Puranas form a repository of several branches of learning. The ancients had noble vision of life and hence their works more or less have covered a vast ground of topics apart from the main theme for which the work was contemplated. There have been at least a handful of Puranas which treat of five characteristics, viz., Sarga, Pratisarga, Vamsa, Manuantara and Vamsanucarita. The main interest of the Puranas lies in the anecdotes, which present the prevailing ideas in the society during the period in order to substantiate the aspect of life, which it professes to record. If the criticism "old wine in a new bottle" could be the old wine is presented in the new context which held sway in society. The claim of Puranas as the treasure-house of social, political and economic thoughts of the period can never be brushed aside. Only thing required is the discerning eyes and mind to scan the required material. For this reason only, the Alankarikas have stated that Puranas from 'Suhrt Sammita.'
The present anecdote of Rantideva is a beautiful literary piece and it presents the thought that idol worship and rituals should not be carried to the extremes. Hindu culture formulated in the Upanishads and epics is based on compassion, charity and service. Any religious rites and pretentious acts of devotion devoid of these three essentials of humanism would yield no fruit at all. Selfless service to humanity expecting nothing in return has become a rare commodity nowadays. Now fine the idea of the Upanishadic statements.
"Tena Tyaktena bhunjithah, ma gradhah kasyaswid
Yasin Sarvani bhutani atmanyevanupasyate. Tatreka mohah kah sokah ekatvam anupasyatah, Sangacchadhvam Samvadadhvam, Saha navavatu, Saha nau bhunaktu, Saha Viryam Karavavahai.
Do insist upon the welfare of the society as a whole. It is this which had been kept in mind by Bhasa when Duryodhana of Pancaratram declares-
"Mrtaih Prapyah Svargah Yadiha Kathayatyedadanrtam Paroksah na Svargah bahugunamilaivesa phalati."
I have found in Dr. Lakshmi Warier, ever since she worked under my guidance for her Ph. D. Degree, a diligent student, proper perspective, a keep insight and a deep vision. This has enabled her to bring out several research papers commanding the appreciation of the scholarly world. This short work found in the Bhagavatapurana, is devoted for eulogizing the spirit of 'Kainkarya' which wins for the devotee the much coveted realisation of the 'Supreme' which the gopies in vrajabhumi had realized in flesh and blood during their lifetime itself, every one would be able to achieve. This indeed is the spirit of Rantidevacaritam as understood by me. This anecdote, viewed against the background of the one presented by Kalidasa in Meghasandesam becomes more and more refreshing.
I am quite sure that this small work would give Dr. Lakshmi Warier immense satisfaction for, she has catered to he needs of the scholars and the common man as well. 'Klesah Phalena hi punarnavatam vidhathe
Back Of The Book
Dr. Lakshmi warier obtained her Bachelors Degree in Sanskrit Sahitya from Kerala University, masters Degree from Calicut University, B. Ed and Ph. D. from Bangalore University. She obtained her doctoral degree in 1988, on the topic 'Bhasa and his plays' working under the guidance of Dr. K. Rajagopalachar. After teaching for seven years in St. Joseph's Indian High School, Bangalore, she joined Mount Carmel College as a Lecturer where she is presently Head of the Dept. of Sanskrit. She has presented a number of seminar papers and published articles in various journals. She is currently working on Sanskrit Literature and Value-based education and intends to publish a series of books under the title 'Literature for Values' she was awarded Fellowship by United Writers Association of India, Chennai, in 1998.
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