India known as the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh largest country by area and with more than 1.3 billion people, it is the second most populous country as well as the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, while its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia; the Indian subcontinent was home to the urban Indus Valley Civilisation of the 3rd millennium BCE. In the following millennium, the oldest scriptures associated with Hinduism began to be composed. Social stratification, based on caste, emerged in the first millennium BCE, Buddhism and Jainism arose. Early political consolidations took place under the Gupta empires. In the medieval era, Zoroastrianism and Islam arrived, Sikhism emerged, all adding to the region's diverse culture.
Much of the north fell to the Delhi Sultanate. The economy expanded in the 17th century in the Mughal Empire. In the mid-18th century, the subcontinent came under British East India Company rule, in the mid-19th under British Crown rule. A nationalist movement emerged in the late 19th century, which under Mahatma Gandhi, was noted for nonviolent resistance and led to India's independence in 1947. In 2017, the Indian economy was the world's sixth largest by nominal GDP and third largest by purchasing power parity. Following market-based economic reforms in 1991, India became one of the fastest-growing major economies and is considered a newly industrialised country. However, it continues to face the challenges of poverty, corruption and inadequate public healthcare. A nuclear weapons state and regional power, it has the second largest standing army in the world and ranks fifth in military expenditure among nations. India is a federal republic governed under a parliamentary system and consists of 29 states and 7 union territories.
A pluralistic and multi-ethnic society, it is home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats. The name India is derived from Indus, which originates from the Old Persian word Hindush, equivalent to the Sanskrit word Sindhu, the historical local appellation for the Indus River; the ancient Greeks referred to the Indians as Indoi, which translates as "The people of the Indus". The geographical term Bharat, recognised by the Constitution of India as an official name for the country, is used by many Indian languages in its variations, it is a modernisation of the historical name Bharatavarsha, which traditionally referred to the Indian subcontinent and gained increasing currency from the mid-19th century as a native name for India. Hindustan is a Middle Persian name for India, it was introduced into India by the Mughals and used since then. Its meaning varied, referring to a region that encompassed northern India and Pakistan or India in its entirety; the name may refer to either the northern part of India or the entire country.
The earliest known human remains in South Asia date to about 30,000 years ago. Nearly contemporaneous human rock art sites have been found in many parts of the Indian subcontinent, including at the Bhimbetka rock shelters in Madhya Pradesh. After 6500 BCE, evidence for domestication of food crops and animals, construction of permanent structures, storage of agricultural surplus, appeared in Mehrgarh and other sites in what is now Balochistan; these developed into the Indus Valley Civilisation, the first urban culture in South Asia, which flourished during 2500–1900 BCE in what is now Pakistan and western India. Centred around cities such as Mohenjo-daro, Harappa and Kalibangan, relying on varied forms of subsistence, the civilization engaged robustly in crafts production and wide-ranging trade. During the period 2000–500 BCE, many regions of the subcontinent transitioned from the Chalcolithic cultures to the Iron Age ones; the Vedas, the oldest scriptures associated with Hinduism, were composed during this period, historians have analysed these to posit a Vedic culture in the Punjab region and the upper Gangetic Plain.
Most historians consider this period to have encompassed several waves of Indo-Aryan migration into the subcontinent from the north-west. The caste system, which created a hierarchy of priests and free peasants, but which excluded indigenous peoples by labeling their occupations impure, arose during this period. On the Deccan Plateau, archaeological evidence from this period suggests the existence of a chiefdom stage of political organisation. In South India, a progression to sedentary life is indicated by the large number of megalithic monuments dating from this period, as well as by nearby traces of agriculture, irrigation tanks, craft traditions. In the late Vedic period, around the 6th century BCE, the small states and chiefdoms of the Ganges Plain and the north-western regions had consolidated into 16 major oligarchies and monarchies that were known as the mahajanapadas; the emerging urbanisation gave rise to non-Vedic religious movements, two of which became independent religions. Jainism came into prominence during the life of Mahavira.
Buddhism, based on the teachings of Gautama Buddha, attracted followers from all social classes excepting the middle
Nepal the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas but includes parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. With an estimated population of 26.4 million, it is 48th largest country by population and 93rd largest country by area. It borders China in the north and India in the south and west while Bangladesh is located within only 27 km of its southeastern tip and Bhutan is separated from it by the Indian state of Sikkim. Nepal has a diverse geography, including fertile plains, subalpine forested hills, eight of the world's ten tallest mountains, including Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. Kathmandu is largest city. Nepal is a multiethnic nation with Nepali as the official language; the name "Nepal" is first recorded in texts from the Vedic period of the Indian subcontinent, the era in ancient India when Hinduism was founded, the predominant religion of the country. In the middle of the first millennium BCE, Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, was born in Lumbini in southern Nepal.
Parts of northern Nepal were intertwined with the culture of Tibet. The centrally located Kathmandu Valley is intertwined with the culture of Indo-Aryans, was the seat of the prosperous Newar confederacy known as Nepal Mandala; the Himalayan branch of the ancient Silk Road was dominated by the valley's traders. The cosmopolitan region developed distinct traditional architecture. By the 18th century, the Gorkha Kingdom achieved the unification of Nepal; the Shah dynasty established the Kingdom of Nepal and formed an alliance with the British Empire, under its Rajput Rana dynasty of premiers. The country was never colonized but served as a buffer state between Imperial China and British India. Parliamentary democracy was introduced in 1951, but was twice suspended by Nepalese monarchs, in 1960 and 2005; the Nepalese Civil War in the 1990s and early 2000s resulted in the proclamation of a secular republic in 2008, ending the world's last Hindu monarchy. The Constitution of Nepal, adopted in 2015, establishes Nepal as a federal secular parliamentary republic divided into seven provinces.
Nepal was admitted to the United Nations in 1955, friendship treaties were signed with India in 1950 and the People's Republic of China in 1960. Nepal hosts the permanent secretariat of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, of which it is a founding member. Nepal is a member of the Non Aligned Movement and the Bay of Bengal Initiative; the military of Nepal is the fifth largest in South Asia. Local legends have it that a Hindu sage named "Ne" established himself in the valley of Kathmandu in prehistoric times, that the word "Nepal" came into existence as the place was protected by the sage "Nemi", it is mentioned in Vedic texts. According to the Skanda Purana, a rishi called. In the Pashupati Purana, he is mentioned as a protector, he is said to have taught there. The name of the country is identical in origin to the name of the Newar people; the terms "Nepāl", "Newār", "Newāl" and "Nepār" are phonetically different forms of the same word, instances of the various forms appear in texts in different times in history.
Nepal is the learned Sanskrit form and Newar is the colloquial Prakrit form. A Sanskrit inscription dated 512 CE found in Tistung, a valley to the west of Kathmandu, contains the phrase "greetings to the Nepals" indicating that the term "Nepal" was used to refer to both the country and the people, it has been suggested that "Nepal" may be a Sanskritization of "Newar", or "Newar" may be a form of "Nepal". According to another explanation, the words "Newar" and "Newari" are vulgarisms arising from the mutation of P to V, L to R. Neolithic tools found in the Kathmandu Valley indicate that people have been living in the Himalayan region for at least eleven thousand years. Nepal is first mentioned in the late Vedic Atharvaveda Pariśiṣṭa as a place exporting blankets, in the post-Vedic Atharvashirsha Upanishad. In Samudragupta's Allahabad Pillar it is mentioned as a border country; the Skanda Purana has a separate chapter, known as "Nepal Mahatmya", with more details. Nepal is mentioned in Hindu texts such as the Narayana Puja.
Legends and ancient texts that mention the region now known as Nepal reach back to the 30th century BC. The Gopal Bansa were one of the earliest inhabitants of Kathmandu valley; the earliest rulers of Nepal were the Kiratas, peoples mentioned in Hindu texts, who ruled Nepal for many centuries. Various sources mention up to 32 Kirati kings. Around 500 BCE, small kingdoms and confederations of clans arose in the southern regions of Nepal. From one of these, the Shakya polity, arose a prince who renounced his status to lead an ascetic life, founded Buddhism, came to be known as Gautama Buddha. By 250 BCE, the southern regions had come under the influence of the Maurya Empire of North India and became a vassal state under the Gupta Empire in the 4th century CE. There is a quite detailed description of the kingdom of Nepal in the account of the renowned Chinese Buddhist pilgrim monk Xuanzang, dating from about 645 CE. Stone inscriptions in the Kathmandu Valley are important sources for the history of Nepal.
The kings of the Lichhavi dynasty have been found to have r
The Buddhist traditions have created and maintained a vast body of mythological literature. The central myth of Buddhism is the life of the Buddha; this is told in realistic terms in the earliest texts, was soon elaborated into a complex literary mythology. The chief motif of this story, the most distinctive feature of Buddhist myth, is the Buddha's renunciation: leaving his home and family for a spiritual quest. Alongside this central myth, the traditions contain large numbers of smaller stories, which are supposed to convey an ethical or Buddhist teaching; these include the popular Jātakas, folk tales or legends believed to be past lives of Gautama Buddha. Since these are regarded as episodes in the life of the Buddha, they are treated here as “myth”, rather than distinguishing between myth and folk-tale. Buddhist mythology is maintained in texts, but these have always existed alongside oral traditions of storytelling, as well as creative retellings of myths as drama or artworks; this creative mythology continues to this day, includes film and musical adaptions of Buddhist myths.
Myth has always been an important part of the way Buddhists form communities. Attitudes to myths vary, with some people seeing the stories as factual, while others see them as symbolic. In this article, as in scholarly study of mythology the use of the term “myth” does not imply a value or truth judgement. Rather, it refers to their meaning within a community. Scholars have long recognized. TW Rhys Davids said that the Jātakas are “the most reliable, the most complete, the most ancient collection of folklore now extant in any literature in the world.” CAF Rhys Davids said that the Jātakas are “collectively the greatest epic, in literature, of the Ascent of Man”. Joseph Campbell discussed the life of the Buddha extensively in his The Hero with a Thousand Faces, relying on the Buddha legends. However, modern examination of Buddhist mythology is rare, critics have argued that the emphasis on rationality in Buddhist modernism has obscured the role of mythology in Buddhist communities both past and present.
As noted by scholars such as Thomas Rhys Davids, the earliest texts of Buddhism do not present a single coherent and systematic biography of the Buddha. However there are various references to numerous life events in these texts, in a few cases gives more extensive accounts of important events in the Buddha’s life. All versions of the Buddha’s life derive from these sources; these include: Gautama's birth. Some details of his life growing up. References to the renunciation; the famous story of the "four signs" is told. Detailed accounts of Gautama's practices before awakening; these include his encounter with earlier teachers, the period of austerities, his own own efforts to develop meditation. Various accounts of the night of the Awakening; the events following awakening are told in a famous narrative, found either in Sutta or Vinaya. Events involving the Buddha’s family, including his return home and the ordination of his son, the rebellion of Devadatta, ordination of the Buddha’s step-mother as the first bhikkhuni, found in the Vinayas.
The Buddha’s last journey, passing away, subsequent events are told in the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta. Most of the relevant texts from the Pali canon have been gathered and arranged in Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli's The Life of the Buddha. Bhikkhu Sujato has shown that the events of the Buddha’s life in the early texts fulfill all the stages of Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, despite the fact that they are not arranged as a coherent narrative; the Hero’s Journey becomes much more prominent and complete in versions of the story. The early texts include references to Indian deities, extraordinary beings such as Yakkhas and other mythic content. One of the “three knowledges” of the Buddha was recollecting past lives. However, early texts contain few actual narratives of past lives; such stories as are found in the early texts always show signs of belonging to the latest strata of those texts. However in a short time the Buddhist community developed a vast repertoire of stories associated with the Buddha’s past lives, known as the Jātakas.
There are 550 such stories in the Pali canon, hundreds more in Chinese and Sanskrit sources. Several Jātakas are depicted in visual form on the monuments at Sanchi, dating around the 1st century BCE; the corpus of Jātaka stories continued to grow over the centuries. Some of the most popular continue to be the Mahanipata Jataka which depict the final ten lives of the Buddha before his last birth; the Jātakas appear to be derived from vernacular Indian folk tales and legends in mixed prose and verse. Like the lives of the Buddha, they are not sectarian; some of the stories are related to Brahmanical legends, such as those found in the Rāmayaṇa and Mahābharata, while others show similarities to Aesop’s fables and other world literature. While most of the Jātakas contain a “moral”, in most cases these pertain to simple and universal ideas, such as non-violence or honesty, only a few of the stories feature distinctively Buddhist ideas. A typical Jātaka tale features a conflict or challenge, which the hero overcomes through his courage, intelligence, or other virtues.
The hero of the story is identified with the Buddha, while other characters in the story are identified with familiar associates of the Buddha, such as his close disciples, family, or Devadatta as the antagonist. Since the Jātakas are in essence the
Vānara refers to a group of people living in forests in the Hindu epic the Ramayana and its various versions. In the Ramayana, the Vanaras help Rama defeat Ravana. There are three main theories about the etymology of the word "Vanara": It derives from the word vana, nara means "belonging to the forest" or "forest-dwelling", it derives from the words vana and nara, thus meaning "forest man". It derives from the words vav and nara, meaning "is it a man?" or "perhaps he is man". Although the word Vanara has come to mean "monkey" over the years and the Vanaras are depicted as monkeys in the popular art, their exact identity is not clear. Unlike other exotic creatures such as the rakshasas, the Vanaras do not have a precursor in the Vedic literature; the Ramayana presents them as humans with reference to their speech, habitations, consecrations etc. It describes their monkey-like characteristics such as their leaping, fur and a tail. According to one theory, the Vanaras are mythological creatures; this is based on their supernatural abilities, as well as descriptions of Brahma commanding other deities to either bear Vanara offspring or incarnate as Vanaras to help Rama in his mission.
The Jain re-tellings of Ramayana describe them as a clan of the supernatural beings called the Vidyadharas. G. Ramdas, based on Ravana's reference to the Vanaras' tail as an ornament, infers that the "tail" was an appendage in the dress worn by the men of the Savara tribe. According to this theory, the non-human characteristics of the Vanaras may be considered artistic imagination. In Sri Lanka, the word "Vanara" has been used to describe the Nittaewos mentioned in the Vedda legends. Vanaras are created by Brahma to help Rama in battle against Ravana, they have many godly traits. Taking Brahma's orders, the gods began to parent sons in the semblance of monkeys; the Vanaras took birth in bears and monkeys attaining the shape and valor of the gods and goddesses who created them. After Vanaras were created they began to organize into armies and spread across the forests, although some, including Vali and Hanuman, stayed near Mount Riskshavat. According to the Ramayana, the Vanaras lived in the region of Kishkindha.
Rama first met them during his search for Sita. An army of Vanaras helped Rama in his search for Sita, in battle against Ravana, Sita's abductor. Nala and Nila built a bridge over the ocean so that the army could cross to Lanka; as described in the epic, the characteristics of the Vanara include being amusing, mildly irritating, hyperactive, bluntly honest, loyal and kind. The Vanaras appear in other texts, including Mahabharata; the epic Mahabharata describes them as forest-dwelling, mentions their being encountered by Sahadeva, the youngest Pandava. In the Ramayana, the Vanara Hanuman changes shape several times. For example, while he searches for the kidnapped Sita in Ravana's palaces on Lanka, he contracts himself to the size of a cat, so that he will not be detected by the enemy. On, he takes on the size of a mountain, blazing with radiance, to show his true power to Sita. Angada, son of Vali, helped Rama find his wife Sita Anjana, Hanuman's mother Gandhamadana, incarnation of Kubera Hanuman, devotee of the god Rama and son of Vayu Kesari, Hanuman's foster father Mainda and Dvivida, sons of Ashvins Macchanu - the son of Hanuman Makardhwaja - the son of Hanuman Nala, son of Vishwakarma Nila, son of Agni Rumā was the wife of Sugriva.
Sharabha, son of Parjanya Sugriva, king of Kishkindha, son of Surya Sushena, son of Varuna Taar, incarnation of Brihaspati Tara, wife of Vali Vali, Sugriva's brother, a son of Indra Media related to Vanara at Wikimedia Commons
In Hinduism, Hanuman is an ardent devotee of Lord Rama. Lord Hanuman, known as the Lord of Celibacy was an ideal "Brahmachari" or called Naistika Brahmachari in Sanskrit and is one of the central characters of the Indian Epic ￼￼Ramayana￼￼. ￼￼As one of the Chiranjivi, he is mentioned in several other texts, such as the Mahabharata and the various Puranas. Hanuman is the son of Anjani and Kesari and is son of the wind-god Vayu, who according to several stories, played a role in his birth. If yoga is the ability to control one's mind Hanuman is the quintessential yogi having a perfect mastery over his senses, achieved through a disciplined lifestyle tempered by the twin streams of celibacy and selfless devotion. In fact, Hanuman is the ideal Brahmachari, if there was one, he is a perfect karma yogi since he performs his actions with detachment, acting as an instrument of destiny rather than being impelled by any selfish motive. While Hanuman is one of the central characters in the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana, the evidence of devotional worship to him is missing in the texts and archeological sites of ancient and most of the medieval period.
According to Philip Lutgendorf, an American Indologist known for his studies on Hanuman, the theological significance and devotional dedication to Hanuman emerged about 1,000 years after the composition of the Ramayana, in the 2nd millennium CE, after the arrival of Islamic rule in the Indian subcontinent. Bhakti movement saints such as Samarth Ramdas expressed Hanuman as a symbol of nationalism and resistance to persecution. In the modern era, his iconography and temples have been common, he is viewed as the ideal combination of "strength, heroic initiative and assertive excellence" and "loving, emotional devotion to his personal god Rama", as Shakti and Bhakti. In literature, he has been the patron god of martial arts such as wrestling, acrobatics, as well as meditation and diligent scholarship, he symbolizes the human excellences of inner self-control and service to a cause, hidden behind the first impressions of a being who looks like an Ape-Man Vanara. Hanuman is stated by scholars to be the inspiration for the allegory-filled adventures of a monkey hero in the Xiyouji – the great Chinese poetic novel influenced by the travels of Buddhist monk Xuanzang to India.
The meaning or the origin of word "Hanuman" is unclear. In the Hindu pantheon, deities have many synonymous names, each based on the noble characteristic or attribute or reminder of that deity's mythical deed. Hanuman has many names like Maruti, Bajrangbali, Mangalmurti but these names are used. Hanuman is the common name of the vaanar god. One interpretation of the term is that it means "one having a jaw, prominent"; this version is supported by a Puranic legend wherein baby Hanuman mistakes the sun for a fruit, attempts to heroically reach it, is wounded and gets a disfigured jaw."Hanuman": the name derives from the Sanskrit words Han and maana. This epithet resonates with the story in the Ramayana about his emotional devotion to Sita, he combines two of the most cherished traits in the Hindu bhakti-shakti worship traditions: "heroic, assertive excellence" and "loving, emotional devotion to personal god". Linguistic variations of "Hanuman" include Hanumat, Hanumantha, Hanumanthudu. Other names of Hanuman include: Anjaneya, Anjaneyar, Anjanisuta all meaning "the son of Hanuman's mother Anjana".
Kesari Nandan, based on his father, which means "son of Kesari" Maruti, or the son of the wind god. Sankata Mochana, the remover of dangers The earliest mention of a divine monkey, interpreted by some scholars as the proto-Hanuman, is in hymn 10.86 of the Rigveda, dated to between 1500 and 1200 BCE. The twenty-three verses of the hymn are a riddle-filled legend, it is presented as a dialogue between multiple characters: the god Indra, his wife Indrani and an energetic monkey it refers to as Vrisakapi and his wife Kapi. The hymn opens with Indrani complaining to Indra that some of the soma offerings for Indra have been allocated to the energetic and strong monkey, the people are forgetting Indra; the king of the gods Indra responds by telling his wife that the living being that bothers her is to be seen as a friend, that they should make an effort to coexist peacefully. The hymn closes with all agreeing that they should come together in Indra's house and share the wealth of the offerings; the orientalist F. E. Pargiter theorized.
According to this theory, the name "Hanuman" derives from the Tamil word for male monkey, first transformed to "Anumant" – a name which remains in use. "Anumant", according to this hypothesis, was Sanskritized to "Hanuman" because the ancient Aryans confronted with a popular monkey deity of ancient Dravidians coopted the concept and Sanskritized it. According to Murray Emeneau, known for his Tamil linguistic studies, this theory does not make sense because the Old Tamil word mandi in Caṅkam literature can only mean "female monkey", Hanuman is male. Further, adds Emeneau, the compound ana-mandi makes no semantic sense in Tamil, which has well developed and sophisticated grammar and semantic rules; the "prominent jaw" etymology, according to Emeneau, is therefore plausible. Hanuman is mentioned in both the
An avatar, a concept in Hinduism that means "descent", refers to the material appearance or incarnation of a deity on earth. The relative verb to "alight, to make one's appearance" is sometimes used to refer to any guru or revered human being; the word avatar does not appear in the Vedic literature, but appears in verb forms in post-Vedic literature, as a noun in the Puranic literature after the 6th century CE. Despite that, the concept of an avatar is compatible with the content of the Vedic literature like the Upanishads as it is symbolic imagery of the Saguna Brahman concept in the philosophy of Hinduism; the Rigveda describes Indra as endowed with a mysterious power of assuming any form at will. The Bhagavad Gita expounds the doctrine of Avatara but with terms other than avatar. Theologically, the term is most associated with the Hindu god Vishnu, though the idea has been applied to other deities. Varying lists of avatars of Vishnu appear in Hindu scriptures, including the ten Dashavatara of the Garuda Purana and the twenty-two avatars in the Bhagavata Purana, though the latter adds that the incarnations of Vishnu are innumerable.
The avatars of Vishnu are important in Vaishnavism theology. In the goddess-based Shaktism tradition of Hinduism, avatars of the Devi in different appearances such as Tripura Sundari and Kali are found. While avatars of other deities such as Ganesha and Shiva are mentioned in medieval Hindu texts, this is minor and occasional; the incarnation doctrine is one of the important differences between Vaishnavism and Shaivism traditions of Hinduism. Incarnation concepts similar to avatar are found in Buddhism and other religions; the scriptures of Sikhism include the names of numerous Hindu gods and goddesses, but it rejected the doctrine of savior incarnation and endorsed the view of Hindu Bhakti movement saints such as Namdev that formless eternal god is within the human heart and man is his own savior. The Sanskrit noun is derived from the Sanskrit roots ava and tṛ; these roots trace back, states Monier-Williams, to -taritum, -tarati, -rītum. Avatar means "descent, alight, to make one's appearance", refers to the embodiment of the essence of a superhuman being or a deity in another form.
The word implies "to overcome, to remove, to bring down, to cross something". In Hindu traditions, the "crossing or coming down" is symbolism, states Daniel Bassuk, of the divine descent from "eternity into the temporal realm, from unconditioned to the conditioned, from infinitude to finitude". An avatar, states Justin Edwards Abbott, is a saguna embodiment of Atman. Neither the Vedas nor the Principal Upanishads mention the word avatar as a noun; the verb roots and form, such as avatarana, do appear in ancient post-Vedic Hindu texts, but as "action of descending", but not as an incarnated person. The related verb avatarana is, states Paul Hacker, used with double meaning, one as action of the divine descending, another as "laying down the burden of man" suffering from the forces of evil. Mahesh is an avatar of Lord Vishnu; the term is most found in the context of the Hindu god Vishnu. The earliest mention of Vishnu manifested in a human form to empower the good and fight against evil, uses other terms such as the word sambhavāmi in verse 4.6 and the word tanu in verse 9.11 of the Bhagavad Gita, as well as other words such as akriti and rupa elsewhere.
It is in medieval era texts, those composed after the sixth century CE, that the noun version of avatar appears, where it means embodiment of a deity. The idea proliferates thereafter, in the Puranic stories for many deities, with ideas such as ansha-avatar or partial embodiments; the term avatar, in colloquial use, is an epithet or a word of reverence for any extraordinary human being, revered for his or her ideas. In some contexts, the term avatara just means a "landing place, site of sacred pilgrimage", or just "achieve one's goals after effort", or retranslation of a text in another language; the term avatar is not unique to Hinduism. It is found in the Trikaya doctrine of Mahayana Buddhism, in descriptions for the Dalai Lama in Tibetan Buddhism, many ancient cultures; the manifest embodiment is sometimes referred to as an incarnation. The translation of avatar as "incarnation" has been questioned by Christian theologians, who state that an incarnation is in flesh and imperfect, while avatar is mythical and perfect.
The theological concept of Christ as an incarnation, as found in Christology, presents the Christian concept of incarnation. According to Oduyoye and Vroom, this is different from the Hindu concept of avatar because avatars in Hinduism are unreal and is similar to Docetism. Sheth disagrees and states that this claim is an incorrect understanding of the Hindu concept of avatar. Avatars are true embodiments of spiritual perfection, one driven by noble goals, in Hindu traditions such as Vaishnavism; the concept of avatar within Hinduism is most associated with Vishnu, the preserver or sustainer aspect of God within the Hindu Trinity or Trimurti of Brahma and Shiva. Vishnu's avatars descend thereby restoring Dharma. Traditional Hindus see themselves not as Vaishnava, Shaiva, or Shakta; each of the deities has its own iconography and mythology, but common to all is the fact that the divine reality has an explicit form, a form that the worshipper can behold. An oft-quoted passage from the Bhagavad Gita describes the typical role of an avatar of Vishnu: The Vishnu avatars appear in Hindu mythology whenever the cosmos is in
A legendary and mythological creature traditionally called a fabulous beast and fabulous creature, is a fictitious and supernatural animal a hybrid, sometimes part human, whose existence has not or cannot be proved and, described in folklore or fiction but in historical accounts before history became a science. In the classical era, monstrous creatures such as the cyclops and the Minotaur appear in heroic tales for the protagonist to destroy. Other creatures, such as the unicorn, were claimed in accounts of natural history by various scholars of antiquity; some legendary creatures have their origin in traditional mythology and were believed to be real creatures, for example dragons and unicorns. Others were based on real encounters, originating in garbled accounts of travelers' tales, such as the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary, which grew tethered to the earth. A variety of mythical animals appear in the art and stories of the Classical era. For example, in the Odyssey, monstrous creatures include the Cyclops and Charybdis for the hero Odysseus to confront.
In other tales there appear the Medusa to be defeated by Perseus, the Minotaur to be destroyed by Theseus, the Hydra to be killed by Heracles, while Aeneas battles with the harpies. These monsters thus have the basic function of emphasizing the greatness of the heroes involved; some classical era creatures, such as the centaur, chimaera and the flying horse, are found in Indian art. Sphinxes appear as winged lions in Indian art and the Piasa Bird of North America. In medieval art, both real and mythical, played important roles; these included decorative forms as in medieval jewellery, sometimes with their limbs intricately interlaced. Animal forms were used to add majesty to objects. In Christian art, animals carried symbolic meanings, where for example the lamb symbolized Christ, a dove indicated the Holy Spirit, the classical griffin represented a guardian of the dead. Medieval bestiaries included animals regardless of biological reality. One function of mythical animals in the Middle Ages was allegory.
Unicorns, for example, were described as extraordinarily swift and uncatchable by traditional methods. It was believed; the unicorn was supposed to leap into her lap and go to sleep, at which point a hunter could capture it. In terms of symbolism, the unicorn was a metaphor for Christ. Unicorns represented the idea of purity. In the King James Bible, Psalm 92:10 states, "My horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn." This is because the translators of the King James erroneously translated the Hebrew word re'em as unicorn. Versions translate this as wild ox; the unicorn's small size signifies the humility of Christ. Another common legendary creature which served allegorical functions within the Middle Ages was the dragon. Dragons were identified with serpents, though their attributes were intensified; the dragon was supposed to have been larger than all other animals. It was believed that the dragon had no harmful poison but was able to slay anything it embraced without any need for venom. Biblical scriptures speak of the dragon in reference to the devil, they were used to denote sin in general during the Middle Ages.
Dragons were said to have dwelled in places like Ethiopia and India, based on the idea that there was always heat present in these locations. Physical detail was not the central focus of the artists depicting such animals, medieval bestiaries were not conceived as biological categorizations. Creatures like the unicorn and griffin were not categorized in a separate "mythological" section in medieval bestiaries, as the symbolic implications were of primary importance. Animals we know to have existed were still presented with a fantastical approach, it seems the religious and moral implications of animals were far more significant than matching a physical likeness in these renderings. Nona C. Flores explains, "By the tenth century, artists were bound by allegorical interpretation, abandoned naturalistic depictions." The historian Richard Kieckhefer explains, "Magic is not meant to work but to express wishes, or to encode in symbols a perception of how things do or should work." Cryptozoology Lists of legendary creatures List of legendary creatures by type Mythical creature in the New World Encyclopedia