Myths and Legends in The Brahmana Literature
|Annada Sankar Pahari
|Eastern Book Linkers
The book by Dr. A. S. Pahari deals with the mythical stories and legendary tales of the Brahmana literature with their origin rooted deeply in the samhitas, specially the Rgveda Samhita and in some cases even in remoter period than the samhitas and their gradual development in the post-brahmana literature, Thus the work seems to incorporate within itself some inaccessible and insoluble problems of how these assumed definite shapes of anecdotes from their embryonic level. The author with his lucid style shows this and reminds once again that the very fibre of Indian culture is knit by these eternal threads of myths and legends through the ages. "By locating the great impact of these myths and legends, "says prof. Ramaranjan Mukherjee" on Indian society Pahari, thus has brought these closer to life or rather has made them part and parcel of Indian thought current".
Dr. A. S. Pahari, a lecturer by profession, has to his name a number of articles and poems in Sanskrit, Bengali and English published in different magazines. Although his special field of research is vedic literature, he is quite at home in kavya, Vyakarana and darsana. He has a fine flair for composing verses in Sanskrit. With this poetic bent of mind Dr. Pahari deals with vyakarana and darsana that nevertheless adds new dimension to his mode of discussion.
Indology is that branch of knowledge which deals with the mind of India and analyses the fibres in the magnificent fabric of Indian culture and civilisation by making an assessment of all the forms of art produced by Indian mind. In order to ascertain the directions in which the mind of India travelled since the early dawn of human civilisation it is necessary to have a look at the different exercise undergone by it in different parts of history and to have a total view of the Indian mind.
Spirituality is indeed the master-key of the Indian mind, the sense of the infinite is native to it. The Upanishads proclaim the glory of the Absolute and says that the goal of human life is represented by an experience of identity of the self of the man with the self of the universe, the ineffable Brahman. India saw from the beginning, and even in her ages of reasons and her age of increasing ignorance she never lost hold of the insight, that life could not be rightly seen in the sole light of external nature, could not be perfectly lived in the light of externalities. It is not that India ignored the importance of physical sciences, she knew how to organise physical sciences and laws of nature, but she understood the fact that the physical does not get its full sense until it stands in relation to the supra-physical. She believed that the invisible always surrounds the visible, supra-sensible the sensible, even as the infinite always surrounds the finite.
But this was not her whole mentality, her entire spirit. Spirituality itself does not flourish on earth in the void Next to spirituality comes the vitality of India, her inexhaustible power of life, joy of life, her almost unimaginable prolific creativeness. For three thousand years India has produced with inexhaustible many-sidedness, Philosophies and Sciences, Arts and Poems, Economic laws and Political Theories, numerous other items, and in each item there has been a plethora of activity.
But this supreme spirituality and this prolific abundance of energy and joy of life and creation also did not make the total spirit of India as it had been in its past. The third power of Indian spirit was a strong intellectuality, at once powerful and delicate, massive in belief and curious in depth. The chief urge of this intellectuality was to create a proper order and arrangement, an urge to seek for inner law and truth of things. In the third phase of creative process the mind of India produced diverse branch of fine arts, all types of accomplishments that can be useful to the life or interesting to the mind.
It is unfortunate that the European writers, struck by the general physical bent of Indian mind by its strong religious instinct and religious idealism, by its other worldliness are inclined to write as if these were all the Indian spirit. The belief that spirituality alone constitutes the single fibre in the fabric of Indian culture has led to serious deficiencies in the field of studies in this area. Sri Aurobindo rightly observes it is a great error to suppose that spirituality flourishes in an impoverished soil with the life half-killed and intellectuality discouraged and intimidated. The Spirituality that so flourishes is something morbid, hysteric and exposed to paralytic reaction.
The present book is a modified version of my thesis that won Ph.D. degree from the University of Calcutta, under the able supervision of late Prof. Asoke Chatterjee Sastri Myth and legend weave the very texture of literature in all climes and times. Vedic literature abounds in numerous myths and legends. I have tried to trace in the following pages the origin of myths and legends occurring in Brahmana literature to the remote past i.e. the samhita period and note their gradual development in the later literature. Indeed, the people of India down the ages have gathered inspiration from the unending mine of these myths and legends and are gathering too. Thus mythical stories and legendary tales Constitute the very foundation of Indian culture to a great extent.
In this connection I tender my deep 'pranama' to my illustrious preceptor Prof. Ramaranjan Mukherjee for sparing his invaluable time to write 'Foreword' for my book. I have never seen such an 'acharya' of rare genre like him. I sincerely thank the publisher, Eastern Book Linkers, Delhi, who took with great pleasure the high risk of publishing my book in the context of today's soaring market. I also thank my colleagues and friends who have always encouraged me in getting the book published. I shall be failing in my duty if I cease to mention the toil and burden that my wife Archana took gladly to keep me away of domestic affairs as much as possible and make me devoted to my study and work. Ahana and Agnibha, my beloved daughter and son also exempted me from giving much time to them. I shall deem my endeavour rewarded if the present book finds a berth in the academic world.
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