This purāṇāni setihāsāni... These Purāṇas... You know, first of all, there is the Veda. Originally, the Veda, Atharva-veda. That is divided now into four: Sāma, Yajur, Atharva, Ṛg. Then all the Vedic instructions are what is called skimmed, concentrated in the Vedānta-sūtra, in one. The Upaniṣads, there are 108 Upaniṣads, and many others. So all the knowledge is concentrated in the Vedānta-sūtra, or Vedānta philosophy. Then again, it is explained for common men by purāṇāni, by Purāṇas. Just like this Purāṇa, this Bhāgavata-Purāṇa. Bhāgavata is also Purāṇa. Purāṇa means old, old history, Purāṇa. And itihāsa means history. But Vedic civilization was concerned with historical evidences which are very, very important. At the present moment, present age, they write history chronologically. One period may be important, one period may not be important, but they write all the history. The Vedic way of writing history was not like that. If you go on writing history... Suppose for millions years of history you write, then where you'll keep the records? It is not possible. Every day so many things are happening, or every year. So that was not the process. Just like autobiography of life. Nobody used to write autobiography. But the life of great kings, sages, saintly persons, they were recorded in the..., here.
So Sūta Gosvāmī, he is addressed, "Sir,"
- tvayā khalu purāṇāni
- setihāsāni cānagha
- ākhyātāny apy adhītāni
- dharma-śāstrāṇi yāny uta
Dharma-śāstra. In the Vedic civilization there are twenty big, big books, dharma-śāstra, for regulating life. Very difficult subject matter, dharma-śāstra. So Sūta Gosvāmī was offered the seat of vyāsāsana because he was aware of these things, itihāsa, history, Purāṇa, still older history, dharma-śāstra, the scriptures, everything. Therefore he's first of all addressing that "You have read... Not only you have read, but you have described." Description means... You read something. Unless you fully assimilate, understand, you cannot describe it. So two things... Simply reading will not help us. When we shall be able to preach the reading matter, doesn't matter whether in the same language or in my own language... It doesn't matter. That is wanted. Ākhyātāny adhītāni. Adhītāni means "You have read." And "You have explained." In this way the śaunakādi ṛṣis... There were thousands of ṛṣis in Naimiṣāraṇya... When you go to India, you must see this place, Naimiṣāraṇya. It is very, very old place. At least, from historical point of view, modern estimate is it is five thousand years old, because the first Bhāgavata discussion took place there after instruction of Vyāsadeva. So in India there are many places very suitable for spiritual advancement. Still they're existing from the very, very old time, historical time.
So the itihāsa... Itihāsa means history, and purāṇāni, purāṇāni means old itihāsa. All the statements or narrations described in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, they're all historical evidence, they're not imagination. Sometimes the so-called scholars and research students, they say it is fancy or something imagination. No. They're all history. It is said here, itihāsam. Itihāsa means history.