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Modern tools validate ancient mythologies
Mythology is a living reality for people all over the world. They provide us with our role models, anti-heroes and other characters that become stereotypes of desirable or undesirable people among us. Our great epics, festivals, plays, folk and classical songs, poetry and even daily conversations are peppered with metaphors, drawn from mythology. Anyone among us, who cannot keep a secret, is good humouredly referred as 'Narad Muni'!

In every age the contemporary narration of mythologies reflect the values and aspirations of cultures of that period. In our country there are different versions of Ramayana, which have been authored in different periods of history and in different regions of the country. 

Jain Ramayana has the same characters, but the storyline is different. "Ravana is killed by Lakshman (a deviation from the Hindu epic where Rama slays Ravana) and they both go into hell. Rama becomes a Jain monkand his soul attains moksha. Sita becomes a Jain nun and is born into heaven". In Sri Lanka, Ravana is a hero.

Most people are somewhat familiar with Indian, Greek, Roman and Norse mythologies. However, as one gets exposed to mythologies of the rest of culture and tribes one realises that there are striking similarities in the mythologies from different parts of the world. The devout take the myths to be literally true. Those with pretensions of rationality may scoff at mythologies as pure flights of fantasy. But now the bridges between myth, prehistory and history are being found.

The 'truth' behind mythologies has been the subject of serious studies. Psychologist Carl Jung believed that millions years of human experience: cataclysmic tectonic shifts, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and later great wars, rulers and villains etc. are all embedded in the human psyche. These continue to exist in 'our collective subconsciouses or human tribal memory', as it is often called. 'Myths express characters and stories that are encoded into the human species in prehistory, and therefore express universal concerns', said Jung.

Today there is enough of geological evidence, backed by different dating techniques, that there is a grain of real pre-history in every mythology. The disciplines of Geology, Archaeology, Astronomy, Cryptology, and Linguistics are tentatively validating the main premises of many mythologies. There was indeed a Great Flood and most life on earth was wiped out. And at that time there were efforts, to save some human being and plants, for survival and propagation of the species.

In 1872 an ancient clay tablet in cuneiform script was decoded by George Smith. He realised, that this Mesopotamian story was similar to that of Noah's Ark in Old Testament of the Bible. Similar stories were discovered in Greek, Mayan (of South America), Chinese and tribal mythologies of North America. To quote the authors: "Most striking parallels were the Hindu flood legend of Manu and Biblical account of Noah." Even the designs of the Ark/vessel/boat found in Mid Eastern regions are practically universal.

The age in which Ramayana played itself out is debated. Western scholars believe that it could have been during the Iron Age. Indian archaeologists, tying up their discipline with astronomy, believe that it could have been even earlier. What is certain is that the happenings took place from north of the Indian sub continent to right down south, up to Sri Lanka. Some of the place names exist even today. Kishkindha forest, the kingdom of Sugriva, even today is the same forest near Hampi, Karnataka.

The great Mahabharata happenings seem to have been confined mostly to north India stretching up to North East, though most of the action seems to have taken place in the areas known today as Haryana and Delhi. The period around 1100 - 900 BC is most likely for Mahabharata, going by dating the pottery found in most of the sites associated with the epic. 'Puranic texts mention, that when Hastinapura was destroyed by floods, people moved to Kaushambi. Archaeology revealed not only the floods, but also the settlement of Kausambi, at a later date than the settlement of Hastinapura'.

The debate over the geographical spread and pre-historical periods in which our two great epics played out are still inconclusive. The evidences of different disciplines of investigation are often contradictory. The human quest to understand its past will continue, till all disciplines involved converge within reasonable limits.

(Photo: Noah's Ark tablet British Museum, dailymail.co.uk)

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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