Hindu mythology centers around gods, demigods, their supremacies and related stories. Basically the philosophy in all these legends is to teach humans the values of Dharma (justice). During the creation of these legends several geological phenomena and events became embedded within them either knowingly or unknowingly.
several such close relationships between geology and mythology exist in Hindu texts are-
Hindu eras in relationship to stratigraphy and the origin of Earth -
According to Hindu Vedic cosmology, the age of the entire universe is divided into four yugas(eras) Satyuga, Trethayuga, Dwaparayuga and Kaliyuga The time span of each yuga varies in a manner similar to geological eras. The Trethayuga and the Dwaparayuga are the most important eras since they encompass the most important epics of India, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, respectively. This four fold stratigraphic division of time-scale is similar to that used in geology.
Rahu, Ketu and the eclipses-
Lunar and solar eclipses are natural phenomena of the solar system and for that matter an eclipse is common to all the planetary bodies However, in Indian mythology it is a chase between Rahu and the Moon and Ketu and the Sun. Rahu and Ketu are regarded as celestial bodies that swallow the Moon and the Sun thus causing lunar and solar eclipses respectively.
Vishnu, Shiva and marine fossils-
Fossils are considered divine and are thought to represent Hindu gods. For Indians, ammonites and echinoderm fossils are sacred and are known as ‘saligrams’ or ‘saligramas. In Hindu mythology, ammonites are considered as Vishnu Chakra and the echinoderms and cephalopods (belemnites) as Shiva (in his phallic form,Linga)
Stalagmites and Amarnath cave-
It is believed that the Shiva Linga in the cave forms every lunar month: during the first half the Linga starts forming and attains full size on the full-moon day and during the second half of the month the Linga starts decreasing and disappears on new-moon. In reality this cave is located in limestone gypsum formation and the melt water percolating into the cave from the roof through joints freezes on the ground and grows as a stalagmite.
Sea level change and Dwaraka-
The town of Dwaraka was inundated by the Arabian Sea and subsequently submerged Recent marine archaeological investigation discovered the mythological Dwaraka town intact, under the sea along Saurashtra coast. The sinking of Dwaraka was due to tectonic activity accompanied by sea level rise.
Coral reefs and Ramayana-
Rama, the great hero of the Hindu epic Ramayana, was the seventh avatar of Vishnu.When ravana abducted sita to his kingdom. Rama decided to wage a war against Ravana. The main hurdle was to cross the sea between Rameswaram and Sri Lanka. Rama’s disciples helped him to construct a bridge between Rameswaram and Sri Lanka. This is the legendary Rama’s bridge across Palk Strait. In reality this bridge is a coral reef extending between these two land masses. A recent Indian remote sensing satellite picture clearly shows the presence of coral reefs, sand bars and clay deposits between these two countries.
Myths about thermal springs-
Ancient Indian civilization considered all geological phenomena as evidence of divine power and gifts from the gods . A Shiva temple and a Gurudwara (Sikhs religious shrine) are located near the emergence of the thermal springs. Devotees offer rice to Lord Shiva cooked in the thermal waters. Gurudwara cooks rice in copper vessels for devotees. The food is served free to all the devotees. In general, in all the thermal spring locations, Shiva is the presiding deity. This is because these springs are considered as Ganga (water) which was brought from heaven to Earth by Bhagiratha . It was Brahma who gave the boon to Bhagiratha to enable Ganga to flow on Earth. To contain her fall, Shiva allowed Ganga to fall on his head and locked her in his matted hair thus controlling the flow. Ganga became part of Shiva and adorns Shiva’s head.
Geological processes or events are an important component of Indian mythology. Whether a major tectonic event, the growth of a stalagmite, formation of coral reefs or coastal submergence, these processes have been considered as manifestations of the gods.