Having its root in 1200 B.C, the Indian mythology stands out from rest of the world on account of its vastness and subtlety. It was the period when men worshipped Agni (fire), Surya (sun) and Vayu (air) as gods and revered anything that aroused the feeling of wonder in them. The object of worship did not have any tangible form or shape. However, this practice was in vogue till the pre-Vedic age only, which changed considerably in the post-Vedic era. From then onwards, we started identifying gods with substantial form and shape.
However, to understand Hindu mythology completely, it is important to refer to popular epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata or Bhagvad-Gita and their main characters. The stories from Jataka Katha (Buddhist tales) or Panchatantra also let us explore the depth of the mythical beliefs in India. The mythological stories of India actually mirror the essence of its rich culture and traditions. We have heard of these engrossing tales from our forefathers, and continuing with this tradition, knowingly or unknowingly, pass it on to our descendents in the same manner.
Epics that Define Indian Mythology
This is an old epic written in Sanskrit by Valmiki. Valmiki was a venerated Hindu sage of his times. In this epic, an essence of different relationships and the duties of a person as a servant, brother, wife and king have been depicted. Consisting of 24,000 verses spread across 7 books and 500 sections, the epic is an extensive account of the journey of ‘Rama’, an incarnation of lord Vishnu. It speaks of Rama and his wife Sita, who was abducted by Ravana, the emperor of Lanka.
Holding an important place in Indian mythology, the epic of Mahabharata is a clear depiction of the culture traits of India. The story speaks of the responsibility of an individual towards society and the world. It defines the importance of karma and human objectives. The values of duty, aim, pleasure, desire and liberation have been conveyed in this matchless epic through the roles played by Lord Krishna, Pandavas and Kauravas.
- Bhagwad Geeta
The Bhagavad Gita or Gita in simple terms is a holy Hindu scripture. Forming a crucial part of the philosophical and literary background of India, the Gita includes 700 verses and is directly related to Mahabharata. Written in a conversational manner, the scripture shows how the lord Krishna made Arjuna aware about his responsibilities and duties on the battleground just before the famous Kurukshetra war.
Most Revered Characters who form the Stronghold of Indian Mythology
Also called the Bajrang Bali or Pawan-Putra, Hanuman is one of the integral parts of the Ramayana epic. He is considered to be an ardent devotee of lord Rama and is very intelligent and powerful among all the Hindu deities. According to few, he is the 11th avatar of lord Shiva.
Rama or Ramachandra is the 7th incarnation of lord Vishnu in Hindu dharma. According to myths, he was the king of Ayodhya in old times and was most revered for his belief in duties and dharma. He is defined as an ideal man in the epic of Ramayana.
Many believe lord Krishna to be an incarnation of Hindu deity Vishnu and many hold him to be the Supreme Being. We get to know in-depth details about him in the popular scripture Bhagavad Gita.
According to Indian mythology, lord Shiva is one of the main gods in Hindu dharma. He is the Supreme Being. He is mostly revered in the form of Shiva linga. He is also considered the god of dance.