The Puranas form the largest body of Smriti literature. They were developed, in a question and answer form, to explain the subtle teachings of the Vedas through stories and legends of the ancient kings, heroes, sages, and divine personalities. The Puranas are second only to the epics as popular instruments of religious teachings. There are eighteen major Puranas: six of these are devoted to Lord Vishnu, six to Lord Brahma, and the remaining six to Lord Shiva. Their author is believed to be Sage Vyasa, who also wrote the Mahabharata.
Of all the Puranas, the most popular Purana is the Bhagavata Purana, which is devoted to Lord Vishnu. The Bhagavata Purana includes 15,000 stanzas arranged in twelve chapters. A major portion of this popular scripture is a dialogue between Sage Suka (son of Sage Vyasa) and King Parikshit. The Bhagavata Purana includes stories of all the incarnations of Lord Vishnu, with the story of Lord Krishna described in great detail. This scripture teaches the different ways of offering devotion to God, such as listening to stories of God described in scriptures, meditating, singing devotional songs, adoring pictures and images of God, and performing all work in the world in the spirit of service for the Lord.