The Puranas : In the Light of Modern Science

K. Narayanaswami Aiyar, Cosmo, 2003, 290 p, ISBN : 8177557440, $22.00 (Includes free airmail shipping)

The Puranas : In the Light of Modern Science/K. Narayanaswami Aiyar

Contents: Introduction. 1. Sarga. 2. Prati-sarga. 3. Kala. 4. Vamsa. 5. Vamsanucharitam. 6. The Trimurti. 7. Avataras: Key to the study of the Puranas. Conclusion. Index.

""Through (or in the light of) the Itihasas and Puranas, the Vedas have to be explained."

It is to this book that can be attributed the distinction of singularly and most compellingly proving the scientific basis of the Puranas, probably the most condemned of the Smrtis, as they seem to contain a lot of apparently absurd and even indecent stories. Some, who take their stand on the Puranas, reject those that they can not interpret reasonably; while there are others who swallow them wholesale, without offering or finding explanations for those parts that seem not to be reasonable. The author advocates avoiding both extremes.

The author rightly argues that the Smrtis were meant as texts for the study of the less sophisticated in the advancement of understanding of the Hindu religious literature comprising of the Srutis (the Vedas), Smrtis (the Puranas), the Itihasas (two epics of Mahabharata and the Ramayana) not counting the Upapuranas, Shat-Darsanas, and Upavedas. The Puranas are full of teachings presented as abstract stories and they are brought home by there acceptance as such and right and meaningful interpretation. For the more evolved in learning there were the Srutis, the Vedic literature, where the fundamentals were taken for granted.

The Puranic authors wrote for the ignorant masses where simple dogmas were presented to them for blind acceptance. Symbolic representations of the great truths of nature were placed before their eyes often in the shape of stories about the abstract things. This is the reason why we find in the Puranas, dogmas, stories, and emblems—a whole series of symbols—suited for the less evolved. There is a valid reason therefore that the study of the Puranas is essential before any attempt at reading the Vedic literature is made.

A delightful book indeed which will surely open the eyes to the vast treasures buried in the Smrtis—the eighteen Puranas." (jacket)

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