Harivaṃśapurāṇa was composed by Acharya Jinasena in 783 AD. It is divided into 66 cantos and contains 12,000 slokas. The book aims to narrate the life of Neminatha, the twenty-second Tirthankara in Jainism. According to the Jain sources, Krishna is the first cousin of Tirthankara Neminatha. Therefore, Krishna’s adventures too occupy a significant portion of the book. An outline of Acharya Jinasena’s work is as follows.
The description of the dynasty of the Yadus is spread over the cantos 19-63. The 32nd canto contains the description of Balarama. The tale of the birth of Krishna begins from canto 35. The description of the youthful exploits of Krishna is slightly different to the Hindu lore. There follows the description of the slaying of Kansa at the festival of consecration of the bow. Then Jarasandha sends his brother and his son to attack Mathura, both of them killed by Krishna. The birth of Tirthankara Arishtanemi takes place in Shauripura amidst great celebrations. Jarasandha then lays siege of Mathura resulting in the migration of Krishna and his kinsmen to Dwarka. The marriage with Rukmini and the birth and abduction of Pradyumna follows. Then the account of the Pandavas is narrated which bears significant differences from the Hindu accounts. The reunion of Krishna and Pradyumna is narrated next. The text then describes the final combat that Kurukshetra war or Maha war between Jarasandha and Krishna with the Kauravas acting as allies to the former while the Pandavas to the latter. The war ends with the death of Jarasandha and the deification of Krishna as Narayana or Ardha Chakri. Thereafter the Pandavas retreat to south to establish Pandu Mathura (modern Madurai). This is followed by the account of the attainment of Keval Gyan by Tirthankara Arishtanemi, the destruction of Dwarka by Krishna Dwaipayana’s curse, the demise of Krishna and Balarama and the diksha and moksha of the Pandavas. The book closes with and account of the dynasty of Yadu propagated by Jaratkumara.
Although styled as a Purana, the text follows the techniques of classical Sanskrit poetry and is more a kavya than a Purana.