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Siva Myths in the Epics (The Ramayana of Valmiki and the Mahabharata of Vyasa)

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Item Code: HAI037
Publisher: Agam Kala Prakashan, Delhi
Author: Prashant Srivastava
Language: English
Edition: 2024
ISBN: 9789392556258
Pages: 254 (B/W Illustrations)
Cover: HARDCOVER
Other Details 9.50 X 6.50 inch
Weight 580 gm
Book Description
About the Book
The work deals with the Siva myths in the two great epics of India-the Ramayana of Valmiki and the Mahabharata of Vyasa. Of the two epics, the Ramayana of Valmiki has the Journey of Rama, the seventh avatara of Vishnu, as its theme; in the Mahabharata of Vyasa, Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu, plays a pivotal rôle. Yet, in both the epics, with their obvious Vaishnava affiliations, the presence of Śiva is felt.

Besides the Introduction, the work is divided into six chapters. As is proper, Chapter I is concerned with the birth of Rudra-Šiva, and a brief history of the Saiva sect in ancient India. Rudra is among the earliest known names of Siva, and most of the early salutations, addressed to him, have escaping his wrath as their immediate objective. Hence, the myths in Chapter 2 depict the raudra aspect of Śiva. Chapter 3 deals with the myths, in which the fival saumya aspect of Siva comes to the fore, when he appears before his devotees, and grants them their heart's desire. Chapter 4 is, in a sense, a continuation of the theme of Chapter 3, with Siva bestowing various boons, often in the form of celestial weapons and other objects, on those who gratify him, usually by performing austere tapas. Some myths in the two epics exhibit a rôle reversal, with Siva receiving something from some other agency, and some such major myths form the subject of Chapter 5. Myths of Siva, of a variegated nature, as found in the two epics, have been clubbed together in the last chapter. A Select Bibliography follows, which lists the major source materials on the subject. The illustrations, at the end of the work, are pictorial representations of some of the myths, included in this work.

About the Author
Dr Prashant Srivastava (BA Honours, MA, PhD, DLitt) is Professor and Former Head of the Department of Ancient Indian History and Archaeology, University of Lucknow. He is the recipient of four gold medals (one for BA Honours, two for MA; and one for DLitt). He is the author of 17 books, including Joint Coin-types of Ancient India (NSI, Varanasi. 1990); Aspects of Ancient Indian Numismatics (Delhi. 1996; Delhi. 2022); Coins of Ancient India (Lucknow 1997, jointly with Prof K K Thaplyal); Art Motifs on Ancient Indian Coins (New Delhi. 2004); The Successors of the Mauryas (Delhi. 2017); Religious Systems of Ancient India (Delhi. 2020); and Gleanings in World Mythology (Delhi. 2022). He is one of the editors of History and Heritage: Essays in Honour of Professor K K Thaplyal (3 volumes, Delhi. 2007); A Bouquet of Indian Heritage Research and Management (2 volumes, Delhi. 2015); and Indian Culture and Art: Continuity and Change (2 volumes, Delhi. 2015). He has contributed over 100 research papers and chapters in books, in reputed journals and publications, and about two dozen popular articles on ancient Indian history.

In 2006, the University Grants Commission, New Delhi, awarded him a major research project, and his Encyclopaedia of Indian Coins (Ancient Coins of Northern India, up to circa 650 AD) (2 volumes, Delhi. 2012), has evolved out of the same project report, submitted to the University Grants Commission.

In 2023, he was granted a little over six months' Sabbatical Leave, by the University of Lucknow, to work on the project-Siva Myths in the Epics The Ramayana of Valmiki and The Mahabharata of Vyasa. The present work is based on that project report.

Preface
Of the two epics, on which this work is based, the Ramayana of Välmiki has the 'Journey' of Rama, the seventh avatara of Vishnu, as its theme, while in the Mahabharata of Vyasa, Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu, plays a pivotal rôle. Yet, in both the epics, which are, ultimately, Vaishnava texts, myths of Śiva occupy a pride of place, with both Rama and Krishna often paying homage to that deity. This shows the complementarity of Vishnu and Siva, as argued by Madeleine Biardeau, Alf Hiltebeitel, James W Laine, and Jacques Scheuer. However, at some places, especially in the middle and later stages, we find both the epics asserting the supremacy of Śiva, and, at other place, that of Vishnu, suggesting a very complex relationship between the two deities. As Stella Kramrisch would have said, the presence of Siva is felt, even in these texts, despite their obvious Vaishnava affiliations.

Introduction
Siva, the ithyphallic yogin, is a study in paradox. He is Rudra, and visits his anger on the devas, asuras, rishis, and mānavas alike; he is Śiva, and bestows boons and health on the devas, asuras, rishis, and mänavas impartially. He is erotic, and has his way with Vishnu-Mohini, and arouses to an orgiastic frenzy, the wives and daughters of the rishis; he is the ascetic, and reduces Kama to ashes, for disturbing his meditation. He is easily pleased as Asutosha; it takes thousands of years of rigorous tapas to gratify him. His abode is the snowy peak of the Kailasa; his favourite haunts are the cremation grounds and the crossroads. He is adored by the celestials, sages, and mortals; he is the god of the cheats, cutpurses, thieves, robbers, pilferers, and the untrustworthy. In short, '[h]e is everything': 'he is the god of everything that no one else wants'. The apparently contradictory qualities and attributes of Siva may have had their origins at different times and places, 'they have resulted in a composite deity who is unquestionably whole to his devotees'.2

**Contents and Sample Pages**














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