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Common era dating system

Unlike the Greeks, and unlike the Chinese and the Arabs, Indians in the past were not historians.This was very unfortunate and it has made it difficult for us now to fix dates or make up an accurate chronology.

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Little importance was attached to the writing of a chronicle or the compilation of a bare record of events.Not in the original Sanskrit, except for a few intellectuals, but in translations and adaptations, and in those innumerable ways in which tradition and legend spread and become a part of the texture of a people’s life.They represent the typical Indian method of catering all together for various degrees of cultural development, from the highest intellectual to the simple unread and untaught villager.And then I used to be taken every year to the popular open-air performances where the Ramayana story was enacted and vast crowds came to see it and join in the processions.It was all very crude, but that did not matter, for everyone knew the story by heart and it was carnival time.Thus the stories of the ‘Panchatantra’ merged into Asiatic and European literatures.

The Rani of Jhansi, the young heroine of the Indian Mutiny, and tales of Rajput chivalry and heroism.

That influence is a good influence both culturally and ethically, and I would hate to destroy or throw away all the beauty and imaginative symbolism that these stories and allegories contain.

Indian mythology is not confined to the epics; it goes back to the Vedic period and appears in many forms and garbs in Sanskrit literature.

We read of the adventures of Kama, the god of love, and his wife, Rati (or rapture), with their friend Vasanta, the god of spring.

Greatly daring, Kama shoots his flowery arrow at Shiva himself and is reduced to ashes by the fire that flashed out of Shiva’s third eye. Most of the myths and stories are heroic in conception and teach adherence to truth and the pledged word, whatever the consequences, faithfulness unto death and even beyond, courage, good works and sacrifice for the common good.

I do not know of any books anywhere which have exercised such a continuous and pervasive influence on the mass mind as these two.