I have noticed for some time that certain themes occur in different forms in the itihasas and puranas. The characters and the settings may change in the stories or depictions, but there is an essential analogy between various instances of the same theme.

One instance that I was reminded of recently while looking at the famous family photo of Rama with Lakshmana, Sita and Hanuman are the analogies between the stories or Rama and Krishna. The parallels are as follows:

  • Rama = Krishna (the Lord)
  • Sita = Radha/Rukmini (incarnations of Lakshmi)
  • Hanuman = Garuda (both are epitomes of bhakti and also serve as vahanas)
  • Lakshmana = Balarama (brothers of Rama/Krishna, but also incarnations Adi Shesha)
  • Ravana = Kamsa (the evil "boss" in Ramayana/Bhagavata. I am aware of the Jaya-Vijaya angle where Ravana is more analogous to Hiranyakashipu etc.)

Another case is that of the ornamentation of Hindu deities. Quite a number of them seem to have a consort, a weapon, a Vahana, often a musical instrument, and so on.

My current conjecture as to why this happens is that there might be a fundamental theology/theory underlying these similarities in the mythology. The mythology might be a way to make common people aware of the theology or theory.

Is this true? If it is, is there any text that systematically deals with the theology/theory? How else might one go about deciphering the symbology of epics and puranas?

As you can probably surmise, my knowledge of these things is very minimal, so if I have made any mistakes, I would welcome corrections as well.

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