Dictionary Of Hindu Religion | History
|1-History of India-Introduction|
1-History of India-Introduction
Our nation, it is often alleged that it does not have a sense of history, but they forget that our Puraan are our history, our Raamaayan is our history, our Mahaabhaarat is our history. Our history does not mean only the history of the past two thousand years, since the birth of Christ. Most people do not believe that the events of earlier eras, including those mentioned in the Puraan, are also our history. Some of them admit, though, that there is an element of truth in Pauraanik stories, but these relate to theories like the division of the Indian people into races like Aaryan and Dravidian, theories they fancy are supported by the Puraan. The rest, like the miracles or accounts of supernatural occurrences, they dismiss them as fables or as a tissue of lies. Since they are unable to comprehend matters that are beyond our senses they treat the Puraan as myths or just fairy tales.
Now children have no choice but to read the textbooks of history written by such people. But it is not good to keep our children ignorant of our old history written in our Raamaayan, Mahaabhaarat (MBH) and Puraan. It is not that they should not read the modern history, history of the last 3000 years, but as the Puraan are also our history they should read them also to learn our ancient culture from them, which will help in molding their conduct and character. The modern history (history of the last 3000 years) does not serve such purpose. One reason why they say history must be read is that it is believed that "history repeats itself". The idea is that the lessons of the past help us to build our future. We learn from history about the circumstances that usually lead to war and about how great civilizations rise and fall. We can be on guard against a repetition of these circumstances and this, we are told, is one of the "uses" of history.
The same events are repeated Kalp after Kalp. According to our Shaastra, the Raamaayan, the Mahaabhaarat (MBH), the Bhaagvat Puraan, the Dashaavataar (the story of the ten incarnations of Vishnu). The Puraan are re-enacted Kalp after Kalp. Here too we see that history repeats itself. Have we in reality learnt any lesson from history, I mean from the history taught in schools? No. We learn only how such men as Chenghiz Khan, Temoor Lang, Ghazanee, and Malik Kaafoor appeared on the face of the earth from time to time and caused devastation in various countries and how they massacred innocent people. But by reading accounts of their infamous deeds have we been able to prevent the appearance of such scourges again? Hitler and Mussolini rose to perpetrate the same kind of outrages on people.
History must be taught along with the lessons in Dharm; then alone it will serve the purpose of bringing people to the right path. The Puraan do this precisely. The modern history contains no more than accounts of monarchs and other rules in chronological order. It does not give importance to their moral character whether wicked rulers suffered an ill fate or whether just and righteous rulers earned a high place. According to the law of Karm, Eeshwar determines the fate of people on the basis of their actions, meritorious or sinful. Such justice is not necessarily meted out during the lifetime of a person. The fruits of a man's action are reaped in subsequent births. It is not the task of history to deal with such questions, nor do historians have the capacity to inquire into such matters. Whether a wicked ruler like Hitler was consigned to hell on his death and whether he had a lowly rebirth, is a subject for the Puraan. Those who composed these texts had the requisite insight to deal with such questions; indeed the very purpose of these stories is this, to impart moral lessons.
From history we do not derive any edification. Our Puraan are also history. Besides, they contain lessons in Paap and Punya (sins and meritorious works). In fact, their choice of stories and narration are such as to bring people closer to the path of Dharm. Again, the Puraan contain accounts of individuals who by virtue of their steadfast adherence to Dharm attained to an elevated state in this birth itself. At the same time, they also tell about persons who, by their acts of A-Dharm, came to harm in this very birth itself.
There are in fact no Pauranik stories that do not contain some moral lesson or the other. "The experiences of the past narrated in history are a pointer of future events. The stories of good men who performed virtuous deeds and benefited from them should be a source of inspiration for us. In the same way, the stories of wicked men who brought evil to the world and themselves suffered on account of their acts contain a warning for us". Is the stuff of history really useful in this way? It is not. To improve ourselves morally and spiritually we must turn to the Puraan.
The purpose of the Puraan is not to give (as history does) a chronological account of kings or their quarrels without imparting lessons on good and evil. We do not need such history since it does not contain any guide for the conduct of our life. History must be capable of bringing us Aatmik (spiritual) rewards. The Puraan too deal with the lineages of various ruling houses. They give accounts of dynasties descended from the Moon and the Sun (Chandra Vansh and Soorya Vansh) and contain list of successive rulers of various kingdoms. But in most cases only the names of rulers are mentioned or only brief references made to them. Detailed accounts are given only of those rulers whose lives have a lesson for us. For instance, the Bhaagvat Puraan tells the story of King Uttaanapaad, the father of Dhruv, and of Dhruv's son, but only very briefly. However, the story of Dhruv himself is told in detail, Dhruv who is an example for all of us in devotion, determination and courage.
English historians dismiss the Puraan as false. But on the pretext of carrying out impartial research they twist history to suit their ends like, for instance, their "divide and rule" policy. It is in this way that they have propagated the Aaryan-Draavidian theory. If the Puraan are a lie, what about the history written by these Englishmen? Efforts are going on to reconstruct our history. But prejudicial accounts cannot be ruled out in these new attempts also. What ever claim the historians make to impartiality, it is hard to say how far the new history or histories are likely to be truthful.
Ved Vyaas Jee, who composed the eighteen Puraan, the great men who wrote the various Sthal Puraan, and the Tamil author Sekkizhar were unbiased in their accounts. It is not right to view history merely as an account of the rise and fall of empires or of wars, invasions, dynasties and so on. Each and every subject has a history of its own, but we find that political history is given a dominant place. The emphasis in the Puraan is on Dharm and incidentally, they also deal, in a subsidiary manner, with the ruling dynasties, with holy men as well as with ordinary folks. They contain details also of cultural life, the arts and the sciences. The thrust of the Puraan, however, is Dhaarmik and Aatmik.
Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 03/15/12