History through Puranas

There has been a tradition in our country. We do not write history as history. If you wrote history as history, in the future generations, different communities will never get along. The memories of the many conflicts will stay.

Many wars were fought here also and many people died, but who cares! For we remember history in the form of Puranas. The word for history in Sanskrit is itihaas. Etymologically it is a combination of two words: iti + haas, which means, ‘this happened’. We gave itihaas the form of the Puranas. Purana comes from two words: pura means once upon a time and na stands for knowledge. So history was given the form of the Puranas and stories were embedded in it. The influence of those stories on the mind is spiritual. They awaken people’s faith and belief. However, if history is read as history, we begin to feel hatred towards different communities, sects or religions. This is the reason that we have converted history into Puranas. The Puranas are also history, but the realized people who told this history told it in the form of stories. They said, don’t erase history, but narrate it in the form of a story.

In the Puranic narration, different kinds of hyperboles are used: exaggeration, terrific descriptions, etc. This is ornamentation. The way you wear nice clothes and jewellery to look good, ornamentation is used in narratives to make them more attractive and interesting. The basis is fact, but to make the facts interesting hyperbole is used. If there were a thousand people, they would instead say ten thousand. All this was done so that the mind of the reader does not get disturbed. If we memorize our history as it occurs, if you write the descriptions of how people migrated or were maltreated by other clans, then even after one hundred years people will remember those things. However, if it is told in the form of a story, the entire emphasis shifts from facts to ornamentation. Therefore history has been given the form of Puranas here.