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Pages: 335 (Figures: 7)
Myth creates an often paradoxical world of meaning through its unique use of language, through a combination of familiar themes yoked to inventive metaphor, of uncommon fantasy clothes in ordinary words; it is the junction of the familiar and strange, the "cosmic map of the intersecting territories of reality and fantasy." Yet as much as it reveals to us, even more is eclipsed by what myth suggests but conceals; the diverse and innumerable ideas and issues it gives rise to attest to myth's wellspring nature as well as its ultimate value.
Our study of Vamana and Narasimha is foremost an exploration into the world of myth; into the ways in which it uses language, into its interconnection with other forms of conceptualization and expression, into the questions it raises as it unravels a vision of life.
Long ago, in the Krta Yuga, the mighty demon Hiranyaka-sipu performed severe austerities. After 11, 000 years of fasting head down and observing a vow of silence, he became tranquil. Brahma, pleased with the demon's tapas, arrived at his side and granted Hiranyakasipu a boon. "Whatever you desire, that you shall have." Hiranyakasipu replied, "Inviolability from all beings, and immortality. Neither gods nor men nor beasts may kill me. Neither by arrows nor missiles, nor by wet nor dry, neither by night nor by day may I be slain. I will become the sun and moon, wind, fire, and rain, the god of all." Brahma said, "So be it," and returned to Vairaja, his own abode.
Having heard the granting of that boon, all the gods, celestials, and sages approached Grandfather Brahma. "Because of that boon the demon will kill us! Please find a way to bring about his death."
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