Joined: 10 January 2012
India, Hindustan, Bharat, three names for the same country which is the seventh largest by area, second largest by population and the largest democracy in the world. The very essence of each of these names is derived from ancient history which in turn owes its origin to mythology.
The name India is derived from Indus, which originates from the Old Persian word Hindu (Hindustan thus being the 'land of the Hindus'). The latter term stems from the Sanskrit word Sindhu, which was the historical local appellation for the Indus River which powered one of the world's earliest urban civilizations viz. the Indus Valley Civilization. The river Indus originates in the Tibetan plateau in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar which is one of largest freshwater lakes in the world and of extreme significance to Hindus and Buddhists. For thousands of years India has been known to be the land of religion, spirituality and mysticism all of which stems from its very name and roots in Hinduism.
Hinduism, with about one billion followers, is the world's third largest religion, after Christianity and Islam. It is also one of the oldest schools of thought in the world with earliest evidence dating back to the early Harappan period (c. 5500–2600 BCE). It was however during the Vedic period (c. 1700–500 BCE), that the foundations of Hindu philosophy, mythology, and literature were laid, and many beliefs and practices which still exist today, such as dhrma, krma, yga, and mok?a, were established. Hinduism is also considered to be the mother of most religions shaped by various historical schools of thought, including those of the Upanishads, Yoga Sutras, Bhakti movement, and Buddhist philosophy.
Anyone who visits India particularly around an important religious festival of the country would be amazed to see the magnanimity of idol worship and the number of deities prevalent in the country. That count is said to stand at 330 million, although a more rational view contends that the number actually represents infinity and denotes the infinite forms of God. For all practical purposes though, modern day Hinduism has only three main gods; "Brahma-Vishnu-Maheshwara" also referred to as the Trimurti. Of the three it is only Vishnu and Shiva who are worshiped in one of many forms around the world. While Vishnu and his ten avatars are popular and well depicted on film, television and through the timeless epics of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, the mythology around the life of Shiva (also known as Devon Ke Dev Mahadev) was so far left largely unexplored.
Shiva is in fact the only major Hindu deity known to reside on Earth at the peaks of Mount Kailash in his true avatar whereas Vishnu requires an incarnation to be present on the blue planet. The life and form of Shiva is one of terrific intrigue offering timeless lessons that can be applied to modern day life even today. He is one of the few Hindu gods to be worshiped in both symbolic (see Lingam) and physical form. The mythological tales around Shiva and his consort Parvati (previously Sati) refer to numerous temples spread across India which have become major destinations of religious tourism today. Surprisingly, a magnum opus based on the life of Shiva had been missing from Indian television for many years. Indian audiences have an insatiable appetite for mythology so it was just a matter of time before the only unexplored mega Hindu deity was brought to life on the telly.
On December 18, 2011, Life OK an Indian cable and satellite channel, owned and produced by STAR TV and distributed worldwide by Fox International Channels premiered a show titled "Devon Ke Dev Mahadev". The show combined various sources on the life of the deity including the Shiva Puranas and research by noted Indian mythologist Devdutt Pattnaik. Within a few months post its launch it has become one of the most popular shows on Indian television captivating the imagination of audiences across all age groups. Devon Ke Mahadev chronicles the life of Shiva starting from his relationship with Sati, his unwillingness to get married to her due to her flaws, the subsequent marriage and consequences of the same. In the process it has depicted numerous facts that are stated in the various works of Shiva mythology but have been relatively unknown to Indian audiences. The self-immolation of Sati, consequent suffering of Shiva, formation of the river Ganga, marriage to Parvati and her journey to becoming a part of Shiva and the source of all energy on Earth has received a great reception from viewers.
Some of the reasons behind the success of Devon Ke Dev Mahadev has been the terrific attention to detail to every topic shown which in today's world can be instantly verified through a Google search. Additionally, the presentation of the show which encompasses the characters, the performances, the sets, costumes, background music etc has been flawless. One individual who has received rave reviews for his performance on the show is actor Mohit Raina who essays the lead role of Lord Shiva himself. 30 year old Mohit (who bears a resemblance in appearance and voice to MS Dhoni) who hails from the abode of Shiva (Jammu and Kashmir) was a professional model and little known soap star before he landed the title role in Devon Ke Dev Mahadev. Mohit who had a very lean physique prior to the show was asked to put on weight and bulk up as part of his preparation in addition to taking diction lessons in Hindi and learning Kathak. His characterization of Lord Shiva actually brings him close to the deity's popular idol form which is why he has become a subject of immense attention and audience adulation.
Post the success of the show the on-screen Devon Ke Dev Mahadev now faces the challenge of not being type-casted in the same kind of roles and more importantly handling the attention of his fans. Given the fanaticism for mythology and god in India he is likely to have unsettling encounters with people who would treat him as if he were REALLY Lord Shiva.
We Indians are very emotional. In fact on the sets, when we get visitors, they ask me to pose for them in weird positions. One guy took my snap and gifted it to his grandmother! People also ask me to solve their problems. – said Mohit when queried about being idolized as god in remote parts of India as a result of his performance on Devon Ke Dev Mahadev (Source: Screen India)
Well, Mohit and the entire team behind the show have done a terrific job of depicting the various aspects of Shiva while also educating the masses with timeless principles on how to lead a happy life. We just hope that some of the show's magic rubs off on the country's politicians many of whom are staunch followers of Shiva and use their own religious principles to mis-guide the masses. What do you think of the show? Share your thoughts by dropping a comment and help us make this feature interactive and engaging.
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