What in the Indian tradition is called Sanatana Dharma, or eternal law, is reinterpreted in every human age according to the state of consciousness of humanity, in a sort of continuous and uninterrupted creative manifestation of the same same basic truth.
There are no sacred books and infallible formulas, there is a truth from time to time re-expressed from different perspectives and for different contexts. In this sense the Puranas have a special place in the Indian wisdom tradition and in yoga, because they trace a stage in the evolutionary manifestation of the eternal law.
At the beginning there were the Vedas, considered the highest authority expressed in a highly symbolic and intuitive language, almost mysterious and archetypal; followed later by the Upanishads, or the metaphysical and philosophical re-composition of Vedic truths, therefore more based on reflection than intuition.
the Puranas represent the same basic truth under another guise, much more emotional, fabulous, with unpublished devotional peaks .
It is in fact in puranic times and thanks to the stories of the events of some deities and special characters that the bhakti current develops and materializes, that is the search for the divine focused on devotion.
In fact, after the Vedic and Vedantic epochs focused on knowledge, thanks to the Puranas the eternal law finds asylum in the heart .
What we find in the Puranas
The poetry of the Puranas is not as mystical and cryptic as that of the Vedas, neither speculative nor upanishadica; it is a sweet and epic poem, which develops many classic stories and legends giving shape to gods and characters.
The deities here are less symbolic and abstract, and take on psychological characters with a constant interaction with all levels of human life.
The Vedic creator Brahmanaspati becomes Brahma, lord of existence; Vishnu, lord of conscience, becomes here known to all for his incarnations among humans, first of all that of Krishna, who will be the irreplaceable fulcrum of devotional yoga ; finally, the Vedic Rudra, a timely and unstoppable lord of power, definitively assumes the form of Shiva .
Hence the different Shivaist and Vishnuite tendencies in the Hindu tradition. Unlike archetypal mysticism and philosophical speculation, the truth expressed in the Puranas is much more accessible to the masses, children and simple hearts .
Of course, even within the Puranas we find sublime and complex metaphysical buildings and extremely intuitive eternal symbols.
The most famous stories of the Puranas
The most well-known and representative stories of the Puranas, which are worth remembering, are 36 (at least those recognized among those that came to us).
Among the best known, undoubtedly the one that tells the story of a young Krishna set in Vrindavan, precisely in the Bhagavata Purana, which will be the basis of the devotional current represented by Radha and other hopelessly in love with Krishna (the Divine) and that culturally it represents a strong tear from the ancient purely meditative attitude of asceticism and detachment in the attempt to approach the absolute .
With this text, the impersonal Absolute takes on a name to be sung and a body to be embraced: it becomes personal . However the first seed of bhakti, or devotion, we find it in the stupendous story of Prahlada, son of the king of demons, and absolute master of devotion to Hari (Vishnu), his father's bitter enemy.
In this story, Vishnu takes the form of the avatar Narasimha, half man and half lion. Just the formulation of the ten avatars ( Dashavatara ) well defined to symbolize evolution in manifestation, we find it in the Puranas.
Here are described the 10 successive incarnations or descents of Vishnu among humans, in critical moments of history, to help evolution proceed. Precisely the evolutionary principle, often repudiated in other religions, comes out very strong in the description of the 10 avatars .
The first, Matsya, is a fish, and living in water represents a still subconscious consciousness; the second, Kurma, is the turtle, the pivot of the universe and a creature that can live both in and out of water; the third is the Varaha boar, a mammal, cometamente terrestrial and rich in sexual energy, therefore submental.
Continuing, the fourth is Narasimha, half lion and half man, to represent a principle of mentalization of animal instincts; the fifth is Vamana the dwarf, without animal attributes but not yet fully developed; the sixth is Parashurama, a complete but vehement man ; the seventh is Rama, the ethical man who controls himself; the eighth is Krishna the spiritual man beyond ethics; the ninth is Buddha, the slender man beyond all opposites ; finally the tenth is Kalki, the unstoppable renewer of a completed cycle.
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