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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Indian Mythology: A Beginner's Note

Until recently, I didn't care much for Indian Mythology due to many reasons. One: I didn't grow up listening to any stories from grandparents or relatives, or in school. My first and only exposure was Ramanand Sagar's & Ravi Chopra's versions on the TV, which I didn't follow much either. Two: As I grew up, waking up to the world crisis, I didn't think it had anything useful to offer in saving us from wars, oppression, toxins or climate change. Three: There were a lot of triggers in them for me, usually gender-based. And then I had this idea that the perfectly-shaped human forms adorned with jewels, etc. attributed to Gods and Goddesses were born out of our own obsession with our petty human stories and our insignificant forms, and had nothing to with the powerful energies around and within us!

Thanks to a radically fresh introduction to mythology with our yoga teachers over the past few years, I started taking another look at it recently. I'm riveted to the fascinating stories including the Mahabharatha by Kamala Subramanian. And through what I've heard of the Mahabharatha Immersion offering by Ritambhara, which I myself am yet to experience. 


Reading and listening to Joseph Campbell, his fascination for mythology, Indian Mythology in particular and for the 'mystery of life' in general has been contagious! I'm sitting on a whole pile of his films to watch and his books to read! With all of this, I realised that seeing Indian mythology with a modern / schooled mind is like watching a 3-D film without the 3-D glasses on. One not only fails to see the depth in it, but is also likely to comment that it is a badly made film! 




In an interview Campbell says: 'Myths and dreams come from the same place. They come from realisations of the same kind that have then to find expression in a symbolic form. The only myth that we're going to be thinking about in the immediate future is the one that is talking about the planet - not this city, not these people, but the planet and everybody on it. What one would need to deal with is what all myths have dealt with. The maturation of the individual. The pedagogical way to follow from dependency to adulthood to maturity and then to the exit. And how to do it. And then how to relate to this society. And how to relate this society to the world of nature and the cosmos. That's what the myths have all talked about. That's what this one's got to talk about. But the society it's got to talk about is the 'society of the planet'. And until that gets going, you don't have anything.'

In the words of Peace Pilgrim: 'What we suffer from in this world is immaturity... In their immaturity people want, at the same time, peace and the things which make war. However, people can mature just as children grow up.'


We are running out of time. The purely rational is hitting its limits bumping against walls on all its sides. It is approaching bankruptcy in its attempt to deliver humanity, save the few (or many) small improvements it is capable of. We now need to dive straight into the collective subconscious / unconscious and unleash all the stuff and work with it. And mythology has one of the important keys to undertake this task. 

Like I have written in an earlier post on Vision of Yoga, I believe that as more and more individuals mature, consciousness will shift up the spiral and will become visible to our human minds and eyes as social change. And hence my interest in / study of mythology. Not as an intellectual exercise or a scholarly pursuit, but as a whole-being endeavour.

To begin with, here's a TEDx talk by Raghu Ananthanarayanan based on the Mahabharatha.
Mahabharata, a mirror to the self

Stay tuned for more...

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