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The study of Hindu mythology explores the significance of the most prominent Hindu dieties as they are envisioned by the Hindus themselves. Referred to by its adherents as the "eternal religion," Hinduism recognizes for each age and each country a new form of revelation—and for each person, according to his or her stage of development, a different path of realization.
HINDUISM / MYTHOLOGY "Alain Danilou was a man whose vast and curious learning in the fields of literature, music and the Orient was unequalled in our time. His beautifully written works remain to console us in our increasingly barbaric continent. Our debt to Alain Danilou's scholarship and deep humanity is immeasurable."—(James Kirkup, The Independent) "The physical aspects of this book and its arrangements are beyond reproach. The style is lucid; the lack of polemic is particularly attractive. The total result is a volume that is a pleasure to behold and an invigorating experience to read."—(American Anthropologist) "Danilou is one of the greatest Western authorities on Hinduism. . . . His talents seem unending."—(Mohini Kent, Times of India) "Danilou's books are remarkable for their clarity, scholarship, and uninhibited celebration of erotic and mystical ecstasy."—(Interview Magazine) This study of Hindu mythology explores the significance of the most prominent Hindu deities as they are envisioned by the Hindus themselves. Referred to by its adherents as the "eternal religion," Hinduism recognizes for each age and each country a new form of revelation—and for each person, according to his or her stage of development, a different path of realization. This message of tolerance and adaptability, the very heart of Hindu polytheism, resounds clearly throughout Alain Danilou's work. Photographic plates by Raymond Burnier further illustrate the many facets of Hindu teaching and trace the significance of the Gods of the Vedas, as well as Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma, Kali, Shakti, and other deities.
ALAIN DANILOU was an intimate of Stravinsky, Cocteau, and Nabokov in his early years, then spent twenty years in India studying music and philosophy with eminent scholars of the Hindu tradition. He is the author of more than thirty books on the religion, history, and arts of India and the Mediterranean, including While the Gods Play, Gods of Love and Ecstasy, Yoga: Mastering the Secrets of Matter and the Universe, and The Complete Kama Sutra. Danilou was the founder and director of the International Institute for Comparative Musicology in Berlin, and was a Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur, Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, and Officier du Mrite National.
Table of Contents:
List of Illustrations
Note on Translation of the Sanskrit
Note on Pronunciation
1. The Theory of Polytheism The Language of Symbols; The Representation of the Transcendent; The Nondual Principle 6 Monotheism and Polytheism; Nondualism and Monism; The Equivalence of Religions
2. The Nature of the Ultimate The Origin of Existence;The Perceptible Continua: Space, Time, and Thought;The Three Modes of Being: The Substrata of Space, Time, and Consciousness; The"" r and the Self; The Realization of the Soul; Immensity (brahman), the Common Substratum; The Three Fundamental Qualities and the Trinity; The Three States of Experience; The Three Qualities and Manifestation; The Power-of-Illusion (maya); Illusion and Ignorance; Nature; The Living Individuality as the Power That Can Oppose Nature; The Power of Nature as the Obstacle to Knowledge; The Fundamental Duality; ""God"" (Isvara) and the Illusion of Divine Unity; Life as the One Deity; The Relationship of ""God"" and the Universe; The Causal Word; Dangers of Applied Metaphysics
3. The Cosmic Being Macrocosm and Microcosm; Cosmic Duration; Cosmic Location; The Nature of Manifestation; The Appearance of the Universe; Cosmic Consciousness; The Personification and the Description of the Cosmic Being
TWO: The Gods of the Vedas
4. The Cosmic Sacrifice Fire and Offering, Agni and Soma; The Relation of the Spheres; The Ritual of Sacrifice (yajna); The Forms of the Sacrifice; The Technique of the Sacrifice; The Creation of Man; The Last Sacrifice; The Way of the Gods; The Way of the Fathers; Divinity as the Embodiment of the Sacrifice; The Image of the Sacrifice; The Inner Yajna of the Yogi
5. The Thirty-Three Gods The Three Spheres of Agni; The Three Aspects of Deities; The Number of the Gods
6. The Spheres and Their Deities The Eight Spheres of Existence, the Vasus; The Earth; Agni (Fire); The Ten Forms of Fire; The Sphere of Space and the Lord-of-Wind (Vayu); The Sky (Dyaus); The Sun (Surya); The Image of the Sun; Dawn (Usas); The Constellations (naksatra); The Moon, the Cup-of-Offerings (Soma); The Story of the Moon
7. The Divinities of the Sphere of Space The Divinities of Space and Life, the Maruts and the Rudras; The Maruts (Immortals); A Legend of the Maruts; Indra, the Ruler of Heaven
8. The Adityas, the Sovereign Principles Aditi (the Primordial Vastness), Source of the Adityas; Mitra ( Friendship), Solidarity; Aryaman (Chivalry); Bhaga (the Inherited Share); Varuna (the Coverer or Binder), the Mysterious Law of the Gods; Daksa ( Ritual Skill); Amsa (the Share of the Gods); Tvastr (the Shaper), Craftsmanship, the God of Industry; Pusan (the Nourisher), Security, the Protector of Cattle; Vivasvat, the Ancestor, the Embodiment of Morality or Ancestral Law; Savitr (the Vivifier), the Magic Power of Words; Sakra (the Mighty), the Divinity of Courage and Outer Security; Visnu, the All-pervading Light of Knowledge, the Cosmic Law Pervading the Three Worlds
9. Other Vedic Deities The Asvins, the Twin Horse-headed Gods of Agriculture and Physicians of the Gods; The Regents of the Directions; Yama (the Binder), the Lord of Death; Manifold-Secret (Citra-gupta), the Scribe of the Lord of Death; Kubera, the Lord of Riches; The Yaksas, Guardians of the Earth's Treasures; Misery (Nirrta); Nirrti, the Goddess of Misery; Trita (the Third) or Aptya, the Water Deity
10. Gods and Antigods The Antigods (asura); The Gods of Pre-Vedic India; Description of the Antigods; Different Kinds of Asuras; The Gods (sura) or the Resplendent-Ones (deva); The Age and the Felicity of the Gods
THREE: The Trinity ***