ākhyāna

(‘narration from memory’)

Ākhyānas are narratives recited from memory but having their basis in some historical incidents. Some commentators define ākhyāna as the description of incidents witnessed by the narrator and distinguish it from upākhyānas which are also such descriptions but not directly witnessed by the narrator. It is these ākhyānas—which are mostly stories of kings or holy men—that have formed the basis of itihāsas (epics) and purāṇas (mythology). Ākhyānas are often found in Vedic literature, as stories narrated to kings during sacrifices.