Hindu mythology

Depictions of episodes from Hindu mythology

Hindu mythology are narratives found in Hindu texts such as the Vedic literature,[1] epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana,[2] the Puranas,[3] the regional literatures like Periya Puranam. Hindu mythology is also found in widely translated popular texts such as the Panchatantra and Hitopadesha, as well as Southeast Asian texts.[4][5]

Hindu mythology does not often have a consistent, monolithic structure. The same myth typically appears in various versions, and can be represented differently across socio-religious traditions. These myths have also been noted to have been modified by various philosophical schools over time and particularly in the Hindu tradition. These myths are taken to have deeper, often symbolic, meaning, and have been given a complex range of interpretations.[6]

Texts

The Hindu Epic literature is found in genre of Hindu texts such as:

Many of these legends evolve across these texts, the character names change or the story is embellished with greater details, yet the central message and moral values remain the same. According to Wendy Doniger,

Every Hindu epic is different; all Hindu epics are alike. (...) Each Hindu epic celebrates the belief that the universe is boundlessly various, that everything occurs simultaneously, that all possibilities may exist without excluding the other. (...) There is no single basic version of a Hindu epic; each is told and retold with a number of minor and major variations over the years. (...) Great epics are richly ambiguous and elusive; their truths cannot be filed away into scholar's neat categories. Moreover, epics [in Hinduism] are living organisms that change constantly. (...)

— O'Flaherty[7]

Hindu epic shares the creative principles and human values found in epic everywhere. However, the particular details vary and its diversity is immense, according to Doniger.[8] The Hindu legends embed the Indian thought about the nature of existence, the human condition and its aspirations through an interwoven contrast of characters, the good against the evil, the honest against the dishonest, the dharma-bound lover against the anti-dharma bully, the gentle and compassionate against the cruel and greedy. In these epics, everything is impermanent including matter, love and peace. Magic and miracles thrive, gods are defeated and fear for their existence, triggering wars or debates. Death threatens and re-threatens life, while life finds a way to creatively re-emerge thus conquering death. Eros persistently prevails over chaos.[8][9]

The Hindu epics integrate in a wide range of subjects. They include stories about how and why cosmos originated (Hindu cosmology, cosmogony), how and why humans or all life forms originated (anthropogony) along with each's strengths and weaknesses, how gods originated along with each's strengths and weaknesses (theogony), the battle between good gods and bad demons (theomachy), human values and how humans can live together, resolve any disagreements (ethics, axiology), healthy goals in stages of life and the different ways in which each individual can live (householder, monk, purusartha), the meaning of all existence and means of personal liberation (soteriology) as well as legends about what causes suffering, chaos and the end of time with a restart of a new cycle (eschatology).[10][11][12]