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Indian Mythology
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HINDUISM / MYTHOLOGY

The Hindu spiritual landscape is populated by multidimensional characters whose embodiment of both positive and negative aspects finds no parallel within the good versus evil mythology of the Western world. From the goddess Kali to the mysterious elephant-headed Ganesha, Indian Mythology explores the rich tapestry of these characters within ninety-nine classic myths, revealing the essence of the Hindu worldview and demonstrating how these ancient stories can inform a contemporary generation.

Devdutt Pattanaik examines the meaning behind the metaphors of the classic myths in symbolic art and in a multifaceted tradition of ritual practices. Fifty artistic renderings of important mythological figures (from seventeenth-century temple carvings to twentieth-century calendar art) illustrate the complex polytheistic Hindu tradition and show how central these figures are to the Hindu conception of the world. Vishnu and Shiva, Gauri and Kali, Krishna and Rama embody the inherent tension between two poles--positive and negative, light and dark, preservative and destructive, world affirming and world rejecting. These opposing energies are valued equally in the cyclical Hindu worldview--a long view that recognizes their natural balance over time. The author also compares and contrasts Indian mythology with the stories of the Bible, ancient Egypt, Greece, Scandinavia, and Mesopotamia, offering Western readers a way to decode the symbolism of the rich Hindu tradition--an enduring mythic tradition that has empowered millions of human beings for centuries.

A medical doctor by training, DEVDUTT PATTANAIK moved away from clinical practice to nurture his passion for mythology. His books include The Goddess in India and introductions to Shiva, Vishnu, and Devi. He lives in Mumbai, India, where he works as a health communicator and writes and lectures on Hindu narratives, art, rituals, and philosophy.
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Table of Contents

Introduction Chapter 1--Mythology: Studying Myth Vishnu and the Earth Cow (Bhagavata Purana) Myth and Mythology Expressions of Myth Renuka's Umbrella (Mahabharata) * Renuka's Infidelity (Mahabharata) * Renuka's Head (Yellamma Mahatmya) * Arjuna and the Navagunjara * (Orissan folklore based on the Mahabharata) * The Half-Woman God (Tamil Temple Lore) * A Golden Effigy of Sita (Uttara Ramayana) * Lakshmi's Symbols (Orissan folklore) The Function of Myth Rama's Ring (Folklore based on the Ramayana) * A Palace for Indra (Brahmavaivarta Purana) * Shambuka Beheaded (Uttara Ramayana) * The Beheading of Brahma (Shiva Purana) Coping Through Mythmaking Conclusion Chapter 2--Mythosphere: Comparing Myths The Idea of God Harishchandra (Bhagavata Purana) * The Past Life of Yashoda and Nanda (Padma Purana) * The Doorkeepers of Vishnu (Bhagavata Purana) Devils and Demons Why Rama Went into Exile (Ramayana) * The Curse of Gandhari (Mahabharata) * The Offering of Bel Leaves (Linga Purana) * Indra Seduces Ahalya (Ramayana) * Churning the Ocean to Find Shri (Bhagavata Purana) Creation with a Difference The Birth of the Three Gods (Folklore) * Brahma Opens His Eyes (Vishnu Purana) * Brahma's Mind-Born Sons (Brahmavaivarta Purana) * Brahma Splits Himself (Shiva Purana) * The Creation of Death (Mahabharata) * Transformations of the Daughter (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad) Heaven or Hell The Birth of Urvashi (Bhagavata Purana) * Mahabhisha (Mahabharata) * Agastya's Ancestors (Mahabharata) * Heaven for Markandeya (Linga Purana) * The Death of Yama (Rig Veda) * Vishnu Cursed (Padma Purana) * Fish to the Rescue (Matsya Purana) Conclusion Chapter 3--Mythopoesis: Transforming Myth March of the Vedic Hymns The Beheading of Vishwarupa (Mahabharata) * Durvasa's Curse (Padma Purana) * Mount Vindhya Bows (Uttara Ramayana) * The Birth of River Kaveri (Kaveri Mahatmya) * Repelling Taraka (Ramayana) * Rama Befriends the Monkeys (Ramayana) * The Burning of Khandavaprastha (Mahabharata) * The Marriage of Marisha (Bhagavata Purana) * The Body of Society (Rig Veda) * Vishwamitra Becomes a Rishi (Bhagavata Purana) * Ekalavya (Mahabharata) * Atoning for Killing Ravana (Rishikesh Sthala Purana) * Ammaveru's Husband (South Indian folklore) * The Birth of Krishna (Harivamsa) The Ascetic Ideal Parashurama Destroys the Warrior Race (Vishnu Purana) * The Golden Mongoose (Mahabharata) * Yagnavalkya Rebels (Brahmanda Purana) * Nachiketa Questions Yama (Katha Upanishad) * Vidura's Past Life (Mahabharata) * Shiva Enlightens Matsyendra-nath (Nav-Nath-Charitra) * The Destruction of Daksha's Yagna (Skanda Purana) * Kapila's Fiery Glance (Ramayana) * Trishanku (Vishnu Purana) * Kumbhakarna's Asceticism (Ramayana) * Dadhichi's Head (Jaiminya Brahmana) * Dadhichi's Bones (Mahabharata) * Vishwamitra and Menaka (Bhagavata Purana) * The Seduction of Rishyashringa (Mahabharata) * The Birth of Skanda (Skanda Purana) * Shilavati's Chastity (Brahmanda Purana) The Birth of God Krishna Humbles Indra (Bhagavata Purana) * Kali's Tongue (Kalika Purana) * Vishnu Enlightens Brahma (Vishnu Purana) * Shiva the Dancer (Skanda Purana) * The Return of Vyasa's Son (Devi Bhagavata Purana) * The Death of Parikshit (Bhagavata Purana) * The Power of Rama's Name (Ramayana) * The Idol in the Termite Hill (Temple lore) * The Marriage of Valli (Skanda Purana) * The Descent of Ganga (Shiva Purana) * The Pillar of Fire (Shiva Purana) * Mohini to the Rescue (Vishnu Purana) * The Birth of Ayyappa (Sabarimalai Sthala Purana) * God Turns for Kanaka Dasa (Udipi Sthala Purana) * The Hunter's Eye (Periyar Purana) Invasions and Immigrations The Death of the Pandavas (Mahabharata) * Manikantha and Vavar (Sabarimalai Sthala Purana) * Ranganatha's Muslim Bride (Shrirangam Sthala Purana) Conclusion Chapter 4--Mythography: Interpreting Myth History and Prehistory The Sons of Kadru and Vinata (Mahabharata) * Yudhishtira's Horse Sacrifice (Mahabharata) * Krishna's Early Life (Harivamsa) * Krishna's Later Life (Mahabharata) * The Sacrifice of Sunahshepas (Mahabharata) * The Children of Vichitravirya (Mahabharata) * Oghavati's Obedience (Mahabharata) * Gandhari's Children (Mahabharata) * Krishna Curses Ashwathama (Mahabharata) * Shiva Destroys Tripura (Linga Purana) Strategic Charters The Churning of Vena's Corpse (Bhagavata Purana) * Shvetaketu's Law (Mahabharata) * The Marriage of Draupadi (Mahabharata) * Shiva Blesses Draupadi (Mahabharata) * Vrinda's Chastity (Shiva Purana) * Sita's Chastity (Uttara Ramayana) * Three Boons for Kaikeyi (Ramayana) * How Mountains Came into Being (Bhagavata Purana) * Dhruva (Folklore based on the Bhagavata Purana) * Donations for Venkateshwara (Tirumalai Sthala Purana) * Jayadeva's Verse (Folklore) This in Terms of That Chandra and the Nakshatras (Somnath Sthala Purana) * Rudra and Prajapati (Shatapatha Brahmana) * Sapta Rishis and Their Wives (Mahabharata) * Krishna's Rasa Leela (Gita Govinda) * The Rescue of the Elephant King (Bhagavata Purana) * Shiva's Erect Manhood (Shiva Purana) Metaphors of the Mind Kunti's Magic Formula (Mahabharata) * The Sons of Yayati (Mahabharata) * Devavrata's Vow of Celibacy (Mahabharata) * Arjuna's Exile (Mahabharata) Conclusion Glossary Bibliography Index

About the Author

A medical doctor by training, Devdutt Pattanaik moved away from clinical practice to nurture his passion for mythology. His books include The Goddess in India and introductions to Shiva, Vishnu, and Devi. He lives in Mumbai, India, where he works as a health communicator and writes and lectures on Hindu narratives, art, rituals, and philosophy.

Reviews

"I cannot praise this book highly enough. Pattanaik is a gifted teacher and writer." * Alicia Elkins, Rambles, May 2004 * "Further calls on the ability of the Western mind to see from another point of view." * ForeWord, 2004, Vol.7 No.1 *

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