the two major Sanskrit epics of India

In Sanskrit, Itihasa means history.[1] For Hindus, an Itihasa is a story that tells about what happened in the past in the land of India. Itihasas are usually epic poems. The important itihasas to Hindus are the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Modern excavations and archaeological evidence are slowly beginning to prove these Indian epics as actual history.

The original meaning of Iithasa had a more precise connotation than the word History.It means ‘thus indeed, in this tradition’ . One of the earliest references to Itihaasa in the literature of antiquity is in Chanakyas’s Arthashastra. He defines Itihaasa, in the syllabus prescribed for training of a Prince, with the following words;

Puraana (the chronicles of the ancient), Itivrtta (history), Akhyayika (tales), Udaaharana (illustrative stories), Dharmashastra (the canon of Righteous conduct), and Arthashastra (the science of Government) are called Itihaasah. History in this definition takes on the meaning of Historiography and is perhaps even more eclectic and appears to include political science and History as we use them today.

The quintessential quote is that of Kalhana in the Rajatarangini,12th century CE (1147 to 1149 CE) who is regarded as a modern in Indian parlance:

History will be the narration of events as they happened, in the form of a story, which will be an advice to the reader to be followed in life, to gain the purusaarthas namely Kama the satiation of desires through Artha the tool, by following the path of Dharma the human code of conduct to gain Moksha or liberation.

References change

  1. Admin, Devdutt (2017-06-03). "Itihasa is not fantasy". Devdutt Pattanaik. Retrieved 2023-12-22.