Bhagavat Purana (also known as Srimad Bhagavata, Bhagavatam or Bhagwat) is the most popular and widely circulated of all the Puranas.
Dear to devotees of Lord Vishnu, Bhagavat Purana consists of 18,000 verses, distributed amongst 332 chapters and divided into twelve cantos (skandhas). Sage Vyas, author of many great scriptures like Mahabharat and Vedas, compiled it.
Bhagavat centers on the science of God and devotion to Him, and includes biographies of great devotees who followed the path of Bhakti and attained moksha.
Though originally written in Sanskrit, Bhagavat has been explored and translated in major vernacular languages of India. Bhagavat holds a prominent position in India’s voluminous written wisdom and exercises a more direct and powerful influence upon the opinions and feelings of the people than any other of the Puranas.
Bhagavata is the most complete and authoritative exposition of Vedic knowledge. It covers everything from the nature of the self to the origin of the universe, and touches upon all fields of knowledge. It raises and answers fundamental questions like what is life, what is a human being's role in life, what is meant by cycle of birth and death, what is the relation between God and man, what are ways of propitiating God etc.
Bhagavata also adds fifth element of devotion (or divine service) besides well-known four aspects of life i.e. dharma (morality), artha (acquiring wealth), kama (pleasure) and moksha (liberation or salvation). Narrated in story-form its style is simple, lyrical and picturesque.
The impact of Bhagavata on Indian life over ages cannot be measured easily. It has served as the inspiration for countless works of literature, song, drama, painting, sculpture, folk-theatres and crafts.
Dealing with Lord Krishna from childhood to Mahabharata battle, anecdotes and stories figure in one form or other in Vaishnava temple sculptures. Kaliya mardana, Gopika Vastra-harana, Gajendra-moksha, Govardhan-dharan are only few events which have kindled imagination of artistes and craftsmen through ages.