Quora scholar

According to him purans are symbolic, there storys are symbolic.

So is it true, is this the way ancient scholar have interpretated Puranas?

what is the opinion of majority of puranic scholar.


1 Answer 1


The purpose of studying Puranas is to orient us in action of Dharma - “right action”. It is how to act for achieving the greatest common good. The stories teach us Moral and Practical lessons. According to Mimamsa, Arthavada(overexagarration or narration of stories) is of three types.

  • Anuvada – is to state what is already known.
  • Bhutarthavada – listing of the ingredients or component parts
  • Gunarthavada - the narrating of a story which is untrue in terms of facts but true in the moral message conveyed to illustrate the benefits of the observance of a rule or abstention from a prohibition.

The Puranas may be based on actual historical or well known incidents, or may not. The narratives in the Epics and Puranas belong to the category of Gunarthavada and can thus be set aside once the moral juice (rasa) has been extracted and prepared for consumption and application. I will quote Bhagavata alone as base for my statements.

You elucidate it with the help of your imaginative power in a way that will generate devotion in the mind of men for Sri Hari who is the soul and support of all. (Bhagavata 2.8.51-52)

The Supreme Lord is said to be fond of such figurative expositions of spiritual truth through stories. (For it is understandable even to common men while an abstract philosophical statement can be understood only by a very few. (Bhagavata 4.28.65)

In times past I learnt this wonderful allegory, which teaches the truth of the Atman indirectly in a story form. (Bhagavata 4.29.85)

I have narrated to you the stories of many who lived to make their names famous in their lifetimes and then to pass away and become a memory or a mere name soon after. These narratives are only the literary device that I have used with a view to instil into you the importance of renunciation and God-realization. They have no ultimate significance in themselves (or are not to be taken as literal facts). (Bhagavata 12.3.14-15)

  • 1
    Maha Periyava does not agree with your opinion that "Puranas' stories are all false" hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/45342/4732
    – Rickross
    Mar 23, 2021 at 6:26
  • @Rickross I never said they are false. Bhagavatam itself says that stories are symbolic/allegorical. I said they may or may not be true and its irrelevant that they are true or false. See what Sivananda Swami says dlshq.org/books/es86.htm#philosophy under "Philosophy, Mythology and Ritual" Mar 23, 2021 at 6:47
  • Lets not get into this. Now Vaishnavas Shaivas and Shaktas say their Puranas alone are true and Puranas contradict themselves badly even with Vedas sometimes. And few people have invented Guna Classification and one sect abuses others as Tamsik Deluded and Drunkards. It would be intresting if you can refute this @Rickross Ji - hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/36896/19211 Its only philosophic difference so Lets not make this personal. We are good friends. Arent we... Mar 23, 2021 at 6:52
  • "The narratives in the Epics and Puranas belong to the category of Gunarthavada " -- You wrote this and which means the stories are untrue. Not sure about your quotes. I am not sure where they are saying that stories in Puranas are allegorical. What was the need for Rishis to create fake stories to give moral lessons? They could have done the same in a better way. If the stories are fake why should we even respect Puranas to start with? And BTW, the sceptics and Indologists who have no faith in religion, spirituality and the supernatural have also the opinion that the stories are fake.
    – Rickross
    Mar 23, 2021 at 7:00
  • I never said they are fake @Rickross Ji. I said "The Puranas may be based on actual historical or well known incidents, or may not" Bhagavata itself says they are symbolic. Anyways main problem is now which Purana is true? Vishnu Shiva and Devi Puranas contradict themselves so badly. Are all of them true?Are all these stories real? Nyayikas and Mimasarkas use only critical thinking and rational argument. Even Swami Vivekananda believed the same and it is him what majority of youth are willing to follow. Youth have started drifting away from Traditional Orthodox System. Mar 23, 2021 at 7:06

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