Hindu mythology is a body of myths found in Hindu texts such as the Vedic literature,[1] epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana,[2] the Puranas,[3] and regional literature like the Tamil Periya Puranam and Naalayira Divya Prabandham, and the Mangal Kavya of Bengal. Hindu myths are also found in widely translated popular texts such as the fables of the Panchatantra and the Hitopadesha, as well as in Southeast Asian texts.[4][5]

Primary sources

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Mythical themes and types

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

Academic studies of mythology often define mythology as deeply valued stories that explain a society's existence and world order: those narratives of a society's creation, the society's origins and foundations, their god(s), their original heroes, mankind's connection to the "divine", and their narratives of eschatology (what happens in the "after-life"). This is a very general outline of some of the basic sacred stories with those themes. In its broadest academic sense, the word myth simply means a traditional story. However, many scholars restrict the term "myth" to sacred stories.[6] Folklorists often go further, defining myths as "tales believed as true, usually sacred, set in the distant past or other worlds or parts of the world, and with extra-human, inhuman, or heroic characters".[7]

In classical Greek, muthos, from which the English word myth derives, meant "story, narrative." Hindu mythology does not often have a consistent, monolithic structure. The same myth typically appears in various versions, and can be represented differently across different regional and socio-religious traditions.[8] Many of these legends evolve across these texts, where the character names change or the story is embellished with greater details.[8][9] According to Suthren Hirst, these myths have been given a complex range of interpretations.[8] While according to Doniger O'Flaherty, the central message and moral values remain the same.[9] They have been modified by various philosophical schools over time, and are taken to have deeper, often symbolic, meaning.[8]

Cosmology

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Deities

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Connections to other belief systems

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Hinduism shares mythemes with Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.

See also

Citations

  1. ^ Macdonell 1978, p. 1–9.
  2. ^ Washburn Hopkins 1986, pp. 1–3.
  3. ^ Bonnefoy 1993, p. 90–101.
  4. ^ Olivelle 1999, p. xii–xiii.
  5. ^ Waldau & Patton 2009, p. 186, 680.
  6. ^ "What is a Myth?". Archived from the original on 7 August 2007. Retrieved 17 June 2007.
  7. ^ "Defining myth". Archived from the original on 7 August 2007. Retrieved 17 June 2007.
  8. ^ a b c d Suthren Hirst 1998.
  9. ^ a b Doniger O'Flaherty 1975, p. 11, 21–22.

General sources

Further reading