I was alarmed with a imposing salutation of an individual in college. He comfortably placed himself alongside my space. A college mate hailing from Punjab who had initiated himself into ISCKON for his spiritual pursuits. We had had previously discussed Dharma, religion, culture and faiths so he heedlessly advanced with the inevitable question that lurked on his mind for quite sometime. "What do you think who is more powerful Shiva or Vishnu?" I was fairly amused at the question but at a deeper level I presumed this question had been left unanswered and it demanded it fairly comprehensive logic and reasoning so here I am breaking it down.
Mythology is loosely translated as fictional theme that has been gathered over a period of time by the people to spread a endowing thought that is subservient to a higher authority. It is seen as a part of subjective truth that is comprising of folklores and traditions of a particular place that has been procured over time after a series of consequences. I don't have a problem with the quandary of reasoning this word carries, I would like to do away with this word since English has assimilated so many words from different languages around the world especially from Sanskrit. We need to reinforce the values and the original meaning without letting it being distorted by ideologists that read Puranas under a purview of dogmas. We need to remember the significance of Puranas and itihasa it carries forward. It is clear Puranas are under threat from ideologists who have analysed Itihasa and Puranic literature of the Bharata (ancient India) as work of aesthetics to marginalise the sections of society and gain dominance through systematic control of Brahmanical domination.
Smarata tradition in Sanatan Dharma or the new age Hinduism celebrated puranas as one of the main source of spiritual uprising under the guidance of enlightened guru. It is ideally apprehended to have emerged from the sanctitude of gurus who delineated a vast set of attributes of Devis and Devtas (mainly Shakti) as permeable form of Kul Devta keeping in mind the desires and needs of people that they needed to overcome in order to be ready to pursue a path of truth. In Hindu culture, the yogis understood that a seeker's journey could not begin without overcoming the immediate pragmatic perplexities.Hence a whole lot of Karma kanda was evolved that was brought to concur the human consciousness to let it come to a place where the journey of seeking could begin forthright after dissolving the clamour.
Indian culture's most peculiar features lies in the subliminal threshold. The Sanskars (Samsakaras) are representative of our roots that goes into the foundation of life. Hinduism blossomed into the most colourful culture not by a coincidence or a repercussion but by an elaborated set of Samskaras that allowed people to establish their own subjective truth without a religious body blaring over their heads that served one truth as the only palatable mode of existence.
The reason of doing away with the word mythology is that it is exhausting to a place and culture but Puranas opens new dimensions of truth with profound effects on nature of beings that is reflective in the society. Puranas in form or Upa Puranas and Maha Puranas hands out the necessary details to the seekers as the user manual to use it to their own discretion to attain their nature with their Saadhna (sacred practise) Puranas therefore serve as highly imperative means of utility not just for the people on the path of truth but from all walks of life ranging from medicine, sports, politics, leadership, wealth, wisdom, intelligence, love, grammar, humor, literature, astronomy, cosmology etc. It is entirely up to the wishes of Saadhak (seeker) to realise his potential and attain to this nature.
Puranas are placed into Smriti as Itihasa as it is said to remembered and recorded. It is consistently in engagement with present times which works as framework for systematic changes. This is why the Puranic literature changes with respect to different regions but the aim is solely the same. This friction of subjective truth has erupted as the major fault that has led to the most corrupt practises in the modern Hinduism and which is why the essence of Dharma has lost in the modern world religions. It is a challenge for modern India to make people realise the nature of ancient scriptures. It is only then we will realise the utility of Puranas works to create a stepping stone for the people to ascend towards their higher self.
People can't tap into the inner nature of reality with the rising Ahankara (ego) and Avidya (ignorance). The beauty of life is that their are billion of perspectives of life but these are just perspectives, how we perceive things to be. The nature of reality is such that it is independent of what subject conceives through it. There can be partial subjective truth to our perspectives but it is how we shape ourselves. We can cultivate ourselves into a profound and eternal ideals or be wooed away with flow of changing world orders.
The question of Vishnu vs Shiva arises when we see Puranas as figment of our imagination. Puranas have not even ruled out these factors. It has many instances of Devas challenging devas but it unlayers deeper truths not a duel of world powers. Fiction is what the scholars of western world has colluded mythology with. We can't subscribe to the terms and conditions of the western world when they lack the prerequisite knowledge of Dharma, which at their best, they see it as amalgamation of various sects and religions within a religion.