Varanasi enjoys reputation of being one of the oldest living cities of the world. Recent archaeological findings, for instance, take the antiquity of this city contemporary to the Later Vedic period (about 1800 bce). The cultural history of this city is woven with multi-layered composition of myths and folklores. Each important locality of the city has some mythology in its background, which seems to convey significant happening of the past. Myths have deep roots in our society, and sprout over the fertile cultural canvas of the past. The study of beliefs and socio-cultural messages inherent in these, thus is a promising line, capable of revealing roots of our civilization. Such a venture can be well tested on an old culturally-rich city like Varanasi.
A critical scrutiny of myths with a view to separating these from the other narratives, may be possible when questions like—what is a myth? How is it different from a historical event? Through which process actual events get converted into myths?—are addressed. Also, whether there had been some scientific reason behind the prevalence of a belief, which has come to us since time immemorial? Is possible to dwell upon the utility of this mine of cultural information by the aid of scientific methods? Results of the inter-disciplinary studies carried out recently, in Varanasi region, by application of archaeology, geology and remote-sensing methods, were supplemented by the views of renowned Indologists—Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan and Prof. K.D. Tripathi, and scientists—Profs. T.R.V Murty, B.D. Singh, P. Krishan and S.C. Lakhotia, in a seminar held at the Banaras Hindu University, in the year 2010. The present volume brings into print the proceedings of this seminar. The volume will be useful to historians, archaeologists, scientists and all who are interested in Indian culture and roots of civilization of South Asia.