Brihatkatha, aka: Brihat-katha, Bṛhatkathā; 5 Definition(s)


Brihatkatha means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, the history of ancient India. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

The Sanskrit term Bṛhatkathā can be transliterated into English as Brhatkatha or Brihatkatha, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Brihatkatha in Purana glossary... « previous · [B] · next »

Bṛhatkathā (बृहत्कथा).—See Guṇāḍhya.

Source: Puranic Encyclopaedia
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

Brihatkatha in Hinduism glossary... « previous · [B] · next »

The 'Brihatkatha', or Lord Shiva's narrative to his wife Parvati, is featured in Gunadhya's epic composition 'Katha Sarita Sagara' in Sanskrit. Somadeva's adaptation retains the storyline, with Lord Shiva substituting for Lord Kubera, the God of Wealth. C H Tawney, blending pure Hindu mythology with Buddhist and tantric beliefs, translated the story into English as The Ocean of a Story, which runs 12 volumes and includes footnotes. Shiva's Own Story is a condensed version of Tawney's work. The setting of the stories is India in the 10th and 11th centuries, when the country was composed of many small kingdoms and fiefdoms. There was no dearth of monarchs with dynastic ambitions. The king was usually advised by an intelligent and devoted Brahman minister. The heir apparent, the crown prince, had a circle of friends, mostly sons of the king's ministers, who became part of the cabinet when the prince became king. Intrigue was rife and matrimonial alliances were often a strategy to expand the kingdom. In a country where illiteracy is still formidable, storytelling is a means of promoting and propagating religious and moral culture.

Source: Google Books: Shiva's Own Story

Brihatkatha, literally meaning the big (vrihat) story (katha), is an ancient Indian epic, and a great many classic Indian fables like the Panchatantras, Hitopadesha, Vetala Panchvimshati and others have probably been taken from this source, and many of the stories have traveled far and wide.

Brihatkatha has become a legend living only through later (mostly Sanskrit) adaptations like Kathasaritsagara, Brihatkathamanjari and Bṛhatkathāślokasaṃgraha as the original prakrit version has been "lost".

Origin of the Satvahana Brihatkatha:

Shiva had narrated the story of the Vidyadharas to Parvati. Sivas gana Pushpadanta happened to overhear the story. When Parvati was cursing Pushpadanta his friend Malyavan tried to plead on his behalf and got a share of the curse. Pushpadanta was to tell the story to Pishacha Kanabhuti in a forest and then get relief from the curse and get reborn in Kaushambi as Vararuchi. Meanwhile Malyavan was to be released from the curse only when he would collect the story from the Pisacha and release the story to the world.

Malyavan (born under the name of Gunadhya) went into the Bindhya forest to get the story from the Pisacha and wrote down the story with his own blood in the Paisachi language. But when he took the story to the King Satvahana, the king refused to acknowledge the story (probably because it was written in Paisachi) and Gunadhya retired to the forest again. One of the versions of Kathasaritsagara suggests that when Gunadhya set a fire and kept reading out the Brihatkatha page by page and sacrifice the read out page in the fire. All the animals were so charmed by the story that they all gathered there and silently listened to the story.

The King (Satvahana) had gone to the forest to hunt and could not find any animal but was himself charmed by an amusing sound and was attracted to the source. When he reached the source he found Gunadhya sacrificing the epic written in his own blood page by page. He managed to stop Gunadhya from sacrificing the seventh chapter but all the six previous chapters had already been sacrificed. This seventh verse is the only remains of the Brihatkatha from which all the later adaptations—like Kathasaritsagara—have been made.

Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism > detail page

India history and geogprahy

Brihatkatha in India history glossary... « previous · [B] · next »

The principal work of the novelistic and picaresque tale is the Bṛhat-kathā (“Great Story”) of Guṇāḍhya, written in Prākrit and now lost, save for Sanskrit retellings. The most important among these Sanskrit versions is the Kathā-saritsāgara (“Ocean of Rivers of Stories”) of Somadeva (11th century), which includes so many subsidiary tales that the main story line is frequently lost. Perhaps more faithful to the original—in any case far less distracting—is the Bṛhatkathāślokasaṃgraha (“Summary in Verse of the Great Story”), by Budhasvāmin (probably 7th century), one of the most charming of Sanskrit texts. Other collections of tales include the Vetāla-pañcaviṃśatikā (“Twenty-five Tales of a Ghost”), Śūkasaptati (“The Seventy Stories of a Parrot”), and the Siṃhāsana-dvātrim-sātikā (“Thirty-two Stories of a Royal Throne”).

Source: South Asian Arts
India history book cover
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The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

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Languages of India and abroad

Sanskrit-English dictionary

Brihatkatha in Sanskrit glossary... « previous · [B] · next »

Bṛhatkathā (बृहत्कथा).—Name of a work ascribed to Guṇāḍhya; हरलीलेव नो यस्य विस्मयाय बृहत्कथा (haralīleva no yasya vismayāya bṛhatkathā) Hch.

Bṛhatkathā is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms bṛhat and kathā (कथा).

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
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Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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Relevant definitions

Search found 2073 related definition(s) that might help you understand this better. Below you will find the 15 most relevant articles:

Kaṭha (कठ).—m. (-ṭhaḥ) 1. The name of a Muni or saint. 2. A note or simple sound. 3. A portion ...
Bṛhadratha (बृहद्रथ).—n. of a yakṣa: Māy 22.
Bṛhat (बृहत्).—mfn. (-han hantī hat) See vṛhat .
Bṛhatphala (बृहत्फल).—m. pl. (written vṛh° only Mv ii.349.1 and Mvy 3100; but = Pali vehapphala...
Ānupubbikathā, (for anupubbi° representing its isolated composition form, cp. ānubhāva &...
Kaṭhopaniṣad (कठोपनिषद्).—See under NACIKETAS.
Bṛhatkathāmañjarī (बृहत्कथामञ्जरी) is the name of a work ascribed to Kṣemendra (11th century): ...
1) Bṛhatkṣatra (बृहत्क्षत्र).—A king. Scion of the family of Bhagīratha. In the Mahābhārata, Ād...
Dhātukathā:—Name of 3rd book of the Abhidhamma Vism.96.
kathāvatthu : (nt.) subject of a discussion; the 5th book of the Abhidhamma.
Bṛhannala (बृहन्नल).—The name adopted by Arjuna during the concealment of the Pāṇḍavas in the K...
Bṛhatkāya (बृहत्काय).—A king of the family of Bharata. (Bhāgavata, Skandha 9).
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Kaṭhādhyāpaka (कठाध्यापक).—m. (-kaḥ) A teacher of the Katha portion of the Veda. E. kaṭha, and ...
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