The Markandeya Purana is a famous one amongst the eighteen Mahapuranas. This Purana has a character different from that of all the others. It has nothing of a secretarial spirit, little of a religious tone; rarely inserting prayers and invocations to any deity; and such as are inserted are brief and moderate.
It deals little in precepts, ceremonial or moral. Its leading feature is narrative; and it presents an uninterrupted succession of legends, most of which when ancient are embellished with new circumstances, and when new partake so far of the spirit of the old, that they are disinterested creations of the imagination, having no particular motive, being designed to recommend no special doctrine or observance.
The Purana is divided into five distinct parts, namely:
- Chapters 1-9, in which Jaimini is referred by Markandeya to the wise Birds, and they directly explain to him the four questions that perplexed him and some connected matters
- Chapters 10-41, where, though Jaimini propounds further questions to the Birds and they nominally expound them, yet the real speakers are Sumati, nicknamed Jada, and his father
- Chapters 42-78: here, though Jaimini and the Birds are the nominal speakers, yet the real speakers are Markandeya and his disciple Kraustuki
- Chapters 79-90, the Devi-mahatmya, (popularly known as Durgasaptasati) a pure interpolation, in which the real speaker is a rsi named Medhas, and which is only repeated by Markandeya
- Chapters 91-134, Markandeya and Kraustuki carry on their discourse. In the end, the Birds close here the long discourse delivered by Markandeya, and Jaimini thanks them and departs
The present edition is a newly composed and revised with currently available Sanskrit text and Pargiter's translation. Also, the editor has rendered his own translation at appropriate places and ignored the translation of flawless verses that are found in the available text of Bombay edition and other available editions.