Veda literally means ‘knowledge’, but more specifically refers to the Sanskrit writings of ancient India. Previously this wisdom was transmitted orally, only being written down some fifty centuries ago. The author of the Vedas, a sage named Vyasa, divided this knowledge, both spiritual and mundane, into four parts. He later compiled the Puranas, often referred to as ‘the fifth Veda’. The Puranas include a history of the ancient Indian world. Although of historical interest, the Puranas are not presented chronologically, nor are their accounts confined to this planet or our limited spheres of perception and comprehension. Vyasa purposefully arranged and presented them in a way that would broaden our awareness. It is from these popular yet profound texts that most of the stories retold in this book have originated.
Vyasa had many students who became teachers of Vedic wisdom. These spiritual masters then took their own disciples, and thus, through the process of disciples succession, this knowledge was passed down throughout the ages. In modern times, Hid Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is the foremost authority on Vedic philosophy, religion and culture. His translations of the Vedic texts, with extensive commentary, are used as standard textbooks in colleges and universities throughout the world. He also established a worldwide confederation of farms, schools, temples, colleges and cultural centres. One of his prime ambitions was that children might benefit from Vedic truths and values, as they are universal and go beyond all sectarian concern. The publishers hope that this volume will be a small step in that direction.