Lord Vishnu, in Kurm Avatar (tortoise incarnation), had first preached this Purana to Narad. In his turn, Narad narrated it to Sutji who later narrated this Purana to an assembly of the great sages. Initially, this Purana had four parts namely Bramhi Samhita, Bhagawati Samhita, Gauri Samhita and Vaishnavi Samhita. Presently, however, none of these Samhitas is available except Brahm Samhita. Present version too contains two parts-Purv and Uttar Parts.
Purv Part: Tale of Indradyumna. Description of Kurm Purana. Description of Varnashram. Description of the sequence of these ashramas. Origin of the geo-sphere. Description of various incarnations. Preaching of the gods. Description of the self-begotten Manu. Destruction of Daksh’s yagya. Killing of Hiranyakashipu. Vamana avatar (dwarf incarnation). Description of Ikshvaku clan. Description of Pururava clan. Description of Rama and Krishna incarnations. Description of Satya-, Treta-, Dwapar- and Kali yugas. Greatness of Varanasi. Greatness of Lingas. Greatness of Prayag and Yamuna etc.
Uttar Part: Yoga of unexpressed knowledge. Appearance of Devadidev (Rudra) during Tandava. Description of metaphysical knowledge. Preaching of metaphysical knowledge by the God. Description of Ashtang Yoga. Duties of a celibate. Duties of a graduate. Description of edible and non-edible things. Rituals to be performed regularly. Rituals of dining. Description of the duties of a Vanaprasthi. Duties of an ascetic. Description of expiation. Expiation for drinking of wine. Greatness of different places of pilgrimage.