(Last Updated on : 20/11/2014)
Narratives in Brahmanas
are many in number and they deal with a variety of themes. These narratives are of great importance to us as they are the oldest examples of Indian narrative prose. This prose of the oldest epic compositions frequently alternates with verses. However, it has been seen in some of the narratives, such as that of Pururavus and Urvasi
, the verses appear not only in the Rig Veda
collection, but in language and metre belong to the oldest Vedic compositions too. Moreover, it there is seen in the Aitareya Brahmana an Akhyana in which the Gathas or verses scattered among the prose approach the epic in language as well as in metre.
Unfortunately few narratives have come down in entirety, barring a few such as that of Sunahsepa. Mostly, the stories are prepared for the purpose which they are to serve- the explanation or justification of a sacrificial ceremony. Consequently, it is sometimes not easy to extract from them the nucleus of an old legend or an old myth. Moreover, by no means are all the narratives which in the Brahmanas derived from old myths and legends, but they are often only invented for the explanation of some sacrificial ceremony. Apart from this prime purpose of explanations of sacrificial ceremonies, there are a number of other themes with which these narratives deal. While there are some stories dealing with the attributes of women, there are also numerous narratives in the Brahmanas which deal with the origin of some matter or some institution.
Such legends of origin, to which also the creation-legends belong, are designated as Puranas, in order to distinguish them from the Itihasa
(or Akhyanas), as the stories of gods and men are called. Among these narratives, too, there are such as were merely invented by Brahmana theologians, while others date back to old, popular myths and legends, or at least are founded upon a tradition independent of the sacrificial science. Thus, the origin of the four castes is frequently related in the Brahmanas. The creation-legends are very numerous in the Brahmanas. Just as these creation-legends usually being by relating that Prajapati
"torments and mortifies himself," so it is often read that, after the creation was accomplished, he was described, through which his strength had to be restored.
These discussed are the narratives in the Brahmanas.