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Posted by Our Heritage Revisited on Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Sunday, 14 February 2016

The cover of the book is a collage of various ideas and experiences related to the topic. The pictures below reflect the “guru shishya parampara” (गुरु शिष्य परम्परा) in our culture. All knowledge is said to be learnt by the shishya or student from a guru or teacher, which has then to be absorbed by deep meditation and thought. The word Upanishad too means to be seated at the feet of a guru to receive teaching. Our ancient texts are generally in the form of dialogues / explanations between a guru and a shishya, or sometimes as a discourse between two rishis one of whom is the giver and the other a recipient of knowledge.
Thus the Bhagwad Gita is Krishna’s teachings to Arjun, narrated by the charioteer Sanjay to King Dhritrashtra. The Upanishads have a similar approach - the Kath Upanishad is Yam’s teachings to Nachiketa, the Prashna Upanishad is rishi Pippalad explaining to six disciples etc. The Mundak Upanishad has the conversation between the Angiras and Shaunak (representing the householder or the student-rishi).Then the Yog Vashisht is the teachings of rishi Vashisht to Sri Ram when the latter was young, but presented in the form of narrations and conversations between other guru/shishyas.
Amongst the later Smriti texts, the author is telling us (the reader) but again through narrations - usually several of the commentaries running parallel.
The Ramcharitmanas has three discussions interspersed – Shiv to Parvati, Yagyavalkya to Bharadwaj and Kakbhushandi (a sage in the form of a crow) to Garud (an eagle and Vishnu’s vehicle). The Mahabharat is narrated by Ugrashravas (उग्रश्रवस) to Shaunak (शौनक) in Naimisharanya (नैमिषारण्य), a forest well-known in our culture as being the venue for several discourses. Within this, is the narration of the Bharat kings by the rishi Vaishampayan to the Kaurav King Janamejaya, as also the narration of the Bhagwad Gita. In the Bhagwat Puran too, several discourses run simultaneously : Sut ji to Shaunakadi (Shaunak etc. as disciples) again in Naimisharanya, then by Sanakadi (Sanak etc. - Brahma’s sons) to Narad, Maitreya to Vidur and Shukhdev (the son of Ved Vyas) to Parikshit, the grandson of Arjun.

This peculiarity of our ancient texts is thus depicted by these images in the book cover.

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