Wisdom and Ignorance is a common dichotomy across many religions, and I was wondering if there are any specific examples of personifications or deities of wisdom and/or ignorance in mythological stories. (It can also be more symbolic, like how Adam's and Eve's temptations by the serpent--symbolically an animal of wisdom--in the Garden of Eden led them into a state of knowledge, while they previously existed in a state of blissful ignorance) Any insight on this somewhat obscure topic would be much appreciated.

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My answer covers personifications and deities of wisdom and ignorance from Hindu or Hinduism mythology point of view. In Hinduism mythology, there are various gods/goddesses which are associated with wisdom, learning and knowledge etc. , most prominently Hindu god Ganesha, goddess Saraswati, goddesses Gayatri etc. and lot's of stories about these deities of wisdom are present in Hinduism Mythology -

For those who are new to Hindu Mythology, Hindu mythological stories are found in books called as Puranas as well as Itihasa like Ramayana and Mahabharata. Vedas are the ancient scriptures of Hinduism and they also contain the stories in books called "Brahmanas" which are linked with each of the four Vedas. The source of all Hinduism mythological stories is Vedas, they are not described in details in Vedas, but are elaborately narrated in Puranas and Itihasa. we will begin with the personification of ignorance and then will see deities associated with wisdom.

Personification of ignorance in Hindu Mythology.

Ignorance is a lack of knowledge and information state of being unaware and can describe individuals who deliberately ignore or disregard important information or facts or individuals who are unaware of important information or facts. In Hinduism, Avidyā is a Sanskrit word whose literal meaning is ignorance. Therefore, avidya means to "not know, not perceive, not understand"

In Hindu mythology, there is the personification of this Avidya or ignorance called as Apasmara. He is depicted as a dwarf demon. Actually demon in not as actual sense but as an enemy of man telling that Ignorance is our enemy. Apasmara could not be killed, he is destined to immortality ( as there always will be some kind of ignorance present in the world).

Apasmara is part of the Nataraja sculpture. Lord Śiva adopted the form of Śrī Naṭarāja - the Lord of Dance and performed the cosmic dance of Tāṇḍava. During this dance, Śrī Naṭarāja suppressed Apasmāra by crushing him with his right foot. This denotes that Lord Shiva is

Description of Apasmara

Apasmara is clad with a dhotī ( loincloth). His face is to the left of Śiva, lifted up, and he has a small horn. He has one necklace. He holds something in his hand, which may be a broom. As per the description of Apasmāra in Kālikākhaṇḍa of Skandapurāṇa, he should be black in colour, have three heads and three eyes, six protruding canine teeth, three legs and six hands.

Deities of Wisdom In Hindu Mythology

  • Saraswati, goddess of knowledge, creativity and speech.

  • Ganesha, the god of intellect and wisdom.

  • Brihaspati, Guru of the gods, bestower of knowledge and eloquence.

  • Dakshinamurthy, aspect of the god Shiva as a guru and bestower of knowledge

  • Hayagriva, the god of knowledge and wisdom.

  • Gayatri, goddess of knowledge and Hindu scriptures.

  • Savitri, goddess of wisdom.

  • To your knowledge, does Apasmara have any relation to the Buddhist Mara? I think I read somewhere that Mara somewhat symbolizes ignorance—distracting and tempting Buddha. Please correct me if I’m wrong, for I cannot recall where I read this. Any other insight would be appreciated.
    – Koios
    Commented Nov 17, 2019 at 22:17

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