Indian mythology holds the unique distinction of not only being amongst the oldest mythologies in the world, but also the one that is still actively being followed today. The Hindu religion which is one of the major religions of the world and forms the belief system of the majority of the population of India borrows its roots from Indian mythology.
This mythology comes from what used to be the erstwhile Indian subcontinent which comprises of modern day Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It is no longer recognised as a part of the history of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh due to the predominance of the Islamic faith which frowns upon any other belief system.
Indian Mythology is based on the Sanskrit epics Ramayana, Mahabharata and few other important scriptures like the Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads. There are also references to regional texts that propagate the mythology. One of the main differences between Indian mythology and other mythologies from around the world is the fact that the stories are not generally linear in nature. Many of the characters feature in various different texts at various timelines leading to a complex and highly interconnected series of stories.
The cosmology of Indian mythology can be dived into Swarga (Heaven or the world in the clouds), Pritvi (Earth), Patala (The underworld) and Naraka (Hell). The residents of Swarga are generally Gods and Demigods, Patala is inhabited by Asuras and Pritvi by mortals and other beings. The concept of reincarnation ensures that no one is sent to heaven or hell unless they have been specially blessed or cursed with eternal damnation.
Gods and demigods are frequently locked in battle against the asuras and humans leading to plenty of conflict and becoming the basis for many of the stories. The ultimate truth or Brahman is the highest order of the mythology and it is followed by the trinity of Gods – Brahmha (The creator), Vishnu (The preserver) and Shiva (The Destroyer).
In Greek mythology, the hero wants to be great, but the very concept does not exist in the Indian vocabulary. Yet it has become the global template. And it’s a template that won’t fit in India