The Integration of Sri Dharma Sasthaand Sri Ayyappa ( 5 )

15/12/2011 History of Lord Ayyappa

The Speciality of the Puraanas

Unlike the Upanashads, which contain deep and direct inquiries into the Supreme Truth, Brahman, the Puraanas are repositories of scintillating stories, often highly incredible, some appearing even absurd, yet most of them presenting, camoulfaged in story forms, different shades of the psychological and spiritual aspects of man. The various Gods, who represent the diverse aspects of Reality, are brought down to the earthy human levels, showing several human frailties and problems, yet remarkably expressing the transcendental. While the reader is aborbed in the much facscinating story element, in that very mood his mind is lifted and brought in contact with the sublime and the spiritual, the stories spontaneously taking flights to perch on high philosophical peaks.

The composers of the Puraanas who had profound insights into human nature, were aware that the refinement of human mind could only be gradual. A technique of discriminative imagination is effectively employed to bring the conditioned human mind in touch with the life-transforming spiritual values. This equips one for higher contemplation. Some of the stories, which would appear as mere hyperbolic imagination, have profound inner meaning, which will be revealed to the seeker.

The Puranic approach can be compared to that of the surrealistic style in painting. They disturb us, nourish our faculties of imagination, help us break the patterns of routine thought and give us solace, reassurance and joy by pointing out the higher potentials of life. They have often utter disregard for the time and space factors. Birds, animals and men can be seen freely engaging in serious discussions on the mysteries of existence.

The Puraanas are like vast oceans that hold invaluable gems and a lot of worthless dross too, and the same is characteristic of the human mind also. With a masterly technique, the Puraanas bring these two contrasting characteristics of our mind to our awareness. They are repositories of traditional sciences, high philosophical knowledge and devotional hymns potent with immense spiritual power.

We should bear in mind that the Puraanas were written in a period when the major section of the people did not have the facilities for education as we have today. Only a few engaged themselves in intensive studies, while the commoners were literate enough to read the Puraanas or listen to them with rapt attention. This enabled them to imbibe the spiritual values.

Today the scene is different. While the Puranic stories and the symbolic forms of Gods have been inspiring generations of common people to awaken the spiritual values latent in them, in our times, because of the dearth of research efforts for an updated reassessment, we do not get a proper perspective of their deeper import. They have become a subject of ridicule for people, especially for those who are trained in a West-oriented education. Although the Puraanas are still read and enjoyed as masterpieces of imagination and story telling, if we probe into their profundities they would offer scope for updated and renewed understanding, which will be in tune with the intellectual trends of every age. Such a reassessment of the Puraanas would give the modern man a greater insight into life.

( To be continued )

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