Legends of India

Legends of India

Legends of India

Legends of India

Excerpt

THESE Legends are not translations of native Hindu poems, but embody a re-interpretation of tales told long ago in India, chiefly by those who were ethical or religious teachers. They seized upon various stories and adapted them to their needs. In doing so they inserted moral instruction, as they modified characters and scenes to serve the purpose of edification. Thus in the charming story of Ganges, the goddess is made to sacrifice herself primarily for the sake of reviving the bones of saints and in her fall she is lost in Shiva's hair--priestly and even sectarian perversions of an older and better version, as I think. So the character of Battlestrong, as the perfect orthodox king, has been palpably softened down and made to conform to correct usage. In this and other cases I have endeavored to tell the tale as I conceive it to have been before it was tampered with, to remove the priestly interpretation and re-interpret the story as it should have descended to us, with the emotional implications (suppressed by the priests) intact.

The legends of the first group are found for the most part in the Mahabhárata, the great Hindu epic. The group following these represents salient points of the epic story itself, which I have tried to connect closely enough to show how the different scenes follow one another in the original, although in that original (as in the Iliad) the bulk of description is found in battle-scenes, here almost entirely ignored.

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