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Comparative discussion of Mythology

Poll Question: Which mythology other than Hindu fascinates you?

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.Vrish.

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.Vrish.

Joined: 25 October 2008

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Posted: 05 May 2012 at 1:13pm | IP Logged
I am opening this new thread so that we can discuss  the similarities, parallels and differences b/w Hindu mythology, and mythology from other traditions, be it Greek, Roman, Norse or any other.  Hopefully, it will be interesting.

P.S. - For the poll above, multiple choices can be selected.

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Vibhishnavaraali

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.Vrish.

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.Vrish.

Joined: 25 October 2008

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Posted: 05 May 2012 at 1:39pm | IP Logged
Continuing the discussion from the quiz thread, which I created for this purpose, and those outlined above...

Originally posted by varaali

Vrish-

That was a fantastic question from you - comparing the Ramayan War and the Trojan War. In the Ramayan, the motive for the War was pretty straight forward. Rescue Seeta  at all costs and in the process if Ravana and his family had to be killed, so be it. Since Vibhishana had already surrendered to Rama and Rama had instated Vibhishana as king , he was probably not inclined to ransack Lanka. 

But in the case of the Trojan war, things get a bit complicated, not least because of Helen's own wavering loyalties. Agreed that it was Helen's abduction in the first place which spurred Melenaus to amass forces against the Trojans, but by the time the War entered its final phase after ten long years, it was not just about Helen any more. Even  Gods like Apollo and Aphrodite has become involved and there were various personal scores to be settled amongst the different parties. 

The ending of the Ramayan War and Trojan war also differed because of the casualities suffered. In the former, apart from the  vanars, Rama's side did not lose any major warrior. But in Trojan's case, each side suffered heavy casualities. Hector's death was probably the turning point- the point after which there was no looking back.  Hector killed * I think* Achilles brother, which spurred Achilles to kill Hector, in revenge of which Paris killed Achilles. After Achilles death, the battle was led on the Greek's side by Odysseus . Paris too was eventually killed, but since Helen had taken his brother as her husband, freeing her was no longer the main motive as much as capturing her and punishing her was.  Priam, I don't think was much of a warrior. He was hiding behind the statue of Apollo when he was discovered and killed.

In fact if you notice, the war did end when Helen was captured / recovered. Only it was not immeditely after Paris' death but after the death of his brother ( I need to Google and find out his name now).

A very interesting question coming from you. Maybe we can have more discussions on these lines.

Varaali

My memory is faint, but I recall reading about Paris being asked to adjudicate some contest b/w Hera, Athena and Aphrodite.  All 3 tried to influence his decision w/ promises of gifts - Hera promised him power, Athena wealth, and Aphrodite the most beautiful woman in the world.  Paris judged Aphrodite the winner, which made Hera and Athena the enemy of the Trojans.  Also, the woman who Aphrodite had promised him was Helen.  It's interesting that she didn't promise him the most beautiful maiden in the world, but most beautiful woman, period. Evil Smile

In the Ramayan, Sita, in her previous birth as Vedavati, was harassed by Ravan, and vowed to get reborn to cause his death.  So in other words, Paris was promised Helen as a gift from someone who wanted to reward him, whereas Ravan was promised that Vedavati would be reborn to cause his death.  That too is a pretty big change in circumstances.

In the Ramayan, the logical sequence made sense - as long as Ravan was alive, there was no question of releasing Sita, and as long as Ravan's kinsmen - Indrajit, Kumbhakarna, Atikaya, Prahast, Kumbha, Nikumbha and others were alive, it was impossible to kill him, thereby making the war last until the death.  I think that had Rama killed Ravana on their first encounter, leaving Kumbhakarna and Indrajit alive, there are some chances that the war might have ended, although Indrajit, as a potential successor, may have chosen to continue the war with or without returning Sita.  But point is that aside from Ravan, nobody else was interested in Sita - not Indrajit, not Kumbhakarna and not anyone else.  The other thing here was that since Ravan was the king, his decree to have Sita ruled, and nobody could overrule him.

With the Trojans, it didn't, since after Paris died, Helen remained w/ the Trojans until Troy fell.  Frankly, I haven't heard the story of her moving on to any of Paris' brothers, so I too would have to read up on that aspect.  But unlike in the Ramayan, after a number of years where leading warriors on both sides - Patrocleus, Hector, Achilles were killed, the war acquired a momentum all its own, and at this point, it was a war to wipe out the other side.  Normally, Prium might have overruled Paris and returned Helen, but nothing like it happened.  In the Ramayan, Rama was pretty happy to accept Vibhishan and name him as the future ruler of Lanka.  Here, had any Trojan gone over to the Greek side, it's unlikely that they'd have decided to exempt the Trojans from a massacre.  In other words, this was a deathmatch war b/w the Greeks and the Trojans.

This momentum issue also showed itself up in the Kurukshetra war as well.  After a number of warriors on both sides were killed, ending the war was pretty much out of the question.  There was no way that Duryodhan was going to call off the war after the fall/deaths of Bheeshma, Lakshmana, Jayadrath, Drona, Dushashan, Karna and Shakuni, and just as unlikely, Yudhisthir wouldn't have called off the war after the deaths of Uttar, Sveta, Sankha, Satyaki's sons, Iravana, Drupada's various sons, Abhimanyu, Kuntibhoj, Dhrishtaketu, Sahadev of Magadha, Drupada, Virata and others.  Doing so would have just illustrated that those people died in vain, so only a victory would vindicate their heroism.  The same logic ran w/ the Greeks and Trojans.  In fact, w/ Ravan too, once several leading kinsmen, including Kumbhakarna & Indrajit were killed, it was impossible for him to accept any peace, since even if it didn't demonstrate him as a coward, it would certainly have made the point that they died for nothing.

varaali

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varaali

Joined: 17 July 2006

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Posted: 06 May 2012 at 12:02am | IP Logged


You are right about the contest.  It was at some banquet thrown by Zeus where Eris, the Goddess of discord was not invited. Miffed at being left out, she decided to create disturbance anyway and threw a golden apple at the entrance on which were inscribed the words "To the most beautiful one." Three goddesses staked their claim on the apple  - Aphrodite, Athena and Hera. Zeus asked Paris to adjudicate and he chose Aphrodite . The rest is as you have narrated. 

There is another key difference . once abducted, Helen happily went off with Paris (thanks to Aphrodite who made Helen fall in love with Paris) and spent many years as his companion.
But once the initial attraction wore off and especially after the War started, she began to admire Hector more and wished that she could have been the wife of the elder brother. Paris had too many women to be committed to Helen alone and it was Hector's fidelity to his wife that Helen admired.

I am pretty certain that after Paris' death, Helen did take his younger bother as her new husband (Google tells me his name is Deiphobus), but whether she did so willingly or under coercion is unclear. She does however hide his lucky sword when he goes out to fight Menelaus, and hence Deiphobus is easily  killed by  Menelaus.




Edited by varaali - 06 May 2012 at 12:11am

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Vibhishna

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Vibhishna

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Posted: 06 May 2012 at 1:24pm | IP Logged
I read an account of how Zeus interferes in the war. Zeus placed the weights offered by the Trojans and Achaeans (Greeks) on a balance. The weight offered by the Greeks sunk down, hence, Zeus rained showers of lightning on the Greeks and thus turned the tide in favour of the Trojans.


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