Hindu Mythology

Do you know that Hinduism is not just one of the oldest religions in the world? More than likely, you already know that. But did you know that it is also one of the more complicated ones as well? Unlike other religions that are monolithic, believers of Hinduism pray to many gods. There is also no strict principle that any of the followers have to follow as well. And it is because of this that many of us find it challenging to define it. Those of us who are born and have spent the whole of our lives practicing this faith still find it difficult to explain our faith to any outsider. Hell, we cannot even pinpoint the exact starting date of our religion as well.

Hindu Mythology

This is because Hinduism embraces a vast and colorful tapestry of beliefs, stories, and traditions that have evolved over thousands of years. Now, sure, this makes Hinduism quite rich compared to other religions, but it also makes it quite complex as well. It also makes this faith overwhelming at a glance. There is so much out there – how can one even begin understanding this complex web? Well, the best place would be to start with the many Gods, Goddesses, epics, etc., related to this faith. This is the whole game of mythology, and we truly believe this is the best way for all of us to begin understanding Hinduism. Let’s get started, shall we?

Let’s Meet the Big Players: Major Deities of Hinduism

After scratching our heads about where to begin, we naturally came to the conclusion—why not start from the top? Let’s talk about the major figures of Hinduism; after all, it can be argued that Hinduism as a religion is very top-down.

1- Brahma – The Creator

The supreme god of creation in Hinduism is Brahma. Often depicted with four heads (all facing the four major directions) and four arms, he is responsible for the creation of every living being in the known universe. The story of Brahma’s origins is shrouded in mystery, as there are several of them. However, the most prominent one talks about him emerging from a golden egg and then creating the universe with his power – talk about an amazing beginning! Which is why it is quite surprising that amongst the Trideva (the trinity of three supreme beings in Hinduism), Brahma is less prominently worshipped.

2- Vishnu – The Preserver

Now, let’s talk about gods who are more widely worshipped in Hinduism (if we can say that), beginning with Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu is the preserver of the world and is responsible for ensuring that everything is running smoothly. To that effect, he often takes the form of an avatar to fulfill his duty. Some of his most popular avatars are Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, and more. Whenever evil threatens to consume the earth (& the cosmos as a whole), then Lord Vishnu himself descends onto the mortal plane to take care of things.

3- Shiva – The Destroyer

The last of the Trimurti is Lord Shiva – the destroyer of the world. Now, this sometimes gives him a bad name, but only in ignorant circles. The destruction that he brings at the end of the cycle is not annihilation, it is more akin to liberation, to transformation. After all, how can there be any construction with destruction first? Lord Shiva is the representation of the cycle of life, death, and rebirth – which, as you might know, is quite a core principle in Hinduism.

4- Devi Parvati

Devi Parvati, an avatar of Shakti herself, is one of the major goddesses of Hinduism. She is also the wife of Lord Shiva and sits alongside him on his throne at Mount Kailash.

Devi Parvati is the goddess of power, love, and devotion. However, she can also take the form of a fierce warrior (Durga & Kali) to vanquish evil from the face of the earth. She is the other half of Lord Shiva and is a symbol of his feminine side.

5- Shri Krishna

Now, how can we talk about the various gods & goddesses in Hindu mythology and not even mention Shree Krishna? He is only one of the most popular Hindu Gods, revered by millions of followers from around the world.

An avatar, the 8th one to be exact, of Lord Vishnu, Krishna, has played a major role in many stories in Hindu mythology (something we will explore later). And we would be remiss if we didn’t even mention the charismatic nature of Lord Krishna or his victory over Kansh.

Some of the most epic tales in Hinduism

1- Ramayana

Now, it is impossible for us to talk about the many great, excellent epics of Hinduism and not start with Ramayana. Who has not heard of it – it is only one of the most popular epics in all of Hinduism. This is the story of Lord Rama, his unjust exile from his homeland. This is a story about his wife, Radha, and his loyal brother, Laxman, who are accompanying him to the wilderness. This is a story about the Hanuman, the monkey god. This is a story about their battle with the demon king of Lanka, Ravana, the conflict between Good and Evil, ultimately leading to the defeat of Ravana.

2- Mahabharata

Who has not heard of the epic tale Mahabharata? It is only one of the most popular stories, not just in India but around the world as well. But do you know it is also the longest-written story as well? Yes, it is a fact. The tale is quite a complex one as well, which does justify its length.

This tale delves into the complex relationships of two sets of cousins; both of them are vying for the throne of the Hastinapura. This beautifully narrated epic tale culminates at the end with a devastating 18-day battle of the Kurukshetra War.

However, the Bhagavad Gita—another great book in Hinduism—is also a central part of the Mahabharata.

3- Bhagavata Purana

Next up is a text that many of you might not have heard of before. The Bhagavata Purana is a devotional text that is primarily focused on the life and the teachings of Krishna, with a particular focus on childhood and youth in Vrindavan.

What you will find in the texts are stories from his childhood, full of his playful antics, his love for Gopis of Vrindavan, and many, many adventures from that time. However, don’t just think of them as stories when, in fact, they are much more than that. They are meant to inspire devotion as well as impart life lessons to the readers.

These stories are also a look into how Krishna is portrayed in Hinduism. He is a supreme being, the source of all creation. The texts do a marvelous job of emphasizing the importance of bhakti as well, showcasing just how it is the right path to attaining moksha.

4- The Samudra Manthana

If there is one fascinating & captivating tale that everyone should read to learn more about Hinduism, then The Samudra Manthana story is certainly among the top recommendations. The story talks about the time when both devas and asuras joined hand in hand to reap the rewards from the churning of the cosmic ocean.

During this churning, a great many treasures were reaped, but they were not the only items. It also includes several calamities, such as the deadly poison. It was this poison that was consumed by Lord Shiva to save the world. In addition, the Amrit was also discovered during this process, which granted immortality to the consumer. Not to spoil the ending, but it was the devas who emerged victorious, accepting immortality.

5- Devi Mahatmya

Lastly, we have the Devi Mahatmya. Do you know this text is also known as Durga Saptashati? This powerful text talks about goddess Durga, which, in turn, is a form of Devi Parvati. A warrior form that vanquishes evil and protects the world from any harm.

The story in this book narrates just one of the many epic battles that were waged between Durga and demons, which in this case was the demon Mahishasura. Think of this battle as the struggle between the good and the evil. It is an eternal battle, in which Devi Durga conquers the demon and emerges victorious.

However, this story is much more than just another one of the eternal battles between good & evil. It is also a celebration of feminine power & strength. It also confirms Durga as the embodiment of Shakti, which is the divine energy that sustains the universe.

Final Thoughts

Hinduism is a fascinating religion, you just need to look at the various mythology that is connected with this faith to understand that. Do keep in mind that these are just some of the many great stories that you can find attached to Hinduism. And as you can see, they are awesome. So, what are you waiting for? Get started with your exploration of Hinduism today!

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