How did Indian Texts get termed as 'Mythology'?
The texts Ramayana and Mahabharatha were classified as Itihasa meaning "It thus happened".
In 1813, Mr.James Mill & Mr. Charles Grant from Helebary College, wrote History of India and classified most of the literature of India as Mythological.
Mr.Mill & Mr. Grant classified these texts as Mythological on the following 4 grounds:
1. The events in these texts seemed to go before the date of creation of the earth as fixed by Father. James Usher as 9 AM, 23rd Oct, 4004 BCE. Hence these texts which describe India and the existence of its civilization prior to this time could not be real and must be mythical or imaginary. A fact that has now been proven wrong by modern cosmology and traditional archeological finds. Hence this premise of Mr.Mill & Mr. Grant has been found to be flawed.
2. It was held by the colonial British that Alexander defeated Porus in 326 BCE and spread culture and civilized thought to India and that until then Indians were uncivilized barbarians. So the civilization described in these texts which seemed to be more advanced in science, technology, culture, philosophy and linguistics could not have existed prior to the arrival of Alexander and hence the texts are mythical. Not only has the existence of a civilized India prior to the arrival of Alexander been proved beyond an iota of doubt, the talk of the defeat of Porus in the hands of Alexander is also now being questioned with the uncovering of various pre biblical texts and piecing together various circumstantial evidences which point to the contrary namely, Alexander being wounded and defeated by Porus . Hence this premise of Mr.Mill & Mr. Grant is also flawed.
3. The British came up with the concept of the Aryan Invasion of India which spread culture and civilized thought to India and that until then Indians were uncivilized barbarians. Hence, again, the civilization described in these texts, which seemed to be more advanced in science, technology, culture, philosophy and linguistics could not have existed prior to the Aryan Invasion and hence the texts are mythical. The Aryan Invasion has now been dismissed by the Western historians as a figment of concoction by the British to justify their occupation of India as a rightful occupier of this Indian territory and beneficiary of its natural resources by painting the Indians themselves as belonging to the Aryan race in reality who had invaded and settled in India and set aside the original inhabitant Dravidian race as lower castes. This Aryan – Dravidian classification has now been proven to be racially incorrect as the entire Indian population has been found to belong to the same race despite their differences in features and complexion. Also the study of traditional Indian text has thrown to light how the terminologies Aryan and Dravidian were based on geographical division and not racial, cultural or civilizational. Thus this premise of Mr.Mill & Mr. Grant also seems to be flawed.
4. They held that the Genealogies were incoherent and hence the texts were imaginary or mythical. It is to be noted that while texts contained Genealogies, their focus was on key human achievements, Dharma and Principles to be followed – basically lessons for life. Given this, there is a therefore a good possibility for gaps or inconsistencies in discussing the order in Genealogy, but that cannot detract from the historicity of the texts.
Thus on all 4 grounds, Mr.Mill & Mr. Grant’s assumptions for classifying the Indian literature as mythological have been found flawed. Hence it is but natural to revert these texts back to the original classification they enjoyed prior to this incorrect reclassification. That would bring these texts back into the classification as historical texts.
Much to the consternation of the so called post British historians, it is to be noted that there is no other civilization that is as ancient and continuous as India and hence the branches of history and archeology themselves have a lesson or two to be learned on how to pursue history and archeology, from this civilization and culture. These fields of sciences would be at a great loss if they try to pursue the science through a constrained point of view as adopted by more recent civilizations or schools of thought.