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From: Krishna Susarla (krishna_at_ticnet.com)
Date: Tue Apr 28 1998 - 17:02:52 PDT

From: Anand Srinivasan <asriniva@stern.nyu.edu>


>
>I had similar doubts on the actual historical occurence of the events
>described in the puraanas and thinking that these are allegorical stories
>is clearly not satisfactory. My thought process was similar to that
>described by Sri. Krishna Susarla.


Hare Krishna!

Just to clarify my position, I do *not* accept the "mythology" or "allegory"
speculation, although I did think along those lines when I was younger and
relatively ignorant. I do presently accept that the itihaasa-s and puraaNa-s
are historical documents, although their purpose specifically is to
illustrate the teachings of shruti and not simply to narrate a chronological
account of events. So when the Raamaayana says the Shrii Hanumaan flew
across the Indian Ocean to get to Lanka, we can take that to mean that he
did in fact fly and not swam. And when it says that Lord Raamachandra
single-handedly defeated 14,000 demons from Raavana's brother's army, we can
also accept that that is, in fact, exactly what happened. There are places
in the smR^iti-shaastra-s where allegorical tales are related, but when that
is done it is very clear from context. There is no reason to assume that
everything we read in the itihaasa/puraaNa is allegorical or greatly
exaggerated, as is often the hypothesis adopted by Westernized Hindus.

>Along similar lines, I had a question that I am sure some of the members
>of this group would be able to answer.
>
>what about the experiences of other religious leaders for example -
>Jesus Christ, Mohammed ..
>Is one to reject the notion that these are true experiences /
>true religions.  If these are true, what explains the dramatic
>difference in the religious rules on diet, rituals etc ?

>
>If one rejects these as false / allegorical, then how can we claim
>that those "extra sensory" perceptions by the indian sages are historical
>facts but those in other religions are myth?


We don't have to denounce everyone else's religious experiences as
mythological, especially if we have no evidence to contradict them. But this
is not the same as accepting them wholesale either.

The difference between what we regard as historical and what members of
other religions regard as historical is that our histories come from
scriptures which are apaurusheya, and thus free from all defects inherent in
conditioned living beings. By contrast, the stories chronicled in the Koran,
the Bible, etc are acknowledged by members of their respective faiths to
have been written by certain people at some time. So those kinds of sources
can not be accepted as independently authoritative, since accepting them as
flawless requires that we believe that their authors were also beyond flaw.
This does not mean they are totally wrong either, but it does mean that they
may present contradictory information which need not be accepted.

More to the point, those aren't our religions anyway. So their histories or
mythologies aren't directly relevant to us.

>
>For that matter, even within Sanata Dharma, such differences exist!!


I don't understand. Please clarify.

>I trust that these questions do not offend anybody. If so, you have my
>apologies, and hope that you will excuse my ignorance.
>
>Anand Srinivasan


yours,

-- H. Krishna Susarla