“The froggish philosophers and mundane wranglers in science and mathematical calculation may not believe in the inconceivable potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but they are sometimes puzzled by the wonderful jugglery of man and nature. Such jugglers and magicians of the mundane world are actually puzzled by the jugglery of the Lord in His transcendental activities, but they try to adjust their bewilderment by saying that it is all mythology. There is, however, nothing impossible or mythological in the Supreme Omnipotent Person.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.6.39 Purport)
When discussing Vedic literature, apart from the amazing and eye-opening philosophical principles pertaining to all aspects of life, there are descriptions and accounts of the amazing and unbelievable. Some of the events described seem so out of left field, distinct from anything we have witnessed in recent times, that the only option is to relegate the content to mythology.
“There must be some other reason for these words, because they don’t square with the principles on sense gratification, mind control, meditation, renunciation in eating and sleeping habits, and following rituals to further a purpose. Perhaps the mythology is like a coding system, a secret way to present higher truths to a population primitive in their level of understanding.”
The acharyas of the Vedic tradition take great offense to any classification of mythology or even innocent use of the word, in a way not intended to do harm. They see the “mythology” term as a way to discredit, to bring down the wisdom of the ages to the level of others, who are not as intelligent in the spiritual science.
It is indeed a science to the rishis. Just as there is a method for curing a particular illness, for joining totals together to form a new one, for building a dwelling, for helping to deliver a baby, and so forth, there is a way to understand the travels of the individual soul and particularly where it stands in relation to other souls and the origin of the universe itself.
In this regard, there are ways to be assured that the rishis were not authors of fiction. The content is from a long time ago; of this there is no doubt. Not everything was written down; the material was held in memory, and it was voluminous and complex.
1. There was no money to be made on a book publication deal
Likely the two most well-known authors are Maharishi Valmiki and Vyasadeva. They would not consider themselves authors in the classical sense. Rather, they compiled different conversations from different sources. They put together beautiful verses to describe events that took place in the past, present and future.
Needless to say, there was no money to be earned. Valmiki was previously robbing people on the road in order to support his family. He gave up that vile profession in favor of chanting the name of Rama, which he initially repeated in the backwards way.
As a result of the subsequent enlightenment inspired by Narada Muni, Valmiki went on to compose the Ramayana. There was no money to be made, and neither was the rishi looking for anything material. He was so renounced from the world that people had to go deep into the forest in order to meet him.
2. There were no future movie or merchandising rights to consider
In the modern day, if your fictional tale becomes popular enough, the big movie producers will want to take advantage of the attention. They will try to license the story to be used in a blockbuster film. There might be clothing and toys to sell, as well. The merchandising alone can make a person wealthy beyond their dreams.
In Vyasadeva’s case, the “toys” springing from the books would be deities worshiped in the home, meant to increase a person’s consciousness of God the person. It is said that Maharaja Parikshit, the great emperor of the world, worshiped Krishna during childhood in this way. Vyasadeva did not make money on any of the deities or dolls created, and neither was there a thriving industry to support such a practice.
3. There was not a name to be made in the publishing world
If your previous works are popular enough, there will be great anticipation for future releases. The author might tease a chapter or two, and offer presale discounts to an eager buying public. Then, on release day the publication skyrockets to the top of the charts. This is followed by a publicity tour to promote the work.
The rishis were not interested in name or fame. The works barely mentioned the authors. The content was strictly about the Supreme Lord and those close to Him. There are too many lessons to derive in a single sitting. Repeated indulgence is both beneficial and exhilarating. From childhood until old age, a person can acquire great benefit from works like Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam.
If these people were too humble and devoted to waste time on fictional accounts, there must be something amazing to the resulting output. Their efforts continue to bear fruit, the branches of the tree extend thousands of years into the future, where an unworthy soul such as myself can grab ahold and be rescued from the cycle of birth and death.
Not for fortune or fame,
Neither for a publishing name.
Not for a royalty earned,
Or through vast riches burned.
Rather from simple understanding,
That for this purpose landing.
God’s endless glories to share,
Extending in every direction where.
Categories: the three