The volumes of the PROJECT ON THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE, PHILOSOPHY AND CULTURE IN INDIAN CIVILIZATION aim at discovering the main aspects of India's heritage and present them in an interrelated way.
These volumes, in spite of their unitary look, recognize the difference between the areas of material civilization and those of ideational culture. The Project is not being executed by a single group of thinkers who are methodologically uniform or ideologically identical in their commitments.
In fact, contributions are made by different scholars with different ideological persuasions and methodological approaches. The Project is marked by what may be called "methodological pluralism".
In spite of its primarily historical character, this Project, both in its conceptualization and execution, has been shaped by scholars drawn from different disciplines. It is for the first time that an endeavour of such a unique and comprehensive character has been undertaken to study critically a major world civilization like India.
In this volume devoted to the Puranas, History and Itihasas, scholars have contributed articles on central ideas of ancient texts and also on Historiography or method of writing history.
D.P. Chattopadhyaya in his work entitled Ways of Understanding the Human Past has shown that there cannot be one method of historical enquiry and writing. One of the editors of this volume, N.S.S. Raman, has in his Introduction and in other articles, attempted to show that in the Indian historical and cultural tradition,
pluralist methodology is not only avoidable but is necessary. Contributors have tried to highlight those topics that come under the five characteristics as stated by the Puranas, namely the creation of the universe, the various eras of human history, histories of the dynasties of the various kings and events that have occurred during their reigns, and of the gods and sages, The two major itihasas in Indian literature, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, have also been studies intensely in this volume. A section is devoted exclusively to historiography of ancient Indian history. The section includes various religious histories like those of Saivism and Buddhism, and sources of historical writings other than archaeology and epigraphy, like biographies and travel diaries.