Hinduism is abundant with mythological stories. The aim of mythology is to convey a concept through stories, rituals and symbols.
Mithya is the concept or idea conveyed by mythology.
From mythology arises sects, religion and customs. From mithya arises several belief systems.
Behind mythology and mithya is absolute reality or truth.
The aim of Hinduism is to take the individual through mythology and mithya to experience absolute reality.
Transcending mithya takes the individual towards absolute reality.
This is non-dual nature or advaita.
The realisation that self is divine and its oneness with existence is the ultimate theme of Hinduism. This realisation takes the individual to infinite nature.
The infinite is limitless and cannot be described with words or attributes. Words and attributes limit the infinite. Mythology and mithya are required to convey this concept of infinite.
Mythology and mithya depend on the absolute reality for existence. They don’t have bearing on their own. Whereas the absolute reality does not depend on anything for existence.
Hinduism is descriptive and not prescriptive as other religions.
Prescriptive nature binds an individual whereas descriptive nature encourages freedom to explore and liberate oneself.
There is an interesting mythological story.
A powerful asura king called Jalandara had a desire. He wanted to possess Parvati, the concert of Shiva.
The furious Shiva created a terrible being from his third eye. The terrible being had a face of a lion, a protruding tongue, eyes burning with fire, raised hair and roared like a lion.
This terrible being had a great desire to consume everything. It chased Jalandara to consume him. The terrified Jalandara ran to Shiva and begged for protection. Shiva dissuaded the terrible being from consuming Jalandara.
Now the terrible being complained to Shiva of his intense hunger.
Shiva ordered the being to consume its own flesh. The terrible being obeyed Shiva’s order and consumed itself until its head.
This pleased Shiva and anointed him as Kirtimukha. He said henceforth Kirtimukha will have permanent place in doorsteps of temples and worshipped.
You will find the familiar lion faced Kirtimukha sculpture in arches in most temples.
The desire Jalandara was consumed by a greater desire Kirtimukha.
This story is mythology. The Myth in this story is desire. The ultimate truth is desire leads to greater desire and transcending desire leads to realisation.
A visit to Chennakeshava temple, Belur in August 2017. Pic: Kirtimukha sculpture.