[Advaita-l] How to read puranas

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Thu Jun 9 21:48:26 CDT 2011

On Mon, 23 May 2011, श्रीमल्ललितालालितः wrote:

> Not so. karma done with knowledge of mantra, etc. become strong. यदेव विद्या
> करोति .

Right but what does "knowledge" of a mantra mean?  As you know in our 
pathashalas, a brahmachari is taught the correct pronounciation above all. 
To know the rshi, devata, chhanda, and viniyoga of a mantra is also 
important.  Literal meaning is usually omitted altogether unless the 
student goes on to learn bhashya which most do not.

>> vidhi (do this) and nishedha (don't do that) are the principle core. That
>> should be the focus of our reading.
> Only in karma-shAstra. Not in purANa as it is not meant for only that.
> Remember purANa-laxaNa from kUrma-purANa, etc.

>>  It is vidhi and nishedha that constitutes dharma.  The rest -- all the
>> stories, history, legends etc. are arthavada.
> True for veda only as it was not created by men.

And for puranas and other smrtis too as they owe their authority solely to 
being founded on, and an amplification of the Shruti.

> Describing vaMsha, manvantara, etc. is work of purANa. They need attention
> and they are facts.

Not necessarily.  Take for example the puranic geography where the Earth 
is being described as a flat or concave disk with Mt. Meru in the 
middle set upon four elephants which themselves rest upon a tortoise.  One 
of my research interests is panchanga ganita and let me tell you, if we 
were to take the puranic account literally, the tithis and muhurtas we 
rely upon for the practice of dharma would become impossible to calculate. 
Jyotish shastras don't do that.  They assume the Earth is round.  Meru is 
interpreted as the Earths axis.  (Sumeru being the North pole and Kumeru 
the South pole.)  Are the jyotish shastras not also Arsha and hallowed by 

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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