It has been a while since I last posted an article “10 things that changed around me as I grew up”. So for my next article I wanted to give our readers an essence of Indian Mythology for which my research took me to various learned people.
Mythology of any given culture is diverse and revolves around the different meanings of myth and culture that different geographies interpret.
Myth – a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation; especially one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature.
Culture – The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, art, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought. Culture is learned and shared within social groups and is transmitted by non-genetic means.
The above given explanations are right out of a dictionary. Had you ever thought of it that way? When I asked people about Myth and Culture, each and every person had their own ideologies. What I am trying to do is not put you in a limbo, but trying to differentiate the perceptions and the reality.
Coming to the point, Indian Mythology is the biggest asset to Indians. We often neglect it or do not want to know about it. I reckon, we need to. Now that TenFigures is reaching thousands of people, this is my tribute to Indian Mythology.
1. The Saraswathi (God of Knowledge) and Laxmi (God of wealth) myth –
When you see the depiction of Saraswathi, you see that she is dressed in the simplest way, sitting on a rock, holding a Veena with two hands and books – signifying knowledge on her other two hands. On the contrary, when you see Laxmi, she sits on a Lotus, dressed like a bride, jewelry, gold coins and what not.
Saraswathi sitting on the rock signifies that knowledge once gained is rock solid, but on the contrary Laxmi’s lotus is borne to be disturbed by the water. It could even drown, but not knowledge.
The education system now a days is biased towards Laxmi than what should have originally been – Saraswathi. You become an engineer, you will earn 10 Lakh per annum; you become a doctor , you earn thousands per day in the clinic. The concept of knowledge for the betterment of the society is lost as wealth overshadows it.
2. The Hunter and the Hunted –
When you see the above picture, do you feel like it is cruel? That the Deer must be saved? If yes, then you are among the 80% others who think that way. But have you thought, what happens to the Lion if it doesn’t hunt? It would die of starvation. Now you want to save the Lion? It doesn’t eat veggies. It has to and will hunt. Its destiny is to kill and eat.
This brings us to Biological Food Chain concept. Also, a link can be established to the modern management theory. If the Manager has to progress, he has to hunt and show the bounty to the board. If the employee has to survive he has to make sure he doesn’t fall prey for the lion’s claws. So eventually, all the Deer’s that survive turn out to be Lions. Hunting party starts again.
Hence in the Mahabharata, the war, the violence is justified.
3. Tell me about yourself –
The most common interview question. Its origins are from the Ramayana & the Mahabharata. When the demigods started building the army, they started visiting villages and interview craftsman, laborers, if they would like to be a part of the royal army. A craftsman could make weaponry, a laborer could assist the soldier, and eventually if they are interested in warfare, they would be taught the skills and hence become a soldier. Isn’t this how modern management works?
4. Pioneer is the God –
Do you know why Yama is the God of death? He is the son of Surya (Sun God) and his wife (Saranya, also called Sanjana). Saranya delivered twins – Yama & Yami. Yama was the first man to die, hence he became the God of death and Yami flows continuously in the form of Yamuna. Hence, even in summer, Yamuna doesn’t dry up.
So, when you pioneer into something that no one has ever done, you are indeed the God of that subject. Everyone remembers the first one to do something, never the second or the third.
5. No use in planning –
What is it that differentiates the east from the west, apart from the oceans? It’s culture and myths. In both, the culture and planning is a crucial part. But how is it that the west is progressing and the east is far behind? Let’s not take the excuse of British invasion in this discussion.
The east believes in destiny, hence all plans are believed to go in vain. So no planning required. Get sanctions for a six lane flyover, build a two lane flyover rather. It’s destiny if there has to be a traffic jam on the flyover. It’s the destiny of the politicians to loot tax payer’s money. Until a change occurs at the heart of the young Indian, we as a nation cannot progress. It’s simply, Mythology understood in a wrong manner.
The west on the other hand believes in change. The industrial revolution, the renaissance are the best examples. But a hindrance to planning is that things will change anyway, what is the use of planning? Certain countries’ economies have collapsed due to ill planning.
The best practice is to arrive at a nexus between the two concepts and get inputs from Arthashastra by Kautilya. Political science has to be refurbished.
6. The Power Parity theorem –
Power is perceived as a tool for dominance but in reality it should be a tool for governance. The Make in India concept is the best example.
Often when a person is promoted he expects a different kind of a respect from his subordinates and when he doesn’t get that he is disappointed. Even in mythology, power is depicted as a warrior strength showing blood stains of the peoples he’s fought and slayed. Parasurama earns the respect by winning over errant kings while Krishna does it with wit and love.
The parity exists and thus differentiates the true power from the induced.
7. Endlessness –
As Indians we are obsessed with the idea that everything is unlimited. The water scarcity, the scarcity of power doesn’t really affect us. We still believe in the idea of Infinity.
We are also obsessed with nothingness or no state of being, hence invented zero. This gave rise to different teachings in Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. Jainism speaks about an-ekanta-vada meaning endless possibilities. Buddhism suggested Shunya(Zero) and Nirvana(oblivion). And Hinduism as a whole speaks about cycles of life and how matter in the form of body recycles and the soul gets another birth.
I would say that these teachings imbibe a certain hope in the people who try to understand this. It is intense and focused hope that leads to your destiny. One must at least try to get the better ideas in this prospect.
8. The larger plan of the universe –
All the mythological dramas show that there is always a larger plan of the universe. Momentary troubles and insecurities are to be handled with utmost sense and care. The Mahabharata and Ramayana show what the mistakes of anger, ego, power can do the world. The Gods themselves are affected by their unthoughtful decisions.
A good practice to do in a bad situation is to see the positive side of it and move on with life. Krishna continuously says in the Mahabharata the importance of hard work and focus and that there are no shortcuts.
Mythological knowledge, modern applications!
9. Forgiveness –
All the mythologies be it Indian, Roman, Greek, all are filled with a lot of emotions. But the strongest emotion of all is the sense of forgiveness. To forgive you need to have a great power inside you. If you cannot forgive a person, you certainly cannot forgive yourself and live in misery.
The ideologies of the Great Mahabharata suggests that if you have achieved the power to forgive, then you have achieved the power to the universe.
10. Selfishness and its branches –
Selfishness is the sense of being self-centered in the decisions of day to day life. And its branches include Ego – the sense of superiority, and Anger – the emotion that transcends empathy.
What if Gods were created by people to remove the sense of superiority among the humans? The story of Exodus shows that the Kings considered themselves as Gods. So what if there were a set of people who came together and created God as a superior to conflict these kings? We do not know for sure.
All we know is that Mythological stories although revolve around the Gods and Goddesses, we have ample knowledge flow from them. One should see it as a positive belief and make sense of the writings. If worshipping an Idol brings the country together it is better than being brought together by a communist army.
Indian mythology or any other mythologies often depict the wrong doings and the ill effects of it so we shouldn’t idealize one. We should live in the synergy of culture and not turn it into a conflict.
Credits: Devdutt Pattnaik