Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization

Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization

HEINRICH ZIMMER
EDITED BY JOSEPH CAMPBELL
Copyright Date: 1946
Pages: 296
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x1frp
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  • Book Info
    Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization
    Book Description:

    This book interprets for the Western mind the key motifs of India's legend, myth, and folklore, taken directly from the Sanskrit, and illustrated with seventy plates of Indian art. It is primarily an introduction to image-thinking and picture-reading in Indian art and thought, and it seeks to make the profound Hindu and Buddhist intuitions of the riddles of life and death recognizable not merely as Oriental but as universal elements.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6684-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. EDITOR’S FOREWORD
    (pp. V-VI)
    J.C.

    It was a great loss when Heinrich Zirnmer (1890-1943) died suddenly of pneumonia, two years after his arrival in the United States. He was at the opening of what would certainly have been the most productive period of his career. Two bins of notes and papers remained to testify to his rapidly maturing projects. The lectures that he had been delivering at Columbia University were roughly typed and arranged for conversion into books; a volume on Hindu medicine was half completed; an introduction to the study of Sanskrit had been outlined; a popular work on mythology had been begun. Scraps...

  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  4. LIST OF PLATES
    (pp. IX-2)
  5. CHAPTER ONE ETERNITY AND TIME
    (pp. 3-22)

    Indra slew the dragon, a giant titan that had been couching on the mountains in the limbless shape of a cloud serpent, holding the waters of heaven captive in its belly. The god flung his thunderbolt into the midst of the ungainly coils; the monster shattered like a suck of withered rushes. The waters burst free and streamed in ribbons across the land, to circulate once more through the body of the world.

    This flood is the flood of life and belongs to all. It is the sap of field and forest, the blood coursing in the veins. The monster...

  6. CHAPTER TWO THE MYTHOLOGY OF VISHNU
    (pp. 23-58)

    The vision of endless repetition and aimless reproduction minimized and finally annihilated the victorious Indra’s naϊve conception of himself and of the permanence of his might. His evergrowing building projects were to have provided the appropriate setting for a self-confident, natural, and dignified ego-concept. But as the cycles of the vision expanded, levels of consciousness opened in which millenniums dwindled to moments, eons to days. The limited constitution of man, and of such lower gods as himself, lost substantiality. The burdens and delights, possessions and berea\ements of the ego, the whole content and the work of the human lifetime, dissolved...

  7. CHAPTER THREE THE GUARDIANS OF LIFE
    (pp. 59-122)

    Whereas the myths of emanation and dissolution revolve with a cold and ruthless impersonality that reduces to virtual nonentity the great world of human weal and woe, popular lore abounds widi divinities and genii warmly sympathetic to the life-illusion. The sages Nārada and Mārkandeya were vouchsafed magical experiences of the impalpability of Māyā. On the other hand, the millions of mankind dwell and labor within the net of the dream-web. They are beguiled, surrounded, supported, and comforted in their lives by an abundant company of homely guardian-figures, whose function it is to preside over the local and continuous efficacy of...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR THE COSMIC DELIGHT OF SHIVA
    (pp. 123-188)

    The nounbrahmanis neuter:* The Absolute is beyond the differentiating qualifications of sex, beyond all limiting, individualizing characteristics whatsoever. It is the all-containing transcendent source of every possible virtue and form. Out of Brahman, the Absolute, proceed the energies of Nature, to produce our world of individuated forms, the swarming world of our empirical experience, which is characterized by limitations, polarities, antagonisms and co-operation.

    In compliance with the propensities of man’s imagination and emotion, the Absolute, for purposes of worship, is commonly personified. It is represented to the mind as a supreme, anthropomorphic divinity, “The Lord,” the all-pervading ruler...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE THE GODDESS
    (pp. 189-216)

    The story of Kirttimukha shows that the violent emotion of a god can be projected or externalized in the shape of an autonomous monster. Such apparitions abound in the mythological annals of India. Shiva’s power of destruction is precipitated all around him in the horde of his wrathful “host”: a swarm of diminutive Shivas, known as “Rudras,” after the Vedic appellation of the god. The fury of Devi, the Supreme Goddess, may be projected as a ravenous lion or tiger. In Figure 57 she appears in the form of a black demoness, slavering over a battlefield in man-destroying wrath; this...

  10. CHAPTER SIX CONCLUSION
    (pp. 217-222)

    I should like to conclude this brief and fragmentary discussion of myths and symbols in Indian art and civilization with a general remark and then a little parable which has been among my favorites since I came to know it some ten years ago.

    As for the general remark: It is well known that our Christian Western tradition has long refused to accept the wisdom of the pagans on an equal footing with the body of revelation that it cherishes and worships as its own. The books that it accepts as divinely inspired are the Four Gospels, penned by four...

  11. INDEX
    (pp. 223-248)
  12. PLATES
    (pp. 249-282)