Bhāgavata-purāṇa. A Hindu mythological work in Skt., one of the eighteen mahapurāṇas. The title must be derived from Bhagavān, which means here Kṛṣṇa/Viṣṇu, the central deity of the text. It is usually included in the list of the eighteen mahā-purāṇas (Major Purāṇas), but among these it is the most idiosyncratic and unusual work. Innumerable versions of it were produced in almost all vernaculars of India, and many religious movements (among them the schools of Caitanya and Vallabhā) made it their scriptural authority. It is a complex work, fusing many different traditions, hence its wide popularity. Its basic structure and content derive from the Viṣṇu Purāṇa (with traces of influence also from the Mārkaṇḍeya-purāṇa). But unlike that source, and the earlier purāṇas generally, it uses highly sophisticated lyrical metres and descriptions (often presented as songs). Also, the form of devotion it advocates—an intense emotionalism that aims at ecstasy—is quite different from earlier bhakti texts (such as the Bhagavad-gītā or the Viṣṇu Purāṇa). Its influence is still felt today, not only in India, but—because of its use by the Kṛṣṇa Consciousness movement—throughout the world.
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