The history of Hindu mythology can be broken up into several different ages, all of which have contributed to the

faith as a whole. The first is the pre-Vedic age, which goes back to the time of the early Indus valley civilizations of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, which were established around 2400 BCE. These cities were destroyed by 1700. Some scholars have suggested that the Indo-European invaders known as the Indo-Aryans came and conquered both much of India and Persia by about 1500 BCE. They brought with them new gods and hymns dedicated to them. These hymns came to be called collectively the Vedas. The Vedic age is when Hinduism proper begins. The Indo-Aryans became the lords of India, and their gods became the most important in the pantheon, but earlier gods were still revered; they were just given different roles. The Aryans also brought with them a distinct class structure, which included a priestly class, a warrior or ruling class, and the trade or merchant class. The native peoples who were subject to Aryan rule were incorporated into a fourth class. This is the basis for the caste system which still is very much a part of Indian life. By the end of the Vedic period, these castes were called, respectively: Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras. The Vedic gods were led by Indra, the archetypical thunder god, and they got their strength from the drink Soma, a form of ambrosia. From around 900 BCE to 500 BCE, as Aryan culture spread further into the sub-continent, Hinduism underwent some major changes. This period has been referred to as the Brahmanic Age, for it was during this time that the Brahmans and the Kshatriyas fought for supremacy over Indian life. New thought had been adopted, with the idea of the soul or atman becoming a major part of Hinduism and the transmigration of that soul becoming a foundation of the religion. It was during this time that the Brahman caste asserted that the gods need human priests to keep their power, and some of the rishis, or sages, became more powerful than the gods. Sacrifice became the chief form of worship. The major Vedic deities began to fall from their high positions and were slowly usurped by the cults of the three gods who came to dominate Hinduism: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. From 500 BCE to about 100 CE, the age of Buddhism and Jainism put Hinduism in decline. The Buddha's doctrine took India by storm, and the older religion almost was suppressed entirely. Hinduism still included its child into itself, however, and was able to survive the storm with new ideas. Sacrifice went out of favor, and influence by the ascetic worshipers of Jainism and Buddhism led to the composition of the Upanishads. It was also during this time that Vishnu and Shiva completed their eclipse of Indra and the other Vedic gods. The next age was the Epic or Classical period, the time of the great Hindu epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. These great works were compiled into their present form during thins time, but their origins go back at least to Vedic times. The Puranas were also composed at this time. Finally, around 1000 CE we come to modern Hinduism, when the religion once again became the dominant faith on the sub-continent. .

The children of the Trimurti are also devas. Lakshmi the goddess of all forms of wealth. DEITIES There are many deities in Hinduism. and Soma (the moon god). Some gods are associated with specific elements or functions: Indra (the god of thunder and lightning. whose job is to entertain the heavenly court. Kubera (the treasurer of the gods). The Vedas are said to be four in number. namely RigVeda. Agni (the god of fire). Menaka. These stories are deeply embedded in Hindu philosophy and serve as parables and sources of devotion for Hindus. Vayu (the god of wind). the Ramayana and the Mahabharata tell the story of two specific incarnations of Vishnu (Rama and Krishna). such as Ganesha and Skanda or Kartikaya. The two great Hindu Epics. and Narada the messenger of the gods. Other notable inhabitants of the heavens include the celestial sages. Some of these texts mention mythological concepts and machines very much similar to modern day scientific theories and machines. and Brahma (the creator). These two works are known as Itihasa. Varuna (the god of the oceans). Vishnu (the protector). he also rules the world of Swarga). Swarga also has a set of famous heavenly dancers: Urvasi.000 lines. . to distract people on the earth from accumulating too much good deeds so as to become a threat to the heavenly kings. running to more than 30. and Tilottama (all female). Brahma is considered the ruler of the highest of the heavens (the world called Sathya). and upon orders from the heavenly kings. philosophy and stories that make up ancient Vedic myths are indelibly linked with Hindu beliefs. The epics are divided into chapters and contain various short stories and moral situations. The most famous of these chapters is the Bhagavad Gita (Sanskrit: The Lord's Song) in the Mahabharata. theology. Ambika) the goddess of courage and power. andSaraswati the goddess of learning. Brahma is not beyond the fourteen worlds as Shiva and Vishnu are.The characters. in which Lord Krishna explains the concepts of duty and righteousness to the hero Arjuna before the climactic battle. YajurVeda. The epics Mahabharata and Ramayana serve as both religious scriptures and a rich source of philosophy and morality for a Hindu. The Mahabharata is the world's longest epic in verse. where the character takes a certain course of action in accordance with Hindu laws and codes of righteousness. Surya (the sun god). Rambha. SamaVeda. At the top are the Trimurti: Shiva (the destroyer). and the AtharvaVeda. and their wives (goddesses in their own right): Shakti (also known as Paarvathi. so in one sense.

Varaha (boar). The epic Bhagavatha Purana is the chronology of Vishnu's ten major incarnations (there are in total twenty six incarnations):Matsya (fish). Gautam Buddha(later buddhists separated themselves from Hindus). Parasurama (a militant Brahmin). Krishna. . Several gods are believed to have had incarnations (avatars). He rules the lower world of Naraka with a band of emissaries called the Yama doota (messengers of Yama). Vamana (an ascetic in the form of a midget). one of the duties of Vishnu is to appear on the earth whenever a firm hand is required to set things right. As the protector of life.Yama (the god of death and justice) is said to live in Kailash along with his master Shiva. Narasimha (lionfaced human). Chitragupta is one of those lower level celestial beings who functions as the karmic accountant of all the actions of the human beings on earth. Rama. Kurma (turtle). Kalki (a predicted warrior on a white horse who would come in this yuga ) whose appearance also signals the beginning of the end of the epoch. who bring the souls of dead persons to Yama for evaluation.

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