Sunday, November 30, 2008

INDIAN MYTHOLOGY...THE BEGINNING

MYTH AND MYTHOLOGY:
There always has been a need to define the term ‘Myth’ and what significance should it be given in anyone’s day-to-day life. I, just like several others, have had difficulty grasping the essence of this term. However, a little bit of search and research has lit a Zero watt bulb in my mind and opened up a small peep-hole for me into this concept.
According to me - If you like Life simple, then regard Myth as Stories and Tales of the fantastic kind; If you believe in seeking good in whatever you read / hear, then regard Myth as Fables with Morals, the way Aesop composed or the way the Panchatantras are; If you have ever had some thought or discussion on ‘Culture’, ‘Tradition’ etc, then regard Myth as Faith and Belief. It is to say, that there is no singular definition of the term ‘Myth’.
However, while as per the first two a ‘Myth’ can be composed, that too at any point of time, the third treats it as events or guidelines of the distant past, possibly ballooned beyond their actual proportions. Beliefs lead to Practices, which after taking a more permanent or rigid form, are viewed as Traditions and Culture. So to say, whatever cultural, traditional and religious practices we observe today may have their origin associated with some ‘Myth’ or the other. This is not to say that the first two definitions bear no significance. It may not be an accident that the ‘Myth’ as we know, exist in lucid Story forms and deliver a moral for almost all occasions. So, in the Indian context, whether Ramayana was a biography of a righteous king or a mere figment of imagination, we do know what ‘Purushottam-The Ideal Man’ means.
* - For now let us say that Mythology is the means to express the Myth.
Have you already started wondering, why all this and that too especially when it is a lean phase of Indian festivals? Well, my craving to write continued and I happened to have heard many bed-time tales of how the Tridev of the Indian mythology saved the day! However, as I befriended this subject about two winters ago, I found that there is so much yet to be found, by me! For instance - Why is Lord Brahma so un-worshipped; Why all Pandavas but one were dispatched to Naraka, whereas the Kauravas were blessed with Swarga; Why Ravana is worshipped in certain places; and many such incongruences and twists in tale happened to have eluded me for a long time!
But what significance do the above bear? Whereas some may be mere add-on tales, some may give alternate explanations / perspectives; some may provide a clear conclusion to an established incomplete tale; and some may give a much necessary explanation to incredible incidents.
So, I attempt to provide you with an assortment of some such tales. There neither is any logic behind the sequencing, nor are the contents necessarily complete with regards to their titles. The objective is not to provide a mere reproduction but an amalgamation of articles that I have read in the Internet & Books and heard from elders and peers. Though there is nothing like Correct or otherwise in Mythology, I have attempted to stick to the more accepted versions. Any alternate versions may be attributed to my mere unawareness of them and any errors to the limitations of my grasping & assimilation skills!
I hope you enjoy the ‘Myth’ and pardon me for writing style glitches, if found any!


BRIEFEST POSSIBLE HISTORY OF TIME!
A cyclic theory can be associated with Time. A Cycle, named Kalpa, is equivalent to 4,320 Million years. Kalpa is divided into 14 periods and at the end of each, the Universe is re-created. Further each Period is divided into 71 Great Intervals and each such interval is divided into Four Yugas. These four yugas are represented by a Dharma Bull. The sanctity & purity of the yugas are determined by the state of the Bull (The more the legs, the merrier the conditions were). The Four Yugas are:


Krita / Satya Yuga (4800 God Years) – Dharma Bull stood on all 4 legs
Treta Yuga (3600 God Years) – Dharma Bull stood on 3 legs
Dwapara Yuga (2400 God Years) – Dharma Bull stood on 2 legs
Kali Yuga (1200 God Years) – Dharma Bull is standing on only 1 leg
* 1 God Year = 360 Human Years


WHY INDIANS INTRODUCED MATHEMATICS - TO COUNT THEIR GODS OFCOURSE!
The 10 commonly known avatars of Vishnu can be considered symbolic to the evolution of living beings on Earth.
Matsya the Fish – Aquatic
Kurma the Turtle - Amphibian
Varaha the Boar – Land Mammal
Narasimha – Beast Man
Vamana – Dwarf
Parashuram, Rama, Balarama*, Krishna, Buddha*, Kalki (Future) – Human Beings
The sequence of these incarnations with reference to the Yugas is as follows:
Matsya, Kurma, Varaha and Narasimha – Krita / Satya Yuga
Vamana, Parashuram, Rama – Treta Yuga
Krishna and Balarama* – Dwapara Yuga
Buddha* and Kalki – Kali Yuga
* - There is sufficient debate about who amongst these two can be regarded as the direct incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Why Buddha – In ancient times, Hindu’s regarded Buddhism as a sect within Hinduism. Though Buddha’s life & times, unlike the other incarnations’, seem tangible and verifiable, his acts were noble enough to have him regarded as an Incarnation of the Lord.
Why NOT Buddha – The above however was vociferously denied by the Buddhists. It may have been possible that the amalgamation & the beatification by the Hindus were intentional, considering the growing popularity of Buddhism & its threat to Hinduism.
Why Balarama – I wish I knew.
Why NOT Balarama – In the Ram-avatar, Lord Vishnu’s great Serpent-Adisesh took the form of his younger brother, Lakshman. It is suggested that Anantasesh requested to be the Lord’s elder in the next incarnation which came in the form of Balarama, the 7th child of Devaki and Vasudev.


JAYA VIJAYA- WAS EVIL AFTER ALL A MANIFESTATION OF THE GOOD?
Jaya and Vijaya are regarded as the Dwarapalakas (Gate keepers) of Vaikuntha – Abode of Lord Vishnu. One day the Sankaadik Munis, who through penance had maintained a childlike stature, wished to pay respects to Lord Vishnu at his abode. Out of ignorance and failure to recognize the Munis, Jaya and Vijaya denied them entry into Vaikuntha. The incensed Munis cursed Jaya and Vijaya to be born on Earth for their misdeed! The Dwarapalakas fell at the Lord’s feet and begged for forgiveness. Whereas a drawn sword could be withdrawn, an uttered curse could not be unuttered. However, the Lord agreed that the intensity of the curse be lessened and thus – That the Dwarapalakas either be born for 7 generations on Earth as great worshippers of the Lord or be born or 3 generations on Earth as enemies of the Lord. Unable to bear a longer separation from Lord Vishnu, Jaya and Vijaya sought the latter curse.
Thus were born Hiranyaksha – Hiranyakashyapu (Krita Yuga), Ravana – Kumbhakarana (Treta Yuga) and Dantavakra (Some versions mention Jarasandha instead) – Shishupala (Dwapara Yuga) on Earth as enemies to Lord Vishnu. The Lord incarnated on Earth as Varaha, Narasimha, Rama & Krishna to vanquish these enemies. After their last birth in the Dwapara Yuga, Jaya and Vijaya returned to the Vaikuntha to serve Lord Vishnu.


LAKSHMAN - THE TIRELESS GUARDIAN!
Commonly known facts about Lakshman are his steadfastness to Lord Rama, the Lakshman-Rekha and execution of Indrajeet. Let us attempt to give due credit to this Second-in-Command by knowing more about him! Lakshman, Bharat and Shatrughna married the Mithila princesses – Urmila, Mandavi and Shrutakeerti respectively, who were Cousin Sisters of Mother Sita. Within mere days of their marriage, separation beckoned Lakshman and Urmila. Lakshman not only convinced Lord Rama that he join the lord during the Van-vaas, but also convinced Urmila to stay back at Ayodhya to take care of the elders. Lakshman’s mother Sumitra is supposed to have known the purpose of Rama’s birth and actually supported the idea that Lakshman accompany Lord Rama to the forests. One of the most interesting facts about Lakshman during this phase is that neither had he slept nor had he taken rest. In accordance with a boon, all his tiredness & sleep was transferred to Urmila, who spent the 14 years of his Van-vaas in a trance, unconscious! At night, while guarding Mother Sita and Lord Rama, Lakshman would take the form of a snake (In accordance with the fact that he is the incarnate of Adisesh). Like the lord, Lakshman was also credited with many ideals – When presented with Mother Sita’s jewellery for identification, Lakshman managed to identify only her Toe-Ring; his eyes always restricted up-to the Mother’s toes.
Though usually very aggressive, Lakshman is supposed to have displayed immense patience at the time of need – Bearing retorts from Mother Sita (for not responding to Lord Rama’s rescue calls), pacifying the Lord who had nearly vowed to bring an end to the world upon discovering his beloved’s abduction, bear testimony to the same. He had two sons, Angad (Not to be confused with Vanara King Vali’s son) and Dharmaketu. Upon Lakshman’s return from Lanka, it is believed that Urmila awoke from the trance & thus they were finally united. It is alternately suggested that Urmila passed away in her trance.
There is a theory associated with passing away of Lakshman too. One day Lord Rama and Yama were having a discussion and Lakshman was asked to secure the door and not to allow anyone to disturb them; anyone crossing the entrance will have to die. As fate was to have it, Sage Durvasa sought an audience with Lord Rama. Lakshman as instructed politely denied entrance to the sage. However, the usual temper of the sage compelled Lakshman to interrupt the on-going meeting. Rama instantly fell sad as despite having known the consequences, Lakshman entered the hall for no fault of his.


LAVA KUSHA - TWINS, NOT FROM THE WOMB!
How much ever Sita was regarded divine & motherly, Rama’s subjects weren’t convinced of her purity (After her captivity at Lanka) and compelled Rama to banish her from the Kingdom. Such fate was to befall upon her at a time when she was pregnant. Unable to bear the accusations, Mother Sita decided to end her life by jumping into the Ganges. Call it fortune or fate or just a twist in the tale, Sage Valmiki prevented her from doing so and gave Mother Sita shelter in his Hermitage. In some time, Mother Sita gave birth to a boy-child, whom she named Lava.
One day, Mother Sita went to the riverside to fetch water & asked the sage to look after the young boy. Unnoticed by the Sage, Lava wandered off in the forest. Panicky struck Valmiki when it was time for Mother Sita’s return and Lava was nowhere to be seen. After being convinced that he could no longer trace Lava, Sage Valmiki through his powers created another boy from the Grass, exact in features to Lava, before the return of Mother Sita. And lo, when Mother Sita called out for Lava, he immediately returned to the Hermitage hearing his Mother’s voice. Sage Valmiki immediately explained, to do away Mother Sita’s confusion. Mother Sita accepted the other Child as her own & named him Kusha (Grass). Thus came into existence the ‘Lava – Kusha’ twin brothers.
Interestingly, Lava is associated with the creation of Lahore & Kusha with that of Kasur, both a part of the present day Pakistan.


TO BE CONTINUED...:
The above has an example each of tales which are independent, or are extensions of existing tales or attempt to provide answers to some curious questions. I intend to treat these as mere starters to a long meal course. I don’t know when the Main course starts or possibly when the dining exercise even concludes; maybe it never will. After all Mythology has outlasted societies and is timeless in nature – What and who are we to put limits to it!
I will consider my purpose served if it generates or furthers any element of interest in you about this vast ocean of a topic. In our fast lives, we tend to miss out on the larger picture, of which Mythology sure does form a significant part. Mythology is as real as the fact that we emote. It is as inexplicable as the fact that we love, laugh or act beyond our own comprehension!
So, until later, have a nice time exploring!

5 comments:

REDDY-LIVERPOOL FOREVER said...

Interesting dude...consider that ur purpose is served....

Bhup said...

Mystic Baba!

You have lived up to ur name..
Keep writing and enlightening the mere mortals!

Garsson "Nullius in Verba" said...

assuming you actually had posted this on 4:01am ... wonder when did you start writing the tale... awesome composition man ... so is this the blog you gonna keep posting, so that i can follow this and not ur bangla diaries??

Saurabh Dey said...

You are very much on the right track. Your inquisitiveness and curiosity is trying to find answers. I was in your place trying to justify things a few years back, and then a small incident, changed my thoughts and I started my journey of seriously findng out what this whole thing about divinity,etc.
Today I smile often and talk very little feeling satisfied from soul. Ohh ya, the soul concept will also come to you.
If you don't mind my suggestions, please consider these, it could help.

1. When enquiring or trying to find the truth, have a very unbiased mind, try to look at every probability (like we do in theory of probability). When you are giving a probability each to the possibiity that the characters like Rama, Krishna, Shiva, etc were imagination, exagerated actual stories, or philosophy given the shape of humans, then one probability also belongs to the fact that what if all this is real, and the magic and miracles are real and it is, at this point of time, something beyond MY understanding. That should be the scientific way right that this is also given a probability, otherwise we would all be too biased.

I understood that miracles that are happening right now like the cycle of life, or how the human body can extract so much energy from so little fuel at an atomic level, are things we take for granted.
But try to remember the feeling when you wer in school, what a revelation it was to you, to know that a single atom can pack so much energy, HOW HOW HOW cud a few kgs of atomic material destroy a whole city of Hiroshima. What a miracle.
Truth is that there is lot we dont want to believe in till we understand its working. And for logical minds like yours, there is good news that you will not stop looking for answers.

I could explain to you a lot of stuff, but then I know you'll find it out urself. Just know that this entire universe everlasts with atoms and energy everywhere, infact if you try to search what subatomic particles are made of, you'll find that they are just manifestation of waves of energy, like sound waves, behaving in a certain way. The weight you feel and the touch you sense, are electrons pushing against each other as they are negatively charged. So all the matter you feel, does not really exist(modern scientists prove it).

THERE IS YOU CONCEPT OF MAYA.

There is wisdom to be discovered by you, start your own journey. All the best.

Naresh_xy said...

keep writing..I love reading these thing...