Hindu mythology

Hindu mythology are narratives found in Hindu texts such as the Vedic literature,[1] epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana,[2] the Puranas,[3] the regional literatures like Periya Puranam. Hindu mythology is also found in widely translated popular texts such as the Panchatantra and Hitopadesha, as well as Southeast Asian texts.[4][5]

Hindu mythology does not often have a consistent, monolithic structure. The same myth typically appears in various versions, and can be represented differently across socio-religious traditions. These myths have also been noted to have been modified by various philosophical schools over time and particularly in the Hindu tradition. These myths are taken to have deeper, often symbolic, meaning, and have been given a complex range of interpretations.[6]

Depictions of episodes from Hindu mythology
Depictions of episodes from Hindu mythology

Sources

The Hindu Epic literature is found in genre of Hindu texts such as:

Many of these legends evolve across these texts, the character names change or the story is embellished with greater details, yet the central message and moral values remain the same. According to Wendy Doniger,

Every Hindu epic is different; all Hindu epics are alike. (...) Each Hindu epic celebrates the belief that the universe is boundlessly various, that everything occurs simultaneously, that all possibilities may exist without excluding the other. (...) There is no single basic version of a Hindu epic; each is told and retold with a number of minor and major variations over the years. (...) Great epics are richly ambiguous and elusive; their truths cannot be filed away into scholar's neat categories. Moreover, epics [in Hinduism] are living organisms that change constantly. (...)

— O'Flaherty[8]

Hindu epic shares the creative principles and human values found in epic everywhere. However, the particular details vary and its diversity is immense, according to Doniger.[9] The Hindu legends embed the Indian thought about the nature of existence, the human condition and its aspirations through an interwoven contrast of characters, the good against the evil, the honest against the dishonest, the dharma-bound lover against the anti-dharma bully, the gentle and compassionate against the cruel and greedy. In these epics, everything is impermanent including matter, love and peace. Magic and miracles thrive, gods are defeated and fear for their existence, triggering wars or debates. Death threatens and re-threatens life, while life finds a way to creatively re-emerge thus conquering death. Eros persistently prevails over chaos.[9][10]

The Hindu epics integrate in a wide range of subjects. They include stories about how and why cosmos originated (Hindu cosmology, cosmogony), how and why humans or all life forms originated (anthropogony) along with each's strengths and weaknesses, how gods originated along with each's strengths and weaknesses (theogony), the battle between good gods and bad demons (theomachy), human values and how humans can live together, resolve any disagreements (ethics, axiology), healthy goals in stages of life and the different ways in which each individual can live (householder, monk, purusartha), the meaning of all existence and means of personal liberation (soteriology) as well as legends about what causes suffering, chaos and the end of time with a restart of a new cycle (eschatology).[11][12][13]

Dashavatara

A significant collection of Vaishnavism traditional reincarnations includes those related to the avatars of Vishnu. The ten most common of these include:

  1. Matsya: It narrates a great flood, similar to one found in many ancient cultures. The savior here is the Matsya (fish). The earliest accounts of Matsya mythology are found in the Vedic literature, which equate the fish saviour to the deity Prajapati. The fish-savior later merges with the identity of Brahma in post-Vedic era, and still later as an avatar of Vishnu.[14][15][16] The legends associated with Matsya expand, evolve and vary in Hindu texts. These legends have embedded symbolism, where a small fish with Manu's protection grows to become a big fish, and the fish ultimately saves earthly existence.[17][18] [19]
  2. Kurma: The earliest account of Kurma is found in the Shatapatha Brahmana (Yajur veda), where he is a form of Prajapati-Brahma and helps with the samudra manthan (churning of cosmic ocean).[20] In the Epics and the Puranas, the legend expands and evolves into many versions, with Kurma becoming an avatar of Vishnu. He appears in the form of a tortoise or turtle to support the foundation for the cosmos and the cosmic churning stick (Mount Mandara).[21][22][23]
  3. Varaha: The earliest versions of the Varaha or boar legend are found in the Taittiriya Aranyaka and the Shatapatha Brahmana, both Vedic texts.[24] They narrate that the universe was primordial waters. The earth was the size of a hand and was trapped in it. The god Prajapati (Brahma) in the form of a boar (varaha) plunges into the waters and brings the earth out.[24][25] In post-Vedic literature, particularly the Puranas, the boar mythology is reformulated through an avatar of god Vishnu and an evil demon named Hiranyaksha who persecutes people and kidnaps goddess earth.[26][25] Varaha-Vishnu fights the injustice, kills the demon and rescues earth.[24]
  4. Narasimha: The Narasimha mythology is about the man-lion avatar of Vishnu. He destroys an evil king (Hiranyakashyapu), ends religious persecution and calamity on Earth, saves his devotee (Prahlad) from the suffering caused by torments and punishments for pursuing his religious beliefs, and thereby Vishnu restores the Dharma.[27][28]
  5. Vamana
  6. Parashurama
  7. Rama
  8. Krishna
  9. Buddha
  10. Kalki

The avatars of Vishnu have been compared to the process of evolution from simpler aquatic life forms to more complex creatures.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Arthur Anthony Macdonell (1978). Vedic Mythology. Motilal Banarsidass (Reprint). pp. 1–9. ISBN 978-81-208-1113-3.
  2. ^ a b Edward Washburn Hopkins (1986). Epic Mythology. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 1–3. ISBN 978-81-208-0227-8.
  3. ^ a b Yves Bonnefoy (1993). Asian Mythologies. University of Chicago Press. pp. 90–101. ISBN 978-0-226-06456-7.
  4. ^ Patrick Olivelle (1999). Pañcatantra: The Book of India's Folk Wisdom. Oxford University Press. pp. xii–xiii. ISBN 978-0-19-283988-6.
  5. ^ Paul Waldau; Kimberley Patton (2009). A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics. Columbia University Press. pp. 186, 680. ISBN 978-0-231-13643-3.
  6. ^ Jacqueline Suthren Hirst, Myth and history, in Themes and Issues in Hinduism, edited by Paul Bowen. Cassell, 1998.
  7. ^ Yves Bonnefoy (1993). Asian Epic. University of Chicago Press. pp. 25–33. ISBN 978-0-226-06456-7.
  8. ^ Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty (1975), Hindu epics: A Sourcebook translated from the Sanskrit, Penguin, ISBN 978-0140449907, pages 11, 21-22
  9. ^ a b Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty (1975), Hindu epics: A Sourcebook translated from the Sanskrit, Penguin, ISBN 978-0140449907, pages 11-22
  10. ^ George M. Williams (2008). Handbook of Hindu epic. Oxford University Press. pp. 2–4, 14–18. ISBN 978-0-19-533261-2.
  11. ^ George M. Williams (2008). Handbook of Hindu epic. Oxford University Press. pp. 15–31. ISBN 978-0-19-533261-2.
  12. ^ Ronald Inden (1991). David Parkin, ed. Hindu Evil as Unconquered Lower Self, in The Anthropology of Evil. Wiley. pp. 143–164. ISBN 978-0-631-15432-7.;
    W.D. O' Flaherty (1994). Hindu Epics. Penguin Books. pp. 36–37. ISBN 978-0-14-400011-1.
  13. ^ Arvind Sharma (2000). Classical Hindu Thought: An Introduction. Oxford University Press. pp. 38–39, 61–64, 73–88. ISBN 978-0-19-564441-8.
  14. ^ Krishna 2009, p. 33.
  15. ^ Rao pp. 124-125
  16. ^ "Matsya". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. 2012. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  17. ^ Bonnefoy 1993, pp. 79-80.
  18. ^ George M. Williams 2008, pp. 212-213.
  19. ^ Sunil Sehgal (1999). Encyclopaedia of Hinduism: T-Z, Volume 5. Sarup & Sons. p. 401. ISBN 81-7625-064-3.
  20. ^ Roshen Dalal 2010, p. 217.
  21. ^ James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z. The Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 705–706. ISBN 978-0-8239-3180-4.
  22. ^ Constance Jones; James D. Ryan (2006). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Infobase Publishing. p. 253. ISBN 978-0-8160-7564-5.
  23. ^ Cornelia Dimmitt; JAB van Buitenen (2012). Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas. Temple University Press. pp. 74–75. ISBN 978-1-4399-0464-0.
  24. ^ a b c Nanditha Krishna 2010, pp. 54-55.
  25. ^ a b J. L. Brockington 1998, pp. 281-282.
  26. ^ Roshen Dalal 2010, p. 45.
  27. ^ Gavin D. Flood (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge University Press. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-521-43878-0.
  28. ^ George M. Williams 2008, p. 223.

Bibliography

External links

  • Clay Sanskrit Library publishes classical Indian literature, including the Mahabharata and Ramayana, with facing-page text and translation. Also offers searchable corpus and downloadable materials.
  • Sanskrit Documents Collection: Documents in ITX format of Upanishads, Stotras etc.
Anjaneri

Anjaneri, one of the forts in the mountain range of Nasik-Trimbakeshwar, is considered to be the birth place of god Hanuman. Anjaneri is located 20 km away from Nasik by Trimbak Road. It has become a famous trekking spot for local Nashikites, specially in the rainy season. [1]

Ashwapati

Ashwapati or Aśwapati (अश्‍वपति) is the appellation of many kings in Hindu mythology. It means 'Lord of horses.' It was an appellation comparable to that of the knight or Ritter in Europe.

According to Ramayana Ashwapati was king of Kekeya Kingdom the land of fine horses. He was father of a daughter Kaikeyi (a queen of King Dasharatha) and seven sons.

One of the important sons was Yudhajeet, who played important role in Ramayana.

Asura

Asuras (Sanskrit: असुर) are a class of divine beings or power-seeking deities related to the more benevolent Devas (also known as Suras) in Hindu mythology.

Asuras are sometimes considered nature spirits. They battle constantly with the devas. Asuras are described in Indian texts as powerful superhuman demigods with good or bad qualities. The good Asuras are called Adityas and are led by Varuna, while the malevolent ones are called Danavas and are led by Vritra.

In the earliest layer of Vedic texts Agni, Indra and other gods are also called Asuras, in the sense of them being "lords" of their respective domains, knowledge and abilities. In later Vedic and post-Vedic texts, the benevolent gods are called Devas, while malevolent Asuras compete against these Devas and are considered "enemy of the gods".Asuras are part of Indian mythology along with Devas, Yakshas (nature spirits) and Rakshasas (ghosts, ogres). Asuras feature in one of many cosmological theories in Hinduism.

Bhagadatta

Bhagadatta was the son of Naraka, mythological king of the Pragjyotisha Kingdom and second in line of kings of Naraka dynasty. He was succeeded by his son Vajradatta. He sided with kauravas in the Mahabharata war as the result of his defeat to Karna during digvijaya.

Deva (Hinduism)

Deva (; Sanskrit: देव, Deva) means "heavenly, divine, anything of excellence", and is also one of the terms for a deity in Hinduism. Deva is a masculine term; the feminine equivalent is Devi.

In the earliest Vedic literature, all supernatural beings are called Devas and Asuras. The concepts and legends evolve in ancient Indian literature, and by the late Vedic period, benevolent supernatural beings are referred to as Deva-Asuras. In post-Vedic texts, such as the Puranas and the Itihasas of Hinduism, the Devas represent the good, and the Asuras the bad. In some medieval Indian literature, Devas are also referred to as Suras and contrasted with their equally powerful but malevolent half-brothers, referred to as the Asuras.Devas, along with Asuras, Yakshas (nature spirits) and Rakshasas (ghosts, ogres) are part of Indian mythology, and Devas feature in one of many cosmological theories in Hinduism.

Dushan (Ramayana)

Dushana (Hindi: दूषण) was a man-eating Rakshasa in the Indian Ramayana epic. According to Indian epic Ramayana, Dushana and his twin brother Khara, younger brothers of Ravana, were demons who ruled the Dandaka Forest. After Lakshmana humiliated Shurpanakha by cutting off her nose and ears, Khara and Dushana went to war against Lakshmana and Rama. During this fight, Dushana was killed by Rama.

Hindu units of time

Hindu texts describe units of Kala measurements, from microseconds to Trillions of years. According to these texts, time is cyclic, which repeats itself forever.

Kuru Kingdom

Kuru (Sanskrit: कुरु) was the name of a Vedic Indo-Aryan tribal union in northern Iron Age India, encompassing the modern-day states of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand and the western part of Uttar Pradesh (the region of Doab, till Prayag), which appeared in the Middle Vedic period (c. 1200 – c. 900 BCE) and developed into the first recorded state-level society in the Indian subcontinent.The Kuru kingdom decisively changed the Vedic heritage of the early Vedic period, arranging the Vedic hymns into collections, and developing new rituals which gained their position in Indian civilization as the srauta rituals, which contributed to the so-called "classical synthesis" or "Hindu synthesis". It became the dominant political and cultural center of the middle Vedic Period during the reigns of Parikshit and Janamejaya, but it declined in importance during the late Vedic period (c. 900 – c. 500 BCE), and had become "something of a backwater" by the Mahajanapada period in the 5th century BCE. However, traditions and legends about the Kurus continued into the post-Vedic period, providing the basis for the Mahabharata epic.The main contemporary sources for understanding the Kuru kingdom are ancient religious texts, containing details of life during this period and allusions to historical persons and events. The time-frame and geographical extent of the Kuru kingdom (as determined by philological study of the Vedic literature) suggest its correspondence with the archaeological Painted Grey Ware culture.

Kushadhwaja

Kushadhwaja(also known as Kushadbhojan), was younger brother of Janaka. Janaka's daughter Sita was wife of Rama, the leading character of Hindu epic Ramayana. Kushadhwaja's two daughters Mandavi and Shrutakirti were married to Rama's younger brothers Bharata and Shatrughna respectively.

List of theological demons

This is a list of demons that appear in religion, theology, demonology, mythology, and folklore. It is not a list of names of demons, although some are listed by more than one name.

The list of fictional demons includes those from literary fiction with theological aspirations, such as Dante's Inferno. Because numerous lists of legendary creatures concern mythology, folklore, and folk fairy tales, much overlap may be expected.

Names of God, list of deities, and list of deities in fiction concern God and gods.

Mahabali

Mahabali (IAST: Mahābalī), or Great Bali, also known as Māveli, was a benevolent Asura King in ancient Hindu antiquity. Mahabali was the great grandson of Hiranyakshipu, the grand son of Prahlada and son of Virochana. After he failed to fulfill his promise to provide three paces of land for Vamana, Vamana sends Mahabali to live in netherworld for some period. Pleased by Mahabali's devotion, Vamana also blesses Bali to be the Indra during the period of the Manu known as Sāvarṇi.Mahabali was a beloved king and very kind. The time under his rule was considered one of great prosperity and happiness. It is in fact this success as a king that led the gods to be wary of him and bring his demise at the hands of Vamana. To appease his subjects who were distraught at his death, Mahabali is allowed to return to Earth once every year on the auspicious festival of Onam in Kerala and in coastal regions of Karnataka (Mangalore and Udupi), celebrated during the festival of Deepavali.

Mandavi

In Hindu epic Ramayana, Mandavi is daughter of king Kushadhwaja and his wife queen Chandrabhaga. Kushadhwaja is brother of king Janaka, whose daughter Sita is married to Rama, the main character of the epic. She may have been born around Rajbiraj area which was then the seat of king Kushadhwaja. Historical remain of their family temple is found around Rajdevi Temple. She is married to Rama's younger brother Bharat. They had two sons- Taksh and Pushkal . She had a younger sister Shrutakirti.

Mount Meru

Mount Meru (Sanskrit: मेरु, Tibetan: ཪི་རྒྱལ་པོ་རི་རབ་, Sumeru, Sineru or Mahameru) is the sacred five-peaked mountain of Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist cosmology and is considered to be the center of all the physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes.Meru to which is added the approbatory prefix su-, results in the meaning "Excellent Meru", "Wonderful Meru" or "Great Meru". In languages, (Tamil:"மகா மேரு பருவதம்"),(Chinese: 須彌山 Xūmíshān; Pāli Meru; Burmese: မြင်းမိုရ် Myinmo), Khmer:ភ្នំព្រះសុមេរុ (Phnom Preah So Meru).

Many famous Hindu and similar Jain as well as Buddhist temples have been built as symbolic representations of this mountain. The "Sumeru Throne" 須彌座 xūmízuò style base is a common feature of Chinese pagodas. The highest point (the finial bud) on the pyatthat, a Burmese-style multi-tiered roof, represents Mount Meru.

Narantaka-Devantaka

Narantaka (Sanskrit: नरान्तक, IAST: narāntaka, lit. destroyer of men) and Devanataka (Sanskrit: देवान्तक, IAST: devāntaka, lit. destroyer of Gods) are demons who appear in a number of Hindu legends.

In the Ganesha Purana, they were a son of the rishi Rudraketu. (In Satya Yuga) After praying to the god Shiva, they were granted boons and become powerful and cruel rulers. They assume sovereignty over svarga. In response Ganesha, a popular elephant-headed god in Hinduism, turns into an Avatar named Mahotkata. He battles the Demon army with help of the Ashta Siddhi. Eventually Mahotkata manages to kill Devantaka with one of his tusks.

In the epic Ramayan (which happened in Treta Yuga), they are the rakshasa (demon) sons of the evil demon king Ravana. Narantaka was in charge of an army consisting of seventy-two crore (720 million which is approximately 1440 Akshauhini sena) rakshas. He with his army were eventually killed by the vanara Angada.Devantaka is killed by Hanuman during a war.

Oshadhiparvata

Oshadhiparvata, that is, "the mountain of medicinal herbs," was a mythical mountain described in the Ramayana. Hanuman uproots the mountain and flies with it to the battlefield in Lanka. There the herbs are used by the Vaidyas to restore to life the dead, and to treat the wounded warriors fighting on the side of Rama.

Outline of Hinduism

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Hinduism:

Hinduism – predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Its followers are called Hindus, who refer to it as Sanātana Dharma (a Sanskrit phrase meaning "the eternal law that sustains/upholds/surely preserves"), amongst many other expressions. Hinduism has no single founder, and is formed of diverse traditions, including a wide spectrum of laws and prescriptions of "daily morality" based on the notion of karma, dharma, and societal norms. Among its direct roots is the historical Vedic religion of Iron Age India and, as such, Hinduism is often called the "oldest living religion" or the "oldest living major religion" in the world.

Rahu

Rahu (Sanskrit: राहु)() is one of the nine major astronomical bodies (navagraha) in Indian texts. Unlike the other eight, Rahu is a shadow entity, one that causes eclipses and is the king of meteors. Rahu represents the ascend of the moon in its precessional orbit around the earth.

Rahu is usually paired with Ketu. The time of day considered to be under the influence of Rahu is called Rāhu kāla and is considered inauspicious.As per Vedic astrology Rahu and Ketu have an orbital cycle of 18 years and are always 180 degrees from each other orbitally (as well as in the birth charts). This coincides with the precessional orbit of moon or the ~18 year rotational cycle of the lunar ascending and descending nodes on the earth’s ecliptic plane. This also corresponds to a saros, a period of approximately 223 synodic months (approximately 6585.3211 days, or 18 years, 11 days, 8 hours), that can be used to predict eclipses of the Sun and Moon. Rahu rules the zodiac sign of Aquarius together with Shani.

Astronomically, Rahu and Ketu denote the points of intersection of the paths of the Sun and the Moon as they move on the celestial sphere. Therefore, Rahu and Ketu are respectively called the north and the south lunar nodes. The fact that eclipses occur when the Sun and the Moon are at one of these points gives rise to the understanding of swallowing of the Sun and the Moon by the snake.

Often Rahu is misunderstood as Neptune during Sanskrit to English translation, however, Neptune isn’t visible to the naked eye and its discovery is attributed to the use of high resolution telescopes in modern astronomy.

Shrutakirti

In Hindu epic Ramayana, Shrutakirti or Shrutkeerti(IAST Śrutakīrti) is daughter of king Kushadhwaja and his wife queen Chandrabhaga. Kushadhwaja is brother of king Janaka, whose daughter Sita is married to Rama, the main character of the epic. She may have been born around Rajbiraj area which was then the seat of king Kushadhwaja. Historical remain of their family temple is found around Rajdevi Temple. Shurtakirti is married to Rama's youngest brother Shatrughna. They had two sons-Shatrughati and Subahu. She had an elder sister Mandavi.

Vilanka Ramayana

Vilanka Ramayana is a 15th-century retelling of the Indian epic poem, the Ramayana, written by Sarala Das in Odia, describing the fight between Rama and Ravana. The story is written as a poem.

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