- Ancient Scriptures &
Ancient Scriptures and Folklores of India
The search for Self and the Ultimate Truth has been the Holy Grail that
man has sought after ceaselessly down the ages. Why? What? Whence?
Whither? The answers to these questions have persistently eluded man,
and perhaps that is how things were meant to be.
The term Upanishad ('upa' near; 'ni' down; 'shad' to sit) means sitting
down near; this implies the students sitting down near their Guru to
learn the big secret.
In the splendid isolation of their forest abodes, the philosophers who
composed the Upanishads contemplated upon the various mysteries
whether common, or metaphysical. There is no exact date for the
composition of the 18 principal Upanishads. They continued to be
composed over a long period, the core being over 7th -5th
centuries BC. The Upanishads were originally called Vedanta, which
literally means the conclusion to the Vedas.
The Mahabharata originally called Jaya (victory), with perhaps some
justification, is said to be the longest poem in the world. 100,000
stanzas strong, the epic has a story which is as relevant to the world
today as it was then.
The Mahabharata is an amazing tale full of drama, scheming, jealousy,
human foibles and failings. The legendary author of the epic is called
Vyasa, which means the compiler so we dont really know the real
name of the writer; although it has been suggested that a whole team of
Brahmins composed it under the alias of Vyasa.
Bhagwad Gita - Holy Book of Hindus
The Bhagwad Gita (the blessed Lord's song) is a 700-verse section of
the Mahabharata and occurs just before the great battle between the
Kauravas and the Pandavas. It is written as a conversation between
Arjuna, the third of the Pandava brothers, after Yudhishtra and Bhima,
and Lord Krishna, the statesman-god. The path, as laid down by the
Bhagwad Gita, is still considered ideal way of life by Indians.
The Ramayana is about Utopian ideals and lofty principles which creates
the perfect: the virtuous elder brother, the obedient, ever-devoted
younger brothers and the self-sacrificing, ever-loving wife. All those
who appear to be flawed in some way like Dhashratha, the father
of lord Rama, Keikeyi, the step-mother, and above all Ravana the villain
seem to have been put in the story only as examples of
how-not-to-be and to enhance the goodness of the principle characters.
The Panchtantra means five sections (panch, five and tantra, sections)
and has 87 stories. The stories were most probably written down in the
second century BC, although they had been around for a pretty long time
by then, as is evinced by various Sanskrit works.
Simple, though brilliant, these fables always have morals (in verse
format) in the end. The moral of the story is clearly most important;
for the story is made to fit the moral and not the other way around.
Many of these maxims are taken from older books, like the Vedas, and are
sometimes straight quotations.
The Jatakas are Buddhist parables and tales loose parallels of
the Panchtantra actually. They tell the tales of Buddha in his previous
lives (when he was called Bodhisattva or Buddha-to-be), which included
incarnations in the form of a snake and an elephant. These stories
reflect the travails and experiences that the he had to go through to
attain the wisdom of the Buddha.
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