Brahmavaivarta Purana:A Voluminous Sanskrit Text

Brahmavaivarta Purana:A Voluminous Sanskrit Text

The Brahmavaivarta Purana stands as a voluminous Sanskrit text within Hinduism, recognized as a significant Vaishnava scripture. It predominantly revolves around the divine entities of Radha and Krishna. Though it may have roots in the late 1st millennium CE, the existing version likely emerged in the Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent and underwent revisions in South India. Multiple variations of this Purana exist in manuscripts, each claiming a connection to the Brahmavaivarta Purana or the Brahmakaivarta Purana.

Central Themes and Beliefs

Krishna is the focal point of this text, identified as the supreme reality. It proclaims the oneness of various deities such as Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma, and Ganesha, attributing them as incarnations of Krishna. Similarly, goddesses like Radha, Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Savitri are portrayed as incarnations of Prakruti, aligning with legends found in other Puranas.

Role of Radha in the Purana

Radha and Krishna

Radha holds a pivotal position, inseparable from Krishna and symbolizing the mulaprakriti, the root nature from which all material forms originated. Together, they dwell in Goloka, a realm far beyond Vaikuntha, where they share a relationship akin to that of body and soul.

Historical Context and Composition

Unlike encyclopedic Puranas, the Brahmavaivarta Purana primarily focuses on legends, worship, mythology, and ethical discussions during the lives of Radha and Krishna. Its contents suggest influences from Tantra and Bhakti saints like Chaitanya, pointing to a likely composition in the 15th or 16th century. However, an older version could have existed between the 8th to 10th centuries, undergoing substantial revisions over time.

Structural Overview

The Purana is divided into four Khandas or parts: Brahma, Prakriti, Ganesha, and Krishna. Each section delves into different aspects, ranging from Brahman, matter, the deity Ganesha, to the profound relationship between Radha and Krishna.

Content Overview

Spanning approximately 18,000 verses, the Purana encompasses various themes. It affirms Krishna’s role as the primordial creator and the supreme Brahman. The second part elaborates on Prakriti or matter, symbolized by multiple goddesses, ultimately embodying the essence of Radha. The third section narrates the life of Ganesha, identified as an incarnation of Krishna. Finally, the fourth part glorifies the divine relationship between Radha and Krishna through myths, hymns, and legends.

Societal and Philosophical Perspectives

The Brahmavaivarta Purana promotes an egalitarian view towards women, equating all females with the divine Radha and all males with Krishna. It emphasizes that any disrespect towards women is an offense against the divine. These notions possibly stem from the ancient Shaktism tradition within Hinduism.


The Brahmavaivarta Purana, with its intricate tales of Radha and Krishna, serves as a significant Vaishnava scripture. Its profound influence on Krishna-related Hindu traditions, performing arts like Rasa Lila, and its unique stance on the divine feminine continue to resonate within Hindu mythology and philosophy.

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