Myths have fascinated all human societies, from the oral tradition to the written and to the age of cyber technology. Myths live forever, and, like genes, mutate and learn to survive and flourish in every generation. The term myth originates from the Greek muthos, which means “speech” and resembles the Sanskrit katha, vac (“story telling”, “narration”). When talking about “myth” specialists draw a distinction between “the sacred” and “the profane” and suggest that myths give expression to “the sacred” tales of gods and super humans, for myths “ultimate or metaphysical reality” is not an issue. (For a summary, of this vast and much debated subject, see The Encyclopedia of Religions, under the entry Myth, vol. 10, pp. 261-272.) Much literature has been produced on the definition, nature, structure and history of myth in all cultures, but, in India, myth holds a particular relevance. The culture of knowledge production and propagation in ancient India depended solely on oral tradition. And this explains the special interest the scholars of ancient India have in myths and story telling.
January 2006, volume 30, No 1