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Puranas – Diverse body of Hindu myth

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Indian pupils dressed as Hindu god Lord Krishna are restrained by a teacher after a quarrel as they awaited their turn in a fancy dress competition to celebrate ‘Gokul-Ashtami/Janmashtami’, the birth of Lord Krishna, at a school in Mumbai on September 1, 2010. According to Indian mythology and the Hindu Puranas, Krishna is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who took birth to kill his maternal uncle the evil king Kansa and free the people of Mathura and other nearby towns from his cruelty and save them from his evil clutches. AFP PHOTO/Indranil MUKHERJEE

In Hinduism the Puranas (Sankrit: old, ancient) are a rich and diverse body of mythology, detailing topics such as grace, retribution, homeopathy, cosmic cycles of destruction and rebirth, karma and karma transfer.

The Puranas originated in the Gupta period (4th century CE); they include the Mahabharata and Ramayana. The Bhagavad Gita is part of the Puranic narrative and most scholars believe it is a later addition to the Mahabharata.

Although the Sanskrit root of the word “Puranas means “old” or “ancient,” the Puranas are not the oldest – nor are they held as the most authoritative – of Hindu Scripture. However, they are widely influential.

The Puranas include cosmos creation myths such as the Samudra Manthan (churning of the ocean). These ideas spread to southeast Asia. It is represented in the Angkor Wat temple complex of Cambodia, and at Bangkok airport, Thailand (immediately above) – via Wikipedia

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