Hindu mythology


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 mythology is 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

Mythical themes and types

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]



Connections to other belief systems

Hinduism shares mythemes with Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.

See also


  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

  • Bonnefoy, Yves (1993). Asian Mythologies. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-06456-7.
  • Doniger O'Flaherty, Wendy (1975), Hindu epics: A Sourcebook translated from the Sanskrit, Penguin, ISBN 978-0140449907
  • Washburn Hopkins, Edward (1986). Epic Mythology. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-0227-8.
  • Macdonell, Arthur Anthony (1978). Vedic Mythology ((reprint) ed.). Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-1113-3.
  • Olivelle, Patrick (1999). Pañcatantra: The Book of India's Folk Wisdom. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-283988-6.
  • Suthren Hirst, Jacqueline (1998), "Myth and history", in Bowen, Paul (ed.), Themes and Issues in Hinduism, Cassell
  • Waldau, Paul; Patton, Kimberley (2009). A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-13643-3.

Further reading

  • Bhairav, J Furcifer; Rakesh Khanna (2020). Ghosts, Monsters, and Demons of India. Blaft Publications Private Limited. ISBN 9789380636467. OCLC 1259298225.
  • Brockington, J. L. (1998). The Sanskrit Epics. BRILL Academic. ISBN 90-04-10260-4.
  • Buitenen, J. A. B. van; Dimmitt, Cornelia (1978). Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 0-87722-122-7.
  • Campbell, Joseph (2003). Myths of Light: Eastern Metaphors of the Eternal. Novato, Calif.: New World Library. ISBN 1-57731-403-4.
  • Dalal, Roshen (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books India. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.
  • Dallapiccola, Anna L. (2002). Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend. ISBN 0-500-51088-1.
  • Dimitrova, Stefania (2017). The Day of Brahma: The Myths of India—Epics of Human Destiny. Alpha-Omega. ISBN 978-954-9694-27-7.
  • Dowson, John (1888). A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and Religion, Geography, History, and Literature. London: Trubner & Co.
  • Krishna, Nanditha (2009). The Book of Vishnu. Penguin Books India. ISBN 978-0-14-306762-7.
  • Krishna, Nanditha (2010). Sacred Animals of India. Penguin Books India. ISBN 978-0-14-306619-4.
  • Macdonell, Arthur Anthony (1995). Vedic Mythology. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 81-208-1113-5.
  • Pattanaik, Devdutt (2003). Indian Mythology: Tales, Symbols, and Rituals from the Heart of the Subcontinent. Inner Traditions/Bear & Company. ISBN 0-89281-870-0.
  • Rao, T. A. Gopinatha (1914). Elements of Hindu Iconography. Volume 1: Part I. Madras: Law Printing House. |volume= has extra text (help)
  • Walker, Benjamin (1968). Hindu World: An Encyclopedic Survey of Hinduism. London: Allen & Unwin.
  • Wilkins, W. J. (1882). Hindu Mythology, Vedic and Purānic. Thacker, Spink & Co.
  • Williams, George M. (2008). Handbook of Hindu Mythology. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-533261-2.

External links

  • Clay Sanskrit Library publishes classical Indian literature, including the Mahabharata and Ramayana, with facing-page text and translation. Also offers searchable corpus and downloadable materials.
  • Sanskrit Documents Collection: Documents in ITX format of Upanishads, Stotras etc.