Indian Mythology: Tales, Symbols, and Rituals from the Heart of the Subcontinent

Indian Mythology: Tales, Symbols, and Rituals from the Heart of the Subcontinent

Devdutt Pattanaik

Language: English

Pages: 216

ISBN: 0892818700

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


An exploration of 99 classic myths of India from an entirely non-Western paradigm that provides a fresh understanding of the Hindu spiritual landscape

• Compares and contrasts Indian mythology with the stories of the Bible, ancient Egypt, Greece, Scandinavia, and Mesopotamia

• Looks at the evolution of Indian narratives and their interpretations over the millennia

• Demonstrates how the mythology, rituals, and art of ancient India are still vibrant today and inform the contemporary generation

From the blood-letting Kali to the mysterious Ganesha, the Hindu spiritual landscape is populated by characters that find no parallel in the Western spiritual world. Indian Mythology explores the rich tapestry of these characters within 99 classic myths, showing that the mythological world of India can be best understood when we move away from a Western, monotheistic mindset and into the polytheistic world of Hindu traditions.

Featuring 48 artistic renderings of important mythological figures from across India, the author unlocks the mysteries of the narratives, rituals, and artwork of ancient India to reveal the tension between world-affirming and world-rejecting ideas, between conformism and contradiction, between Shiva and Vishnu, Krishna and Rama, Gauri and Kali. This groundbreaking book opens the door to the unknown and exotic, providing a glimpse into the rich mythic tradition that has empowered millions of human beings for centuries.

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social order POSSIBILITY (IN SPIRITUAL TERMS) Returning to the primal perfection Breaking free from the cycle of rebirths or gaining mastery over it Islamic), because an evil one introduced pollution (Manichaean, Zoroastrian), or because humans are the unwitting participants in a great cosmic battle (Norse, Egyptian). In the cyclical view life is imperfect because corruption is a function of time (deterministic approach) or because present events are the direct consequences of past actions

The devas and the asuras serve as the force and counterforce of the churn. But Vishnu ensures that all the treasures that emerge, including Shri, ultimately end up in the hands of the devas. Thus the abode of the gods is associated with the best of animal, plant, and mineral wealth: • Kamadhenu, the desire-manifesting cow • Kalpataru, the wish-fulfilling tree • Parasmani, the dream-realizing gem When asuras overpower the devas they take control of this wealth. When devas defeat the asuras this

is much sociological and literary evidence to suggest that Vedic culture flourished around 1500 B.C.E. on the banks of a river called Saraswati that probably flowed west between the Indus and the Ganges. Then, scholars speculate, following climatic changes, a severe drought, or political upheaval, there was a migration of the Vedic tradition from northwest India (modern Pakistan) to the east (modern Bihar and Bengal) through the fertile Gangetic plains, and finally to the south of the Vindhya

demonstrates, every spiritual experience, every religious practice, every holy vision is grounded in a very special vocabulary that is indifferent to rationality. This is the vocabulary of the sacred, and it is expressed in and shared through stories, images, and rituals. They nourish the day-to-day existence of the believer. The nonbeliever finds it difficult to accept this vocabulary as real or reasonable. Tales of virgin births, of creation within seven days, of blissful heavens and fiery

of Fire ᪏ (Shiva Purana) Both Brahma and Vishnu claimed the title of Mahadeva, the greatest of gods. Suddenly there appeared between them a fiery pillar that seemed to have neither a beginning nor an end. Vishnu took the form of a boar and tried to find the pillar’s base, but failed. Brahma took the form of a swan and tried to find its top, but failed. From within the fiery pillar emerged Shiva. Brahma and Vishnu acknowledged him as the greatest of gods. Just as this story projects Shiva to be

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