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Indian Mythology


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Table of Contents


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


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)


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)


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)





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.


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

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