(Last Updated on : 13/01/2011)
Indian Mythology encompasses a wide field of myths and legends concerning Indian religion
. India is a country of diverse religious practices and socio-cultural habits which incorporates a saga of a nation with a vivid religious background. Indian mythology takes into consideration all those myths related to Hindu, Buddhist
and some other scriptures. Indian mythology is among the richest elements of Indian culture. Vedas
in India are important in shaping not only the culture but also the mythology of India. Through generations either by word of mouth or carefully stored scriptures, stories of Indian mythology have been passed down. Indian mythology is inseparable from Indian religion; the myths are religious accounts of gods and goddesses for many millions of people. The oral transmission of the stories could be trusted due to the strong religious aspects. Like Hindu mythology, Buddha
mythology too is a part of indian mythology. Myths and legends related to Buddha is contained in Jatakas` which were tales. Stories of his birth, life, attainment of Nirvana
is an integral part of the mythology. Similarly stories about Mahavira
the founder of Jainism are also popular in the same manner. His birth and life is in various myths which is again a part of the Indian mythology, since there is a following of Jainism in India.
Indian epic poetry:
Indian epic poetry is a rich reserve of epic poetry written in India and the deep seated inter relation of Indian epic poetry with Indian mythology canot be denied. Epic poetry is a long poem that narrates the heroic exploits of an individual in a way that it is primary to the beliefs and culture of that society. elements of adventures, superhuman deeds, majestic language, polyphonic composition and a craftsmanship exhibiting the full range of literary gimmicks, from lyrical to dramatic. Indian epic poetry written in Sanskrit
, includes some of the oldest epic poetry ever created and some works form the basis of Hindu scripture. Indian mythology reaches its fullness with the inclusion of these epics which occupy a significant position.
The epics are set in different "yugas" or periods of time in Hindu mythology. Where Ramayana
, describes the life and times of Lord Rama
(the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu
) and occurs in the Treta yuga and the Mahabharata
describes the life and times of the Pandavas, occurs in the Dwapara yuga, a period in which Lord Krishna
(the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu) took birth.
Sanskrit epic poetry comprises the Ramayana and Mahabharata which is also called Mahakavya, are masterpieces in Indian Mythology. They refer to the Hindu scriptures and occupy a huge stature in the literary and religious circle. The oldest version of the Ramayana was written by Valmiki. There is also a collection of histories of Hindu gods and godessesin the verse form called the Puranas
, and this is a successor of the epic tradition. There are eighteen principal Puranas (the name simply means "old") six of which tells about eminence of god Vishnu, six of god Shiva
, and six of Brahma
. Referring to the language of the epic in Sanskrit, it was classical Sanskrit in its earliest phases.
Kannada epic poetry primarily consists of Jain religious literature. Adikavi Pampa is one of the most well known kannada writers and his works like Vikramarjuna Vijaya and Adipurana are celebrated works in the Kannada circle. Kannada language
has a Ramayana and a Mahabharata based on the Jaina tradition onli in Kannada apart from the Brahmanical traditon.
Tamil epics are a part of the indian mythology consisting of Silappadhikaram, Manimegalai, Kundalakesi and others. Kamban wrote the Kamba ramayanam based on Ramayana.
Indian mythology cannot be accounted without hindi epic poetries. Memorable among them is Tulsidasa`s Ramacharitamanasa based on Ramayana. It`s a hindi classic.
Indian mythology is incomplete without the mention of Vedic mythology. The Vedic tradition refers to the Vedic rituals, religious concepts that were essential in the development and evolution of Hinduism. The Vedic culture was constructed on the ruins of the Indus civilization. Indian mythology accounts for the existence of four Vedas namely Rig Veda
, YajurVeda, SamaVeda, and the Atharva Veda
. Some vedic rituals are really difficult to be differentiated from that of the Hindu tradition. Vedic mythology germinated from the Vedas, also known as Vedam, which are again a component of the Hindu Sruti. The meaning of it is knowledge of truth, wisdom as it is known in English. There is a popular belief about the eminence of the Vedas and it is believed to be existing since even when there was no living organism, as vibrations in space. This the holy men do believe and the Vedas were transmitted orally. Vayu, Varuna, Indra
, Kubera, Soma, Mitra, Kama, Gayatri, Aditi, Ushas, Sarasvati and Rudra are the vedic gods. In vedic mythology, four of the vedas have different offerings for daily conduct of the Hindus. As mentioned earlier vedas are an integral part of the hindu way of religious life. Rig,Yajur and Sama Veda provide the set of rules for Hindus for their daily lives. Vedic rituals are incomplete without offerings and sacrifices in fire known as Yagyas which became Yajna over a considerable time. The ceremony of marriage as in the Vedas had the process of taking seven rounds around a sacred fire in a more elaborate manner, which was called Saptapadi. These rituals enriched the Vedic mythology, which is important in the context of Indian mythology.
Hindu mythology has its origins in the Vedas and they date back to the era around 7200 BC when the first hymns of the Rig Veda were sung in the praise of nature and elements. Hindu mythology in Indian mythology refers to great mass of Indian literature which is replete with deities, divine incarnations, legends with a huge lot of philosophical discourses and moral and ethical connotations. The term mythology is a western interpretation for non-judeo Christian religious literature. Hindu mythology contains all those beliefs and ethos that is derived from the ancient Vedic religion. Religious cosmology also forms a part of the Hindu mythology, these are the ways in which evolution of the universe and its history is explained. Contained in the Hindu mythology is are the belief of the universe having emerged form "Hiranyagarbha
"or the golden womb and also the evolution of the earth, and heaven and other similar concepts. Indian mythology mentions the weapons with which wars were fought these were a part of the Hindu mythology, which were crammed with disputes leading to horrifying wars. These were the weapons which were believed to be used by the Gods of the Hindu mythology, where a particular weapon was assigned to one God. Some of which are Agneyastra, Brahmastra, Chakram, Garudastra, Kaumodaki, Narayanastra, Pashupata, Shiva Dhanush, Sudarshan, Trishul, Vaishnavastra, Vajra, Varunastra, and Vayavastra.
Hindu mythology has the concept of fourteen worlds (not planets) - seven higher worlds (heavens) and seven lower ones (hells). Different deities play their part in ruling these worlds. Like the god of death, lord of justice, and so on. There is a great deal of discussion about the soul, good and bad deed, Moksha
- the state free from the cycle of death and birth, beyond the fourteen worlds. Divine incarnation is another feature of hindu mythology, fish, turtle, narasimha and many others.
Indian mythology comprises a whole lot of myths and legends associated with different religious practices. Buddha myth originated from India, there are numerable stories of his life, which are called Jatakas. The stories have it that he was enlightened under a peepal tree, seated in a lotus posture. There seem to be many versions of the story where the peepal tree myth seems to be consistent. His attainment of "enlightenment" was long and painful. A considerable focus for the Buddha was contained in the general Brahmanic concept of "Buddhas." There is even a tradition that at the time when Sakyamuni came, many men ran about saying "I am the Buddha.". There are many disputes regarding Buddhist mythology, as he Buddha is represented in apparently early and late tradition as speaking of the Gods with full belief in their existence. At times he is represented as discouraging sacrifices and some times prescribing for a whole tribe a strict obedience to ancient rites.
Named Siddhattha, son of the rajah of the Sakyan clan, the founder of Buddhism,Buddha was a hindu, known by various names like Tathagata, gotama after enlightenment and attainment of Nirvana. We have no six-century record of the rules of the Buddhist Sangha, as the order was called, and it did not claim to be a new teaching. The tradition holds that it had been proclaimed many times before--that Gotama was only one of a long series of Buddhas who arise at intervals and who all teach the same doctrine. Hence the Buddha mythology is also an integral part of the Indian mythology lending an aura of diversity to the whole system of myths and legends.