Hindu Mythology

Chitra Sankaran, Assistant Professor of English and the University Scholars Programme, National University of Singapore

Hindu mythology occupies a singular position in the world today. For despite being one of the most ancient, it is also paradoxically a living mythology in that it exercises considerable influence over and invities active belief and participation from about a sixth of the world population (i.e.India's population!). Perphaps what makes Hindu mythology so singular Is that it seems to contain in essence that most vital property of myth -- great antiquity combined with perpetual contemporaneity.

Though the Ramayana, Maharabharatha, and Puranas and the Vedas were considered authoritative within Hinduism, the fact that Hinduism was not a founded religion meant that, on the one hand there was nothing to prevent charlatans and sophists setting up cult groups and gathering a crowd of followers around them, but on the other hand it offered tremendous intellectual freedom and opportunity for several creative strains to co-exist within its framework without quarrel. Thus, on the one side, we have the austere philosophical systems preoccupied with discovering the nature of life and the nature of Godhead, and on the other,. we have the chaotic amoral world of mythology with its Devas (Gods) and its Asuras (demons) perpetually at odds with one another with the hapless manusha (man) placed at the centre of it All. Though the mythology and the philosophy are two distinct features of the religion, the elements intermingle constantly in text after text. within the Hindu tradition.


Sankaran, Chitra. The Myth Connection: The Use of Hindu Mythology in Some Novels of Raja Rao and R. K. Narayan. Ahmedabad, Bombay, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Bangladore, Lucknow, Calcutta, New Delhi, Maadras: Allied Publishers, 1993.

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