Mythology and Culture : Open Forum

Where do our fundamental roots lie ? In Culture or in Mythology. Is our culture defined by our Myths, or is it the other way round ? Or is one inseparable from the other ? Can I, for example, live in completely different culture, adapt to that culture, and yet my being is incomplete with my own mythology ? I personally have been able to constantly adapt to other cultures (I am a gypsy) , but when I wake up in the morning I reconstruct myself from the night before by delving deep into my mythology. Not prayers, nor faith. Just Mythology. I guess being in NY and being part of a completely multi cultural experience in film making, where the other directors are Japanese, Chinese, Russian, French, – this questions begs discussion. Any takers ?

25 thoughts on “Mythology and Culture : Open Forum

  1. i do think that our culture is influenced by our mythologoes and vice versa… u r quite right by saying that they r inseperable … but we have a human bond which binds us completely…

  2. I think we understand another culture after understanding one culture, from there the journey begins to compare our belif’s with the belifs in other cultures and makeing our belif strong.
    The first question with Culture or Mythology,I feel mythology is a documentry made on the culture, Easy way out:)

  3. shekhar could you please clarify your question? do you mean which is more fundamental to our ‘being’: culture or mythology?
    are you just asking ‘where do our fundamental roots lie?’
    if the latter is an open ended question then i have come to believe that the most integarl thing about each one of us, which we can not shake off, which defines each one of our reactions and actions, our perceptions, goals, fears, our dincharya, what we read first thing in the morning and last thing at night, the things we get attracted to….is our ‘sanskara’.
    sanskaras are imprints on the subconscious mind from past and present life experiences. they are the ‘glasses’ through which we see ourselves and others, they therefore define our individual trajectories and therein our ongoing karmas.
    we only have to see how disparate people from the same culture, even families can be to begin to believe in this concept.
    so shekhar i believe that no matter where you live, be it china london or new york, no matter what mythology you take a fancy to: you will still be the creative inquisitive director and sensitive man that you are (i will let you add any negative adjectives 🙂 ), you will reconstruct yourself from the night before by delving deep into your sanskara and thereby create your life/karma.
    jai hind. shivani

  4. It reminds me of the banyan tree, strong and sturdy roots growing all over, which would be its fundamental root?
    Culture and mythology are deep rooted and intertwined growing roots and new sprouts as time passes on. Thats the beauty of multi-cultural experience.

  5. Co-existance!
    Culture was there before mythology and culture will be there after…
    Both become reference point too.
    Shekharji you are zen master in questioning…
    A culture is taste in manners… acceptence in social group…all the knowledge social values shared in society…but yet, culture is part of not whole…
    But Mythology is integral part of religion of a particular country. It has story, Mythology is also a record of spirit of our forefathers who cared for good and saw more of mystery in life then what we see today in our illusionary achievements. But here in Mythology we understand a reference point to understand other cultures and other country mythology.
    A traditional story serves as part of history serves to help understand world view of people
    So when you say you are gypsy…I can sense that a gypsy is a rebel too…but if adaptablity to change is the question, then yes one can understand other race or country
    So we cannot understand greek life and greek civilization without understanding zeus, Apollo, ercules, venus, hector, priam, Achilles, ulyssessand others..and likewise if a foriegner wants to understand India, he or she will be able to understand better if he knows The Ramanayana or Mahabharata.
    Because…every race , country will have its own mythology…and there is popular belief that “What is not in (mythology) it, is nowhere” He who knows it not, knows not the heights and depths of soul and misses the trials and tragedy and the beauty and grandeur of life. So mythology is important.
    Also to a large extent, besides culture, mythology I think its the philosphy and social setup of that country & its people that is to be understood…then understanding, adaptablity and coexistance is easy

  6. Mythology or myths
    I feel each individual has his/her own story within….thats the real culture/story….rest is conditioned….we are individual package of culture….
    it connects to disconnect….disconnects to connect!!

  7. There are very few places in this world like New York, Mumbai….which make you feel at home and part of them and it does not matter which culture you are from or what mythology you believe in.

  8. Well, your roots seem to lie in mythology.
    I haven’t acquired either culture or mythology as roots, if by roots you mean a source of inspiration? I just seek answers from any source but don’t know what the question is! In any case, we wouldn’t know if someone is speaking from culture/mythology or from their own experiences and conditionings. And does it matter? Is any story too alien?

  9. hi shekhar !
    must confess i am surprised that you put mythology above PRAYER and FAITH !
    i believe mythology consists of just various ‘fairy tales’ and strange combinations of animals ( ganesh……an elephant head and human body, shivji……….a blue body male with a snake wrapped around his neck,the devis….. tripple headed figure of a lady ! )……………………
    it is the ‘FAITH’ within us that makes GODS and GODDESSES out of them ! a rock as they say……. ‘maano to bhagwan , varna sirf patthar’
    prayer……….which you seem to reject here is another word for every effort that you exert towards…….be it your creativity……or your plans for the day………THEY ARE ALL MADE IN FAITH and an inherent PRAYER that they may go through and bring the results intended by your efforts.
    MYTHOLOGY can only be the form your FAITH and PRAYERS take ………..!

  10. very interesting discussion Shekhar. I hope you will find this sense-full:
    Civilization cannot exist without mythology. It is through mythology that the world is translated into human terms. Its sacred narratives relate physicality and idea, and provide a known context for an unknown world. Myths create culture, provide ethical models, individuate personality, give definition to the spirit and explain the world and its origins.
    Mythology is communicated by visual image, music and the spoken word. It denotes a narrative point of view and a particular quality of comprehension. The sacred narratives of mythology are catalysts for a kind of knowledge that cannot be understood through discursive logic alone. Mythology is both convention and ontological ground. The written narrative by itself is not the myth, but can be integral to the cultural experience that is.

  11. hi mr gypsy……..!
    where for have you pitched your tent at this point of time 🙂 ?
    where on the world map can we put a dot that represents YOU ?

  12. I think I will put Culture before Mythology as Myths are by-product of any culture. Thats why you have so many different myths associated with so many different cultures.
    But what is culture? Culture is way of life for a society and very few ancient societies can stake a claim for that culture. I think that Hindu, Native Indians, Jews, Chinese, Japanese, Gypsies and tribal societies can only claim that they have a bit of ancient culture left.
    I am in US for past three years but still I am not able to call my older american collegues by their name. As my culture teaches me to be respectful to the old age.
    well every religion on earth has three different components i.e. Mythology, Philosophy and Rituals.. basic philosophy for ever religion is same as it teaches more or less same thing.. like every religion preaches human to be kind and philatropic..its mythology and rituals which makes them different from each other..
    Thats why I will say its culture which defines most about you..

  13. it’s like the hen or egg question. it’ll tease us out of thought. so, better to leave it alone.
    if, however, we go by the now fashionable definition of culture as the site for production of meaning, mebbe, we’ll get a somewhat satisfactory answer.

  14. We are all things, Shekhar. There is nothing else. But attachment.
    We are born to a certain identity. We see life through the prism of this identity. Therein lies the conflict.
    We don’t understand other points of the prism. Is it a rainbow? Is is a cloud? What the hell is it!
    The mythologies all come from the fundamental whole. But we have all given them our special stamp. And then it’s culture. I like to think in archetypes – where everything bleeds into everything else.
    And all the stories come from the heart.

  15. hi
    culture is language derived. your mother tongue dictates the kind of culture you absorb and practice. everything else like religion, myths, festivals etc come only after the influence of language on one’s culture.

  16. Shekharji, Namastey!
    (feeling good, while visiting your page after a year.
    My take on the issues is: Its culture which is more effective, potent and important. It’s continuous but keeps on changing with pace of ‘time’ but the ‘inner soul’ remains, more or less, same. In my opinion there is no mythology, its ‘History’. History of previous generations when told to next generations, obviously exaggerated, becomes ‘myth’ for someone. Now who claims our history is mythology? not we, but some Western historian belonging to different ‘culture’ and with malicious(i think so) intentions. So if someone says existence of ‘shiva’ is a mythology, i don’t agree. I can agree that what we percieve about shiva may be different because of time. For example if present “gandhi dynasty’ keeps on ruling Bharat for centuries or more, our late late generations may be reading Sonia maino as a deity, a great lady and what not…or even Mohandas gandhi, would not have been so beloved and important if this gandhi dynasty was not there in power for so long and used mohandas as tool to befool people.
    I see culture much more vital then anything else. I observe a funny thing in Middle east, a Bharatiya muslim is more closed and associated with other bharatiyas of any faith then to arabic and other muslims. I take it as an example for supremacy of culture to anything.

  17. Mythologies do not exclusively belong to a remote past. They are recreated/reinvented in all cultures from time to time. In the nineteenth century there existed a mythical ORIENT in the minds of European colonizers, in 70s and the 80s,the US invented the Empire of Evil(the USSR) as a myth. Today the global media (read western) has not only conjured into existence another mythical category called the TERRORIST, but also invested it with religious attributes(Islamic. Which is not to say that there does not exist a radical face of Islam. But the IRA was never referred to as Catholic Terrorists or the Tamil militants as Hindu terrorists. So myth making goes on all the time. Myth making is a dynamic process. Much in line with the structural functionalists of tegh previous century, one needs to explore the purpose of the myth and see how it is received in different societies.

  18. The word mythology refers to a body of folklore/myths/legends that a particular culture believes to be true and that often use the supernatural to interpret natural events and to explain the nature of the universe and humanity. Mythology also refers to the branch of knowledge dealing with the collection, study and interpretation of myths, also known as mythography. The study of myths from multiple cultures is called comparative mythology.

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