Mythology Summary and Analysis: Indian Mythology Bhrigu and the Three Gods

Summary

Once the wise men of India sent Bhrigu the Wise to find out which god was most worthy of the priests' worship: Brahma, Vishnu, or Siva. Bhrigu approached Brahma and omitted one of the proper forms due the god, so Brahma reproached him, accepted Bhrigu's apologies, and forgave him. Then Bhrigu went to Siva and again neglected to pay the proper respect, at which Siva nearly burned him to a crisp with his third eye. Only the most profuse apologies saved Bhrigu from destruction. Then Bhrigu went to Vishnu's home, where Vishnu lay asleep on the floor. And Bhrigu kicked Vishnu in the chest, whereupon Vishnu awoke, asked him if he'd hurt his foot and then proceeded to massage Bhrigu's foot. Bhrigu then proclaimed Vishnu the greatest god of all because he conquered with generosity and kindness.

Analysis

With the early Vedic gods one sees a large element of nature worship and an attempt to master nature. But even here there is a tendency to philosophical abstraction. In the myth of Indra and the dragon one is in a world where might and cunning predominate, and one in which the power of the priests is enough to threaten the most mighty god, Indra. Myths in which a sky god overpowers a terrible serpent are common, but here a strong mixture of priestly arrogance is evident.

With the Hindu gods and concepts the philosophical strain becomes dominant, and morality exercises more of a role. In the myth of Bhrigu and the three gods, one is in a world where generosity and kindness are more important than reprimands or retaliative force.

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