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We see today that there are many authors who write novels which contain fantasies (imaginary stories). I haven't really heard of such thing's in past.

If people can imagine now then why can't in the past? This thinking also takes me wonder if the Puranas (stories about Gods and Vedas) are actually saying the real things or they are fiction based novels.

Please don't consider me an atheist, I am a true believer of God but this is a confusion I am having. If there were known novels/fantasies then may be we can decide by comparing the writing style, story telling style, or event description, etc with that of religious texts.

If the reply is that similar stories being covered in many books so it should be true and not fantasy, then that can be also be true in case of novels. For example, there was a famous novel series Chandrakanta Santati and upon it's success many other series were made by other writers by taking the same theme and mostly the same characters as well.

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Scripture and fantasy are mutually exclusive terms. So you will not find works of fantasy in scriptural literature. Also, fiction in the form of kAvyA (poetic composition), prabandhA, nATakA (drama) seems to be a uniquely kali-yuga-phenomenon. The earliest forms of such fantasy were also inspired by scriptures.

For e.g., Kalidasa's Abhignyana Sakuntalam takes a story from the Mahabharata and modifies it with generous poetic license. Kalidasa's Kumara Sambhavam also decorates the scriptural passage with poetry albeit remaining true to the original story. Many such examples can be cited: Bharavi's kirAtArjunIyam, Harsha's Naishadha kAvya etc. Several such works exist in regional languages as well.

It is said that sastra/veda instructs like a king, purAna advises one like a well-wisher, and a kAvya speaks like a beloved.

So , when speaking of Hindu religious literature, one may conclude (with maybe an exception or two) that the spirit of the topic is retained regardless of the style in which it is narrated.

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Vivekananda said that all the world religions have their philosophical, ritualistic, and mythological parts - including Hinduism. Whether you accept the puranas (myths) portions as historically accurate or not is not important. What you should accept is they are the embodiment of the philosophical principles and were given to us to teach us how to apply those philosophical principles into our daily lives.

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It is considered debatable whether Puranas should be considered fantasy works or not. There are both kinds of beliefs I have come across.

Another point I would like to mention is that any text, fantasy or otherwise has a deep sense of sacredness attached to it. Texts in poetic form which are an imagination of the mind of the author are broadly classified as Kavyas.

To add to the previous answers,

Kalidasa's Meghadutam is a very famous text where a person separated from the beloved sends clouds as his messengers to the beloved. This page also has a list of articles citing such works which can be classified under this category.

There are many folklores too which can be categorized in this category of fantasy. Many of these serve as instructional texts for the old and the young alike.

Two of the most famous examples would be Panchatantra by Vishnu Sharma, which uses talking animals as the theme of narrating stories and Hitopadesha of Narayana which uses multiple themes to give advice on various issues one faces in life.

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