Hindu mythology explained

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia
Revision as of 04:48, 11 May 2017 by Himanshu Bhatt (Talk | contribs) (Garuda and Shabara as a griffons: typo)

By Himanshu Bhatt

Because Hindu history is so ancient, going back to the prehistoric eras of Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and Bronze ages, the need to carry history forward in the form on myths became essential. The Indian Subcontinent has civilizations, such as Indus Valley Culture, Black and red ware culture, Thrissur culture, and Thoothukudi (1800 BCE) culture.

Even on flags, animal symbols were the most common icons. Asura Bali's flag contained a Serpent, Hanuman's of a monkey, Krishna's varying between Hanuman's flag in the Mahabharata and a flag of Garuda during his war with Bali, and Skanda's is of a hen.

Garuda Valley was actually a place on the Sutlej River. The Zhang Zhung Kingdom's capital is mentioned in Tibetan texts as Khyunglung Ngulkhar - the Silver Palace of the Garuda Valley.[1]

Totemic demonyms

Hindu mythology explained
Achala Muni was born of an elephant, and Kesa Pingala of an owl, and Agastya Muni from the Agasti flower, and Kushika Muni from the kusa grass, and Kapila from a monkey, and Gautam Rishi from a creeper that entwined a saul tree, and Drona Acharya from an earthen pot, and Trittiri Rishi from a partridge, and Parswa Rama from dust, and Sringa Rishi from a deer, and Vyasa Muni from a fisherwoman...
Hindu mythology explained

—Ashu Ghosha, Vajra Suchi [2]

Hindus since the prehistoric ages have symbolically named their children after animals. Even demonyms of gotras and tribes are totemic, such as those mentioned in the Rig Veda and other early scriptures as the Upanishads. Notable in the Rig Veda are the Gotamas (Oxen), Kaushikas (Owls), Mandukyas (Frog-sons), Paravatas (Turtle-doves), Sunakas (Doggies), Vatans (Calves), and Vatsavats (Possessing calves.)[3] Some aggressor invader tribes of the Dasarajna War whom King Sudas and his Bharata tribe had triumphed over were the Ajas (Goats), Alinas (Bees), Kikatas (Horses), Matsyas (Fish), Pārāvata (Turtle-doves), Simyu (Lion cubs), and Visanin (Horned.) Other tribes mentioned in the Rig Veda include the Abhira (Serpents) and Nagas (Serpents.)

Further, 'Kashyapa' means turtoise while 'Matanga' means elephant.

Furthermore animal emblems remained very popular in use by monarchs on their dynasty's flags, including Chola Dynasty's tiger flag, Ratlam's Hanuman flag, and Seraikella's Garuda, lion, and swans flag.

Hybrid iconography of people in Hindu history

Hanuman depicted as a monkey

Krishna and Arjuna during the Mahabharata War on the chariot mounted with Hanuman's flag.

Hanuman belonged to the Kishkindha tribe whose flag has a monkey as its emblem. In fact the Jain Ramayanas call the Kishkindha Kingdom to which Hanuman belonged "Vanara-dhvaja Rajya" (Monkey-flag Kingdom.)

Hanuman of course was an Adivasi (tribal) soldier of the Kishkindha Dynasty.

In the Jain Ramayanas, such as the Paumarcharyam and Trishashtishalaka-Purusha Charitra, neither Hanuman nor Anjana (his mother) are monkeys but mere humans, as are the rakshasas and people such as, Jambavan and Garuda. They mention that the Vidyadharas sport monkey flags.

Vishnu's 5 avatars depicted as animal-like

Varaha was the name of the soldier that defeated the Daitya Hiranyaksha. The name itself means boar. The story entails a princess named Bhu (Earth) being kidnapped by Hiranyaksha and held captive in the Daitya realm of Rasātala. Hence, the story was condensed to a demon having taken 'the earth' to the underworld, and a boar then came to fight the demon to save the world.

Narasimha had slain Hiranyaksha's brother Hiranyakashipu. He is depicted as half-man and half-lion. Either Narasimha was indeed the soldier's first name or his full name was Nara Simha. Lion is a common name whether it's 'Simha', 'Singh', 'Singhania', or another world. Nara itself is a name which many Hindus are given. Nara was also name to another Vishnu avatar.

Hayagriva is usually depicted as half-man-half-horse because the name itself means horse-necked. It is a common name of Hindus, even today.

Garuda and Sarabha as a griffons

Garuda was the name of a tribe descended from Kadru, a wife of Rishi Kashyapa. Hence, this was a totemic title. The person Garuda is depicted as a half-man-half-bird.

Sarabha is also a totemic tribe name.

The Shabara-swamin is a commentary by sage Yudhishthira Mimamsaka on the Mimimsa Sutra of Rishi Jaimini. The Mimamsa-Shabara-Bhashyam is a commentary by Halligrama Subha Shastri.

The Ramayana mentions Gridhas or Suparnas (Beautifully-winged.) Suparna is also mentioned in the Rig Veda as a sun-bird.

More dynastic totemic iconography

Flag Dynasty Region Period of governing
India: Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka

Kandyan Lanka
Kanker Chhattisgarh
Keonjhar Odisha
Khairagarh Chhattisgarh
Khilchipur Madhya Pradesh
Kochin Kerala
Kota Rajasthan
Lunavada Gujarat
Narsinghgarh Madhya Pradesh
Nayagarh Odisha
Pandya Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka
Pal Lahara.jpg
Pal Lahara Odisha
Pudukkottai Tamil Nadu
Rajgarh Madhya Pradesh
Ratlam Madhya Pradesh
Seraikella Jharkhand

See also


  1. A Handbook Of Tibetan Culture By Graham Coleman
  2. Vajra Suchi by Asvaghosha TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL ASIATIC SOCIETY OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND [Transactions, Volume III] [London, J. Murray and Parbury, Allen & Co.] [1835] {Scanned and edited by Christopher M. Weimer, May 2002}
  3. P. 164 Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics: Mundas-Phrygians By James Hastings, John Alexander Selbie