Hindu mythology is a vast subject. With innumerable scriptures including the vedas and puranas, every aspect of hinduism has a different story, with the same base, according to the scripture it belongs to. Folktales also form an important part of hindu culture owing to the ideology that not everything in the world can be recorded. These stories are quite fascinating and inform a lot about the journey of hindu culture from the vedas to contemporary hindu literature.
A very baffling question which is asked a number of times and yet receives no relevant answer is about death. How did death come into being? By whom and why was it created? Why are we not immortal?
We have an authentic answer to such queries hidden in the stories provided by the Vishnu Purana and Shiva Purana.
In hinduism, it is believed that there is no beginning and end to this world. The world has existed always and will continue to do so forever. But just to make it more comprehensible, we refer to beginning as the time when Brahma, one of the three major hindu Gods or Tridev (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva), opened his eyes for the first time.
A lotus bloomed in the supposed beginning. Inside it sat Brahma. As he opened his eyes, he saw no one around him. Realising that he was all alone, he looked for the source of the lotus. It emerged from the navel of Vishnu, who slept on the coils of the serpent Anant-Shesha on the surface of the limitless ocean of milk. Thus, coming out of unawareness to awareness, as informed by Vishnu, Brahma started creating living beings.
At first, out of loneliness, he created four prepubescent boys called Sanat-kumars. Brahma demanded them to split sexually but they refused to do so and disappeared. Next Brahma created seven men. These men, aware of the split, were ready to do reproduce.
Brahma pondered about how this reproduction could be made possible. Pondering over this, he saw a vision of Shiva who was half man and half woman. Getting inspired, Brahma also split himself in two, creating a woman from his left half. This woman was immensely beautiful and desirous. Brahma and his sons yearned to embrace her and began spurting semen, thus, beginning to multiply.
These children multiplied but did not die. The cosmos was overloaded with living beings. This is when Brahma created Mrityu or the goddess of death. When Brahma informed her of her duty, she tried to run away. She agreed to stay only when told that the ones she killed would be reborn. She would only be responsible for killing the material part (body) of a living being and not the immortal component (soul).
In this way, apart from the idea of death, the concept of rebirth also emerged in the hindu scriptures. Hinduism is not only made up of the mythical stories but also shastras or traditions, which keep changing over time. They have a mild, if not huge, impact on the retelling of folk stories and therefore, influence mythology as well.