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Many people (specially left-leaning) like to call Hindu epic books such as Ramayana and Mahabharata as myths.

So my question is what is the exact reason for the use of this word myth or mythology despite so many archaelogical, astronomical and historical research into the events mentioned in both the texts?

So in short my question is, is there any special reason for using the word myth in describing the two great epics of Hinduism or is it something else?

  • They are assumed to be as myth because of no strong evidence to prove those stories as ever happened. – Mr_Green Aug 20 '14 at 17:35
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    One word answer: Misunderstanding – user11 Aug 20 '14 at 17:52
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    @Mr_Green I would disagree. There is in fact archaeological evidence to support the fact that Ramayana and Mahabharatam did in fact occur. Ayodha Mahabharatam – Akshay Aug 21 '14 at 18:06
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    @Mr_Green:- If only you will bother to look at proofs. Just because we want to call something as myth doesn't become myth. – Wisdom Aug 22 '14 at 15:45
  • Go further great references here resourcebucket.wordpress.com/srimad-bhagavatam-and-desavataras/… – user2702 Mar 29 '15 at 6:43
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If you Google the word 'myth' the following two meanings show up:

  • a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.
  • a widely held but false belief or idea.

I think when they say the great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata (or from other beliefs) are myths, they are actually referring to the former definition, rather than the latter. But because the latter is more widely used and popular, it is often interpreted that way, which is not true.

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    Thanks for your answer but in today's context in India we all know why Hindu epics are called as myths. It is to denote the second definition you have provided because if such people were genuine in using the first definiton they also would have used similar terms for scriptures of other religions notably Christianity and Islam. But because these two being intolerant religions nobody dares to use these words for Bible and Koran in India. – Wisdom Aug 22 '14 at 15:40
  • @Wisdom, why do you care what the english word for our epics are ? Ramayana and Mahabharata are called 'Itihasa' or 'It was such' or 'It happened thus'. So it falls under a better word 'history'. The true way to defend our religion is to follow its tenets. If we do that, God will protect it. If we don't follow our tenets, God will let it wither and we will be left boasting in vain. – ram Dec 31 '17 at 5:15
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One statement, if History gets old it becomes Legend and when Legend gets old, it becomes a Myth.

In short, they are too old to get proofs from, and they are repeated so many times, that we even cannot be sure that each and every part of them is correct (I am not saying false, history can also be told in some modified form).

Mahabharata was about 3200 BC and we don't know much things, for example, Indus Valley Civilization which is younger; around 2300 BC.

The advancement of science has got many proofs of Mahabharata but Ramayana still remains a myth, for many minded humans.

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    Many archaelogical and astronomical proofs and studies have proved beyond doubt that events described in the scriptures actually happened. And just because Indian history is so old it doesn't become myths. There is actually a great propaganda behind calling ancient history of India as myths so as to make Indians never feel proud of their nationality. – Wisdom Aug 22 '14 at 15:42
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    @Wisdom, I'am in support of you, I have even read such text with proofs provided, but its matter of fact that they are termed as mythology. First thing, we have proofs that Ramayana existed, but we don't have proofs that Ravan had 10 heads, neither we have proofs of any kind of shastra which was as powerfull as a neuclear weapon, so till we get those,most consider the history as hyper dramatically written, hence termed as mythological. Yes there been such going to let people of india not proud of their relegion, my friend soon the world will know the truth. – Mr. K Aug 22 '14 at 15:50
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    But the Rama setu bridge is said to be 17,50,000 years old. It is still existing between India and Srilanka, from NASA's pics. – user12458 Nov 7 '14 at 14:00
  • @JavaTechnical, yup you are right, but that prooves the bridge part, m not saying its a complete myth, neither I believe in so, I am just quoting what others feel of it. – Mr. K Nov 11 '14 at 6:34
  • @Wisdom, you are conflating religion with nationalism and modern war of words. Not helpful at all. But I hear what you are saying. Reminds me of the line from the old West: when facts get in the way, print the legend. – Emacs User Feb 5 '16 at 17:13
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In this age(Kali Yuga) the spiritual connection to the ancestors/pitris has been broken for the past five hundred years or so. Ever since the awakening of materialistic philosophies this problem has arisen and prolonged foreign rule has compounded matters. We have allowed foreigners to tell us how our past should be perceived. During the time of Chandragupta Maurya Megasthenes in his work Indica (Indica) refers to conversation in the royal court how people refer to so many years since the passing of Krishna. So this would imply that the passing away of Krishna was not a mere mythological story but was held as a milestone in real time. Mind you in any authentic Guru/parampara tradition still active today considering these stories as myths would be considered as blasphemy. Outside that where the influence of Dharma(spiritual law) fluctuates these are propagated as myths.

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There are myths in every culture.The meaning of myth as unverifiable, untruthful folklore stories has no relevance in contemporary Hinduism.

The ancient Hindu land has the Ramayana and Mahabharata as guiding scriptures, they will live on as vibrant moralizing instruments of cultural and social changing forces in modern times too with ever- increasing relevance.

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In my opinion, the words myth or mythology are used to denigrate and caste a strong doubt on our own history. Also, many Hindus do the same. The reasons for which I imagine are: fear, confusion about our own origins, shame, leftover intellectual colonization by the British, brainwashing by the Judeo-Christian thoughts or all of these.

I would like to support my opinions by providing the definition of these two words.


A myth is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as

an idea or story that is believed by many people but that is not true

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines mythology as such

the myths of a particular group or culture

ideas that are believed by many people but that are not true


Hence, any use of the word mythology instead of history (especially in cases where events have proven to be historical accounts) comes from a questionable intent.

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I would have a look at who started using the word 'Mythology' to describe Hindu epics. Or more specifically, the question would become "Who first described Hindu religion in English language?"

What are the kind of cultural biases/nuances held by the people who described Hinduism to the European world? Were they affiliated to another religious system which treats 'non-believers' in a negative light? Does association with an Abrahamic religion influence your attitude towards people of non-Abrahamic religions?

What was the nature of interaction between English and India when Hinduism was explored by English? Was it an equal-to-equal relationship or a ruler-ruled one? What kind of views did other Abrahamic religionists have towards heathens?

Do they call their own religious texts as Mythology? Would one hear a Christian or a Muslim referring his/her respective theology as 'Christian/ Islamic mythology'?

Would the guardians/speakers of the language be obligated to modify the terminology when there is no real opposition to it? Would the word 'negro' be outlawed if Blacks didn't fight for it?

Just thinking about these questions answers most of the original question. There is no reason to rubbish one particular religion's self-described timeline as mythology when the same is not applicable to one's own.

TLDR => The basic reason behind calling Hindu epics as 'myths' is the inherent bias of the translators.

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