"Know the Puranas" is a comprehensive and instructive handbook that
reveals the rich tapestry of the Puranas, ancient Indian scriptures. This
outstanding programme offers a thorough examination of the Puranic scriptures,
providing remarkable insights into its mythology, cosmology, philosophy, and
spiritual teachings. Prasad goes into the deep storylines with clarity and
rigorous study, uncovering the hidden meanings and symbolic importance behind
the enthralling stories. This book is an excellent resource for spiritual
seekers, scholars, and enthusiasts of Indian scriptures, providing a deeper
knowledge and appreciation of the Puranas' profound wisdom and their perennial
relevance in our lives.
The Puranas are the living images with breath and heart beats and have manifestation of devotion to the duties, discipline [conduct] and identity with the Lord, who dispenses the fruits of actions. Through the constitution of heaven and hell (Swarga and Naraka), it gives jolt to the root of human tendency. Thus one is awake to one’s own footsteps to guide, not to be guided blindly. Since then, many waters had gone down and many were spilled over. But the Puranas still today dare to play back the melodies of the Sun and the Moon for you.
Born in 1936, Ramanuj Prasad has been associated with spiritual houses such as the Sri Ramakrishna Mission, Arsha Vidya Gurukula, Narayana Gurukulam and Yogoda Satsang Society. Introspection and logical thinking led to the author producing many professional papers and case studies. An ardent believer in Vedanta. He has also composed about a dozen poems on Vedantic themes.
The author has been blessed with multidiscipline academic records in Economics, Engineering and Management. Having served government and public sector institutions for around 40 years, he retied a senior executive in 1994.
Vedantic Truth Revealed, Veda; A way of life and know the Upanishads published by Pustak Mahal are his highly acclaimed books.
The philanthropic children of the Mother India have commitment to the cultural heritage, the scriptures of the yore to safeguard them. Messrs Pustak Mahal, the publisher of the book, is one such organization active in activating the values amidst the changing society and priorities.
The present work goes to mark the visionary’s vision. The Puranas written by Maharsi Veda Vyasa, had certain purpose. He wrote them after consolidating the Sruti into homogeneous groups of Vedas, Rg, Yajus, Sama and Atharvana, as the essence remained dormant thereon, not explicit and adept to be adopted by the common masses. There also remains some sort of twist to the import of the substance by different schools. Puranas, as it stands, is the moral code of conduct of Sruti, extended and cast into the practical example to reflect and follow on plenary levels.
The Puranas inspire the aspirants to live a life of ‘good deeds and virtues’, a moral code of conduct towards fellow beings, faith in God and Scriptures. It constantly reminds that individuals are judged by one’s intention and action and there is someone above to reward one accordingly. Sometimes one may find extravagance, but it does happen in glorification of anything: situation, place and individual. The benefit of meditation upon the legend of Puranas is the stimulated emerged fame, vitality, the power of the organs, energy and the essence of food. The suggested manner of meditation is, the northern rays of the sun are the northern honey cells [the beehive], the legends are the bees and its contents such as ‘soma juice’ and the other thing is the nectar [of the flower].
All this [fame etc.] spread out to the sun and took shelter there to give rise to he deep black spots in the sun [this is a meditation upon sun], which is the sun total of good work done by human beings and thus imagined as honey of God. Heaven the cross bar, the sun rays attract water and the water drops in sun rays, the egg of the bees-[a highly imaginative upasana.] Madhu vidya-From the galaxy of Puranas, here we intend to focus only on those, that have been inked by Vyasacarya and one Siva Purana has been included as representative sample of Upa Puranas, which are Sanatkumara, Narasimha, Naradiya, Siva, Durvasas, Kapila, Manava, Usanas, VAruna, Kalika,Samba, Saura, Aditya, Mahesvara, Devibhagavata, Vasistha, Visnudharmottara and Nilamata. The short account of Mahapuranas may adore about 2000 pages, whereas this volume is devoted to rapid and affirmative study.
Puranas enjoy repeating the accounts again and again. For example, the stories of Yayati Prthu are repeated in Brahma, Padma, Daksa eight times and seven times respectively. But here we have taken the chapters together and skipped over those which are same and similar, without any loss of material and substance to our readers.
The topics that occur in Puranas are: Creation of Lokas, dynasties, genealogy of kings, incarnations, obsequies rites, duties of Varnas and asrama dharma, places of pilgrimage, prognostication through omens and astrology, science such as Ayurveda, health care, town planning etc.
The sages of yore had been transmitting a unitive philosophy of life from generation to generation. Well before the Aristotlian division of knowledge, later taught through the discipline of science, descended upon the subcontinent of India through modern educational practices. Their words resonated with truth as they taught from their direct realization of the Absolute and the consequent deep understanding of life and the cosmos. They did not have access to libraries or reference books but relied on their prodigious memories to weave a rich tapestry o legends that blended fact and fiction, romance and realism into a sustaining sage that both inspired and instructed those who listened with rapt attention.
This spiritual culture that evolved on the subcontinent of India later came to be identified as Hinduism. It is futile o t search for the origins of the Puranic legends in a culture rooted in perennialturth (sanatana dharma) with no recognizable human originator (apauriseya). It was during the relative stability of the Gupta period (320-500CE) that the compilation of the Puranas in their present form took place and through the development of temple cities along with bhakti to particular deities became the mainstay of popular Hinduism.
The Puranas are defined as :
Sargasca pratisargasca vamso manvantarani ca.
Vamsanucaritam caiva puranam pancalakshanam.
Traditionally they cover five topics: the creation or manifestation of the universe; destruction and recreation of the universe; the genealogies of gods and sages; the reigns of the fourteen Manus or mythological progenitors of humanity; the history of the solar (surya) and lunar (candra) dynasties of kings, from which all kings trace their descent.
Mythology may be considered as the earliest attempt by thinking human beings to organize the three major realms of their existence: the cosmos (brahmanda), the politicos (samsara) and the psychos (ahamkara). Puranic descriptions are poetical with Mount Meru, the axis mundi or center of the earth around which is Jambudvipa, within which is Bharat, surrounded by oceans of sugar-cane juice, wine, ghee, buttermilk, milk and sweet water. Every major civilization and even native cultures around the world used myths and legends to express their religious beliefs and to describe their worlds and the powers that shaped them. Mythology can show much about ancient worship, history, philosophy, science, morality and even geography. A psychological study can decipher Puranic symbolism into a classification of human archetypes and personality types which transcend time and space. While a keen student must give due recognition to the heritage of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Celtic, Norse, Native, American and Aborigine myths, one has to acknowledge the depth, scope and vast dimensions of Puranic literature. Myths and legends from different parts of the world share many motifs and symbols and a comparative study can yield rich dividends by touching the common essence that unites humanity. While the myths of other cultures are now relegated to academic study and find little meaning in everyday life, the Puranas are living scriptures, continuously recited and heeded on important occasions, not only in India, but all over the world wherever the great Indian Diaspora has spread.
It is from Puranas that the Pancayatna Puja, the domestic worship of five shrines and their deities began: Visnu, Siva, Ganesa, Surya and Devi. The Puranas established the mainstream Smarta worship of Visnu and Siva, which absorbs into it external, non-brahamnical and sometimes non-Vedic or tantric material. The importance of the Puranas is underscored by the fact that Sankaracarya, the great bhaysakara and Vedantin, utilized Puranic divinities to elucidate some of his compositions. 18 major Puranas are recognized and classified as Sattvik, Rajasic and Tamasic. There are also 18 Upapuranas.
Humanity today is for time and increasingly under siege from both favourable and unfavourable socio-economic and political forces that sometimes seem beyond control. The world is getting polarized along religious and cultural parameters. Sometimes innocent people are marginalized. As the number of choices increases, so does the difficulty in making the right decisions. Under these circumstances, Sri Ramanuj Prasad’s book is a welcome addition to contemporary spiritual literature. Few people have the time or opportunity to study the vast body of Puranic literature, and therefore this concise book offers an essential guide to the teaching of the major Puranas. It may be studied with benefit by all people aspiring to lead a virtuous life.
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