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Hindu Oedipus

Hindu Oedipus

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Published by Vishnu Arya

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Published by: Vishnu Arya on Dec 14, 2012
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12/03/2013

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HINDU OEDIPUS:The Myth of Ga
e
ś
a’s Birth Interpretedthrough Freudian Perspective
Research paper for course
THEORIES OF MYTH
at
UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
Term 1, 2011/2012Anja Pogacnik 
 
 2
Table of Contents
 
Hindu Oedipus: Introduction ................................................................................................................................ 4The Myth of Ga
e
ś
a’s Birth .................................................................................................................................. 5A Quick Review of the Oedipus Complex ............................................................................................................ 6Ga
e
ś
a’s Creation ................................................................................................................................................... 7The Mother-Son Relationship between P
ā
rvat
 ī 
and Ga
e
ś
a .............................................................................. 8The Conflict between
Ś
iva and Ga
e
ś
a ................................................................................................................ 9Castration .............................................................................................................................................................. 10Ga
e
ś
a’s Latency Period ...................................................................................................................................... 12Symbolism ............................................................................................................................................................. 13Conclusion ............................................................................................................................................................. 14Bibliography .......................................................................................................................................................... 16
 
 
 3
Hindu Oedipus: Introduction
“There is no single ‘true’ meaning of the myths. Instead there are variousreadings to which we might subject the myths.”
(Courtright 1985, 91)Ga
e
ś
a, a comic figure with an elephant head and a potbelly, is one of the most popular godsin Hinduism and his popularity may be paralleled with the popularity and resonance of Sophocles’ play Oedipus Rex, which served as the foundation of Freud’s concept of theOedipus complex. The psychoanalytic aspect of the myth of Ga
e
ś
a’s birth has been noted bya number of scholars (more in 1985, 115-6), and Robert Goldman (ibid., 116) even suggestedthat Ga
e
ś
a is actually a clearer example of the Oedipus complex than the Oedipus himself.Freud argues (in Segal 2004, 92) that like in dreams, in every myth there is a manifest and alatent level. The manifest level of a myth is its story in all its incoherence, absurdity andirrationality, while its true meaning lies in its latent level. The latent level of a myth (as wellas a dream) is understood only by our unconsciousness and therefore cannot be detected byour consciousness, but it still conveys a powerful meaning. Through the story of a myth andidentification with its main character we fulfill our unconscious desires and in the case of themyth of Oedipus as well as the myth of Ga
e
ś
a’s birth, we fulfill our own Oedipus complex.Although the latent meaning of the myth is not bluntly revealed, “the level above /…/ partlyreveals, even as it partly hides, the meaning below. The true meaning always lies at the level below but is always conveyed by the level above.” (ibid., 93) Myths therefore oftencharacterize truths that are not comfortably admitted at the conscious levels of individuals,families and societies, but are projected onto the gods (Courtright 1985, 104). With suchmyths repressed desires are fulfilled, even if unconsciously, which enables societies tofunction and individuals to divert otherwise unacceptable desires.On the following pages I will focus on Freud’s concept of the Oedipus complex as defined for  boys and its application to the myth of Ga
e
ś
a’s birth in search of making sense of its latentside. Although there are also other aspects of the myth that might deserve interpretation froma psychoanalytical perspective, I will reference them only briefly and only when connected tothe Oedipus complex, as my main goal is to establish a connection between the myth and thetheory of the Oedipus complex. I will also leave aside the evidence supporting Freud’sconcept and many controversies surrounding the theory of Oedipus complex, as they deservespecial attention, which is beyond the scope of this paper.

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