A myth is not a lie but a profound truth.
A Myths tells us what it is like to belong to a culture.
A myth is a tale with an underlying meaning.
My interest in mythology was fueled by the wonderful stories that the myths really are. They inspire you, amuse you and at times even disgust you(yes, some of the stories actually can do that!!).
But what really makes me take mythology seriously is the fact that it teaches us a lot. It tell us why we are, the way we are as a society. What made our civilization what it is today. What makes us unique from other civilizations and what are the common threads amongst entire humanity.
Comparative mythology, a branch of mythology that I am currently looking into tries to answer questions like the ones above.
So lets start off with an example. We often find many differences in the Indian and the Western psychology. Our ideas and beliefs are often in stark contrast to theirs. So, many theories proposed in the west are inadequate in the Indian context.
Lets take the case of Oedipus complex by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. Oedipus, as depicted in Greek mythology fulfills the prophecy of killing his father and marrying his mother. Freud describes this behaviour as a boy’s feelings of desire for his mother and jealously and anger towards his father. Essentially, a boy feels like he is in competition with his father for possession of his mother. He views his father as a rival for her attentions and affections.
I am personally not convinced about how this conclusion is drawn from the myth as Odeipus had no clue that he was murdering his own father when he killed King Laius or that Queen Jocasta, whom he married later was his mother as he was raised by King Polybus and his wife Merope. Polybus found Odeipus on a hill after Lauis abandoned the child fearing the prophecy. Moreover when Queen Jocasta finds out after bearing two children, that Odeipus is her son, she hangs herself and Odeipus blinds himself.
So the question of desire for mother or jealousy towards the father doesn’t arise here.