Wendy Donigerdefines a myth as a story that a lot of people believe although they know it is not true. In fact, the essence of a myth is veiled and therefore people do not pay attention to it. She gives the example of a myth about a Hindu king who had executed 8,000 Jains and says that to understand the myth, one needs to make use of history. If we try and find out why this was written, we will know that Hindus were at loggerheads with the Jains at the time. However, we cannot use the myth to reconstruct the actual history behind it, and we also cannot take it as evidence of cruelty of the Hindu king. Therefore, when we read about Rakshasas in the Ramayana (that Ram killed several Rakshasas), we have to keep in mind that it is an imaginary world and “Rakshasa” was used as a metaphor to describe a group of people who were regarded as enemies. History of ideas, though not the source of “hard” history, is nevertheless a valuable thing, for stories and ideas in stories steer history towards a different future.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: When Ambedkar exposed the foundational myths of Hinduism