(‘purāṇa of the future’)

Purāṇas are the mythological lore of Hinduism and rank among its secondary scriptures. Hindu tradition lists 18 major purāṇas and another 18 minor purāṇas, all ascribed to the well-known sage Veda-vyāsa.

The Bhaviṣya-purāṇa has been classed among the major purāṇas and hence sometimes called the Bhaviṣya-mahāpurāṇa also. According to one printed version, it is divided into four books: Brahmaparva, Madhyamaparva, Pratisargaparva and Uttaraparva. In all, there are 585 chapters and 26,000 ślokas. The last book is sometimes treated as an independent purāṇa entitled Bhaviṣyottara-purāṇa. Minus this book, the number of verses comes to 14,000 or 14,500, a number generally and widely accepted by the scholars based on the information given in other purāṇas like the Matsya and the Agni.

This purāṇa belongs to the period A.D. 600-1000. Its last book, with its many references to kings including the Muslim invaders, known to history, has been considered as having many interpolations. The first book Brāhmaparva is undoubtedly the oldest part.

As per another version, the purāṇa consists of five books: Brāhmaparva, Vaiṣṇavaparva, Śaivaparva, Sauraparva and Pratisargaparva. The total number of chapters is 605, the number of verses being 14,000.

The whole purāṇa is a miscellany dealing with a bewildering variety of subjects. The upāsanā (worship) of Sūrya, the Sun-god, has been given a prominent place. Details concerning the construction of temples, making and consecration of images, varieties of vratas or religious observances motivated by desires, sins and their expiations, dāna or giving gifts—these ar some of the other subjects dealt with in the work.

The prefix ‘bhaviṣya’ (‘future’) seems to have been given to it on the assumption that though an ancient work composed by the hoary sage Vedavyāsa, it predicts many events of the future.

See also PURĀṆAS.