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Itihasa (Sanskrit: thus verily happened) refers collectively to the epic Hindu scriptures, detailing the actions of divine incarnations on earth while interspersing them with often large sections of philosophical and ethical discourse. Though they are often classified as 'Hindu' or 'Indian' 'mythology,' the label does not capture the centrality of religious and spiritual affiliations of the texts that ring true today for most Hindus. They are replete with long philosophical discourses and are often seen as sourcebooks for Hindu ethics and practice. A parallel would be to term the Old Testament 'Christian mythology'.

The most important of these are the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, of which the Bhagavad Gita is part. They also include a voluminous group of works known as the puranas. The most famous purana is the Srimad Bhagavatam, a text especially important to Vaishnavs though also seen as holy by most Hindus.

The epics Mahabharata and Ramayana are very much religious scriptures. Their stories are deeply embedded in Hindu philosophy and serve as parables and sources of devotion for Hindus into the present day.

See also

Last updated: 08-09-2005 10:06:48
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