Hindu Mythology (Vedic and Puranic)

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Hindu Mythology (Vedic and Puranic)
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Hindu mythology is a fascinating world of legends and stories centred around a sophisticated structure and hierarchy of deities and their worship. The many gods and goddesses, depicted in myriad forms in art and literature, constitute a sacred and complex subject of interesting study. The book, Hindu Mythology attempts to offer a systematic and complete account of the names and character of the deities of Hinduism and their relationship with one another.

The book, typed afresh, studies the main attributes of the deities and recounts myths associated with their origin, nature, function and worship. For the purpose, the deities are classified into the major deities of the Vedic Age and those of the Purani Age, and the inferior deities which include demigods, sacred plants, animals and birds, supernatural being and minor deities like Sitala and Manasa. Based on authoritative sources, the reliable accounts are supported by well- draw illustrations of the deities that add to the appeal of the work. The work involves clear explanation of terms and concepts in a fluent language.

The volume will prove to be an interesting reference work for scholars and students of Hindu mythology and will attract general readers keen to acquire information on the subject.

Note from the Publishers

We are aware of the problem most often encountered by scholars and of Indic studies especially with reference to transliteration schemes while perusing reference works and others on the subject. The various systems of transliteration of Indic sounds into English that different publication make use of often perplex the readers accurate system of transliteration that would render Indic sounds into English with great precision leaving no ground for confusion. Keeping this in mind, this edition makes use of diacritical marks in transliterating that clearly distinguish various sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet for English readers. Though the same is attempted in the earlier edition of the work as well, we have gone step further by making a more consistent use of the system of diacritical marking Thus, for instance, while Indic sounds 's' (as in Soma) and 'sh' (as in Shiva and in Lakshmi) are conveyed by the letter 's' in the earlier edition, here you would find the 's' sound (as in Soma) written as 's'; 'sh' (as in Shiva) conveyed by 's'.

Indic terms and concepts are italicised in the works. In keeping with the standard practice of today, the names of all tests are italicised in this edition.

In this edition, the case of plural forms denoted by 's' or 'es' suffixed to Indic words are left unitalicised in order to show that the plural sense has been used. Thus, here, 'gandharva' is singular and the plural is 'gandharvas' with the 's' left unitalicised the plural form.

We have also attempted to do away with unnecessary hyphenations in many Indic words which only complicate the reading and understanding of the work.

We hope that these changes and modifications would make the work more systematic in presentation and easier to understand.


As a large edition of this work has been sold out, and a new one called for, an opportunity is presented of adding a few words to what was said eighteen years ago. The reception given to it both in India and in England was most gratifying, practically the only serious condemnation of it being that I had not pronounced judgement on much that I had quoted from the Hindu sacred books. This was a task that I distinctly disavowed in my preface. I set out with the intention of rigidly abstaining from comment, commendatory or condemnatory. I feel that a mere statement of much that was written in books professedly inspired by God, carried its own condemnation. And at the same time it was a pleasure to indicate how, amid much evil, there was also much good. The sages of India were not in complete darkness. As we examine the earlier writings, the light was bright indeed contrasted with what came later. It is most instructive to notice the marked deterioration in the quality of the teaching, deities as described by the earlier sages being vastly better than their successors declare them to be. "No-Christian Bibles are all developments in the wrong direction. They begin with some flashes of true light, and end in darkness." As Max-Muller says, "The more we go back, the more we examine the earliest germs of any religion, the purer I believe we shall find the conceptions of the Deity."

In this edition there is some added matter. Errors have been corrected, and an attempt made to render certain passages more clear that were somewhat obscure. Substantially the book remains the same. An account of the ordinary worship and the festivals of these gods will be found in another work - Modern Hinduism.


  Note from the Publishers v
  Preface to Second Edition vii
  Preface to the First Edition ix
  List of Illustrations xix
  Key to Transliteration xxii
  Part I The Vedic Deities  
I. The Vedas 3
II. The Vedic Gods Generally 9
III. Dyaus and Prthivi 13
IV. Aditi and the Adityas 17
V. Agni 21
VI. Sun or Light Deities  
1 Surya 30
2 Pusan 36
3 Mitra and Varuna 37
4 The Asvins 44
5 Usas 48
VII. The Storm Deities  
1 Indra 53
2 Indrani 63
3 Parjanya 63
4 Vayu 64
5 The Maruts 67
VIII. Soma 69
IX. Tvastr or Visvakarma 75
X Yama 78
  Part II The Puranic Deities  
I. The Puranas 89
II. Brahma 93
III. Brahma and Sarasvati  
1 Brahma 98
2 Sarasvati 107
IV. Visnu and Lakshmi  
1 Visnu and Lakshmi 116
2 Laksmi 127
V. The Incarnations or Avataras of Visnu  
1 The Matsya or Fish Avatara 134
2 The Kurma or Tortoise Avatara 141
3 The Varaha or Boar Avatara 144
4 The Nrsimha or Man-Lion Avatra 149
5 The Vamana or Dwarf Avatara 155
6 The Parasurama Avatara 162
7 The Ramacandra Avatara 170
8 The Krsna Avatara 197
9 The Balarama Avatara 220
10 The Bhuddha Avatara 225
11 The Kalki Avatara 245
  Jagabatha 248
  Caitanya 253
  Kamadeva 256
VI. Siva 262
  Pancanana 283
VII. Uma 285
  Parvati 289
  Durga 296
  The Chief Forms of Durga  
1 Durga 307
2 Dasabhuja 307
3 Simhavahini 308
4 Mahisamardini 308
5 Jagaddhatri 308
6 Kalki 309
7 Muktakesi 317
8 Tara 317
9 Chinnamastaka 317
10 Jagadgauri 317
11 Pratyangira 318
12 Annapurna 318
13 Ganesajanani 320
14 Krsnakrora 320
  The Saktis 320
VIII. Sons of Siva and Parvati  
1 Ganesa 323
2 Karttikeya 334
IX. The Puranic Account of the Creation 342
X. The Puranic Divisions of Time 353
  Part III The Inferior Deities  
I. The Divine Rsis  
1 Bhrgu 363
2 Pulastya 368
3 Pulaha 369
4 Kratu 369
5 Angiras 369
6 Marici 370
7 Atri 371
8 Daksa 372
9 Vasistha 380
10 Narada 382
II. Kubera 388
III. The Demi-gods of the Ramayana  
1 Sugriva 394
2 Hanuman 401
3 Nala 406
4 Nila 408
5 Susena 409
IV. The Demi-gods of the Mahabharata 411
V. The Rlanets 431
1 Ravi, or Surya 432
2 Candra or Soma 432
3 Mangala 432
4 Budha 433
5 Brhaspati 433
6 Sukra 434
7 Sani 435
8 Rahu and Ketu 435
VI. The Asuras 437
  Jalanshara 441
VII. Sacred Animals and Birds 448
  Garuda 449
  Jatayus and Sampati 456
VIII. Ganga 460
IX. Sacred Trees 469
X. Miscellaneous Minor Deities  
1 Sitala 473
2 Manasa 474
3 Sasthi 477
4 The Salagrama 478
5 The Dhenki 479
6 Ka? Who? 480
XI. Superhuman, Though not Divine Beings  
1 Apsaras and Gandharvas 482
2 Raksasas 485
3 Jain Deities 488
  Index 491

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