1. More than just stories
Learning about the mythological stories is the first step toward understanding the culture that produced them. Mythology is an ancient form of literature. It has been around much earlier and much longer than the written language.
If you think about the mythological stories, you would realize that they represent some ideas. They mirror the structure and functions of the society that they originated from. They talk about the believes of the people, their fears, their concerns, their sorrows, their happiness, their ambitions, their dreams.
When written language was not invented yet, mythological stories were the vehicles to pass knowledge and wisdom. The stories were told and retold by the parents and grandparents to their children and grandchildren. And the knowledge passed from generation to generation.
Although they appear to be a form of entertainment, mythological stories undoubtedly played some functional roles. They were devised to make sense out of the senseless. Back in those days, there was no modern science to explain nature for us, no sophisticated tools or analysis to understand the world around us.
Just imagine you are a farmer several thousand years ago. You need to produce crops to feed your family. How would you understand the seasonal rhythms? Why does the season change? When does the summer come? How about the winter? How do you know when the rain is coming?
If you cannot predict them on time, you would be in trouble. In those days, it was not something to take lightly. It was a matter of life and death.
So people devised these amazing stories to make sense of these natural phenomena like seasons, eclipse, storm, flood, earth quake, lightening etc.
Contemplation about the natural world, inquiry about the inner self and the connection between them have been one of the oldest preoccupations of Indians. This is vividly reflected by the richness of the Indian mythological stories.