Ādipurāṇa

(‘the original mythology’)

Every religion has three aspects: philosophy, mythology and rituals. While philosophy tries to find solutions to the ultimate questions and problems of life, mythology tries to explain the truths discovered by it, through stories, allegories and examples. The Hindu mythological lore, designated ‘purāṇa,’ does this and much more. It gives whole systems of knowledge in various fields whether allied to or even remotely connected with philo-sophy, or not. The Ādipurāṇa is one of the purāṇas often included in the lists.

According to one tradition, it is the original purāṇa, as its very name implies, composed by Brahmā the Creator himself.

Comprising four hundred thousand verses, it is the source book for all the other purāṇas written by Vyāsa. The book however is not available now.

Among the extant purāṇas, the Brahmapurāṇa is occasionally designated as Ādipurāṇa also. One Ādipurāṇa is sometimes listed among the minor purāṇas known as upapurāṇas. This book, now available in print is obviously a much later work. It is mainly the story of Kṛṣṇa.

The Jaina tradition (digambara sect) also has an Ādipurāṇa, an incomplete work by one Jinasena, a part of which was added on later by another author Guṇabhadra. It describes the stories of Ṛṣabhadeva and Bharata, the first two Tīrthaṅkaras.

See also PURĀṆAS and UPAPURĀṆAS.