Why is the same story told differently in different scriptures?
Transcription (edited) by- Vrindavaneshvari Devi Dasi and Keshavgopal Das
Question- Why are there different narratives of the same story given in scriptures?
Answer- Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura explains that it is because of kalpa bheda. The scriptures give stories from different yugas. Incidents happen differently at different times (or yugas), and therefore different narratives are found for the same story.
For example- if you consider the ‘Amrita Manthan Leela’, the specifics of it as described in the Bhagvatam are different from what is described in the Mahabharata. Mahabharata refers this story to one particular yuga and the Bhagvatam to another.
This is the general understanding of different narratives of same story in different scriptures.
Apart from that, there is another possibility- that the same story is told from different perspective. In such cases story may seem to be different but actually it is not different. For example- in Chaitanya Charitamrita (CC), it is described that Sarvbhauma Bhattacharya was an impersonalist and he became a devotee after associating with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. However in Chaitanya Bhagwata (CB), it is described that Sarvbhauma Bhattacharya was actually a devotee but he played the role of an impersonalist so that he could be used by Lord Chaitanya to demonstrate the supremacy of the path of bhakti.
Here, one can see, that the perspective or the focus in the two books is different. CC is focusing on siddhanta– on establishing the philosophy- while CB does not focus much on siddhanta, but mainly deals with rasa or mellow. Therefore due to difference in perspective, CC and CB present the same story differently.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura in one of his books, ‘Navdeep Bhava Taranga,’ analyzes both of these aspects and has given this reconciliation- that it is due to either different yuga or different perspective because of which story appears different.