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Is there any historical proof that Lord Shiva actually came to earth? Or have we to only go by Shiva Purana, Linga Purana etc on these matters?

Puranas are part of Hindu Smritis. Smriti means as remembered. Some things happened at some period of time (=history); those who knew it remembered it and told the happenings to their descendents. The descendents passed it on to subsequent generations as they remembered them.

Thus Puranas are said to be histories only, but as they were passed from generation to generation and as they were also poetic works, there was scope of plenty of exaggerations, over-bloated descriptions bordering on wild imagination, distortions, deletions, intentional and mischievous insertions and so on. They also contained metaphors and allegories which could be wrongly interpreted.

Different Gods were eulogized as the Supreme Gods in different Puranas. People have different tastes and temperaments; they got compartmentalized to worshiping different Godheads that suited their taste. People by nature, would not be happy simply by confining to glorifying their God. They would fight and establish that their God alone is the supreme as “proved” in their Purana and discount the other purana as a figment of imagination!

If one tries to prove that Shiva Purana is true as per history, a vaishnava would come with quotes from Bhagavata Purana where Shiva would be depicted to be a mean and insignificant God and claim that Bhagavata Purana alone is true history! And there will be retort from Shaivites, mocking at Vishnu who could not find the feet of Shiva after digging earth to any depth, quoting from their puranas.

Puranas could at the best be source of inspiration at the lower rungs of religion for one to gain faith and progress in spirituality to move towards Brahman, the God beyond name and form of the Upanishads and to the unity of Atman and Paramatman.

Else, only arguments and bad taste would remain.

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With all the puranas containing so many weird stories about Gods, don’t you think that Hinduism is a religion of fantasy which is just like fairytale?

When we teach rudiments of Hinduism to kids (like Gods, worship, praying, getting boons, morals, right and wrong, good habits and bad habits etc) we teach them with stories of Gods, puranas, itihasas etc. All the stories may look like fairy tales.

How many of us who have heard Ramayana and Mahabharata stories as kids have bothered to re-read more elaborate versions of these stories after we became adults? If and when we read them, we grasp so many things related to dharma, adharma, right and wrong conduct in actual situations in life. Mahabharata will turn out to be a real story for adults and hardly a fairy tale for children! One will be wonder-struck by analyzing the various characters, how we see many people in real life similar to those characters in attitude and behavior!

We see how dharma can be wrongly interpreted by many people to suit their own whims and fancies; how deep wisdom about life and living is so intrinsically woven with the story and characters.

Then comes the bombshell – The Bhagavad Gita in Mahabharata! Does it not totally shake up our whole perception about God, religion and spirituality? Does it not turn the ‘fairy tales’ to one grand discourse to grasp the intricate and profound spiritual wisdom of Hinduism?

Unfortunately, so many of us are still kids when it comes to sticking to the fairy tales part of Hinduism and refuse to grow up. Like little kids fighting to establish that their favorite cinema Hero is the greatest, we keep still fighting about supremacy of Shiva over Vishnu and so on!

For those who refuse to grow up from the shackles of ‘fairy tale’ part of Hinduism and for those who never get exposed to the great saints and sages of Hinduism and their teachings, Hinduism will only look like a fantasy.

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