The Puranas occupy a unique position in the sacred literature of the Hindus. They are regarded next in importance only to the Vedas and the Epics. There are said to be eighteen Puranas and about the same number of Upapuranas.
Some of the well known Puranas are Brahma, Bhagvat, Padma, Vishnu, Vayu, Agni, Matsya and Garuda. Their origin can be traced as far back as the time when Buddhism was gaining importance and was a major opponent of the Brahmanic culture.
Puranas are mythological works which propagate religious and spiritual messages through parables and fables. They have a potent influence in the development of the religious lives of the people.
The Puranas follow the lines of the epics, and the earliest Puranas were compiled in the Gupta period. They are full of myths, stories, legends and sermons that were meant for the education of the common people. These Puranas contain important geographical information/ histories and deal with the mysteries of creation, re-creation and dynastic genealogies.