The purāṇas (Hindu mythological lore) served two purposes. As the primary means of mass education they spread not only knowledge—both secular and sacred—but also wisdom and culture. In addition they also helped the society to preserve its history and hoary traditions.

The purāṇas are generally classified into two groups: the mahāpurāṇas and the upapurāṇas. Each group comprises 18 works.

The Bṛhad-dharma-purāṇa is an upapurāṇa, probably compiled in the 13th century. It is more like a smṛti or a dharmaśāstra than a purāṇa. Rites and practices of the various varṇas and āśramas, gifts, duties of women and others—these are some of the topics dealt with. The birth and sports of Kṛṣṇa are also portrayed.

See also PURĀṆAS.