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53: A bountiful of gods

The Sanskrit word "Koti" popularly means a "crore" (this is a very Indian measure for 10 million or 10,000,000). And it is common to say that Hinduism has 33 koti devas - which gets unfortunately and wrongly translated to 330 million gods. It is this literal translation that has befuddled many till now, including the 16th century Mughal emperor Akbar, who believing the term to be literal, launched the impossible task of cataloging all the Hindu gods and goddesses.

Had he had a Hindu wife in his harem, like most historians wrongly believe, and had she been his most beloved, like more than most of them hope to be, and had he been open and forward-thinking enough to let her practice her own religion in his palaces (so that he could 'learn' and understand the natives of the country), which a whole bunch of them argue vehemently  - he would have simply discussed this project with her (Jodha Bai, if she ever lived).

And she, as the popular portrait suggests, being …

52: Shunashepa

Several stories in the Indian Mythology appear in several places and in disjoint forms, often contradicting each other. This creates further confusion in the minds of the reader, if there are any readers in this time and age, and further alienates these wonderful narratives from even the casually curious minds. It has been my endeavor here to try and put some of these stories and parables in simple, user-friendly language. I do not think it as a 'modern re-telling' - as it has become popular these days and quite lucrative too, if I can add ... but simply going over the stories that I know from childhood to have a fresh look.

Today, the story I want to revisit is the well-known story of Shunashepa (शुनःशेप), the poor boy who was sent for sacrifice by his own father in exchange of livelihood.

Shunashepa literally means the 'tail of a dog'. There is no explanation that I am aware of that explains the etymology of this rather peculiar name. Anyway, the story begins with a ki…