Monday, February 11, 2013

Reclaiming our History | Decoding the Ramayana: The *real* Shri Ram: Whether he was a "bad husband" and what is 'Ram-Rajya'? (Part-XIX)

Author's Note: Please visit - The 'Real' Ramayana/ Ram-Rajya - to read the other parts of this series, so as to be able to fully understand or grasp the contents of this one. 

The many ancient Arya clans (the Deva/Sura, the Asura, the Daitya, the Danava, the Rakshasa, the Gandharva, the Suparna, the Nag, etc) and how they all came about. How the female Gandharva became "Apsara"? What does the "Narasimha-avatar"/the 'lion-man' signify? Who were the Kirat, the Kinnara and the Kimpurusha + their evolution. What was the legendary "Somras" all about? Notes on: "atithi devo bhava"; Vidyàdharī; gigantic fire-breathing serpents; 'Gaud-Desh' and 'Suvarna-bhumi'. *Discussing* the "Devi Mahatmyam" - the "Sri Sri Caṇḍī Pāṭha".    

Siya-Ram and Lakshman worked with the "Vanara" (Hanuman, Angad, Sugreeva and his 'army of forest-dwellers' - the Van-nar Sena); the "Riksha" (whose leader was Jambavan); the "Kinnara" ("people with lion-like nature" or "people from the mountain"); the "Vyadh" or the "Nishad" - the hunter community (whose leader was Guhaka or Guha); the "Devas", the "Gandharvas", the "tritiya prakriti" (hermaphrodite), etc. Together they achieved various tasks - for the greater good, i.e. for Loka Kalyana or Loka-sangraha. However, the current version of the Ram-Sabari story is infused with much embellishment (besides having been clearly contemporised), 'coz there was no concept of "caste" or "class" in Treta, and Siya-Ram + Lakshman were living in the forest amongst various groups of Vanaras. Extending courtesies to a guest is part of the ancient culture of this land - "atithi devo bhava", meaning: a guest is a noble entity and therefore, must be treated with honour and respect. However, a guest should not behave in a condescending manner towards the host either; that's un-Arya-like.

[Devo is derived from "dev" meaning noble, and this in turn has been derived from daaivic,  meaning: one who possesses noble traits or qualities. However, the Sanskrit verse (atithi devo bhava) has been somewhat incorrectly translated as: "guest is god"; we do not have any concept of "god".]

For the Gandharvas and Apsaras, do read: Part-XVIII. [There is a well-known medicinal herb known as: "Asvagandha". Here, "asva" = horse. But "asva" may also mean the Ashvaka - the people known for their horsemanship, i.e. people who were expert cavalry-men (aśva-yuddha-Kuśalah). Gandha = fragrance, odour or smell (though this may have been mistakenly taken as 'a reference to the odour of the root'). This herb may have been abundant in the Ashvaka lands (ancient Kamboja + the lands belonging to the ancient Gandharvas, besides the Himalayan foothills of course). Therefore, apart from being adept at the performing arts and having mastery over an assortment of musical instruments, the Gandharvas probably were expert horsemen as well. One of the avatars - an extension of the more famous 'Dasavatara' - is the Hayagreeva (a figure with a human body and a horse's head). The Hayagriva is believed to have 'rescued the Vedas... which was taken to rasatala'. [Rasatala = utter decay, destruction, waste. Veda comes from the root "vid": to know, Veda means: knowledge. This word has in turn given rise to "Vidya", which also means: knowledge.

I interpret this as: the Gandharvas and/or the Ashvakas having fought off certain negative entities (Mlechchas or Yavanas) - either vanquishing them or chasing them away. Thereafter, the Gandharvas and/or the Ashvakas may have gradually regenerated the noble way of life that had been altered due to negative/toxic influence, besides wresting back our ancient texts (vast repositories of knowledge and wisdom) that may have been carried away by those negative entities. Therefore: the ancient Gandharva and the Ashvaka were the Soma-drinking guardians of our heritage.

Apsaras, as we know, were the female Gandharvas. Saras = lake or water-body, besides being a reference to the lake-bird - the Saras Crane. [This lake-bird (Sanskrit: Sarasa) is much-venerated in our culture and is also associated with Maharshi Valmiki. However, these birds were hunted during the colonial period.] The Saras Crane performs territorial and courtship displays that include loud trumpeting, leaps and dance-like movements. The female Gandharvas, as we know, were adept at the performing arts, and these may have included leaps and energetic dance-like movements (much like the Ballet and the Flamenco) - to the accompaniment of music. Hence, over time, the female Gandharvas may have first come to be associated with the Saras Crane, and then gradually began to be referred to as the "Ap-Saras" (possibly: 'saras-like') - which later gave way to "Apsara". Btw, Flamenco may have been derived from Flamingo and the Saras and the Flamingo (of another era or yug) may have been related. It is worth noting that the Flamingo is a mix of bright and lighter shades of pink, while the Flamenco dancers wear red. [So, which land do you think gave birth to the Ballet and the Flamenco? Also: where do you think have the ancestors of the current proponents of these dance-forms originated? :) This does give us a glimpse of that majestic Banyan tree - also known as ancient India, right? Besides: we also get to know the extent of the Gandharva-lands.] Over time, some of the Apsaras may have come to be known as "fairies" (pari) - on account of their great beauty (aparupa) and gliding movements, though it is unlikely that any of them ever possessed wings; that are clearly an exaggeration. In Sanskrit, "fairy" is known as Vidyàdharī, vidya means "knowledge" and comes from the root "vid" which means, "to know". Dhari = holder, possessor, manifestation. Therefore, the vidyàdharī-s (either all Apsaras or at least some of them) may have been regarded as possessors of great knowledge, be it in the fine arts, performing arts, medicinal herbs, flowers, perfumes, and the like. Urvashi, Menuka, Rambha, Tillottama, et al are legendary Apsaras. Aparupa and/or Apsara may have become Pari - due to the changing times and phonetics.]

As for the Deva/Sura, do read on.

Once the population (of the various humans that sprang from the evolved humans - known as the Sapta-Rishi - that arrived on earth (in ancient Kashmir/Sati-saras) from "elsewhere") increased in number, there was a need for distinct identity, territories, settlements, etc. Please note: all these various groups of humans followed a noble way of life, and hence, they were all Arya (i.e. noble-natured and civilized people), though there may have been some differences in appearance, cuisine, attire, lifestyle/customs and language. After a while, groups of people may have broken away from the original entity (the Deva/Sura clan) and called themselves Asura. With the passage of time, sub-clans such as the Daitya, the Danava, the Rakshasa and the Pisacha came about - within the Asura clan. These Asura sub-clans were largely homogeneous, though some differences in culture, attire, expertise, etc cannot be ruled out.

[The Daityas, the Rakshasas and the Danavas have been incorrectly depicted as gigantic beings. Yes, Daitya means gigantic-sized; but many words and phrases have multiple meanings, and it is important that we try and figure out the correct meaning... instead of mixing things up. The latter only results in distortion and confusion, of which we seem to have no dearth of.]

With time, however, certain sub-clans of the Deva/Sura clan - such as the Nag and the Gandharva - too broke away from the parent clan and formed a distinct identity: with a separate totem, ruler/head, attire, customs, etc. [Of course this process may not have been without some amount of friction, but the Devas and the Gandharvas largely maintained cordial relations, and various Gandharvas and Apsaras were part of the assembly or court - the Sura-sabha - of the Deva king, the Devraj Indra.]

Later, the Nag-clan (a serpent-worshipping clan or a clan with a serpent-totem) split into the Suparna (a falcon-worshiping clan or a clan with a falcon-totem), the China (a fire-breathing serpent-worshipping clan), the Hara-Huna (possibly forefathers of groups that indulged in loot and plunder + slept astride horses), the Kyrgyz (a clan with a boar-totem), the Nipa/Nepa/Neepa (a peacock-worshipping clan or a clan with a peacock-totem; a sub-clan of this group may have displayed a rooster-totem); besides giving rise to various other smaller Nag-clans - that were headed by rulers that (probably) assumed the hereditary titles of: Vasuki, Takshak, etc. [These smaller Nag-clans continued to worship the serpent in various forms. From several sources we gather that there were "eight Great Nag Kings" - so, there may have been 8 major Nag groups/clans, after the original Nag-clan split (i.e. excluding the Suparna, the Hara-Huna, the Nipa/Nepa/Neepa and perhaps even some groups of the China). Later, these 8 groups/clans may have undergone further splits, with a few groups migrating and settling down in other lands. I say this 'coz: there are Nag-clans in Kerala too (as part of other groups/class/caste, and the serpent is extensively worshiped in the south of the Vindhyas.] 

[Note: Gigantic fire-breathing serpents may be an extinct species. Alternatively: #1. It could be a reference to volcanic eruptions, with great rivers of molten lava gushing forth - resembling great serpents/dragons - on to the plains. #2. Comets. #3. Meteors and other celestial objects hitting the earth leaving behind a trail of fire and smoke + causing great destruction. Any one or all of these phenomena was (probably) captured/depicted by certain ancient people through the allegory of a gigantic fire-breathing serpent, which later found its place as a totem for certain clans.] 

Some groups of the Nags (that split from the original Nag-clan and became a separate entity) and the Suparnas turned into sworn enemies, and I leave it to you to decipher which groups of neo-Nags these were. :)

[Garuda was the leader/hereditary title of the chief of the Suparnas. However, there is every sign that this group too gave rise to sub-clans - the Shakuna - that worshipped the vulture (or perhaps the Bald Eagle) and displayed a vulture-totem or maybe, a bald eagle-totem. Jatayu and his brother, Sampati, were prominent members/leaders of this sub-clan. Note: 'Vishnu flying on the back of Garuda' is not literal. Do read: Part-XVIII. However: the Kirat, the Kinnara, and the Kimpurusha were aliies of the Suparna.]

Guess: from our discussions so far we can get a reasonable idea re the 2nd set of humans that walked on this planet, what say you? [With time, however, there have been further splits, migrations, mergers, older clans evolving into newer ones/taking on a new or fresh identity + a lot of intermixing of blood, language and culture... thereby giving rise to whole new sets of humans, clans, languages, cuisine, culture, and the like.] Now, the 1st set of humans, the adivasi or the Vanara (the various groups of 'forest-dwelling humans') - the ones that evolved on earth from various animal-like ancestors - too had their own set of groups/clans, and each of these were distinct: the "Vanara" and the "Riksha" (and between them they may have included the Bhil people, the Saora or Sora people, the Gadabas, some Oraon/Kurukh, the Korku, some groups of the Gond people, the Siddi people, etc), the "Yaksha", the "Kinnara", the "Kimpurusha", the "Kirat", the "Vyadh" or the "Nishad" (maybe: the Santhal, Ho, Kharia, Valmiki, and other Munda and Kol people and possibly some Gond and Bhil people as well), the "Savara", and so on.

The Kirat was a clan with a lion-totem (Maa Parvati and a few of her comrades clearly hailed from this clan); the Kinnara was a clan with a tiger-totem (Vaishnavi, now revered as Mata Vaishno Devi - hailed from this clan); while the Kimpurusha may have been a sub-clan of the Kinnara. (I say this because: Shiv, the one who was Parvati's consort, is shown wearing a tiger-skin or is seated on a tiger-skin).

Let's begin with the Kirat.

Kirat-or Kirati: means "people with lion-like nature". It is derived from two words: Kira = Lion and Ti = people, and it also means: "people from the mountain". These were very sturdy, yellow/radiant-skinned, courageous people that were tremendous warriors - though slight in appearance or build. [However, the humans of the earlier eras would have differed from the modern humans in all respects: height, strength, caliber, intelligence, and so on. So, though slight in build, they would have been much taller than the modern humans of the Himalayan foothills.] The Kirat displayed a lion-totem. "Warrior" is not restricted to the battlefield only, but indicates people/clans that protected others from negative entities - thereby upholding the Kshatriya-dharma and the Arya-dharma.

Groups of ancient Tibetans, ancient Lepcha, Khasi, Kuki and Garo, ancient Nepali, ancient Bhutanese and Bhutia, Ladhaki + some groups of the early inhabitors of ancient Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chattisgarh, Odisha, Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand + some groups of Andhra, Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, etc., were the Kirat-or Kirati. [With time, as the population increased, the descendents of these people took on the name/surname/title of "Singh", which means: lion. And this name/surname/title + its many variants - indicate the modern Kirat or Kirati. Some of the modern Kirat may have drifted into other "ism" and lands, and hence assumed different names and identity, but a little scrutiny of their heritage should make their Kirat-descent quite clear; though a few may have been dubbed as "tribal"... which is indeed unfortunate. It is possible that groups of these people migrated/traveled further eastward; I say this 'coz, we find Singapur (anglicized to Singapore), and 'Singa' is a variant of Singha or 'Singh'/'Sinh', meaning: lion; 'pur' is derived from pura, meaning: place, land or territory. Also: certain groups like the Hakka and the Mon people too are very likely the modern descendents of the ancient Kirat. However, it is possible that some groups of the Kirat people migrated southward and settled in Singhbhum or Singhbhumi (meaning: Land of lions; Singh means lion and Bhum or Bhumi indicates land. Intermarriages with other local groups/people/adivasis may have, with the passage of time, totally altered their appearance. People with the surname of 'Simha' (and its many variants) too may be of Kirat descent.] 

Incidentally: Parvati is also known as Gauri. Gauri comes from Gaur, meaning: golden or radiant. [Gauri = the golden-skinned one or the radiant-skinned one.] The lands mentioned above were the lands of the yellow/golden/radiant-skinned people - 'Gaud-Desh' (Golden/Radiant land) and/or 'Suvarna-bhumi' (Suvarna = radiant, bhumi = land.) And though due to the passage of time, newer names and influences have crept in, but even today (or at least until recently), Bengali people informally refer to their land as 'Sonar Bangla' (Golden Bengal) - the national anthem of BD being Robi Thakur's poem-song: 'amar sonar Bangla...' 

Ancient Bengal (Vanga) was very much associated with gold (shona). The soil of Bengal is golden-coloured (Gangetic alluvial); there is golden harvest/shonar phoshol (rice), golden fruits (mangoes), golden minerals (gold and clay) and yellow/golden/radiant-skinned people. This region was referred to in ancient Sanskrit texts as: 'Gaud-Desh' (Golden/Radiant land). There existed a very rich trading town called 'Sonargaon' (Golden village), connected to North India by the Grand Trunk road (possibly a link to Uttarapatha). [We will of course discuss 'Suvarna-bhumi' in greater detail - in our later posts.]

Bengalis consider themselves as "maayer desher lok", meaning: people from the land of Parvati. Parvati is reverentially referred to as "Maa" (mother), though Durga Pujo now-a-days is fast turning into what is known as: "khajnar cheye bajna beshi" (more sound and fury than substance), thanks to the proliferation of: 'So-and-So presents Sharodiya Durgotsob/Durga Pujo'. However, Bengalis treat Parvati and her children: two daughters - Lakshmi and Sarasvati, and a son: Kartik... as family members; hence Durga Pujo is pretty much as if Maa is visiting her parental home along with her children. Parvati is not just considered as mother, she is also considered as a daughter. 

[However, we must not confuse Parvati's daughters (Lakshmi and Sarasvati) with the symbols of certain noble traits or qualities, also referred to as Lakshmi and Sarasvati. [Do read: Part-XI. Though now both are taken to be one and the same. We will discuss how this came about in our later posts.] Though, Parvati's daughter - Sarasvati - may be the one after whom a once-mighty river was named, while Kartik rose to be a great warrior and a true defender of the noble aspects of our ancient heritage. He was the Dev Senapati or the leader of the Deva army. And this clearly proves that there existed very close ties between the Devas and the Kirat + the Kimpurusha. Maybe: they formed a confederate - so as to maximize their resources. However, Shri Ganesh was not a physical 'son' of Shiv-Parvati as is widely believed. [Do read: Part-XI - to know what Shri Ganesh represents.] Hence: the many stories involving Kartik and Ganesh were essentially to inculcate good values and/or to indicate some natural phenomena, and so, are not meant to be taken literally.] 

[Just as the river Ganga (Ganga Nadi) emerges from a mountain snout that is shaped like the mouth of a cow, the once-mighty-river Sindhu (Sindhu Nad) is believed to have originally emerged from a snout that resembled a lion's mouth. In fact, River Sindhu, it is said, originates from the mouth of a lion in Manas-sarovar, in Tibet. Thus it is also called Sengge Tsangpo or Lion River. (Sengge is nothing but a variant of Singha, meaning lion). This river is a common lifeline, and symbolically binds the people of more than one nation. Few rivers in the world can boast of flowing through as stunning a landscape as the Sindhu Nad; it flows through plains, villages, hamlets and towns, as well as by valleys, gorges and peaks of countless hues before flowing into the Sindhu Sagar (parts of which has - for some reason - come to be known as the A. Sea). As for the river Sarasvati, it contains the word - "saras" - that also indicates the Saras Crane. Therefore, this once-mighty-river may have emerged from a mountain rock/snout that resembled the beak of a Saras Crane.]

The people of the hills and the people of the plains are essentially one people; despite a few changes or differences coming about due to the passage of time + multiple influences creeping in, besides the difference in the terrains + the climatic conditions. However, one only needs to examine the festivals, languages, cuisine, attire, etc. to instantly figure out the similarities - even though much water has flown under the bridge.

"Maa" is also a reference to one's motherland (matri-bhoomi) and signifies India as well as the land of Bengal. Hence it is: "Maa-go, bhabhna keno, aamra tomar shanto chhele shanto jeno, tobu shotru ele astro haathe dhorte jani, tomar bhoy nei maa aamra protibad korte jani." [It is an ode to the beloved "mother"/the motherland: that although we are your peace-loving children, yet we know how to fight, and fight well... in case enemies/negative entities arrive. So, why worry? The image of our beloved motherland is in the image of Maa Parvati - as a token of respect, for her great deeds.]

Ancient Bengal was a much larger area, but was sadly cut into pieces by Curzon + the preceptors of Curzon. It was these lands (the golden lands) and especially the people of undivided Bengal-Bihar-Orissa that gave the maximum heat to our friendly colonizers, prompting their urgent flight to the cooler climes of Dilli and cheek-turning-ahimsa. [Ahimsa is NOT about turning the other cheek. Such a strange concoction ensured that our friendly colonizers left on their terms. One only needs to study the life and times of Shiv-Sati, Shiv-Parvati, Shri Ram, Shri Krishna, Vikramaditya, et al - to fathom the true essence of "ahimsa" or non-violence (which is an integral part of our ancient heritage/Sanaatan Dharma and Arya Dharma). Ahimsa is all about: "paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam" -  protect the worthy/noble-natured, destroy the wicked. Ahimsa is about respecting the vanquished, and making them one's own - by treating them fairly and by providing them with a just administration. Come to think of it, all those friendly-and-exalted 'scholars' that never tire of telling us how Asoka 'embraced' (a peculiar version of) 'ahimsa' or non-violence, should also throw some light upon how no marauder was able to snatch even a millimetre of the land belonging to the peculiar-version-of-ahimsa-loving-samraat then? Bolo, bolo. Tell, tell. :)]

Our friendly colonizers very clearly understood from where the real challenge to their friendly colonization came from, and therefore their means + energies were totally focused towards creating a distorted image of the Bengali (of undivided Bengal); besides playing the higher board game of 'divide and rule'.

Lord Curzon (Viceroy to India from 1899-1905) said, "Bengal united is a power; Bengal divided will pull in several different ways." And then proceeded to divide Bengal... ostensibly for administrative reasons. [Meaning: so as to be able to provide better administration.]

How much better that administration had been, we have not a clue, but a large number of people were efficiently extinguished in the garb of famine (manwantar), flood, epidemic, crime and criminals (read: freedom-fighters), and so on and so forth. [And since a studied reluctance to revisit those times still persist, we can take it that we are indeed very very far away from Robi Thakur's vision of an independent and glorious India: "... where the mind is without fear and the head is held high..." :)

[The Bangla version "Chitto Jetha Bhoyshunyo uchcyo jetha shir..." is far more soul-stirring.]

Bengali people especially (rather the people of undivided Bengal and of undivided Bihar and Orissa) were projected as coward-pliant-thin-short-and-dark-skinned-people. But even one reading of the history of this region + the all round contribution of the people of this region - is enough to dismantle this propaganda (minus the last 35 years of course.) Also: none has so-far been able to explain just why and how then 23 of the 32 cells of the deadliest prison of all, the Kala Paani - the Cellular Jail or the colonial prison situated in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands - were packed with these coward-pliant-thin-short-and-dark-skinned-people. :)

Though for some yet-to-be-deciphered-reason our glittering screens have been energetically dispensing the same stuff in the name of 'comedy, 'fun' and 'entertainment', besides mocking other Indians: the Gujarati, the Sindhi, the 'Madrasi' (i.e. the South Indians), the Parsi, the Sardar, the Nepali, the UP-ite, the Bihari, and the people from the North-Eastern parts of India. Indeed, it is very difficult to generate good-clean-comedy; mocking others is far easier, no? And since we are also advised to 'leave behind our brains @ home' so as to be able to 'enjoy' all the awesome 'fun' and 'comedy' on offer, our brains may soon be found inside pea-pods. :) But where is all this so-called 'comedy' and 'fun' leading?

Guess, all of us should watch Ray's masterpiece movie, "Shatranj ke Khiladi", and try to fathom the layer upon layer of complexity and depth, including the bit about cake and cherries, plus the aged Munshiji's remarks about the game of chess, besides several other nuances of course. 'Coz watching "Shatranj ke Khiladi" once or even twice... is not enough.

We have this huge industry that prides itself in generating big numbers, and breaking record after record... but what impression (of India) does one gather from whatever is dished out? What is the take-away for the people - both within and outside our shores - despite all our boastful talk re our glorious heritage? Are we (including young children) able to gather any aspect of our culture and heritage - except for a whole lot of cacophony, loud colours, regressive dialogues and gestures; awful lyrics masquerading as 'songs'; crude jokes and toilet humour; robotic movements passing off as 'dance-numbers', and the like? We never tire of talking about the great heroines of this land... yet we have "women-centric" movies. :) Where do you think a once-great-nation has been reduced to? It is now viewed as peopled by brain-dead zombies that are further segregated into: single-screen and multiplex audience, item number aficionados, connoisseurs of regressive dialogues and gestures, patrons of crude jokes and toilet humour, so on and so forth !! But then, we cannot even do justice to a re-make... what to say about original ideas, despite India being such a storied land. :) [If you have the time, please do read: Link.]

We sagely speak about "two Indias". But tell me, is there any language that is monolithic? So, HOW can we expect a nation that has been the cradle of culture, heritage, knowledge, wisdom and civilizations... to be monolithic? ... But then, we are too busy building artificial "narrow domestic walls" to ponder over what we say. :) This attitude has destroyed us in the past, it will not help us going forward either.

As for the small-screen, the less said the better. Even serials based on history have turned into endless and regressive soap operas. All we have are perfectly coiffed and made-up dolls - glittering sarees, elbow-length churiyan, big bindis, high-heel stilettos, wedge or beaded sandals and all... preparing tea at the crack of dawn. Perhaps: to wake up the roosters (with bed tea) for their morning cock-a-doodle-doo. :)

There is no substance, no content, yet there are a lot of advertisements. What they advertise nobody knows, though ad-breaks never seem to end. The product is something, but the ad conveys something else. There is crass commercialization all around; it is just an overdose of everything, and an assault on the senses. 

And while a foreign astronaut - married to an Assamese - became the first person to have danced the Bihu in space (and that too in zero gravity in the ISS - the International Space Station); and unfailingly took a token of love from Assam - the Gamosa - along with him; or proudly talked about the mighty river Brahmaputra being visible from space and not the Chinese marvel; we have not a clue about what we have been up to all this while. Besides cracking silly and crude jokes in the name of 'humour' and 'fun', that is. :)

Churchill's disdain for Indians is well-documented (and he has also accepted that the fictitious invasion theories helped them keep up their superiority and thus maintain their hold over us), yet we love to play the ostrich. Churchill and his fellow friendly colonizers made food shortages and supply-side famines a routine affair in colonized Bengal. Millions perished. In fact, relief rice sent by the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose-led Indian National Army was sent back by the Brits, under the flimsy excuse that they did not recognize the Arzi Hukumat.

[But then, homegrown entities outdid all our friendly aliens, by completely ruining Bengal: decimating institutions of research and learning; locking-up industries, while threatening to stop all forms of automation; choking all rationality + voices of reason; propagating the nadir of mediocrity in all aspects of life; disdaining our true leaders and greats; and by systematically and relentlessly injecting the sickle-cell anemia. These entities even called Netaji a 'quisling', placed/paraded his photo on a donkey, blackened the face with boot-polish and garlanded it with slippers !! And for all their 'efforts' they sure deserve a platinum medal, one for each year of their glorious deeds, no? :)]

Let's return to the Kinnara.

The Kinnara may have either been a breakaway faction of the Kirat or a sub-group of the Kirat that displayed a tiger-totem. Some groups of humans in ancient Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Nepal and surrounding areas + the ancient Dogra may have been Kinnara. Plus: we may also consider the so-called tribes that perform the Bhuta Kola and the Aati Kalenja, apart from the Royal/Regal Tiger dance (Kannada: the Hulivesha, Hulivēṣa | Tulu: the Pilivesha, Pilivēṣa) as well as the Puli Kali, a similar dance-form in neighbouring Kerala. ("Puli" = Leopard/Tiger and "Kali" = Play - in the Malayalam language.) Also: certain groups with the surname Simha (and its many variants) too may be of Kinnara descent.

[Although the foothills of the Himalayas and the southern parts of the country are far apart, yet we cannot rule out migration of groups of people - to the south of the Vindhyas; this may have happened gradually and over a period of time. Of course, due to the passage of time newer aspects have crept in; plus the ones that moved southward may have intermarried with other local groups/clans/adivasi and this would have brought about certain changes in their appearance + culture. However, despite this, some aspects of their ancient heritage may still be available, and possibly can be salvaged.]

Vaishnavi, now revered as Mata Vaishno Devi, was undoubtedly a Kinnara, as can be seen by her symbolic vaahan - the tiger. [However: this tiger bit may have actually been a snow leopard; changing times and mistranslations may have turned it into a tiger instead.] She may not have ridden a tiger per se; it only implies that she chose to ride the proverbial tiger... despite being fully cognizant of the tremendous odds. Hence, she is also known as Mata Sherawali. The Kinnara of the Himalayan foothills too would have been very sturdy, yellow/radiant-skinned, courageous people and tremendous warriors - quite like the Kirat. Frankly, there may not have been much difference with respect to physical features/characteristics between the Kirat and the Kinnara (of the Himalayan foothills), though there may have been a few cultural/life-style differences. [However, the Kinnara that traveled/migrated elsewhere, may have acquired different physical features and characteristics over time (including a change in their complexion) - due to the intermixing of blood.] There is a good chance that the human Vishnu too was a Kinnara, and may have been Vaishnavi's brother. Or possibly even her father or spouse; that would make "Vishnu" a hereditary name or title for an influential warrior among the Kinnara. So: #1. While one "Vishnu" may have been Vaishnavi's spouse, another "Vishnu" (maybe the son of Vishnu Sr. + Vaishnavi) may have been the spouse of Lakshmi - one of Shiv-Parvati's daughters. #2. In case Vishnu and Vaishnavi were siblings, then this Vishnu probably was married to Lakshmi. [Meaning: if Vaishnavi was Vishnu Sr's daughter, then her brother - Vishnu Jr. - was the spouse of Lakshmi.

Now, let's discuss the Kimpurusha.

The Kimpurusha have been described as "lion-headed beings". The "lion-head" may be an exaggeration or a mistranslation - for their heavily bearded head. However: this beard bit may not have been a reference to their natural facial hair per se, but is very likely an allusion to the fur of some animal (maybe a kind of lion, a now-extinct snow-lion perhaps or even a now-extinct snow leopard) that was used to protect oneself from the extreme cold weather (in a manner akin to the Eskimos). So, hopefully, you can now figure out what/who the much-talked-about Yeti or the 'elusive Snow-man' really was. That (some kind of) lions and tigers did exist in those mountainous terrains (in the earlier yugs) is beyond doubt, else the people of these parts would not have been able to use them as totems. [Or it may have been different kinds of snow-leopards instead; changing times, changing phonetics and later mistranslations may have turned it into lions and tigers.] The climatic conditions in that era would have been nothing like what we find today, thanks to global warming, etc. + the terrain would have been vastly different as well. However, it is possible that gradually these ancient people (the Kimpurusha), after several generations that is, may have found out a way to beat the extreme cold weather, via a combination of physical exercises, breathing exercises, meditation, various herbs; a special drink - made from natural ingredients and fortified by the rays of the moon (and possibly even the rays of the sun) - the Somras, [som = moon; could be: the "sun" too, ras = juice]; smearing ash, (maybe) chewing on small quantities of pearl or some other mineral, and the like.

The ancient Gandharva as well as the ancient Yaksha too may have been aware of the ingredients required to make the legendary "Somras" - due to their extensive knowledge of plants and herbs. Probably: some variant of the "Asvagandha" may have been an important ingredient for this drink, since this herb is still known to enhance immunity and physical endurance, apart from its anti-inflammatory effects, besides being a traditional treatment for general debility, nervous exhaustion, malnutrition, insomnia, loss of muscle strength, "brain fog", etc. [Note the presence of "som" in insomnia.]

Even the shatavari and the licorice too may have gone into making the "Somras". All these herbs are known to give the body and mind an energy boost or ojas (vigour), and hence, are referred to as 'soma-producing herbs' - in Ayurved. Therefore, "som" or "soma" may have been a reference to both the "moon" and (maybe) even the "sun", besides indicating the various "vigour-enhancing herbs" - that were required to prepare this miracle drink. The mineral-rich waters of the Ganga (or perhaps one of her many branches) and/or the waters of the Sarasvati - too may have been used for getting the right effect or consistency. And all of this probably culminated into a "roaring", fiery drink.

Ashvagandha in Sanskrit means: "horse's smell" (ashva = horse, gandha = smell), probably also originating from the odour of its root which is similar to that of a sweaty horse. This drink - Somras - may have therefore, infused anyone that partook of it with the strength/power of a horse; the metaphoric horse-power

However, it is possible that over time one or the other of the ingredients may have gradually disappeared from the face of the earth or mutated into newer varieties, and so, had to be replaced by variants - lesser or alternative ingredients (such as the somalataa), the effect of which may not have been quite the same. Therefore, like the Blue Lotus - pushkara or indivara, the "Somras" too went into a Nirvikalpa Samadhi to awaken to moksha. Even the once-mighty Sarasvati too went into a permanent hibernation. [Do read: Part-XIII - to know more about the Blue Lotus and the Blue Water-lily (Utpala).]

Frankly, the "Somras" may not have been a uniform or regular drink; meaning: there may have been various types of "Somras", one for beating the cold weather, another for curing various ailments, yet another for enhancing one's stamina + getting an energy boost - during times of battle, so on and so forth. (And this reminds me of the Druid Getafix's "magic potion" that worked wonders for the Gauls - by infusing them with awesome power). [To all those that are confused, do read "Asterix and Obelix". It would be interesting to know the origin of the Gauls though, and even the Basque people. My interest is clearly piqued.] However, Somras was certainly not the 'elixir of immortality' - as is widely believed. No such concoction ever existed, though Somras did boost one's energy, immunity and physical endurance. As for 'immortality' - it is simply a metaphor for 'mrityunjay' (meaning: one who has triumphed mortality/death), and can only be achieved by leaving behind an everlasting legacy (one that transcends time and space). However, the key to "immortality" was and remains: Karm Yog + Nishkam Karm. [Though, given our propensity for instant and/or quick-fix solutions, such as, a dip in the Ganga, we seem to have completely forgotten the principles of Karm Yog and Nishkam Karm. :-(]

["Soma" becomes Haoma in the Avestan language, on account of the change in phonetics: wherein 'S' becomes 'Ha'. A certain hit movie was about the fictional city of "Hamunaptra". However, in actual history, a city called Hamunaptra (City of the Dead Man) was found in India in the 1850s when British engineers, trying to build a railroad, pillaged the area for bricks. In the 1920s, archaeologists began serious excavations. They found at the site a lost civilization occupying an area greater than that of our western neighbour. It was a complex, literate, urbanized, centrally located society. Raw materials located in the area indicated that the civilization had long-distance trade with Mesopotamia. The civilization ended between 1900 and 1700 BC, which archaeologists accredit to a new group of horse-riding invaders (possibly some Mlechcha or Yavana groups). Hamunaptra may have actually been: "Somaputra". By the way, this is a clear pointer that the aliens (half-way round the world) are very aware that a part of ancient Miṣr's culture has come from this land, and yet...] 

The ancient Kimpurusha were sturdy and courageous groups of humans - that lived in and around the highly rugged and difficult terrain of the Himalayan region. Some groups of the ancient Tibetans, the Gorkhas, the Dogras, the Bhutanese and the Bhutias, the Nepali, the Ladhaki, the Himachalis, etc were very likely the Kimpurusha. They were yellow/radiant-skinned people that exuded a calm demeanor, a quiet strength, and had an understated regal air about them - and all of this also invoked the image of a lion in one's mind. [Just watch a meditating monk, you'll know what I mean.] However, with the passage of time their skin texture/complexion/features may have somewhat altered. In any case, the complexion of the yellow/radiant-skinned Kimpurusha of another era (yug) would be different from their modern yellow/radiant-skinned descendents, besides some differences in features too. Ditto the Kinnara and the Kirat.

It is possible that certain groups of the Han people may be the modern descendents of the ancient Kimpurusha (while some groups of Han may be the descendents of the ancient Kirat and the ancient Kinnara). I say this 'coz: Han can also mean the Milky Way (also known as: "Heavenly River"). And this is a clear reference to the "Akash Ganga" - on which the cosmic energy of the universe, the one associated with turbulence (tandav nritya) - "Shiv" - exerts influence. [Meaning: if this energy does not remain inert, it will result in huge turbulence in the "Milky Way" (or the "Akash Ganga").] 

However, a sub-force/energy - known to our ancients as "Kaali" - arising out of the feminine force/energy behind the cosmos, known to our ancients as "Shakti", keeps the "Shiv-force/energy" of the cosmos inert. Thus preventing "cosmic turbulence" or "tandav-nritya" - as has been depicted by "Kaali" standing on the body of "Shiv", and the later lying inert. [Do read: Part-XIII for Akash Ganga.] Btw, the Han people probably were also referred to as the "Huaxia people" (interpreted to mean: "civilized society".)

[Incidentally, the precise etymology of "Bhutan" is unknown, although its believed to have been derived from the Tibetan endonym "Bod" - used for Greater Tibet. Traditionally, it is taken to be a transcription of the Sanskrit Bhoṭa-anta (भोट-अन्त, "end of Tibet"), a reference to Bhutan's position as the southern extremity of the Tibetan plateau and culture. Though we cannot rule out the possibility that Bhoṭa-anta may have been a variant of "Bhoota-natha" - another name/sobriquet for Shiv.]

The Kimpurusha as well as the Kirat and the Kinnara may have collectively been referred to as the "lion-man" - the Narasimha. However, for our ancients, "Purusha" did not mean "man" or "male" - as we understand today; for them "Purusha" was a reference to the (unseen and without form: the nirakara and nirguna) "Supreme Soul" - the Paramaatma or the "Supreme Being" - the Parameshwar. [In other words: the unseen forces of the universe or the energies behind the cosmos.]

In case you are still wondering as to why the metaphor of a lion has been used, this is because: these people were extremely courageous and adhered to the noble principles of Kshatriya Dharma + they were part of the 1st set of humans that evolved on earth from various animal-like ancestors. It is very likely that these people - the Kirat, the Kinnara and the Kimpurusha - may have evolved from two-legged and upright beings that resembled a lion-man - strong, sturdy, yellow-skinned (yellowish or yellowish-brown short fur/hairy), heavily bearded, long sandy-haired beings with opaque marble-blue/green/brownish-yellow eyes and a somewhat protruding jaw. [If we are to examine the features of certain groups of people that are still found in and around the Himalayan region, we can still find traces of some of these kinds of physical features among them, e.g. sandy hair, opaque marble-blue/green/brown eyes. The original lion-man-like creatures/beings would have become extinct simply by gradually evolving into newer beings... that eventually culminated into the Kirat, the Kinnara and the Kimpurusha. So much for: "survival of the fittest" and its progenitor. :)]

Though it does help certain aliens to continue to maintain their fictitious "superiority" over others + get away with various theories about "human races" and non-existent "invasions". 'Coz, once these theories crumble (like a house of cards), these aliens would clearly come across as folks that do not have any traditional attire, culture, cuisine, music, folklore, heritage and the like; unlike all the 'others' - that they have so busily been putting down, what? Wonder why they are so obsessed with "fighting" life elsewhere, and "saving" the planet. Or why they constantly try to project life elsewhere as "spider-like" or "octopus-like"? And: why is the skin-texture of certain folks, of a certain complexion, so pathetic?

But let's not digress.

The lion-man is very much a part of our ancient culture. The fourth 'avatar' of the "Dasavatara" clearly depicts the lion-man or the Nrisingh (the 'lion-headed man' - a figure with the head of a lion and the body of a human, though the many stories associated with the Nrisingha came about either to inculcate good morals or to describe certain natural events in a camouflaged language. The multiple hands indicate physical strength and warrior abilities, it is not to be taken at face value. However: there may have been some skirmishes between the ancient Yakshas and the ancient Kirat/Kinnara/Kimpurusha - though the latter would have, by then, evolved out of their animal-like stage; since the Yaksha - represented by the 5th 'avatar' - the 'Vamana-avatar' - appeared after the arrival of the 'Narasimha-avatar'). The lion-man - signified by the "Narasimha-avatar" - is a clear reference to the strong, sturdy, yellow-skinned (yellowish or yellowish-brown short fur/hairy), heavily bearded, long sandy-haired beings/creatures - with opaque marble-blue/green/brownish-yellow eyes and a somewhat protruding jaw. These were two-legged and upright beings that were the preceptor of the Kirat, the Kinnara and the Kimpurusha.

Parvati is also referred to as Nrisinghi: the 'lion-woman': #1. Due to her lineage/descent. #2. Due to her glorious deeds (keerti) + tremendous skills as a warrior (i.e. as an adherent of the noble principle of the Kshatriya Dharma). And though she is depicted as riding a lion, it is essentially an allusion to her immense courage and great deeds (keerti, legacy) - since she chose to ride the proverbial lion - by taking on the extremely powerful but malicious entities, including the perpetrators of poisonous mindset - Rakta-beej, when none were willing to confront them. [Rakta = blood, poisonous, toxic; beej or beeja = seed.] Note: in reality, Parvati and Vaishnavi may have ridden sturdy all-terrain vehicles like compact armoured tanks - nicknamed "Sinh" (meaning: lion or tiger) - due to their solidity, sturdiness, high performance, and the shape and position of the head-lights. Though we cannot rule out the possibility that Parvati, Vaishnavi, Katyayani et al may have known how to interact and tame wild animals (including some kind of mountain lion or tiger), given their attachment, affection and closeness with the animal world.

Here is a Stotra from the "Devi Mahatmyam" (also known as the "Sri Sri Caṇḍī Pāṭha"; the "Sri Sri" being a reverential honorific - since the "Devi Mahatmyam" contains/narrates the story of Maa Parvati and her comrades):

Nrsimha-Ruupenno[a-U]grenna Hantum Daityaan Krto[a-U]dyame |
Trailokya-Traanna-Sahite Naaraayanni Namo[ah-A]stu Te ||16||


16.1: Nrsimha-Ruupenno[a = as the lion-woman, that is: by displaying unparalleled courage in the face of great odds; the lion-woman is also an allusion to her tremendous skills as a warrior. Or in other words: as an adherent of the noble principle of the Kshatriya Dharma + a reference to her clan - the Kirat. U]grenna = fierce with rage; meaning: Parvati was enraged due to the nefarious activities of the negative entities (that were also the harbingers of utter chaos and misery). Hantum = kill, vanquish. Daityaan = a reference to the malevolent or aasuric entities (not to be confused with the clans of people that descended from Rishi Kashyap and his wife, Diti). Krto[a-U]dyame = inspired, egged-on or driven by terrible rage; meaning: Parvati was inspired and driven by a terrible rage against the daityas/aasuric entities - because of all the destruction and negativities they had unleashed.

16.2: Trailokya = the three distinct lands or lokas [a reference to #1. Svarga-loka/Indra-loka. #2. Gandharva-loka. and #3. Patal-loka/Naga-loka. We will discuss all these three lokas in our next post.] Traanna-Sahite = the one who is the protector and the deliverer (of the three lokas; protector from aasuric entities, that is). Naaraayanni = the balancer or the preserver; the restorer of balance in society and civilization + the protector of the noble principles of the Sanaatan Dharma, the Arya-Dharma and the Kshatriya Dharma. [Naaraayanni is an honorific - since the cosmic energy that our ancients called "Vishnu" was viewed as the "balancing or preserving force".] Namo[ah-A]stu Te = salutations, reverential bow - in prayer.


16.1: (Salutations to the Great One) Who was enraged due to the nefarious activities of the aasuric entities, and vanquished them with unparalleled courage. (It is an allusion to her stupendous skills as a warrior - being a Kirati or the metaphoric 'lion-woman', hence, Parvati is depicted with 10 hands. It is not to be taken literally.)

16.2: (I bow) To the protector of the three lokas (the Svarga-loka/Indra-loka, the Gandharva-loka and the Patal-loka/Naga-loka); to the deliverer of the people; and to the preserver of the noble principles of the Sanaatan Dharma, the Arya-Dharma and the Kshatriya Dharma. (Salutations to You O Narayani.)

[We will discuss the great battle, the slain aasuric entities, Parvati's comrades et al - in our subsequent posts, as we touch upon the other stotras of the "Devi Mahatmyam". However, until then, do put on your thinking cap and ponder over Parvati and her comrades' opponents. Sanskrit māhātmya: "magnanimity, high-mindedness, majesty". The title devīmāhātmyam is a tatpurusha compound, literally translating to: "the magnanimity of the devi".

Devi (an honorific for a great female) comes from daaivic (meaning: one who possesses noble traits or qualities.) Devi is essentially a reverential honorific for a female (entity, person, power, force or energy) - that is worthy of respect and worship. Dev is the male version. Unfortunately, Devi is now-a-days equated with 'goddess', while Dev is translated as 'god' or 'Lord'. But this is incorrect, since we do not have such concepts.

The "Devi Mahatmyam" or the Sri Sri chandipATh is not 'scripture', but an integral part of our ancient itihasa and hence, an inalienable part of our rich heritage. Our ancients documented events and happenings in the form of hymns/shloka/stotra/verse; however, that does not make our pracheen itihasa equivalent to 'scripture', 'coz Sanaatan Dharma is a noble way of life and not "ism". Like the Ashvaka and the Gandharva, the Kirat, the Kinnara and the Kimpurusha too were Soma-drinking guardians of our heritage.]

The lion-man is part of the ancient culture of Miṣr as well. One only needs to take a closer look at what is universally known as the Sphinx: a figure with the face of a man and the body of a lion. In short: a lion-man. Now, is the lion a creature of the desert? No. But are we strangers to the concept of the lion-man? Also there is Sekhmet - a warrior goddess with the head of a lioness. Sekhmet means: "The Mighty One". She was also given titles such as: the (One) Before Whom Evil Trembles, the Mistress of Dread, Lady of Slaughter and She Who Mauls. Sekhmet - the warrior goddess - meted out divine punishment to the enemies of the gods and of the pharaoh. She also accompanied the pharaoh into battle, launching fiery arrows into battle ahead of him. Sekhmet was mentioned a number of times in the spells of The Book of the Dead as both a creative and destructive force, but above all, she is the protector of Ma'at (balance or justice) named "The One Who Loves Ma'at and Who Detests Evil". So who does all this remind you of? [Frankly: all the stories associated with Sekhmet conjure up a combination of Maa Parvati and Maa Kaali.] 

Unfortunately, given our acquired-and-now-ingrained propensity to label, all these groups of ancient people (the Kirata, the Kinnara and the Kimpurusha + the various Vanara + some groups of the Deva/Sura) would have summarily been classified as "uncivilized tribal", or as "backward" (caste or class). And this would have included: Parvati, Sati/Dakshayani, Katyayani, Vaishno Devi, Kaali, Bhadrakali, Kartik, Lakshmi, Sarasvati, Shiv, Vishnu, Brahma, Indra, Varun, Hanuman, Valmiki, et al. Imagine !!

But then, even Siya-Ram and Krishna too may have been labeled as "backward", since they were "Kshatriya", and various groups of Kshatriyas are now dubbed as "backward class". However, given our contrived-and-unnatural social hierarchy they would have, in any case, come after some-or-the-other-lofty-XYZ-class. :) However, we cannot rule out the possibility that Shri Krishna may have been labeled as "backward caste" instead - since he opted to become a "Suta" in the battlefield of Kurukshetra, and this word has contributed towards giving rise to a whole new word: Shudra. :) [There have been other and entirely different sources that has culminated into this word. We will discuss the origin of "caste" and its fallout - in our later posts. To know what a "Suta" means, do read: Part- XVI.]

Btw, the popular notion that all Indians are 'racist' and refer to other Indians - especially to some of the modern descendents of the Kimpurusha, the Kinnara and the Kirat + the descendents of some ancient Nag-clans as: "Chinky" is way off the mark. [Do read: Link - to know what I mean.]

Bhagavan Shiv, the one who was the consort of Parvati, was undoubtedly a Kimpurusha, and an ancient Tibetan warrior - though we must remember that the features of the modern Tibetans may not have quite matched with those of the ancient Tibetans - since they belong to different eras (yugs). [Do read: Part-XIV - to know what a "Bhagavan" means.] Also: the human Shiv is quite unlikely to have had a crescent-moon attached to his dread-locks, nor would the river Ganga have spouted from those dread-locks. All these myriad confusions have happened since we have somehow mixed up the unseen force of the cosmos, also known as "Shiv", (the one associated with "comic turbulence" or "tandav nritya" and who possibly also exerts a great amount of influence on the moon - hence: Somdev or Somnath) + the "akash Ganga" with the human Shiv(s), the river Ganga and Bhagiratha's efforts to out the hidden river Ganga through the mountains. [Do read: Part-XIII.]

Result: A daitya-sized jalebi, is it not? :)

[We will continue our discussions in the next post...]

(Do stay tuned…)

Pictures: Illustrations of: Ram-Shabari, a Gandharva - the Soma-drinking guardians of our heritage, an Apsara; 'Vishnu flying on the back of Garuda'; Maa Parvati/Kirati, The Mother-land, the foreign astronaut - Edward M. Fincke, Mata Vaishnavi; "Asvagandha", Druid Getafix; the cosmic turbulence or "tandav-nritya", Maa Kali 'standing on Shiv' - to prevent 'cosmic turbulence' (tandav-nritya); a 32,000 year old idol of a "lion-man" made from the tusk of a mammoth - found in South Germany; Narasimha, Maa Parvati, Bhagirath successfully getting the hidden river Ganga to emerge through the mountains.

1 comment:

  1. a very nice blog liked it very much,. humble introduction and detailed insights of unknown topics. .. informative enlighting.