Tag: Decoding Mythology

Breaking the binary
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Breaking the binary

By Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik – Author, Speaker, Illustrator, Mythologist In the Puranas, we have heard the story of the Narasimha avatar. Hiranyakashipu had obtained a boon from Brahma that he should not be killed by either man or animal, at day or at night, above or below, inside or outside, by neither weapon nor tool….

The Immortals
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The Immortals

By Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik – Author, Speaker, Illustrator, Mythologist In Hindu mythology, whenever an asura asks for immortality, Brahma tells them that they can have whatever they wish except that. The clever asura then asks for a boon that will render him immortal for all practical purposes. But, embedded in the boon is a loophole,…

Expressing devotion sensually
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Expressing devotion sensually

By Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik – Author, Speaker, Illustrator, Mythologist The story of Gajendra Moksha from the Bhagavata Purana speaks of an elephant king, Gajendra, who is in a state of erotica arousal, and is having fun with his herd of cow elephants in a lotus lake in a heady erotic atmosphere. But the pleasure is…

Above many realms of desire
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Above many realms of desire

By Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik – Author, Speaker, Illustrator, Mythologist When we study how people imagine the world, and how they express it in art, we understand their world-view. Buddhist stupas crowned with special umbrellas indicate Sumeru, the central world axis and the heavens above it, above which sits the Buddha in a formless state after…

Othering the Asuras
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Othering the Asuras

By Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik – Author, Speaker, Illustrator, Mythologist In Hindu mythological stories narrated in the Puranas, Brahma’s son Kashyapa has two wives. One called Aditi, the other called Diti. Aditi’s children are called Adityas or Devas, and they reside in the celestial realms above the sky. Diti’s sons are called Daityas, and they reside…

Aggregation of Buddhist atoms
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Aggregation of Buddhist atoms

By Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik – Author, Speaker, Illustrator, Mythologist The fundamental difference between Hinduism and Buddhism rests on the idea of the soul or atma. Hindus say that there is a soul. They clarify that there is a soul within every individual living (jiva-atma) being and there is a cosmic soul that encompasses the universe…

Fever from Shiva’s rage
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Fever from Shiva’s rage

By Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik The Vedas, which are over 3,000 years old, refer to a deity called Rudra who is fierce and feared. Is he the Shiva we know today, the hermit who married Parvati, daughter of the Himalayas? We can only speculate in hindsight. The word Shiva is used for the first time only…

The rise of Durga
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The rise of Durga

By Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik – Author, Speaker, Illustrator, Mythologist The image of the buffalo-slaying lion-riding Durga starts appearing in Hindu mythology only in the post-Gupta period, around 1,500 years ago. Amongst the earliest images we know today are one from Ajanta and Ellora caves in Maharashtra, and from Mammalapuram dated before 7th century. Earlier icons…

The forgotten Buffalo King
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The forgotten Buffalo King

By Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik – Author, Speaker, Illustrator, Mythologist If one travels around Pune, one occasionally comes across small folk shrines dedicated to a deity known as Mhasoba, or the Buffalo-God. Not much is known about him, but the shrine is clearly not a Brahminical one and there is nothing about him found in Sanskrit…

The Goddess of Sailors
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The Goddess of Sailors

By Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik – Author, Speaker, Illustrator, Mythologist For such a vast coastline, Indians do not have much of a sea mythology. Most images of boats in Indian art are related to ponds and rivers, and not the sea, such as images of Ram and Sita crossing the Ganga, or Krishna and Radha on…

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