Let me start with the conjecture on this one.
20-something Indians do not read Hindu Mythology because of one or more of the below reasons:
- Utter tragedy : They do not read at all. They don’t know the difference between reading for pleasure & ‘studying’. Both are boring, tiresome and sleep inducing. But let me take this (sadly huge) population out of consideration of this post.
- Prejudice : They do not read anything Indian. Every piece of literature by Indian authors is soppy or lacks originality or lacks depth or has bad English & editing or is just plain boring. They are happy with the Harry potters, Sydney Sheldons, John Grishams, Paulo Coelhos and Ayn Rands.
- Peer pressure : They think that if they are seen reading Hindu mythology, their friends would think that they are too religious and too old-fashioned!
- Narrow-mindedness – They think Mythology = Religion. The agnostics and atheists would have nothing to do with it because it would mean they endorse religion. The believers would have nothing to do with it because they were raised saying that the sacred texts are holy and not to be read for pleasure and/or they think the modern interpretations of the epics are too irreverent to the Gods and religion.
- Ignorance – They simply do not know that Hindu Mythology is vast, interesting and is a treasure trove of stories and philosophy. Their knowledge of the basics of the epics is from the cleaned up Amar Chitra Katha comics, Ramanand Sagar’s TV serials on DD, and a handful of old low budget movies.
How I wish all points in the above conjecture vanish into thin air! The first few might just vanish once the question is raised and they are pointed out. The Ignorance bit needs to be addressed.
Now, I love Hindu mythology. I love the variety, the fantasy world, the philosophy, the open-ended nature of the stories and the sheer number of stories. But I rarely find a person in my age group to discuss Hindu mythology with.
How many 20-something folks know who Ghatothgaj is, know the beautiful feminism in the story of princess Chitrangada or the birth story of Pandu & Drithirastra? How many know how Rama ends his ‘avatar’? Or what happens to the Pandavas after the Mahabharata war?
But the moment you ask people to consider reading the Ramayana or Mahabharata, they ask questions.