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.
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.
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