Review Paper: The Mythology of BrahmA
1983, Pp. xvi + 256, Rs. 100
Review by Paolo Magnone, August 1st, 1998
The book, based on the A.'s doctoral dissertation of 1980, purposes to examine BrahmA's "distinctive position and the meaning of his roles within the broad ensemble of Indian mythology" (p. xiii), in view of a threefold aim: to expound B.'s mythology taking into account all his roles in the major myths where he appears; to bring out the underlying unity of such roles, centering upon the values of pravRtti; hence, thirdly, to stress the importance of ideologies and value systems as interpretative keys of Indian mythology (p.xv).
Following the above guidelines, the book is divided into four sections. The first section (p. 3-36) deals with B.'s position in Indian religious history; although not quite congruent with the scheme, it fittingly prefaces the subsequent exposition by attempting an assessment of the god's status in the Indian pantheon during the transition from Vedic religion to the spread of bhakti movements. After tracing B.'s beginnings to a development of brahman, and especially to a "process of apotheosization" of the brahmA priest, the A. subscribes to Hacker's position of a stage of Brahmaism in Indian religion, as testified by some passages from the MahAbhArata and some of the older PurANa-s (or PurANa-sections), and reflected by the importance attributed to B. in the pAli canon. Furthermore, he gathers evidence of worship offered to B. at PuSkara, GayA and elsewhere, coming to the tentative conclusion that B. must have been worshipped "over most parts of northern India from about 400 B.C. to about A.D. 400" as a bhakti god, although expressing his own awareness of the paucity of the evidence adduced and other difficulties (p. 36).
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