Puranic Tales

I dont know when I developed this fascination, but it has stayed with me from quite a few months. I keep reading online about Indian mythology. I am seeing the old stories I had heard from my grandmom in new perspectives.

To me, the mythology is not a collection of moral stories. My sense of morality is based entirely on my thinking, so to read it just from moralistic perspective would be boring. The good thing about Indian mythological stories is that they dont picture even divine beings as perfect or without weaknesses. Even Gods have anger, jealousy, lust, insecurity - which somehow appeals to me very much. In a strange way, it makes these stories all the more human and relatable. The trick to enjoy is not to fall into the trap of categorizing everything into two big boxes of "good" and "bad". Between black and white, there exists a wide sea of blissful gray.

My imagination runs wild when I think of so many possible stories we can make up. Here is one imaginary scenario I find very amusing.
Karna, Shani, Bhima and Hanumantha are at a table having lunch in some divine restaurant. Some people in the next table were overheard talking about them.
"I have never seen these guys here before. Are they friends or what?"
"No, they are kind of brothers"
"Come on, you are kidding right?"
"No, I am serious. Let me explain. Shani is the son of Chhaya and Surya. Karna is born to Surya and Kunti. Bhima is born to Kunti and Vaayu. Hanumantha is born to Vaayu and Anjana. Beat that!".
The uncles' joke from the eighties ridiculing the west - "My children and your children are playing with our children" - does not seem too original after all.

Here is another one.
Vishnu has a son called Narakasura from Bhudevi.
Krishna was a avatar of Vishnu, kills Narakasura, who in a way happens to be his son.
Rama was another avatar of Vishnu, who married Sita, the daughter of Bhudevi.
Can it get more complex than that?

The popular story of Ahalya goes like this -
Indra tricks Ahalya by visiting her in the form of Gauthama, and makes love to her. It looks too unreal that the wife of a great sage, herself with divine powers, could fall for this ridiculously simplistic trap. Assuming it was true, Gauthama could not have cursed her if she had no knowledge of this trickery.
Here is what I heard from my dad, happens to be the original version of the story. Though it would not be acceptable to the moralists, I find this story strangely touching.
Ahalya was married to the sage Gauthama. Gauthama was so enchanted by the apsaras, that he started performing severe penances in order to please Gods. So Ahalya had this thought that if Gauthama is longing for apsaras and these apsaras were pleased by Indra, how great Indra could be. On knowing this, Indra visited the hermitage and made love to her. On knowing this, Gauthama curses her and Indra.

I hope to read more on Greek mythology too. It would give enough fodder to come up with ideas like what might have happened if Achilles had fought in the Kurukshetra war!


  1. sFunn.com said...
    awesome stuff dude.
    Thumbs up.
    keep reading 'em.

    The Fun place.
    Raghu said...
    Indian philosophy is not limited to mythological stories (puranas). Unfortunately, most of the people, as you said, equate Indian philosophy to puranas.
    The real essence of Indian philosophy is contained in Upanishads (which refer to divinity in abstract, non-personal terms..eg: "Tat Tvam Asi"). The Vedas and Puranas come after that.

    The idea behind Puranas was to present the abstract concepts in Upanishads in a more palatable format. For eg: not many people can 'realize' the Upanishad Poornamadah Poornamidam... which says that everything is inherently complete. And even after completeness is produced from completeness, the original completeness remains. This has a stunning similarity to concept of uncountably infinite in real analysis (in which it is shown that if you take any sub interval between 0 and 1 say 0.1 and 0.2, there are as many real numbers in this sub-interval as there are in its enclosing interval). So, expressing it in mundane stories like Krishna showed all the forms possible to Arjuna probably makes it more palatable to common men. But of course, I agree that it has been overdone to such an extent that the original purport itself is lost.
    Soumia said...
    I agree with your take on morals and the way puranas to be perceived.you should read Parva by SL Byrappa.Its like da vinci code of bhagvad gita.I have read the first few pages out of curiosity and it does its office to keep you curious.im reading that as soon as i finish my present book.

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