Purāṇas & Itihāsas
Purāṇas are the scriptures that comprise the essence of the Śrutis and the Smṛtis. They are legends, based on the historical evidences, detailing the events that took place in the past when the Supreme had incarnated on earth in different periods of time, in order to root out Adharma and establish Dharma. They were the revelations of the great seers of the past, who could see with their divine vision the past, present and the future, the power that they had obtained by observing penance for thousands of years. Hence, they are the vast database of the past, present and the future, comprising five major elements: (1) Sarga – creation, (2) Pratisarga – dissolution, (3) Vaṃśa – genealogies of great Ṛṣis, Devatas and emperors, (4) Manvantara – the history of each and every Manu-age, and (5) Vaṃśānucarita – the lineages of mankind. There are 18 Mahā Purāṇas, revealed by the great sage Veda Vyāsa, and other Upa-purāṇas, revealed by various other sages.
Itihāsas are the documentations based on the historical events. The word ‘Itihāsa’ is a combination of three Sanskrit words ‘iti’, ‘ha’ and ‘āsa’, which together mean, “This is how it was.” The Rāmāyaṇa of Maharṣi Vālmīki and the Mahābhārata of Sage Vyāsa are the two greatest Itihāsas in Sanskrit literature. Scriptures like the Bhagavad Gītā and Vidura Nīti are an integral part of the Mahābhārata. The Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata comprise many verses, which inspire man, helping him attain wisdom and lead a virtuous life, in accordance with the Dharma.