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The origin of our epics
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3/5/2016 8:19:01 AM
Posted: 9 months ago
What is mythology? Its origin can be traced to the beginning of rationalism or by analysing epics comprising kings, heroes and adventurers. Analysis of mythology was first attempted by Enhermeus who was a Greek philosopher and therefore the science is also known as Euthemerism.
The ancient belief centres on a female origin of the world, which was also supposed to be instrumental in controlling every form of life on earth. In ancient India that great power was known as Adya Sakti or Mother Goddess, which gave birth to all the principal deities, both male and female. The Babylonian Nannar (sin), the Moon God, was considered to be both father and mother to Gods and men. Likewise the same role was played by Baal in Syria or Mithra in Persia. The great ascetics in ancient India Vasistha and Agastya were the offsprings of Mitra Varuni. The two great dynasties of ancient India, Ikshaku and Sarjati had descended from Illa, daughter of Manu, the ancient law giver.
But it is also a fact that before the advent of the idea of a male progenitor, the ideal of female origin did not enjoy much favour. Hiranya Garbha (it is an epithet of supreme power) or Birat Purush (supreme deity) in Indian mythology was later identified as the source of all life on Earth, like Ymer of the Scandinavians. The underworld deities originated from the perspiration of his armpits whereas the nether powers or demons emerged from his feet. Nara and Narayana who were identified as the earlier incarnations of Krishna and Arjuna, had been represented in Indian mythology as the sons of Yama or the God of Death and were therefore brothers. The Indian Yama or the Egyptian Apuatu (Osiris) explored the path leading to Paradise and they even devised the means for mortals to ferry themselves over the dreaded sea (in Indian mythology, it is called Vaitarani) before reaching the gates of Paradise.
Besides, the Assyrian Ashur, who was symbolised by a disc enclosing a feather-robed archer, carried the same characteristics as that of Yama or the God of Death in India. It proves that for all religious beliefs, the source was same, although in course of time local beliefs were interpolated in them. To deliver mankind from oblivion, the roles played by John the Baptist and Christ on one hand and Krishna and Arjuna (Narayana and Nara) on the other display an underlying unity but one needs to make an in-depth comparative study of both the Bible and Bhagvad Purana to arrive at such a conclusion.
In Babylonian and Assyrian myths, the world was built as an architect builds a house, brick-by-brick. All ancient deities adopted the habits of life of their worshippers in course of time and that was done to suit local situations but later the same deities acquired their benevolent attributes among cultured people. Indian elephants were first introduced into European warfare by the successors of Alexander " later the Greeks assigned much importance to the elephant as a deity, because they could easily break through enemy ranks. In India the elephant somewhat assumed the same kind of legendary status as attested by Ganesha, the Elephant God.
In the 2nd century BCE, in some of the cities of Asia Minor, Roma (Dea Roma) was first worshipped as a Goddess. She was projected in the image of a Tyche, with a mural crown on her head, and had all the attributes of prosperity and power. However, under Augustus her cult in the Hellenic cities was juxtaposed partly with that of Augustus and partly with a deified Caesar, Divas Iulius. The Roma attained the same attributes of Ramayana"s Ram. According to Max Muller, "The siege of Troy is a repetition of the daily siege of the east by solar powers (Ram belonged to the Sun dynasty) that are robbed of their brightest treasures in the west." The Vedic story of stealing the bright clouds of sunset by the dark clouds of night and also the battle with robbers as the darkness is driven away by an advancing chariot of the lord of light is associated with dispersion of the Aryans from their original abode.
The same story with certain variations also occurs in other ancient religious literatures. What Zeus was to the Greeks, Jupiter was for Romans. The name of Zeus is Dyaus in Sanskrit, who is identified as the god of the sky. As such he was worshipped everywhere on the highest mountains, where it was believed he was enthroned permanently. Homer describes him to have power greater than the power of all Gods put together. In Indian mythology, Jupiter or Brihaspati is the King of all the planets. The Romans also called him Father of the Gods.
The word Hindu was derived from Indu or the people who lived beyond the River Indus. Hindus believe that sages can see both past and present through meditation and prayer " that can also be found in Greece and Rome, but prophesying from stars was not known to the Greeks till the time of Alexander, which clearly proves that astrology was imported from India. Greece and Europe came into contact with India only after Alexander"s invasion and became accustomed with the region"s mythology, religion and literature. The library of Alexandria developed as an intellectual capital of the Hellenic world. Whatever may be the opinion of the European detractors, unbiased foreign scholars always admit that ancient Indians excelled in religion, science and literature.
Indian social practices, however, were not alien to Western nations. Even as early as the Homeric age, monogamy was an accepted principle. The suitor had to pay to the girl"s father a certain number of oxen or other objects of value before the marriage was solemnised " a legacy prevalent in India. The practice of consecration of the temple of Roma or Ram and of Venus or Sita on the 21 April (Ramnavami) between the old Forum and Colosseum, amply proves that the story of the Trojan War was copied from the Ramayana.
The ancient history of the process of evolution unfolds as the story of transformation of a powerful beast into a great man. In Vishnu Puran, there is a story of the appearance of Narasimha Avatar (a half man and half beast incarnation) to destroy Hiranya Kasipu, the demon. Demeter at Philigalia was also horse-headed with serpents in her hair. Her connection with the underworld manifests her character as Fate, which means she was the Goddess of death and birth, thus controlling the lifetime of mankind. In pre-Hellenic Greece, Demeter was associated not with Dionysus but a young Goddess. The story of Sita, an incarnation of Laxmi or the Goddess of wealth, reflects a connection with Demeter. Sita, who is the heroine of the Ramayana, after serving her purpose on Earth proceeds to the underworld.
As India is afflicted by drought, a drought demon has been conceived in mythology, which imprisons fertilising waters in a mountain cave. When the suffering of people reaches its pinnacle, Indra or the rain god comes to their rescue armed with his invincible thunderbolt. He kills the demon in battle and brings rain in ******** to rejuvenate the parched soil and humanity. Similarly in Babylonia, Tiamat, the water monster enters Euphrates and triggers a flood. She is then slain by Merodach and the situation is normalised.
In Egypt, the story appears in a slightly different form. Ra brings inundation of the Nile to destroy his human enemies but finally relents and withdraws water for seeds to grow in the fertilised soil. To please angry deities, different kinds of worship were performed, however their nature and characteristics differed according to places but the practice remains to this day in some degree everywhere in the world.