Jaganmohan Palace & Art Gallery, Mysore
Itihasa.in Site Administrator
VEDIC RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY
The earliest source of our information regarding Indian thought is the Veda, which signifies, as it has been stated, not a single work but a whole literature. This literature is usually regarded as consisting of
two parts, viz. Mantras and Brahmanas. Several of the early Upanishads are included in the latter; but on account of their great importance in the history of Indian thought, they deserve to be reckoned as a separate portion of the Veda. Broadly speaking, the three parts mark successive stages in the growth of Vedic literature, and also stand for teachings that are more or less distinct. The determination of the exact chronological limits of these stages is not possible. Even the duration of the Vedic period, as a whole, is not definitely known, though the question has exercised the minds of scholars for long. All that is certain is that the Veda proper, including the chief Upanishads is older than Buddha, who is known to have died about 480 B.C. The later limit of the Vedic period may accordingly be taken as 500 B.C. As regards the earlier limit, the belief that was generally current till recently, and which has not yet been given up wholly, was 1200-1500 B.C. The view that is now replacing it is the one set forth by Dr Winternitz in his “History of Indian Literature”, which fixes the beginning of the period somewhere between 2000 and 2500 B.C. instead of 1200 – 1500 B.C.
Then there is the question of the identification of Manukuladitya referred to by Sarvagnatman, the disciple of Suresvara. Probably he must be identified with Adityavarman, the second son of Pulakesin II or Vinayaditya or Vijayaditya of the Chalukyas of Badami who belonged to the Manavyasa gotra. Adityavarman ruled near the confluence of the Krshna and the Tungabhadra probably from Alampur which was a renowned centre of the Pasupata cult. Taking all this into consideration, we can arrive at the more or less certain conclusion that Samkara must have lived in the latter half of the sixth and the former half of the seventh century long before the destruction of Pataliputra and Srughna.
The University has, if I may speak of it, adopted a vagrant into the family today. This is to me an act of charity as much as of faith. As I think of all it means, I should be less than normal if I did not feel humble in spirit as well as grateful at heart. I pray it may be given me never to do anything not in keeping with so high a honour. My main occupation for over fifty years has been journalism; and journalism is, in my understanding as distinct from literature as road-gravel is from a mountain or a puddle from a lake.
Itihasa (Sanskrit: Itihāsa, "historical event"; from iti + ha + āsa, lit. "so indeed it was") as defined by Amarakosha (I.6.4) refers to purvavritta, i.e. events of the past. In the Vedic age, those portions of the Brahmanas which narrated events of bygone days were known as itihasa and had some ritualistic importance.
The recitation of the itihasa-purana in the pariplava nights was a part of the Asvamedha ritual. Later, the connotation of the term widened to cover all such narratives which related to past events – partly facts and partly myths. In its literal import, "itihasa" appears analogous to "history" conveying not only a record of events as they happened but illustrating with detail the perspectives of generations gone by.