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Sthala Puranas
(HinduDharma: Puranas)

Even those who respect the Puranas are not prepared to accept that the Sthala Puranas, that is the short Puranas pertaining to particular places, are authentic. If educated people think the [major] Puranas to be nothing but lies, they go so far as to treat the Sthala Puranas as nothing better than rubbish. "It was here that Indra was freed from his curse. . . " "It was here that Agasthya witnessed the marriage of Siva and Parvati ". Such statements give rise to scepticism about the Sthala Puranas. "How are such things possible? " they ask. " These Puranas must have been made up. They must have originated in the desire of some individuals to give a certain importance to places to which they belong. "

People with faith who are acquainted with our traditions will tell you; "Kalpa after kalpa, the same stories are repeated, but sometimes with slight differences. Astory associated with one place in one kalpa may recur in another place in a different kalpa. "

It is natural for people to take pride in claiming that their birthplace is associated with the great men mentioned in the Puranas. This is a fact that all of us must recognise. Ordinary unlettered folk like to believe that Rama or Krsna had once visited their village, also great sages, and that they were freed from terrible sins. Encouraged by such belief they conduct the festivals of the local temples with great enthusiasm and are rewarded with faith and devotion. We should view this attitude with sympathy and understanding. Why should we who claim to be "intelligent" disturb the faith of these people of innocence and deprive them of their sense of fulfiment? The Lord himself says in the Gita that in such matters you must not produce some information as "fact"and create agitation in the minds of ordinary people. "Na buddhibhedam janayed ajananam karmasanginam. "

By this you should not take it that I am one with the critics who hold that the Sthala Puranas are not true, nor should you think that I accept them [these Puranas] only for the reason that, notwithstanding the fact that they are not true, they do some good to the people. I believe that the Sthala Puranas are by and large authentic. Some of the stories told in them may not be so, but for that reason I would not maintain that all Sthala Puranas are false.

"Hindu Dharma" is a book which contains English translation of certain invaluable and engrossing speeches of Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi MahaSwamiji (at various times during the years 1907 to 1994).
For a general background, please see here