|The meaning of ‘mythology’ changed… Said Devdutt Pattanaik|
- Analysts and writers of ancient Indian theology
- The word Mythology came from ancient Greece about 2500 years ago.
- Mythos is a social truth that is said to be generation-generation through narratives.
The meaning of ‘mythology’ changed…
For example the word justice. Nowadays, the English translation of justice is ‘Justice’ but justice was ‘Logic’ two thousand years ago. There was no relation with Justice ‘Justice’ in that period. Likewise, in 2500 years ago when it was a matter of democracy and justice in Greece, its meaning was limited, and not equality, because Greece was a pacifist of that period.
One such word is mythology nowadays you will find many books on mythology in any book store. Most of these are novels based on Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas. Many conservative people are very angry when Hinduism is called mythology rather than history.
This problem comes from the meaning of the word, because most people are using definitions of nineteenth century European scholars. But in the 21st century mythology is very different. Mythology is basically the science of sermon, symbols and verbs in every religion and every society.
There is a great difference between narrative and folk tales. Souvenirs are worshipful. For example, Jataka tales are called Buddhist narrative, but the Panchatantra will not be given the status of narrative.
He is only involved in folk tales. This is because there is nothing to be worshiped in Panchatantra. There is no basis for religion or belief here. In the Jataka tales, Buddhism forms the basis of the faith, because in them there are reincarnation and deeds of karma and they describe the past lives of Gautam Buddha.
The word Mythology came from Greece. In ancient Greece 2500 years ago, intellectuals such as Plato and Aristotle used the term ‘Mythos’ for homicompellings like Homer’s epic ‘Iliad’.
200 years ago when European governments established World Empire, they saw that the saga of the people of India, China, Africa and Australia is very different from their narratives. Polygamy was used in these narratives and idol worship was recognized. They gave it status as mythos, while giving their monogamous narratives the truth.
Since the word ‘Mythos’ is similar to the Hindi and Sanskrit word ‘Mithya’. That is why people felt that Hindu narratives were being given the status of Mythos. They tried to show that Hinduism is not polytheism, but in reality it is monotheism and Hinduism is not worshiped.
Therefore, nineteenth-century Buddhists linked Hinduism to Nirgunistic Upanishads and did not give much emphasis on Sagunavite mythology.
But the meaning of mythology is different in the 21st century. Mythos is a social truth that is said to be generation-generation through narratives. This is not true of scientific, true of faith. This is true of experience, not proof. Multiculturalism is Mythos and monotheism is also Mythos. Atheism is also Mythos.
In this way, we learn that the meaning changes according to time and we should see what the meaning of words means. An interesting point in this context is that there is a lot of difference in Hindi’s word history and Sanskrit word history. The use of word history in Sanskrit is first in 2800 years ago in ‘Sathapatha Brahmin’.
If we look carefully, history is associated with two epics – Ramayana and Mahabharata. But the marriage of Shivaji, stories of skillful yagna, etc. were given the status of Purana. Carefully seen, both Mahabharata’s poet Vyas and Ramikan’s poet Valmiki, both say that during the Mahabharata and Ramayana, they were alive, they were participants in them. It means that they were its reporter, so they call their story history.
But the stories of the Puranas do not have any reporter or witness. This means that it was the stories heard and therefore these are called Puranas. This is their Sanskrit meaning. Their meaning in Hindi is very different. But both are narrative and therefore we will call their scriptures mythology.
Devdutt Pattanaik – Anecdotes and Authors of Ancient Indian Religious Satraps