Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mythology, Demystified…

Abhimanyu, with the partial knowledge of the Chakravyuha formation, bravely breaks into one formed by the Kauravas on the 13th day of the battle. With Krishna and Arjuna being forced to fight the Samsaptakas, none of the Pandavas have the knowledge to defeat the deadly formation. But they promise themselves to break-in with him and assist his safe exit…

And what follows, is a heart rending tale of Abhimanyu’s valour and his untimely death. We have all come to know of such stories and more; from different texts and different sources, but they never fail to capture our imagination.   

Myths, the study of which is Mythology, are stories handed down to us from generations past and have gods or supernatural heroes as the protagonists. The timeline of these stories is usually before the world, as we know it, existed.

There isn’t a definite origin to a myth and nor does it retain its original structure over a period of time. Myths, according to some, occur from distortion of historical events or in some cases personification of objects or occurring in nature. Rituals and beliefs of our forefathers make their way into our lives in the form of myths. For example, the belief that Thunder is the expression of anger from God or the practice of washing one’s feet outside the house on certain occasions.

Myths are subject to variations. Over a period of time, they get modified and are subject to different interpretations in different societies. Ramayana for instance, is known as Ramakien in Thailand. Ramakien heavily draws on the story of Ramayana, although there are changes with respect to clothing, weapons, topography which synonymous with Thai culture.

It is not uncommon to find common themes in mythological tales of different lands. Achilles (seventh son of Peleus and Thetis) in Greek mythology is known for his heel’s vulnerability, which ultimately cost’s him his life. Krishna(eighth son of Vasudeva and Devaki) in Indian mythology elected to die by allowing a hunter to wound him in the heel. Striking isn’t it?

The practices and beliefs of the superheroes are often considered righteous and worthy of adopting in our daily lives. We see Krishna take on the mantle of role-model and a counselor to Arjuna during the war, enlightening him on the complex aspects of Dharma. Most importantly they have and continue to serve as a tool, to effectively convey ideas to others.

The spreading of the myth occurs in many ways and is a great means for infotainment. Be it story-telling, novels, dramas or films, the modes of narrating it are numerous. The influence that mythology bears on literature and art cannot be discounted. From numerous TV Serials on Ramayana to the sci-fi series written by Ashok Banker on the same, the influence is enormous. Allusions of current scenarios to similar situations in mythological stories, are commonplace.

Myths offer us an outlet to imagine and enjoy a fantastical world, where everything is possible. Where Good triumphs over Evil and more often than not there is always a happy ending.  

PS: This article is a part of the 8th Mile Souvenir Magazine- associated with 8th Mile, the college fest of RVCE. The theme is mythology.  


Akshata said...

Well written. :)
And actually, your posts aren't too long at all..whoever said they were.

Nakul PS said...

Thanks, Madam :)

Editor placed a word limit on this one :D

Merin Mandanna said...

Very well written! And very interesting. You used the word - infotainment. :)
I've heard a lot about The Ramayana series by Mr.Banker. Must get my hands on them,sometime.

Nakul PS said...

Thanks, mer. Me and Vinay were ogling at the covers of the Banker series at Blossoms today. Should be a great buy.

Vinay Hegde said...

A nice read. :)

And you must read the Virgin comics Ramayana 3392 AD (I have the e-comics). Entirely new storyline, truly brilliant sketches and a good pace too. The only catch being the series is not complete.

Sourav Roy said...

After some exhaustive research, I have reached to a conclusion that versions of Ramayana exists in many languages, including Annamese, Balinese, Bengali, Cambodian, Chinese, Gujarati, Javanese, Kannada, Kashmiri, Khotanese, Laotian, Malaysian, Marathi, Oriya, Prakrit, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sinhalese, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, etc. In Sanskrit itself there are 25 different versions. According to A. K. Ramanujam, more than 300 tellings of Ramayana exist.

Each has newer dimensions, more fascinating than the other.

Read them in reverse order here-