is the ancient art of conveying events in words, images, and sounds
often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories have been shared
in every culture and in every land as a means of entertainment, education,
preservation of culture and in order to instill moral values. Crucial
elements of storytelling include plot and characters, as well as the
narrative point of view. Stories are frequently used to teach, explain,
and/or entertain. Less frequently, but occasionally with major consequences,
they have been used to mislead. There can be much truth in a story
of fiction, and much falsehood in a story that uses facts.
has existed as long as humanity has had language. It's the world
of myth, of history, of the imagination...it explains life. Every
culture has its stories and legends, just as every culture has its
storytellers and often revered figures with the magic of the tale
in their voices and minds.
appearance of technology has changed the tools available to storytellers.
The earliest forms of storytelling are thought to have been primarily
oral combined with gestures and expressions. Rudimentary drawings
scratched onto the walls of caves are also forms of early storytelling.
Ephemeral media such as sand, leaves, and the carved trunks of living
trees have also been used to record stories in pictures or with
writing. With the advent of writing, the use of actual digit symbols
to represent language, and the use of stable, portable media stories
were recorded, transcribed and shared over wide regions of the world.
Stories have been carved, scratched, painted, printed, or inked
onto wood or bamboo, ivory and other bones, pottery, clay tablets,
stone, palm-leaf books, skins (parchment), bark cloth, paper, silk,
canvas and other textiles, recorded on film and stored electronically
in digital form. Complex forms of tattooing may also represent stories,
with information about genealogy, affiliation and social status.
oral stories were passed from generation to generation, and survived solely
by memory. With written media, this has become less important. Conversely,
in modern times, the vast entertainment industry is built upon a foundation
of sophisticated multimedia storytelling.
Within Hindu tradition, story remains an essential means of transmitting
values. Heroes and heroines embody ideal virtues, which they exhibit through
exemplary behaviour. Many of the stories focus on the kshatriyas and brahmanas,
the two classes most responsible for maintaining social and spiritual
culture and corresponding norms of behaviour. Stories can be explored
repeatedly, with the reader or listener gaining progressively deeper insight.
Stories often illustrate key values. The tale of Mrigari the hunter
examines non-violence (ahimsa) and its relationship to key concepts
such as karma and reincarnation. It reflects the Hindu tendency to
see life not merely through its physical symptoms but through the
eyes of the consciousness inherent in all species. This story is relevant
to issues of diet, hunting, empathy, violence, compassion, and animal
welfare. It also illustrates the role of the guru in transforming
the lives of others. Many narratives explore the qualities of such
spiritual leaders, and their abilities to instill wisdom and character
in others. Before meeting his spiritual teacher, Mrigari used to enjoy
half-killing his victims. Afterwards, he avoided all violence, even
going out of his way to avoid stepping on ants.
kshatriya class carried responsibility for protecting its citizens
– and not just in human society. A pigeon about to be devoured
by a hawk took shelter of King Shibi. The hawk subsequently insisted
that he also had a right to protection and that the king must provide
eatables for all dependants, including carnivores. Maharaja Shibi
resolved the problem by cutting and donating flesh from his own
body, equal in weight to that of the pigeon. Once on the scales,
the pigeon miraculously became heavier and heavier and the king
was about to sacrifice his entire body. Two demigods then revealed
that they had decided to test the king by taking the forms of the
two contesting birds. Many Hindu stories focus on the grave responsibilities
of public leaders.
stories illustrate how traditional values can clash with contemporary
ideals. Draupadi, one of the heroines of the Mahabharata, accepted
the role of a faithful wife and at the same time was an influential,
assertive, and discerning woman. Although Hinduism assigns specific
roles to women, it in no way condones their exploitation. On the contrary,
Draupadi's tale teaches that those who offend women lose all good
fortune. As a result of offending Draupadi, millions of nobles had
to lay down their lives on the plains of Kurukshetra. Draupadi's character
may appear somewhat ambiguous. Though she demonstrated the fiery self-esteem
often associated with royalty she also exhibited remarkable compassion
by forgiving the murderer of her five adolescent sons. In India today,
there are traditions which focus on the veneration of Draupadi.