The crude notion of man that what is external and tangible to the senses is real, and that what is mental or ideal is always imagination without any trans-subjective reference, is a result of deep ignorance. A sensual impact is of a much inferior order to an ideal impact of an enduring and powerful nature.

So Myths that become spiritual verities need not necessarily have any historical content. They may or may not have. Even when they have, the events that have led to these stimulations are dead and gone.

Only ideas as powerful Psychic Verities remain. In fact even a historical personality, as a series of events, must cease to be and take shape as a Myth before he becomes a spiritual verity.

Also ideal stimulations of the Cosmic Mind without any reference to history or the external can also become Psychic Verities of even greater potency. Such are the Deities worshiped by the Hindus like Vishnu, Siva, Devi, etc. They never had location in earthly space and time except as images used in worship. They are the manifestations of the Supreme Being as Spiritual Verities before which what we call material objects are mere shadows.

As man approaches Him, He approaches man. It is in the mold of faith that he shapes Himself in forms understandable and stimulating to the human mind. There is no question here of whether something has taken place in our dimension of time and space or not. The molds of thought set by faith, into which the Infinite Being has poured Himself, have a validity for those who share that faith. It transcends anything we call history—the conglomeration of fleeting moments which are now there and then are not.

In the Hindu Puranas we get a kind of literature into which has entered a variety of human ideas, aspirations, experiences, and knowledge about man and Nature, which have got digested into a spiritualised world-view giving life a meaning.

In fact, the Puranas are not at all to be read as history and geography, nor are they to be regarded as fiction. Pandits who often interpret all the accounts of the Puranas as facts of our three-dimensional space and time do as much harm to the minds of people as many moderns who brush them aside as cock-and-bull stories. They belong to an order different from both history and fiction, though they may have superficial affinities with both.

Even as the rivers and mountain ranges of a country are the expressions of the natural forces working from within and without this planet of ours, the Puranas are the upthrow of a people’s mind struggling to express their quest for a meaning for life and their findings in this respect.

They represent the more enduring and enriched reactions of the psyche of a race to the fleeting events of space and time. It is in their cumulative effect and not in the validity of their individual statements or in a critique of their methodology that we should seek the values they embody.

They attempt to make the dry bones of philosophy, history and traditions into an integrated literature of high psychic potency, capable of stimulating in man a keen sense of an omniscient, omnipotent and all-loving spiritual Reality, who can be communed with, prayed to and visualised in various forms of spiritual glory.

God in formful aspects and Divine personages have become concrete to the Hindu mind through the Puranas. In so far as they are facts of memory in the minds of men, they fulfil the role of history, but in so far as the stimulations they give belong to spiritual dimensions, the Puranas are linked with Eternal Verities that transcend history.

  • from Srimad Bhagavat by Swami Tapasyananda

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