The Markandeya Purana is one of eighteen major collections (Maha Puranas) of ancient Hindu texts dealing with Indian history, philosophy and traditions. The Markandeya Purana is believed to have been composed between 250 CE and 550 CE. The collection is divided into 137 chapters, all of which are narrated by a sage called Markandeya. Some medieval texts assert that the Markandeya Purana has 9,000 verses, but surviving manuscripts only have about 6,900 verses.
The Markandeya Purana is written in Sanskrit and is considered to be "Smriti" (remembered by ordinary human beings and attributed to an author). Other Hindu scriptures such as the Vedas are considered to have been heard and transmitted through direct knowledge by accomplished and enlightened sages and seers (called "rishis"); those texts are not "Smriti" but instead are categorized as "Śruti".
Durga Saptashati (700 Verses)
Thirteen of the Markandeya Purana's chapters (81-93) are known as the Durga Saptashati (English: 700 Verses). The Durga Saptashati is also called the "Devi Mahatmya", "Chandi Paath", or "the Chandi". The Durga Saptashati is a repetition by Markandeya of information what he had learned from a female sage named Medhas. The Durga Saptashati describes the victory of the Goddess Durga (symbolic for a person's innermost, secret power) over various evil influences. Because all of it is in verse, the Durga Saptashati has been referred to as a divine song, and a ritualistic reading of the it is part of Navratri celebrations in India.
An English version is available as a prose text by Manmatha Nath Dutt, published by Elysium Press in 1896. Title: The Markandeya Purana (Prose Translation).
A version in verse by F.E Pargiter was published by the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1904.
- "Maha" means great or big, and the Maha Puranas are the largest of all the widely recognized Puranas. The eighteen Maha Puranas (and their theoretical number of verses) are: Agni (15,400), Bhagavata (18,000), Brahma (10,000), Brahmanda (12,000), Brahmavaivarta (18,000), Garuda (19,000), Kurma (17,000), Linga (11,000), Markandeya (9000), Matsya (14,000), Narada (25,000), Padma (55,000), Shiva (24,000), Skanda (81,100), Vamana (10,000, Varaha (24,000), Vayo (24,000), Vishnu (23,000). This information is from the Preface of the book "Markandeya Purana" published in 2019 by India Penguin Classics, ISBN 978-0143448259.
- Shruti on Encyclopedia Britannica online, last access 12/28/2022.
- Shri Durga Saptashati, a description of the "700 Verses", as well as the full text for its 13 chapters, on drik Panchang©, Hindu Calendar for the World; last access 12/28/2022
- How a centuries old epic shaped the spiritual backbone of Navratri, an article about the "700 Verses" on Firstpost.com, an online media website in Mumbai; last access 12/29/2022
- Markandeya Purana PDF,1 page per sheet and Markandeya Purana PDF, 4 pages per sheet translation by F. Eden Pargiter, B.A., at the Internet Archive; online PDF. Originally published in 1904. A PDF version with English and Sanskrit is on PDF drive.