|Part of a series on|
|Part of a series on|
|Personalities of the Epics|
Hindu mythology are narratives found in Hindu texts such as the Vedic literature, epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana, the Puranas, the regional literatures like Periya Puranam. Hindu mythology is also found in widely translated popular texts such as the Panchatantra and Hitopadesha, as well as Southeast Asian texts.
Hindu mythology does not often have a consistent, monolithic structure. The same myth typically appears in various versions and can be represented differently across socio-religious traditions. These myths have also been noted to have been modified by various philosophical schools over time and particularly in the Hindu tradition. These myths are taken to have deeper, often symbolic, meaning, and have been given a complex range of interpretations.
The Hindu Epic literature is found in genre of Hindu texts such as:
Many of these legends evolve across these texts, the character names change or the story is embellished with greater details, yet the central message and moral values remain the same. According to Wendy Doniger,
Every Hindu epic is different; all Hindu epics are alike. (...) Each Hindu epic celebrates the belief that the universe is boundlessly various, that everything occurs simultaneously, that all possibilities may exist without excluding the other. (...) There is no single basic version of a Hindu epic; each is told and retold with a number of minor and major variations over the years. (...) Great epics are richly ambiguous and elusive; their truths cannot be filed away into scholar's neat categories. Moreover, epics [in Hinduism] are living organisms that change constantly. (...)— O'Flaherty
Hindu epic shares the creative principles and human values found in epic everywhere. However, the particular details vary and its diversity is immense, according to Doniger. The Hindu legends embed the Indian thought about the nature of existence, the human condition and its aspirations through an interwoven contrast of characters, the good against the evil, the honest against the dishonest, the dharma-bound lover against the anti-dharma bully, the gentle and compassionate against the cruel and greedy. In these epics, everything is impermanent including matter, love and peace. Magic and miracles thrive, gods are defeated and fear for their existence, triggering wars or debates. Death threatens and re-threatens life, while life finds a way to creatively re-emerge thus conquering death. Eros persistently prevails over chaos.
The Hindu epics integrate in a wide range of subjects. They include stories about how and why cosmos originated (Hindu cosmology, cosmogony), how and why humans or all life forms originated (anthropogony) along with each's strengths and weaknesses, how gods originated along with each's strengths and weaknesses (theogony), the battle between good gods and bad demons (theomachy), human values and how humans can live together, resolve any disagreements (ethics, axiology), healthy goals in stages of life and the different ways in which each individual can live (householder, monk, purusartha), the meaning of all existence and means of personal liberation (soteriology) as well as legends about what causes suffering, chaos and the end of time with a restart of a new cycle (eschatology).
- Matsya: It narrates a great flood, similar to one found in many ancient cultures. The savior here is the Matsya (fish). The earliest accounts of Matsya mythology are found in the Vedic literature, which equate the fish saviour to the deity Prajapati. The fish-savior later merges with the identity of Brahma in post-Vedic era, and still later as an avatar of Vishnu. The legends associated with Matsya expand, evolve and vary in Hindu texts. These legends have embedded symbolism, where a small fish with Manu's protection grows to become a big fish, and the fish ultimately saves earthly existence. 
- Kurma: The earliest account of Kurma is found in the Shatapatha Brahmana (Yajur veda), where he is a form of Prajapati-Brahma and helps with the samudra manthan (churning of cosmic ocean). In the Epics and the Puranas, the legend expands and evolves into many versions, with Kurma becoming an avatar of Vishnu. He appears in the form of a tortoise or turtle to support the foundation for the cosmos and the cosmic churning stick (Mount Mandara).
- Varaha: The earliest versions of the Varaha or boar legend are found in the Taittiriya Aranyaka and the Shatapatha Brahmana, both Vedic texts. They narrate that the universe was primordial waters. The earth was the size of a hand and was trapped in it. The god Prajapati (Brahma) in the form of a boar (varaha) plunges into the waters and brings the earth out. In post-Vedic literature, particularly the Puranas, the boar mythology is reformulated through an avatar of god Vishnu and an evil demon named Hiranyaksha who persecutes people and kidnaps goddess earth. Varaha-Vishnu fights the injustice, kills the demon and rescues earth.
- Narasimha: The Narasimha mythology is about the man-lion avatar of Vishnu. He destroys an evil king (Hiranyakashyapu), ends religious persecution and calamity on Earth, saves his devotee (Prahlad) from the suffering caused by torments and punishments for pursuing his religious beliefs, and thereby Vishnu restores the Dharma.
- Parashurama: Parashurama is the sixth avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism. Born as a Brahmin, Parashurama carried traits of a Kshatriya and is often regarded as a Brahman Warrior, He carried a number of traits, which included aggression, warfare and valor; also, serenity, prudence and patience. Like other incarnations of Vishnu, he was foretold to appear at a time when overwhelming evil prevailed on the earth.The Kshatriya class, with weapons and power, had begun to abuse their power, take what belonged to others by force and tyrannize people. Parashurama corrects the cosmic equilibrium by destroying these Kshatriya warriors.
- Rama: Rama or Ram, also known as Ramachandra, is a major deity of Hinduism. He is the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu, one of his most popular incarnations along with Krishna, Parshurama, and Gautama Buddha. Jain Texts also mentioned Rama as eighth balabhadra among the 63 salakapurusas. In Rama-centric traditions of Hinduism, he is considered the Supreme Being.
- Krishna: Krishna is a major deity in Hinduism. He is worshipped as the eighth avatar of the god Vishnu and also as the supreme God in his own right. He is the god of compassion, tenderness, love and is one of the most popular and widely revered among Indian divinities.
- Buddha: The Buddha was a philosopher, mendicant, meditator, spiritual teacher, and religious leader who lived in ancient India (c. 5th to 4th century BCE). He is revered as the founder of the world religion of Buddhism. Of the ten major avatars of Vishnu, Vaishnavites believe Gautama Buddha to be the ninth and most recent incarnation. He taught for around 45 years and built a large following, both monastic and lay. His teaching is based on his insight into duḥkha (typically translated as "suffering") and the end of dukkha – the state called Nibbāna or Nirvana.
- Kalki : Kalki, is the prophesied tenth avatar of Hindu god Vishnu who will take birth to end the Kalyuga, one of the four and the last era in the endless cycle of existence in Sanatan Dharma/Religion, and start a new cycle with Satya Yuga.
- Arthur Anthony Macdonell (1978). Vedic Mythology. Motilal Banarsidass (Reprint). pp. 1–9. ISBN 978-81-208-1113-3.
- Edward Washburn Hopkins (1986). Epic Mythology. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 1–3. ISBN 978-81-208-0227-8.
- Yves Bonnefoy (1993). Asian Mythologies. University of Chicago Press. pp. 90–101. ISBN 978-0-226-06456-7.
- Patrick Olivelle (1999). Pañcatantra: The Book of India's Folk Wisdom. Oxford University Press. pp. xii–xiii. ISBN 978-0-19-283988-6.
- Paul Waldau; Kimberley Patton (2009). A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics. Columbia University Press. pp. 186, 680. ISBN 978-0-231-13643-3.
- Jacqueline Suthren Hirst, Myth and history, in Themes and Issues in Hinduism, edited by Paul Bowen. Cassell, 1998.
- Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty (1975), Hindu epics: A Sourcebook translated from the Sanskrit, Penguin, ISBN 978-0140449907, pages 11, 21-22
- Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty (1975), Hindu epics: A Sourcebook translated from the Sanskrit, Penguin, ISBN 978-0140449907, pages 11-22
- George M. Williams (2008). Handbook of Hindu epic. Oxford University Press. pp. 2–4, 14–18. ISBN 978-0-19-533261-2.
- George M. Williams (2008). Handbook of Hindu epic. Oxford University Press. pp. 15–31. ISBN 978-0-19-533261-2.
- Ronald Inden (1991). David Parkin (ed.). Hindu Evil as Unconquered Lower Self, in The Anthropology of Evil. Wiley. pp. 143–164. ISBN 978-0-631-15432-7.;
W.D. O' Flaherty (1994). Hindu Epics. Penguin Books. pp. 36–37. ISBN 978-0-14-400011-1.
- Arvind Sharma (2000). Classical Hindu Thought: An Introduction. Oxford University Press. pp. 38–39, 61–64, 73–88. ISBN 978-0-19-564441-8.
- Krishna 2009, p. 33.
- Rao pp. 124-125
- "Matsya". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- Bonnefoy 1993, pp. 79-80.
- George M. Williams 2008, pp. 212-213. sfn error: multiple targets (3×): CITEREFGeorge_M._Williams2008 (help)
- Sunil Sehgal (1999). Encyclopaedia of Hinduism: T-Z, Volume 5. Sarup & Sons. p. 401. ISBN 81-7625-064-3.
- Roshen Dalal 2010, p. 217.
- James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z. The Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 705–706. ISBN 978-0-8239-3180-4.
- Constance Jones; James D. Ryan (2006). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Infobase Publishing. p. 253. ISBN 978-0-8160-7564-5.
- Cornelia Dimmitt; JAB van Buitenen (2012). Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas. Temple University Press. pp. 74–75. ISBN 978-1-4399-0464-0.
- Nanditha Krishna 2010, pp. 54-55.
- J. L. Brockington 1998, pp. 281-282.
- Roshen Dalal 2010, p. 45.
- Gavin D. Flood (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge University Press. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-521-43878-0.
- George M. Williams 2008, p. 223. sfn error: multiple targets (3×): CITEREFGeorge_M._Williams2008 (help)
- Dowson, John (1888). A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and Religion, Geography, History, and Literature. Trubner & Co., London.
- Buitenen, J. A. B. van; Dimmitt, Cornelia (1978). Classical Hindu mythology: a reader in the Sanskrit Puranas. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 0-87722-122-7.
- Campbell, Joseph (2003). Myths of light: Eastern Metaphors of the Eternal. Novato, California: New World Library. ISBN 1-57731-403-4.
- J. L. Brockington (1998). The Sanskrit Epics. BRILL Academic. ISBN 90-04-10260-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Roshen Dalal (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books India. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Dallapiccola, Anna L. (2002). Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend. ISBN 0-500-51088-1.
- Pattanaik, Devdutt (2003). Indian mythology: tales, symbols, and rituals from the heart of the Subcontinent. Inner Traditions / Bear & Company. ISBN 0-89281-870-0.
- Walker, Benjamin (1968). Hindu World: An Encyclopedic Survey of Hinduism. London: Allen & Unwin.
- Wilkins, W.J. (1882). Hindu mythology, Vedic and Purānic. Thacker, Spink & co.
- Bonnefoy, Yves (15 May 1993). Asian Mythologies. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-06456-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Krishna, Nanditha (2009). The Book of Vishnu. Penguin Books India. ISBN 978-0-14-306762-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Nanditha Krishna (2010). Sacred Animals of India. Penguin Books India. ISBN 978-0-14-306619-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Rao, T.A. Gopinatha (1914). Elements of Hindu iconography. 1: Part I. Madras: Law Printing House.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- George M. Williams (2008). Handbook of Hindu Mythology. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-533261-2.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Macdonell, Arthur Anthony (1995). Vedic mythology. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 81-208-1113-5.
- Dimitrova, Stefania (2017). The Day of Brahma. The Myths of India - Epics of Human Destiny. Alpha-Omega. p. 186. ASIN B06XQPRJP4. ISBN 978-954-9694-27-7.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Hindu mythology|