1I bow to (goddesses) Sri (Lakshmi), Sarasvati, Gauri (Parvati) and gods Ganesa, Skanda, Ishvara (Siva), Brahma, Vahni, Indra and other celestials and Vasudeva (Krsna).
2Saunaka and other sages (staying at the sacred forest) of Naimisa, conducting a sacrifice devoted to Hari (Vishnu), welcomed Suta (the reciter of ancient lores) on his arrival there after a pilgrimage.
3The sages said: O Suta! You are adored by us. Tell us the quintessence of all things, by knowing which alone one gets omniscience.
4Suta said: The illustrious Vishnu (who is) the Supreme Being (and) the Creator, is the quintessence. By know ng that ‘I am Brahman’ one gets omniscience.
5Two Brahmans are to be known, the Sabdabrahman (the Vedas) and Parabrahman (the Supreme Spirit). The Atharvani Sruti (Mundakopanishad) refers to this as the two (kinds of) knowledge to be learnt.
6Myself, (sage) Suka (son of sage Vyasa), (sage) Paila. (disciple of sage Vyasa) and others bowed Vyasa having resorted to the hermitage at (holy) Badarikajrama. He imparted, to us the quintessence (of all things).
7Vyasa said: O Suta, listen in the company of Suka and others what Vasishta has said to me about the excellent quintessence of the Brahman, when he was requested by the sages.
8Vasishtha said: O Vyasa, Listen, in entirety, to the two (kinds of) knowledge, which (god) Agni narrated to me in the company of the sages and the celestials.
9The excellent Purana (known as) the Agneya (or Agni) and the two (kinds of) knowledge, Para (the superior) and Apara (the inferior) signifying respectively the knowledge about the Brahman and the knowledge about the Rig Veda and so on, which satisfies all the celestials (will be narrated to you).
10The Purana spoken by Agni and designated as the Agneya by Brahma and which gives bhukti (enjoyment) and mukti (release from mundane existence) for those who read it or hear it (will be narrated to you).
11Being requested by the sages (I will also describe) (god) Vishnu in the form of the destructive Fire at the end of the world (who is) the effulgent Brahman (and) the most Supreme Being (who is) worshipped by means of knowledge and action (religious rites and so on).
12Vasishtha said: O Brahman (Agni), point out to me the masterly way of crossing the ocean of mundane existence, by knowing the quintessence of which knowledge one becomes omniscient.
13Agni said: Vishnu is the destructive Fire at the end of the world (in the form of) Rudra (Siva). I shall tell you the essence of knowledge (in the form of) this Purana, which represents all learning and is the cause of all things.
14(Lord) Vishnu, who assumes the form of a fish, a tortoise (and other beings), is the cause of the primary creation, the secondary creation, the genealogy of the sages, the cycles of Manu-periods and the genealogy of the kings.
15-17O Twice-born! (Lord) Vishnu (is the cause of) the two kinds of knowledge Para (the superior) and Apara (the inferior). Here the Apara is represented by the Rgveda, Yajwrveda, Sdmaveda, Atharvaveda, the six supplementary texts, (namely)—Siksha (phonetics), Kalpa (rules governing rituals), Vydkarana (grammar), Nirukta (etymological science), (the science dealing with) the movement of the luminary bodies, Chandovidhdna (metrics), Mimamsa (investigation of the interpretation of the ritual of the Vedas), Dharmashastra (law-books), Puranas (18 in number), Nyiya (logical philosophical system), Vaidya (medical science), Gindharua (science of music), and Arthashastra (polity). The Pari-Vidyi (superior knowledge) is that through which the Brahman is known.
18I shall narrate to you (that Purina) which was told to me by Vishnu and the celestials by Brahma and which deals with that invisible, incomprehensible, not having a cause for itself and eternal (form of Vishnu) which is the cause of the forms such as the fish and others.