Myth-makers : Old and New
Romila Thapar
THE NEW COMPARATIVE MYTHOLOGY by C. Scott-Littleton University of California Press, Berkeley, 1976, 271 pp., 3.65
ASCETICISM AND EROTICISM IN THE MYTHOLOGY OF SIVAby Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty Oxford University Press, 1971, 316 pp., 50.00
July 1976, volume 1, No 3

The study of myth has undergone a sea-change since the mid-nineteenth century when it came into vogue. Between Freud and Levi-Strauss it is now open to a vast span of interpretation. Not all the points along this span have as yet encroached on to the study of Indian mythology, but as these two books under review indicate, the impact is certainly beginning to be felt.

When Max Muller first analysed Indian mytho­logy, it was in terms of the then current fashion of seeing mythical personages, gods and heroes, in terms of natural phenomena such as the sun, the moon, the dawn and so on. Thus the famous legend of Pururvas and Urvashi which, as a theme, was re­peated ad infinitum through the variety of Sanskrit literature, was interpreted as a nature myth symbo­lizing the disappearing Dawn chased by the Sun in the early morning. The association of myths with solar symbols and events was particularly popular at the time.

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