Thank you Mr Norland for this refreshing new perspective on the question of living vs fossil myths.
Yes, some of the harshest aspects of a living myth are on display in many ancient societies.
It is the living myths that we breathe and and finally dissolve into that has helped Indian civilisation to remain the only surviving Pre Bronze Age Pagan culture in the world.
Rather than trying to identify the archetypes invested in a myth, I think we should explore the rise and evolution of the Story and as to why people chose to believe ideological premise and social codes that are sustained by the story.
I read that someone was uncomfortable about the idea of diminished individuality when dominated by a collective imperative.
You have to understand that the individual is still a newfangled notion in Asia. The Compelling need for any individual in those days was to lose himself – alive or dead – to the collective identity. In this case the castes – that eventually make up a Macro Individual -Manu.
Quote “I want to broaden our view of the psyche as an encompassing reality well beyond the confines of an individual consciousness.“
This is exactly what Western civilization struggles with – and pursues as an afterthought.
Rather, the journey should be traced from the collective to the individual. I had read a Manusmriti translation almost 40 years ago. And in the preface the scholar who I believe was British, confesses that there is a theatre in the fringes of conscious reality, that will elude even the most diligent of students.
It is the story – and it has to connect to and knit together a fraying society at an instinctual realm, A fraying society eaten away by detractors of Brahminism, many of whom, were born into it like Buddha and Mahavira. As well as the Nishedhis the people who rejected all forms of political and ideological architecture that underpinned the society.
So it is the story that is paramount
A living myth will transplant the story to any social or geographic environment and strike root into the psyche of a people drawing nourishment as well as giving shade them and their parochial archetypes.
Ramayana ,one of the oldest epic in the world composed by a Shudra (Wayside robber) turned Sage is a great example.
I would really hesitate to Anchor it to Now
If we place a Story in a timeframe it will lose its Eternal nature and therefore meaningfulness . It will remain a Picture, framed and nailed to a wall.
But I concede that such an exercise is necessary for research and didactic purposes. For eg the Caste system and untouchability existed among those who themselves were considered outcasts. These were the first people – the forest and hill tribals of India.
Another feature that indicates an organic evolution of Caste system was that genetic studies indicate that South Asians had a high level of miscegenation at around 4millenium BC and then in a millenium or ao very little gentic variation. Just giving a context to our story.