The Harivaṃśa (Sanskrit: हरिवंश "the lineage of Hari, or Vishnu") is an important work of Sanskrit literature, containing 16,375 verses. Generally regarded as a part of the Mahabharata, but believed by some to be of much later date than the greater epic.
The text is complex, containing layers that may go back to the 1st or 2nd centuries CE. The bulk of the text is derived from two traditions, the pañcalakṣaṇa tradition, that is, the "five marks" of the Purana corpus one of which is vaṃśa "genealogy", and stories about the life of Krishna as a herdsman. The latter portion presents the earliest source of Krishna's early life and his affairs with the Gopis, presenting him as a tribal hero.
The Friendly Treatises and the Commanding Treatises
There are four books under this heading: The Valmiki-Ramayana, the Yogavasishtha, The Mahabharata and the Harivamsa. These embody all that is in the Vedas, but only in a simpler manner. These are called the Suhrit-Samhitas or the Friendly Treatises, while the Vedas are called the Prabhu-Samhitas or the Commanding Treatises with great authority. These works explain the great universal truths in the form of historical narratives, stories and dialogues
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