Traditionally there are 18 Maha-puranas. Each Maha-purana lists eighteen canonical puranas, but the contents of each list vary reflecting differences in time and place. These eighteen maha-puranas are divided into three groups and each group has six texts.
The Mahapuranas is a description of the Hindu trinity lords namely, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Since all three are important gods, all these are given due emphasis in any Purana. But the relative emphasis often varies from Purana to Purana.
Classification of Maha-puranas:
Vaishnava classification by guna
Of the Mahapuranas it is said that six belong to the quality (guna) of goodness, six to passion, and six to ignorance. According to the Padma Purana, these are the Mahapuranas and their corresponding qualities:
The author of Mahapuranas
Myths state that the Puranas were composed by sage vyasa- the narrator of Mahabharat. The texts, the scholars say, were probably written all over India and are being rewritten and reedited to the present day all over the world.
The term purana, which means "belonging to ancient times" or "an ancient tale or legend," appears in the Vedas. The specific corpus of the Mahapuranas, as opposed to generic purana "ancient tale", are generally estimated to date to the Early Middle Ages, or to roughly between the 5th and 10th centuries, but may contain older material.
The Puranas also lay emphasis on keeping a record of genealogies. Vayu Purana once stated that, "As seen by good people in the ancient times the suta's duty was to preserve the genealogies of gods and glorious kings and the traditions of great men". The Puranic genealogies add up to fantastic time depths. The Vedic and Puranic genealogies indicate a greater antiquity of the Vedic culture.
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