Ṛg Veda Book 10 Verse 85 is commonly known as Sūryā’s Bridal Hymn or the Wedding Hymn. In some Hindu families, this is one of the Vedic verses recited as part of the liturgy at Hindu marriage ceremonies. It tells a metaphorical story of the wedding of Sūryā, seemingly the daughter of the sun-god, as bride, to soma, seemingly the moon, as bridegroom. Some of the features of the wedding described continue to be features of Hindu weddings today
Read More Marriage in the Rig Veda
We may perhaps wonder whether individuals in ancient India thought about their own identities in terms that are recognizable today. It may be assumed that any sense of self that ancient Indian people might have had would have been conceptualized so differently that the identity terminologies of the 21st century would not apply.
Read More Gender and identity in the Mahābhārata
Themes of exile, quest and wandering are prominent in epic literature, at least of the Indo-European tradition.
Read More Ethics of exile in the Ramayana
In the first part of the story, we saw how the buffalo-demon Mahiśāsura behaved in an extremely arrogant and conceited way due to the boon granted by Brahma that he could not be killed by any male god, demon or human, thinking himself invincible because of this. He made fun of the idea that any woman could be strong enough to challenge him and even taunted Indra about his supposed lack of manly courage.
Read More Devī and the Buffalo Demon – Part Two
Another interesting story concerns the buffalo demon Mahiśāsura who was granted a boon that he would not be killed by man or by gods. This story is told in the Devī Māhātmya, from which I will draw below, as well as in the Devī Bhāgavatam, and in many other literary texts and folk stories too.
Read More The Buffalo Demon – Part One
A short review of the exhibition ‘Tantra: enlightenment to revolution’ which is currently on at the British Museum.
Read More Tantra at the British Museum
Sexual harassment is an unfortunate reality in many societies, and this fact is also reflected in literature too. In the story of Śakuntalā, originally in the Mahābhārata, Śakuntalā becomes pregnant by Duryodhana who then initially refuses to acknowledge that he is the father. In the Rāmāyaṇa, too, Sītā chooses to accompany her husband Rāma into exile and her vulnerability leads to her being kidnapped by Rāvaṇa who attempts to seduce her.
Read More Sexual Harassment in the Mahābhārata
The American-British sculptor Jacob Epstein was a good friend of Ananda Coomaraswamy, who had some significant influence on him. The sculptures depicted above on the façade of (what is now) Zimbabwe House in London were designed by Epstein to represent a form of modernism which took influence from Indian classical sculptural traditions.
Read More Emotions and Indian sculpture
The well-known story of Indra and Namuci has been told and retold since Vedic time up until the present day.
Read More Indra and Namuci
Snakes or serpents appear prominently in many ancient literatures around the world. In ancient Egypt, Ouroboros is the snake that eats its own tail, perhaps representing the renewal of order out of disorder.
Read More Nala, Rtuparna and their knowledge-exchange