not just hinduism) where people are always very eager to put down other religions, rather than learn their own religions better. This is the quality of sectarianism. One has the right to Love His God. God is One. A True Vaishnava believes that His Lord Vishnu is the Antaryami of Lord Shiva (thus all prayers to Lord Shiva reach Lord VIshnu). A True Shaivite believes that His Lord Shiva is the Antaryami of Lord Vishnu. Thus these real followers never waste their time fighting each other. Good q.
    – Sai
    Dec 29, 2015 at 11:27
  • All puranas are written to explain various concepts like sanatan Dharma and pure devotion. No scripture is tamasic. Please do not listen to people who say this.
    – Wikash_
    Sep 26, 2019 at 15:48

6 Answers 6


What can be more ridiculous as saying reading Purans will lead you towards Hell. It can be refuted just by using common sense, common logic and simple intellect.

Padma Purana itself is sufficient in refuting this statement. The verse you are talking comes in Padma Purana Uttar Khanda chapter 236

मात्सयं कौर्मं तथा लैङ्गम् शैवं स्कान्दं तथैव च ।
आग्नेयं च षडेतानि तामसानि निबोधत ।।

Matsya Purana, Kurma Purana, Linga Purana, Shiva Purana, Skanda Purana, Agni Purana these six are Tamasic (236.20)

सात्विका मोक्षदाः प्रोक्ताः राजसा सर्वदा अशुभाः ।
तथैव तामसा देवि निरयप्राप्तिहेतवः ।।

Among these puranas Satvika Puranas lead one to liberation, Rajasa do not cause good > and tamasa puranas lead one to hell. (236.21)

Padma Purana itself refutes this verse in Swarga Khanda chapter 62. (ie. 2.62)


Puranas are nothing but the mediums through which Sri Hari manifests himself. Brahma Purana is said to be the Forehead of Srihari, Padma Purana is said to be the 'heart' of Srihari, Vishnu Purana is said to be the 'right arm' of Srihari, Shiva Purana is said to be the 'left arm' of Srihari, Shrimad Bhagawat is said to be His 'thigh', Narad Purana is said to be His 'navel', Markendeya Purana is said to be His 'right-foot', Agni Purana is said to be His 'left foot', Bhavishya Purana is said to be His 'right-knee', Brahma Vaivrata Purana is said to be His & apos;left-knee', Linga Purana is said to be His 'right ankle', Varaha Purana is said to be His 'left ankle', Skanda Purana is said to be the hair on the body of 'Sri Hari, Vamana Purana is said to be His Skin, Kurma Purana is said to be His Back, Matsya Purana is said to be His Stomach, Garuda Purana is said to be His Bone Marrow and Brahmanda Purana is said to be His Bone.

All the Puranas being manifestation of different parts of Sri Hari's body are very sacred and capable of bestowing salvation.

Here it clearly mentions that " all the Puranas being manifestation of different parts of Sri Hari's body are very sacred and capable of bestowing salvation." Hence there is no question of going to Hell by reading Purans.

Imagine a man without his Stomach, Back, Right ankle, Left arm, Hair and Left foot. How would he look like? Such is his condition if he rejects these 6 Purans.

He himself is doing a grave sin by depriving Lord Hari with his Stomach, Back, Right ankle, Left arm, Hair and Left foot.

Then why is there such verse in Uttar khanda of Padma Purana ?

There can be various answers. The most fitting answer is interpolation. Even if you do not believe it to be interpolation then also you can take it positively.

God sometimes propagates false message for specific reason. For eg. For killing the demon Tripurasur false philosophy and texts were created. Similarly it could also be  a part of divine leela. May be it is for generating 'Virodhi Bhakti' for those who can't take divinities positively. For those they may meditate on Lord by their criticism.

For eg. In Shiva Gita of Padma Purana it is said:

अनादरेण शाठ्येन परिहासेन मायया ।
शिवभक्तिरतश्चेत्स्यादन्त्यजोऽपि विमुच्यते ।।

"Anyone while doing criticism or while > disrespecting or due to jealousy if meditated or gains devotion for Shiva, he would get cleansed of all the sins immediately. "

The concept 'Virodhi Bhakti' itself has a great importance on its one. Its for those whose intellect can't grasp the divinities positively. for eg. Kamsa, Chanur and Sishupal were liberated through it. They were constantly thinking of Lord Krishna (like in meditation) every time even it was as hatred and anger. Bhagavata Purana 10.29.15 also justifies it. It says

"15. Persons who constantly direct their lust, anger, fear, protective affection, feeling of impersonal oneness or friendship toward Lord Hari are sure to become absorbed in thought of Him."

Hence you can yourself think that verse as an interpolation or a Verse to generate Virodhi Bhakti for those who can't grasp divinities positively or you can also believe reading those 6 Purans will lead it you to Hell or you can also be a non-believer. You are always free to choose it as per your intellect.

  • 5
    You're posting some very good answers since you joined this site. Keep it up!
    – Pinakin
    Apr 9, 2016 at 11:05
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    Wow I have not read a better answer on this subject!
    – Surya
    Apr 9, 2016 at 11:42
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    make a list of puranas which are interpolated May 3, 2017 at 2:35
  • Is Ther any ref to puranas as Tamasic or rajasic in skand puran? Sm1 sent me this... सात्विकेशु पुरानेशु महात्म्यमाधिकम हरे| राजसेशु च महातम्यधिकं ब्रम्हणो विदुं|| तद्वदगनेश्व महातम्य तामसेशु शिवस्य हि| संकीर्ने चा सर्सवत्या पितृणा चा निध्यते|| -स्कान्द ७-२ Dec 14, 2018 at 0:25
  • The translation of the tamasa puranas is wrong. They have the taddhita affix "a" added. Dec 7, 2021 at 15:38

Actually Shaivas consider Vaishnava puranas as Tamasic. This is based on what Brahmaji said in Rudra Samhita of the Shiva Purana itself which claims 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

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 this naturally means that Vaishnava puranas are glorifying a tamasic demi-god and goddess if we believe 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 other scriptural references to Vishnu/Vaishnava Puranas I'm not mentioning here (like this and these) 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.

Other puranas apart from Srimad Bhagvata and Shiva Purana say they are the greatest such as Agni Purana and Devi Bhagvata. Shaktas generally do not consider Vishnu equal to Shiva.


CONCLUSION: There is no consensus on what is a Satvik, Tamasic, superior or inferior purana so it's impossible to answer this question.

  • This would make sense if the arrangement of the Puranas matches with deities this way, but they don't. Jan 18, 2022 at 23:40

Nope. After listening to Bhagavatha purana, padma purana and shiva purana commentaries.

In jyotishya shastra, they say misunderstanding always disturbs the other person.

In my understanding no puranas leads a person to hell. Instead if understood properly from a Guru and practiced the learnings in day-to-day activities without ignoring the inner voice will lead the person to Moksha one fine day.

In all puranas, there will be some takeaways(positives) and leave outs(negatives). All these puranas are made to show how a man should live on earth. Being humble and continuous devotion towards the Guru and Lord you believe in will definitely lead to liberation.

If you need more information, read commentary by Bannanje Govindacharya based on the Sri Madhwacharya works on puranas.

Personal understanding: Narrowing down all puranas, vratas, poojas, songs speaks about the greatness, love and mercy shown by Lord Hari in different forms. Thinking he is with us in all the phases of life one can feel the heaven on earth.

  • Absolutely I know only Acharya to say this directly bannaje All puranas are true Tamarac Purina taken literally will lead one to hell means those contents which are opposed to taratamya should interpreted differently like beheading head srihari with his bow string should be interpreted with the respective tattvas like worm which eats string is tamSic tTtva now string is ego which is tight when it let loose it cuts one's head that is satiric tttattva
    – Prasanna R
    Sep 24, 2021 at 10:18
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Mahādeva said:

22b-25. Hearing these frightful words of the gods, Viṣṇu, Puruṣottama, consoled those regents of the quarters, and said to me:

The lord said: O Rudra, O you of mighty arms, O you best god, for deluding the enemies of gods prepare a course of conduct to be followed by heretics. Narrate to them the dark Purāṇas (i.e. Purāṇas that will take them astray). O you very intelligent one, also fashion confusing holy texts. There will be brāhmaṇas and great sages who have given themselves away to me.

So the reason for the dark Puranas seems to be for deluding the enemies of the Gods. The confusing holy texts might to anything from the dharma shastras to the holy books of other religions to both. The dark Puranas have the taddhita affix "a" added to the usual name of the Purana.


  • What do you mean by taddhita affix "a" added to the usual name of the Purana? Something like Padma -> Pādma?
    – Surya
    Jan 1, 2022 at 17:44
  • @Surya Yes, that's what it does. Jan 1, 2022 at 18:04
  • So by that logic, Pādma, Nāradiya, Gāruda, Brāhma, Mātsya, Kaurma, Skānda, and Lainga Puranas are all tamasic?
    – Surya
    Jan 2, 2022 at 15:16
  • @Surya Yes. But those ones also have a lot of Sattva in them, so are better than normal for a vicious Purana. Also the taddhita affix "a", other than differentiating them, implies the vicious Puranas are based on the real Puranas. Jan 2, 2022 at 16:45


Before we come to the topic of tamsic Puran it is imperative to understand the concept and proper meaning of tamsic form of Ishvar as mentioned in the Purans themselves otherwise only misinterpretation will occur. The most frequently used argument used by those who engage in the propaganda of calling shastras as tamsic is that the very deities who are eugilized in the apparently tamsic scriptures are themselves tamsic however this argument is weak in reality. The Shiv Mahapuran states in Rudra Samhita Sristi Khand Adhay 16 slok 36-40 that Shiva manifested himself in three ways in the form of Vaikunth  (Vishnu) born of the left limb, in of Brahma born of the right limb and in the form of Rudra born of the heart; Vishnu, Rudra and Bramha represent the three gunas; Shiva is free from Gunas, he is the supreme bramh the undecaying; Vishnu is of satva attribute brahma is of rajas attribute and Rudra is of tamas attribute; this is however only in view of the activities in the world, in fact and in name it is otherwise as Vishnu is of Tamasika nature within but externally satvik, Rudra is of Sattvika nature within but of Tamasic nature outside, Bramha is of Rājasic nature throughout; Swarasatti of Rājasic nature, Satī is of the Sāttvika nature and Lakṣmī is of Tamasic nature; the great goddess Sivaa (female of Shiva) is of the three natures. The fact that Shiva actually means Bramh is proven in the Mandukya Upanishad slok 7 which is a document that can not be refuted using the half baked theories of calling some Purans tamsic by misinterpretation of slokas of Puran.

This proves two points, firstly that Shiva is actually a name of bramh which is highest reality of scriptures and secondly that satvik rajsic and tamsic classification of Ishvar is stated simply on their external nature and not on their internal nature which means that the argument of certain Puranas being tamsic because of the deity they eulogize is flawed. The correct interpretation of the slokas of tamsic Puran shall be provided in the next points. The same as stated in the Shiv Mahapuran is mentioned in the Shrimad Bhagvatam as well (which is a satvik Puran and one of the most important Puran for Vaishnavas) in Skand 8 Adhay 7 slok 23.

Mention must also be made of a particular text named Padma Puran, a text which is extremely crucial for this article as shall become evident as the article progresses. The Padma Puran Bhoomi Khand Adhay 71 sloka 19-21 states clearly that there is no actual difference between Shiva and Vishnu and their seperate description is given only because of different arrangements of their gunas from mortal perspective (which has been proven in the earlier paragraph where it has been shown that Rudra (referred to as Shiva in Padma Puran) and Vishnu both have Satva and Tamas guna and only the order of presence of the gunas are different).

Yet another important aspect that must be mentioned in this point is what the various other Vaishnava scriptures and Vaishnavacharyas have to say on this matter which shall become very crucial for the article as it progresses. Srila Baladeva Vidhyabhushana in his bhasya on Laghu Bhagavatamrita Skand 1 Adhay 2 slok 31 states Sadashiva is without any trace of tamas, he is cause of all causes and he is Narayan vilasa form (anga bhuta) of swyam Krishna (who is Vishnu himself). Brihad Bhagavatamrita Skand 1 Adhay 5 slok 298 states that Sadashiva mentioned in the Brahma Samhita is vilasa expansion of Shri Krishna, a from of Narayan. Srila Rupa Goswami stated in Laghu Bhagavatamrita Skand 1 Adhay 5 slok 298 that Shiva's abode manifest in the northeast part of Vaikunth Loka. Sri Brihad Bhagavatamrita Skand 1 Adhay 2 slok 96 states Sadashiva Loka is attained only by the best of devotees of Lord Shiva who know that Shiva is non different from Shri Krishna; those who cause differentiation are not unable to reach that place.

All these points together especially those of the Vaishnava side itself are enough to counter any arguments of calling Shiva as tamsic. However then a question arises about why does the Shiv Mahapuran itself stated Rudra is tamsic, the answer to which has already been given that the Shiv Mahapuran and the other mentioned references in that very part clarifies the entire subject stating Rudra to be tamsic is from external perspective and not internal. The points of Vaishnava texts and bhasya of their acharyas quoted already only affirms this as they state Shiva and Vishnu to be actually non different and the Shiv Mahapuran itself in the mentioned references states that Rudra and Vishnu both have Satva and Tamas guna only the arrangement of gunas is different from worldly perspective.

Then the question may occur about why despite being non different and posessing same attributes there is difference in arrangement of gunas. However the answer to this is simple and present in the scriptures themselves. It is stated in the Bhagvad Gita Adhay 9 slok 22 that Ishvar comes to the devotees according to their needs and grants them what they lack strengthening the good attributes that are already present in them. This only makes more sense when interpreted in the context of different arrangement of gunas as it implies Rudra helps his devotees and those willing people to attain moksha who are tamsic outside and satvik inside while Vishnu helps his devotees and those willing people to attain moksha who are satvik outside and tamsic inside and hence the difference in guna arrangements.


The allegations raised on certain Puranas especially on the Shaiva Puranas by certain people are based on the the slokas appearing in the Padma Puran Uttar Khand Adhay 236 slok 18-22 which places Mātsya, Kaurma, Laiṅga, Saiva, Skānda and Agni under tāmasic; Brahmāṇḍa, Brahmavaivarta, Mārkaṇḍeya, Bhaviṣya, Vāmana and Brāhma under rajsic; Vishnu, Nāradīya, Bhagavata, Gāruḍa, Pādma and Vārāha under satvik category further stating that the satvik grants salvation, rajsic is auspicious while tamsic Puran leads to sorrow. However ample refutation of this is available in the Padma Puran itself for it states in the Svarga Khand (which is third Khand of the Padma Puran while Uttar Khand is sixth Khand) Adhay 62 states all the Puranas to be body parts of Vishnu himself and a conclusion must be drawn from this that the statement of tamas Puran is simply arthavada or statements used to increase status of or glorify something more by making a comparison and not a statement to be interpreted literally as all parts of the lord are auspicious and not impure hence the objective of the tamsic Puran statement is simply to glorify Vaishnava Puranas and not to literally state Shaiva Puranas to be tamsic, a fact which shall be established in the later paragraphs.

The statement of the Padma Puran about tamas Puran being arthavada and not a literal statement only becomes more clear when we quote the Narada Puran (which is stated to be one of the satvik Puran in the Padma Puran itself) states in Adhay 102 slok 4 that the Linga Puran (one of the tamsic Puran as per the Padma Puran). When a Puran stated by the Padma Puran to be satvik states a Puran to be greatest of all which is mentioned in the Padma Puran as tamsic, it simply can mean two things; either the scriptures have contradiction which can not be the case, or kalpa bheda or direct arthavada. In either of the acceptable case it only implies that the statement of the Padma Puran about tamas Puran can not be interpreted literally and is only a arthavad.

The Skand Puran Prabasha Khand Prabasha-Kshetra-Mahatyam Adhay 2 sloka 87-88 and the Matsya Puran Adhay 53 sloka 68-69 states that in satvik Puranas Vishnu is glorified, in rajsic Puranas Bramha is glorified and in tamsic Puranas Rudra is glorified, however this would contradict statement of the the Narada Puran which is stated to be satvik as per both of these mentioned text and hence can either refer to arthavad or hint at a different implications of the verses. Both of these are possible and the point of different implications is very clear when the verses mentioned in point II are brought into context. As stated in point II, Vishnu, Bramha and Rudra are stated to be externally of satvik, rajsic and tamsic nature respectively and they are described by mortals based on external perception (as stated by the Padma Puran) and hence it is only natural that from perspective of humans the Shaiva Puranas are bound to be tamsic and the Vaishnava ones to be satvik as their respective eulogized deities are externally tamsic and satvik by nature. It simply means that the statement of guna of Puranas here are simply based on external character of the deities and not the internal characteristics, and to some extent are statements of arthavad. It must also be noted that the classification of the Skand and Matsya Puran are based on gunas of the kalpa themselves in which the respective Purans occurred which only makes the point more clear that the classification is based on external nature of the deities.

Apart from all these there is yet another text that must be taken into consideration here which is the Garuda Puran. The Garuda Puran lists Puranas based on their gunas in Bramha Khand Adhay 1 sloka 51-55 stating Matsya, Kurma, Vayu, Vishnu, Bhagvad and Garuda to be satvik; Skand, Padma, Varaha, Vamana, Agni and Bhavishya to be rajsic; Bramha, Bramhanda, Brahmavaivarta, Linga, Markandeya and Aditya as tamsic. However there is a huge problem with this particular classification which is only more prominent and critical than the other as it contradicts not only the Padma Puran but also all the other Puranas for it places Vaishnava Puranas such as the Padma and Varaha Puran as rajsjc and Bramhanda and Brahmavaivarta Puran as tamsic. Another problem is the fact that the Shiv Mahapuran otherwise mentioned as a Mahapuran in all the other Puranas that talks about list of Mahapuranas (some references are The Vishnu Puran Skand 3 Adhay 6 slok 21-24, the Shiv Puran Uma Samhita Adhay 44 slok 125-135, the Shrimad Bhagvatam Skand 12 Adhay 13 slok 4-9, the Bramha Vaivartta Puran Shri Krishna Janma Khand Adhay 133 slok 11-21 and the Kurma Puran Purvardha Adhay 1 slok 13-15) is mentioned as an upapuran in the Garuda Puran Bramha Khand Adhay 1 slok 62 and has instead stated Vayu Puran as a Mahapuran in it's list which is otherwise treated as a upapuran in other lists. This is a clear indication of this particular list being exclusively a result of kalpa bheda for certain incidents occur differently in different kalpa while other stay same, this case being a case of difference as is clearly visible hence it must be stated that the list of the Garuda Puran is for the kalpa which it documented and hence can not be used as a measure to state certain Puranas as tamsic in the present kalpa as the list was made in an entirely different context and timeline.

The Matsya Puran Adhay 53 along with mentioning many other informations about the Puranas also states the kalpa which they documented stating clearly each Puran documents incidents of seperate kalpas such as the Padma Puran documenting Padma kalpa, Agni Puran documenting Isana kalpa, Bhavishya Puran documenting Aghora kalpa. Though the information about which kalpa is documented in the Garuda Puran is not mentioned in the givem reference it is evident it belongs to a different kalpa from the other mentioned references for though same incidents occur slightly differently in different kalpas the same incident can not occur differently in the same kalpa itself. Also, if we are to consider the Garuda Puran to be of one of the kalpas to which any one of the other mentioned Puranas here belong that will simply denote that the statement of Garuda Puran and that of the other Puran to which it is linked in this case is simple arthavad and in either way can not be interpreted literally. Also, the Vishnu Puran is stated to be the Puran of the Varaha Kalpa (as per the Matsya Puran Adhay 53 sloka 16) which is the present kalpa and the Vishnu Puran mentions no such guna based classification of the Puranas. An objection may be raised to this point by the opponents of the article by bringing smartha interpretation into the picture and stating that simply absence of mention of something in one Puran does not mean its rejection as the Puranas are complimentary to each other and what information may not be present in one is present in some other (a fact stated in the Vishnu Puran which is the Puran of this kalpa itself in Skand 3 Adhay 6 slok 21-24 as well) and this objection holds ground. However the fact that the listing based on gunas varies from one Puran to another is a clear indication of the fact that in different kalpa gunas of certain Puranas are different and also hints at arthavad which is clear when the various verses on this subject are observed together using the sloka mentioned in the objection here which means once again that the listing is actually either arthavad or due to kalpa bhed and hence can not be taken literally especially for our kalpa. Also the subject in question here is not about any incidents but rather about listing based on gunas which once again means that the statements are not literal but rather arthavad.


Rudra is externally tamsic in nature simply as he presides over tamas gun and controls it as is visible from the references mentioned in point II hence it is stated that he is glorified in tamas kalpa, it is simply because he presides over the guna of those kalpa and hence is the ruler of those kalpa it does not mean the very puranas are tamsic or Rudra is actually tamsic and simply denotes that the Puranas in which tamas activities are documented glorify Rudra simply because he is the ruler over tamas guna. Also as has been already stated in the point II last paragraph difference in arrangements in guna is only because they perform functions differently on the mortal realm though their goal is same which gives more backing to the fact that Rudra presides over tamo guna as he is externally tamsic but internally free from its influence. Most importantly the Vaishnavacharyas themselves asserts non difference of Shiva and Vishnu which is only more testimony to the fact that the Purans that glorify Shiva or Rudra are not actually tamsic and the listing based on guna and statements such as studying apparently tamsic Puranas causing sorrow are only arthavad and not literal statements. Hence conclusion can be drawn from all these facts that none of the Puranas are false or useless or actually tamsic in nature and the verses that are used to abuse them are simply quoted out of context. Also, all Puranas being parts (anga) of Ishvar himself (Shiva as per Shaiva scriptures and Vishnu as per Vaishnava scriptures) and are capable of granting moksha as has been proven in point III while dealing with the Padma Puran and hence none of the Puranas can be rejected or demeaned.


Credits of the writing and compilation belongs to: Jalandhar.


It's not to be taken literally. In Shastras there is a concept of Arthavaad. The meaning here is that the Tatparya Linga or the Final Conclusion of Tamas Shastras is not in line with Shruti and hence will not lead to Liberation. Here Arthavaad is used which means a metaphorical exhageration to Emphasise on a particular point.

The Vayu Puran, Padma Puran, Matsya Puran as well as Skanda Puran gives the list of Satva Rajas and Tamas Puranas. Therefore one must follow Satva Puranas and whatever is in Line with it in Rajas and Tamas can be accepted and the rest has to be left considering it to be for Bewilderment of a particular section of the people.

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